Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB).

I’ve been reading a lot lately about growing in God and getting to know His Word more. In the course of that reading and studying, I’ve found numerous references to being firmly rooted in the Word of God. It’s easy to say to be firmly rooted, but what exactly does that look like? I have heard so many different ideas about how to be firmly rooted, but I’m not just wondering about HOW to be firmly rooted. I want to know what that looks like to be firmly rooted.

This morning, I was reading Colossians 2:6&7, and I think I now have a better understanding of what being firmly rooted looks like. I may not have a full picture, but I do have a bigger glimpse of what that looks like. I believe there are three characteristics that someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will have based on these two verses.

1) Someone who is firmly rooted in God’s word will be walking in Christ. What does that mean? Well, that means this person is so in tune with the Lord and His Word that He lives out and copies the way Christ lived. That means, he doesn’t judge someone by past or present sins. This person accepts others as they are and cares about them regardless of their lifestyle, habits or character. Our Pastor actually spoke about this last night in our Wednesday evening service. One thing he said, really struck home to me. I’ve heard it before, but last night it sank in a little more. He said, “Acceptance is not approval.” I can accept someone without approving of his/her lifestyle. I don’t have to like everything about someone or agree with everything someone says to accept that person for who he/she is.

Being rooted in God’s Word also means that this person is more likely to be aware of and to actively seek to avoid compromising situations. It doesn’t mean this person hides in a hole and does nothing. No, instead, it means that this person is cognizant of the things that tempt him/her and then does what is necessary to avoid those situations whenever possible. What walking in Christ doesn’t mean is that this person is perfect. Unfortunately, nobody will be perfect in this imperfect earth.

2) Someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will be built up in Christ and established in his/her faith. This means that this person knows what he/she believes and continues to live in accordance with that. I can’t know what I believe if I don’t spend time in God’s Word and really take the time to study and understand what God is saying. If I do that, then I will grow in my faith, and I will know what I stand for.

3) Finally, someone who is firmly rooted in God’s Word will be overflowing with gratitude. That means, no matter what happens in life, this person is grateful for the good things he/she has, even when things aren’t going exactly as well as he/she would like. It means this person chooses to be grateful in spite of the bad things that happen. This is the part I have the most difficulty with because it’s really hard to be thankful when I feel like nothing is going right. But no matter my situation, I have a choice. I can choose to be grateful. Or I can choose to complain. Either way, I am the one who has to live with myself. Do I want to be joyful or miserable? It’s my choice. I want to choose gratefulness.

I’m so glad that I was able to read these two verses this morning because they encouraged me to dwell on what God has to say to me in His Word, and as a result, I am encouraged to stop looking at the past and worrying about the future. Instead, I want to focus on what God has for me today. I want to grow and learn. Most of all, I want to be firmly rooted in God’s Word.

Your turn! What characteristics you think someone rooted in God’s Word would have besides these? What other things can we keep in mind about growing in God? I hope to hear from you!!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

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Photo by Paul JarvisI wrote a few days ago about the need to face forward while running and in life, so that I will not miss the obstacles that are in my path. I mentioned how looking down or to the sides could cause me to stumble. And that is totally accurate. But, the past few time I ran, I realized something else. I am a big picture person. I am the type of person who sees what the end product should look like and then I make a plan to get there. I’m very good at that. What I’m not good at is planning for the problems that might come up. See, I have in my mind this perfect plan where everything will just go as I intend and nothing will go wrong. So I keep my eyes on that big picture, and I plow forward. However, one thing I’ve noticed as I run is that, if I look too far ahead on the path, I “forget” about the obstacles in front of me. I “forget” to pay attention, and the next thing I know, I’m tripping over an obstacle in my path. Or, if I’m looking too far ahead, I miss the hidden obstacles. You know, the ones you can’t see because they’re buried under the pine needles or leaves.

This morning, as I was running, I tripped on one of these hidden objects. There was a root that was buried under a bunch of pine needles, and I hit my foot on that root. I didn’t fall, but I almost did because I was so busy looking ahead, I forgot to pay attention to what was right in front of me. I tend to do this in life, as well. I get caught up in trying to reach my end goal, that I sometimes miss the things going on right in front of me. Perhaps my daughter has an issue, but I don’t notice because I’m so focused on following my “perfect plan.” Problems don’t fit into my perfect plan. Or maybe there is someone in need, but I don’t notice because I’m so focused on my goal. Or maybe it’s just that I fall into a behavior that is not in my best interests because I “forget” to pay attention and avoid it. Whatever it is, I am missing the obstacles, and I get tripped up. When that happens, I guarantee you, I don’t respond in the most gracious manner.

