Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Holding Fast and Pressing On Without Results Part II

    There is much to learn about holding fast and pressing on when we are not seeing the end result. We saw this to be true of our physical life and we are now going to look at our spiritual life.  When we are saved we begin a journey toward Christ-likeness.  It is a journey that at times can be very frustrating because we will never arrive on this earth.  We will not achieve this until sin is removed.  Until then we will be presented every day with a choice.  That choice is sin or God.  Since anything apart from God is sin that leaves a broad range of choices we have to evaluate daily.  I think of the verses in Romans where Paul is talking about this very battle.  He is telling us why God gave the law but the bottom line is he desires to to right but ends up doing what is wrong.

                              Romans 7:15
                              For what I am doing, I do not understand;
                              for I am not practicing what I would like to
                              do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

    Have you ever struggled with deeply desiring to do what is right and you end up caving to a fleshly desire or to laziness or procrastination?  I struggle with these daily.   I have a deep desire to pursue what God wants for me but at times the pull of my flesh is too strong.  I have come to a place where I realize that much like my physical journey, my spiritual journey is just that, a journey.  It is not the destination that matters as much as the humility of being willing to go through the process. 
     As human beings we have a desire to know we have accomplished a task and that we are achieving an intended outcome.  The outcome, though important, is not as important as the process.  Our progression is how we measure our success not our destination.  I can look back over my life and see that I have grown and matured and that I am walking more closely with the Lord more consistently than I ever have. I still have a long way to go to reach my destination but I look back to see how far I have come because that encourages me to press on to maturity.  As we go through this process of becoming more like Christ we can only fully participate in it when Christ is our center.  When we acknowledge that we can do nothing apart form Him growth can begin.  This is accomplished by changing our thinking.  Our minds must be renewed by the truth of God's Word.  We must go through the process of God's Word transforming our selfishness to sacrifice, our petty perspective to an eternal perceptive and our fleeting frustrations to firm foundations.  We will never achieve what God has for us if we do not go through the process.
     We must be willing to preserver and not quit.   Quitting is more than just saying I can't get there.  It is choosing to interrupt the journey.  It is stopping the process of transformation that is going on in our life.  It could be stopping, backing up, or taking an indirect route.  All of these choices interrupt the process.  The journey then becomes more tedious because you must get back on track where you got off.  God knows us better than we can imagine and when He has us going through something it is for our benefit. When we deviate from His plan He will make us repeat the lesson we tried to avoid.  
     How do we hold fast and press on in our journey? We must be consistent with our spiritual disciplines.  Reading and meditating on God's word, prayer, fellowship with other believers, attending and serving in your local church, reaching out to our community and demonstrating the love of Christ are all habits that will promote spiritual growth. The change will be accomplished because it was ordained from the beginning of time that we be conformed to the image of His Son. Our responsibility is to yield to the process, trust God and be consistent.  Your journey will look different than mine but our destination is the same.  Embrace your journey!

Holding Fast and Pressing On,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Holding Fast and Pressing On Without Results

