Marching Orders

Romans 12: 9 – 13

Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

You have been called to this day and to this moment. These are the most unprecedented times in our history. So many issues clamor for our attention. We, however, in Christ, are up to the task. I have had a saying for many years that leadership comes from below. It has to because it is only in the trenches that we really know what the situations are. So, we always need leadership at the lowest levels and need those leaders to learn and grow. You are those people. Most of you don’t hold high political positions nor church positions. None the less, you are the leaders of the world. The “leaders” take their cues from us. We tell them in our actions and with our words who we are and what we value. So, these are the marching orders God has given us to help us lead a nation, a corporation, a church and a family. These are the rules by which we are to interact within organizations.

We should cling to these leadership guidelines and share them with others. We should require our businesses and volunteer organizations to adopt this paradigm. It is rule, not by the majority, not by an elite group. It is not rule by the few or the many but rather, rule by love. Love is the ultimate leadership characteristic and it must be taught and required. We, you and I, must learn to be devoted to one another, to give preference to the other, to honor one another, be diligent, fervent, devoted servants of our Lord, to persevere, to pray continually and to be generous in all things. As we do these things, we should also teach others to do the same. We should demand this pattern of behavior out of our friends and family. We should show our political, business and church leaders what we expect of them as we set the example. Let us follow Paul’s example and teaching.

We have been silent too long. We have been apathetic, lazy and worldly too long. It is time for us to stand up and be counted, not by our words, but by our deeds. We need to become the church made of living stones which bring glory to Jesus through our loving acts of kindness. Rise up. You have your marching orders.

Divine Destiny

Hebrews 12: 1       (New Living Translation)

Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

This may be a familiar verse to you however, I appreciate how the New Living Translation puts forth the ideas in such a straightforward and simple way. The NIV Bible says to run the race with perseverance. The key, though, is the imparted knowledge of how we do this. It is one thing to mentally nod in agreement to run the race with all perseverance but how? What does that mean in every day application?

This translation explains that the way to successfully run the race God has set before us is to keep our eyes on Jesus. It is so easy for us to get into a works mentality when we read a verse like this and begin to look at our own strength, i.e. what should I do, when should I do it, how much should I pray, how long should I read my Bible? It becomes a list of New Year’s resolutions which rely on our will power and determination. That, however, is a prescription for failure. We have done attempted to run this race in our own strength before and have failed. Now is the time for a new model, a new prescription and one that is guaranteed to succeed.

The Passion Translation gives us further insight into this winning method, “We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.” Isn’t that well stated? This is a race of faith, so we learn to fix our eyes upon Jesus. He is the author of our faith. The Passion Translation takes the explanation one step further by teaching that the way to keep your eyes on Jesus is to “look away from the natural realm.” In other words, we must cease looking to the world for our answers. We must look to wisdom and of course, the Spirit of Wisdom is of our Father.

We need to learn how to inquire of the Father and how to focus on Jesus? What does that mean? For one thing, it seems to mean to turn our eyes away from worldly wisdom. If we try to live on a diet of the world’s thinking, we are going to be malnourished. Certainly, most of us pray asking Yahweh for answers but do we hear Him? Do we pause to listen? One aspect is turning away from worldly media and wisdom, but the second part is turning to Jesus the initiator and perfecter of our faith. This involves developing our hearing. We cannot afford to walk around deaf anymore. The world’s way of thinking is killing us. So, how do you hear God? Where do you look when you put your eyes on Jesus?

Jesus said he only did the things he saw his Father do. In fact, what he really said is that he could do nothing of himself but rather only what he saw his father do. That is a pretty powerful statement. If we apply Jesus’ model to our lives, as I understand many Christians try to do, then where do we look? How do you really put your eyes on Jesus? Are you using the visionary capacity that is granted you in the Holy Spirit? Are you using meditation to allow Jesus to commune with your mind and spirit? Are you reading the Bible keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus there? These are all questions we should ask ourselves. We have been given the mandate, to “run with endurance the race God has set before us.” We have been told the means for accomplishing this is to fix our eyes upon Jesus. How do we even know we are running the right race if we don’t tune in to Jesus?

We each need to watch Jesus, listen to him and commune with him constantly so he can show us and even tell us what path to follow, what steps to take. As long as we follow our ideas, or the world’s wisdom we will frustrate our divine destiny. It is early in the year, only the 9th, so let’s each determine to slow down and seek our God. Let’s find out what is on His mind and what plans He has for us this year. Then, when you have clear direction from the Father, then run, run with Jesus the race Yahweh has ordained for you. It will be really fun and very rewarding.

Shut Up Legs

Romans 5: 3 – 4            GW

But that’s not all. We also brag when we are suffering. We know that suffering creates endurance, endurance creates character, and character creates confidence.

It’s July 19th and we are deep into the running of the Tour de France. I love biking so I love to watch the race, but there is more to the Tour de France that I enjoy than just a bike race. There are beautiful views of France and its architecture, gorgeous churches, history lessons and their impacts, insights into the people of the various regions, and more, much more, in fact. One of the most captivating elements of the Tour de France though, is the human drama. The racing that goes on is fabulous and exciting but following the riders’ personal stories and triumphs is riveting. These professional bike riders turn themselves inside out with massive efforts. Mile after mile they continue to ride after their legs have begun to loudly complain.

One recently retired but still popular rider is Jens Voigt. Among other things, Voigt is known for his saying, “Shut up legs.” In fact, he had it on his top tube where he would see it when he looked down. Instead of letting his legs dictate his outcome, he made up his mind what he wanted to do and then expected his body to obey. He didn’t let the pain and discomfort dictate his race. I love this so much. In fact, I need to get his T-shirt with “shut up legs” emblazoned across it because like “Jensie,” this is my philosophy on life.

If you want to see suffering, watch one of the mountain stages of the Tour de France. Despite their suffering, though, they persist. That persistence produces endurance in their minds and bodies. Endurance absolutely does produce character. The top riders know how to suffer but their perseverance has produced confidence. They know they can push themselves and triumph. It is tried and tested.

You don’t know what you can do until you push yourself. We have to learn to stand on faith even when everything in us is yelling to quit. We’ve gotta yell back, “Shut Up!” We are the masters of our destiny and if God has given us something to do then we have to go all in like these professional bike riders.

Ask yourself, who is in charge? Is it fear, or is it you. What forces are keeping you from reaching the finish line? Let your faith speak louder than your fear. Don’t let the circumstances dictate your race. As I say often, “The facts don’t count.” What counts is your belief, tenacity and your ability to persevere in the grace of the Lord. If God has called you to climb a mountain then you can, no matter what the facts say. Speak to your mountain. Let it know that it must obey you. The mountain does not determine the finish, the character of the person determines the outcome.

Don’t be a quitter. Don’t give up when the going gets hard. Don’t stop believing just because you cannot see the finish line. Go on You Tube and watch this video of Jens Voight
( and take inspiration from a champion. See determination in action and let it encourage you to persevere through challenges and seeming impossibilities. Get a big dream in front of you and chase it down. When it gets tough speak to those circumstances like Jens Voigt. Tell them to shut up!