Friday, March 4, 2016

The Greatest Adventure

Life is for the living. 

"I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." ~Psalm 118:17

I want to live. I want to be fully alive. I want people to know who I am truly--deeply. I want to be open and approachable. 

But I also want to forever be a great mystery

My heart longs for adventure. Sometimes I can hardly stand it. I must dance with the grass to the music of the wind. I must run through my precious hills, up the trails, and over rocks and twigs. I must push my body to its limits until my legs scream in pain and my heart pounds so violently I'm certain it will explode. 

But I want more than the hills surrounding my home; I want more than the adventures of my childhood. 

I want to see the the world. But not just see it--I want to be in it, a part of it. I want a to experience it. 

I want to dance on a beach at sunset and feel the grains of sand scratch between my toes. I want to breathe in ocean air and let it excite something deep inside of me that makes me sprint into the water, jump, and let the waves wash over my skin. 

I want to repel off a castle wall. 

I want to walk the streets of a foreign city at midnight. I want to be absorbed in other cultures. I want to eat strange foods, wear flowing, brightly-patterned clothes, and let my hair fall wild and free. I want to dance to their music and experience their parties. 

I want to read the Psalms on the edge of a cliff. I want to raise my hands in the air, face the stormy sea, and sing at the top of my voice. 

I want to be alive

Am I saying life is dependent on amazing experiences? What if I never do any of those things? Will I miss the opportunity to be fully alive? 

Such a mindset reflects the Post Modern worldview of our culture today. "I am what I see, feel, taste, do, say..." In Post Moderism, there is no bigger picture--no true story that applies to all people at all times. It says ultimate reality is unknowable (it does not say that it does not exist, but that we cannot know it). 

If we cannot know ultimate reality, and if there is no bigger picture, no overall story of humanity, then how I live my life is solely up to me. And if life is all about experience, then, to fully be alive, I must experience as much as I can--to the fullest level it can be experienced--right? 

But if there is a "big story" for all of humanity--a story of grace and redemption, a story of the greatest love and most heroic rescue--then there is more to life than the simple experience

I am more than what I see, feel, taste, do, and say, so my life is more than this as well. 

I could travel the entire world and still not truly live. So what does it mean to fully be alive? 

As I reflect on the moments in life when I felt most alive, I realize it's when I felt fully known. I felt understood. It's when I related deeply with others and with my Creator

To know, and to fully be known. 

I think this is what awakens our soul. 

And the One who fully knows us, is the Creator of both spirit and flesh--body and soul. 

And He, this omnipotent being, also desires for us to know Him and to have a relationship with Him. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never be fully alive. Call upon the One who died for you, so you may have life--to the fullest, and for eternity.  

For that, my friend, is the greatest ADVENTURE

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Are You Complete?

As I was trying, and not succeeding, to write something for Valentine's Day, I came across something I wrote about two years ago. I know, at first, valence electrons may not seem to have a whole lot of connection with this celebration of love, but if you dig beneath the surface, I believe you can find timely applications. As humans made in the image of God, we were created to desire romance (see my post I Am Romanced). But we were created with this desire because it can actually point us to Christ. Although we need relationships with other people, if we are not complete in Christ, other people alone will never satisfy us. Ask yourself where you are seeking satisfaction. Unless you let Jesus fill you, you will be empty forever.  

Valence Electrons and the Desire to be Complete: 

Atoms are the building blocks of what we are made of; the basis of our physical being, but when one looks deeper, it becomes clear that they also reflect the need of our spiritual being.

Valence electrons are the electrons in the outer shell of an atom. A complete outer shell holds eight valence electrons. Not all atoms have a complete outer shell, but they have a desire to be complete, and they will do whatever it takes to fulfill that yearning. Atoms might give up their own electrons, or they may take from others. These actions are driven by the goal of completion. However, the atoms with eight valence electrons in their outer shell are complete. And they are content. They don’t need to look to other atoms to be complete; they don’t give themselves away, or take from others.

Do these characteristics sound familiar? We too have a desire to be complete. Made with a God-shaped hole, we constantly seek for completion. Some of us look to others for satisfaction. Sometimes we take advantage of others and mistreat them. However, there is only one way for us to be complete, and once our hearts are filled with Jesus, we can be content. We don’t have to keep looking because He has filled us! He’ll keep working on us--forming us and shaping us into the beautiful creation we were made to be, but we are full.

