Press On!

Philippians 3:10–16I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.   All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (NIV 1984)

My Musings – Sometimes, maybe most of the time, it is all we can do to just “live up to what we have already attained.” Or is it?  Maybe we just need to want it a little more?  Paul wanted it, but he also recognized that he had not yet obtained it.  Think about all that he endured for the sake of the Gospel.

Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? (2 Corinthians 11:23–29, NIV 1984)

If anyone had a excuse to throw up his hands in defeat and say “no more,” it was him. And yet he pressed on.  He persisted in his pursuit to be more like Christ.  He did not do it alone.  He did it by yielding to the Spirit that lived in him, not by yielding to the spirit of this world.  That spirit that might have said things like:  Haven’t you done enough?  Let someone else do it for a change.  Why beat yourself up?  No one really appreciates what you have gone through, so why risk going through more?  Paul recognized how much His Savior had done for him that he persisted in his pursuit of holiness.

President Calvin Coolidge was one of the “accidental” presidents.  As Vice President he succeeded Warren G. Harding, who died in office.  He was nick-named “silent Cal,” because he rarely said more than was necessary under the circumstances.  It is reported that once at a social event a lady informed him that she had made a wager that she could get more than two words out of him.  His reply was, “you lose.”  Yet his quote on persistence still resonates today, we could use a bit more of it.  “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Although I believe he misrepresented the word omnipotent, I think you get the point.  Paul got it long before silent Cal did.  And so should we.

My Advice – Is Paul’s advice.   “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”  So press on.

When Compassion Becomes A Verb

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Judges 2:18For the Lord had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Webster says that compassion is a noun and defines it as the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk, however, asserts that “compassion is a verb.”  As such, it is not merely a desire to alleviate another’s distress (“those who are oppressed and afflicted“), but actually taking action to do what we can to alleviate it.

But God demonstrates his own love [compassion] for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV 1984)  This was the ultimate expression of compassion.

My Advice – Let’s do what we can to “pay it forward.”  While it is a rare event when someone is called upon to give their life for another, each one of us encounter numerous opportunities everyday to lighten the burden of someone else.  When we ignore these opportunities, compassion remains a mere noun.  We need to make it a verb by taking action. “As long as you are standing, give a hand [verb] to those who have fallen.” ― Persian Proverb

 

 

Enriched in Poverty

Revelation 2:9 – “I know your afflictions and your poverty-yet you are rich!” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – It’s all a matter of perspective. The world may see poverty on the outside, but God sees the riches of Christ in our hearts.

My Advice – There may be lean years early in your career. But remember, no matter how little you have in your bank account, you are rich because you have Christ in your heart.

God Only Knows

2 Peter 2:9The Lord knows how to rescue Godly men from trials. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – God does not always prevent trials from happening. He sometimes rescues us from them. We think we have had more than our share, but we have no idea how many more He may have prevented in the first place. We only see the ones we have to endure for a while.

My Advice – If the trial you are going through seems never-ending, take heart and be patient. Not only does God know how to rescue you, He knows when the time is right to rescue you.

Everything That Is Needed

2 Peter 1:3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – We go through life thinking “if only we had this or that” we would have everything we need. Often, we get it and find that we “need” more, not realizing that as children of God we had all that we needed all along. (NIV 1978)

My Advice – Long before you went to college, you had everything that you needed for life. Just because you now have knowledge through a formal education, do not think that your need for increased knowledge of Him has been superseded or diminished.

When I’m Sixty-Four

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Joshua 14:10-12“Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” (NIV 1984)

“When I’m Sixty Four”

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, 1966

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty four?

You’ll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you

I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight
If it’s not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine forevermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty four?

My Musings – Feeling thankful today on my birthday (guess which one?) for all the blessings God has given me over the years.  Eileen, my wonderful wife of nearly 44 years, our two precious boys Josh and Joel, devoted parents, and two thoughtful brothers.  There have been speed bumps along the way, of course (Eileen’s health issues and blindness, Josh’s handicaps and early death at nine and Dad has passed), but by and large we are grateful to God for His goodness (even the blessings that have resulted from these difficulties) to me and my family.

I remember listening to this Beatles’ song in my youth (“many years from now [ago]”), thinking how remote and unimaginable 64 would be. And I can’t begin to imagine anyone claiming to be just as strong and vigorous at 85 as they were at 40 (as Caleb claimed), much less 64.  Just this past week my mom (85 years old, just like Caleb) remarked that she must be getting old.  “No mom,” I said, “I’m getting old, you’re already there.”  We had a good laugh, with perhaps a bit of melancholy mixed in.

My mom is a fairly “vigorous and strong” person for being 85 years young (she still lives in her own house, mows her yard and snow blows her driveway).  I am still in relatively good health despite my “advancing” years and the occasional kidney stone, Eileen continues to persevere and rise above the multiple health-related issues that persist, and Joel is the blessing the doctors said he would never be after the all the handicaps that his brother Josh had. Yet, God has been good to us in all these things.  Even now that I’m 64. And with the Lord’s help, maybe I’ll be just as vigorous and strong at 85?

My Advice – Not exactly mine.

Ecclesiastes 12, 1-3 – Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”— before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop. (NIV 1984)

Romans 8:35-39Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword [or blindness or handicaps or poor health or premature death]? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation [even advancing age], will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV 1984)

Postscript – Learn more about the things that have convinced my family and me that nothing “in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” archived under “Our Family Album” section of this blog site.

 

 

To This We Are Called

1 Peter 2:20-21If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – We have been called to do good and as a result we are likely to suffer for it. We need to endure the suffering in the same way that Christ did.

My Advice – Follow the example of Christ. This does not mean you have to seek suffering, but that you endure it when it comes. Also, do not avoid doing good merely to avoid suffering.