Friday, August 22, 2008


“For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” (Eph 2:10 AMP)

“Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.” (Phil 3:12-14 AMP)

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours. Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither. Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit].” (1 Cor 9:24-27 AMP)

Last week many of us witnessed Michael Phelps make history by winning eight gold medals in a single Olympics. We watched him fulfill the goal he had set for himself after the 2004 Olympics in Athens. By far the most exciting prize that he won was his seventh –the gold for the 100m fly. He won that race by the smallest measurable margin, 1/100th of a second, the length of the eraser and metal on the end of a wooden pencil. When journalists were discussing that win, one of them excitedly took the pencil and said something along the lines of, “Look at that. If that’s not destiny, I don’t know what is.” At the time I thought that was a bold statement. But then, Michael went on to win medal number eight the next day, and it did indeed seem that destiny had called his name.

The thing is, Michael did not achieve his destiny just by showing up at the Olympics. He achieved his destiny because he chose to do so. He had to get in the pool and swim 17 times to win those 8 medals, and that was just what he did during the games. Four years ago he made a decision that he would win eight gold medals in 2008. He believed he could do something no one else has ever done in the history. For the past four years he has been working every day to achieve that goal. For the past four years he spent two hours a day just working on his starts, five hours a day in the pool. Every bite of food he took was chosen based on what would best help him to achieve his goal. When people criticized him he channeled him emotions into motivation to win each medal. How many thousands of laps did he swim without the cheering crowds, with only his coach and trainers looking on? There were probably many days he didn’t feel like getting up and going to the pool, but he chose to do so anyway. He chose a lifestyle of discipline. Proverbs says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,” (Prov 19:18a NASB). He had a vision of eight gold medals, so he kept himself restrained to his training routine even when it was difficult to do so. He lived a life of no excuses.

God assigns a destiny to each of us. It is by grace alone that we are saved, and without that free gift of salvation we would be incapable of fulfilling our destinies. However, faith without works is dead. God has so much more in store for us than just salvation. We are not our own because we’ve been bought with a price. God desires to partner with us to establish His Kingdom on the earth and He has given each of us a role in His Kingdom. Our salvation is only partly about us and is all about Him. He needs us to find out what that role is and fulfill it through His guidance. We can certainly ignore our destinies and live according to our own choosing. If we make such a choice, God will use someone else to replace us and we will miss out on amazing blessings. Many are called, but few live up to the calling. God told Reinhart Bonke that he was fourth in line for the calling God placed on his life. Reinhart Bonke told God that He would not need to look for number five. Reinhart Bonke has won many multitudes for Christ in Africa and has seen many miracles performed for the sake of the Gospel.

Michael Phelps is limited to what he can achieve by the available resources and the strength of his own body. However, we have an advantage over Michael Phelps. Through God we have unlimited strength and resources, and we have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of us. God doesn’t give us more than we can bear, but He equips us with everything we need for the life to which He has called us. What we can achieve through Christ is limitless! But our achievement of that destiny is still up to us. Every moment of every day we must make the choice to live in such a way to achieve the prize. We must discipline and train with only God looking on. We must restrain ourselves to achieve the vision. We must walk in the Spirit so we won’t give in to our fleshly desires. We must choose to live a life of no excuses. We must ignore every distraction and focus on Christ. We must rely on His strength, not our own. We must put our hands to the plow and never look back. Through such a lifestyle we can achieve the prize!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Running for Gold

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:24-27 NLT)

“THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:1-2)

“You don’t work all your life for silver. You work for gold.” Shawn Johnson was credited with this quote during the broadcast of the balance beam finals of the Olympics last night. Before I heard this I was in an unusually contemplative mood & that quote seemed to put what I was feeling into the words I had as yet been unable to find. I’ve faced some things in my life in the last few weeks (which I’ll expound on in future posts) that have made me determined to march into heaven as a Kingdom champion. I don’t want to come to the end of my life having to accept the second place finish. I don’t give a rat’s whisker what Satan throws at me to try to get me off course. If anything those things are making me more determined. I will win my race! My past does not matter. I don’t have to catch up. I only have to jump in where I am and begin moving forward without ever looking back.

Olympic athletes are working “for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally.” (1 Cor 9:25, The Message). The awesome thing is that I’m not running my race alone! Christ and the saints are supporting me, cheering me on. I will not let them down, but I will keep my eyes on the Prize – on Christ Himself. One day Christ will honor me with those golden words, “Well done my good and faithful servant”!

Just to give you some more food for thought, here’s the Hebrews passage from the Message. “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Heb 12:1-3)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Miracle - Part Two

To recap from yesterday, Todd dropped the computer, and a few days later it failed to boot up.

