Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Step to Fitness and Overall Wellbeing

There are ways to measure your food intake & activity level.  You can journal it, what you do, how long you do it & how much you eat.  You can do it the old fashioned way by writing it on a piece of paper.  For the more tech savvy among you, you can log it all in on My Fitness Pal or a variety of other apps.  This is the one that I use and I have found it to be easy and great for accountability with friends.  It also interacts with other apps.

When tracking your activity, you can log your workouts but also I am motivated to talk today about keeping track of your steps.  You can do this with an inexpensive Pedometer or treat yourself to something a little more high tech like Fitbit.
Marc and I celebrated our 19th anniversary with one of the Fitbits each.  These are simply wrist bands that you wear and it keeps up with your steps, your activity level, even your quality of sleep.  The great thing about it is it relates my calories burned into Myfitnesspal app.
Regardless how you track the information, the rule of thumb is this, calories in versus calories out.  You consume calories as potential energy to use. It would be great if the ole saying applied here "if you don't use it, you lose it".  However, that is not the case.  Regarding calories, if you don't use it -- you store it for later!
My suggestion is the following:
Whether you want to just stay healthy or if your goal is to lose some of that "Stored for later" calories, try to get in 10,000 steps per day.
If you want to use up those "stored for later" calories, set your goal weight.  If you are within 10-20 pounds of that goal, take the goal number and add a zero to the end.  Let that be your estimated number of calories for the day.  
Based on calories burned vs. calories consumed, try to create a 500 calorie deficit each day which will equate to you losing 1 pound per week. Double that and you double the loss, but no more than 2 pounds per week. OK, this means, burn more calories than you take in.  (ex. if I weigh 150 and my goal is 130 then I would either consume 1300 calories per day if I just want to lose weight by controlling my calories.  If I want to effect it by activity, I would want to increase my activity to use more calories than I consume.  Meaning I can eat more than mentioned above, but I would still need to create that same deficit.)  for more information Calories Burned at Rest: How many Calories do I Burn doing Nothing

And for those Christians that read my blog, remember that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Just as the priest took care of the temple, we too are to take care of the dwelling place of the Spirit of God.

Delayed Blooms

Along the lines of abiding and producing fruit, I was walking my dog and noticed that a dogwood tree in my yard had blooms on it.  You may say, "No big deal, that's what they do" but for those aware of my tree will already know where I am going with that.

You see, I live in Huntsville, AL which is in Madison county.  Several years ago during a road widening project, there was a beautiful OLD dogwood that was blocking progress for the project.  After lots of public opinion, the tree was carefully uprooted and moved to the botanical gardens.  A few years later, I purchased a baby from that tree.  At the same time, I purchased a Japanese Maple.

Years have gone by since then, and the dogwood has never bloomed.  Recently, my family went to the botanical gardens where we discovered the old tree had died, but there were babies of the tree circling where the tree used to be.  They were in bloom.  This restarted the ongoing conversation between me and my husband, Marc, regarding our poor little dogwood.  You see to date, that darn tree has NEVER bloomed.  We began to think that either it was a poser and not really a dogwood, a dud or needed something to help it bloom.

The funny thing about all this is Marc just said if the tree doesn't bloom, he was going to yank it up and get something else in its place.   Well as I said, today as I was out walking the dog, I looked up and saw this on that tree.

I cannot tell you the weird emotions that I began to experience.  I even had a few tears come to my eyes.  It was as if I could hear the Lord speaking to me through those blooms.

The lesson I took away from it was not to give up hoping.  Even when it looks like all the time, effort, tending, pruning has not produced anything; some things take more time to bloom than others.  If there is someone in your life that you have been pouring into, and you are wondering whether it is an investment or a waste of time, be encouraged by this late blooming dogwood.  Our investment into other's lives may not produce fruit in our timing.  Be patient and hopeful.  Never give up!  Maybe they are just late bloomers.

