Friday, February 27, 2009

#30 Where Did That Muscle Come From?

Each time the new year rolls around there are countless thousands who set it
in their minds to make resolutions. These range from losing weight to
saving more money. Personally, I have discovered that if I do not make any
resolutions then I cannot be said to have broken them. Makes sense to me
anyway. But even though I do not make resolutions I have tried many times
to lose weight. I have come to grips with the fact that I was not born with
metabolism and therefore weight sticks to me like bugs to a windshield;
neither is easy to get off.

When I joined the military and went off to basic training and discovered
that the Army had/has a great weight loss program. They make sure that you
either walk or run everywhere you go, when they think you need it they have
you drop and do push-ups, they threaten to give you more exercises if you
eat certain things, and they scream real loud at you just in case your
hearing is bad so that you do not miss anything. I went into the Army
weighing 211 and I came out of my advanced training weighing about 175. So
needless to say, the Army's weight loss program had amazing results. I
recall the first week we got into our training. I realized that my body had
muscles of which I was not aware. I can remember waking up and jumping out
of my rack-Army's name for your bed-and wondering where the aching muscles
in my back, legs, and arms came from. The first two weeks were pretty
grueling for sure. Eventually my body adapted to the training and it became
easier and easier to make it through each day until I finally totally
adapted to the training and had little to no problems doing all that was
expected of me. Granted, I did not openly complain about my aches and
pains. After all I was 30 years old and I could not let all the young
whipper-snappers know that I was about to die on our first 4 mile run and 12
mile road march. Soldiers are expected to be tough, suck up the pain, and
drive on with the mission. I praise the Lord that those days are now fond
memories, but it certainly made me appreciate so much about life and the
blessings that it brings.

When I think of physical training of the body it always makes me think of
the spiritual training that each of us needs. You see, we are each one
engaged in a spiritual battle that demands we chose sides. Jesus made it
very clear while He was on earth that we are either for Him or against Him
(Matt 12:30). It is imperative that we choose to follow Christ. If we fail
to do so then we are choosing Satan by default. When we chose to follow
Jesus we-as spiritual Soldiers-need to also train and prepare for the
battles that lie ahead. Like all military personnel who train to serve
their country, we as warriors for Christ need to train for the spiritual
battles in our lives. We need to exercise those spiritual muscles that
provide a defense for our souls. While running, aerobics, and other
exercises will help us to be healthy and live better lives, it is the
spiritual fitness that is more pressing I believe. We need to understand
how to pray, how to study the Bible, and how to share our faith with those
around us. Sure when we first begin to exercise those spiritual muscles it
may hurt at first because we are not sure what to do or how to do it. But
as we spend time with Christ, He will instruct and empower us to do the work
He has called us to do. Just as our bodies groan under the pressure and
rigors of physical training, our minds may balk at us at first when we
attempt to have daily prayer and Bible study. But I promise you that the
more you pray and study the more you will feel the presence of the Holy
Spirit filling you so that you will know that you can do whatever Jesus
calls you to do because it is Christ who is working through you. In fact,
you cannot be effective for Christ without the Holy Spirit working through
you as your personal spiritual trainer so to speak. I pray that each of you
will consider your personal spiritual training regimen to see if you are
preparing for the daily battles with the forces of evil in this world or if
you are just going through the motions of being a Christian without truly
tapping into the power that the Lord God longs to give you.

Dear Father God,
As we consider the concept of spiritual fitness this evening I know that far
too many of us fall short in what we need to be doing. It is my sincere
prayer that we would each surrender our lives to you completely so that we
can be about Your business here on earth. Father, we too often make excuses
for why we are not doing what you would have us to do spiritually, but I
pray that you would forgive us where we have failed You in these areas and
that You would give us no rest internally until we decide to do whatever You
ask us to do. We realize that salvation does not come by our works, but we
also realize that if we truly love You and our Savior Jesus then we will be
driven by that love to carry out the gospel commission to the world around
us. Bless us Father as we pray and study and may You give us many
opportunities to witness for You. It is in Jesus' holy name that we pray,

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