July 28, 2014

Running with God - Breathe Deep!

Starting Block
*This post is dedicated to my dear friend Emily, who has taught me so much about running, and living.*

I am a runner of the 5K variety.  I like to get out a few times a week for a few miles. This summer, however, I have been terribly inconsistent.  If you’ve ever taken a break from exercise, you know how long it can take to get back into it, both making time in your schedule and getting the old body back into condition.
While out doing the latter a few weeks ago, I got to thinking about breathing.   When I’m on a flat stretch, I need to keep my legs moving and breathe evenly.  Breathe in, two, three.  And out, two, three.   But if I want to be able to make it up a hill ahead of me, I need to breathe evenly and deep.  I’ve got to inhale and exhale hard, so I can still be standing when I reach the top!
On all types of terrain, a runner must keep breathing.  Lose control of breathing and languish.  Quit breathing and collapse.  Those realities remind me of our need as Christians to breathe deep of the Lord.  Life is a course with wide-open, flat stretches of routine, unremarkable days, steep hills that push us to our limits, downhills that bring peace and relief, and lengthy, low-grade uphills that require long-suffering endurance.
While running the terrain of life, we cannot stop breathing deep of the Lord. ...
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July 4, 2014

The Voices: How We Can Resist

A few weeks ago, I shared some thoughts about the voices we all hear on a daily basis.  A week later, I followed that up with a post about why those voices are so loud.  Then, over the last week or so, I have been itching to write a post about how we can resist the voices that want to dominate and destroy us.  The impetus for this post comes from the theme verses for our Bible school that is happening this and next week, Ephesians 6:10-18.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

The Lord has equipped us to resist the devil and his schemes!

Teaching through the pieces of armor with the Kindergartners this week, plus a conversation with friends at Bible study about how amazing it is that kids just "get" God's love so much better than adults, has reminded me not to make being a Christian so complicated.  Sure, we can study theology and learn and grow.  In fact, we should.  But those endeavors should never, ever, never draw us away from the central truths of what it means to be a "kid of the kingdom."

What do we find in Paul's words that can keep us close to the basics?

  • We can be strong in the Lord and His mighty power.  God's people are the people God empowers to resist the enemy.  The Christian has access to the Lord and His power.  Boy, I sure act like a wimp when I'm tempted by habitual sins or wavering about doing what is right!  What a reminder: be strong in the Lord and His mighty power; put on the full armor of God.
  • Our battle is more spiritual and physical.  We are not putting on armor to go into physical battle; we are dressing to fight against darkness and spiritual forces of evil.  It is easy to forget that there is "more than meets the eye" going on in the world, which causes us to look for temporal solutions rather than summoning the power of the Alpha and Omega.  We can't fight this kind of battle alone, nor have we been asked to.  Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.

  • God has equipped us with what we need to stand firm, and it is armor of remarkable strength.  Mere metal and leather will not protect us from the evil schemes satan has prepared for those who love God.  Oh no, we need armor of a different sort.  That is precisely what the Lord provides, should we choose to don ourselves daily with truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word.  That list is somethin' else, right?  How could we forget who we are and how God has provided protection for us if each morning we thought to ourselves, I am wrapped in God's truth, clothed in His righteousness, a bearer of Good News for the world, a receiver of faith, saved, and have access to the Word of God!
  • Pray.  I am often humbled when I'm sharing a concern or doubt and someone says, "Hey, why don't we pray about that?"  Duh!  That should be our first option, not our last opportunity.  (I heard someone say that on the radio once.)  WE NEED TO BE PEOPLE WHO PRAY.  Paul goes so far as to say we should pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  God wants us to pray to Him about everything!

I'd love to explore each of the pieces of armor more thoroughly, but now duty calls and I must to the family to celebrate this holiday!  Keep your eyes peeled for more words on the subject in coming weeks.  For the time being, don't make your faith complicated and confusing.  Trust in the Lord and His mighty power, remember the spiritual realm is as much part of life as the physical, put on your armor each day, and pray.  This is a good way to resist the devil and flee from Him.  Thank the Lord He knows what we need and so generously provides.

Have a great weekend!