Tag Archives: growth

Whoever loves their life…

Whether you have been a believer your whole life, or whether you are a new convert, there will come a time when the Bible will cut you to the heart.

God still says, “Adam, where are you?” and invites you to come out of hiding and stand before Him.

The Bible has a way of confronting your deepest identity, your deepest held convictions, your deepest secrets and hurts.

It puts the finger right on who you are and who you think you are, because who you are is a child in the image of Adam. And who you are called to be is a child of God in Christ. That means that Adam must go, so that who you were made to be might live.

You can’t get there if you never put to death the old man. That guy has to die.

And that is painful. It cuts to the heart. The scripture reveals your secrets and says, “Nail this to the cross.” It isn’t just those things that you do; it is the things that you are. Sanctification is only finished when we die. Only our death can finally put to death this body of death. But the little deaths, the taking up our crosses, must be daily. Jesus said that.

So the confrontation will come.

It will come in a sermon. It will come in your reading. It will come in your memories.

But it will come. The Holy Spirit will see to that.

What you do when it comes will be a matter of life or death. Unfortunately, mostpeople attack the messenger. Mostpeople won’t go there. Mostpeople will conclude that the “preacher is wicked. The bible has errors. That guy’s a jerk. That isn’t the Jesus I know…”

The alternative is just too hard. I like that old guy. He comforts me if I ignore the voice of all those that I have trampled in my push to be a god.

But if you go through the painful process of taking up the cross and hearing the thundering voice of the Word of God confronting everything you thought was right and normal and good, you will find your life.

If you want to hold on to “your life” – your life, your values, your identity, everything that you believe you are – the only possible result is death. You will think that you gained everything, but in the process you ironically lose yourself.

You must be born again to even see the kingdom of God. And that means that the old man must die.

Not gonna lie. That hurts like hell. Because it is hell, and it has to go. Your pride cannot take you into the kingdom of God.

(Luke 9:23-25)  23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
  24 “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
  25 “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?

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Thoughts while doing Cardio

First, as a disclaimer, I am not a “work-out” guy. I use an exercise bike under protest because my doctor told me it would help with my health issues.

That being said, I try to find ways to make it to the end without stabbing myself through the face. This morning it was the classic album “In through the out door” by Led Zeppelin. Yes, I know the kind of people they were.

But I had some thoughts zipping through my brain as I was listening to “Fool in the Rain”. I cannot fathom the kind of skill it takes to play drums like that. John Bonham was an astoundingly gifted drummer.

And so I was thinking – to play drums like that, one would have to have a single minded focus for years. Hours and hours and hours of practice until perfection is reached. The drive must be there to accomplish that, as well as the follow through.

We rarely see that kind of dedication in music anymore. I can’t think of one modern drummer that has mastered the art to that degree.

So follow me – my mind wanders on the bike. (Keep pedaling, keep pedaling, keep pedaling. don’t scream, don’t stab, aaaauuuuuuuuughghghghghhghghg)

If I am going to fight against the chronic illness plaguing my body, I need to force myself through this…

If you are going to play drums like John Bonham, you need to put some effort in…

 

And then my mind goes to Paul:

7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. (1Timothy 4:7-8)

We are not naturally followers of God. We are not naturally Christ-like. We do not naturally practice love and kindness. We are not naturally quick to hear and slow to speak.

If a hedonist like John Bonham can exercise himself to the goal of drumming, should we not, as children of God, exercise ourselves to godliness?

And, no, I am not talking about the “godliness” of the Pharisee – polishing the outside while the inside rots away. I am talking about the humility to listen to what others have to say, to practice viewing people different than us as image-bearers of God, to practice patience and consciously choose to hope.

This is not our natural state. Our natural state is to follow “old wives fables” and every wind of doctrine. Our natural state is suspicion and anger and turning a deaf ear to the poor and needy. Our natural state is to look with contempt on those who think differently.

God would have us imitate him in love and kindness – with the promise of life now and life to come. And it isn’t our natural state.

This means we need to be uncomfortable for a while. We need to do those things that aren’t natural. Pick up the sticks and learn how to hold them. Keep your feet moving on the stupid machine even though every fiber of your being is telling you to quit.

Practice godliness. Practice stopping the mouth and listening. Practice submitting yourselves one to another. Practice kindness. Practice stretching your comfort level. If your preacher has never caused you to question a deeply held belief, he either isn’t doing his job, or you aren’t listening.

If godliness doesn’t come naturally, and if we are required to attain it, then we must exercise ourselves to it. This means that we will be different now than we were 5 years ago, 10 years ago.

If I do not stay on the exercise bike, my health will suffer. If John does not practice, he will never play drums. If you never change your mind, you will go to the grave alienated from God. Our default is failure, because of Adam. We must change, or die. And this includes AFTER we have become saved. If we do not grow, we should rightly question whether there is any life there at all.

If you have never changed your mind about anything ever, you are a drummer that has never practiced. Quit playing. No one wants to hear you beat your drum. Go home and practice. Then perhaps you will find yourself with something to say…

(I get snarky when I have to exercise…)

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