You’ve seen the infomercials and how, with a little sweat and perhaps some tears, you could have a body like the ones you see on the screen. I am tempted by them every now and then. I think it started when I was in high school and I begged my dad to buy a Bowflex! “I mean seriously” I would tell him, “it’s only 24 payments $79.99…that’s not much, is it.” I’m glad he steered me to push ups, pull ups, and sit-ups…oh and mowing the lawn, and chopping wood…I felt like Rocky in IV!!
I would love to be in great shape…I used to be. I was one of the fastest kids in school and could run all day. I was physically fit…that was then. As I have gotten a little older, I have found that physical fitness is more in my mind. I still THINK I’m in pretty good shape, I still THINK I can drive to the basket with that move I used to use all the time, I still THINK I can keep up with the kids running at the beach. But, as you well know, there is a big difference in what I THINK and what is reality!
You see, if I want to get into shape (which I do) it is going to take more than wishful thinking, more than hoping I get in better shape, even more than thinking about it and how great it would be…It’s going to take some action! I am going to have to decide that it is something I really want to do, then I am going to have to do it! I’m going to have to take advantage of that Y membership I still have. And, it’s going to take some work, some effort, some sweat, some discipline! It’s not easy, but…it is incredibly rewarding!! The results (as I have seen on TV) can be amazing!!
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Are you hard at work right now? Perhaps you are reading this while at work or on break from work. Ever since the fall of man, work has been a part of our lives – and there is nothing wrong with hard work. In fact, the Apostle Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” Work gives us the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. It’s even, dare I say, fun at times. I used to cut grass as a side business. I took care of up to 30 lawns a summer. It was hard work, but I actually liked it. I guess what I really liked was pulling up to a lawn that was uncut, overgrown, where you could’t see the edge on the driveway and walkway, the pine needles were unkempt. Then, after less than an hour on most lawns, I would put the mower on the truck and look back at the yard…perfect! It was such a great feeling of accomplishment. I sometimes miss doing it.
So, work is not bad in itself. But, what is bad is when we make work our end rather than our means to an end. Work is bad when we make it our priority because of the things that we think or know it provides for us. When we weigh the new car that will provide better transportation for our family (i.e. safer, nicer, way more reliable), but at the expense of the time away from the family that it will require to pay for it we have a decision to make. Work is not good when it begins to drive us instead of us driving it.
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At the crack of down and the peak of low tide, we put on our oldest clothes and shoes and traipsed off toward the boardwalk by the inlet behind the condo where we are staying on Bald Head Island, NC! I love the salty smell, but this was mixed a bit with that brackish smell…it’s still refreshing at the crack of dawn! We found our place where we left the boardwalk and, yes, walked through waist-deep water to the other side of the inlet where the clams are the best!! Walking was very hard due slipping and sliding and the fact that the mud would literally suck your shoes right off of your feet! We didn’t really know what we were doing but we decided to just dive in, so to speak.
We were told that the clams are just below the surface of the mud by the reeds!! At first we didn’t really want to dig down in there…we thought we could just find some sort of laying there. We found several just laying there, but…when we started digging we found a lot of them. We started using a little shovel, but as we got the hang of it, we just started using our hands. For a while there, we would just stick our hand in the mud and would hit a clam (fyi, you have to be careful due to the sharp oyster shells). We eventually finished, after about an hour, with 30 or so fresh clams. Charity has all the fixins and we are looking forward to our clam bake tonight on Bald Head Island!!
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As I reflect on the freedoms that we all enjoy I can’t help but to be thankful! Freedom isn’t free. If you trace the history of America and reflect on the sacrifices made, you can’t help but to be thankful!
On September 6th,1620, 102 Pilgrims set sail aboard the Mayflower to find their new home and their new-found freedom. They traveled 2750 miles at an average speed of just under 2 mph!! An interesting story about their journey is told of one of the sailors who was a foul-mouthed, gruff, and rude man who used to make fun of the pilgrims and their sea-sickness. He told them he looked forward to throwing half of their dead bodies overboard on the journey so he could take their possessions for himself. In an ironic twist of fate, and unbelievably, only one pilgrim died on their journey. But, this sailor was the first to get sick and soon died of a horrible disease and his was the only body thrown overboard. On the journey William Bradford wrote, “Thus his curses light on his own head, and it was an astonishment for all his fellows for they noted it to be the just hand of God upon him!”
When they arrived at Cape Cod, it was winter so they stayed onboard the ship and another 45 died that first winter. They finally unloaded and settled on the land in March of 1621! That’s a lot for freedom…but it didn’t end there.
They then had to fight for their freedom from Great Britain in the Revolutionary war. The price was steep: About 7,200 Americans died in battle during the Revolution. Another 10,000 died from disease or exposure and about 8,500 died in British prisons…for freedom.
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In Acts 22 Paul retells the story of his incredible encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. This isn’t when it happened…this is Paul speaking to a crowd of people in Jerusalem just after his arrest retelling what happened. He is sharing his story with the people…I love the details that he includes. First he relates to them “as one of them.” He tells them that he was just like them…he was/is one of them. He talks about his past and the fact that he used to persecute the followers of “the way.”
He then tells them that he was on his way to the city of Damascus in order to bring back the Christians to Jerusalem as prisoners, but something amazing happened to him on the way there…he encountered Jesus! Out of the blue, Jesus showed up in Paul’s life and spoke to him…wow!
He asks him, “why are you persecuting me.” Interestingly, Jesus had already died and risen again so Paul wasn’t persecuting Jesus directly. This tells me that Jesus has our backs…you mess with me…you’ve messed with Jesus! That’s cool!
But the thing that really hits me about this passage is the fact that Paul includes a question that Ananias asks him in verse 16. He says, “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.” It’s a very simple question…what are you waiting for? Simple, but great. God has already done all of the work of salvation in Christ! So, what are you waiting for?
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