Another lesson to be learned regards authenticity.  We wondered if the tree was even a dogwood because there was no evidence other than the leaves and someone telling us it was a dogwood.  As is true with those who proclaim to be Christians yet we see no evidence or fruit.  Yes, the fruit is the proof or evidence of who we are.  Yet, instead of judging one another, let's pray for one another to bear much fruit.  We bear much fruit by abiding in Christ. (click on the link to see my blog on abiding)   Pray that we stay connected to the vine.  Be patient, maybe those blooms are coming!!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Abiding in Christ or Boot Strap Obedience?

Oh how we hear these churchy expressions and yet do we know what they mean or better yet, how to execute them or put feet to them.

I have been praying and pondering about some pretty heavy stuff.  Things like bad behavior in the Children of God, morality, bad choices, sin in the lives of the believer and the damage it does to our testimony, how many non believers are turned off to Christ (the one true hope) because of those of us unwilling to walk the path of righteousness; and then how we don't seem to be heartbroken and moved to change because we cause others to stumble.  We make excuses, justifiy and rationalize  our actions (Then we "yeah but" it to death).

So I kept asking the Lord about all of this.  I believe I am beginning to get a glimpse of His response.  One message after another keeps adding to His answer until it all seemed to come together in the last week or so.

I was listening to a message from James McDonald and then again the following day, "The Secret to a Joyful Life".  The message was playing in the car and I ended up downloading it and listening to it fully.

I will be referencing some of his message mixed with our Sunday School lesson, and my prayer time while listening through this message.

I began with the question "Lord why do we see so much world in the lives of believers?"  The believers of Christ should be going out into the world to affect it positively with the light and love of Jesus.  Instead we are going out and being infected by the world.  I asked God to open my eyes and my ears so I could see and hear His answer.  I believe He poured forth a fountain, and I will attempt to share what I believe He has shown me.

In John 15:1-17, we are told that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  If we REMAIN in Him we will bear much fruit.  But that apart from Him we can do NO thing.  We are to REMAIN in Him and He will REMAIN in us.  WE cannot bear fruit by ourselves. So we must REMAIN in Him.  (Remain - abide, lean into, dwell.)  We are to FELLOWSHIP with Him.  Remain is to abide; to abide is to remain  

  • to remain, abide
    • in reference to place
      • to sojourn, tarry
      • not to depart 1a
    • to continue to be present 1a
    • to be held, kept, continually
    • in reference to time
      • to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure 1b
    • of persons, to survive, live
    • in reference to state or condition
      • to remain as one, not to become another or different
  • to wait for, await one

So I asked Him what does it look like to ABIDE or REMAIN in Him, and he quickly began to show me that it is abiding in His word and in His love.  We must rest with Him, live with Him.  The last words from Jesus before leaving this earth were this "go, and make disciples of every nation, and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach them to observe all I have commanded and I will be with you always, until the end of the age."  So if we are to go make disciples by immersing them not just in a one time water bath but immersing them in who the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are.  This is how we come to KNOW Him.  As we do this for ourselves first, and then to the nations, we are motivated by the love that will emerge within us to obey His commands.  The obedience will be an expression of fullness, gratitude and devotion.  It will spur us on!

As I was listening to the message, James McDonald said the secret to bearing fruit is to abide in Christ  (walking and living with Christ)
As he said that, I wrote down "Lord teach me to abide"  and the next thing in the message was this:
The secret to living is Joy.
The secret to joy is abiding in Christ
The secret to abiding (fruit bearing) is obeying
We are told in John 15:9 to remain in His love, but vs 10 says that if we obey His commands we will remain in His love.

I asked God why is it so hard to obey?  We cannot be good enough by shear determination, concentrating or focusing because it is just too much.  According to Romans 7 because of grace should we sin all the more so grace can be displayed even more so.  Paul said "heaven forbid".  I say of course not.  We are incapable of keeping the law, yes.  For apart from Christ we cannot do it.  But in Christ it is possible.  He said he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it.  If I am REMAINING in Him all day, I can obey.  His love will compel me to obey.  I will want to love my neighbor as myself and my heart will break if I have caused him to stumble.

