and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New Man

       Wish I had a new body.  It’s been a wish of mine since the constant aches and pains started years ago.  How great would it be if we could turn in our old bodies for a new one when needed or wanted.  But I’ve realized this body is just a shell that will one day disappear and I will have a new glorious body in a world where sickness, pain, death (Rev. 21:4) and sin can no longer corrupt it (Rev. 21:27; 1Cor. 15:50).  Woohoo!  So, ignoring the body, what about the rest of me?  Since 1983 when I gave my heart to the Lord, He has continued to change the inside me day by day.  This is the ‘new man’ spoken about in Scripture and which we are virtually commanded to put on.

Paul speaking for the Lord said this in Eph. 4*:
Live no longer as the unsaved do
   -in the corruption of their minds (v.17)
   -far from God through not understanding His ways
   -hearts blind, full of darkness (v.18)
   -who becoming apathetic, become self-indulgent, impure and covetous (v.19)
But you have not learned so from Christ (v.20).  If you truly know Him and His truth (v.21), then you will toss out the behaviours of your ‘old man’ (v.22) and:
   -be renewed in the mind (v.23)
   -put on your new man (v.24)

Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better.  Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good.  Clothe yourself with this new nature. (Eph. 4:23,24 TLB)

       I really appreciate TLB’s version of this scripture because it says that our attitudes and thoughts should be changing in the new man we have become since accepting Jesus.  Sure, we still have a lot of areas that need work, but it certainly won’t happen all at once (no matter how much we wish it). Yet, if we continue to draw near to Him, He will change us from ‘glory to glory’ (2Cor. 3:18).  I’ve certainly changed greatly, and I’ve got a long way to go still!  So, no more “I’m too old to change I don’t have to change God will forgive me,” kind of excuses.  We are to throw out that old man and put on the new man.

       One of the things I have tried to drill into my children since they were young is that man’s two greatest abilities (imo) are to learn and to grow (change).  Unless the Lord tells me different, I will hold to that; after all, He’s the one who gave us those abilities.  No matter how old we are, we can always learn more and allow the things we learn to change us.  That is why it is vitally important to continue reading the Word and spending time in God’s presence, for with these do we learn.

       Read again the list of the ‘old man’ above, and determine if you are behaving any of these ways.  Then read the rest of the list from v.25 to 32 (especially in a good paraphrased) and decide if you have truly put on the new man.  Thankfully, when we confess, He is faithful and just and forgives us our sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1Jh. 1:9)!

*This is a mix of word study and paraphrase in order for better understanding.

Friday, August 17, 2012

On the Jog- A Lesson on Focus

       There was more than one lesson the Lord wanted me to learn from my jogging experience at the cottage the day He wanted me to jog for an hour.  After 36 min., the time when I would normally be done 5 km I discovered that my body wasn’t interested in continuing to jog.  At that point I had to resolve to continue beyond what I was used to.  It wasn’t too difficult to start with, but after another 10ish min. I found my mind started focusing on me.

       My legs were starting to feel the additional workout.  My thoughts wandered “It was probably just me wanting to do this extra time and not the Lord, after all, what did He care?  This is stupid, there’s no purpose in this.  I won’t be able to complete this anyway so why bother.  It’s too long a time and I’m not strong enough.  Maybe I’ll just cut it short  It is so easy to get our minds focused on ourselves, our feelings, our thoughts when we are challenged instead of focusing where we should.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith  Heb. 12:1,2

       When I began to look at the set turn around place, keeping my eyes on a particular sign there, I found my thoughts focused on that instead of what my body was feeling.  My thoughts followed suit and kept the though, just to the sign and you can head back.  My new focus, instead of being on me and my feelings, kept me going.  Once I turned around to go back to the cottage, my resolve was to get back to the cottage.  Each step became easier with that goal in mind.  I realized that to ‘win’ the race of life, I would need to keep my eyes on Jesus and stop looking at me wondering if I could do it, wanted to do it, felt like it

run your race to win.  To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best.    So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.  Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to.  Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside.  1Cor. 9:24-27  TLB

       The ‘prize’ of eternal life with Jesus, our Love and Savior, is what I am running for.  In order to 'win', my flesh can not determine what I will do.  Instead, I must purpose every step to be used for God’s glory and not my own.  Even when it gets tough moving forward, I’ve got to ignore the body wanting to focus on itself and continue to run.

