Thursday, February 20, 2014

Spiritual Health and Wellness

Today I went running for the second time since this winter. As for you runners, you can imagine how it feels. I am really out of shape. I've added over a minute to my pace since last season. My legs were burning the entire time, whereas before I could run with ease. But today, God taught me a lesson through my run. I typically like to pray while I run, and talk to my Father. Sometimes I can hear Him talk back and speak to me. This was one of those cherished and much needed moments. 

Today the wind was strong. Throughout my run I would be running straight into wind gusts of about 20-24mph. For those of you that exercise outdoors, you know how difficult this can be. Add these wind gusts on top of me already being out of shape, I can say, I was in agony. But as a runner I have the drive to not stop until the end. I must keep running until the time is up, and I reach the finish line. 

This analogy has been used many times, but this time I understand it even deeper now: Our physical wellness is just as important as our Spiritual wellness. We have off seasons with our faith sometimes, just like our workout routines. We get too busy with other things and neglect our Spiritual health. We get too busy to pray, too busy to read the Bible, too busy to love others. Today He taught me that even while we are trying to stay in shape, there are things that can hinder us and keep us from staying at the right pace. During our Spiritual workout, things can slow us down and keep us from getting to where we need to be.

 While running today, I would be running against the wind at times. This would be an example of us not listening to the Holy Spirit, and falling into sin. Sin may feel good at the time, like a cool breeze on your face; but during the race it slows us down, makes us work harder, and hurts us rather than helping us. We need to stay away from sin in order to reach our personal best. We must go with the wind and let it push us and drive us to the end. Allow the Wind to help us, make it easier, and keep us on track. Submitting to the Holy Spirit is like running with the wind, it can still be difficult because we don't feel the cool breeze on our face, but He drives us to where we need to be, and pushes us in the right direction. It may not seem easy at the moment, but in the long run He will help us!

I thank you Father for teaching me this. Help us all to follow Your Spirit, so that we can run with You strongly until the end!

(Disclaimer: While running, we sometimes still have to run against the wind to stay on course, in which case this specific analogy doesn't apply. The analogy of running against the wind and having to stay on course is different lesson for another time.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Looking for a Sign

"A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah."- Matthew 16:4

Jesus replied with this to the Pharisees and Sadducees when they asked Him to give them a sign from heaven. I ask God for signs many times for guidance or direction in a situation. Jesus gave many signs throughout His ministry on Earth, so I believe we can certainly expect more through the Holy Spirit. But the Pharisees and Sadducees were testing Jesus, and pushed Him to try and prove Himself. They were blind to all the signs and teachings that had already happened. Jesus said they will be given the signs of Jonah.

"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. " -Matthew 12:40-41

It seems Jesus was saying that the only chance of them seeing a sign was for them to witness His death and resurrection. Only then would their hearts soften to repent and believe in who He is. 

Jesus died, rose from the dead, and gave us an advocate to be with us and help us share the love of Christ. That advocate is the Holy Spirit. We are given gifts through the Spirit to enable us to show signs of great love to our neighbors and enemies, that we could not show on our own.

So what does this all mean now? Well, to me it means that we should be the sign for our generation. People should be able to see the finished work of Jesus Christ through us in how we react to others, and through our lifestyles. So I encourage you to submit to the Holy Spirit to be a sign to this generation, and make people wonder how you can love others so radically!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Deepest Apologies

I would like to take a moment to apologize on behalf of myself and fellow believers. I am apologizing to whoever is reading this. I am asking for forgiveness for the way we as Christians have treated everyone. Yes, we are hypocrites. We go to church, and as soon as we leave we start sinning like we did before we went in. We don’t treat others with love. We pick others apart and point out the flaws in another’s lifestyle. We talk bad about others behind their back. We break the law with no guilt on our conscience, like speeding for example. We drive by the person walking on the side of the road on a cold night not even thinking twice about offering them a ride. We say we will pray for someone and go about our day possibly even forgetting to pray, even though that person was just in front of us and we had the opportunity to do so then. We rant and rave about injustice and unfairness that occurred against us, and how we desire revenge on the ones who mistreated us. Most all of us have an addiction of some sort that we feel we cannot break, even if that addiction is caffeine. We also like to take Scripture out of context and use it to justify our worldly pleasures.

Yes, I apologize for all of these things, but I will not apologize for Who we believe in. We all claim to follow Jesus, whether or not we act like Jesus is another thing. That is the reason for this apology. We claim to follow Jesus and believe in His teachings, but we don’t show it through our actions. Don’t get Jesus confused with those who say they follow Him. I encourage you to actually read the entire Bible for yourself. Only then will you actually see Jesus for who really He is. Although, there are a few moments that we as Christians get it right, and will do something Christ-like. You will be able to tell when that happens because you will see an act of love that is so radical that it will go against the normal flow of the world. It will be a moment when you wonder how someone could show such compassion for a stranger or enemy, or someone of a lower social class. You will be in aw of the mercy shown for someone who doesn’t deserve it by the worldly standards. You may even see someone or yourself be healed in the name of Jesus!

So, I ask for forgiveness for all those moments that aren’t Christ-like and hope that you can put all that aside so that you may see the mercy, truth, and love that can only come from Jesus.