Worth the Effort

Two weeks ago I mentioned I needed to continue exercising my leg if I expected the muscle strength to improve. And I was. Until I wasn’t.

I didn’t stop exercising intentionally. It just happened. Slowly, I began backing off from how often and how much time I invested in strengthening my muscles. The effects of not exercising as much as I needed weren’t immediate. At first, I ignored the renewed stiffness and pain. When I couldn’t ignore it any longer, or rationalize it as just a momentarily fluke, I admitted I slacked off from doing what I should do. Exercise.

I told myself I reached an acceptable level of improvement, but I hadn’t. There is still work to be done.

Sometimes I believe we treat our spiritual strengthening the same way. We read our Bibles, study, pray, meet weekly with fellow believers. It’s all good. Then life happens.

We pull back a little from how often and how intensely we read our Bible and pray. We skip meeting regularly, and the more times we skip church, the easier it becomes to stop going altogether.

The results are subtle at first. A little stiffness here. A little ache there. Until one day, we try to walk and end up limping. Our spiritual muscles have weakened. We aren’t as strong as we thought we were. We need to get back into the routine of daily exercise; daily Bible reading and studying, and drawing close to God.

Yeah. Not being farther along in my physical rehab is frustrating. Not being able to walk without needing to remember how it’s supposed to be done is frustrating. Having to deliberately take the time and make the effort to reach the ultimate goal is frustrating.

But you know what? Just as putting in the necessary effort to develop my leg muscles is more than worth it, so is developing a right relationship with God.

Even more so, wouldn’t you say?

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But do not follow foolish stories that disagree with God’s truth, but train yourself to serve God.  Training your body helps you in some ways, but serving God helps you in every way by bringing you blessings in this life and in the future life, too. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 (NCV)

 

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Please God Or Please Man?

Whose approval do we seek? Are we trying to please God or please man?

When the apostle Paul preached Christ and him crucified, Paul didn’t try to flatter or sweet talk his listeners. He didn’t try to say things he thought would keep the status quo or not ruffle feathers.

Quite the opposite. More times than not, the truth Paul spoke to reach a world desperately in need of a Savior ended up enraging the mobs determined to kill, flog, or imprison him.

But Paul never changed his message to please man, protect himself, or avoid hardship. He was steadfast and resolute in proclaiming God’s truth, no matter what it cost him. Paul knew being a servant of God meant he was to please God not please man.

Paul did not try to make friends with influential people in order to advance his prestige or career. Sure. He wanted an audience with the Roman empire’s highest leaders. Not to see what he could gain from those meetings, but to share the gospel of salvation.

When Paul wrote his letters to the churches scattered throughout Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome, those letters weren’t written to highlight his mastery of the written word or brilliant debate skills. He didn’t write to win acclaim. He wrote to preach about a resurrected Savior, grace, and salvation.

Paul was not afraid to call out false teachers. He warned of the dangers of placing anything or anyone above our devotion to the One True God. He instructed the churches in how they were to live as followers of Christ.

I doubt Paul set out to intentionally irritate people, but that was often the result. Even so, he refused to compromise the message he’d been given in order to save himself from man’s wrath or disfavor. His goal was not to be a charismatic people pleasing preacher. Paul’s goal was to be a faithful servant who pleased God.

As Christ-followers we are called to imitate Christ. We are called to serve others in the name of Christ. We are called to live in such a way others will see Christ living in us and be drawn closer to God.

Nowhere in our job description as disciples of Jesus does it say our focus should shift from pleasing God to pleasing man. Paul never compromised the gospel message by seeking man’s approval over God’s approval.

What about each of us? Who do our actions show we are trying to please?

My prayer for each of us is we will be as convicted as Paul to please God rather than to please man.

How do you keep pleasing God your primary goal?

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You can see that I am not trying to please you by sweet talk and flattery; no, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please men I could not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Guest Post – I Am Paul

Today’s guest post, I Am Paul, written by Dave Peever first appeared on Live 4 Him.

I Am Paul

Maybe it would be better to put it this way; I feel like Paul. I know my writing will never carry the same weight and although it is possible, I will most likely not end up in jail for my beliefs. I do not foresee public beatings, angry crowds attempting to rip me limb from limb nor do I anticipate martyrdom as the end of my story. Still, even more than my previous posts (I am Mary, Thomas, Samuel, Peter, Adam, Judas, The Rich Young Ruler ) I feel like I am Paul.

It has been a long road.

What seemed to be sure things evaporated. Opportunities that should have panned out turned into dead ends. The work I was blessed to be a part of was what I would call a success from a preparation and presentation standpoint but lacked any long term outcomes. It wasn’t failure but rather the fact that a clear path with clear outcomes seemed to be allusive. I am Paul.

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. Acts 16:6-7 (NIV)

I have tried to point out issues that needed attention.

