How I almost broke my sternum…

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I Couldn’t Bench the Bar in Eighth Grade…

When I first started working out, I was a twig. My squat max was around 80 pounds. That’s the bar and some change on each side. I couldn’t even bench the bar by itself. I had to use a curling bar.

I would look around me, and people were doing much more weight than I was. One day I had had enough. Everyone around me was benching 135 (the bar with a 45), and I was benching 30 (a curling bar with a 2.5). This was the day I would bench 135!

I loaded the bar up and told my friend to spot me. My friend unracked the bar. I barely had the strength to keep my arms locked out!

He asked, “are you sure you got this?”

I, of course, wanting to be like everyone else, said, “yea bro, easy money.” (That, unfortunately, use to be cool to say.)

In my mind, this was the part that I grew superhero strength and blew 135 off my chest, and everyone would induct me into the men’s club. We would high five each other, and I would make fun of all the toothpicks that couldn’t even bench the bar.

However, there was an entirely different reality that played out. What happened you ask? Well, as soon as I unlocked my arms to lower the weight to my chest, my arms gave out, and the bar slammed into my sternum.

My breath got knocked out of me. My feet left the ground and flew in the air. And, the worst part was that, instead of anyone helping, everyone was laughing hysterically as I was suffocating to death.

I could go on all day about how weak I was, but I would rather talk about how strong I have become.

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“A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step”

I would one day go on to bench 135. But, it didn’t happen overnight. I would go on to be part of a powerlifting team that won a national championship. But, once again, it didn’t happen overnight.

It took a lot of day-to-day workout sessions and discipline to grow into the lifter that I eventually became.

In the same way, we must discipline ourselves and grow day-to-day to become the person that God wants us to be.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

I think this is a beautiful depiction of Christianity. We often find ourselves comparing ourselves to others. We want to read the bible every night like you hear others doing. You want to pray as much as others do. You want to have the faith that you have seen others demonstrate.

But, 2nd Corinthians makes it clear. We become more like God one degree at a time.

God doesn’t ask you to be perfect in a night. God doesn’t ask you to become saved and have a prayer life of a prayer warrior. He doesn’t expect you to be as patient, or as merciful, or as gracious, or as disciplined. But, he does expect you to try.

finding-the-best-bonsai-trees.jpgBecoming Bonsai Minded

So what does this mean for you? And, what on Earth does Bonsai Minded mean?

I was on the phone with my great friend, Austin, the other day and we were talking about this very subject. He made a great connection between 2 Corinthians 3:18, Manna, and the Lords prayer.

In Exodus 16 the Lord tells the Israelites that they are to gather enough Manna for the day. Any more will spoil and less they would starve. The Lord’s prayer asks God to give us today our daily bread. No more, no less.

 

Did you know it usually takes a minimum of three years for a Bonsai tree to grow enough for you even to start working on it?

 

This is our duty and this is our task: Learn, Grow, and Pray enough for you every day. And, this is what it means to become Bonsai Minded

Don’t get caught up in the end result. If I got caught up thinking about how I couldn’t lift as much as those around me, then I would have quit a long time ago.

Slowly but steadily I continued and found myself surpassing my original goal.

 

This is my challenge for you: start.

Do you want to read through the Bible in a year? – Start with a chapter a day.

Do you want to pray to God for an hour a day? – Start with five minutes a day.

Whatever your goal is, just start. You don’t have to get there today or even tomorrow, but one degree at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:

Weak Person

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Are you tired of getting the short end of the stick?

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Why do the unrighteous get away with everything?

I had a friend in Junior High who made me jealous. From my point of view, he got everything. He got all the cool gadgets, had the coolest shoes, he did whatever he wanted, and never got in trouble.

He could have gotten away with murder. He was in class one day and shared his favorite finger with the teacher. What was his punishment? The teacher laughed and put him in the back of the class.

On the other side of the coin, I would get in trouble for sneezing too loud. I don’t say this figuratively either. I have severe allergies, and I sneezed one too many times and got sent to the principles office.

At the end of the day, no matter how well behaved or good I was, my friend seemed to always come out ahead.

Have you ever felt like this?

You are doing the right things, but the promotion goes to the person that doesn’t act right. Or, you seemed to be plagued by financial hardships yet, the person who disobeys everything God says is getting their new boat or BMW.

They have the better marriage.

They have the better friends.

They don’t struggle as much.

They can do more things.

They get away with everything and not one person notices.

