FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Walking

I walk.

I don’t run.

I’m not entirely convinced that running is that good for you.  Too many ‘things’ that wiggle, jiggle, flap and bounce.

Walking, though, is a good thing.

But walking is a funny thing, too.

I’ve been walking in a quest to be healthier.  It’s funny how I now notice other people walking.  Kinda like the red car theory – you tell people not to think about red cars and suddenly, they’re every where.  But not really; they were always there.  You just begin to notice them more.  Same thing if you buy a red car.  Suddenly it seems you see red cars at every turn.

Back to this walking thing.  Some people are what we call pigeon-toed.  (The correct term is in-toeing.)  Others are slew-footed (a terrible term we used as children,  but the correct term is out-toeing.)  Still others walk with limps, skips and hops.  My neighbor takes three steps, stops, stands and takes three more.  He moves very slowly, but I applaud his continuous effort.

As Christians we are called to walk, not to run.   As a matter of fact, we read in Ecclesiastes 9:11 that the race is not to the swift.  But we read also in Colossians 1:10 that we are to walk worthy of the Lord.

That latter Scripture is one that I’ve been pondering.

What does that look like – walking worthy?  The Scripture continues and says we not only are to walk worthy, but to please Him in all respects.  It is that simple three letter word “all” that gave me the most insight.  First, let’s get it clear that we can never earn God’s love and this Scripture is not about us trying to walk in a way that earns us anything or in a way that proves that we are worth or deserving of anything.  It also does not mean that we walk so that God becomes obligated to acknowledge us or that God is somehow enriched because of us – in the same way that a skilled surgeon is “worth” a lot to a hospital or a knowledgeable leader is “worth” a lot to a school.

Remember that the Scripture not only said to walk worthy of the Lord but to walk to please Him in all respects.  Hebrews 11:6 teaches us that without faith it is impossible to please Him. Consider these Scriptures together, and walking worthy means to walk – act, behave, exist in a way that shows how worthy and gracious our God is.  Walking worthy means walking by faith.

Let’s go a little further.

Walking is, for most of us, an everyday act.  Whether walking to work, walking in our yard or walking around our house.  And because it is such a common act, I believe Colossians is telling us that in all our acts, all our doing, all our being, all our thinking, all our speaking, all our choosing…, we are to exhibit our faith in God.  This is walking worthy to please in all respects.

If you are not careful, you can struggle with Scriptures such as Colossians 1:10, so let’s talk about what walking worthy does not mean.  It doesn’t mean walking perfectly.  As we walk worthy, in faith we walk in step with the Lord and in the shadow of His grace remembering that He alone is worthy.

The walking that I’ve been doing to better my health is not for the faint of heart.  My friend and I walk miles – one, two, three.  We’ve not made a continuous four mile walk yet, though I know that some days we have walked that and more in totality of steps.  We’ve walked in the hot summer heat and humidity.  We’ve walked in the rain.  We’ve walked mornings and evenings.  It’s not always fun, but it is for our good.

Walking worthy is not for the faint of heart but it, too, is for our good.  The really good news is that we do not walk alone.  God has sent His Holy Spirit to be our Helper and to walk along side us (John 14:26).  The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave enables us and equips us to walk worthy of His call.

Finally, understand that just as our human gaits are different – remember in-toeing, out-toeing – so our Christian walks may appear different.  Do not compare your walk to another’s.  Colossians 2:6 says, “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk with Him.”  I believe that Scripture tells us two things:  (1)  “As you have received” meaning, “Now that you have received,” you are to walk with the Lord, but also (2) “As you have received” meaning “The unique gift He has given you guides you” as you walk with the Lord.  The latter I read much as I read Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4 that we, as Christians, are given different gifts.  We are given different walks, but all are walks of faith and all are to walk pleasing to the Lord.

How’s your walk?

THIS WEEK reflect on your personal walk.  Are you walking worthy?  Just as you need to prepare for a physical walk (proper shoes, right outfit, water…), you must prepare to walk worthy to please the Lord in all respects.  The first preparation is a surrendered heart and relationship with Jesus Christ.  If you do not know Christ as your personal Savior, visit the Salvation page (tab at the top of this page).  Pray to receive Christ as ruler of your Life, and He will send His Holy Spirit to walk along side you.

