Saturday, May 30, 2009

252 Challenge mid stream

It is the 5th Sunday of the month. That means today we are talking about the 252 Challenge. Do you remember what that is? I dabble with weightlifting once in a while. When you read about it, one thing that comes out is you need balance. I’ve seen pictures of guys who just target one thing, like their right bicep. If you take a close-up of their arm, it looks great. But when you pan out you see scrawny little chicken legs, and no significant chest development to support huge biceps. They look more freakish than anything. The 252 challenge is about balance, about maturing in each of the 4 main areas of your life. Here is the challenge for this week:

Physical: I had a car once. The oil light would sometimes flicker and go on. I would check it, maybe a bit low so I put in some oil. Still issues with the light. I put off getting it looked at. Money was tight and who needs diagnostic stuff anyways? Well, it wasn’t long before I am driving down the highway and bang, the car stops. Turns out at some point when someone had changed the oil earlier, some paper towel had dropped into the engine block. It took awhile, but the paper towel ended up clogging the intake on the hose that takes the oil to different parts of the engine. The car stopped because the engine had over heated and a piston seized. So, the lesson learned was that diagnostic stuff is important, and in the end can be a lot cheaper than allowing issues to go unattended.
Sometimes we do the same thing with our bodies. There are little warning signs, but we ignore them because we are not other people. We have a sense that we are above the frail human condition. Not true. Let me encourage you to know yourself – know your body and what isn’t normal. Be proactive in your body’s care. The New Testament says that your body is the temple of God. Even before that, we understand that we are creations of God. We need to take care of our bodies and in so doing worship God.
Life is always about extremes. We need to find balance in most things. Take care of your body, knowing that you are a steward of it before God, but don’t focus so much on it so that it draws your attention away from the Creator.

Wisdom: How’s your brain today? I have encouraged you to read. It is not just because Bonnie’s book is out now either. Reading exercises your brain. It expands your vocabulary. It opens up the world to you; places you would otherwise never visit. Read history. Read the Old Testament, which is old history. As we watch Jesus walk through life in the Gospels, we see Him referring to Scripture often. Scripture for Him was just the Old Testament. There is much value in reading through it. We understand that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. How do we correlate what happens with the Old testament with what is in the New; with what we are commanded by Jesus? Do know that it is not God that has changed. Our way of communicating and relating to Him has changed. Our understanding of what is foundational in our spiritual lives has changed. God has not. Spend some time this summer to read and understand some of the Old Testament. Next month we are starting a new series for the summer. I have called it our Psummer Psalm Pseries! Let us all expand our minds a bit over the next few months and read through the Psalms and other parts of the Old testament.

Social: Summer is the best time for being more social. It does not take much effort to throw hamburgers or chicken on a barbeque, so invite your neighbours over often. Do it with your church friends, but don’t forget to focus on those in your sphere of influence who don’t know Jesus. We are called to be the salt of the earth, a light to the world. If we spend all our time with people who are already salty and light, those in darkness are the ones missing out. 
At the same time, it is important to cultivate good and close relationships with a few people who  are spiritual mature. Some people think that they will do fine spiritually if they read their Bible occasionally and are otherwise good people. You need more than that. Find people who stretch you spiritually, who encourage you.  Don’t get caught up thinking that you don’t need good friends who are also followers of Jesus. Have you ever seen a kid playing in the dirt or mud wearing a pair of white glove? What do you think would happen? Sometimes we think we are outside of the natural order of things and that instead of our gloves getting muddy, we think the mud will get “glovey”. It doesn’t work that way.
And don’t just wait for someone to come to you. You are responsible for your own life, your own health, your own well-being. Take some initiative in looking after your “temple of God” body and get out and socialize. The older I get, the shorter life seems. It also seems more tiring, but don’t put off until tomorrow what you could do today.

Spiritual: Can we make this a summer of prayer? Can you make a list of 3 – 5 people who need Jesus in their lives, and just start praying for them? DO it faithfully over the next 3 months, and let us see what God will do this coming fall. There are things I want to do this fall program-wise. I want to see this church grow. We have continued to shrink even a bit more over this last year and to be viable we really need more people. I pray every night with Bonnie and the kids that God will bless our church, that He will help us to grow. I pray the prayer that Jesus said we should, that we should be praying for workers to come help with the harvest. Right now, it is seeding time. Let us spend our summer praying for people, and even praying for opportunities to talk about our spiritual life with those around us. Let us encourage one another. Ask how things are going. Then ask the second question, “How are things going spiritually?” Ask if there is anything you could pray for. Don’t just cruise through life assuming someone else will take the initiative. If you do, you are believing the lie that Satan is feeding you that says you are nobody. That’s just not true. One of the things we are going to discover as we read through the Psalms is how special we are before God. We are going to understand how we should be different from the world. We are going to learn about praise and prayer, confession and petition, and maybe even a bit about how to stand up for God.

Take the time you need this week, this summer, to be all you can be. A toddler can’t mature in a week, and neither can you or I. But we can set our direction, we can set our goals. If you need help, grab Bonnie’s book Your Best You to help you know yourself. She has some great information in there on using your strengths and talents to facilitate change in your life. You can do it. Start today.

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