Reality. Check.

Treadmill control 20150120

Reality.

I will be honest, I have been slacking in my exercise and fitness plans. Recently, I made some adjustments and have chosen to focus with renewed commitment and energy on returning to a “more fit me”. It didn’t take long to reveal the test results of just how unfit I really was. Shortness of breath. Very low endurance for the distance. Carrying a few saddle bags of weight. It left me feeling worn out, out of sorts and out of shape! That reality check about my physical condition caused a spin off question. Just how fit is my faith? My spiritual condition? I mean, it seems things are speeding up and pressing toward critical mass.

I am just a little past half time in my life. Like you, I have suffered my share of challenges, losses and difficulties. Like you, I have failed sometimes but, overcome most of the time. I will be quick to admit there were times when the heartache and pain were a more than I expected and sometimes unexpected. There were times when I wanted to give up. Stop. Quit. What’s the use? Let me just live my life in peace. Reality, now is the time to dial up faith, courage, desire and passion!

God’s answer to Jeremiah’s complaint comes to mind,
“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” Jeremiah 12:5 NIV

The same words translated through The Message Bible are even more poignant, “So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses? And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm, what’s going to happen when troubles break loose like the Jordan in flood?”

The writer of Hebrews sites a time of shaking will come that will shake all that can be shaken… [for what purpose?] to reveal the Kingdom that cannot be shaken (12:26-28).

Check.

The Scripture suggests that there will be a time when the race will be accelerated, as when the horses are released. There are times when a safe, orderly society will be less orderly and downright dangerous. Times when trouble breaks out and the enemy breaks in like a flood. What will be our response? Are we fit for the challenge? Will I be among the faithful who can endure?

If you are loving and believing God today I am so thankful and encouraged. I am encouraged because I know you have been made fit for this time. Jesus exerted great effort in order to save my soul. It is that effort that I rest in and labor from. He saved us from ourselves; from our tendencies toward failure, disobedience and weakness. We have been granted a new status before the King of the Universe. We are now partakers of His divine Nature for His Glory! On my own from my old nature I could not perform nor achieve. As a new creation in Christ, now I can! We were born for more than an ordinary life. We were born to go beyond, to live in that reality as an Over-comer!

Christ in you, the hope of Glory. Under any conditions. Reality. Check.

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My Goal for You: Endure, Be Encouraged and Overcome!

Child's face in Magnifying glass.

At durable424 my goal for the coming year is to share from the overflow of God’s presence, love and goodness in my life.

  • It is my vision that the ideas shared here on durable424 will bring faith that you know greater endurance and long lasting encouragement to live a more fruitful life pleasing to God and rewarding.
  • It is my desire that these thoughts will be reminders of our Great Hope that in turn will inspire you to endure!
  • It is my expectation to see the power of the Gospel and the power of God at work in daily life encounters prompted by love.
  • It is my ambition to proclaim these truth concepts: Yes, He is! Yes, He did! Yes, you are! Yes, you can!

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5 NIV

“We continually remember…your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope.” 1 Thess. 1:3 NIV

Courage for More

Some see opportunity beyond the danger. Others see only the danger.

Which are you?

Life has many pitfalls, difficulties and hardships. The inclination might be to play it safe, never take risk and avoid anything that threatens.

The promise of God is quite different. It is for heaven to touch earth by touching you. Faith does include risk but the promise of a faithful God overreaches the danger and perfect love throws off fear.

As heaven pours down like a river over you allow the good to overflow.

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls;
all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me.” (Psalm 42:7)

And remember, the River upstream is filled and larger than what you know right now. Believe. There is more to come!

Love. Faith. Hope. Healing. Strength. Vision. Wisdom. Courage to trust. Forgiveness to trust yourself.

Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the process. Release the power.

I want to live like that!

Can YOU Believe It?

Identity. Perhaps the greatest internal struggle for humanity is securing the answer to the identity question. Many would say, What question? My greatest passion is to help individuals become assured of this core value. The writer of Proverbs states: “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life” (4:23). And, “…as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” (23:7).

