Posts Tagged With: Religion & Spirituality

The Amazing Race of Life

LIFE IS AN AMAZING RACE!

Here are a few Scriptures that present our lives as a race that God has set before us:

“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. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” – Paul (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT)

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” – Paul (2 Timothy 4:7 NLT)

And also in Hebrews:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NLT

SO… What are we racing for? Are we, as Paul does, running with purpose in every step? If we look only at these texts of Scripture what can we learn about what’s needed to run this race well?

WHY EVEN RUN?

We are told we are running for an eternal prize. So what is the prize? Is it worth all the effort running requires? Will we even want the prize?

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about what the prize might be is a phrase Jesus often uses: eternal life. I’m not refering to what many think when presented with this phrase (heaven instead of hell) but to a quality of relationship with God. This is how Jesus defines eternal life:

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” – Jesus (John 17:3 NIV)

Looking at how this phrase “eternal life” is used by Jesus and throughout the New Testament would leave you with these impressions.

  • It is defined as a relationship with God (knowing him) John 17:3
  • It is something that those who believe in Jesus already possess. 1 John 5:13
  • John seems to indicate that eternal life is Jesus himself – 1 John 5:20 (which makes sense when you consider that Jesus says, “I Am the way the truth and the life” (John 14:6 NIV) and “I Am the resurrection and the life” (John 11))

Other prizes include reigning and ruling with Christ in his coming kingdom . Does this even register on our radar? Do we ever even given it a thought? Are we even aware Christ has a coming kingdom and that how we live here and now determines our place in that kingdom?

How about commendation from God for a life well lived. To hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”. Does this matter to us? This reminds me of a Francis Chan video:

What’s needed to run this race well?

Hebrews brings up the vital issue of being unentangled and free of sin. For this we need to be disciplined. But disciplined to what end? What’s the goal?

I firmly believe it all boils down to this: To live a life of love. Love is the goal of discipline.

Sin is, after all, anti-love. So how do we discipline ourselves away from sin and toward a life of love?

I think it’s so important to always keep in mind that love is the goal of a disciplined life, not just simply to avoid sin. And I think, herein lies the victory. Think about it.

If we are actively pursuing a life of loving others, waking up each morning with the thought, “How can I show love to ____ today?” and then by God doing it, then we are living and walking in the life God wants for us. In fact, whether we know it or not, we are living “in God” for the bible says, “those who live in love, live in God”. (1 John 4)

Amazing. If we are actively loving others, God is all over and in and all around us. You can’t escape God when you are loving others… even if you aren’t even aware of it. For God is love.

However, If you aren’t actively loving others then you are about as far from God as you can be. I don’t care how much of the Bible you have memorized or how big a church it is that you pastor.

“Without love, you are nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13)

I will end with a Scripture that sums up this conversation:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction;whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:7-10 NIV)

So what do you think? Does this spark any interesting thoughts for you that you’d like to share? Please leave a comment!

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Categories: Love of God | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why you never again need to be afraid

by Daniel Lovett on Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 12:39am

Love. This is what God is. That’s what the word of God tells us. “God is love”. The same letter John wrote that tells us God is love also tells us that perfect love casts out all fear. Because fear has to do with punishment.

Why you never have to be afraid again… ever.

Remember Jesus, sweating blood in the garden? Remember that opening scene of thePassion of the Christ? Jesus is trembling with dreadful anticipation. What has gotten him so worked up? Then the devil comes along and whispers, “No one can bear the weight of sin. No one. Not ever.”

Resolute, Jesus faces head on what the coming hours hold. He knows exactly what’s coming. Luke records that Jesus was briefed on all of this by two of his closest and oldest of friends, Moses and Elijah… on a mountain. On this mountain he enters the awesome glory of his Father and experiences a transfiguration. His clothes shone pure white. Whiter than snow. And here, his friends tell him of the suffering he will face.

They told of how he would suffer for love. For redemption. For the rescue of his beloved. You and I. And resolute he faced it. He overcame!

And this, this is why you never need to be afraid.  Ever.

When we fear, it simply just shows that we have not been made complete by his love… yet.

When we fear, we forget that yes, the suffering and the cross Jesus bore did in fact accomplish something.

You were forgiven that day. Yes. ALL your sins erased. The sin debt you owed, cancelled. You are now “face to face” with God. A restored child. Loved for exactly who you are. For who he made you. Loved so unconditionally, with such ‘reckless’ abandon, that knowing this love cannot help but heal your every hurt, bring hope to all that is hopeless, bring comfort, redemption, and yes, even joy.

