Monday, July 23, 2012

Devotion: Strengthening Our Core So We Don't Lose Our Balance

"But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down and the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house, and it fell with a great crash." Matthew 7:26-27. 

I watched my daughter try out new moves on the balance beam in gymnastics practice. My 3-year-old daughter stood on her tip toes and carefully walked backwards on that block of wood that is only 4 inches wide. Later on she told me she was scared.

"Why?" I asked.
 "I didn't want to fall," she replied. I reminded her that if she fell, she would land on the big blue cushioned mat below the beam.
 "Does it hurt to land on that mat?" I asked her.
 "That's because it's meant to be there to catch you when you fall. You can trust your teachers to make sure you are safe, but if you fall, you can trust that mat to protect you."

A little while later, I found myself in front of my computer watching, in horror, a YouTube video of a grown man trashing the Bible in front of a group of teenagers. He went on and on explaining how he believed those who call themselves Christians were following racist, sexist, bigoted, outdated laws. He was misquoting the Bible, with hatred on his lips, and clearly didn't have any understanding how someone could believe the words that come from scriptures. As the man was spewing words of hate to these teenagers, many of them got up and left the conference hall, only to be further ridiculed by the speaker. It made my  heart hurt watching that video.

And then, a day later, I was listening to my preacher go through the first part of Acts 10, where Peter was given a vision to go to the house of Cornelius, a gentile centurion (who also received a vision to send someone to get Peter). What really stuck was when my pastor was explaining the extreme racism between the Jews and the Gentiles of that time. He went through a list of things both groups did in order to make sure they had nothing to do with each other. Despite all that racism, though, Peter did what no Jew would ever do: go into Cornelius's house and explain the gospel of Jesus. That one act of breaking down barriers is what  began the spread of Christianity to anyone who would hear of God's love, mercy, and grace.

As my pastor explaining these truths, I was also thinking about that video I saw. These days claiming to be a Christian is getting to the point where it can be dangerous. When you have speakers impress on young minds that Christians are following archaic, racist, sexist, bigoted laws, you are encouraging them to spread that hatred and reject the gospel. I am seeing more and more young people struggle with whether or not to take a stand to cling to their faith or take a stand with the world's views in order to not be shunned by pop culture.

And as a result, I began to realize that such struggles will make stronger Christians. In a world where it is becoming dangerous to boldly speak the gospel, why would anyone want to put their faith in something that was written hundreds (even thousands) of years ago? Why would anyone want to study scripture that goes against what society is claiming to be the norm? One thing I advise my Sunday School class of teenagers and college kids is that we know who wins the war. We know that those who choose to stand for the gospel, and build their house upon the Rock will continue standing strong when the battlefield's dust settles. We know "the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:14). Studying scriptures builds strong hearts. Studying the culture when the scripture was written builds strong minds, as we understand why rules were given. Studying the settings builds understanding, so we can understand regulations put on the church, such as why women were asked to not speak in churches (note: it was generally stated for women to not speak because their gossip and harsh words were creating tension in the church, not because they were women and just couldn't speak...a common misinterpretation by today's society).

All that studying builds a strong, firm foundation, a Solid Rock. When you build your home, your life upon that Rock, you are going to still be standing when the waves of hatred, temptation, and society die down. The rains will come down; Christians will struggle. But when your feet are firmly placed on the Solid Rock, you will find your balance, and you will be still be standing. Placing your home, your heart, your desires on the sand of what society holds as true will only lead to you crashing down. You will sink. You will not find your balance.

And just like that blue mat under my daughter's balance beam is there in the chance she falls, Jesus is in place to catch us every time we stumble, every time we lose our balance in the waves of society's rejection. Practicing every day, through Bible study and daily devotion, is going to strengthen our core and help us to continue standing strong all the days of our life.

My future Olympian. USA Gymnastics team 2024! 

"The Solid Rock" 
by Edward Mote

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

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