When it comes to the personal, financial and privacy issues the identity must be robustly protected, even guarded. New companies like “LifeLock” have arisen to serve this security need. Identity thieves have been troublesome throughout history. In digitizing a vast portion of personal information and making it available on-line modern technology and the marketplace has given thieves new fields to dig in. It happened to us one time. Someone in Italy made a purchase of $750.00 using my debit card. I wasn’t aware of it until the proof showed up on my statement. It’s probably happened to you, too!

Identity thieves are after the big stuff. They are not after the Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus figures on your porch! They are looking for the greater wealth. The thief has one motivation: gain access to the deeper levels of your worth and credibility. If they are able to crack the code on your privacy–the camel has its nose under the tent. Ultimately leaving you and me feeling robbed, violated and at varying levels “worth-less-ness”.

Personal identity has an affect on my daily affairs aside from the financial and privacy concerns. Identity is the garden from which all choices and thoughts grow; and therefore attitudes and behaviors become the fruit of the core identity. The ground of my identity is fertile and abundant. It will bring into being the realities of my life, realities even more substantial than the financial matters. Often, worth in wealth is the result of identity bearing fruit of my choices and attitudes about wealth.

There are many dumb thieves out there who have gotten caught with their hands on the goods. But identity thieves are a sophisticated bunch. They know where the deeper stuff is. They know where the valuable stuff is and how to dig it out. If you struggle with a question of Identity it may be because the thief, the robber of your spiritual inheritance in Christ has been messing with you. He is not a petty thief taking candy bars off the shelf. He is not after the small stuff. He knows that won’t set you back. But, if he can dig in your field, if he can get you at the core of your being and raid your identity, then he can bring you down. His motivation is to keep you believing less, understanding less and living less than. In an unguarded heart he can establish his lie that you are nobody. The thief is delighted to leave you living your life “worth-less” than God’s truth about you!

Take time today to passionately worship your Creator. He will reveal the great treasure of true riches. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

A dear friend of ours recently shared this writing about who we are. It points us toward the reality of God’s dreams for you and me!

WE ARE HIS  By Cheryl Renly

WE ARE HIS

Surrounded by His angels

Weapons tempered for war and victory

WE ARE HIS

Attuned to His honor

Filled with His Holy Spirit

Led by His Majesty and power

Swathed with His robes of righteousness

WE ARE HIS

Honed by His Word for every battle

Assigned to the battlegrounds where we live;

To reap a harvest of souls beyond our imagination

Can you believe it? I want to live like that.

When the Wind Blows,Part 2: What do I do?

In part 1, the farmhand said he “could sleep when the wind blows”.

Is it time to sleep?

Windstorms bring destruction and chaos. Favorable winds blow carrying opportunity and blessing. Faith when coupled with responsibility allows us to sleep in the windstorm.  Surely windstorms will show up in life. Favorable winds will also blow. A fresh wind of favor is now blowing! This is not the time to be sleeping! A wind of new direction and a new season is upon us.

What will you do with the wind? Close the windows? Run for cover? Cancel your plans? Tie down everything around you? Steer into it to compensate to stay on your current course? Slow down, stop and wait? Face the wind and stand your ground? Resist the wind and increase your speed? Adjust your course? Hoist your sails and capture its power?

What will you do when the wind blows?

A major shift is going on in the world. Recent events in the nations within governments and economies are telling of change. The wind is changing and I think it requires us to think of change on a personal level.

Authority is closely tied to finances whether personal or governmental. You have probably heard an adaptation of the golden rule, “He who has the gold, rules.” If you were to look at my check book ledger it would tell a lot about me. What I spend and how I spend indicates what I submit to. It reveals where I have authority and how I rule in my own life.

We have been hearing the word ‘austerity’ a lot. Austerity is a good word, but I think self-control is better. Self-control in the heart translates into self-governing; in the home and on a broader level as a nation. By self-control I am saying Holy Spirit-control from a new birth. Unrestrained spending and indulgence has spread its weakening affect across relational and international lines. It cannot be sustained. How we spend our resources weakens or strengthens a nation, a family, an individual. The day of accounting now appears to have come, and many are being forced into changes that have taken them by surprise. There has been a windstorm, and they are not sleeping well.

