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For the last 4-5 years, I carve out some time to indulge in a bit of yoga practice.
Today, while in my yoga class, I was nearing the end of the strength building sequence that the instructor constructed for the class. Right in the midst of near muscle failure from repeated vinyasa flows from upward facing dog to downward facing dog to headstand preparation, the instructor informs us that we will be holding downfacing dog for 2 minutes. “2 MINUTES!!! Are you nuts?!!!” my mind AND body wailed.
“Now, release to child’s pose. Rest
Elated, I had to resist the urge just to plop down on my mat from exhaustion. As I rested in Child’s Pose, I really allowed myself to go limp, and truly relax, allowing oxygen to perform as a healing balm to rejuvenate my aching muscles. Within 5 breaths, the instructor instructed us to exhale and come to all fours, and come to downward facing dog, where we would be for 2 minutes.
Amazingly enough, the five breaths was more than enough time to endure holding downward facing dog for 2 minutes. At the end of the 2 minutes, I actually felt rejuvenated and like I could do another 2 minutes easily.
In life, sometimes we’re constantly bombarded by thoughts, people, and experiences that cause us to struggle through, often times, everyday activities. From the example I learned on my yoga mat, when life seems to
be constantly pressing down on you, take a mini-vacation from the person or situation, which could be a walk, a drive to clear your thoughts, or by simply taking the time to focus on breathing deeply and consciously.
When you come back to the situation, you will return with a clear head and a newly found resolve that will help you tackle any situation head on!
Certified Personal Trainer/Yoga Instructor/Owner of Nirvana Fitness(www.NirvanaFitnessMemphis.com)
After four years of pastoring a storefront church, I’m still dumbstruck at the fact that very few of the members of our church really grasp our mission. (Kind of like Jesus’s disciples didn’t get the Suffering Messiah bit).
What’s even stranger t
o me is that they don’t really understand me. They’ve claimed that they did and pledged their loyalty and support, but their words and actions (or lack thereof) tell me otherwise. (Kind of like Jesus’s disciples didn’t initially buy His servant leadership).
I was reminded of this as recently as last night. The one who was supposed to be teaching “Bible study” spent the majority of the time trying to cast doubt on my character, doctrine and leadership ability. It wasn’t even done subtly; he “made an example” out
of me before the entire listening audience. (Kind of like Jesus and the Pharisees).
What did I say in response? Nada. Zero. Not a mumbling word. (Kind of like Jesus was silent before Pilate at the judgment seat).
What would have been the point? Obviously (to him anyway), I’m a fake. Anything I might have said was not going to change his opinion of me. (kind of like Jesus’s critics then and now).
Not that this is anything new to me. Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve been
seen as “suspect” (meaning not what I appear to be). As a result, I learned not to open myself up easily to those who might mean me harm. (Kind of like Jesus didn’t commit Himself to people completely).
But this guy is not some public enemy; he’s a leader in my congregation. (Kind of like Peter denying he knew Jesus or Judas betraying Jesus to the Roman soldiers with a kiss of friendship).
I hurt – not only for myself, but for him. I know in attempting to disparage me, he hurt his own credibility. Only he doesn’t have a clue. I know this because he came to me afterwards and asked me to consider letting him “teach” more often. Talk about turning the other cheek!!
Maybe one day, when he and I both stand before our Maker, we’ll see each other for who we truly were while we were down here. In the meantime, I’m praying for both of us. For him, I’m praying that he’ll learn and do better; for myself I’m praying that I will remember that I am better because of having to endure this.
Kind of like Jesus. That’s what I’m after.
I love it when God lets me know that I’m hearing His voice and following His leading. Don’t you?
Take this week, for instance. I was in our church’s regular mid-week Bible study when someone asked the question, “Why were certain books omitted from the King James version of the Bible?” I answered, “Just each person who authored books of the Bible was attempting to write for a specific audience with a specific purpose, so the theologians who cannonized the KJV had an audience and purpose in mind when doing so.”
The person who asked the question was satisfied with my answer, but I wasn’t satisfied myself.
The question that arose in my own mind was, “What did people who believed in God do before there was a Bible? Or church?” Even the Bible speaks of people who had a relationship with God before any scriptures were ever written.
Take Enoch, for example. He was the father of Methuselah (the oldest man who ever lived according to scripture). His life is summarized in Gen. 5:24: “And Enoch walked with God 300 years, and after that he was no more, because the Lord took him.”
A man who consistently walked with God. For 300 years. Without scriptures to guide him. No church to hold him accountable. No religious rituals (prayer, fasting, attending services, doing good deeds, etc.) to make him feel pious.
Today, modern Christians and followers of other faiths as well often have a hard time actually walking with God on a consistent basis (at least, I know I do). With all the aforementioned “supports” (or “traps” depending upon how you look at it) and then some, I still occasionally falter in my performances as a believer.
