It's All Grace

Amazing things can happen when you allow the Lord to work in your life.

How will you run, & will you conquer?

Hebrews 12:1-2   “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

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A race implies an exact distance, a measured course, a starting place and finish line.  It is not a continuous loop that we can repeat over and over until we get it right.  Once the race has started, you cannot start over, go back and erase.  You must keep pressing forward.

The Christian life is also a race, one to endure.  It is not a sprint, it is more like a marathon, and similar to conquering the gauntlet.  There will be those who will not reap benefits, because they won’t run with patience (meaning to persevere & endure).

Many marriages won’t make it because they won’t stay together through the hard times.  The world says, “enjoy NOW” and God says “WAIT NOW & enjoy later”.  Marriage brings with it many obstacles, wounds, and weights even when there is rough terrain that may leave scars and hurts.  Stick it out.  Keep running, laying aside your weights that beset you.

Recently, I participated in an event with friends and family, knowing in advance I would be tested, stretched, left physically exhausted with possible bruises and cuts from trauma to my physical body.  I not only participated, but I had to register and pay a fee that would allow me to endure such things I did not know I would encounter.

Conquer the Gauntlet is an extreme 4 mile run/race/event with 30 + obstacles on grueling terrain, fire, barbed wire, walls to climb over, mud pits, etc., that will challenge you in every area that you can imagine, just as the Christian walk will do.

To endure and succeed in such an event, you must have determination, purpose and will-power.  Qualities required are honesty, courage, integrity and the like.  You will have to overcome or surmount physical, mental or moral force to be victorious, just as you do in your daily life as a Christian.

On this 154 minute journey (for me) in 96 degree temps, to “conquer the gauntlet”, I realized just how deceitful the heart can be.  Your mind and your body are not always in agreement when you are faced with an obstacle you must overcome, by going over, under or through it.  Going AROUND the obstacle that was provided to stretch you, only means you did NOT endure.  Your mind says you can do it and yet your body begins to argue, or vice-versa.

As we set out to run and conquer the gauntlet, we endured and encountered many things that I would like to share, but too many to write in one post, so I hope that you will check in and read the posts to follow.

How will you run the race, and will you finish well?  Will you finish the race standing up or will you be carried out on a gurney needing oxygen to help you breathe, etc?  Will you see it as an accomplishment or a regret and never run again?  How we view what is ahead, is in direct relation to how well we will finish.

Stay tuned as I will be writing about obstacles, weights, accountability, encouragement, thoughts, enduring & persevering, wounds, and even humor!

Conquering the Gauntlet was a journey I gained so much from . . . too much not to share!

One thing is for sure:  We look much different at the starting line, than we do the finish line, when we choose to overcome and conquer!

 

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Dead Flesh Doesn’t Sin

There is a “conflict in our flesh” after salvation.  We have the same flesh when we knelt down to pray, as we did when we got up.  Our flesh DID NOT get saved.  Therefore, we must CRUCIFY it daily!  Crucify means to kill, slaughter, destroy. Dead flesh doesn’t sin!

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Can You Hear Me Now?

And Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Mark 4:9

Numerous times Jesus includes the equivalent of saying, “Listen up!” when He speaks. His expression, He who has ears to hear,”makes us realize how often we use our ears for other purposes—to secure sun glasses, to keep our hats from falling over our eyes, and to hang jewelry. But we’ve got ears in order to hear. Jesus wants to provoke attention, even though He knows some will not listen.

When we look at the reasons why people don’t listen, we can group them into four categories. As you read them, do a spiritual hearing check-up by asking yourself, Am I like that?

Immaturity. People of all ages can have this problem. Immaturity is the inability to connect actions and consequences. The immature person doesn’t get it. They can’t make the connection between their choices and what comes because of those decisions. They need to discover the unbreakable law of cause and effect that God has established in the universe. If you choose to sin; you choose to suffer. That’s what’s coming. People frequently say, “I’m going to beat the odds. I’m going to cut the corners.” Then they hit a brick wall or disappear in a bottomless pit. Often, painful experience is the only effective teacher to improve an immature person’s hearing.

Rebellion. “My will. My thrill. You chill.” Those are the proud declarations of rebellion. “No one’s going to get between my will and my thrill! This is what I want to do. You back off! Don’t tell me anything.” Rebels won’t listen and they try to cut off any attempts by others to help. They are stuck in overdrive, headed for a wall—and they don’t care! But hardship and humiliation can make a rebel’s heart attentive.

Woundedness. Hidden hurts close hearts and ears. They can’t hear because something happened that left unseen scars. Sometimes in a family or a church things happen that few know about. The person holds it all inside and drifts away. They’re hurting, but don’t bring it out in the open. They can’t listen to reason because all they hear is their hidden wound.

Relationships. Peers could be the problem. Peers in the ears block fears. Warnings we should hear and be afraid of don’t register on our radar. Like a teen who feels the need for speed, with a friend in the passenger seat shouting, “GO!! GO!! GO!!!” There are many times we should be afraid, but we’re more concerned about impressing our friends and the people around us.

Most of us can relate to one or more of the reasons above. But He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Jesus’ words remind us He has spoken even when we are not listening. And His Word is always ready when we’re ready to use our ears for their designed purpose—to listen. Until we’re willing to respond to the truth He has for us, we’re not really listening.

How did you do with the hearing check-up? If you realize you are being influenced not to listen to the Lord because of one or more of these causes, it’s time to let God do some hearing correction. Ask Him to tune your ears to hear His voice.

Pastor James MacDonald

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Marriage and Sin

Anyone planning on getting married soon?  If you’re afraid to face your sin, don’t get married, because marriage will expose your sin like no other relationship known!  This is what happens when two sinners live under one roof!

Many times people get married with the idea that the “other person” will make them happier.  What if God designed your marriage to make you holy . . . even more than to make you happy?  This thought certainly puts a different perspective on marriage.

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Smart Brain

“And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”.  Romans 12:2

The human brain is the most complex arrangement of matter in the universe, and modern brain research is adding to this wonder.

But medical researchers are learning that if the part of the brain that controls your left hand, for example, is damaged beyond repair, other parts of the brain will take over for the injured part.  This doesn’t always happen automatically.  However, it takes effort on your part.  If you don’t use the hand, the brain won’t work very hard to re-assign its function to another part of the brain.  It also works the other way.  Even if the brain isn’t damaged, failure to use your left arm will result in shrinkage of the brain area that controls it.  so, pianists, for example, will have a growth in the area of the brain controlling their skills if they practice.

These discoveries fill us with more wonder over the incredible abilities of the brain.  But they also tell us something about ourselves.  We are not, as many think, locked into certain bad habits or sins.  We are learning that the transformation of our minds by God’s power is not only something that happens spiritually — physical changes take place in our brains as a result of our behavior.  Is your mind being transformed by the power of God, or is it being conformed to the world?

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What’s In Your Closet?

Something to ponder: If we think our past won’t creep up into our present lives and multiply, just set and watch. Just because we’ve covered our sin and not dealt with it, doesn’t mean it’s gone. Children WILL WEAR what’s in their parents closet!

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