My Fitness

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

helpful children

Today I was sweeping the kitchen floor. Micah, my 1-year old, came up to me and I gave him a toy broom and asked if he wanted to help me. He was very excited to help me sweep the house. His first stop was to go over to where Caleb was playing and "help" sweep up his toys!

It was not helpful at all and only made a bigger mess. Caleb didn't seem to mind and handled the situation very well.

In light of the last blog post this got me thinking about how we "help" God. If God wasn't omnipotent, whenever we decide to help God we would only make things much, much worse! I think this must be where we get the saying, "Let go and let God!"

Today I am so grateful that God is in control and does not need my help. And when he asks for my "help" it is with the knowledge that I will need his help to complete that "helpful" task. Just like I let my kids help me to let them feel included and knowing that it will only make my job more difficult so I remember that God is my Father treating me as a CHILD. For that is what I am, His Child.

Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me."
(John 8:42 ESV)

He's always taking off all his clothes and grabbing my broom

Saturday, November 17, 2012

children asking questions

My son is two and a half years old. He can recognize candy and cookies from a mile away. From his earliest tastings he recognized that gooey goodness and has not stopped asking for CANDY! He has unreal expectation that if he simply utters the word it functions as a request that he knows MUST be fulfilled. 

Why do children think the deserve what they want? Why do they think that simply by asking they will get it? And when they don't get it, why do they keep asking over and over?

I don't know the answers to those questions but I believe they offer insight into what Jesus was talking about when he said, "Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." (Mark 10:15 ESV) and in the book by James that says, "You do not have, because you do not ask." (James 4:2-3 ESV) Earlier in James he wrote that when you pray, pray knowing that you will receive. 

Our children show us what "child-like faith" means. It means that we ask knowing that we will receive. The idea of not receiving is just not fathomable. And what about when we don't get what we want? 

What about when our kids don't get what they want?

Well, our kids keep asking. And so we should keep asking. Jesus shared the parable of two neighbors. One went to bed and the other showed up knocking on his door asking for bread. The first neighbor, Jesus said, is going to get up and give the man bread just so that he will leave him alone! Have you ever done that with your own child? I know I have.

So we should keep asking our Father in heaven. There is power in the prayer of a righteous person. Jesus says, "ask, and it will be given to you" (Luke 11:19). And in the book of John, he says, "whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." (John 16:23-24

And what does it mean to "ask in Jesus' name"? That means in accordance to his will. A strange thing happens when you give your life and soul over to God. He begins to change your desires. Sometimes is happens very quickly and sometimes it takes a lifetime. But there is always a change. Asking for things in Jesus' name is asking for his will to be done. 

Prayer is a strange thing. The Lord himself taught us how to pray in Matthew 5:

Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
(Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)

The reciting of the prayer is not the important part. Christ does not want an incantation. There's nothing special about these words in this order except to express an outline and guideline. Pray to Jesus' Father, who is also my Father and yours if you choose to believe. Give him glory by acknowledging the holiness of his name. Proclaim your desire for his kingdom to reign and his will to be done. Ask for what you need, both physically and spiritually. Ask for help in forgiving those who have wronged you. Ask for help whenever faced with a difficult situation that God would deliver you from it. Our lives may not always be easy and pleasant. But persistence will produce patience and you will receive your reward in heaven. Do not despair in difficult times because this life is very short and these present sorrows are nothing in comparison to the coming glories!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

the legend of the candy cane

I've recently come across the legend of the candy cane. The first thing I want to mention about it is that there is no legend. Or at least there's no historical record of there being a legend and history actually contradicts this legend. But we can still use the legend to illustrate a story: the Christmas story. So, since we changed December 25 into a Christmas holiday, I don't see why we can't change a simple sugar candy into a Christmas candy!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this legend, here it is:
from and justforkids

With the understanding that no man from Indiana made the candy cane, I believe we can still use the candy cane as a tool to help illustrate the love that God has for us!

The general shape of the cane is "J" that can stand for JESUS! Jesus is the reason for the season as the saying goes. And why is he the reason? Jesus was not born on December 25. Historically, we don't know when he was born. Do a google search to see just how many ideas there are behind this! But why then do we celebrate on December 25? In short, we celebrate then because Catholics wanted a mass to compete with winter solstice and pagan holiday celebrations. Find a complete answer on yahoo answers here.

Jesus is the reason for every season. From the beginning of time, God is love. From the beginning of the earth, God has a plan. From the beginning of seasons, Jesus is our sacrifice for our sins.

God loved the world so much that he sent His Son, Jesus, to die so that we might be saved. And what do we need saving from? As humans we have an innate sinful nature. This sin keeps us apart from God. It is so simple to come before God cleansed though. By simply acknowledging that you need Jesus and that He is God, you can be saved too!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 ESV)

JESUS died when sinful men tortured and hung him. Jesus was perfect. He lived a perfect, sinless life. He is God. He was dead. He was buried in a tomb. But He was raised back to life and is alive to this day. It may seem like something from science fiction, but for those who have truly sought him, he has found them! He sees you now and wants you to welcome him into your life!

Jesus didn't look like this.
Shepherds were in the field with their flocks. Angels came and told them of Christ's birth. (Christ is literally translated as 'The Savior' and refers to how Jesus saved us from our sins.) The shepherds went to where the angels told them and found baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph. You can find the story of the shepherds here in Luke 2.

Later in Jesus' life he refers to himself as the Good Shepherd. There are a myriad of paintings illustrating that Jesus is our shepherd. He guides our hearts and takes care of our spirits. Our souls lie safely in his shadow and are at peace. If you find yourself not at peace or in a constant struggle to maintain your peace, give your cares, even your life and soul, to God and he will give you peace. He has given his life so that you will have eternal life.

And so we can use the candy cane to represent a shepherd's staff and remind us that while shepherds came to Jesus' birth, Jesus is our Good Shepherd!

According to the legend, candy is hard like a rock to show that Jesus is our Rock! Well, he isn't just some piece of earth, but our foundation metaphorically, to build our lives on and around. "and the Rock was Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:4 ESV)

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:4

The candy cane is white to represent the purity and sinless nature of Jesus. "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV) Jesus knew no sin. He was completely innocent and everything he said was truthful.

And why the red stripes?
When Jesus died, his blood was shed like a sacrificial lamb. "Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God." (Romans 5:9 ESV) While God is loving toward all and gives grace to all of us, He is also just. His righteous nature cannot be in the presence of sin. His wrath will separate himself from all sin, and those who do not repent of their sin. The red stripes represent the torturous nature of Christ's death and remind us that his blood illogically cleanses us and makes us pure for all of us who come to the cross.

Do you believe? Believe that Jesus is God. Believe that he loves you. Believe that he has done everything that needs to be done to unite you to God. Tell someone that you believe, tell me or the next person you see.

What to do next? Pray. Read. Fellowship. Pray to God. Talk to him and ask him to help you understand more and better. Read the Bible. If you don't have one, write to me and I'll send you one. Fellowship at a local church or Bible study. If you don't know which one is good or close, I can help you with that or you can look in a phone book or google for "first church" of whatever city you live in. Some churches believe slightly differently than other churches. This is only because God has given us each different levels of understanding and worship preferences. Some people like very traditional and religious ceremony while other prefer a contemporary and casual setting. Find one that you feel comfortable in and one that you can talk to the pastor or other leader easily. Everything the pastor says should be completely backed up in the Bible. If he says something that is not backed up in the Bible, he is not a Biblical pastor and not a true Christian! Be careful! But remember that there is room for interpretation and there is overall GRACE!

A good sermon to watch is here:
Have You Been Born Again? | Gateway Church