These are all lies that Satan wants you to believe and Psalm 73:6-16 talks a lot about this issue. It addresses the illusion of the wicked getting anything they want and get away with everything.

It says, “surely they don’t struggle.” “They are free from common human burden.” They are always free of care; they go on amassing wealth.”

Surely God has an answer for this right? Why ‘good’ Christians get cancer and wicked people seem to have healthy bodies?

The truth is that we have a tainted picture of reality. Our view of others lives has become murky because of sin and Satan.

Seeing the World Through the Eyes of Jesus

Asaph, the writer of Psalm 73, talks about this in verses 16 and 17. He says all of this was hard to understand: why do the ‘good’ get pain, struggles, and turmoil and the unrighteous seem to prosper and succeed?

He didn’t understand until he entered the sanctuary of God, as mentioned in verse 17.

Before, Asaph was blinded by jealousy and pride because he was viewing life through sin and Satans point of view.

The grass looked way greener on the side of sin and unrighteousness because he forgot what it meant to look through the eyes of faith.

Leading up to verse 17 life was unfair. But, after he entered the sanctuary of God in verse 17 his distorted reality becomes apparent. Suddenly his whole perspective changes in verses 18-20.

He says,”Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.”

He continues to say in verses 27 and 28,” Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”

This is the switch we have when viewing life through the eyes of the Lord. It is always easy to desire what the people around you have and to be angry because it appears that they obtain them by doing what is wrong. However, our great reward is being faithful to God.

At the end of the day, these earthly pleasures are nothing more than that. We live knowing our hope is in the Lord and the eternity that He promises. An eternity so beyond our ability to understand.

Our hope and our joy come from being close to God not to a new BMW or boat.

How are you viewing reality? I challenge you to look through the eyes of faith this week and not through the eyes of sin.

It is my belief that this is a crucial step in learning to walk with God.

 

 

 

Photo Credit.

 

Seeing light at the bottom of the pit…

I’m glad I was depressed

When I was at Austin College, I found myself in a pit. I have talked about it before, but I was involved in very self-destructive behaviors and hated every second of life.

From the outside looking in I looked great. I was a collegiate athlete, I had a double academic scholarship, and I was making excellent grades. But, this wasn’t the case.

I was lost, broken, and had no hope. If ever I was in a pit, this was it.

Psalm 40 shows us a time David was in a pit and when he was so overwhelmed by life and emotions.

What is a pit you ask?

A pit could be any of life trials that leave us unable to free ourselves without the help of God.

For me, being wrapped in sin and depression was my pit. But, what does Psalm 40 say we should do when we find ourself in the lowest of lows?

1) Wait for the Lord (Psalm 40:1-5)

I have heard this before, “wait for the Lord.” But, it means way more than what it says.

When I buy something, and it’s shipped through Fedex, I check my phone for the delivery time, I check outside my door for the package, and I wait anxiously because I know at any moment my package will arrive. I don’t just sit around ignoring any possibility of it showing up.

In the same way, we are to wait for the Lord.

Isaiah 41:10 says:

We are to prepare ourselves through prayer and crying out to God because we wait because we know that something big is going to happen.

We dive into the word because it tells us everything we need to know about how God delivers us from our pit.

The tougher, more extreme, or intense our pit is, the more steadfast we are to wait for the Lord to deliver us.

Waiting is a perfect time to tune our hearts to God so when He answers we know exactly how and then we can thank Him for it after. Which leads us to my second point:

2) Proclaim God’s goodness (Psalm 40:9-10)

It’s only a matter of time before God delivers you from your pit. When He does, it is crucial that you praise Him endlessly for it.

You may not see it now, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And, believe it or not, God makes all things work together for his good.

I didn’t think that my depression and self-hatred would lead to an intense testimony that testifies to God’s love and pursuit for me. Nor did I realize that I was going to be a youth minister.

In the same way, God will use your pit for something beautiful even if it feels like he won’t now. And when he does, it is ever more delightful to praise God knowing that even He can turn muck into a masterpiece.

That is why I’m glad I was depressed at Austin College. I get to praise God because he has delivered me from suffering and the deepest pit I have ever been in. And, I have a story that impacts people and brings God glory.

So, what is your pit?

Maybe, like me, it is depression. Or, maybe life’s events have you feeling like you are cornered with no hope or escape.

Whatever the case, turn to the Lord today. Patiently wait for Him expecting Him to fulfill His promise. When He does, never cease to proclaim His goodness and what it has done in your life.