Tag Archives: fear

Fear and pain are what move you to grow, mature and serve others to your glory and Jesus’

One thing I find odd about people today is that too many of them genuinely think that things are supposed to happen nice and easy, that they’re never supposed to experience any kind of pain, that there shouldn’t be any risk to what they do. Basically we have become unrealistically averse to any kind of pain or risk. An article in “Triathlete Magazine” (October 2015 p 28) written by Jene Shaw discusses the fact that if you’re going to do anything to grow, there’s going to be pain.

It really is called maturing, too many really think that they can really sit back, contribute as little as possible or nothing and expect everyone else to scurry around them. Obviously as a person and in a society, that model is not going to last too long. Only so many people can take, because there are only so many  available to give. In order to grow and become stronger and be better positioned to support those in genuine need. When we all do what is necessary then it’s not just for someone else, be we do become much stronger and a lot better able to cope with life. As a part of that whole we become better.

Too many really believe that pain is bad and something is wrong when they have pain. As the picture posted by someone in the triathlon community puts so well, at the end , when the challenge is overcome, the pain is a sign that you have grown through it. Whether it’s triathlon, basketball, weights, abs, swimming, if I don’t feel some pain, muscular, a little bruising I really don’t feel I’ve gotten the whole experience. That pain in the muscles tells me, that my body will rebuild from that pain and make me stronger.

As Jene suggests in the article, you need to accept the pain, if you fight it or fear it you can’t grow into it. Believe me there have been plenty of times when I’ve stood at the start of a swim at 7am wondering what I’m doing up at this time, knowing that hitting that water is going to be a, yea, painful experience. Knowing that I’m probably going to be kicked and elbowed by other swimmers, knowing that I have to get out to bike and run, yea there is anxiety. But knowing the feeling of accomplishment, success in finishing and knowing what it will do for my physical, mental and yes spiritual growth that will follow (some call it “bragging rights”), helps me to stand up to the challenge. So realize what you love about it, what it will move you to and the heck with the pain. I’ve done 54 triathlons and dozens of other races, so yea, I think I know what I’m talking about.

Jene suggests setting some goals. How can I do the swim, bike, run faster. Isn’t that finishers medal going to look good with my other medals, how great it will be to share with the other finishers, with my family, friends,  others at church? Think about the things you need to do during the race in order to finish as strong as possible.

She suggests relaxing, find some positive way; deep breaths, stretching and shaking, encouraging mental images, encouraging the other triathletes. It will work out and it will be rewarding, even if it’s only for your personal satisfaction.

Yes there is pain that is a warning sign. When you get to the point where you have overcome a lot of fear, anxiety you might think you should push through that pain. You do have to learn the difference, when you need to push through and accomplish, or when you do need to stop in order to prevent further damage. So there is pain that we need to overcome on our own in order to grow stronger, but pain when we do need someone else’s help. Can you say “medical tent, take me to the hospital”?

But in a Christian context it is the same. As disciples we need to grow and strengthen. When we do, those around us can take courage in us, we become stronger to help those who are genuinely in need, we become givers and leaders, not just takers. Yes there is a time in the Christian walk when we do need to take. Jesus has provided those times to be baptized, to be strengthened in His Body and Blood in our body and spirit, to be built up and strengthened in His preached word and in Scripture. To be a part of Christian fellowship that builds up yourself and those around you. There are times when you will feel you can’t go on. Truth is that being a Christian marks you out for attacks by the devil. The upside is that it also marks us out to be protected by the Holy Spirit, and to be strengthened and gifted to be better able to provide for yourself and for others. Certainly Jesus’ disciples started out as kind of weak and petty. Within a few short years they grew to be tigers of the Christian faith who served many others and also stood up to the fear and challenges of being disciples up to and including dying for Christ.