       Athletes around the world will tell you they train even when they don’t want to- just to try and win a contest.  Their bodies submit to what their minds determine they must do.  On my jog, I (finally) kept my focus on getting back to the cottage, and on Jesus who gives me strength to endure.  ‘At the finish line’ I had a great sense of accomplishment, and it was a surprisingly spiritual moment, one of gratitude for a God who continues to teach me and strengthen me in the ‘race of life’.

       So in all of our journeys with Christ Jesus, we must keep our focus on Him and remember He is ‘waiting for us’ at the finish line of Heaven with arms open to receive us.  We need to keep that in mind as we run this race of life set before us- for in Him we get our strength (Ps. 28:7) to endure.

Jesus, help us keep our focus on You today and every day.
       and thanks for continuing to help us learn…

Thursday, August 16, 2012

On the Jog- Another Confession

       In 2008 I started exercising to improve my heart that had been weakened by chemo.  By late 2010 I purchased a treadmill and began jogging six days a week working my way up to 5 km daily.  Then I started increasing the speed at which I was jogging.  I began at 4.3 m/hr and worked up to 5.3 m/hr; but I’ve never been able to break that barrier though I want to.  No matter how much I try to increase either the incline or the speed even by .1, I can’t.  That has always bothered me.

       So it was as I was jogging on vacation down the winding roads watching the water peak through the cottages that I felt (in the spirit) that I should jog for an hour instead of just the 5 km.  Now, I have never done that so I didn’t even think it would be possible.  I mean, if I can’t even increase the speed by .1, then how could I possibly jog for 24 min. more than usual?  The Lord assured me He would help, and then as I jogged, He began to teach me about myself.

       All the time I was trying to increase my speed has just ‘worn me out’ physically and prevented me from going the distances that I needed to.  It was my pride getting in the way- wanting to be faster: isn’t faster better?  Shouldn’t I want to be doing God’s work now- perhaps years ago- faster- in my timing?
Pretty arrogant, isn’t it L?

       The truth is, God has made us all different and my energy levels are my own.  In fact, I know an 80+ woman who has more energy than me at 45.  The point is, she needs to function with what God has given her, and I need to function with what He has given me.  So, instead of pushing myself beyond what He wants from me, I should use what He’s given me and just do what I’m called to do: be patient and finish the race.

I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith.  2Tm. 4:7 ISV
let us run with patience the race that is set before us… Heb. 12:1
You know that in a race all the runners run but only one wins the prize, don't you? You must run in such a way that you may be victorious. Everyone who enters an athletic contest practices self-control in everything. They do it to win a wreath that dies, but we to win one that never dies. That is the way I run, with a clear goal in mind  1Cor. 9:24-26 ISV

       Paul writes much about us running the race of life in Christ, and though he talks about running to win in the race to the finish line of Heaven and Jesus, winning isn't being fastest, but finishing the course, and the one who finishes becomes the victor.  In jogging that day I learned that instead of focusing effort on speeding up God’s work in my life, I should focus on running the way He wants me to in order that I might finish the course.  Paul said finish, not fastest.

       So, though I didn’t think I could run that long, the Lord gave me the strength I needed, and I am confident He will do the same in my life.  Best of all, I learned it wasn’t how fast I ‘ran’ but that I kept going patiently at the pace the Lord wanted me to (which was less stressful on my body) and I ‘crossed the finish line’ of the hour’s time in tears thinking about how good and patient the Lord is with me while I continue to learn that He knows best, and has my best interests at heart.

To Remember:

       Finish not fastest.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On the Other Side

       I had no idea when I got into the boat to get to the other side of the lake that anything extraordinary would happen.  In fact, I never really considered the repercussions of that decision at all.  A little bit off the land, the wind picked up and I wasn’t concerned at all because the boat was sturdy enough that I still felt safe.  After a time, and in deeper water, the waves were getting higher because of the wind, but I was still secure in the strength of the boat and its history for safe delivery.