So here's the thing.  Moses said if you will not go with me into the Promised land then I will not go.  He also said how will they know you sent me if you will not go with me.   This needs to be our cry as well.  (Lord I do not need to go into the world to represent YOU unless you go with me.)  We need to sit at the feet of Jesus long enough to be filled with His love, which will motivate us to love others, and obey His commands.  We will be a true walking testimony not misrepresenting Christ and causing others to turn away from Him.

The world doesn't need me to be obedient for the sake of rules, regulations and legalism.  According to McDonald, our passion and desire for obedience will come from love.  Obedience is not a to do list.  (or a to don't list)

In Jude 24 it says, "to HIM who is able to keep us from falling".    It is HE who keeps us from sinning.  It is HE who enables us to obey.

McDonald said that if we try to obey without abiding, we will fall short.  In order to keep blameless and not stumble, we must learn to lean into Jesus, listen to Him, fellowship with Him, ABIDE in Jesus.  Jesus in us is the power to obey and also the will to obey.    Jesus is the energy to obey.  Obedience without abiding is conformity. Abiding that leads to and motivates obedience will produce transformation.

The secret to obeying is LOVE

McDonald said that there are 3 false reasons we obey:
1. Ball and Chain -  I have to obey as if I am in a prison (this is considered the adolescent Christian)
2. Electric Shock- if I don't obey i will suffer (when we choose to sin we choose to suffer)  (this is the High School Christian)
3. Boomerang- if I obey I will get blessed

He said the one true reason to obey is in 2Cor 5:14 "the love of Christ compels me" (that is Christ's love for me)  McDonald said that all Christian failure is a failure to love, being motivated by self love above love for Christ and others.  He said that the secret to loving Christ is knowing Him.  The more we know Him the more we love Him.  As we get to know Him more, we must guard against allowing this knowledge to puff us up.  Instead as we grow in the knowledge of Him, we can grow in our love for Him and for others.  As we grow in our love for Him, we will grow in obedience.  

Galatians 5:19-21 is a list which is not exhaustive, of what we look like in sin, disobedience and apart from Christ; or at the least we see what flesh is capable of doing.  In contrast, we see in the next verses, a list of the FRUIT of the Spirit.  Verse 14 "the entire law is summed up in this, Love your neighbor as yourself."

If I see evidence of Galatians vs 19-21 in my life or in the lives of others, I need to not condemn myself or them, but use it as an indicator of the need to abide, lean into, live in Christ.  Just go spend time with Him.  Concentrate on His greatness.  Think on the price He paid for you and for me to have freedom FROM sin, a hope, a future and eternal life with God.

Lets stop trying to do bootstrap obedience where we just try to be good by our own strength.  We need obedience motivated by the Love of Christ.

If we see that a brother or sister in Christ is dwelling in the sin list of Galatians 5:19-21, according to Galatians 6:1 we are to restore them gently and warned to watch ourselves so we are not temtped or fall ourselves.  Ephesians 4:15 speak the truth in love Luke 17:3  So watch yourselves! "If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive.
2 tim 4:2  Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.

To wrap this all up, I read my devotion this morning which was authored by Billy Graham.  I have included it below.  I was blown away by a NEW word for my vocabulary.  You will see ANTINOMIANISM is defined and then a link for you to read further on the matter.

Christianity is Serious

Jesus indicated that there will be a permissive society just before He comes back. “As in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the coming of the Son of man.” The world today is on an immoral binge such as has not been known since the days of Rome. We are in a hedonistic society, and what we are seeing is human nature expressing itself without God.

Many have fallen into an antinomianism in which they believe intellectually, and then go out and live like the devil, imagining that God will forgive them and take them to heaven. I believe there is an obedience to the Gospel, there is a self-denial and a bearing of the cross, if you are to be a follower of Christ. Being a Christian is a serious business.