Too many people today make up their minds that they can’t, when it’s really they won’t. They think that they’re too weak, when they’ve never even tried to see how strong they could be. I’ve experienced this a lot: “well you are bigger and stronger, mentally and physically, you’re special so you can”. I assure you the only way I became that way is by pushing myself. There are plenty of times when I could have just rolled over and let it defeat me. There are too many people who’ve already decided they can’t do anything for themselves and let it defeat them. Ironically those will be the someones who decide that you shouldn’t be doing those things for yourself either. You have to continue to strive. Yea, don’t get me started on those people who stand there, find some way to pooh-pooh what you’re doing and give you this “hey! You think you’re better than me?” Me? I really don’t care, but apparently you seem to know deep down.

Ministry has been a very real lesson in knowing who I can rely on and who I just need to keep at arms length. Sure I serve anyone as much as I can. But, especially in an inner-city church, there are a lot out there who simply don’t want to step up and in fact want to take all that you will give them, if not more. They really see others as simply a source to provide for themselves. Again, yes, do what you can and don’t try to make excuses to avoid situations. However, know your limits and what pain is a warning sign. Do you want to beat yourself on some of those people who are hard as rocks? There are a lot of Christian brothers and sisters who do understand their own growth and growth together with others. Those are the ones that you need to pull together with.

Yes, there is pain, that’s a good thing and the sooner you accept that it will build and strengthen, the better for you and those around you. Sometimes you do need to be at that starting line wondering; “what the heck am I doing here”. But you seem to get to the finish and realize how great that was. There is team too. It is exhilarating to win a basketball game as a team, even though you’ve gotten bruised and banged and it’s kind of hard to really stand. Those painful muscles in the morning are a wonderful memory of the things you did to be stronger from the previous day. Find those who encourage and build you up and let them do the same for you. Quit sitting behind that computer looking for that kind of fellowship. It’s sad on your part and it’s just not going to happen.

Celebrate the success you’ve achieved, share it with those who know what it means to be fearful and have pain, it’s a great way to grow in brothers and sisters. Realize that even when there is suffering for Jesus, He knows what’s going on, who is and isn’t His. I’m glad I’m His, I’m glad He’s given me the challenges He has and that He’s been the one to move me through the fear, pain, anxiety and given me the thrill of victory, no matter how small the world sees that victory. Let Jesus move you to where you need to be regardless of the things you have to overcome. When I’ve reached the end of those challenges, I’ve realized that Jesus has done the things necessary in order to get me there. So feel some real pain and fear, join those who know the joy and accomplishment that makes you feel. You will be a far better person and so much of your fear and stress will disappear. Find me at the starting line of the next race, it would be great to obsess and encourage with you. !

Fear the world or fear God?

Seems like we’ve had it backward for a long time. Oh sure, the world can do bad, mean things to you. However, can it do anything worse than an all-powerful God who can not only allow your life to be tough here, but can just allow you to slide away from Him and into an eternal world of “wailing and gnashing of teeth”. (Matthew 13:42, 50)

Fear is just so prevalent in the world, despite all the technological advances, plenty of almost anything, fear is even more common. You see these people with their facial hair, tatoos, piercings, all intended to intimidate. What you find are these fearful little people who live in a constant state of anxiety.

The Blackabys’ point out “…Their fear hinders them from pleasing God because they waste their efforts appeasing other people…Fear causes us to stop and question what God has clearly told us to do.” (Experiencing God day by day p 34)

Just like all the other vices of the world, the ones that we are just so “free” in, (yea ask the next heroin user you see how “free” that person is. Same goes for alcohol, sex, money, power, yea sure “free”)

The question for me is how to I help people understand how real God is, how they should fear Him. “ESV Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Shouldn’t this focus people’s attention? This life is not all there is, there is an eternity. That eternity will be in Christ in the new world, the perfect life of the resurrection. Or it will be eternal separation and suffering. That is what existence is separated from God, if you reject Him, you are choosing separation, existence without the all-powerful protecting hand of God.

God does not will anyone’s death, He does not want anyone separated. But if you let your fears separate you from God, if you do not trust in His power, that He will save you from anything you are afraid of now, ultimately in the new world, then you have rejected life and allowed yourself to be separated, because of your fears and that you thought you could handle your fears alone.