Christ on the Sea of Galilee
Eugene Delacroix

       The windstorm picked up, and the waves began to beat the boat and flood the deck, and I no longer felt secure or safe in the sturdiness of my transportation.  Perhaps I wouldn’t make it to the other side like I expected to.  Perhaps I would be wounded and for certain I was powerless to ensure I would get there unharmed.  So many thoughts went through my mind, and the storm was so great that I couldn’t focus on anything else anymore.  Instead, I was consumed by fear, “What if

       Then my thoughts turned to the One who promised me if I got in the boat, He would be with me on the whole journey.  “God, don’t You see what I am going through?  Don’t You care that I am afraid.  Don’t You care that I am dying here?  You said You’d never leave me.  Where are You?”  “Wake up!!!”*

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”  Mark 4:35-41 NKJV

       Though I started this post with an allegory the truth of the story remains.  I was na├»ve enough to not consider the consequences of my choice to follow Christ.  When the first major storm/ trial in my life hit, I was totally unprepared for it and responded poorly.  Though I called on God, He seemed to not answer and eventually I began to believe He did not care- just like the disciples.  Eventually, I did get through that storm, and I realized that not only had He been with me the whole time, but because I didn’t trust Him completely, I had suffered more than I needed to.

       You would think I had learned my lesson, but the truth is that I went through many more trials with the same response before I finally learned- and was certain- of a few things:

God always cares.  He cares for you1Pt. 5:7  (my translations here)
I am never in the boat (life) alone.  I will never leave you or forsake youHeb. 13:5
He is with me through everything, whether I feel Him there or not.  I will be with youIs. 43:2
Only He is able to calm the storms in my life.  able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or thinkEph. 3:20
I do not need to fear, for He is near, all the way to the other side.  Fear not for I am with you!Is. 41:10

*This post is an allegory for how I began my new journey with Christ.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Just Wishing

       Some days I wake up wishing for things that can’t be- not yet anyway.  Wanting, yearning, needing, desiring, longing, hoping, dreaming feeling it very much today.  I want to be ‘in the garden’ with my very first, true Love.  Oh, how I want to see His face, to feel His tender arms around me, to hear His heart beat strong and sure as I lay my head on His chest and know He is mine, and I am His.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
and there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
Ps. 73:25 NKJV

I am my beloved's,
and my beloved is mine…
So. 6:3

I am my beloved's,
and his desire is toward me.
So. 7:10

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Open the Door

        Are you any man (any person)? I am. There is a great pictorial scripture in Revelation of Jesus standing at the door knocking to come in. Since a door is the gateway into a person’s home, then it could be said that Jesus is knocking at the door to our earthly home (our whole selves) and He wants to come into our lives.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Rev. 3:20

        What a precious promise. If we hear His voice and we open the door for Him, Jesus will come in to us and sup with us. The meaning is that of the main meal of the day, and unlike our rushed meals of today where people run in and out or gulp down food to get to the next event, in olden days it was a place of close association and communication- even the meal itself would take a while.

        Like I’ve often heard, Jesus is a gentleman; He’s not going to force His way into our lives. In like manner, He won’t break down the door of our home we’ve got to let Him in by our own decision. Just think of it like this: Early this morning when you woke up, Jesus started knocking on your door with hope that you would open it for Him. If you didn’t have time, He’s patiently waiting and knocking until you do. “I am standing at the door and knocking.” ISV

        Do you believe Jesus is worthy of coming into your home? If you do, open the door of faith (Ac. 14:27) to your heart today “…To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart…” (Ps. 95:7,8; Heb. 3:7,15; 4:7) Don’t be stubborn and ignore the knocking as if He was a nuisance, but get up and open the door to Him, and He’ll change your life in incredible ways. I am not the same person I used to be, and the world is better off because of that.

Jesus is so worth it!

       Knock, Knock, Knock

               Let Me in please.”