I was still contemplating Enoch’s life with my wife on the way home from a church meeting last night. “How did he do it?”
Fast forward to early this morning. I was at my mother’s house browsing the many books she has accumulated over the years when I came across one entitled, “The Lost Bible: Forgotten Scriptures Revealed” by J.R. Porter.
Intrigued, I opened it and began perusing its contents. Guess what I found? You guessed it; “The First Book of Enoch”!
While I plan to read it more in depth (I love to study all things spiritual and natural), I’ve already learned a few lessons from it.
Lesson One: “If you seek, you will find”. God always puts both the desire to understand and the material to be found within our reach.
Lesson Two: “The Just Shall Live by Faith”. That’s how Enoch did it and ultimately how everyone does it (more or less). “He/she that comes to God must first believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Lesson Three: “Don’t Always Accept Everything That You’ve Been Told”. The “forgotten” books of the Bible were actually censored by the religious machinery of a specific group with a specific agenda. Jesus was crucified by just such a system. He said all those who
dare to truly, fully follow God would also be persecuted at the very least. Blessed are all who don’t allow any person, group or culture to limit their personal pursuit of God and truth.
If we’re bold enough to ask the hard questions, God will show us the right answers. They really are always there waiting to be found. Just like God. Just like us.
Thanks, Lord, for being so easy to get to know.
Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if every person on the planet became focused on the single, most important pursuit in life – which is a relationship with the Divine?
This relationship is the very thing for which mankind was created and for which Jesus commanded us to search in Matthew 6:33. He said, “But seek first the kingdom (fellowship of and submission to) of God and His righteousness (completion and wholeness by faith), and all these other things (possessions, self-worth, positive relationship with others) shall (must) be added (included in due time) unto you.”
Our problem as human beings is that most of us never become/remain THAT focused on finding and maintaining our primary relationship with our Creator. Instead, the majority of us spend almost an entire lifetime searching endlessly (and futily) for satisfaction apart from Him. Even the most devout human beings tend to become distracted from time to time, allowing temporal, tangible trinkets to successfully tempt and divert us away from eternal, intangible truths which are valuable and beneficial both now and forever.
Such distractions are what life is made all about (so it seems). Yet things are seldom what they seem. The reality is that until we become and stay focused on the “straight and narrow” way that leads to this higher consciousness, we will travel a “broad way” that leads – figuratively and literally – to our own destruction (which, in my opinion, is any way that results inunfulfilled potential and regret).
Jesus both taught and demonstrated what a lifelong, focused, intimate and purposeful relationship with God can be. He also said such a relationship only comes by a complete, full surrender of one’s self and own agenda. At first, such demands may seem unreasonable and too costly, but (again) things are seldom what they appear to be. The reality is that it IS worth giving up EVERYTHING to pursue and obtain this most wonderful, fulfilling relationship.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Forgetting those things which are behind me, and seeking those things which are before me, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God which is in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:15-16).
It’s ALL for Him, or it’s all for NOTHING. With God, it’s NEVER for NOTHING.
I just know the title of this blog is bound to get some volatile reactions from folks, regardless of their own religious beliefs (or lack thereof). So, before the fundamentalists start denouncing this as blasphemy or heresy, and before the athiests and/or non-Christians start cheering because they’ve probably always said this, I implore you, please hear me out.
When I say “the gospel is C.R.A.P.”, what I’m REALLY saying is “THE gospel is Christ’s Reconciliation of All People (C.R.A.P.; get it?).”
You see, the world’s major religions (whatever the name or tenets the different sects) basically have one message: mankind is somehow and for whatever reasons at odds with the Creator/Universe. Now, whether one believes this is actually the case is irrelevant. At a deep, subcoscious level, nearly everyone at one time or another sense an emptiness inside themselves and want to find a means of reconnecting with the Divine.
To that end, many people embrace some form of religion or philosophy
seeking to “work” into being accepted by the Creator/becoming a “whole” person. While individual experiences vary, all “works”-based efforts sooner or later become tiresome and rarely eradicate the lingering doubts/questions as to whether the inidividual has done “enough”.
For more than two millenia, Christianity has masked the truth of the gospel message as just another “works-based” religion. In reality, THE gospel that Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed is NOT (I repeat-NOT) about “works” people can/should do.
THE gospel is about what the Creator has ALREADY DONE! Through Christ’s life, death, burial and resurrection, ALL people have been “reconciled” to the Creator. Whatever “division” there may have been between God and man (whether real or imaginary) has been removed.
Moreover, any and every one can now enjoy an intimate relationship with the Creator daily without the limitations of guilt and condemnation that accompany “works”-based efforts.
THAT’s THE gospel. Again, it is C.R.A.P. And the best things in life often are a result of the C.R.A.P. we find ourselves in, come to, and through.
So, go ahead. Start expecting something GOOD rather than bad to come from the C.R.A.P. I dare you. Great things still come from this C.R.A.P. — gospel truth!!