Over the years we have been encouraged to live a fasted lifestyle, meaning to purposely turn your self away from privilege and comfort, to live on less. Often that kind of counsel had been cast off as pious, survivalist or old fashioned. It seems God has been giving advance instruction of what to do. When God sends a boat, take it! When the wind changes, make necessary adjustments and capture its opportunity, blessing and power.

Many will not initiate personal change until the inevitable appears and our backs are to the wall. We lose our job. Our health fails, or our comfortable world falls apart. The fear of change or the refusal to change will keep many in denial.

My wife and I have made some major changes in the past few years. I wish I could say that I saw them coming but I didn’t and a good number of the changes caught us unprepared. The result was a major shift in our lifestyle with significant loss. When the wind shifted, the change hit us hard. But we decided we would not let fear direct us. We are now on the other side of the change and continue to adapt, adjust and grow. The result has been astonishing. We have a gained understanding by keeping faith when the windstorm arrives and the landscape is changing. (See post of May 17, 2012, “The Profit of Loss”)

To many folks, change is paralyzing. They have no idea of what to do to prepare for, adjust to and lead in the change. It is said of the men of ancient Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32) …they understood the times…, but more than understanding the times, they knew what to do! I would see the men of Issachar among those who live for and embrace change. They would be among the innovators, the first adaptors. They live on the edge. They initiate change and welcome change. They were EdgeHogs. (I will follow up with thoughts on the EdgeHog in another post.) Often the safest place to be is on the edge!

History is being made at this very moment. What we do in this season will have a long term effect on your life, family, career, ministry, finances, health.

Change is inescapable, whether or not we change is optional. I have a choice. I can adapt or resist. I can initiate change or I can be intimidated by change. I can break from the past or I can be broken (then break from the past, there is profit from loss). I think the choice is clear. But I won’t sleep through this opportunity!

What changes have you initiated or adapted to? Sorrow may linger for a season, but joy comes in the morning!

A Frodo Finish

Toward the end of the third segment of the Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee are broken and tired from the battle on their journey. They are determined to destroy the ring and its evil influence by throwing it into the fiery volcano. The two are on the mountain side totally exhausted.

Sam digs in to stir up the will to finish. He does so by recalling the sweetness of spring back home in the Shire. As he speaks encouragement to Frodo to finish the mission he makes a profound declaration. Sam says, “Frodo, I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!” Fully energized he stands up, lifts his comrade Frodo to his shoulder and carries him up the mountain. There, Frodo finishes what he alone was commissioned to do.That scene spoke to me. It speaks to the heart of healthy community and friendship.

We all have a job to do; the Master’s commissioning. I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you. Your mission is yours and yours alone. No one else can do what only you are called to do. But in the weave of the fabric of community and friendship there is the strength absorbed of others near us. A friend lifts us up, sometimes just enough to allow us to continue on. They can’t carry the responsibility, the doing of your calling, but they offer support and carry you when needed. They carry you by words, nudges, smiles and gifts of themselves.

It’s not right for anyone to carry another’s responsibility. Nor is it proper to expect it of others. God never intended that. Our purpose must be our primary focus and our personal responsibility. Each of us will stand before God with our Orders in hand. Those orders will be stamped Complete or Incomplete based on the choices we’ve made.

There are times when life becomes difficult with mountains to climb and fire balls falling all around. Personally, I have felt the heat of that fire and the strain of the climb. Thank God for people like Sam who came to lift me. They recognized the importance of serving another person’s dream in the pursuit of fulfilling their own. I have had more than a few. Strong men and women of character and power chose to put themselves into my path and walk along side. Their encouragement and energy carried me and pushed me farther, higher and faster than I ever could have on my own. I owe them thanks.

As you offer yourself in service to others take special care that you keep Sam’s perspective. Acknowledge that you can’t carry it for them. You can’t do their work, job or duties for them—that’s not really helping. But, you can carry them in prayer, in the encouragement words and acts of love. Genuine community thrives in this beautiful environment of love, respect and responsibility. To our own task first, and then to one another.

I want to live like that!