I hope that you will pray that the Holy Spirit guide you from your fears, to show you true freedom in Jesus, that life won’t always be easy. But in Jesus we will ultimately overcome our fears. Say thank you to the Holy Spirit for guiding you from your fears and into Jesus.

Fear is so crippling, so limiting, such a waste to live.

FEAR!!! Fear of failure, of the future, of change, of growing older and either being injured, sick or disabled, or losing physical ability. Fear drives our desperate attempts to keep what we have and never trying to move and grow. If we attempt to move and grow we might risk what we have. Fear of trying church, of taking a chance to follow Jesus, not committing but at least trying, trusting a friend, family or pastor and just giving worship a chance.

Jesse Thomas in “Triathlete Magazine” (May 2014 pp 40-42) talks about the fear, as a professional triathlete of that day when he (or his wife Lauren, also a professional triathlete) will suffer a career ending injury or just realize that his abilities are not sufficient to remain an elite athlete. I participate (I hesitate to say compete, because while I wish I did, wouldn’t really be accurate) in triathlons. I certainly don’t make my living doing triathlons because I’d starve on a street corner. I’ve had all kinds of goofy “owwees”, left heel, plantar, both knees, serious cramps, right now sciatica, all eminently treatable, but when they happen the thought races through your brain, “oh no, this is it, I’ll never be able to …” Last season playing basketball in a church league, my left calf violently seized up. It was so severe that I was sure that I ruptured the achilles tendon, literally had to crawl off the basketball floor. Turned out to be a bad cramp, found a way to contend with cramps, haven’t had another and it’s going on a year now. But I remember thinking as I crawled off that floor, “this is it”, the fear was very compelling.

Thomas points out “”Ninety-five percent of the time our ailments and injuries evaporate within in a week.” And that’s been my experience, but approaching the big “60”, my physical abilities continue to decrease and the better chance that something will happen that will keep me from a high level of participation. Certainly with a professional like Jesse Thomas the fear has to be more profound. l’m a pastor my most visible function is to preach, if I somehow couldn’t speak properly anymore that would certainly put my future as a pastor in jeopardy. “…I’d be SUPER BUMMED”, writes Thomas, “in all caps for emphasis. And even though the risk is remote, I think the weight of that possibility is why my brain instantly goes to the darkest place in moments of doubt. It’s like trying to speed by a black hole without getting sucked in. According to Stephen Hawking, that’s impossible, no matter what your bike split is.”

We are all there, we all have that fear, it certainly does happen but it is rare. The possibility of such an occurrence is something that is supposed to be provided for by society, it’s certainly being abused in this day and age, but for those people with character, integrity, trust in God, and looking to live life they do not want to be “disabled”, they will fight tooth and nail against it.

There is an issue, those of us of want to keep going, are giving in to a different type of sin(s); fear, failure, relying on ourselves/idolatry, lack of faith. It also keeps us from living at the level we should be living: “So this ritualistic thinking about an athletic ending is just a way to acknowledge that fear, no matter how remote the chance that it actually materializes and to acknowledge that stupid trick that the mind can play on us. [I would interject, it’s more about our pride, more than us being victimized by our mind – Jim] And by acknowledging it [I’d say pride] we can stop our minds from dragging us into a fear cycle, make the conscious choice to disregard it and proceed in pursuit of the goal despite the possibility of failure. In that way, we CAN speed by the black hole. Where you at now, Stephen Hawking?” I would attribute Thomas’ claim not to my determination, but to the faith that God gives me to trust in Him and follow where He leads even when it might seem hopeless. He overcomes my fear, gives me the faith I need and then pushes me back to confront the world, but He is always with me.