So, what can I do to make this better? For one thing, I can choose to pay attention to what is going on around me. Believe it or not, running has helped me to notice things more because I have become more focused. I am learning to focus on what is going on around me, while still moving toward my goal. Because I am succeeding in this area, I am gaining more confidence in succeeding in other ways. But I believe there are a few things I can do to make sure that my plans are reasonable, and that I am better able to see and avoid (or better deal with) the obstacles in my path.

 1) Ask God to help me make better plans.

James 1:5 says that if anyone lacks wisdom, then we just need to ask God, and He will give it generously and without making us feel bad about asking. I don’t know about you, but I can always use more wisdom. In addition, Proverbs 16 has a lot to say about the plans of a man. Verse 1 says, “The plans of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.” Verse 3 states, “Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established.” And, finally, verse 9 states, “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” So, if I am giving my plans to God, and letting Him lead me, then I have a better chance of succeeding because He is all-powerful and best able to help me to succeed.

 2) Ask for counsel from friends or others who may be able to provide insight.

When I just go off on my own thoughts and make a plan, I often don’t look at all angles. I might see one or two, but sometimes I miss the most obvious ones because I am so busy looking at the big picture. So, getting the advice of others can help me to make a better plan. This is in line with biblical teaching as well. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.” So, if I get good counsel, I have a better opportunity to succeed. This is really hard for me to do because I like to think I know what I’m doing, and I don’t like to bother people with my problems. But one of the things I have started to learn over the past few years is that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, that is often showing more wisdom than anything else I could do.

 3) Give myself grace when I fail.

I will never succeed all the time. There are going to be times that I fail. I have a tendency to give myself a hard time when I make a mistake, and I don’t let myself forget it. But I need to learn to give grace to myself when I fail, and instead of wallowing in my failure, I need to get up and try again. Failure isn’t permanent. I still have an option to get up and try again, and maybe the next time I will succeed.

So, the next time I make plans, I will ask for wisdom, help and not dwell on my failures. And maybe, just maybe, I will see success with defeating the obstacles in my path.

What about you? Do you find it easy to miss the obstacles right in front of you because they don’t fit into your plans? How do you avoid or deal with those obstacles? What has worked for you?

~Until Next Time,

 Karen Signature

Have you ever been in a situation where you know you should give something up, but you find so much enjoyment in it, that you hold on for dear life? It’s as if that item or situation or whatever it is just grabs hold and won’t let go, right? As you can probably tell, I’ve been there.

This past Friday a few of my friends and I started the Daniel Plan Bible Study. During our session, we watched a video at the end about the foods that we have in our pantries. The hosts were sharing the items to keep and those to get rid of. At one point, they held up a jar of peanut butter. Now, they didn’t say to get rid of peanut butter altogether, just that certain peanut butters are just not good for you because of all the “extras” that are included – many of which are really just poison. I have to admit, my favorite peanut butter is Peter Pan Natural Roasted Honey Creamy peanut butter. In my opinion, it is THE best peanut butter in the entire world. I’ve tried to find something to replace it, but it holds a place in my heart that no other peanut butter has ever been able to touch. So, the moment I heard the words come out of the host’s mouth, I said, “I am NOT giving up my peanut butter!” Basically, I was saying, I’d rather keep eating that item that has “poisons” because I was not willing to part with something that probably isn’t all that great for me in the first place.

That got me to thinking. How often am I like that with my sin? How many times do I say, “I know I should give this up, but I’m enjoying it so much, I just can’t?” How many times have I continued to live in misery, knowing what I was doing was wrong, but feeling powerless to stop it? How many times have I given up what was best for me, to hold onto that sin? How many times have I said to God, “I’m so sorry, God. Help me to let this go and do better?” How many times have I turned right back to that sin?