Part of my husband's job requires him to travel out of town on occasion. The next week after the computer failed to boot up he was going to Wilmington, which takes him through Durham where the closest Apple Store is. So he made an appointment to take the computer to the Apple Store to get a tech to hopefully salvage the information from the hard drive. Well, Shawn was in a lot of pain when he went to the appointment, so he doesn't remember exactly what was said. (He slammed his finger in the car door, injuring it to the point of needing stitches, as he was retrieving the computer from the back seat of the car for the appointment -- but that's another story.) Basically he was told that the hard drive couldn't boot up due to mechanical failure. It wouldn't stop spinning and therefore couldn't be read. The information was virtually irretrievable and the hard drive would need to be replaced. (We could have tried to send it away to a headquarters for a tech there to attempt to retrieve the information, but that would be a minimum of $1200 with no guarantee they would be able to salvage any data. Well, considering our budget, not to mention our sense of logic, this just wasn't a viable option.)

Oh, computers! Such a love-hate relationship! It's amazing what they can do for us, but they're also such a pain to deal with sometimes. When Shawn told me the verdict, I cried (briefly, mind you, but tears were shed). I had been trying to back up my pictures and documents in the two days before the computer crashed, but had been unsuccessful. Now all that information was lost... again. Just a few months before this incident we had lost a bunch of information on another hard drive. (I didn't cry only for the computer. I also cried because Shawn got hurt and he was away from home, and because all this stuff was happening at the same time while he was away from home.)

The crash occurred in early May. We packed up the computer and didn't touch it until two weeks ago. Occasionally I prayed for it and asked God to let it boot up just one more time so that I could retrieve the information. Despite my prayer, I never followed through with trying to turn it on to see what would happen. I must admit I was afraid of being disappointed, so I just avoided it. Shawn came to me a couple of weeks ago and said that he was considering trying to replace the hard drive himself. I told him, "Well, pray over it, and try to boot it up again one more time and see what happens." I told him that I had prayed that God would let the computer work one more time, but hadn't tried to turn it on. Well, Shawn had the courage to follow through where I didn't. He did what I said and came into the kitchen where I was a few minutes later with computer in hand. He said, "You'd better get the information off the computer right now while the it's working." I can't remember what I said next... Something along the lines of "God is so awesome!" or "Praise God!" or "Hallelujah!" or some other expression like that. I'm pretty sure I jumped up and down a few times. I asked Shawn what he did, and he said he just prayed over it and tried to turn it on, and it came on!

God is so amazing! Anyway, I ran and grabbed the blank CDs and proceeded to copy every file off the computer I could possibly want or need later, starting with the pictures, even though I was in the middle of making homemade brownies. Well the computer has been working ever since! As far as I'm concerned, it's a miracle. Some may try to explain it away, but the diagnosis was very grim, and what man couldn't do, God did. Enough said.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Miracle - Part One

We all know that I have posted in months. As I explained in the last post, our laptop was on the fritz, so it was difficult for me to get to the computer to write blog posts. Well, I'm back up & running now. I'm not sure that I'll be posting as regularly as before, but I am posting again. No, we didn't get a new laptop. We didn't even get the old one fixed, well at least not by a human computer tech. Let me tell you what happened to the computer to explain what I mean. It's important to the story for you to know that we got the computer cheap, second-hand from eBay.

We have a wonderful and curious little monkey boy who lives within the confines of our home, named Todd (yes, I am referring to my son). Well, one beautiful sunny day Todd decides to try to carry the laptop around while Mommy was busy doing something else. (Don't ask me what, I can't remember other than it was only something vital to his wellbeing, like making lunch or some such thing.) Well, I'm sure you can guess what happened. Yes, my sweet, amazing, and sometimes clumsy little man dropped the computer. Did he drop it on the carpet? No. Did he drop it on the vinyl kitchen floor? No. He dropped in on the hardest indoor floor surface in our home -- the hardwood floor. We probably have all of five square feet of hardwood floor in our home and that's where he dropped the computer, while it was powered on and open, no less.

Now, some of you are probably wondering why in the world I left the computer where Todd could get it. Well lets just say that Todd is very active, and, like most curious two-year-old boys, has the attention span of a gnat. With my crazy life I needed a way to potty train Todd that would hold his attention so that he would stay on the potty long enough to have a successful potty session, and yet allow me to take care of the baby at the same time. The solution I came up with was to put one of his favorite DVDs in the laptop and let him watch it while sitting on the potty. Since he refuses to use a potty chair and only wants to use the "big potty", it was necessary to put the laptop in front of him, in the bathroom where he could reach it. Are there better solutions? Possibly, but it was the best I came up with at the time.

Okay, so the laptop is in the bathroom where Todd can reach it. Well, he decides to cut his potty session short, before I could get back in the bathroom and check on him. So, he gets off the toilet, grabs the laptop (he's still half-naked at this point, mind you), walks two feet into the hallway, and proceeds to drop the computer on the hardwood floor. Fortunately the computer continued to work for a few days, so I (at first) thought everything was fine. Well, one fine morning a few days later, when I was already having an unusually difficult day, the computer decides not to boot up. I tried several times. I tried the next day and the next. My husband tried several times as well. All attempts were met with no success.

In the interest of your time, I'll continue the story tomorrow.