Together We Take the High Road

Why are so many believers dropping out of the faith race?

This morning I awoke in my brother-n-law’s house to find the Tour de Spain on television. I’ve never liked watching those races because you cannot simply watch it. You experience it, and it transports you to a very uncomfortable place.

The first few seconds are dedicated to your brain telling you, you are watching a race. Next a light bulb realization – man is one with the machine. Then your legs begin to twitch. You can almost feel the cyclists’ quadriceps screaming. You sit further on the edge of your seat, and your tailbone sympathetically winces. The television camera zooms into the competitor’s faces for a close up, and your lips involuntarily purse and blow, draw in and exhale. The camera spans out to reveal the treacherous mountain road spiraling up ahead. Your eyes celebrate the splendor while your heart plummets over some ravine, because the incline is too steep. They can’t possibly make it. You see a spectator jump in close, and raise his fist to the sky as he cheers the cyclists onward. You instinctively know the crowds’ applause is what the riders need to hear in order to finish. The lap counter continues to test their limits, and yours, with only one point eight kilometers to go. You can’t take it anymore. One rider begins to weave towards the sidelines. You gasp, and close your eyes. Your hand reaches for the remote to change the channel, and find something less intense.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read Paul say “I’ve fought the good fight, I have finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7), but today, watching the Tour de Spain – I got it. People are dropping out of the faith race because they’ve forgotten how incredibly hard the race is. Don’t misunderstand me please. There is joy in the race, but it certainly is not without sacrifice.

To say we believe is one thing, but to understand we must be one with our master, is another thing entirely. Jesus is our guide (the rider if you will), and we are the instruments in His hands. Together we take the high road.

A Christ follower enters the race with the understanding training is mandatory, training which parallels that of a professional athlete.

Teamwork is essential for success. No one is to go it alone. We are to run the race as one united mass or body. Not only does the team keep each other accountable, we build each other up, and cheer one another across the finish line, whether that line comes before or after death.

The rigorous regiments of professional athletes are difficult to fathom, especially if you are not one of them. The act of believing in and following Jesus Christ is a mystery, which can only be fully realized with the help of the Holy Spirit, and the truth He so wisely opens up to us through God’s Word, and yes, analogies through the Tour de Spain Cycling Race.

If you are a believer – you are in the race. The clock is ticking. The eternal count down has commenced. And although you might be tempted to change the channel – don’t. The reward is great.
“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 (Hebrews 12:1).”

A Red Ribbon Rising Up and Wrapping ‘Round the Penitent Man – The Robe

I don’t know the exact moment, when the revelation occurred, but to be aware of this truth everyday is life changing.

You could say I am a visual person. When I heard the song “The Robe” sung by Wes King, years ago, I was given a visual, and a new understanding of what Christ did for me on the cross.

If you are an unbeliever, and aren’t sure you want to read this, hang in there, it’s very cool. And for believers, it is an awesome truth to celebrate.

When Christ died he shed his blood, he died in our place. Often times you might hear expressions like “we’re covered in his blood”, “we’re clothed in His righteousness”.

Isaiah 61:10 tells us “I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Before Christ we were separated from God because of sin. When Christ died on the cross, his act of sacrifice, his blood, covered those who chose to believe.

When God looks at someone who has accepted Christ as their Savior, he sees someone who is righteous, someone covered in the robe of righteousness, someone he is no longer separated from. We can approach God and talk to him anytime, because of what Christ did. We are his children, we are his bride. We belong to him, and He is our Bridegroom and King.

When I heard the lyrics below I could see Christ’s precious blood flowing from his hands and side, forming a red ribbon, rising up and weaving, and wrapping ’round the penitent man.

The Robe

Anyone whose heart is cold and lonely
Anyone who can’t believe
Anyone whose hands are worn and empty
Come as you are

Anyone whose feet are tired of walking
And even lost their will to run
There is a place of rest for your aching soul
Come as you are

For the robe is of God
That will clothe your nakedness
And the robe is His grace
It’s all you need
Come as you are

Anyone who feels that they’re unworthy
Anyone whose just afraid
Come sinner, come and receive His mercy
Come as you are

©Wes King

The Robe music video

As Wes puts it, the robe will “clothe our nakedness.” This gives me a picture of my loneliness, my emptiness and shame before I chose to believe, before I was clothed in his righteousness.

Wes continues, “the robe is His grace, and it’s all you need, come as you are.” He fashioned this robe for us not because of anything we did, but because of his love for us. We don’t deserve it, but he extends this robe to us anyway. Once we choose to accept it, reach out and take it and put him on, we are forgiven. We are at peace, we hear our purpose and meaning whispered on the wind of the Holy Spirit. There is joy!

