Persevere

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author an perfecter of our faith…

The race is marked out for you. Run the race with perseverance. All the while, keep your eyes on Jesus.

The race is marked out for you. You cannot make it up as we go along. Lose your life in order to gain it. The Kingdom, a harvest, growing within you. Not being shallow, casual, and loose spiritually. But being serious, purposeful…living life in such a way that you need God. Not just knowing you need His forgiveness, but a life of faith that depends on Him. Not a legalistic points earning way of living, but literally rethinking, with conviction, your life based on Jesus Christ. All of your life, not just parts of it. In that, willing to lose what you need to lose in order to have true life- abundant life. Even if that is not a fallen society’s idea of success or happiness. Even if it surprises you at times. And with this, the great legacy of passing along The Faith as you have received it.

Run the race with perseverance. It is not always easy. Don’t give up. Keep going. Keep grinding. Throw off sin. Stay strong in the face of persecution. Work through your doubt. Get up when you fall. As Eugene Cho posted on Twitter:

Don’t be overwhelmed.
Stay the course.
Be encouraged.
Be tenacious.
Do not quit.
Take heart.
Persevere.
Have faith.
Press on.
Trust.
God.

All the while, keep your eyes on Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of your faith. He is what you hold to when it seems there is nothing else to hold on to. He is your savior. He is always there. He is the beacon in your darkness, in your struggle, in the midst of your trial.

Hebrews 10:36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

When you persevere, when you have done the will of God, the reward promised is great. It’s wonderful. It is life in its fullness. It is everlasting life.

Valleys: A Short

We all want the mountain top. The experience. The feeling. We search for it, chase it. Even, at times, try to force it (and dangerously I might add).

In search of the mountain top you may find yourself continually in the valley. A walk there that is lasting much too long. 

Perplexed. Frustrated. Hurt. Lost. Feeling alone.

But, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. David wrote that. He must have experienced it.

In the valley, He is there. Even in the valley that may come to be named the Shadow of Death. Even that valley does not cancel God out. He is in the valley as much as He is on the mountain top. 

Since God is there, fear no evil. Keep walking, even if you’re limping. And learn. Grow. Be shaped. Become. Learn patience. Be content with Him and Him alone. He wants you to walk with Him there- in that valley-, consciously, deliberately. Trust Him.

You will find yourself on the mountain top again at some point. He is there too. But even though you don’t search for the valleys- you don’t chase them, you certainly never try to force them-, the lessons of the valley are as important as the experience of the mountain top. 

Live For A Living

Live for a living. This line is part of the advertising for the History Channel’s Mountain Men, a show I unashamedly love (spending a couple weeks with Marty running his trap lines in the snow and cold in Alaska while occasionally shooting a moose would be incredible- my wife thinks I’m nuts). The show probably hits my desire for adventure. To do more than the everyday ho-hums. To get out, to explore, to enjoy life.

Live for a living. Don’t just live. Don’t just breath. Don’t just make it through the everyday routines. But actually live. Enjoy. Experience. Smile. Laugh. Be risky. Have a bucket list. But don’t be bored. Don’t be stressed. Don’t be depressed. Don’t be trapped. Don’t live in fear.

I’m not advocating cutting loose of all sensible responsibility and run free. What I’m advocating is this: God created us to enjoy life. He gave us life. He gave us this good earth. He made it all and said it was good, very good. In this, humanity is to be celebrated. Our talents and giftings, our diversity. The things we like to do. The earth that God made for us is to be enjoyed. To be out in it. To experience it. None of this to be worshipped in any manner, but to be delighted in.

What God has made, humanity and our world, is fallen. So while we work through life in a fallen world, a world of hurts and pains and tragedy (the great equalizer among all men), we have the ability to smile and laugh and live in joy. A joy that is found in God and in salvation and will fully be found in the resurrection. All of the caverns dug inside of us by the hurts and pains and tragedies we experience give us a greater place to be filled by the joy imparted by God and found in the things He gives us. The Kingdom of God, because of what it is and what it is about, is a celebration. It is a celebration because God is renewing what He has made. Humanity- the world.  