Daily Prayer

Teach me to deny my selfish desires and obey Your commandments, Lord Jesus. Cleanse me so that I might be used to penetrate society deeply for You.
The word antinomianism comes from two Greek words,anti, meaning "against"; andnomos, meaning "law."Antinomianismmeans “against the law.” Theologically, antinomianism is the belief that there are no moral laws God expects Christians to obey. Antinomianism takes a biblical teaching to an unbiblical conclusion.
Antinomianism - Click on this link for more indepth study of this word

Read 1Jn 2:3-6  This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

LORD and Savior or Just Your Savior?

I have been agonizing over a matter that I just cannot get my mind fully around.   I believe every single believer seems to have a slightly different take on this matter, and I have found numerous resources that conflict with each other on the matter.  Even though each is using the scripture in their argument. 

Carnal Christianity vs. Surrendered Christianity.  Is Jesus just your savior or is He becoming your LORD?  I believe we are saved in an instant, but we are transformed in His likeness over the rest of our lives as we make the choice to surrender to Him.

Colossians 3:5-17

God has been talking to me about it everywhere I turn partly because I have been asking Him about it.  I have been struggling with the body of Christ looking like the world to such a degree that the world doesn't want to be part of Christ.  I struggle with the misrepresentation of Christ to the world.  It breaks my heart that the version of Christ that is being represented is so distorted that it is giving the world every excuse to reject Him.  I do not think it is done intentionally to keep others from Christ.  I believe it is done for lack of knowledge of the truth.  But my heart breaks at the idea of my life being the reason another would turn from Christ.  My heart aches to think that my misrepresentation of Christ could cause someone to say "if that is what it is all about, I want nothing to do with Jesus."  This weighs heavy on me.  Does it you too?

If we are the body, we need to love each other.  (That includes the carnal Christian)

If we are part of Christ, we need to be concerned for the eternal destination of the lost.  

We each are in ourselves, capable of doing all manner of sin.  We have each been plagued with a disease at birth that is keeping us all captive, it is called sin.  If you can imagine the WORST sin man has ever committed according to man, it is only by the grace of God we do not each find ourselves in the middle of that very sin.  We need to see that apart from God, we are all capable of all manner of sin.  We can stay in that condition, but Jesus died on the cross to break the power of that disease in our lives.  He is the cure for our sinful state.  We can enter into that cure by receiving Him as our Savior first and then by surrendering to His will for our lives on a daily basis.  That is what we call making Him our LORD!!  He is the Master and we are His servants.  

So here is where the full agony lies for me.  As a world full of lost and hopeless people look upon the body of Christ to see "where is the Hope",  are we demonstrating our freedom from sin by our surrender to obey Him, or are we squashing the hope for others by our Profession to be His yet living like the world?  (which puts us right back in bondage to sin)  

You see according to scripture, we purify ourselves by obeying the truth.  The truth is the word of God.  

Ephesians 4:14-16 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

1 Peter 1:22-23 & 2:2  Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.[a] 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

2:2 so that by it you may grow up in your salvation

What I believe the world is observing is a large number of baby Christians. Let's not beat each other up. Yes, the Pharisee in me wants to scream at these babies in Christ, but there is NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus.  So if you are with me as a recovering Pharisee, would you join me in praying for the babies to grow up into their salvation.  Pray that they will develop a burden in their hearts for their part in discrediting the gospel message, but not so they will feel beat up or condemned, but instead they will be moved to repentance.  Pray with me that they will begin to obey the word in order to purify themselves.  Pray with me today that each one of us would live a life that honors God and draws many to Christ by our witness.  (The way we live)

In addition, to all recovering Pharisees, let’s love fervently and passionately with a PURE heart.  The biggest problem with the Pharisee is there is typically pride, lack of humility and compassion.  According to scripture, God draws near to the humble and resist the proud.  Also pride goes before a fall.  So remember your sin, thank God for your deliverance and fall to your knees on behalf of the babes in Christ.  Cover them in prayer and love.  Walk beside them and lead them in the way they should go!!!!

Babies need to grow up and Pharisees need to repent of pride.  

Be blessed today!