Tag Archives: Christian

World Class Consistency

Watching the women’s 3000-metre speed staking event at the Olympics, I realized why I would never be a world-class speed skater. Never mind my complete lack of skating skills, or the fact I was already past the prime age for high performance sports; I simply would not push myself as hard and as long as these women were. To see them bend over after the race, coasting on momentum off the oval, exhausted from leaving every ounce of energy on the ice, I knew I would have given up long before I reached the finish line.

What amazed me even more was the consistency of the lap times. Over 400M, they consistently put up times that were within a second of the lap before. They both paced and pushed themselves so that at the end of seven-and-a-half laps, they would have put up the best time possible. The dedication that I was seeing was awe-inspiring.

In 2 Timothy 4:7 , Paul writes that he “finished the race”, and the metaphor seems perfect. Walking with Christ is an endurance race and, at least at times, a struggle. It takes devotion and perseverance, commitment and resolution. There will be times when it will seem far easier to give in to temptation or neglect dedication.  Most times, it is easy to justify – we get busy with “stuff”: family “stuff”, work “stuff”, holiday “stuff”, even church “stuff” and before we even realize it, we have lost focus on the One whom our sight should be fixed on.

Our aim should be the same as the skaters – consistency. Life is full of ups and downs; consistency is more a goal than a reality for most of us. It seems that just about every time I settle into a routine, something comes and disrupts it. Though we can’t control a lot that is going on around us, we can control certain aspects. If our aim is to have a consistent walk with the Lord, then we should practice consistency in our spiritual lives. This isn’t easy, in fact, lately it has been very difficult for me, but it is what we should strive for. Daily time spent in God’s Word and in prayer are key to finding this consistency.

While I will never have the speed skating ability or total disregard for my body’s cries of pain to finish an Olympic endurance race, I need to continue to “fight the good fight” so that I, too, can finish the race that God has put before me. If I keep my eyes focused on the prize and daily seek His will, I can be assured that one day I will be able to claim my crown in Glory.

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Believe not to Believe

I have to admit, I have a lot of respect for atheists. I don’t agree with them; but I do respect them. I am not talking about agnostics either, but true atheists. Where agnostics basically choose to sit on the fence and not put their faith in any camp, atheists put their faith into the no belief camp; believing what can’t be proven. You can’t prove something doesn’t exist; so, it takes extreme faith to believe that there is no God.

Christians, too, have to have faith to believe what they do. Though God works through our lives on a daily basis, it is possible to explain it away (though you cannot prove it is not God’s work) as coincidence or luck – even karma. What Christians do have is a mountain for proof that there is a creator, an abundance of evidence that a being greater than us is looking over us, loving us and ultimately working for our benefit.

Atheists, however, have to have faith in a lot of things, even if it can be played off as no faith at all. Take creation/evolution for starters. An atheist must have faith that the answer is not God but some other non-intelligent design based theory. For simplicity sake, let’s assume that the answer is based in the secular worldview “Big Bang” theory (I say secular because I, as a Creationist, believe there probably was something like an explosion at the centre of the universe to get us going, I just believe that God caused it!).

To believe that the “Big Bang” happened and that this is no superior being takes a lot of faith. Where did the stuff come from that was mixing before the Bang happened? What sparked it? What stabilized it? Even if you accept that you can never know the specific answers, you have to believe there is an answer. Whereas the Christian faith simply believes God did it, the answer for an atheist has to be more complex than that.

Boiled down to the simplest statements, there are three options we have when it comes to faith. We can decide not to believe (agnostic), we can believe in a superior being (religion), or we can believe not to believe (atheists).

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Illogical Truth

I was flipping channels the other day, and I stopped on a program featuring stand-up comedians. One of the comedians had a song as part of her act, and one of the punch lines was “Christians like illogical arguments”. Based on a previous joke in her set, I knew she was referring to the Creation vs. Evolution debate. Honestly, I wasn’t offended by the joke, my first reaction was pity for her; she was completely blinded to the truth.

As I was thinking about, it donned on me that there is really no scientifically logical argument for the universe. I mean, I know that God created it, but that isn’t a scientific argument; it can’t be proven by scientific means. From an evolution standpoint, the best number I have seen for the universe just spontaneously coming into being is 1 in 1041, which isn’t exactly a logical outcome. (To give you some perspective, 1 in a billion = 1 in 109)

As I thought further, I did have to admit that Christians do believe in something quiet illogical; in fact, a whole string of illogical things:

  • An all-powerful being desired companionship; so, he created a vast universe
  • His star creation was humankind – whom he created to love him
  • He gave humans free will to choose to love him or not
  • When they chose to rebel against him, he allowed them to fall into hardship
  • When they called out to him again, he used miracles to rescue them
  • The rebel and rescue pattern repeated itself many times – but he was always faithful
  • This higher being decided that it was time for a different approach and became human
  • He showed love and compassion in a radical way – often misunderstood by his creation
  • He was rejected by the very people he came to build a relationship with
  • He chose to suffer a painful and humiliating death
  • He rose back to life
  • He still loves us despite all the rejection and disobedience

This is the story of the Bible. It is very illogical, but it is the true story of God’s love. I should clarify; it is very illogical by human standards. That is saying something, because we humans can do a lot of crazy things in the name of love. God’s love is so strong that He will love us unconditionally, no matter if or how well we return that love.