Matthew 26:41 says, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (NASB). Granted, I know that this verse is Jesus talking to the His disciples, who had fallen asleep while He had gone to pray in the garden before his crucifixion. But it still applies. How many times has my spirit been willing to let something go, but the weakness of my flesh has taken over? I know I’m not the only one here. Even the Apostle Paul had something to say about that in Romans 7:14-20, when he says, “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flash; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me”(NASB). So, I want to do what is right, just like Paul did, but somehow, the sin that still resides in me tries to take over. It’s frustrating and painful to admit that no matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to stop doing the things I know I should not.

The good news is that it’s not my power that has the ability to change things. God’s power has the ability to transform my life. There is nothing I can do past, present or future to change my nature. God already provided for that when He sent His Son. He works all things for good to those who love Him and are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Paul goes on to say in Romans 8, that if God is for us, who can be against us (vs. 31). He continues,He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:32-35, NASB). Did you catch that? “He didn’t spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all.” And that same Son that was delivered for us, NOW sits at God’s right hand, interceding for us! How amazing is that? That alone would be enough, but Paul didn’t stop there. He went on to say in verses 37-39,But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NASB).

In Romans 7, Paul talked about how he did the things he didn’t want to do, and didn’t do the things he did want to do. When he gets to chapter 8, he’s now reminding us, that we are “more than conquerors,” not because of anything that your or I could do, but because God gave His Son to die for our sins. Because of this, I now have Christ’s power in me, which means, I have the power necessary to let go of the sins that I have been holding onto. I don’t have to try to find it within myself. I need to look to my Savior. I need to remember who gave everything for me and is still there just waiting for me to lean on His power.

So, going back to the peanut butter, I realized that holding onto something bad for me when I was trying to do something healthier was probably not the best decision. So, the peanut butter is gonna go. I don’t want to hold onto the things that are bad for me. I need to let them go and move to something healthier.

What about you? What “peanut butter” are you holding onto in your life? Is there something you need to let go of in order to fully appreciate the power of God in your life? Perhaps, it seems like it’s too hard. Remember, you don’t have to do this on your own strength. Because of Jesus, you are already a conqueror.

I think God has something in the works for me.  I’ve prayed lately for God to remove me from my comfort zone and to do what He needs to do to get me where He wants me to be.  Apparently, as I’ve learned, that can be a dangerous prayer.   I knew He wanted more from me, but I didn’t know what He was going to use to get me there.  And just to keep the record straight, I’m not there yet.

But, God’s been working in my life.  He has allowed things that hurt.  And I find myself asking why.  “Why God?  Why do I have to go through this heart-rending experience?  Why do I have watch my daughter make bad decisions?  Why do I have to feel helpless and hurt so bad for You to work?  Can’t You work in me without all the pain?”

Now, God is God, and He can choose any way He wants to work in me.  I truly believe that.  But here is what I am learning.  When I don’t hurt, when I don’t feel pain, I don’t change.  It’s true.  I talk about change.  I say I’m going to change.  I read about change.  I write about change.  I think about change.  But I don’t change.  That’s because I’m too comfortable.  It’s easier to talk, write, and think about change than it is to actually change.  In my experience, the greatest periods of change have taken place when I’ve been broken, weak, and unable to move anymore.  Why is that?  Why does it take being broken for me to change?

It’s all about control.  When things are going well, I don’t try as hard.  I get comfortable.  I start thinking I don’t need God.  I start thinking I can do it on my own strength.  And God lets me.  That’s what free will is all about.  I have the choice to lean on God or to try to do it all by myself.  And I have a tendency to try to do it all by myself.  Like the toddler who says, “I do it myself!” I pull away from God and try to do it all on my own – and inevitably, I make a mess out of things.

The hard part for me in all of this, is that I don’t plan to try to take back control.  I don’t really want to do that.  I want to allow God to work in me.  I want to do right.  I don’t want to mess everything up.  I don’t want to sin.  But I do.  I can relate to Paul who wrote in Romans, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate (7:15).”  He goes on to say in verse 19, “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.”  I can totally relate to these verses.  I often don’t understand the things I do.  At the time, I feel like I am doing what is right, but when I look back, I realize I have once again stepped into God’s place and taken control.