Now the reality is that at some point I’m going to just be too old or disabled to toe up on a beach somewhere and jump in the water with a bunch of other people. (You have no idea how difficult that was to write), so then what? Could stay home, sit and bemoan my fate and just give up. I like Thomas’ perspective: “Acknowledging that worst-case-scenario, fear, also helps both Lauren and I realize that even if the ‘worst’ happened (our careers ended) in the grand scheme of things, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal… Lauren and I would have to find other professions, we’d be forced to not exercise all day, every day and not go to bed at 8 pm on Saturday night because we have a big session Sunday morning. As terrible as that sounds, nobody dies, we won’t starve… We will go on as a family and probably thoroughly enjoy the next phase of our lives. And after the sting of the disappointment wears off, we’d realize that the journey was all worth it anyway,” Absolutely, we’ve lived the life, we’ve gotten all we’re likely to get out of it, God has taught us what He wants us to learn from it and now it’s time to move on. For sure I won’t like it, yea my ego and dignity will take a hit. But then He moves me on. Thomas doesn’t address the ultimate time when it will really be over, our culture today is pretty sure that death happens to everyone else, not to us. For Christians death will mean the resurrection, put in our perfected bodies, that will never be sick, will never break down, will be perfect for ever. It won’t be over, it will just be starting. I have no doubt that I will actually be able to complete an Ironman Triathlon in the resurrection. Even in eternity I will never be able to do all that the new, very physical world offers, but I will never have that fear, even if I fail, I will have infinite opportunities to grow, develop and go back and start again.

But the thing I will never understand is this fear of ever even trying because you might fail. Bad news, you will!!! Deal with it, get over it and yourself, decide what you’re going to do about it and move on. Fear of trying, like ya worship, making excuses, keeping the mediocre and even destructive and passing on what truly gives life, what truly moves us in life, what is truly life and life more abundant, I just don’t understand. This world is not the answer, it’s only a stage, it will end, do you want it to end with you whining in fear and failure, hidden away some where, to ultimate destruction? Or do you want to live the life God has given us, to live to His glory and then move on to a life that, ya there will still be failure, but it’s OK, it’s perfect life and life with abundant opportunities to succeed and move on in life? Ya, seems rather obvious doesn’t it? So why are you still sitting there obsessing?

Christian version of “g” factor

Pastoring is still such a new experience and adjustments. Twenty-nine years in the military, twenty years in corporations, I know the phrase has gotten kind of trite, but really, failure wasn’t an option. Failure happened, but you worked to find alternatives, to minimize the impact of failure. There just doesn’t seem to be that sort of dedication in the average, even above average Christian, pastor or laity for that matter. Rich Karlgaard is a great writer for Forbes and his article “Smarts in Business is not about IQ”, is right on the mark. (Forbes Magazine  December 13, 2013 p 46)

I don’t know if it’s an excuse or a genuine fear, but Christian’s usual cop-out is “I don’t know enough to talk to other people about Jesus.” It’s not really about what you know, the average person isn’t going to ask you technical questions, the Bible, it is about relationship, staying in touch, being tenacious.  You’re tough and tenacious at the office, why can’t we be the same when we are talking to someone about the Lord of your life, your Savior?

“The smartest people in business are not those who have the highest g; they are those who regularly put themselves in situations requiring grit. These acts of courage accelerate learning through adaptation.”

It’s the old ‘you only learn by doing’ philosophy. Be honest, you see situations where you should be talking to someone about Jesus and then avoid getting involved. Witnessing requires a level of comfort and the only way you will be comfortable is by looking for the opportunities and jumping in, I assure you no one is going to bite you. It’s not a works thing, it’s not required for you to be saved. But Scripture tells us that we will be known by our fruits, seems to me the average Christian’s fruits on display to the world is “run away!!”. How does that show the world our devotion to Jesus?

Karlgaard’s observation is a challenge to us to jump into the fray and be less concerned about our precious dignity and more concerned about how the Holy Spirit is working through us: “By facing up to the task of making a call, frequent callers put themselves on a faster learning curve. They discover more rapidly what works and what doesn’t. They’re quicker to learn techniques that overcome rejection. Thus, their success yield will improve…The act of making lots of calls also helps a person learn self-discipline and understand the rewards of delayed gratification.”