Of course, His desire is for us to love Him back. He knows we can’t do anywhere near as well as He does. He knows our limitation and our shortcomings, but He loves us just the same any way. It may be illogical, but it is the truth.

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Learning to Walk

My daughter is learning how to walk. A couple weeks ago, she took 3 steps and then fell forward into my arms. This past week, she started to walk across the family room in a line, sitting down when she got to the point where straight ahead was neither an option nor the desired direction.  Yesterday, she started to veer a little, not pivoting or turning, but slowly gaining more options. I am sure in about a week she will be walking all over the house and giggling at every turn.

Of course, this process isn’t without its stumbles and falls.  Sometimes, after a few steps there is a pause and a wobble as she regains her balance. Sometimes, she stumbles a little and falls; often times, the fall is a choice, as it is easier for her to control her landing position as opposed to trying to remain upright and risk toppling over in a less desirable position. Learning to walk is a process, and it comes with its share of whoopsies and uh-ohs.

The process brought to mind an old DC Talk song “What if I Stumble”. This refrain is repeated often:

What if I stumble?
What if I fall?
What if I lose my step
And I make fools of us all?

In reality, it’s not “what if” but “when” I stumble. We all fall in our Christian walk. None of us are perfect this side of Heaven; we all fail at some point. The Good News is that God put a plan in place for that, and our sins are forgiven through Jesus. We don’t need to shy away from walking with God because we might stumble and fall, He knows we will and loves us just the same.

If my daughter refused to get up on her feet, let go of the couch and try and walk across the room; she would never learn to walk. If she let the possibility, the inevitability, of stumbling and falling keep her from taking the first step, she would be denying herself the freedom that comes with walking, as well as the joys of running, skipping and all the other skills we learn after we master walking.

The same principle applies to the Christian walk. First, we need to start the walk, admit that we need Jesus and take the first step. Then, we need to keep walking with Him, step after step, trying new things, taking new risks for God, and not being scared to stumble and fall – because much like a loving father on Earth who scoops up his little girl, gives her a hug and stands her back up, God is doing that with us, because He wants to see us free to risk it all for Him. Because the more we step out for God, the more glory He gets.

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The Natural Thing to Do

Imagine the scene: You are sitting in a private dinner room at a fine restaurant. You are there celebrating the end of a 3-year project with about a dozen colleagues who you have been working with to make the endeavour a success. This meal is a reward for all the hard work you have put in to complete the project. Sitting at the head of the table is the company CEO; he has joined you so that he can personally thank you for your hard work. As you look around the table, you see mostly empty plates and glasses along with used cloth napkins tossed next to dirty forks and knives. The evening is winding down. The CEO gets up from his chair, takes off his suit jacket, grabs a towel and placing it over his arm begins to clear the table. He goes around to each person to ask if they are finished eating and proceeds to gather up the plates, silverware and napkins. When he comes to you, you are dumbfounded but allow him to clear your spot as well. Just as he turns to put your plate on the tray sitting next to the table you can’t help by ask “Why are you doing this?” The answer is as surprising as the sight you are witnessing: “Because I am the CEO, what else would I do?”

Is the scene familiar? I have never been in a room where this has happened. There are many men and women who are amazing servant-leaders and have risen to high ranking positions; so, the actions may be more common than I think. However, the reasoning behind it, I would be willing to bet, has happened only once:

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:3-5

I have heard or read this story many times, but the one word that I had never noticed was “so”. If a sentence has the word so between two clauses, it denotes that the second clause was a direct reaction to the first. Jesus, knowing He had everything in His power, thought the natural response was to take the lowest serving position He could at the moment. The Ruler of the Universe knew the right thing to do was to be the ultimate servant.

I won’t speak for everyone, but if I was in Jesus’ position, I would be kicking off my sandals, eyeing the basin and water to see who would take the hint and get up to wash MY feet. I want to be the one being served, given respect and honoured. In God’s kingdom, no act of service is beneath anyone; respect and honour go to the one doing the serving. I need to take Jesus’ actions to heart and look for ways to serve Him and others with the attitude He displayed. Instead of looking around for someone to serve me, I need to always be looking for ways to serve others. As a Christian, it should be the natural thing to do.

