If I Knew Then…

If I Knew Then…

Monday, March 26, 2018 – 02:36

Heavenly Father, Thank You for this day. Thank You for the opportunity in this life to be a parent. Thank You, even more, for bringing a grandchild into my life – a second chance, of sorts.

img_0530Thank You, most of all, for Your Word, our Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (B.I.B.L.E.).

I could have entitled this post “When Your Phone Rings At 11:53pm.” We parents dread those calls because we know the blaring ringing waking us from sleep is quite possibly the cry of a child still learning to adult.

So it was tonight.fuel-gauge empty 2741_960_720

Continue reading “If I Knew Then…”

Trying: The Good and The Bad

I’m fascinated with words like “trying” that have conflicting definitions – their use keeps us from understanding what we want to say to each other.

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You are headed for trouble! You say wrong is right, darkness is light, and bitter is sweet.
Isaiah 5:20 CEV

Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.
Genesis 11:7 NIV

I’m amazed that everything we see happening in the world today has already been prophesied and predicted – yet so few seem to be aware of this.

business-as-usualBut understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV
(And it is hardly possible anymore to “avoid such people”.)

sadness
I’m deeply saddened that the solution to – or, at least, the explanation for – these problems has been documented all along in plain sight, but so many have sought – successfully – to have it be ignored, ridiculed, and denied.

For the message about the cross is nonsense to those who are being destroyed, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.
1 Corinthians 1:18 ISV

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
2 Timothy 3:16 NLT

 

terrifiedI’m terrified at the promise of what is yet to come – upon all of us. It is not an idle threat.

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
Matthew 24:4-12 NIV

But I’m incredulous, yet slightly perversely joyous, that all this is proof that God’s Word is Truth. These facts are signs of the end times. Will I live to see it? I really do wonder. And I keep trying look past the coming trials to the reward on the other side.

Then there is hope that I myself will somehow be raised from death.
Philippians 3:11 ERV

But I meant to speak of “trying”. We have to be trying to hold onto hope in these trying times. We have to be trying to be examples of His message in both our words and actions.

Adjective: difficult, annoying, or hard to endure

Verb: make an attempt or effort to do something

“Easier said than done” is especially apt to describe people’s actions these days. We all speak our minds and are quick to advise the world in general from our wisdom. Social media has paved the way for us, as is so obvious from this US election. The hateful and contemptuous language I have read! (And posted, too, I confess.) We have become so reactive, instead of focusing on being proactive.

What can we do? I think the first thing is instead to ask “What can I do?” Christianity is: Fixing the Whole – fixing, improving, growing, maturing myself. Actively. Doing what I proclaim in my own life. Walking my own talk. And being honest with myself about how far away I fall from doing that.

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What continues to be of prime importance to me is that I read The Bible for myself. It is the foremost way God speaks to me. I can only urge you to do the same. Give it a try. I am sure you will be amazed at what you hear, and what you learn about yourself.

This morning, I am also recalling and considering the book The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This is Evil talking:

screwtape.jpg“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”

Evil seeks to keep the Truth of God far from our awareness.

“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Faith and trust in God and His purpose helps us to get through our difficult seasons. We all will have storms in this life.

“I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so.”

Evil wants us to think he (The Evil One) doesn’t exist, despite how easily and simply it explains everything.

I believe:

“Every life is better with Christ at its center, but that means that Christ must become, more and more, the animating center of all you do and say.”
Rankin Wilbourne, excerpted from “Union With Christ” in “Men of Integrity” magazine

god-anything-possibleThis is what I believe, yes, the every life would be better. But how I put this into effect is only by making my life better, by keeping Christ at its center, letting Him, more and more, be the animating force of all I do and say.

I can not change you. God will do that. And He just may work through what you see me do and hear me say.

Spartan? Try Roman!

My wife, God bless every bit of her, has always been a fitness nut. She’s always felt driven to it. Before we were married, she worked aboard tanker ships, and would tell me about her off-hours on-board exercising. (There was not much else to do when embarked for months at a time.)

Mid-life has been no different. Several years ago, prompted by the sudden, shocking passing of a co-worker who had gone out for a jog, a group from her company started working out together. They set and accomplished goals, at first running 5Ks and 10Ks, and then getting into Spartan racing. This is a race on a course filled with obstacles of every kind: walls to climb over, barbed wire to crawl under, tires to pull, weights to carry, etc.

It was a time of great camaraderie, as family and friends got involved. Our son joined. Even I, just months after open-heart surgery, took up walking the 5Ks (and still do). Spartan races are held in specific locations, and sometimes there are multiple levels and lengths. Finishers are awarded medals. A series of three is a trifecta. There’s a shadow box here at the house, proudly displaying all of my wife’s hard-earned memories. Seasons have come and gone, and the group’s makeup has changed as members move away and change jobs, but a group it remains.

This morning I awoke wondering what (or who) inspires a Spartan. I immediately noticed that there are parallels with followers of Christ, because Jesus, our founder, ran a race very similar to the excruciating challenge of Spartan. Let’s call it “Roman”.

We have all these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fail.
We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith, and he is the one who makes our faith complete. He suffered death on a cross. But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing because of the joy that he could see waiting for him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne.
Think about Jesus. He patiently endured the angry insults that sinful people were shouting at him. Think about him so that you won’t get discouraged and stop trying.
Hebrews 12:1-3 ERV

What Spartan racing is to full, comprehensive physical training, the Roman cross has to be to full, comprehensive spiritual training. And the biggest difference between the two is that the cross, for Jesus, was run to the death.

You are struggling against sin, but you have not had to give up your life for the cause.
:4

We Christians are called to die “in effect”.  To die to ourselves, to die to our own selfishness and goals, and instead to live in and for Christ, for God’s purpose for us. And in service to others. This is the biggest similarity between Spartan and Roman. Sure, there are elite Spartan competitors, but, by far, the “common” racers are not concerned with their own times; they’re only concern is surviving the race to the finish. And they willingly aid those running alongside them. Throughout a Spartan course, you will see nothing but one racer helping and encouraging another.

A Book of Cliche’s?

There are, of course, many cliche’s I’ve heard from my Spartan. Motivational sayings are printed out and tacked up on the fridge. You can google on Spartan race quotes and quips, and fill a book with such sayings.

Likewise, we have a book of Christian motivation, The Bible. But “cliche” doesn’t do either of these collections justice. “Cliche” has a negative slant. It’s definition is “a saying that is overused to the point of meaninglessness”. So I looked up some synonyms: platitude, banality, maxim, axiom, truism. I think I found the right word in “dictum”, which has two definitions. One, is like those other words: “a short statement that expresses a general truth or principle”; but the other is very definitive: “A formal pronouncement from an authoritative source”.

The Bible is our guide. It is full of advice and recommendations on life’s best practices. Can it function the same way for a Spartan racer? I think so, but I now know that in it, I have found another way to connect with my beautiful, hard-charging bride.