The basis of our physical being reflects the need of our spiritual being. Are you complete? 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fix Our Eyes

I am only one month away from track season, and I have never felt more unprepared, and quite frankly, terrified. Because of how last season ended, I am afraid of what this one holds. I know that I can move on from past failures and have a come-back, but that still does not take away the empty pit in my gut that I don't know how to describe except as an athlete's heartbreak. And as I am writing this, I realize I am probably over exaggerating what happened-- I simply had a bad day, that's all. That bad day just happened to be at State, so I still have not completely gotten over it.

This winter's training has not gone as planned. I wanted to get into amazing shape before track started, so when it did, I could jump right into the record-breaking times I need. Good intentions are useless if they are not followed by actions.

"Transformation is not a future event. It is a present activity." -- Jillian Michaels

We cannot expect results if we are not willing to work for them. You cannot have a goal of being a state champion or breaking a record unless you are going to put in the effort it takes to get there.

I went for a run this afternoon. On the slippery, snowy road, my feet kept sliding backwards. I'd go forward a little, and then slip back. Forward a little, and then slip back. It was a perfect illustration of my winter training. But it was really not helping my attitude at the time. The road that I have traveled a thousand times felt like a foreign trail that I had no idea where it ended. The hills that I have conquered equally as often, suddenly turned into Pikes Peak.

"Look down, slow down." "Fast and loose." "Press into the hill." Coach's words entered my mind as I ran. I kept noticing myself looking down at the ground right in front of me. If you only look where you are, you can't expect to go anywhere, at least not quickly. Yet at the same time, if you look too far out ahead, you'll get discouraged at how far away you are from where you want to be. You have to find that happy medium, and fix your eyes on that point. During a run, that spot is usually a tree, the top of a hill, or a bend in the road. But where should that sweet spot be in everyday life? For me, it usually tends to be a task. "If I can just get this done..." "Once I'm finished with this, then I can move on to that, and then I can..." This helps me accomplish what I need to and be productive, but at the same time, it really stresses me out.

"Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." --Hebrews 12:1-2

We must run with endurance. But we must fix our eyes on Christ.

One thing I've been learning the past few months is, as described in Jesus Calling, we must take each day moment by moment. We must live in the present.

This is a struggle for me. And I often get confused as to how we are supposed live in the present, and not get caught up in the future, but still have an eternal perspective and look at the bigger picture of life. But, as I reflect now, I believe it is the same as with running. We cannot look down at our feet. At the same time, we can't always look for the finish line. We have to find that happy medium--that sweet spot. And that sweet spot is Christ.

He is in control. He's in control of my life. He's in control of my track season. And He knows exactly where the finish line is and when I am going to cross it. So until then, I'm going to keep my eyes fixed on Him and run each day one step at a time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

For the Painter of the Sky

I wrote this last year and posted it on Facebook, but I wanted to share it again with my readers here:

I run for the Painter of the sky. I run for my Creator. I live for Him who gave me life through His breath. I breath for Him whose name I sound with my very breathing.

Take a deep breath--in, out. Listen. Our breathing sounds the name of Yahweh, our God, our Creator, our relentless, merciful Saviour.

When we struggle, get scared, or feel pain, our breathing rapidly increases. We need to call upon the name of God! And when we are short of breath, what do we do? Raise our hands. To praise Him. Sometimes when we breath loudly, people stop and stare. Yet, if we truly proclaim God's love with our life, if in every breath we live for Him, won't people stare? Won't they get curious?

As Jason Gray says in his song, "The Sound of Our Breathing:"

"Cause the name of God
Is the sound of our breathing
Hallelujahs rise
On the wings of our hearts beating
So breathe in, breathe out
Speak it aloud oh oh, oh oh
The glory surrounds..."

So go! Breath the name of God; with every breath, every step, praise Him!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Protected by the Constitution--No Matter How Small

