A Spiritual Lesson from Jet Lag

I have just returned from a three week trip to the United States and have been hit with jet lag in a severe way.  Can’t sleep when I need to and lethargic when I’m awake.

Just a little nap at my friend’s house after church!

The last few days have been frustrating! There have been several items I wanted to do but I’ve had the hardest time focusing upon the task at hand.  Catching up on emails, calling friends or even reading a serious book have all been pushed to the wayside.

It reminds me of the saying of Jesus:
“The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41)

God has created us as whole beings: mind, body and spirit.  When one part of us is “out of whack”, we don’t function as we should.

For example, the lack of sleep impacts my devotional routine. In response, I could “beat myself up” for my lack of prayer.  Or as I did this morning, confess to the Lord that I’m tired and distracted; then try to get back into my normal sleep pattern as soon as possible.

Are there specific times or circumstances when you struggle with sin?  Are you grumpy before dinner?  Do you watch immoral or just stupid things on TV late in the evening?  Is Sunday just a day of stress?

Becoming more like Christ may mean evaluating your sleep, eating and exercise habits more than you realize.  Eating a light snack in the late afternoon may do wonders for your grumpy attitude before dinner.  Going to bed earlier or moving the TV out of your bedroom may help you resist temptation. Planning out Sunday on Saturday evening will change the stress level on the “day of rest”.

None of these decisions seem like spiritual decisions.  But they are.  Don’t kid yourself.  You are one unified human being made in the image of your Creator.  Think and act like the unified being you are.

There’s more I could write, but hey, I’m getting sleepy!

I’m not waiting for the afterlife

I’m currently on a 9-day, 6-city “tour” of the southeastern United States.  Before I drove away from my parent’s place in St. Louis, I went to the library and picked up a few cds including Switchfoot’s new album, “Afterlife”.

On this new album, the first song immediately stuck out in my mind:

God is making all things new and this work of redemption has already started. “The good life” for the believer who is united with Christ doesn’t start in heaven, but now. Sometimes Christians have this idea that the purpose of the Christian life is to get people saved and then to wait around for the rest of their lives until Jesus takes them to heaven. NO!! God saves his people for a purpose.

Jesus said in Mark 1:14, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” God’s promises to Abraham have been and are being fulfilled in and by Jesus. Change has happened but more change is coming.

The incredible thing is that God actually uses his people for his mission. We get to join in with what God is doing to bring healing to this world – spiritually, emotionally and physically. What a privilege!

Don’t sit around waiting for the afterlife. As Switchfoot says in this song:

“Why would I wait till I die to come alive?
I’m ready now
I’m not waiting for the afterlife”

Busting rocks

A few years back, when visiting my wife’s family in Kenya I watched a stone mason spend hour after hour with a hammer and chisel shaping stones into rectangular blocks to be used in an extension of their house. It reminded me of a story I heard (can’t remember where) about two men who where also cutting stones.

Someone asked both of the men what they were doing. In reply, the first mumbled, “Busting rocks.” The second joyfully said, “I’m building a cathedral to the glory of God!” Same job but completely different perspective on their work.

In the first chapter of Colossians, Paul gives us a grand vision of the person of Jesus.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Why does he start his letter this way? To let his readers know the importance of perspective. If we understand the grandeur of Christ, his mission of bringing redemption and healing to this world, and the fact that he actually calls us to join him in this mission; our perspective on life will be completely different.

Each day we have many, many activities to do . Cleaning the house, talking to your neighbor, working at your job, helping family members, walking the dog – who knows what each day will bring? But if you are a child of God, you get to join King Jesus in bringing hope to this world.

Cleaning the house becomes an opportunity to pray for and serve your family. Talking to your neighbor becomes an opportunity to offer a word of grace and encouragement. Working at your job becomes an opportunity to provide for your family and others in addition to modeling Christ to your co-workers. Everything you do becomes an opportunity to join with God on His grand mission.

Change your perspective. Are you going to build a cathedral or just keep on busting rocks?

Bet you’ll fail!

My sister and her husband live on the Naval Station Great Lakes located north of Chicago.  I’m visiting for a few days and had a chance to walk along Lake Michigan.  Along the beach was a group of 75 young men jogging carrying 55 pound bags of sand.  They stopped on the beach for a series of press-ups (push-ups), leg lifts, and sit-ups before marching away with the bags held over their heads.  It was serious exercise.

You can watch a video about the training here.

I asked my brother-in-law about it and he said that this was the beginning phase of the training for the Navy Seals – arguably the most physically demanding military training program in the world.  He said the drop-out rate is  over 80%.  8 out of 10 guys enter into the program fail.  Those are not good odds.

Each of them knows the stats – they will probably fail.  Why do they even try?

Even though the odds are against them, each man thinks the achievement of becoming a Navy Seal is worth the risk of failure.  They are attempting something so difficult that the vast majority of fail.  A few do become Navy Seals, but failure is the final destination for most of those guys working out in the sand.

It’s a little late for most of us to join the Seals.  Too old and too weak.  But it’s not too late to attempt something that is so difficult, the risk of failure is very real.

Run a half-marathon.
Start a business.
Plant a church.
Move your family.
Start a Bible study.
Learn another language.

25 years ago I heard this quote from John Haggai which has stuck with me:
“Attempt something so impossible that unless God is in it, it’s doomed to failure.”

Are you attempting “the impossible”?  Don’t let the possibility of failure get in the way of your attempt of something out of the ordinary.  To often we play it safe.  Making sure success is guaranteed.  But if success is guaranteed then our sights are set too low.

Failure is OK.  Not making an attempt?  That is true failure.

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