Yes, it is all about the Holy Spirit and what He does. We can’t talk someone into the Kingdom, we can’t by our own power be saved. But we can be faithful, we can trust what the Holy Spirit is doing with us in relation to someone else. This is the most important aspect of someone’s existence, eternal salvation. Care enough about them to trust the Spirit’s leading and then know that your reward waits for you when the Father says to you “…well done good and faithful servant You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'” (Matt 25:21). Let’s talk about it Wednesday morning 10am at First St Johns, mid-week Bible study Coffee Break. 140 W King St, park right behind the church.

All the Lord’s people prophets

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and of God the Son and of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know the power of the Holy Spirit said … AMEN
The feast of Pentecost is the oldest continuous celebration that Christians observe. Reason being it was originally a Jewish festival that God directed Israel to remember going all the way back to Deuteronomy 16:10. It is originally referred to by Yahweh, as communicated to Moses, almost what we would think of as Thanksgiving in the United States. Israel was to raise up thanks to Yahweh for the “first fruits, the first harvest”. God reminds Israel: “I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’ (Joshua 24:13) Israel would have a lot to be thankful for. The Israelites had to fight their way in, but when they made it, there is ready made homes, fields, vineyards. They had to make their way into Palestine/the Promised Land, but Yahweh intends that when they get there, they will be set, they will be free from the paganism they escaped from in Egypt and that surrounds them and they would be able to provide for themselves. Pentecost was also a day to remember that Yahweh gave Israel His Law. The Law is what Israel is built on. Jewish people believe that they are saved by the Law, so Pentecost is to celebrate what they perceive as their salvation in the Law. In response there was only continual griping. God is providing them with manna to live on, He gives them water, He gives them the Law, He gives them the promise of a fruitful life in the Promised Land and what is their response? “We are still in the desert, we’re sick of this manna and we don’t want to go to the Promised Land because we are afraid and we just don’t trust your promises.” So God hears the griping, He gets angry, that means Moses gets angry who whines to God and Yahweh tells Moses to bring the 70 elders of Israel together for a huddle. Moses is fed up with the complaining and so Yahweh promises: “Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.” (Numbers 11:17) Life is not a bed of roses for Israel, but they are about to see the fulfillment of God’s promises. Considering everything God has promised them it’s a life that’s not to shabby and their response is to continue to fuss and whine.
Take out your bulletin. Look at the Numbers reading verse 25. “Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him [Moses], and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders.” What do you notice about “God’s Spirit”? It’s capitalized, a proper noun. “What” you say, “this is 1,500 years before the Holy Spirit descends on the disciples, what’s going on here?” Yahweh gave Moses the Holy Spirit probably right from the start of His revelations to Moses. William Wrede describes it: “…the Lord comes down in the cloud and gives them a gift. The same gift of the Spirit given to Moses is now shared with the seventy. Moses loses none of his gift, but as one candle lights another, the Spirit is given to each and they all begin to prophesy. This is God’s gift to his people to be a blessing to others.”1 I really like that imagery, while the Holy Spirit didn’t descend upon the Jews in the desert the same way He did on the disciples in Jerusalem, the outcome is still the same. Men possessed by the Holy Spirit and led by Him to prophesy. Clearly a preview of the Christian Pentecost here in the Sinai desert 1500 years before Jesus. These two men, Eldad and Medad, apparently didn’t check their e-mail or got caught in traffic, and didn’t make it to the elder’s meeting at the tabernacle and they are back in the camp, but the Holy Spirit doesn’t miss them. Joshua rushes to Moses to rat them out, contrary to expectation Moses is not at all disturbed: “Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets.”