Accept it. Believe it. This is the true message of Christmas. Jesus came for you. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you! So say ‘so long’ to fear and live… believing in his perfect love that casts out all fear.

Categories: Passion of the Christ | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fool’s Gold – Part 1

FOOLS GOLD

June, 2010 – Raleigh, North Carolina

Catherine and I volunteered to house sit for Catherine’s uncle who was taking his wife on an anniversary trip to California. Our new baby girl Ellie was just 6 weeks old at the time and I was scheduled to preach a sermon in a church that coming Fathers day. My uncle who is an elder at his church had asked me to preach because both he and the pastor were out of town.

When he first asked me to preach, I felt how Hurley must have felt when Jack Shepherd told him that he believed in him. That reference may be lost on some of you but to the others of you, you know what I’m talking about.

I prayed a great deal about the sermon. I had shared a handful of sermons before, and some of them didn’t go so well. So needless to say I was worried.

“God, this could go a hundred different directions. What would you have me share?” I prayed.

foolsgoldHis answer came the day before I was to preach. I woke up that morning inexplicably thinking about fool’s gold. I thought about the time when, as a boy at church camp, the leaders would make a treasure hunt for rocks painted gold. My mind wandered for a while about all the things I knew or ever heard about fool’s gold.

Later that day I was walking down a trail in a park and saw that the trail ended about 30 feet ahead of me at a street. I was about to turn around and then I “heard” a whisper in my heart say, ‘just walk to the end’. And so I did. As I got to the end of the trail something reflecting the suns light caught my eye on the ground. I stooped and picked up a small piece of fool’s gold.

“Ok God, you have my attention. What are you trying to say to me?”

Immediately he spoke to my heart, “This represents your self-righteousness and your hands are full of it.”

I knew in my heart that my hands were indeed full of fool’s gold.  I knew also that God wanted to give me his pure gold (his righteousness) and that in order to receive his gold I needed to dump my hands of what it held. (There was another part of me that dismissed his words. “He must be talking figuratively or something. Surely he couldn’t mean me?” Don’t we have an amazing capacity to justify ourselves?)

A Scripture came to mind in that moment. Something Jesus said to one of the churches in Revelation.

That night I didn’t sleep much. I walked a path outside my uncle’s house for hours and prayed. I stayed up late into the night reading the Bible, and writing notes.

Just the previous week I had met with my pastor. I was terrified about the meeting actually. I was worried about the state of my heart. I didn’t want him to find out who I really was, and what I was really like. But I also wanted to be completely transparent because I knew this was the path to freedom.

So I told him, “I often pose and posture myself to appear far better than I truly am.”  I gave him permission to call me out if he ever saw me playing the hypocrite.

In that moment it felt to me like that scene in Spiderman when he was trying to pull the evil black slime off of him. I was a slippery little devil and I knew it. Exposing the truth of who I was felt like nailing jello to the wall.  So, best as I could, I told him exactly where I was at and what I was dealing with. And he prayed with me.

Self-righteousness is a poser, it is the hypocrite. This is the proverbial black slime that clings to the fiber of our very being and corrupts us. We hold up our little pieces of fool’s gold and say, “look how shiny I am.” And the more time we spend polishing up our fool’s gold, the harder it is to empty our hands. Self-righteousness is entirely impossible to remove on our own. Jesus must remove it for us. Thank God he does.

Jesus lovingly corrects us. For our good he tells us what’s wrong and provides the cure. His correction is gentle and merciful and perfect. He corrects because he loves. His correction takes us off the path of destruction and puts us on the path to life. Thank God for his correction.

That Sunday I shared from my heart about all of this and then read this Scripture from Revelation:

(Please don’t “check out” as you read this like I often do because you’ve heard it a thousand times, but try hearing it for the first time.)

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is a message from the one who is the Amen – the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:

“I know all the things that you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

“So I advise you to buy gold from me – gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.

“I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 3:14-22 NLT)

A few observations:

Gold is representing something of worth or worthiness. Untold spiritual riches of eternal value are ours through faith in Christ. He is the pure gold that has been refined in the fire.

Apparently Jesus seems to think that it is no small victory to turn from our indifference. And isn’t it awesome to think that we could share a meal together as friends with Jesus? How I want that!

Please take a moment to pray with me if you want that too!

Jesus, we want that deep abiding friendship with you! We open the door to you. Come in right now Jesus! Thank you for loving us. Thank you for wanting to be our friend. Thank you for extending your invitation to us.  We accept your invitation and repent of our indifference. Give us your gold, we empty our hands of our fools gold and trust only in your righteousness. May we never again have our confidence anywhere else but in you alone!

Categories: Exposing Self-Righteous Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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