This is where we need to start: God, who gave us life, defines what life is and what it means to enjoy life. We find true life in Him, a life that learns to turn away from the instant gratification of our sinful self to understand true life is found in the freedom from the traps of sin and the fallen ways of the world. In this we find abundant life (John 10:10)- Christ-likeness growing in the details of our lives. Becoming something. Along with this, God defines what the good life is as proclaimed by the prophet Micah (6:8). Justice (doing what is right to others), mercy (give it to others as you have been given), walking humbly with God. In other words, as Jesus said, loving God with everything you are coupled with loving your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). The greatest commandment and the second one like it. These define and bring a life that is good and is enjoyable. Anyone, no matter their circumstance or situation, can live the good life as it is defined in this way. We learn to be content when we see life through this lens (Paul writes of contentment in Philippians 4:10-13). Enjoying life is not found in success and achievement, but found in God and in others. Don’t fall into the trap of the enjoyment of life as defined by the rat race of society and so have it defined by a way of a fallen world.

The joy of your salvation. The peace that passes all understanding. The hope of what is to come. Live with these things. They allow you to enjoy life in the midst of a messed up, hyper-busy, stress producing world. Mourn when you need to. That is important. But joy comes in the morning. You are free to enjoy life and the Creator wants you to. You can enjoy the things of life as long as they do not become idols. As long as you do not become entrapped by them. As long as you do not become a pleasure seeker. As long as the things God has blessed you with stay subservient to you. And what of those who struggle in life? What of those who are not free in their religious expression and are persecuted for their faith? What of those battling a life threatening disease? In the midst of their struggle, in the midst of their beatings and imprisonment, in the midst of their fight, God is with them and will inwardly strengthen them and will bring a peace that passes all understanding. This is not cliche and at times is not easy. They can love God. They can love others. They can live abundantly as they continue to grow into the likeness of their Savior. When their journey is complete, they will be able to look back and see how through it all their journey was beautiful.

So, walk with God. Let Him lead you and surprise you and cause you to become His intention.

And enjoy a good book.

Enjoy a sunrise.

Enjoy a sunset.

Enjoy good music.

Enjoy your marriage.

Enjoy the moments of God’s presence.

Enjoy a good laugh.

Enjoy planting a garden.

Enjoy a ballgame.

Enjoy helping another.

Enjoy a bonfire and s’mores.

Enjoy a good movie.

Do the next thing on your bucket list.

Enjoy a swim in a pond.

Enjoy a good musical.

Enjoy a night at the symphony.

Enjoy your friendships.

Enjoy a long hike.

Enjoy a table game.

Enjoy traveling to a new place.

Enjoy exercise.

Enjoy the things your purpose leads you to do.

Enjoy a bike ride.

Enjoy an adventure.

Enjoy a quiet moment.

Even begin to enjoy the everyday routines that you must do.

As John Eldridge quotes Gil Bailie in Wild at Heart, “Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Live life for a living.

The Beautiful Journey

The journey with Jesus is The Beautiful Journey.

It is a journey walked out in this wondrous but fallen world.

It is a story of reconciliation, restoration, and new creation.

It is a journey of things being made new.

It is like a plant that grows in fits and starts.

It is a life of faith.

It is a life of belief and a certain way of living.

It is answering the call to “Follow me.”

It is picking up your cross and losing your life.

It is the perseverance in the midst of the uphill climb.

It is the pressing on in the midst of the dry desert.

It is the narrow road.

It is the race to run that has been marked out for us.

It is the continuing on after a fall, bloody knees and all.

It is walking in His blessings.

It is walking through trials and the testing of faith.

It is the working through of hurts and pains.

It is wrestling with God.

It is dancing with God as He takes the lead.

It is mourning due to the depravity of our world.

It is smiles and laughter and dancing due to restoration of our world.

It is glimpses of the new things to come.

It is the individual story entwined into community with the stories of all others on this journey.

And through it all being continually taken to green pastures and quiet waters in our souls.

When we look back on our journey with Jesus we will call it beautiful.