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Archive for August, 2010

Perhaps I should start by saying I’m a sucker for movies. Not all movies, mind you, but I am a fan of movie-watching in general. I took my daughter out to see the new Karate Kid the other day, and left feeling unexpectedly inspired. It’s not unusual for me to leave a movie in a state of artificial emotional arousal (just to clarify I’m using the psychological definition here), but there are a couple of things that have stuck with me after all that passed.

The first was a quote by Mr. Han (the Mr. Miyagi character of the remake): “Being still and doing nothing are two very different things.”

I guess this is something I already know, but it really struck me in a fresh new way. I don’t know about you but I find stillness, at times, to be a very difficult thing. What an awesome discipline to perfect. And not only to perfect the times when we choose to stop and be still (which are certainly, actively, to be practiced), but furthermore to attain to a place when we are always still in spirit before the Lord, such that we are abiding and resting in Him, even while we’re moving. Being still and doing nothing are two very different things.

The second thing I’ve begun contemplating afresh since the movie ended is the importance of discipline. Not as in punishment, but dedication, devotion, disciplined pursuit. We are not all likely to become Kung Fu masters in a fantastically short amount of time. Nonetheless, the pursuit of excellence requires sacrifice and hard work.

Driving home from the movie a favorite passage came to mind:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

The comparison to an athlete training for the games really puts this into perspective. I saw a documentary during the last Olympics following one of the athletes in their training. That is serious, hardcore, disciplined training. Hours and hours every day of focused, dedicated, really hard work.

How many of us pursue the Christian life in this fashion? In terms of physical exercise does our Christian walk resemble a weekly tennis match with a friend? Sporadic bouts of regular exercise alternating with long streaks of inactivity? Maybe even a regular but short morning jog? As with exercise anything is better than nothing, but how many of us are really seeking hard after God in the manner of an Olympic athlete? Run in such a way as to get the prize…strict training…I beat my body and make it my slave…How many of us are more willing to put the time in on physical exercise than in pursuit of God? And what kind of results are we expecting? Do we think a half-hearted, sporadic faith routine is going to give us rock hard abs?

Discipline is not everything. Apart from love discipline counts for nothing (1 Corinthians 13). Even so, speaking for myself anyway, I know I could use a bit more of it. I thank God that I have been saved through grace (Ephesians 2:8), but I want to run in such a way as to get the prize!

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The last couple months have been a bit of a whirlwind. God has been present in family visits, airplanes, airports, temporary housing, and all the many details of getting set up in a new country. I confess my gaze has not, at all times, remained fixed on Him. Nonetheless, He has remained faithful (2 Timothy 2:13), and I am thankful for His hand at work in all the crazy, chaotic, anxious, frustrating, silly, happy, wonderful, peaceful, beautiful moments of my life.

In a hotel room in Nevada, feeling anxious about the upcoming overseas flight, God reminded me of Isaiah 26:3 – Thou shalt keep in perfect peace Him whose mind is stayed on thee (actually I think that’s my own little translation, I’m not sure how it got stuck in my head that way but it’s almost the KJV).

In LAX, roaming the terminal and waiting for my flight, I was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude. I love the little corner of the world I’m from, but what a privilege to go forth and see all the amazingly beautiful things I have yet to see. How could I not graciously leave the past behind in exchange for all that is to come?

Sitting on a beach in Western Australia, reflecting on the account of Elisha, I was struck by his matter-of-fact words in 2 Kings 3:18, “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord.” He was speaking of God filling the valley in the Desert of Edom with water – without wind or rain – to provide for a thirsty Israel, marching to battle against Moab.

What seemingly impossible things am I facing that are “easy in the eyes of the Lord?” What seemingly impossible things are needed right now – for you, for your neighbor, for God’s people everywhere – that are “easy in the eyes of the Lord?” How many of these would He willingly provide if we but seek Him, as the kings of Israel and Judah did?

God is faithful.

One particular verse has been sticking with me the past few weeks. It’s quite simple on the surface, but I feel I’ve hardly begun to understand its depths. I found it, hidden in a familiar and popular passage in 1 John chapter 4 about love – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God…God is love…This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us…if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us….

At the end of all this, and before another couple of paragraphs of the same, is the following statement: And so we know and rely on the love God has for us (verse 16).

I’m sure I’ve read it before, but for all intents and purposes I don’t think I ever really saw it. I’ve been going over it again and again in my mind. It seems like such a simple conclusion – an obvious thing.

On the surface it’s almost too easy. Do I know God’s love? Yes. Do I rely on His love? Sure. I think so anyway. That’s kind of like trust, right?

But looking deeper…Do I really know the DEPTHS of God’s love for me? Do I really KNOW the depths of God’s love for me? And what does it really mean, in practice, to rely on it? There’s a lot of confidence and expectation in that word – rely. What does it mean to rely on His love?

I suppose I may be leaving you with more questions today than answers, but my prayer for you is this:

May you KNOW and RELY on the love God has for you.

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