Tag Archives: striving. Jesus

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. !

God’s will is what drives us, not the timid little souls.

One of the knocks against Christians, especially those in the workplace, in any kind of “competitive” environment is that they lack a “killer” instinct, they let scruples, principles somehow interfere with attaining the goal, achieving the ends. A Christian is, to the best of their ability, guided by the Holy Spirit, will do their best to strive as a Christian, to conduct their life as Christ would. Most people would find themselves much more successful and in a lot less trouble if they followed God’s leading and not their own misguided motivations.

But this goofy idea that Jesus was some kind of cream puff, almost some kind of masochist, rolling over and giving in to defeat is just silly. Jesus confronted the powerful leaders of His country to hold them accountable to God’s will, for them to stop abusing their position and truly follow God’s leading. He went to the Cross, but have no doubt if He in His divine providence decided to call down a legion of angels to absolutely destroy His enemies, He certainly could. But what was the ultimate goal here, to defeat Satan, to take away Satan’s power, undermine him in the world by the innocent suffering and sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus did the most manly thing any of us could do, sacrifice Himself so that we would live. How could Satan overcome that? He lost the world because of Jesus’ sacrifice, all he could do at this point, with his fangs effectively pulled, is to try and individually undermine our life, if we let him. We have no excuse to lose our eternal reward to Satan, except for ourselves, because of what Jesus did. So let’s get over this goofy idea that Jesus was some sort of weak, weenie, candy. He won the ultimate victory for us in the most manly way possible. Glory to you, oh Christ.

Chris McCormack has become one of the all-time greats of triathlon. Macca has won the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon twice, two world championships and other lesser Ironman’s, over 200 triathlon victories. Now Macca’s not arguing from a Christian point of view, but he wonders why others would undermine themselves: “This word ‘ego is tossed around nowadays with such a negative spin on it. It annoys me to think that by believing in yourself and pursuing your goals and ambitions with conviction you can be ridiculed.” (Triathlete Mag Aug 2013 p 42).

There are a lot of people in the world today who because of their own mediocrity make it a point to try and drag down others. If others around them excel, work hard to achieve great dreams, they are somehow pretentious, uppity, they don’t know their place, they are presumptuous. They would never say things like that, but there are many who just feel that those around  them all have to maintain the same level of mediocrity. I think we see that way too much in the inner city, high schools are almost ruled by those mediocre students who have no intention to allow anyone to excel unscathed. The only exception to that is in athletics and even in that there seems to be an underlying current of mediocrity. But in academics even if you are gifted, you are expected to stay in your place and not let anyone know that you are academically gifted.

I think that Macca is incorrectly describing the argument, but I understand what he’s saying: “The issue with ego is it is up to that athlete to develop this self-belief. It is up to the athlete to accept his fears and weaknesses and implement strategies to strengthen his character in accepting them and holding true to his dream. This is difficult to do and for this reason it’s often neglected. Believing in something takes courage. And it’s not easy learning how to find new courage.”

Let me give you the Christian translation: God has put you where you are, He has given you the gifts that you have. Why would you undermine what God is leading you to do? Many have gone out and done the impossible led by God. Does it make sense to fail to do what God has gifted you with, the plan He has for your life? The Bible describes many situations where people have pushed back against God, have told God they are not capable, they cannot do what God has given them to do. They are right, it’s not going to be through their strength, it’s always going to be through the gifts God has given you, and the Holy Spirit working through you, absolutely, no doubt. But does that mean we should allow ourselves to fail, to simply give up when the Holy Spirit continues to push on us, continues to cut the path for you, gives you what you need to finish.\? Paul tells us in many ways to run the race, to win the prize, there is nothing arrogant about that, just acknowledge that it’s through God’s gifts and leadings. Not because you are somehow special and that is where humility certainly comes in, you readily acknowledge you are no more special then anyone else, but it is because in God’s divine wisdom, in the mystery of God’s sovereignty He chose you to achieve what you’ve achieved. You do it to His glory in the most principled and scrupulous manner possible. Image

“Stop hiding behind your fears. Embrace your ego – mold it, change it and utilize it to take you where you want to go. I have never said or done anything within the realm of this sport that I regret. I have been labeled brash, confident, cocky. At times I wondered if my desire to achieve my personal dreams was too much for people to accept, so labeling me was the easiest way to pigeonhole this drive.” Again let me give the Christian translation. Enhance your relationship with God, trust Him, trust what He’s leading you to do in your life in order to get where He’s leading you to go. Do so with humility, even meekness, but with the utmost confidence, trust and faith that God has given you. Don’t let other people who lead cold, frightened, mediocre little lives deter you from what God is doing in your life. You want a better world? Strive for what God is doing in your life, quit your fears, your pride, your dignity, your petty/weenie little scaries and be a true man or woman of God. Jim Elliot was told that he was crazy to do mission to the Auca Indians. There is no question that God was leading him to do it, and Elliot paid for it with his life. He strived to follow God’s leading, God gave Elliot the faith and courage to do what he did. The result was that the Auca were led to Christ that in heaven, in the New Jerusalem Jim Elliot’s reward would be great, 60 years later he is remembered and held in great esteem as a hero of the faith. I am not suggesting you be cocky and obnoxious and I’ve never really known Chris McCormack to be obnoxious, but no doubt there is ego, for a Christian that means faith, trust, following God’s leading. It’s difficult I’ve even seen fellow Christians try to tear down someone who feels the leading of the Holy Spirit, it might perceived as ego, as brash, but God does great things in all our lives, they may appear humble to others but to those we affect, they are great things and we trust God to do His will in our lives. Image

“[Macca] But what I’ve come to learn is that it is not who we think we are that holds us back; it is who we think we’re not . Remember, great things happen to those who make great things happen…” Christian translation, God is going to do great things through us. It’s not up to us to keep God from working His will. “I’m not worthy. I’m not strong enough. I’m not smart enough.” St Paul tells us: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 ESV) Stop listening to those timid, weak in faith, who are trying to douse the Father’s will in your life. They don’t know, they aren’t even trusting what God is trying to do in their life, why would you even give them the time of day in your life. Be an example to them, to those God has led you to disciple, to a world that likes to make Christians out to be powder puffs. Our Savior was the most courageous and sacrificing man in history, would those He gave His life for, His children, strive to live up to the example of their Lord and Savior?