Actually, Jerry Ragovoy is the liar here. Mick Jagger and the rest of the Rolling Stones are pinned because they are the reason why this blog is being written…
Why are they liars? Because, Time has definitely not been on my side. No it hasn’t.
One of my fears of starting this blog has been uncovered over the past few weeks, that I may be too busy to write. This really stinks, to be honest, but, there have been good reasons why.
5 weeks ago I was on a cruise with my wife and the rest of Casting Crowns, having the joy to be a part of the Klove Fan Cruise.
4 weeks ago I joined Megan and Crowns as they played an unbelievable concert at Carnegie Hall in NYC. This was amazing, to say the least (you’ll hear about these trips in a blog coming soon).
3 weeks ago I had the honor of speaking at a small town Disciple Now (youth event) in Amory, Mississippi.
The past 2 weeks I have been slammed at work and spending time with the kiddos and my bride.
So, TIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiime is not on my side. No it isn’t. And I hate it.
It bugs me that I started this blog and have neglected it for the past month. It irks me to think that I put a ton of time promoting and encouraging people to read and share, when my readers don’t have anything to read and share. “But Ryan, we understand. It really isn’t a big deal.” Possibly, but to me it’s huge. I made a commitment to write, and have been lax on my discipline to do so.
If I’d have to make a guess, I’m sure we all have been at a point like that at one time or another. We make a commitment to do something, and “X-Y-Z” comes up and we tend to forget about our previous engagements. Sometimes our distractions aren’t on purpose, yet others we put ourselves into. At the end of the day, it all comes down to discipline.
Discipline. Some have it/Few use it/All need it.
When we first hear the word discipline, it usually takes us back to a time and place where our parents would punish us for doing something wrong. I grew up in the time where the punishment for the things we did wrong was a spanking, and I got my fair share of them for sure. That’s not the kind of discipline I want to talk about.
I’m talking about the discipline it takes to complete a specific task or group of tasks that need to be done. Saying to ourselves, “No matter what happens or what comes up, I’m going to complete (or do) what I set out to do.”
The problem is that we tend not to be disciplined enough in the things that matter the most.
The great truth is that we aren’t the first ones who ever dealt with discipline issues. In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he encourages them to be more disciplined as well, and gives some awesome parallels on how we can train ourselves to be more disciplined. Let’s take a gander, shall we?
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified from the prize.” [1 corinthians 9:24-27]
In chapter 3 of this letter, Paul refers to the Corinthians as, “infants, not yet ready for solid food.” What he meant was that they needed to get the fundamental truths of the gospel down before they got the meat of it. As we get to chapter 9, we see that Paul really wants them to dive deeper in their faith, so he uses himself as an example. He shares with them his passion for preaching and why he does what he does (check out verse 16). As we read the scriptures we are discussing today, we see that Paul wants them to understand the importance of being spiritually disciplined.
When I first started Crossfit (yeah, I’m one of those crazy people), I had never worked out a day in my life and was to a point that if I didn’t make a lifestyle change, I was going to have potential health issues or possibly something worse. I made the effort that every morning at 6:30 I was going to wake up, go to the gym, and grind my way through the workouts. After time, the hard work started paying off. Now, 5 years later, I’m 70+ pounds lighter than I was, but all that weight didn’t come off over night, I had to work hard day in and day out for it.
Just like me, you may have gone through something that took time to work out, and it finally paid off. Whether it be an addiction, weight loss, or something else, you had to discipline yourself because you knew that the end result will be so much better than where you were at the beginning.
Paul encourages us to do the same thing with your spiritual walk. How do we do that? By getting disciplined in running the race of what He’s called you to do and be. Here lately, the main theme of my life has been coming up more and more in random situations; to love God, reach people, and make disciples. There is never a “day off” from these three things in a believers life. Look back at what Paul was encouraging us to do in those verses in chapter 9. I have 3 things written down in my bible, and honestly I can’t remember if it’s something that I’ve preached myself or something that I heard someone say, but I wanted to share these things with you because they are relevant in our discussion.
Stay out of Last Place (v 24)
No one likes to lose. No one jumps on the track or the field and says, “You know what? Today looks like a good day to get my butt kicked.” Why? Because you like to win!
In the race of life, it’s not much different. The goal is the Kingdom of God and unfortunately anything less than first place, is hell. As a believer, your goal should be to run after the Kingdom with everything you have. What’s the point of being in a competition and not having a finish line or goal to get to? If that’s the case, you just run around in circles, hopeless with no direction. That’s not the kind of life that God wants for us. God has a rich life of victory for you, but it just doesn’t always happen by one huge “blessing,” sometimes it takes work (James 2). You have to work to keep control of yourself and your desires, and shift them to God and his desires.
Runners can’t run with extra weight strapped to them. Fighters can’t move efficiently if there are things weighing them down. They have to get rid of the weight of things to run/fight with speed and agility. You have to do the same thing.
When you decide that your ready to compete, you have no choice but to…
Feel the Breeze (v 25)
What does this look like in a believers life? Self-control. Just as a runner or a boxer goes into strict training to get a competition mindset (as we discussed above), a believer has to have a Jesus mindset; meaning that everything that you do is focused on the end result: the Kingdom of Heaven.
There are 2 different people who feel the breeze though, those who are competing, and those who are standing and watching others compete.
Those who feel the breeze in competing feel the rush of the contest. They know that the beginning is going to be the easiest, the middle is going to be the hardest, and the end is going to be the gut check. The cool thing is that this is what they’ve trained for. They know what to expect and how to fight to the finish. They live for these moments.
Those who feel the breeze from the sidelines have no clue. They haven’t invested their time or energy in the training, so they either cheer the competitors on wishing it was them, or they get mad because they feel the athletes could have done better.
Question: which one are you? Are you running this race of life knowing what to expect, or are you pointing out the faults in others because you’re too scared to join them?
At the end of the day, you should do everything you can to…
Play to Win (vv 26-27)
In every sport, there’s you and your rival. In this case, do you know who you are competing against? How are you going to beat someone at a race if you don’t know your competition?
Here, Paul is saying that you are competing against the enemy. Who/what is the enemy? Satan. Now, I really don’t think Satan himself is dealing with little old you (don’t think so highly of yourself), BUT, being that he’s not like God and can’t be everywhere at the same time, his soldiers are after you. Howso you ask? By using anything that distracts you from the end goal.
You have to have a complete understanding that the enemy wants to do everything he can to trip you up in this race. He’ll throw his leg out to trip you up at just the precise moment that you’re not ready. How does he know? This isn’t his first time contending. He’s been at this for a long time, and you’re not his first competition.
So how do we fight? How do we win this race? By drawing near to our coach (Jesus), not being weighed down by distraction, and being disciplined to what God has called us to do. These read like they are so easy to do, but I can assure you there is hope.
Over the next few posts we are going to take a look at what it looks like to really live a life focused on what God has called us to do. We are going to dive into what it looks like to truly Love God, Reach People, and Make Disciples. By the end, I’m looking forward to seeing us run this life with victory as we follow hard after our King!