Monday, August 31, 2009

"R" Rated Faith

Last Wednesday I talked about having "R" Rated Faith. I Googled the MPAA movie ratings sytem and reworded the descriptions to describe a person's faith. Here's a brief synopsis:

G = General Audience. Contains nothing in theme, language or lifestyle that would offend the status quo. There may be some snippets of talk about God, but they are common everyday expressions. Depictions of self-sacrifice are minimal.

PG = Partial Guidance. Some talk about Jesus as Savior and some depictions of self-sacrifice, but these are not deemed so intense as to require following the Biblical standard of living out your faith other than when at church or with the "Church Crowd."

R = Resticted. Depictions of activities related to a more mature nature. It is both realistic and extreme realizing there is a war going on in the spiritual realm for the souls of man. Their relationship with Jesus is taken very seriously. There are not the same, but have been transformed. "There's more to them than meets the eye." According to sceptics, this type of faith does not exist, "but when all else fails, they don't." This type of faith accelerates the possessor beyond normal human parameters by the power of the Holy Spirit. Parents and peers are strongly urged to find out more about how this "Restricted" faith can change everything!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Runing The Race

Last Saturday I participated in the race of the century, the Tour de Berryville. It was a gut wrenching race with arduous mountains to climb and unyielding valleys to cross. Never in all my days have I trekked upon such a rigid and perplexing terrain with this one thought in mind, "I must run with perseverance the race marked out for me." This grueling course also known as Berryville's annual Ice Cream Social 5K had met it's match.

Okay, so maybe those arduous mountains were only gradually sloping hills and the unyielding valleys actually slightly downhill breathers, but two things remain true, I did have to run with perseverance and it was a little grueling--for me. Until the first of this year my running consisted of about ten strides at any one time on the racquetball court and maybe the occasional half-court basketball or 50 yard flag football game. I hadn't ran for running's sake since about 2001. Consequently, eight years and about 30 pounds later I found myself out of shape and a little overweight.

I'm not really one of those people who can do something just for doing somethings sake. I have to have a goal that keeps me focused and gives me the conviction to finish well. The motivation I had for this goal was more than getting in shape or losing weight. I had been speaking to our students in High-Way 62 Youth Ministries from Hebrews chapters 11 and 12 for the entire 2008/2009 school year with the theme verses concentrated on Hebrews 12:1-3 which states:
"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 and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
So, with this in mind, I decided to use the Ice Cream Social as a visual illustration, as well as, in a physical since, putting walk to my talk. I noticed a few things as I participated in this race. First of all, no one showed up in heavy work boots, jeans, or sweatshirts. They only wore enough clothes needed to adequately cover their bodies and shoes made for running. They didn't even run with their cell phones attached at the hip. The second impression I obtained was that the race was marked well. Whenever there was a turn that needed to be made the road was painted with arrows pointing in the direction we needed to go. Not only were there arrows, but there was also a person sitting there to guide us to the right way . The only way I could have gotten off track would have been to consciously choose the wrong direction or to have been deaf and blind. Another observation I took note of was that everyone was intent on accomplishing the same thing--finishing the race. There were no stops along the way or detours to get us off track. There were only two water stations to refresh us as we ran by. Even then, most kept running as they downed a couple of swigs of water. The final discovery I made came to me as I noticed the people along the sides of the road cheering us all on, as well as, the friends and students I had running the race with me. Even though we were not running side by side, just knowing they were there running helped keep me going. My goals were to run the entire race without walking and to finish in under 30 minutes. With God's help, I accomplished both.

(I only stopped once for about two seconds to take a couple swallows of water at the second water station. The only reason I stopped there was because at the first water station I almost drowned myself while trying to run and drink at the same time.)

The spiritual implications and parallels to all that I observed are interchangeable. I guess that's why God's inspired Word makes so many references to running in a race. God knew and knows how to describe the life He wants for us in terms we can comprehend. In fact, I memorized many passages of Scripture dealing with running well to encourage me along the way. Check these out: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Timothy 4:8; 2 Timothy 2:3-5; 4:7,8; Psalm 18:29; 119:32; Isaiah 40:31; Acts 20:24; James 1:2-4,12.

Hopefully this is just the beginning. Anyone want to start training for a half marathon?