Though I am a teacher, I have much to learn from my students. One of my favorite observations over the past few weeks has been in that of one of my determined seventh grade Language Arts students. Her grade was a Meeting (traditional grading, a B), but she desperately wanted to demonstrate that she was indeed capable of earning an Excelling. (traditional grading, A) Every opportunity that I provided for students to do rewrites on essays, she took. Each chance to retake a test during lunchtime, she was present. After three or four rewrites on her essay, Miss Perseverance was able to earn the elusive excelling marks on her essay, and brought her entire grade up to that which she had hoped for. None of it had been easy, but she did not give up, and she continued to come back and ask questions until she accomplished all that she was determined to do. Few of my students will likely be as proud as she, when semester report cards go home next week.
In our walk with Christ, do we truly persevere to reach His very best, or do we settle for just getting by, or good enough? When life becomes difficult, He calls us to cling to Him, and to continue in His strength. If we cry out to Christ and hide out, we miss seeing the strength that He will provide. If we attempt to power through on our own and neglect to lean on the Lord, we lose the opportunity to witness the wonder of His presence and power in our present circumstances. Perseverance in Christ, is taking His outstretched hand, and allowing Him to lead us through whatever lies before us.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – (James 1:4)
May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. – (Thessalonians 3:5)
lean into the Lord;
for He is our strength,
all grace He affords.
Our power when weak,
He’s steadfast and true;
He will guide us through.
finish work in you;
to grow and mature,
in Christ, ever new.
Lacking for nothing,
may God guide our hearts;
in His light and love,
let us do our part.
Witness the wonder,
of all that He is;
in all times and things,
give praise to Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we persevere, You grow us in You. Thank You that Your love is evident, no matter what we face, and Your presence is always with us; we simply need be aware. Forgive us for calling on You, but standing still, or for attempting to power through on our own. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will take Your outstretched hand, and allow You to lead us along this path we trod. Guide our hearts to love others as You so wonderfully love each of us. May many come to know the security found in relying on You for guidance and direction. Be glorified O God, as we persevere on the path to which You have called us. Amen.
He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25
Now, I know this is not an easy subject to discuss. It is even harder to have to endure the examination. Yet this is not a thing that can any longer be ignored nor should it be. Yes, I know that real men do not go to the hospital to see doctors especially when there is no obvious problem. Still I argue that real men take care of themselves in every way. And that taking care of themselves may have the reciprocal effect of benefiting men’s families. Still the most important benefactor is the man himself; after all men are just as important as everyone else.
Let’s get straight to the matter at hand. Last year the Veteran’s Administration Clinic in Fort Worth decided it was time that I had a colonoscopy. This was a matter I knew was coming and should have been addressed a couple years ago. It was something I was not looking forward to. Now, I was not concerned that I was inflicted with cancer; God had been taking excellent care of me. I had never been invaded before and wanted nothing to do with any invasions. Insofar as I am concerned that aperture is for one purpose and one purpose only. Hence my grave concern about the introduction of any object into my being.
To say that I had some apprehensions about this invasion is to put nicely the concern that I had. The class that I was required to attend did little to squash my concerns. The risks involved barely seemed worth me surrendering my “virginity” yet I knew that it was more than prudent for me to take care of this one and only body that I will ever have. God has given certain wisdom to doctors and that wisdom should not be taken lightly. Nonetheless the day soon approaching was not one I was looking forward to. It was a day that I did not want to come yet it was a day that must need come to pass. And so the day came.
It is important to keep in mind that I have never been sedated before. The closest I came was when I cut my hand as a Corrections Officer that that cut required stitches. I was given “laughing gas” and I can say there was nothing funny about it. I was told the effect of the sedation would be very much like that gas. I must also admit that day I went in kicking and screaming. Now, I did not cause a ruckus in the clinic however I did let the nurses and clerks know that this was something I was not looking forward to. This is especially true when I was placed in a room whose walls were thin white curtains with others just a breath away from me and told to remove my clothes; all of them. I was then to put on this mini dress that barely covered my essentials. To say that I was uncomfortable does not begin to tell the tale.
In the clinic there were a number of people fussing over me. Silly jokes were being told to make me at ease. Nurses were doing this and that while a doctor dropped by ensuring that all was well. Then came the time of the event in which I was wheeled a few yards away into a room wherein more care takers would fuss over me. I heard the doctors give instructions as to the type of medication I should be given. Then there was the voice of one care taker saying “You are going to feel something cold” and I did. The next thing I know there was a voice saying “All finished.” I heard the words and I knew what they meant I just did not know that I was finished. Boy, if that is like being high that is a feeling I never want again. And then I heard a voice saying that a polyp was found and being sent to the lab. That did not quite sink in because, frankly, I was still circling the airport.
