Tag Archives: perseverance

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. !

Be a man and not a one-way creep

I will admit, I’m not a really empathetic person, you may think that’s not where a pastor wants to be, but more and more I’m learning that too many people would rather bring you down to where they are, then to try to start rising up from their pit. I’m simply not going to let people drag me down, God’s got a lot for me and I have to remain faithful to Him. God wants to raise me up, He wants to raise all who are Christians up. He wants them to all be faithful disciples. The original disciples were very ordinary men, God took them, gave them the Holy Spirit and these men went to various points of the world to bring Christ to the nations, The Great Commandment.

For those people who want to strive, who want to keep pushing, who want to move in faith to Christ, I am with them. For others, I try to set a strong example, I try to model strength, perseverance, creativity, desire to learn, curiosity. Too many people want you to be an enabler, simply support them in their habit, their sin, their little comfy place, well frankly I’m not the right guy.

Too much of secular counseling, psychology, as it were, is simply enabling, not pushing someone to where they need to be. The Holy Spirit is always pushing us, always encouraging us to grow and mature as disciples. This lead up is in regards to an article in “Black Belt Magazine” (Aug/Sep 2014 pp 32-33). Point taken to Keith Vargo, the author. In this particular issue he has made me much more empathetic. For the “there’s no difference between men and women” troglodytes, yea the narrow minded groovy/hippy types of the 1960s, the ones who never let the facts get in the way of their opinion, please, for once, try to keep an open mind.

Mr Vargo is talking about women involved in martial arts, but is certainly across the board. “Women are most often assaulted by men. Worse still, it’s usually by men they know… the fear of rape and abuse changes how women see us.”

Yea, ok, right. I have no doubt that women need to be more cautious. Mr Vargo points out that men generally think of people as well as themselves, as trustworthy, we would be more concerned with danger from strangers then someone we know. Ya, point taken. I was the oldest of five boys, we moved to Brockton, Ma. when I was ten years old. Brockton is an old mill city, very much on the decline when we moved there. Rocky Marciano grew up there. Rocky is the only undefeated heavy weight champion in the history of professional boxing. He was killed in a plane crash the summer we moved there. I, kinda, grew up with Marvin Hagler, knew him just a little. Marvin was the middle weight boxing champion of the world. There were others guys who were not quite so good, but believe me, I knew plenty of guys who could fight, often finding out the hard way. Brockton was not a gentle place for me growing up. For those little girls who look like males (and I really hate that neutral term, but I hesitate to call such whimps “men”), and who are only tough with a gun in their hand, who are scared to death of anything and everything and try to look tough, you need to straighten up and start acting like men. Quit the nonsense you’re involved with, grow up, get your life together, find a woman you can serve and protect and start acting like a man.

As a kid, it was pretty routine for me to fight my way to and from home. I was active in athletics, mostly swimming, football, basketball, other stuff here and there. Not good at that, or much else. In a way I think God used this to make me really reliant on Him. [Note- I was not a Christian at the time, or maybe just vaguely so] No talent, having to regularly confront physical abuse, no one to rely on to help, having to stand up on my own. God provided for me, taught me to be physical, gave me a good strong body, through football, basketball, the military, taught me to not only be strong, but stay strong. Learned self-defense as a civilian police officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, so yea OK, guess I’ve been pretty well indoctrinated and if there’s a lack of empathy, well maybe that’s not a bad thing.

But in terms of Mr Vargo’s comments on women, yea, I get it: “…It doesn’t matter that the majority of men will never beat their spouse or rape anyone Somewhere among all the decent men in a woman’s life, there’s a man with bad intentions. He could be a family member, a friend, a co-worker or even a guy at the dojo. Because women can’t know for sure who the bad guys are, it’s reasonable for them to be cautious anytime they get attention they didn’t invite.”

As men become more about themselves, no longer provider or protector, but just whining and demanding, obviously women become even more vulnerable. Heck, don’t want to judge there now do you? As men are just more wheedlers or demanders, as Vargos points out: “What happened to them [women] didn’t start with the overt aggression you learn to handle in self-defense class. It started out with persistent interest and slowly edged into coercion…”

So yea it is time for me to man up, that doesn’t mean try and saddle me with every fuss, but in terms of protecting from the fear of and actual physical violence? Yes! For being more empathetic and ready to listen yea. That means guys, knock it off! Quit being creeps, find that women, help her to feel safe, loved, provide for her, have children who will see what a really great man you are and maybe we might start to turn around this crummy one-way, secular, whimpy, society and oh yeah, get yourself and them to church, mine! Ladies, I am your big brother in Jesus and you should expect that from every man around you and not tolerate anything less. Any “man” who thinks he’s got it altogether and doesn’t need that Jesus stuff, lose him and find a man you can rely on as a husband and a brother in Jesus and then treat them as the men they deserve to be treated as too. This way you both grow in each other, keep bringing each other up and reaching for the Lord. Yea, now that’s the way to go.