When I take control, I am basically telling God that I don’t think His way is good enough.  I am telling Him I can’t trust Him.  I am telling Him that I do not have faith that He will bring me through my hard times.  And often, it takes me being at the end of my rope, when I have no fight left, and I have no other ideas to finally admit that I need His help.  So I fall on my face, with tears running down my cheeks, and I ask Him to help me.  I beg Him to help me.  And you know what?  He always does.  He always comes through.  It’s seldom in the way I expect, but He always takes me into His arms and holds me close.  And when that happens, I realize that there is nothing I am going through that I cannot get through with Him.  And even though this season is really hard, I will make it through because God is with me.  I am not alone.

Have you ever felt like you were falling apart?  Have you found yourself asking God “Why me?  Why this?  Why now?”  I’d love to hear your stories and your thoughts about this.  Share in the comments below how God reveals Himself to you when you’re hurting.

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

UL CoverI found the book Unexpected Love: God‘s Heart Revealed in Jesus’ Conversations with Women by Julie Zine Coleman to be a fabulous read. I found that it really challenged me to look deeper into biblical accounts of the conversations that Jesus had with women.

Each chapter starts out with the biblical version of each conversation that Julie Coleman addressed in this book, such as Jesus’ mother Mary at the wedding in Cana and the Woman at the Well. She not only listed the reference for each passage, but also provided the parallel passage(s) from the other Gospel accounts. This helps the reader to get a well-round viewpoint of each conversation, which I found to be very helpful. Next, Julie would provide a more dramatic version of each story, adding more insight – such as possible thoughts that went through each woman’s head, as well as detail about how the scene may looked. Then she went on to provide historical detail about the culture and viewpoints regarding women during that time period. I found this helpful in understanding how the reason people during that time period would find it strange and foreign for Him to have such conversations with women. Finally, she provided more practical information about how women could apply the lessons learned from these conversations in today’s society. Each chapter ends with questions that help the reader to apply the lessons personally and with a journaling prompt about the particular topic of that chapter.

I highly recommend this book to other women. I used it as an addition to my daily quiet time with God and found that I was able to apply the lessons from this book to my life and it helped to deepen my relationship with God. I believe other women would find this book helpful in their lives as well. Julie Coleman’s writing style is easy to read and she provides her detail in such a way that any woman could read understand and apply the lessons to her own life.

Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

I have been increasingly discouraged by the negative statements that I have seen about affairs in the world today.  Recently, I saw someone frustrated because the world focuses on what Christians are against, rather than what they stand for.  My response to that is, of course they do!  The reason the world focuses on what Christians stand against is because all too often that is what Christians focus on.  We are so busy focusing on why particular acts and lifestyles are sinful, and less about what Christ did for each one of us.

All this bickering back and forth between Christians and non-Christians, Christians and Christians, and so on, caused me to stop and think.  What is it that I do stand for?  Are there things that I stand for that are being camouflaged by all the focus on what I am against?  With that said, I decided to do a top ten of all the things I do stand for.  So, without further ado, here it is!

10.  I stand for common courtesy. These days, I am appalled at the lack of courtesy people show toward each other.  It used to be that people would say “Thank you” when someone helped them.   They used to say “Please” when they wanted something.  People also said “Excuse me” when they interrupted or bumped into someone.  Increasingly, I see that not happening today.  It’s horrifying.  When did common courtesy become a thing of the past?

9. I stand for hard work and earning what you get.  All too often, I see people who feel like they are “entitled” to have what they have.   After all, we live in a free country, right?  We’re supposed to be happy.  I’d like to give the reminder that we are all entitled to the “pursuit of happiness.”  Pursuit implies work.  You work for what you get.   My own children often express this feeling of entitlement.  They feel like they should just be handed things, even though they haven’t earned them.  There is a time and a place for that.  For example, I don’t make them earn what I buy them for the birthday or Christmas.  However, I do make them earn what they get other times.  Either they have to save up, or they have to work it off.  Either way, they are not “entitled” to anything.  Neither are the rest of us.  Besides, I find there is greater enjoyment of whatever I wanted if I have worked for it.  There’s a great sense of accomplishment that cannot be obtained by just being handed something.