     The title today seems to be a bit of an oxymoron.  How can we press on and have no results? I believe it is because we are working toward the wrong result.  I have been hesitant to share my weight loss struggle because in this area of my life I feel like a huge failure; but I have come to realize it is who I am and maybe others can benefit from hearing my struggles.  I believe we can keep working and pressing on without ideal results when we gain a better perspective of what the correct result is we are working toward.
     I am a goal oriented person.  I like beginning a task knowing what I can accomplish and that it is reasonable and then I want to see that accomplishment happen.  I like results.  I was trained by, "Don't try, Do!" and "If you can't do it right, don't do it at all!" or "I want results not words!"  These were what I heard repeated as I grew up and I learned to not begin something unless it would yield a predetermined result.  Although this can be true about many areas of life, there are many processes where the final result is illusive or it just takes a mighty long time to get there.  This can breed a quitter, of which I am chief. 
     I, by nature, am a quitter.  I am not driven or competitive by personality.  I had some one say that I tend to rollover especially when it comes to going up against others.  I most times will let the other guy win or play a game in a way that helps the other guy so we can beat the game. I am the queen of the win/win scenario! Much to my detriment at times.  Any drive I have is because I like to see a result.  I will only clean my kitchen when I can do it from top to bottom and make it shine, I will only sit down to write when I have a complete plan and I can finish it, I only scrapbook when I can do it ALL the way.  So when I was told the above phrases, to me that meant once I realized it could not be completed in a reasonable time I should quit. 
     I have been on my weight loss journey in earnest for the last 3 years.  It began as a task.  I just wanted it done.  I researched, set small goals, took steps to achieve my desired outcome.  I began the process....repeatedly.  When one avenue did not work I would begin another all with the goal of weight loss in mind.  I have spent the last 3 years feeling like a failure because it has not happened....well I have lost 50 pounds but there is so much more that I need to lose, I was throwing my hands up and saying, "What is the point?"
     This last year God has been changing my perspective.  It actually started when I was studying Hebrews in 2009 and 2010 the ground work was laid.  I came to an understanding that God wants us to persevere, hence the name of my blog.  That was easier for me to apply spiritually and in theory than in the reality of my physical body...God is not interested in the physical, right? Wrong! God wants us to excercise discipline and balance in all areas of life.  He wants us to learn to persevere when things are hard physically as well as emotionally and spiritually.  I also realized my goal was not accurate.  I have been reading Where Did All the Fat Go? by Dr. Huizenga and he says that one should not focus on getting healthy by losing weight but that we should get healthy to lose weight. The body will only let go of weight when it is healthy.  Well this perspective totally changed how I had to view my efforts.  I wrestled with it and talked it through with some qualified people and realize my goal was amiss.  Losing weight is great but the goal is and should always be health.
      This means each bottle of water I drink, each time I take my vitamins, each time I set foot in the gym, each time I eat thoughtfully, each good nights sleep I get, when I go and battle the doctors for better information or read another book on fitness and nutrition I am advancing my current state of health in a positive direction.  This means in the process of pressing on to better health I am successful because I am better today than I was 6 months ago and a year ago.  I may not lose 30 pounds in 10 weeks like I want to but I am closer to achieving my goal of health. 
    I have had to change how I measure my success.  I no longer am dominated by the tyranny of the scale.  I now look at my physical achievements.  I have gone from barley 3 minutes on the elliptical to 30 minutes completing 2.5 miles with a 6 resistance.  I have gone from the humiliating place of falling off the rowing machine to completing 500m in less than 3 minutes and the most I can row now is 1500m at at time on a 6 resistance.  I can lift...a lot! I will not bore you with the details.  I go to the gym 5 to 8 times a week (some days I go 2x per day).  I was able to walk up and down hills at the San Diego Zoo and my knee quit before my breathing.  I do Weight Watchers and I drink 3 to 5 32oz bottles of water a day.  These are positive changes.  My weight has not changed in 4 months but I am successful because for the first time I have not quit!  I did not get discouraged with the lack of results on the scale (okay, well I did but I had people coaching me and encouraging me and God's grace helping me to continue on). 
     When you meet me you might make judgments about my size...that is your issue not mine.  I am confident that I am holding fast and pressing on toward good health. I know the process is more important than the result.

Holding Fast and Pressing On,

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Holding Fast and Pressing On Through Encouragement

    I have not written much lately,  God has used the last 2 months to re-focus my energy in the areas where He is leading.  I began the month of February teaching a group of ladies at our local church "Lord, I Need Grace to Make it Today." I also sent Randy off to San Diego for 6 weeks.  I can not believe the last 6 weeks has ended.  It has been a fun and encouraging time.
View of the ocean in Santa Barbara, CA
     The end of February I went with the Women's Council from Immanuel on a Retreat in Santa Barbara where we discussed God's direction.  It was a beautiful place, with great company and was just the refreshment I needed. It is encouraging to be with women who love the Lord and other women. 

Kay Arthur and I
      March began with me getting to go to a Precept Leaders meeting in Yorba Linda, CA. I was so happy Shanna went with me, she was such an encouragement.   At this meeting we heard how the Word of God is spreading to more and more countries. Precept Ministries is instituting some changes that will better support leaders.  It was encouraging to hear that there are so many people who are students of God's Word.  At this time Kay honored those who had been teaching Precept classes for 10 to 19 years and those who taught for 20 or more years.  I was in the group honored for teaching Precept for more than 10 years. 
      Later in March our family went on vacation to San Diego.  It was a great time for our family to grow closer and to enjoy time together now that the kids are getting older and doing more things away from home.
Double Rainbow in San Diego
Balboa Park

We got to go to the Zoo, Sea World and the Science Center at Balboa Park.  We enjoyed discussing the blessings and promises of God as we enjoyed His creation.

I ended the month of March with a blessing from a woman at church.  She was unable to use her ticket to see Beth Moore in Fresno so she gave it to me.  I got to go with some wonderful women and enjoy some great teaching.

Beth Moore
Travis Cottrell

Travis Cottrell led the Praise and Worship which was very uplifting.  Beth taught on how we should view the dry spells, the times between the rains.  I will share more about what I learned from Beth in later blogs.
This is the last week of Bible Study and then I will spend some time writing and preparing for what God has for me next.  I hope to pass encouragement on to all of you and to be an extension of God's grace. 

Holding Fast and Pressing On,