Pressing On

Pressing-OnLeeAdianez Rodriguez is a 12-year-old girl from New York, and her actions in a recent race are the epitome of “pressing on and going the extra mile.”  LeeAdianez was registered for a 5K race, but ended up running a half marathon.  About halfway through the course, she realized she was running with the wrong group. Instead of quitting, she decided to run the 10 extra miles and finish the race.

When I read this story, I wondered why this was the first time LeeAdianez had competed at this level:

  • Had her parents denied her permission?
  • Was it because her coach told her she was unprepared?
  • Did she doubt her ability?

A person can limit himself by doubting his ability and sometimes we limit God because of a lack of faith.  A little mind-shift in your cognitive approach to life is a step in the right direction, and it will help if you will:

 Recognize that doubting is normal:

  • There were times in the life of Abraham when this man of incredible faith doubted.  In each of these instances, he was focused more on his personal strength and ability than he was on the powerful promises of God.
  • When in doubt, zoom out.  Make God your point of focus:  “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble in dread before them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you (Deuteronomy 31:6).”

Recognize the value of good friends and good principles:

  • Instead of doubting your faith, try doubting your doubts.
  • Assess your recent resources for news and information. Have you surrounded yourself with doubters and skeptics or people of faith?  “In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend (Proverbs 27:17).”
  • Are you propping yourself up with false reasoning or trusting God?  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil ( Proverbs 3:5-7).”

Recognize that absolute certainty is an unreasonable expectation:

  • You will never have full and complete knowledge about everything. The quest to know more is the fuel that energizes honest research.
  • Just because you cannot know everything there is to know about God, doesn’t mean that you should limit yourself in seeking to know more about Him.

Recognize that not understanding is different than not believing.

  • While you may limit yourself because you don’t believe in your potential, don’t limit God by trying to constrain Him with a finite mind of rigid boundaries.
  • When the Israelites left Egypt, they thought the trip to the Promised Land was going to be an easy sprint; but, their doubt turned it into a 40 year marathon.

Doubt is to perseverance what krypton is to Superman.  Like LeeAdianez Rodriguez, you can press on when you recognize the correct message and listen to right voice—the voice of faith.

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How Do You Measure-Up?

Measuring-tape-010Success is determined through a process of standards and measurements.  In the world of sports, speed and strength are two important measurements.  At the NFL combine, athletes go through a rigorous examination of their physical skills and abilities based on the criteria below:

  • 40 SPEED: 40-yard dash time.
  • 3-CONE: 3-cone drill time.
  • SHUTTLE: 20-yard shuttle time.
  • VERTICAL: Vertical jump – measured by the differential between a player’s reach and the marked flag.
  • BROAD: Broad jump distance.
  • BENCH: Bench press – measured by the number of times a player bench presses 225pds.

A sports analogy was on Paul’s mind when he wrote of athletes who disciplined their bodies in preparation for the Isthmian Games.  Paul said, “Everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away (I Corinthians 9:25).”

Like the athletes of today, the aspiring athletes of Corinth lived a disciplined life in preparation for the sporting events.  They realized that the exemplary life of an athlete is the result of an examined life.

Standards and measurements should be as important to the Christian as they are to the athlete.  Paul said:

Examine yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it (2 Corinthians 13:35).”

The unexamined life is a nefarious life, and it can make for precarious habits.  Benjamin Franklin eschewed sloppy living, so he measured his life by asking himself two questions each day:

  • The Morning Question: What Good shall I do this Day?
  • The Evening Question: What Good have I done today?

Franklin believed these two questions are the key to an examined life that is as efficient as it is beneficent.  I encourage you to use these questions to measure your life through the remainder of this year.

623: A Balanced Life

new_mx623wn_500For several years now, I’ve worn a specific brand of tennis shoes. They are the “623” made by New Balance.

As I took a sip of coffee and started my devotional time this morning, I noticed my shoes on the floor in front of me. I saw something in the “623” logo on the shoes that I had never seen before.

The significance of “623” just occurred to me—Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I’m certain New Balance has never connected the salvation message of Romans 6:23 to their tennis shoes, but every time I lace them up and put them on, I’ll think of this verse.

This shoe theme reminds me of one of the principles that John taught: If you’re going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk. He said: “Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him (I John 3:17-18).”

What about your talk and your walk? Is it consistent? When people hear you talk, do they hear the love of God? If people follow your path and walk in your shoes will it lead them to Heaven?

Paul’s words to the church at Rome are significant to this discussion: “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace who bring glad tidings of good things!’ (Romans 10:13-15).”

623: I encourage you to take 6 minutes to read this blog 2 times, to think of 3 people who you can influence with your talk and by your walk, and to pray that you can be the one who brings the “glad tidings of good things” to them.