8. I stand for holding our children accountable.  Let’s face it, our children are going to make mistakes.  After all, we’re adults and we still make mistakes, so it stands to reason our children will, too.  However, that does not mean that our children should be let off the hook when they mess up.  When my daughters make a bad decision, they are disciplined for it.  They lose a privilege (or more depending on the circumstances), they don’t get to do something they want to do, and/or they don’t get to do anything extra-curricular.  There is nothing wrong with that.  It teaches them to be responsible and to stop and think before they act.  If my parents hadn’t disciplined me, I would have walked all over them.  I would have grown up to expect that I could do what I want, and I would think I didn’t have to do the things I didn’t want to.  Yet, for some reason, many parents today do let their kids walk all over them and don’t make them do the things they should.  This gives them a skewed view of how the world works.  Basically, they need to learn that they get from life what they put into it. 

7.  I stand for strong family values.  I believe that certain activities need to wait until marriage.  I don’t mean should wait for marriage.  I mean need to wait for marriage.  Basically, if you’re not ready to take on the responsibility for the consequences that come from an action, then you shouldn’t be participating in the activity that could lead to the consequence.  Further than that, I believe that if you are not ready to take on commitment with someone, then there are certain activities that should not be taking place.  It’s really that simple.  I believe that family comes before work.  In fact,  I believe the family unit is the most dynamic relationship  in the world today.   I might get some questions about that from people who know me and some of the things I have done.  I mean after all, I obviously had my children outside of wed-lock.  I certainly didn’t take my own advice.  However, I believe that qualifies me to be able to make this statement.  I’ve lived it.  I know how stupid my actions were.  I know how unprepared I was.  However, I also did take responsibility for my own actions, and I have worked hard to become better than I was, and to teach my children what I didn’t learn myself.

6. I stand for good education.  I want my children to learn.  I want them to have good opportunities, and I want them to take advantage of those opportunities.  Without a good education, there is no foundation on which they can stand to move forward in life.  A good education is key to success.  However, I don’t necessarily believe that our school system gets it right.  They focus on the wrong things sometimes.  They look more at a test score than a student’s overall performance.  They rely on a computer to decide what a child needs instead of  looking at the child and observing them.  They try to fit our children into a box, while at the same time telling them to reach for their goals and follow their dreams.  If ever there was a mixed message, that’s it.

5. I stand for freedom of religion.  Before my fellow-Christians get all up in arms about this, let me explain.  Everyone has a right to believe what they want to believe.  Everyone.  None of us can force someone else to follow our belief system.  It won’t work.  Beliefs are a heart-driven thing.  I will fully support a Muslim’s right to believe as they do.  I will do the same for someone who is a Buddhist, Christian, Atheist, etc.  I don’t agree that someone is necessarily correct in what they believe, but I do support their right to believe it.  However, at the same time, I believe that everyone should have equal right to express their religion.  Christians (teacher and students) have been told that they are not allowed to speak about their beliefs, and in some cases  have been ostracized and reprimanded just for taking part in their beliefs.  My own daughter was told that she needed to put her Bible away because her having it out was stopping others from being able to express their beliefs.  How does my daughter reading her Bible keep someone else from expressing their religion?  For that matter, how does her sharing what she believes do that?  It’s no different than an Atheist expressing he/she doesn’t believe in God.  She’s not forcing it on anyone.  She stops when they ask her to.  I sense a double-standard here.  Everyone should be able to express and discuss and talk about their beliefs.  That’s how we learn.  It’s how we relate to one another – and it engenders mutual respect.

4. I stand for treating people with love, regardless of their life choices.  Again, I’m not saying I agree with every choice someone makes.  I fully agree that God’s Word has strong things to say about certain actions and activities.  However, I also believe that each one of us has lived in sin.  God’s Word says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10).  It also says that there is no one sin that is greater than another sin, and “he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone” (John 8:7).  I don’t have to agree that someone’s made all the right choices in life to treat him/her with love and respect.  Someone who lies is just as wrong as someone who cheats on his wife.  I had sex outside of marriage.  That doesn’t make me any worse than the person who gossips or spreads lies.  It makes me a sinner in need of forgiveness.  By God’s grace, I have repented and been forgiven for the wrongs that I committed in my life.  That does not give me the right to keep making them.  It does not give me the right to judge.  That’s God’s job.  My job is to treat people with the same love with which Christ treated sinners.  That doesn’t mean I condone their choices – it means I choose to treat them with love and respect in spite of their choices.

3. I stand for being kind.  This goes hand in hand with common courtesy – but it goes further.  Be kind to each other.  Don’t say or do things that hurt people.  In other words, do unto others what you’d want them to do toward you.