Fast forward 1,500 years, we see a stark contrast. Where Israel had God’s promises of material satisfaction in Israel, they had the tangible tablets of the Law, and some of them even had the Holy Spirit. We find Jesus’ disciples huddled together in a house in Jerusalem. While everyone else in Jerusalem is probably out, celebrating the third most important feast-day in Judaism, the disciples probably still have a “bunker mentality”, they remember Jesus’ promise, ten days earlier: “…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,” (Acts 1:5, 8) OK, fine, but when will that happen? In the meantime, “we’re going to hide out here, our Shepherd’s gone, no doubt there are people who want to arrest us and are looking for us. Until such time as Jesus does what He promised and we have no idea what that really means”, maybe they don’t remember Numbers 11, “we will make ourselves very scarce.”
Hiding away, cowering. Certainly an odd contrast to their ancestors who are standing out in the desert heckling Moses, demanding immediate satisfaction. The disciples are together, they are trusting in Jesus’ promise, they don’t know how that will happen, but in faith they wait. Their faith is rewarded, probably beyond anything they imagined: “…a sound like a mighty rushing wind..” You’ve probably heard people describe an on-coming powerful tornado,… they often say it sounds like an approaching freight train, concentrated power and fury. Can’t we imagine the Holy Spirit’s approach being at least like a freight train? The Greek is pneu,matoj a`gi,ou in English we have the word pneumatic, as in pneumatic tool, how is a pneumatic tool powered? … Compressed air, we have tools that use the power of compressed air. In Hebrew the word is x;Wr [ruach] which also means “wind, spirit”. Both usages imply momentous power. This wasn’t just a sudden burst of wind, but an enormous, continuous blast, a strong enough blast that all these people in Jerusalem, our reading says “…devout men from every nation under heaven..” rush together, “bewildered”, what is this noise! We don’t rush into the street at any random burst of wind, we might take a quick look out, but normally we don’t pay anymore attention. Then “…divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them” Now that we have your attention, you will hear us preach in your native language. This is all the work of the Holy Spirit, a clear demonstration that God is at work, the Holy Spirit inspires Peter to preach in a way he would never have before (this is the same guy who didn’t want to talk about Jesus to a few people after Jesus had been arrested. Now Peter is proclaiming the Gospel to thousands.) From this Peter is used to bring three thousand souls to know Jesus as their Savior.
Remember they are here to celebrate the “Feast of the First Fruits” those who God chose to come to faith are now the “First Fruits” of the Christian church. Philip Schaff notes: “This festival was admirably adapted for the opening event in the history of the apostolic church. It pointed to the first Christian harvest … We may trace to this day not only the origin of the mother church at Jerusalem, but also the conversion of visitors from other cities, as Damascus, Antioch, Alexandria and Rome, who on their return would carry the glad tidings to their distant homes…”2
We who are chosen by God to be saved in Christ, baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Spirit, disciples and apostles of Christ, we are called to proclaim Him just as the disciples did on the Festival of First Fruits. We are called to proclaim Him in the language and understanding of those we know, being used by the Holy Spirit to reach those He has put in our lives to point to the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation that only He can promise. Take some time this week in prayer, help us Father to feel the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and to live that life in Him and to the world. The Spirit’s power in the wind, but to also pass from you to those He leads you to, like a candle lighting another candle. And also as our young men are “lighted” by the Holy Spirit in recognition of their confirmation today.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