It is tough to tell someone that their “baby” is not doing well. It is even more difficult to get them to listen. Unity in the church is to be the goal but not at the cost of Christlike behaviour and Holy Spirit inspired actions. Power struggles under the disguise of godly leadership declare war on those who would seek a better way, a truly Godly way that does not give into the bombastic to avoid the inevitable fight. I must speak but that doesn’t mean they must listen. I am Paul

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.  What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 (NIV)

I have experienced the good and the bad.

Two and a half years of unsteady work preceded by an incredibly successful year of transitional work, preceded by unsteady work hampered by health issues preceded by a great run doing music, theatre, overseeing homeless dinner outreaches, preaching and many more ministry related projects. This long run-on sentence was created to say it has been a roller coaster, no wait, more like a plane hitting turbulence, out of control and unpredictable. With this wild ride comes all the financial rewards and woes something I wish on no one. Through all this I am learning to trust God, to be content, not quite there yet but the journey is closer to the end than the beginning. I am Paul.

 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)

There are days that I struggle.

All the messages I give from the pulpit, all the advice I offer to those who ask, all the writing I do and the content it contains, it all says what I think is the Godly way, the Christ honouring way. If you were to take all that I have said, all that I have instructed others to do and hold it up against my life, the way I live, I would be embarrassed. I know what is good, what is right in the eyes of God but I fail. No matter how hard I try I end up doing things I shouldn’t and not doing the things I should. I am Paul.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15 (NIV)

I say I am like Paul but can I say…

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes… Romans 1:16 (NIV)

Am I Really Paul?

Who is Dave Peever? I am a follower of Jesus the Christ. My specific call is to creatively present various aspects of life as a Christ follower and as a member of a collective of Christ followers I use my background as an actor, director and playwright/writer as well as my music, preaching and leadership skills to assist churches in transition (between pastors) with their desire to be more effective. I have been married for 31 years. We have 3 sons and 4 grandchildren all who currently reside in central Ontario Canada. I have been in ministry for 22 years.

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I wish you well.

Sandy

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Resistance Training

courtesy pexelsPower is developed through resistance. Or so I’ve been told.

During the recent physical therapy rehab for my fractured hip, several exercises required resistance. Either through machines, added weights, or my own weight against gravity. The more times I practiced and performed the various exercises, the stronger my leg muscles became. The more I pushed myself, the greater the result.

Yeah. It hurt at times and would have been easier to skip the effort, but I was willing to endure the hard work of resistance to achieve my primary goal. Return to pre-fall activities without needing a walker or cane.

My twice-weekly trips to therapy ended, but the resistance training continues. It has to if I expect to maintain the growth I’ve gained.

Are there any parallels to be drawn between physical therapy resistance training and the resistance training Christ-followers must take part in? I believe so.

We are told to be self-controlled and vigilant for our enemy, the devil, prowls about like a lion looking for someone to devour. We are told to resist him. Because when we do, he will flee. That’s resistance training. It isn’t a one and done deal. It is a continual training. We can’t think saying no to Satan once will be enough to keep him away forever. If only that were true. But it isn’t. The devil is relentless in his attacks against God’s people.

Our power to stand firm in our faith and say no to Satan is developed through resistance to his lies, and holding on to God’s truth. The more we resist the deceiver, the stronger we become to stand firm. It isn’t easy. It takes determination. We might think we can give in this time, skip this resistance training, and make it up next time, but it’ll be hard to recover what we lost.

Are we willing to endure the hard work of resistance training to achieve our primary goal? A pre-fall state in heaven with Jesus?

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Be self-controlled and vigilant always, for your enemy the devil is always about, prowling like a lion roaring for its prey. Resist him, standing firm in your faith and remember that the strain is the same for all your fellow-Christians in other parts of the world. And after you have borne these sufferings a very little while, God himself (from whom we receive all grace and who has called you to share his eternal splendour through Christ) will make you whole and secure and strong. All power is his for ever and ever, amen! 1 Peter 5:6-11 (Phillips)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry — Waiting

Welcome to Pause for Poetry featuring a poem, Waiting, written by my writer-friend, Frances Gregory Pasch.

Waiting

     Waiting for answers

     Is part of God’s plan.

   To strengthen our faith

Though we can’t understand.

    We don’t like to wait,

    We want answers now.

We know He could grant them

   Of course He knows how.

    Yet He puts us on hold . . .

   Doesn’t give us a reason

     For His plans yield fruit

      In His perfect season.

    So while we are waiting

       He helps us to grow.

      And when He is ready

     His answers we’ll know.

   ©Frances Gregory Pasch

Frances Gregory Pasch’s devotions and poems have been published hundreds of times in devotional booklets, magazines, and Sunday school papers since 1985. Her writing has also appeared in several dozen compilations. Her book, Double Vision: Seeing God in Everyday Life Through Devotions and Poetry is available on Amazon. Frances has been leading a women’s Christian writers group since 1991 and makes her own holiday greeting cards incorporating her poetry. She and her husband, Jim, have been married since 1958. They have five sons and nine grandchildren. Contact her at http://www.francesgregorypasch.com.

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I wish you well.

Sandy

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