Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ready, Set, LIVE!

POW!

The starter's pistol shoots...and they're off! Some runners start with an incredible burst of speed. Others seem to be pacing themselves for a longer run. Several are only walking briskly, while a few seemed to have missed the cue altogether and remain behind the starting line.

Sound strange? Well, this is something like what might happen if you put a bunch of people in a race, told them about an incredible prize at the end, and then let them know that they would not know where or when the race would end until they got there. Some would leap at the opportunity, some would logically figure they needed to pace themselves, and some wouldn't even want to bother because it's just too much work to try to get to an unknown destination.

So how DO we pace ourselves, knowing that the "race of life" is of unknown length? How do we keep from losing heart when it's longer and more tedious than we expected?

Well, I have three points from scripture and experience that might help clarify this matter. I'm going to cover only one point in this post, and I'll continue this "race" analogy for the next two posts, so that I can cover each point in some depth.

Ready, set, GO! Point number one:
It's not a competition against the next guy! (Ephesians 6:12)

In the race of life, you don't have to compete against anyone else. In fact, you'll be better off if you don't! Playing the "compare game" can do two things: It can discourage you, because you see people doing "better" than you in certain areas, or it can cause you to become complacent because you think, "Hey, I'm doing better than Joe over there at loving my family, and I'm way ahead of Maria at my daily Bible readings, so I must be A-ok!"

NO! Don't get stuck in those traps! We're to compare ourselves to Christ, and strive for his perfection! (Galatians 6:4-5)

On the other hand, we also need to have role models who inspire us to be all that we can be. But instead of comparing ourselves to them, we need to look up to them as examples, and figure out how they accomplished what they did. Maybe we can even ask them for advice or help and glean directly from their expertise! (***Question: Who are your role models or coaches in the race of life? Leave a comment and let me know!***)

Competition can also be good and healthy in many areas of life. Just don't let it get corrupted by jealousy or pride.

See point two here!... And as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!! :)

~Joy~ :)



More on this topic:
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Ephesians 6
Philippians 3:12-14

"Running Analogy" from Forerunner Commentary

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Everyday Passion

What is your passion?

A friend asked me this question today on Skype. It caught me off guard. Here's what I came up with on short notice:

Although I must confess an incredible amount of idolatry that creeps in to dilute or distract me from my passion, that aside, it would be this:
- To memorize, understand and live out the word of God, and to make it known to others.
- To make disciples instead of just converts or lukewarm "crowd members"
- To help children realize their potential, which is difficult for them to do in this day when they are mostly being entertained instead of challenged
- To use the gifts and abilities I have been given, however incompetent I may feel, to reach out to my world with the love of Christ

I feel an incredible guilt while writing this. Yes, it is the declared passion of my life, but how often is it REALLY the driving factor behind what I do? How often am I led astray by my "old self" and its desires? How often do I waste time on frivolous things that will never endure? I find myself pleading for forgiveness day in and day out for this, and yet, I do it again and again and again! But my Lord is gracious and compassionate, abounding in love! Praise God!

More than that, the fact that I have a passion and recognize that I am not always faithful to it gives me a great advantage. It gives me motivation to press on in Jesus' name!

I have two questions for you:

1. What is your passion?
2. Are you living for it with everything in you?

Remember, you are not alone if you find yourself struggling to keep your first love, your passion for the Lord and his work. The enemy wants us to become discouraged and distressed. He wants us to fall down and not get up.

I encourage you to write down your passion (just the basic points), and take a minute to evaluate whether the way you live on a daily basis lines up with it. If not, don't lose heart! Instead, let it challenge you to add a little passion to your life everyday.

A little goes a long way, and in this case...it may reach into eternity.

More on this subject: "The Motions" - Matthew West
"The Rebelution: A Challenge for My Generation" - Brett Harris

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Love...Isn't Safe

"Oh no, my walls are gonna break
It's so close, it's more than I can take
I'm so tired of turning and running away
when love just isn't...

Everything you want
But it's everything you need
It's not always happy endings
But it's happy in between
its taken so long, so long to finally see
that your love is worth the risk

...I'm so tired of turning and running away
When love just isn't safe

...you're not safe...
And that's ok."

This is part of a song by Britt Nicole. I've come to love this song just recently.
Here's a link to the story behind the song, told by Britt Nicole herself.

One of the reasons I was drawn to this song is that it reminded me of a quote from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. This quote had a profound impact on my view of God:

“‘Is – is he a man?’ asked Lucy.
‘Aslan a man!’ said Mr. Beaver sternly. ‘Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion, the Lion, the great Lion.’
‘Ooh,’ said Susan, ‘I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.’
‘That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,’ said Mrs. Beaver; ‘if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.’
‘Then he isn’t safe?’ said Lucy.
‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you’.”

That last line really hit home for me. How many of us, like Britt Nicole, have been running from the love of our Lord because all we can see is that first sentence? "Course he isn’t safe."

Don't stop at that first part, read the whole thing. No, of course God isn't safe! He does things that we cannot begin to understand! (See Isaiah 55:9)

But through it all, we can always know that He is good. That alone makes it worth the risk of accepting his love and surrendering our lives to Him.

So what's keeping you from running to the Lord? Are you afraid? I can promise you, He's not "safe" or "tame," but neither is trying to make it on your own!

Isn't it worth the risk?


More on this topic:
http://radicalee.blogspot.com/2008/05/hes-not-tame-lion.html
http://everydaybecky.blogspot.com/2009/05/he-is-not-tame-lion.html

Think Short!

Since Montrose (the Montrose Christian Writer's Conference I attended in July) I've been occupied with getting ready for the start of school, working, finishing my online classes, and getting my children's story, Bessie the Busy Bee, published.

I keep telling myself, "You need to write more!" but I can't seem to find the time. Just this morning, I remembered something that I learned from Ginger Kolbaba, founding editor of Kyria.com and one of the presenters at the conference. "You need to keep it short!" she asserted. She went on to say that people are more selfish than ever when reading online. They want to read something interesting, and if what you have to say goes on and on or doesn't keep them enthralled, they will just "click away" and be gone. Just like that, you've lost your reader.

Although it goes against my naturally loquacious nature to keep my writing concise, I know it's for the best. Actually, it works out better for me! Although I might not have the time to go into an in-depth study or story, I can easily find the five or ten minutes it takes to write a small dose of encouragement that might be just what someone needed that day.

From now on...look for more posts from me, and I will be doing my best to keep them bite-sized and easily digestible. Please come back and visit me soon! :)

~Joy~