If you are saved, reflect to determine if anything is hindering your walk.  We choose walking paths that are smooth and obstacle free.  Nothing like a twisted ankle because you stepped on an uneven surface, rock or twig.  There an be obstacles in our spiritual walks, too, and sometimes we place them; sometimes we embrace them – addiction to television, busyness, overextending ourselves, video games…  Identify and address your obstacles.

Lastly, reflect on the uniqueness of your walk.  Are you trying to walk in someone else’s shoes?  Trying to be like your pastor?  Trying to be like a television evangelist?  Trying to be like someone you have deemed great?  Walk the way and in the way that God’s Holy Spirit calls and leads you.  If you are not sure of or do not understand your walk, pray and ask God to reveal His will for you.

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I Don’t Want to Forgive

Have you been hurt so deeply that you feel trapped by the pain, yet there is something deep within you that refuses to forgive?

At times it seems there are two forces pulling at you, kinda like those cartoons we’ve seen of characters having an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.  That angel whispers the Scriptures into your ears – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).  “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).  “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…” (Luke 6:27). “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19). “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44).  “Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you” (Proverbs 20:22).

That devil on the other shoulder is whispering, too.  “Don’t forgive them; they don’t deserve it. Don’t you remember what they did to you?”

The angel whispers all the more…,”Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless…” (1 Peter 3:9).  And the devil ramps up his whisperings, too…, “What you need to do is get even.  If I were you, I’d get them back!”

Forgiveness is hard.  It’s even harder when you don’t really want to forgive.  Yes, you want to empty yourself of all that bitterness, and you want to enjoy a close relationship with God (because in case you didn’t realize it, bitterness and refusing to forgive separates you from God).  But deep down within, you crave vengeance.  You just want to even the score somehow, pay them back.  After all, that’s what they deserve!

Confession.  I have held bitterness toward a certain “them” and “they” in my heart for quite some time now.  I said that I forgave, but I didn’t.  I thought for a while that I had, but I haven’t.  I was sure that I wanted to, but I don’t.  I don’t want to forgive them.  Oh, in my head I do; I know right from wrong.  But the awful, cold, hard truth is that in my heart, I don’t want to forgive them.

I realized that today when I had an opportunity to celebrate “them.” To praise “them.”  To congratulate “them.”  I didn’t want to do any of those things.  Rather, I wanted to remind “them” of their evil, their spite, their prejudices and their mean-spiritedness.  But therein lies the rub.  I couldn’t remind them of any of their shortcomings and faults without being reminded of my own.  Dang.

And so today I realized, fully realized what I already knew in my head.  Forgiveness is not really for “them.”  It is for me.

You see, by refusing to forgive, I imprisoned myself.  I shut myself away in a lonely, desolate and miserable place where I played and replayed the videos and recordings of all that they had done wrong.  Meanwhile, they went about their lives – happy, laughing, enjoying.  I am sure that they haven’t spent one minute thinking about what has robbed me of peace for more than a year now.

Today, I decided it’s time to be released from prison.  I forgave.  Once, for all and for always – with the help of the Holy Spirit!

As children of God we are commanded to forgive.  It really is not an option, but God will not rush us.  He’ll let us linger and languish in the prison of bitterness as long as we desire.  When we come to our senses, we understand that He empowers us by His Spirit to forgive just as Jesus forgave when He looked down from the cross at His false accusers, the naysayers and the soldiers who had beaten and whipped Him and now cast lots for His clothing.  Amidst all that, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).  Surely, I can forgive those who hurt me, and I did.

Here’s what we can be sure of – What God commands us to do, He empowers us to do by His Spirit. And that includes forgiving just as Jesus did!

THIS WEEK break free of any prison of unforgiveness that has you bound.  “As those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” (Colossians 3:12-13).  Identify your shortcomings and seek the Lord’s forgiveness for those then, if possible, reconcile with your offender.  If you cannot reconcile because your offender is not ready, know that you have done what the Lord has required of you, and go in peace (Romans 12:18).