Fear and awe of Him who wants what is best for us, He loves us very much.

This is from Henry Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day “Those who perceive God as a benevolent and gentle grandfather will treat their sin superficially. They will worship halfheartedly. They will live life on their own terms rather than God’s.”

That really is the way we are in this day and age, it’s all about me, I know best, everyone/ everything is here for my convenience, my pleasure. Come on, you know what Blackaby is talking about. We think of God today as an indulgent, enabling, kind of senile, out of it old man. We reject the Old Testament, because “oh my that has to be a different God…” Really? How do you figure? We paint Jesus to be a sort of milquetoast, meek and mild. This is the same guy who said, ““Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matt 10:34 ESV, Bible Hub) Cleansing the temple, confronting the Pharisees. In the Old Testament, Yahweh directed Israel to destroy the people in Palestine. These people were profoundly evil, sacrificing their babies, temple prostitution worshipping false “god’s” by trying to pacify evil “gods”. Yahweh wanted His people, Israel, to go into a land where they would not be influenced by evil of these people. To give them a chance to be isolated from the pagan evil around them. They didn’t, the Old Testament is all about Israel/us playing around with evil, getting in trouble, being saved by God, rinse, repeat.

God is perfectly just, He does not tolerate sin. Hey I’m as guilty as anyone, justifying sin as a “mistake”, an isolated incident, misjudgment, whatever gratuitous phrase we like to use. I don’t see anywhere that God has suspended the Ten Commandments, yet we all break them without so much as a “how do you do.” Yes we are all sinners and we do offend God, but for those who are in Christ they are forgiven. They do fear God, fear in the sense of respect, awe, treating Him in the manner that we should treat the Creator, Sustainer and Judge of everything. I really think that deserves profound respect, instead of the casual nod we usually give.

“One of the great condemnations of our day may be that we have lost the fear of God. We promote Him as a ‘best friend’ who saves us and ‘lives in our hearts’, but we do not fear Him.” For many of us, our human dads were stern, they could be fearsome. Often they would act angrily and lash out. Hey, dads are human too, I’m one, I know. But come on, our dads wanted what was best for us, they wanted to send mature, responsible, decent people into the world. To do that, yea sometimes their wrath would be manifested (like that little turn of phrase?). We should want to grow closer to God, to His nature. We can’t achieve that, but that’s where we should be moving. Instead we move towards self-idolatry, living in our self-absored adolescence, convinced that it’s all about us and we don’t owe anyone, no less God anything.

  The world is a dangerous place, no less spiritually then physically. Frankly spiritually it’s far more dangerous. Physically most of us will be fairly safe and die from some break down in our body. Spiritually? Heck check out television, all the people around us, what government is moving towards compelling us to do, what it already does impose. The world is continually trying to position us to compromise our relationship with God. Too often we go along with it expecting that God is supposed to just give us a wave. That’s not the lesson of the Old Testament, heck ever read Revelation, New Testament? 

Blackaby closes by saying “If you find that you have become complacent with God’s commands and have become comfortable in your sin, you are completely isolated from God’s holiness. Take time to meditate upon the awesome holiness of God and allow the Holy Spirit to instill into your life a proper reverence for almighty God.” There can be no question that God loves you, if you are in Christ you are His adopted child. As His child He expects to be treated as the great and awesome God that He is. He wants what is best for you, He is God, He knows what is best for you. If we understand that, why wouldn’t we want God’s way in our lives and put aside our adolescent understanding?

Triathlon race day, frankly anticlimatic to the rest of the preparation.

Well tomorrow is my first of the season. I try to do two triathlons in a season, one as early as possible and then others as the opportunity comes up during the season. The season being, kind of, from April until October. The Hawaiian Ironman kind of signals the end of the season which is in October.

My goal is to do as many races in as many states as possible. This of course requires travel. When I first started most of my races were on Cape Cod, so just get up earlier (that said, I and most others I read always have trouble sleeping the night before so getting up early, not that big of a deal if you really didn’t sleep to begin with.) The way I’m doing it now is to rely on technology to get me to a new place as quickly as possible, needless to say, one glitch there and there will be problems.

Another consideration is race gear. Triathlon is probably second only to NASCAR in the amount of gear. Two years ago I had already reached the Virginia line before I realized I forgot my helmet and bike shoes. Stopped bought new ones, I needed new shoes anyway. But most have special watches, wetsuit, special shorts and shirts, bicycle, running shoes. Forget one thing and kind of a pain, there are horror stories of a racer forgetting a bike, or having it smashed in travel and having to borrow, beg, haven’t heard of anyone stealing, a new bike. Of course, since I’m going somewhere new have to get a hotel nearby, found one thirty dollars less then my first choice. All I’m doing is sleeping there the night before, really don’t need much in amenities.