How many believers today truly grasp that Christ is all we need?

I love how Paul tells us in Romans 13:14, that we are to “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Believer, when you wake up today, put on that robe. When you fall or stumble, remember you are covered. Repent and press on, in your royal robe of righteousness.

And those of you who are choosing to believe just now – He is all you will ever need from here on. Find a fellow believer who can read and study the Bible with you.

The Power of a Decision

Growing up, my mother made sure we got to visit all our relatives on a regular basis. Every once in a while Dad would come too.

I didn’t know it then, but family ties have a great deal to do with how we live our lives, whether it is immediate family or extended. As a youngster I looked up to a lot of cousins, and aunts and uncles, especially those who emulated Christ’s character.

I’ve always wondered what the phrase “family ties” means. At first glance you might visualize all your first and second cousins tied to each other, and to you with one big long invisible thread. Or you may think of the less literal interpretation, the genealogy connection.

Lately I’ve been thinking of “ties” in terms of how our decisions affect the ones we love. Our decisions resemble a rock falling into a pool of water. The circular ripples echo outwardly and touch everyone from our inner circle onward. We forget about how people watch and learn from one another.

I believe that is why Jesus taught us so much about love. If we act out of love for God, for ourselves and others, our ripples are going to create joy, encouragement and generally build one another up (in the faith I hope). If we act out of selfishness our ripples can cause pain, concern and genuine discouragement.

What decisions are you making today that will spur your family on to greatness of character? What choices have you made lately that will strengthen your faith and your family’s?

We cannot hope to be the best we can be for ourselves, and our family without help from God. He gives us grace as we grow, and we must extend that same grace and patience, and prayer generously.

Making sound decisions (based on biblical principles) is a challenge. It is easy to give into status quo.

May I conclude with a sincere warning to those people who are near and dear?

Please watch what you say and do, someone’s future faith depends upon it.

THE PROMISE

When we make the promise to follow Christ, our lives no longer belong to ourselves.  The decisions we make are based on truth, and not feelings.  In a world where everything is watered down, let us remember our faith doesn’t have to be.

It’s your life, and you decide

So why am I here bleeding?

I looked behind in hopes to find,

the reason I should care.

It’s not about our DNA,

although that should be reason enough

to ache this way.

It’s about THE PROMISE.

We both took an oath,

that the road would be all about Him

until the end of time.

Where’d ya go, pick up the phone?

It’s not just me here bleeding.

You can run, but you can’t hide,

the Truth will find a way.

It’s not about our DNA,

although that should be reason enough

to ache this way.

It’s about THE PROMISE.

We both took an oath,

that the road would be all about Him

until the end of time.

Who flipped the switch on you?

How did he get to you?

What kind of lie soaked through your skin?

You can’t prevent His love,

Nothing will be enough,

until you lay it down again.

Come on lay it down again.

©Cindy Palin/October 3rd, 2014

I Am With You

Yellow Balloon I Am With You

Yellow Balloon
I Am With You

The yellow object caught her attention out of the corner of her weary eye.  End of day and one more job to do.  Lot check.  A few more moments and out into the twilight to make her last rounds.  “Check all the vehicles, every last one, make sure they’re locked” her mind repeated like a broken record.

Hand on the door, she turned instead and picked up her new friend.  She felt as though it had been calling to her.  “Take me with you”, it bubbled.  Left over from last week’s sale, still with well-worn string, she fastened it about her wrist and disappeared into the shivering darkness.

The ground crunched and the highway buzzed, and yet a holy silence pervaded.  She heard him whisper, “see this yellow balloon.”  She felt his presence. “I am right here with you, I am everywhere you are” he reminded.

She had just returned home and taken a job to save up to leave again.  Her year had been a whirl wind of mystery from the shores of Australia to the Philippines and India, to a snow laden camp in a northern forest, to a car lot in Alberta, and God was with her.

She needn’t worry or question, but rest in knowing that he would never leave her or forsake her.  She wondered why she had been privileged to be called in the first place, to see what she saw?  She grieved.  No matter how varied the cultures were – man was the same.  No matter the beliefs of man, someone could always make her feel small.

But he said, “be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid and do not panic before them.  For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deut. 31:6)

She paused and looked up at the night sky.  The yellow balloon, as if filled with his spirit gently swept her forehead.  She crunched towards the shop and pressed her face to an office window.  She smiled at her co-worker inside, and wondered if they recognized who she had with her?