Dr. Seuss said, “A person’s a person no matter how small.” Only three weeks after conception, a baby’s heart starts beating. At the end of four weeks, the digestive system and backbone are forming. Between 11-12 weeks all of the baby’s body systems are working and he/she has a recognizable human form. If that is not a person, what is it; a fetus? As defined in The Oxford English Dictionary, a fetus is “… in particular, an unborn human baby…” Seeing that a fetus is a human, abortion should be illegal. Abortion violates the United States Constitution Preamble, Eighth Amendment, and 14th Amendment.
Initially, abortion violates the Preamble. It is stated in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution  to, “ the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity…” The blessings of liberty include life. To add to that, “our prosperity” refers to future generations – the unborn. It is not only to citizens whom the blessings of liberty are secured, it is to the unborn! Regardless, America’s prosperity is being killed at the hands of their ancestors. Abortion should be illegal because the preamble secures the unborn’s right to life.
Furthermore, because of what is written in the Eighth Amendment, abortion should not be practiced in America. The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America states that, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” In an article published by Bangor Daily News on August 28, 1993, saline abortion survivor Gianna Jessen’s story is described. “Jessen was delivered alive, weighing two pounds, her brain starved for oxygen during the hours spent in a saline solution.” Other abortion methods, such as Dilation and Evacuation, dismember the baby’s body. In contrast to this appalling scene, Psalm 139:13 expresses the beauty of life. “For it was You, O Lord, who created my inward parts, You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  The God of the universe carefully knit every precious child that has ever been unraveled and torn apart though abortion. If cutting a baby’s body into pieces or letting him/her suffocate in salt is not cruel and unusual, what is? Abortion is cruel and unusual, and it is afflicted on the innocent.
In addition, abortion should be abolished because the 14th Amendment secures life to any person. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” the 14th Amendment, Section 1. This amendment prohibits laws depriving anyone of life. Yes, it addresses citizens of the United States; those naturalized or born in America. However, the only reason babies killed by abortion are not U.S. citizens is because they were brutally murdered before they had the chance. Even so, the amendment goes on to include anyone. “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; or deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Any person; regardless of race, regardless of gender, regardless of religion, regardless of disabilities, regardless of size, regardless of age, regardless of stage of development, any person is protected by the Constitution. So why then, have states allowed laws depriving babies of life?
If the Constitution of the United States is of any value to its people, they must listen and secure life to the unborn. For if a country allows their most vulnerable to be killed with cruelty, what else will that country allow? The legalization of abortion in America has shown America’s true color, and that color is flowing blood red! Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.” “We the people of the United States” need to take a stand and speak for those who have no voice, no matter how small.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Grasping for the Wind

"Then I returned and considered all the oppression that is done under the sun: 

And look! The tears of the oppressed, 
But they have no comforter--
On the side of their oppressors there is power, 
But they have no comforter.
Therefore I praised the dead who were already dead, 
More than the living who are still alive. 
Yet, better than both is he who has never existed,
Who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun." 

--Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

This speaks so clearly of hopelessness. In the book of Ecclesiastes, the underlying theme is that life without God is "vanity and grasping for the wind." 

We live in a painful, hopeless, empty world. Everyone is broken, breaking, or has been that way. How many people cry themselves to sleep every night? How many people struggle each day just to get out of bed because the reality is they do not want to be alive? How many people wish they never existed? 

Too many. 

And it will stay that way unless we do something. Unless we help them. 

Yes, the way to help the broken is to speak life, joy, and love into their lives, but I believe we must first enter their pain with them. We must go to the hopeless, empty hole of life without Christ before we can truly share the glory of a heart filled with His Spirit. 

And we must share in the endless struggles, deepening pain, and consuming depression of this life to let people know they are not alone. We must relate to them on this level, let them know we've been there, and even dwell with them in that moment. But then we must leave them with a message of hope. The hope of our Saviour, who is the reason we can live a life that is not in vain. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Have You Opened That Gift?

In my last post, I spoke briefly of those  "lull" modes where we really don't want to do anything. I believe it's okay to be in those places for a time, yet I don't think it's healthy to stay there for a long period. Nevertheless, sometimes we honestly just need a break from the busyness of life. 

 Especially with Christmas quickly approaching,  make sure you are taking the time to enjoy the season and not continually rush about everyday. Sometimes we get too caught up in what makes this time of year special, we forget who truly makes it "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year." 

Do not neglect to focus your mind on the Light of the World, who is the reason for all the lights, and  the prefect tree (the cross), which is the real reason we may celebrate with joy. 

We give  each other gifts because we received the greatest gift possible in the form of a baby boy. The question is, have you opened that gift? It's addressed to you. And it is from the Maker of All Things. 

Yes, the Creator of the universe has a present for you. 

It's wrapped in blood-red paper. To open it, you must deny your flesh and acknowledge your sin. But He says that if you simply "confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Saved. Saved from sin and death. Saved from eternal separation from God. Saved from pain and loneliness. Will the journey be easy? No. Will you still stumble and fall? Yes. Will you be persecuted? Yes. But God promises to walk with you; He never ever leaves your side. When you fall, He can pick you up. 
When you call on Him, He will answer you. He will overwhelm you with unfailing love, unchanging grace, and unrelenting mercy. 

And you don't have to wait until Christmas morning to open this gift.