“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.” 1 Corinthians 24-26
A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. My dad had suffered through this disease for years. As a result, I was determined to do all I could to fight the effects of this disease. I learned quickly how exercise would help and soon I began to take up running. When I was younger, running was not something that I had the least bit of interest in. However, things were different now in that I now had a purpose for running. That purpose was to help me feel better and fight the effects of diabetes.
My commitment to run has stayed very consistent over the years because of the intensity of my purpose. There have been times when I just did not want to do it but God has given me the strength to persevere and stay on purpose. I have even had the great pleasure to run in many 5k type events. You could say that I have run with purpose and not just for something to do.
The same thing should be said of our Christian lives. We should not just go to church, read our Bibles, or pray occasionally because that was the way we were brought up. God never intended for us to live our Christian lives in a mediocre fashion without purpose. Living for Jesus was never meant to be an exercise of just something to do.
Unfortunately, I am afraid that many have approached it as some tradition or something just to check off the list and not do it with a purpose. The results of such efforts are Christians who have a “take it or leave it” approach when it comes to going to church and spending time with God. Our world is full of Christians who sadly live without any power or purpose.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, the Apostle Paul gives us the challenge to do just the opposite. Paul instructs us to run to win! He tells us to run with a purpose. I believe that purpose is to follow hard after God and find His purpose for our lives. I do know that one of His main purposes for our lives is that we would learn to love Him with our entire heart, soul, and mind. In order to do this, we must discipline ourselves to do it with the entirety of our being or, as Paul says, with purpose.
I ran across something George Washington said that best illustrates this. Washington declared: “Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do--then do it with all your strength.”
Are you frustrated today in your Christian experience? Do you ever feel as if there could be more to the Christian life than you are experiencing now? I pray that we would all examine ourselves to see if we are just “shadowboxing” as Paul describes or if we are truly running after God with purpose. My heart’s desire is that I would always run with the purpose of becoming exactly who God has called me to be!
“Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” Deuteronomy 6:7
Since I became a parent, it has always been my prayer that my children would grow to love the Lord and learn to follow and trust Him with all that they are. That is something that I believe most Christians want for their children. The real issue comes with how to get this desired outcome. I am sure that most of us have struggled with how to develop a strategy that will help us lead our children to Christ and then teach them daily to follow Him.
The Bible provides us with such a strategy in the book of Deuteronomy. In Deuteronomy 6:7, the Word directs us to talk about the things of God with our kids almost every hour they are awake. I believe this verse is in essence teaching us to capture the moments in life where we have the opportunity to pour into our children a Biblical Worldview. The verse even gives us such moments when it talks of bed time, being on the road, and our critical times at home such as meal times. All of these are precious times where we can spend quality time discipling and loving our kids.
What do these times look like? The great part is we can all be very creative and individualistic in our approach. You can use certain times to study the Bible and pray together. You can also do as my wife and I did and we would talk about everyday life with a Biblical Worldview perspective with our kids at these times. Current events, things we see on television, and daily life events at school make for great opportunities to talk of the things of God with our kids.
One of my favorite times of the day when I was growing up was meal time. My parents would use that time to capture moments and make memories with us. They would use it to teach truth through everyday conversation and also use it as a time to laugh and enjoy each other.
Maybe it is time to start creating some family practices that will enable you to capture precious moments with your children. For example, we always tried to protect meal time so that we would have these moments to spend with each other. Research tells us that our children are much more likely to follow our spiritual beliefs when we model and teach these truths on a daily basis.
My children are now grown and it all happened it seemed in the blink of an eye. I am so grateful that my wife and I put practices in place that enabled us to raise kids that have given their hearts to God and are following Him.
I would challenge you to not miss capturing the moments that God has given you to pass on your love for the Lord to your children. As 3 John 4 says: “There is no greater joy than to know that your children walk in truth.” I pray that we all will experience that joy!
One of the most misunderstood aspects of discipleship is that of submission. People have many wrong ideas about submission, especially when it comes to areas such as marriage. So, what does submission mean?
Submission means willingly choosing to let someone else lead. It is an act of choice made to prepare the believer for his own submission to God.
The Bible is full of admonition for believers in the area of submission. Let’s look at few that theologian Richard Foster has given:
Submission to God: “We must obey God rather than man.” Acts 5:29. We must learn to submit our lives and obey God.
Submission to scripture: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” 1 Timothy 3:17 We must learn to live under the authority of God’s Word.
Submission to our family: “Do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4. We must consider others before ourselves. I have learned as the man of the house that I am to love my wife as Christ loved the church. How did He do that? He gave Himself sacrificially for the church. I am to love my wife and children sacrificially.
Submission to our neighbors: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 Again, we must consider others before ourselves. Life is not about us or our rights.
Submission to the body of Christ: “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17
Submission to the broken, the despised: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27 We need to be about helping those who need our help and sharing the love of Christ with them.
Submission to the world: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believed in Him might be saved.” John 3:16. I have been taught so well the idea that we are never more like God than when we give. God gave His only son Jesus so that we might receive forgiveness for our sin and eternal life. We need to be about submitting our lives by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ to others.
Submission is not an ugly word nor is it something we should avoid. Submission is a spiritual discipline we all need so that we may daily experience the life and joy that God has for us.
“The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.” Nahum 1:7
When trouble comes, there are plenty of people who will give you advice on what you should do and how you should do it. There are even those folks who will be quick to tell you how you managed to get yourself into trouble. All of that advice can be bothersome and all of it is a reaction to what has transpired. Rather than continually dwelling on a reaction, I want to pose to you a plan that is proactive when it comes to trouble. This proactive approach moves us from the focus of what are we going to do and to the perspective of who are we going to trust.
I love the truth of Nahum 1:7. God is indeed good. When we step back and examine our lives we can clearly see all the good that God has done in each of our lives. Even though we have hard times, God is still present during those times. This verse in Nahum also provides the real secret in experiencing God through difficult times. That secret is to spend our lives trusting God for the daily details of life and even more when trouble comes.
In order to trust God daily, I am convinced that our focus must change. If you are like me, it is easy to become self-sufficient in how we live. I have found myself over the years depending on my own wisdom and judgment first before I turn to God for His wisdom. I am sad to say that when I have done this in the past that it has rarely worked for me the way I would want. Instead, I wind up frustrated and discouraged. I have come to the realization that I must change my focus off of what I can do and instead focus on what God can do.
Charles Stanley illustrates this well when he states: “When trouble comes, focus on God's ability to care for you.” What would it look like if we began to focus on God’s ability to care for us when trouble comes? Nahum 1:7 answers that question so beautifully when it says that the Lord is “close to those who trust in Him.” In essence, we will begin to sense and feel His presence and comfort.
I do not know what you may be facing today but I believe that we all need the strong refuge in God that Nahum 1:7 promises when trouble comes our way. Truly, our hope should be in the Lord on good and bad days. I have seen in my lifetime just how good God is and how much of a refuge He is when trouble appears.
I have come to the realization even though I have to be reminded at times that my focus must be on trusting God with my everyday life. It is inevitable that trouble is going to come our way in this life so let’s begin to be proactive with our faith by choosing a lifestyle that ensures that we stay close to God.
For those of you today who may be in the midst of trouble, I pray that you will sense God’s presence and God’s provision as He enables you to weather the storm!