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The Witness of Creation

Do you ever praise God for the majesty of His creation? I have been lately. It started with just admiring the beauty of a clear, blue, summer sky. I was struck by just how awe inspiring something that looks so simple, yet is so complex, can be. Later in the week, I found myself in total amazement about a farmer’s field. We start with little dry seeds that seek out nourishment underground, then sprout and gather energy from the sun and grow to provide us with fruit and oxygen. Again, it is something that looks so simple but in reality is so complex.

God has revealed Himself through the creation of the universe; through its beauty and its function. As an example of beauty, I would point to the sight of the sun rising over the Atlantic. Well, I should say the pictures I have seen of the event. One of my life goals is to actually see it. I thought I would have that chance a number of years ago when my family took a mini-vacation to Daytona Beach. We lived on the Gulf Coast of Florida at the time; so, I had seen the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico a number of times. We were only sleeping over one night on the trip, and we had a room with a view of the ocean. As this was during my university years, I wasn’t one to get out of bed before sunrise; so, I made a conscious effort to get up early to be awake enough to enjoy the experience. I was ready to be wowed by the artistic display that God freely creates every morning. This particular morning the view from the balcony was not of water and a slowly rising sun, but of a grey fog that appeared to be the consistency of pea soup.

As for the function, I get that daily by watching my son discover the world. He is four and very much into nature; he loves animals, bugs and fish. He loves to get his hands on anything, whether real (He owns a bug catching kit and adventure vest.) or through books, TV and the computer. Learning along with him, I am amazed at the little details about individual creatures and ecosystems that we are surrounded by. How can you not see intelligent design in the world we live in? Sure, there is a small, and I mean infinitely small, chance that we could have all ended up here by accident, but that would take a whole lot more faith than believing in the existence of a Superior Being – whether you want to attribute all characteristics of a loving God as Christians do or not.

I’m baffled that very smart people can look at the evidence and be convinced that it was all a cosmic explosion and somehow everything just worked out. Scientific work is based on observation, laws, hypothesis and testing. Given that we are at a disadvantage because no human was present at the creation of the universe, we have to rely on other scientific methods. Too keep this short, I will just refer to one law: Order does not come out of chaos.

If my science loving 4-year-old was to play all day in his playroom and make a total mess of it, leaving nothing in it is original location (this happens a lot), I would not expect that leaving the windows open and allowing the wind to whip around the room would cause the toys to somehow get back into the proper spot. If I want the room back in its original state, I send him down to clean it up. He uses his intelligence to create order in the room again. Why is that concept lost on so many scientists? You never have intelligent design without some form of intelligence behind it (even if the design is unimaginably greater than the Intelligence behind it – i.e. monkeys writing the next great novel). Order and structure are signs of a Creator, not proof of the absence of a need for one.

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It’s Not About Religion

I spend a lot of my life thinking about conversations, preparing so when I have a person’s ear I am ready to get my point across. I do not, however, plan my conversation when the person I am speaking with is also cutting my hair. You know those conversations, usually a random sampling of current events, family traditions and weekend plans.

During this particular haircut, the word “religion” came up. Though it was the right word to use in context, the question that followed made me cringe the same way nails on a chalkboard would. “What religion are you?”

On the surface, it seems like a perfectly normal question; one that you would think I would be, if not used to, ready to answer quiet naturally. It isn’t that being asked about my faith is annoying; it is that I have come to dislike referring to it as religion. I much prefer the term relationship; so much so that I have almost wiped the word religion from my vocabulary, at least when it comes to referring to Christianity.

I dislike the word religion because it conjures up thoughts of rituals and rules. Yes, I understand that we as Christians do have many rituals and tend to follow a lot of rules. So does just about every other religion on Earth, but we have the true God, living and working amongst us. Why just settle on checking off boxes when we can have a daily conversation with our Lord?

That in itself would be enough for me to dump the word, but it is actually something else, or should I say someone else, that makes me so determined to change the term: the non-believer. In my experience, if a person doesn’t have a relationship with Christ then they tend to group all faiths into the same category. In doing so, they get on the defensive and prepare to argue why religion isn’t for them.

Referring to Christianity as a religion, we give the impression that it is about the dos and don’ts.  Are there rules to follow – sure, but tell me honestly, how many rules do Christians have that don’t have solid moral reasons? Are there rituals? Again, yes, but if the point of partaking is to partake, you are missing the point in the first place. There are some rules and rituals that are not common to all Christians – they are followed by particular groups and sects – and when looked at in the context of a relationship, you can understand that it is something the group sees as helpful in their walk with Christ.

I have 3 siblings; we all have different ideas when it comes to raising our children and running our homes. We make different decisions on how to handle certain situations. We do what works best for our households. We don’t cease to be family or think we should force our way on the others. Christianity is not about following rules or taking part in rituals any more than being a family means having the same political views or favourite sports team.

Christianity is about having a relationship with God where you acknowledge you are a sinner, accept His forgiveness and start the conversation.

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