Busy Neighborhood

One of the most profound truths I have come to learn is how “doing” in our own strength, and “doing” without asking God what He wants first, can lead to nothing but disillusionment.  Disillusionment lives right next door to Discontentment, and right next door to Discontentment, lives Pride.

We can have all the good intention we can possibly muster and still end up running on empty, and all because we didn’t ask God what He wanted.  It is important to note that we may have to ask God what He wants, several times a day, and read from his direction book often.  This is called seeking.  There is plenty of Discontentment’s cousins around, and one of them is Distraction.  Distraction lives on the same block as well, the neighbor who’s constantly jumping up and down trying to get your attention, hoping that you’ll stop from gazing and STARE instead.

God makes things pretty simple.  The more we lay down our own desires, the more purpose and meaning we enjoy.  The more we stop to be still and stand in awe of God, the more He moves, and the more content we are to just be whoever it is He is shaping us to be.  Just to know He loves us is enough.  By “being” in his presence with an attitude of gratitude we see who we are and how much He has blessed us and how He wants to bless us more.  But blessings don’t all look the same and sometimes we misread blessings as stuff, position or power.

The minute we begin to think that He has forgotten us, or He didn’t make our dreams come true, is the moment we’ve lost sight of Him.  We have placed ourselves at the center, blocking our Beloved from view. If we find ourselves thinking thoughts like; the world has abandoned us, nobody loves us, nobody cares, then we’ve moved further away from His light.  When we entertain those pitiful types of thoughts, we have welcomed Discontentment in for tea.

Discontentment is cunning and clever.  He reveals himself in subtle ways, and tugs at our heart-strings and dresses up in all kinds of disguises.  He has a way of turning our head to everything on the other side of the fence, so that in time we can’t see what we already have, who God was shaping us to be, what God had already given and the path we were meant to take.  We forget that we’ve been called by name, that we have been chosen for a very special assignment – to glorify God.

Discontentment spreads his arms like a television game show host and promises glorious fulfillment if you just start this, or if you just go there, or if you just get, blah, blah, blah.  Discontentment fogs your brain and fades out the promises you’ve already made, and convinces you to live bigger, better, and make new promises.  Discontentment clouds out the ‘once upon a time’ you invited Christ over, and made a covenant with Him, a promise that you would follow him no matter what, that you would do what He wanted.  After-all, He paid the price, He purchased you with His very life.  He rescued you from Meaningless, who lives at the end of everybody’s Disobedient Street.

None of us can be faithful without God’s help.  We might as well not even get up in the morning if we think we can be Christlike without His help.  Discontentment argues with this truth, and goes so far as to convince you that you don’t need help, that you are the only one who can make your life into what you want, that no one else is going to do it for you.  Discontentment is a close friend to Pride.  And as soon as Discontentment has moved in, Pride starts whining to be your  room-mate as well.  Pride never asks anyone for help and his job is to convince you that you don’t need to either.  Pride’s middle name is Doubt, and soon you start doubting that you can trust God with anything. Soon Jesus becomes a stranger, and Meaningless becomes your soul sucker.

Soon you are nothing but busy in a very busy, busy neighborhood.

 

 

 

 

The Measure of a Mighty Man

In a perfect world everyone is content.  But we live on a fallen planet.  All our “green” thinking can’t stop the red blood of betrayal from spilling into the streets.  Hooray for recycling, but relationships can only take so much.  We can tell ourselves that our choices are our choices, that it’s nobody’s business what we do.  But we can see how “nobody’s business” is disintegrating the very fabric of our lives and all in the name of “Happiness”.

My dear friends, life is not about doing what makes you happy.  Life is about doing what is right.  True love is about considering the consequences and the ripple effect of our choices.

One of the reasons the Christian lifestyle is often rejected,  is because it is perceived as an authoritarian view.  People are afraid they won’t have the freedom to do as they please.  But doing as we please, is just history pathetically and brutally repeating itself.  God showed the Israelites in Old Testament times,  a better way to live, but they always defaulted to “as they saw fit”.

Kinda sounds like our attitude today, and where has it got us?  Broken pieces trying to nurture broken pieces.  We need to be humble enough to admit our human heart needs divine intervention.  Then we need to be patient enough to hear God’s voice.  Then we need to be sober enough to admit we need His instruction and wise enough to trust Him.

I think the measure of a mighty man, is the humble man who admits he needs Christ’s help to build a life worth living, to make decisions he can be proud of, and choices that bless others instead of tear people apart.