2.  I stand for being generous.   If someone is in need, we need to help them.  This is more than just saying the right words or doing the right things.  This is seeing a need, and meeting it – and then some.   I can’t honestly say that I have been perfect at that, but it is something that I have been trying to be better at.

1. I stand for honesty.  If there is one thing that frustrates me more than anything else, it is lies.  I hate to be lied to, and I try to refrain from lying.  Again, not something I’m perfect at, but something I do try not to do.  Lies do more damage to you than anything else.  I can respect someone who tells me the truth, no matter what they’ve done, but I cannot respect someone who lies.

So, there you have it.  The top 10 things I stand for.  Do you have a list of things you stand for?  I would love to read about.  Feel free to share below.

Until Next Time!

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the  author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3, NASB

I found myself thinking of the above passage tonight as I was doing my walk/run workout today.  I got about 3 miles in today, and I am so feeling it.  As I was running, I had to push myself – and boy do I mean push.  I was so ready to give up. This was a far cry from where I was a few months ago.  Yes, I did say a few months ago.  I stopped running back in March because I hurt my shoulder-blade and it hurt to run.  I have not run since, until today.

I’m not really sure how I forced myself to get through this walk/run today – except that I kept telling myself, “You can do this.  You’ve gotten this far.  You can keep going.”  And I still don’t think I’d have made it if my oldest daughter hadn’t been there giving me encouragement, telling me to stick with it.  She kept telling me, “Keep going Mom.  You can do it.”  And somehow – I did.

But I can’t help but think that I would have done better if I had just stuck with it to begin with.  If I had not allowed myself to keep making excuses, I might not have fallen so far behind in my progress.  I might actually have been able to run for 40 minutes straight, which is the end goal of this program.  Because I made excuses and did not keep training, I lost ground in my progress toward physical fitness and weight loss.

This brings me to the verse I started out with.  It made me think about how we’re called to put aside our obstacles and sins that pull us away from God.  So many times we are told to keep the faith and keep moving forward.  Yet, how many times do we tell ourselves, “It’s just too hard.  I can’t do it” or “I’ll do it tomorrow”?  In Hebrews 12:1-3 – we are challenged to run the race that has been set before us with endurance.  We are to keep moving forward, even when it seems too hard.

If I had given up tonight, I wouldn’t have had the feeling of victory when I finished.  Instead, I’d have felt defeated and a failure.  Because I kept going, I got to feel the elation that came with completing the workout. It’s the same way in our Christian walk.  If I give up…  If I tell myself I can’t do it…  If I say I don’t have time… I miss out.  I lose.  I don’t get the feeling of victory.  But if I keep with it and I work through the difficult times and learn and grow – I get the chance to rejoice, and ultimately, when I join Jesus in heaven – I will get to give Him all the glory for my victory.

In addition to enduring, we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus.  Jesus is the prize.  He is the reward for keeping the faith – for moving forward with endurance.  If I keep my focus on what the reward is going to be at the end, I am more likely to keep running.  And if I keep my focus on what God has promised – I will keep moving forward and growing.

Yet, we are not called to do this alone.  The writer of Hebrews points out that we have a great “cloud of witnesses.”  We have the word of many who have gone before.  We have examples to follow.  In addition, we are told to grow together.  If I don’t have others to encourage me, I am more likely to give up.  For instance, tonight, if my daughter wasn’t there to tell me to keep going and that I could do it, I’d have given up.  I wouldn’t have kept going.  In our Christian walk, we need to find those who will encourage us to move forward and grow.  We need to find the people who will tell us to keep working toward the goal and that someday, if we keep moving forward and following God, we will see victory in our lives.

I am so glad that I stuck with my run tonight.  I feel so much better for having done it, and now I know I can do it again because I did it once.  I might feel the pain tomorrow, but it will be a pain that comes with a sense of accomplishment – and I couldn’t really ask for anything more.  Just like my feeling of accomplishment for finishing tonight’s workout, growing in Christ might bring some pain, but if I keep moving forward and I learn and grow in God’s word, I will get to feel that same sense of accomplishment, as I gain victory over my sin nature.  And how much more wonderful will that feel?  The words I long to hear someday are “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Until Next Time,