Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Press On!"

"Press On!"
Whenever I hear this phrase I am immediately standing in front of a tall, gruff instructor from my Air Force training.  It was his favorite phrase.  When said aloud, you have to drag out that "on" a little bit for the right effect.  Plans changed? "Press On!"  Didn't do as well as you hoped? "Press On!"  Had a little set back?  "Press On!"  Getting ready for the big inspection (or insert any other challenge) and feeling nervous?  "Press On!"  
Back then I didn't know that it was a biblical phrase.  I wonder if that Drill Sergeant knew.  He was a difficult and tough instructor, but he was encouraging.  He pushed me beyond what I knew I was capable of. God is often that way, too.  He can put us in situations that are unfamiliar to us, challenging to us, and then surprise us.  God certainly did that to Paul.  He challenged Paul and I'm pretty sure Paul was very surprised to find himself a Christ-follower instead of a Christ-persecuter and then capable of pressing on through the challenges this new role and life brought.  Paul set the bar for making sure everyone knew where that strength came from.  He never missed an opportunity to point to Christ as the source of his contentment, of his ability to "press on" in all circumstances.  
We find this phrase in Paul's letter to the Philippians.  In chapter 3, verse 14, Paul writes that there is one thing he knows about his life - he is committed to "press on" toward Jesus, toward the prize of eternal life.  "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  
I love how the lyrics of this song by Building 429 talk about how sometimes in this life we are pretty messed up, like "a wrecking ball" and that we "just don't get it all" but we still press on in our pursuit of God.  We don't have to have all the answers about why this or that happened.  When we know Christ, we don't have to be perfect - He was perfect for us.  Paul encourages us, despite the trials of life, to keep striving toward an ever-closer relationship with Christ. When our eyes are focused on Jesus, we are strengthened for any trial.  We can "press on" knowing that all our needs can be met in Jesus our Savior.
Join me in Sunday School this weekend to discuss further Paul's letter and our call to "press on."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

In Pursuit...

On Sunday, my high school Sunday school class and I prayed this verse from Ephesians together.  It's a powerful prayer that Paul offers up for the Ephesians - a prayer that Christians everywhere will be filled with the Holy Spirit and grasp the incredible love our God has for us.  He prays that we would be completely filled "to the measure" of all the fullness of God. For me, this verse reminds me that God wants to fill all of me - every little bit, every little crevice, holding nothing back from him.  He wants to fill us so full of his love that there is no room for any little corner of self-doubt or insecurity. Do you struggle with self-doubt or insecurity? The God who created us wants to replace that doubt with his love.
I sometimes think that we forget the simple truth that God loves us so deeply. Many of us know by heart John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." But do we know this verse in our heart? When we read these words do we know that "the world" includes you and me?  "God so loved me."  "God so loved you."
As we begin another school year, my prayer for all of us is that we are drawn into the pursuit of God's loving us and of us loving God.  It is a worthwhile, deliberate pursuit - a following, a drawing closer, a daily striving to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.