Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Fitness is an interesting topic in many ways.  When I was younger, I thought you could tell fitness by appearance.  Someone who was thin was obviously fit.  I didn't have anything to worry about in the area of fitness because I was thin.  It is amazing how we equate physical appearance with physical fitness, even now I find that being my goal.  I want to get fit by losing weight.  Truth is, I do not need to lose weight to get fit.  I need to properly fuel my body, and give it the exercise that it needs.  When those things are accomplished properly and continuously, my body will be as fit as I can make it.  My fitness goals are not to be able to run a marathon, or fit into clothes I used to wear.  My goals involve exercising 5 times a week for 30 minutes or more and eating 1800 calories or less a day of nutritious food.  From this, I hope to lower my weight by about 20 years.

Spiritual fitness is an interesting topic for many of the same reasons.  We think that if a person looks right, if they do the right things at the right time, that they are spiritually fit.  In the spiritual realm, it would be impossible for someone to be spiritually fit without Christian fellowship, but being in church on Sunday does not make a person spiritually fit.  As Christians we try to equate how we appear with how 'spiritual' we are.  But the same truths hold.  To be spiritually fit I need to: properly fuel my spirit and exercise my spirit as it needs.

To feed my spirit, I need to be in God's Word.  I cannot control how much my spirit grows through feeding, but I can control the amount and quality of the food I give it.  I could read 20 chapters skimming and not get much food.  I could read 2 verses flippantly and not get much food.  But I could read any amount of scripture prayerfully and looking for understanding and benefit my spirit greatly.

To exercise my spirit, I need to live out what God's Word tells me.  Firstly, I need to exercise myself unto Godliness.  Secondly, I need to take advantage of ministry opportunities that God brings into my life.  I have the opportunity to disciple my wife and children, the opportunity to give to my church, the opportunity to pray for the needs of others, the opportunity to give to missions, the opportunities to meet needs in the lives of others through my time, labor, or finances.  We could list dozens of opportunities that each of us have everyday.  Our spiritual fitness depends on proper feeding, and how many of these opportunities we take.  This is not to equate business with fitness, and we certainly might find it difficult to meet all the needs before us, but as we stretch to care for the properly prioritized opportunities in our lives, we give ourselves more opportunities to become more fit in our spirits.

"For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."
- I Timothy 4:8

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Nuggets of Gold in the Ho-Hum of Life

Having begun again on January 1 to read through my Bible, I again encountered the genealogies of Genesis.  As I read, I don't study them for hours on end, but I try to find some aspect of them to focus on as I read through.  After several times through the Bible, more and more can be gleaned from these 'ho-hum' passages of God's Word.  This time?  In the genealogy of Noah, I saw that Shem lived 500 years after he begat Arphaxad.  Then Arphaxad had children at 35 years old, and I got to thinking how many 35 year generations would fit in a 500 year span of time that Shem lived.  Round figures? 15 generations.  So I started my mental math calculations of which generations Shem would have been able to know personally.
Genesis 11:10-26
Shem --100 yrs. old begat
500 yrs.  Arphaxad --35 yrs. old begat
       403 yrs.     Salah --30 yrs old begat
                403 yrs.  Eber --34 yrs old begat
                    430 yrs. Peleg --30 yrs. old begat
                          209 yrs.  Reu --32 yrs. old begat
                                 207 yrs. Serug --30 yrs old begat
                                     200 yrs. Nahor --29 yrs. begat
                                        119 yrs. Terah --70 yrs. begat
                                           135 yrs. Abram --100 yrs. old begat
Shem was 490 years old when Isaac was born.
Isaac -- lived 180 years
According to the Bible, Shem, the son of Noah, died about 30 years before Isaac died.  Isaac was 150 years old when Shem died.  Isaac had the opportunity to know his great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather Shem.  Yet, Isaac was 35 when his grandfather died, 30 when his great grandfather died, did not know his great, great grandfather, or his great, great, great grandfather.  13 when Arphaxad died, 43 when Salah died, and 74 when Eber died.
Abram had left his country and his kindred, so Isaac probably did not know many in his family.  On top of that, I believe the Tower of Babel happened in the days of Peleg.  Which means that Even if Isaac had the chance to know Peleg, Eber, Salah, Arphaxad and Shem, we don't know if he would have even known their language.

So what's the nugget of Gold?  Well, all of these men lived before the days of the written word of God.  Moses is still 400 years from being born, and yet these men were faithful to God.  Their faith was passed down generation to generation.  Granted, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob received special revelation from God, but these generations were faithful to pass along God's truth to their children.  With all the truth we have available through the printed Word of God, our task is easier.  If these men in these generations could be faithful, we have no excuse but to pass God's truths on to the next generation.

Maybe the numbers aren't as exciting to you as they are to me, but I hope you will be encouraged by God's preservation of His truth through Shem's generations and encouraged that God will always preserve His Word.

"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
- Matthew 5:18

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Challenge

Yesterday, I had the privilege of sharing in the first chapel of the year at Bethel Baptist Christian Academy in Jamestown, NY.  I got on the schedule early, so I had my choice of dates this year.  I gave the kids a challenge that I wanted to share here, as well.

What would happen if your relationship with your spouse, or a good friend, only consisted of time, or conversations, when someone else asked you to spend time with them.  What if you ignored all requests from the person themselves, and would only communicate with them when someone else asked you to.  What type of relationship would you have?

You might be thinking, "No one would expect a relationship like that to survive, no one!"  But many times, Christians expect just such a relationship to survive, and even be healthy.  Many people who attend church on a weekly basis only pick up their Bibles when someone else (Pastor, S.S. teacher) asks them to "Open your Bibles to . . ."  Some people rarely pray unless someone else leads them in it.  And yet, many times, this type of a relationship is expected to be beneficial in a person's life.  I think it is obvious why such a relationship would have very limited benefit.

So what can we do about it?

First: We need to be people of God's Word.  Nothing of any spiritual value will happen in our lives apart from God's inspired Word.  Nothing.  So if we want something to happen in our lives, we must get God's Word into our hearts and lives.  We must read it, we must digest it, we must live it.  If you have never read it through, this would be a good time to start!  In just about 15 minutes a day, you could read through your Bible this year.  In 30 minutes, you could read through your Bible twice in a year.  And which of us doesn't waste at least that much time each and every day?

Second: We need to spend time in prayer.  To have a relationship, we need to communicate both ways.  Prayer is an opportunity to allow God to tune our hearts to His.  And informed by our reading of His Word, our prayers will be effective and beneficial in our lives.

Third: We need to be people of God's House.  We need to make a commitment to be in God's House as often as we can.  Why?  For added opportunities for learning.  For the encouragement of others who are walking down the same road.  For the joy of celebrating our Lord together.  For the fellowship we have by being with people with shared values, beliefs and goals.  For the accountability in our walk with the Lord.

If we are purposeful in these areas during the coming 12 months, we will see much spiritual benefit in our lives.  We will be a vessel that God can use for His glory.  We will see God working in our lives in ways we have never seen before.  Are you up for the challenge?  Will you improve in these areas of your life this year to see God work through you?  I hope you will.

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 3:13-14