I’m at the point now where I’m thinking all this stuff I have to do, getting up early (4:30 am), finding the place, getting there, getting set up, being a little cold, (air temp should be about 48 degrees when I jump in the lake, another reason for a wet suit. But hey I jumped in Cheasapeake Bay in May in Annapolis, no wet suit, I’ll live either way and being in cold water definitely makes you swim harder). But of course nerves kick in, which are nothing when you’re standing there in a mob scene, waiting for the call for your wave, wondering why on earth and what on earth you are doing there and then the one minute countdown until you jump in the water, get whacked in the head, kicked in the face, elbowed in the ribs, swum over. I’m probably forgetting something. Yea the swim is definitely a uniquely challenging part of the race. Then there are the transitions, trying to get your wet suit off, somewhat dry off and get bike shoes on and out the gate. It’s easier then it sounds, although sometimes I seem to make it more complicated then it has to be. Got a little thing going with the sciatic, so that is another thing to camp on, whether I will be hobbling through the run portion. (Oh come on, it’s 5k, you can do that on your head, he says still not really confident.)

So this is where I’m at, the day before. In no way am I writing this to discourage anyone, this will be my 52nd triathlon, so I must like it/get something out of it. Another choice would just be sick masochist, but let’s put the best face possible on this. But the end is exhilarating, you may be coming in around the same time I am, probably back of the pack. May get passed by quite a few people, may not exactly feel distinguished, but it really is about you. Heck I doubt that I will ever see any of the people I see tomorrow again for the rest of my life and if I do, hey who remembers. But as the sign says, pain is temporary, race results on the web are forever. So, to quote Bill Murray, “I got that going for me.” So I will do my best to not get caught up in the nerves before hand, say a prayer to my Lord Jesus Christ thanking Him that I got there intact and actually ready, that He has given me the strength, stamina and brains or just too stupid to realize, that He will keep me safe and whatever I do, it will be to His glory. Hey say a quick prayer, think of me between about 8am and 10am tomorrow, smile a little bit and hopefully I will have an inspiring story to tell on the other side. Thanks for your interest.

God builds leaders and gives them gifts for leadership

Thought I would refer back to Fr Frederick Nkwasibwe’s book Business Courage as much as being a Christian is supposed to be about spiritual growth and maturity, yes I agree that there are interpersonal relationship benefits. (p 224) “…spirituality is considered a system of developing the inner life or spirit of the leaders and workers in order to receive and awaken important gifts. Moxley (2000), in his book Leadership and Spirit, makes a list of such gifts. They include becoming more centered internally and better connected relationally, getting a new kind of self-confidence, having a sharper understanding and acceptance of our personal power, becoming better able to engage in the activity of leadership and fostering a genuine partnership in relationships (p 151). For them, spiritual development is correlated to human development through developing interior life.”

Certainly it makes sense as we grow in the image of the Lord we grow in our relationships. Certainly Jesus is an example of how we should relate to others and in different situations. For those who needed confronting, He did not have a problem confronting. For those who needed compassion, He gave compassion. Not in a way that was enabling, but in a way to let people know that He knew we are weak vessels, we need compassion, but we also need encouragement. We need to understand that we need to grow, have better skills, be better listeners, empathetic, encouraging, on and on, just as Jesus was. He encouraged, but He also made it clear that He expected better. The more we become more like Him the better we relate to others.

I have had to be assertive, I’ve had to take the lead, confront problems. Can’t say I’ve always enjoyed it or looked forward to it. There were plenty of times when I wished I could have avoided confrontation and there were times when I just did. I can look you in the eye though and say that the more I’ve grown in Christ, the more I’ve felt the need to confront, especially when it was in Christ, but also to do what was right and to step up for the weak, the disadvantaged, the bullied. But always as a witness for Christ, always pointing people to Him through our better skills and in fact relying on Him to give us the words to speak. I’ve had plenty of times when I wondered “where did those words come from”. The Holy Spirit works through us at the workplace as much as anywhere else in our life. Hey we normally spend more time at work then anywhere else in our life, why would God leave that part of our life out and what we need to function in that part of our life unequipped? God has certainly developed leaders and He gave them the necessary gifts for leadership.

Let’s discuss more and/or Dr Gene Veith’s book that we’ve been talking about for awhile. Wednesday 10am Green Bean Coffee Co at the corner of W King and Beaver Sts, park behind the church.