Look, I am no doctor and have very little knowledge of medical processes. This is why I regularly see my doctor and that is because I love me. While that may sound a bit arrogant it is very necessary for men to love themselves. When a man loves himself he will do all to take good care to protect himself in all possible ways. This is even true for men of faith. It is because of faith that all is well with me. God has seen fit to allow me to have very good health and that is a thing I do not take lightly. Part of the reason I am doing well is because I head the advice of doctors whose responsibility is to help me be well.
Men, stand up and be men. Love yourselves enough to see your doctors regularly. And when the time of the colonoscopy comes let the doctors and other care givers do their jobs. The right crew will have your best interest at heart and will do all to protect you in every way. No, it will not be easy yet it is very necessary. Do it for your wives. Do it for your children. Above all do it for yourselves. You are the most important person in your world and deserve the blessing of good health. With that I can report that the polyp found in me was benign and I am doing well. So, men, remove the robe of hesitancy and go take care of you.
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” John 5
It’s only by the Grace of God that we are healed , more than once we are instructed to “stop sinning”, to “sin no more”! Something worse may happen to us.
Last evening the President of the United States of America presented his sixth State of the Union address. During the address a number of issues were raised. Some of those issues caused a collective scratching of heads with many across this great land. One such item was that the President touted financial success by reason of policies he has implemented and that the nation’s unemployment levels have steadily gone down over his tenure. Unfortunately the only reason the unemployment levels appear to have fallen is because about ninety-three million people of fallen out of the employment picture and are not looking for work because of the lack of jobs and have exhausted all benefits. This is not to mention the fact that when the President took office the debt was about nine trillion dollars and now stands over eighteen trillion dollars.
There are many other items that can be addressed in the President’s speech however it might be more beneficial to discuss the State of the Church as the Church has had many successes over the past year. For instance the Church is strong and growing. Despite the attacks on fundamental Christianity the Church has not folded. Instead Christianity is beginning to stand its ground in favour of traditional Judeo-Christian values and refusing to relent to the boisterous cry of those that seek only the demise of the one entity that recognizes the one true and living God. Evangelical Christians are digging deeper in the trenches of holiness as it furthers the Great Commission.
Even so there are problems in the Church. And problems are nothing new in the Church particular if one considers the issues Paul addressed concerning the Church at Corinth. This is evident in I Corinthians 3:3 where he states that “ye are yet carnal.” This carnality meant that the church was much like the world at large and that carnality was detrimental to the Church in a number of ways. The same is true with the Church today. There are many that cannot eat the meat of the Gospel as they are still on milk. Among many there has been no growth so that some local bodies have become stagnant. This stagnation has led to frivolous programs called ministries which serve only to create social clubs in these Houses of Worship. These things ought not to be so.
Likewise there has been a pulling away from the historical teaching of Christ in futile efforts to reach those presumed unreachable in traditional terms. Hence music has changed from worship to entertainment wherein in some localities it is becoming increasingly more difficult to determine if the churches are parts of the Church or clubs. This, in part, has caused a double standard with congregants wherein lives outside the local bodies are less godly and more carnal. This is to say that many of these in the Church are Sunday saints and often barely that. As such the State of the Church is weakening because the Great Commission has been changed from going to all the world and teaching the Gospel to bringing the world into the Church by compromising the Gospel.
And there are hosts of other matters in the Church that need to be addressed just as they were addressed by Paul. Schisms in the Church caused unnecessary divides just as they do today. With this the Church needs to lay aside petty differences in order to further the Gospel while using the love of Christ to embrace each other so that the world can see the love we have one for another and be positively affected by it. This love means that there is no fornication it the Church. Lies will become a thing of the past as the truth becomes all the more paramount with the true and living God at the helm. This will result in respect for the people of God as pastors and ministers work tirelessly to hone their prophetic skill thereby pointing men to the foot of the cross.
It is absolutely true that the State of the Church is strong and that many are being brought into the fold. Likewise there are problems that need to be addressed in that strong things, even the church, need to be maintained so that the strengths do not become weaknesses. Let us, then, lay aside the carnality which seeks only to uproot that which is holy and pick up the ways of righteousness which serves to bolster and under gird a strong a prospering Church.