Sunday, November 08, 2009
Each of us have exercises that give us energy and get our minds and bodies ready for the day. For some it might be a brisk walk in the neighborhood, or a game of pick-up basketball with some friends. Regardless of the activity, it is beneficial for us to discover our sweet spot when it comes to exercise.
For me that excercise has become running. I realize that this is not an activity for everyone, but it brings me satisfaction and energy for my day. We have been particularly blessed with some incredible late Fall weather here in mid-Missouri this year.
So what's your "go-to" exercise that you just can't wait to do?
Thursday, November 05, 2009
I have always enjoyed Fall, and it's not just because that's when football season starts. However, that is a plus. One of the great things about living here in the Midwest is experiencing the change in seasons. Perhaps, I enjoy this time of the year so much because I am able to get out and enjoy the outdoors without having to take a shower resulting from the intense heat of Summer. Also, there's just something about the crispness of the Autumn air.
Hopefully, you're enjoying this time of the year where you live. What is about this time of year that you enjoy? or don't?
Monday, November 02, 2009
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he lists the fruit of the Spirit-led life as he discusses what it means to live a life that is truly led by the Spirit. As followers of Christ, many of us profess our allegiance to Jesus, yet we sometimes struggle with the reality of His Lordship over our lives.
While I am not going to spend time in this article discussing this weighty theological issue, I do feel led to share some thoughts regarding our need as followers of Christ to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. Specifically, I want to focus our thoughts on the first of these fruit that Paul mentions; love.
Obviously, most of us who seek to live in a manner that exalts the name of Jesus realize that our lives should be marked by this fruit of the Spirit. After all, Paul concludes the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians with this often quoted line, “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NAS.
We all know that our love for others is a consistent expression of our love for our Savior. Still, many of us struggle with demonstrating the love that our Lord has given to us to those whom we encounter in the daily grind of life.
The Scriptures are clear that as believers we are called to love one another as our Savior has loved us. Following His observance of the Passover meal with them in the Upper Room, He tells them, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” John 13:34.
He goes on to say, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Thus, our love for Him is not simply an emotion or an act of allegiance. Rather, it should be demonstrated through our obedience to His commands. Our lives should be living manifestations of the love that He has shown us. In essence, His love impacts how I relate to other people, especially my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
So when Paul speaks of love being one of the fruits of the Spirit in the life of a believer, would it not follow that we should consistently demonstrate Christ-like love towards others? Obviously, this is a significant struggle for some of us. It is easier for me to sing about how much I love God, than to demonstrate compassion towards the one who does not show me the respect that I believe that I deserve.
Why is this act of loving others so difficult for us at times? Of course, there are some people that are easy to love, admire and respect in the body of Christ. Then there are those whose conduct and attitude make this command more of a challenge to obey.
The struggle for many of us is that we see love as simply an emotion rather than a willful act. We must choose to show love to others even when they are unlovely to us. Jesus reminds us, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32).
Unlike those who hold to the standards of this world, those of us who seek to follow Jesus are expected to love even those who treat us with contempt. This can be one of the more difficult commands of Jesus for the believer to obey.
In case we think that this is an isolated command of our Lord that we can ignore, He furthers His case again just a few verses later when He says, “…love your enemies, and do good..be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35a & 36).
The love that Jesus describes is more than the love that we often express in life. Some of us might say that we “love” pizza, jazz or a particular sport’s team. This does not seem to be the love of which Jesus speaks. The love that Paul declares as a fruit of the Spirit is one that can only be expressed as a result of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Perhaps, the Apostle best describes it for us in his letter to the Corinthians. “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
May our lives show His love to the nations.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Here in Mid-Mo where I live, it's been raining off and on (mostly on) for the past several days. I am sure that I am simply whining, but I would really like for it to stop raining.
I know that we're supposed to have alternative plans for exercise when the weather is uncooperative, and I do. However, one can only do so much indoor aerobics, calesthinics (sp) and weights.
This was helpful. Thanks for letting me vent. I am feeling better already. Hopefully, this rain will eventually come to an end, so that we can get back outdoors.
Does the weather impact your workout schedule or your mood? What is your preferred type of weather in which to exercise?
Thursday, October 08, 2009
I was reading some notes from a conference led by Henry Blackaby a few years ago at Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina, and was reminded of a simply yet powerful truth with respect to our relationship with Jesus. As many of you already know, listening to Dr. Henry Blackaby is a unique experience. Being the author of "Experiencing God", powerful truths escape from his lips as he shares about how his relationship with Jesus continues to transform his life and shape the ministry to which God has called him.
On that day, he shared many things, but the truth that still strikes me is a disciple is one who is following Jesus.¯ As you look at those words you might say to yourself,, "Well, of course.¯ Was not this the call that Jesus issued to His disciples as He called them to leave the life they knew and join Him on an adventure that their minds could not fully fathom? With two words Jesus changed the lives of twelve men, and is still changing the lives of men and women today. His call to these men was simply, "Follow Me"¯ (Mark 1:17b).
So what does this mean for those of us who seek to follow Jesus in the twenty-first century? Obviously, we cannot wander around with Jesus and observe the miraculous signs and wonders that He performs as He encounters the multitudes. We will not get to hear him speak the life-changing words that He spoke to Peter, James and John.
However, we do have a distinct advantage over these followers of Jesus prior to Pentecost. We are blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit not only in our midst, but in our lives. His indwelling presence and empowerment enables to live in a way that is not possible in our own strength.
Dr. Blackaby shared something else with us that day. He reminded us of another truth that we often forget. He said, "The power of the cross gives us total victory over sin; and that same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in our lives."¯
How many times have I sought to follow Jesus in my own strength? It is easy for us to think that we are alone in this journey towards Christlikeness. This lie of the enemy has left more than one well-meaning follower feeling inept and powerless against his schemes.
Indeed, we are responsible for our faithfulness to the teachings of our Savior. However, one of those key teachings that we often ignore is the promise of our Lord to walk with us at all times. Did He not conclude His earthly ministry with the words, "and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20b).
Why are we so quick to ignore or diminish this promise? While we claim to believe it, we often live out our faith in the context that everything depends upon our gifts, talents, abilities and efforts. It is not my desire to encourage us to kick back and lazily wait for Jesus to show up and save the day. Still, I believe that more often than I care to admit, I err on the side of what I am able to accomplish.
Is not the purpose of the Holy Spirit's indwelling in our lives to empower us to fulfill the task to which God has called us? Jesus has given us a task that cannot be achieved through our own efforts and planning. If we are going to be "making disciples of all nations"¯ then it will only be accomplished by and through the work of God as He works through His faithful followers. Thus, without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, our best efforts and plans are doomed to failure.
So what does following Jesus look like? That is obviously a difficult if not impossible picture for a finite creature like me to express. However, I do believe that there are some clear characteristics of a life that is focused upon Jesus.
According to Scripture, the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). It makes sense to me that these characteristics should be evident in the lives of those of us who follow Jesus.
If I am willing to submit my life to the leadership of the One Whom I trust as my Savior, then I should want my life to mirror His character. Knowing Jesus should change me. It is hard for me to believe that we can walk with Christ and not be changed by His presence and power.
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