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Posts Tagged ‘balance’

Originality and Humility

April 19th, 2013

I say to every man . . not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think.Romans 12:3 NAS.

You are an original, uniquely crafted by the genius of God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “originality and humility.”

Life is not static; a successful life is lived with dynamic balance.  By that I mean: a dynamic balance requires subtle adjustments to a present reality. People who never adjust break; people who never change never grow. Our great granddaughter, Kaylee Grace, is one year old and walking – everywhere! With newly discovered mobility, she is adventurous. Have you observed a toddler’s first attempts at walking? There seems to be quite a trick to it that you may have forgotten. The challenge is accomplishing a dynamic balance that shifts your weight safely from one foot to the other.

Walking is such a common part of everyday life that I hardly gave it any thought, until I read an explanation of the intricate processes the body constantly performs in the act of walking. Since it happens so naturally, even automatically, you take it for granted until something happens to impair your ability to do so. Each and every step requires an immediate and delicate adjustment to your balance. Each foot shifts the center of gravity ever so slightly from one side to the other, and the rest of the body has to anticipate and accurately adjust. Failure to do so results in a fall.

The idea of balance that intrigues me today is about the life-balance of having confidence in your God-given originality balanced with common sense humility. Your walk in Christ necessitates that you understand the delicate balance of both, knowing the profound uniqueness of who you are in Christ and how and when to walk in humility before others, and certainly before God at all times. You are an original, uniquely crafted by the genius of God. In some ways, you are one of a kind, but that was never meant for your pride, but always and only for the glory of your Creator.

In other ways, you are not so different from every other person. You have every reason to walk in true humility. Apart from God’s grace and gifts to you, of what can you boast? Blending those two realities and balancing the need and occasion for each is the challenge you must master to experience and enjoy your greatest success. How you live compliments your Creator.

You have seen examples of the worst of either of those extremes – the person so impressed with themselves they are unenjoyable if not unbearable – or the person so self-deprecating they are uncomfortable to be around, excusing themselves from any effort or expectation. Either is an unhealthy imbalance.

Here’s the Bible formula for a Godly life of spiritual balance, “For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 NAS. How beautifully and practically stated. Think of yourself no more highly than you ought to think, and just as importantly, think of yourself no less highly than you ought to think, according to the grace of God that is upon your life and the gift of God that is within you.

My prayer for you this day is that you enjoy who you are, and fully credit God Who made you.

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Moderation and Balance

December 31st, 2012

As you grow spiritually, you should increasingly reflect the loveliness of Jesus.

“Don’t . . lose your balance.” 2 Peter 3:17 CEV.

Moderation can be a virtue if the concept is rightly understood. “Let your moderation be known to all men.” Philippians 4:5 KJV. Often, people are more readily given to extremes rather than moderation. And then, the usual adjustments are from one measure of an extreme to another.

When Jesus knelt to wash the disciples’ feet, Peter protested and refused Jesus’ doing so. Read John 13:5-10 NKJV. Then when Jesus corrected him, Peter swung to the other extreme, “Not just my feet but my hands and head as well.” Vs. 9 NIV. Jesus’ response was an example of practical moderation, “Jesus answered, ‘A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.’” Vs. 10 NIV. It is a simple lesson for life; too much of even a good thing can be unprofitable.

When overweight, a person typically makes a radical change to their menu, rather than a healthy adjustment to their lifestyle. A dieter goes to an extreme that is often unhealthy and therefore ineffective long term. Overnight, some people shift from a sedentary lifestyle to an exercise regimen that is unsustainable. Balance is necessary in every area of life, making essential adjustments progressively until a healthy, Godly equilibrium is established.

Peter, the former extremist, advocates the proper place for balance in the Christian’s lifestyle: “Don’t let . .  people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance.  Let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help you to keep on growing. Praise Jesus now and forever!” 2 Peter 3:17-18 CEV. The same concept is expressed in a different translation; “Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet.” 2 Peter 3:17 The Message. Don’t allow people or circumstances to make you lose your balance.

I aspire for balance in my spiritual and everyday life – balancing marriage and ministry priorities, balancing personal reflection and meaningful conversation, or balancing spiritual disciplines and social engagement. That is not always as simple as you might first suppose. It is easy to assume that balance involves equal parts of different things. That is neither realistic nor a proper understanding. Balance cannot remain static; balance – like your spiritual life and personal relationships – must be dynamic, always adjusting, always current. The concept of spiritual balance is best illustrated by a recipe consisting of: the correct proportions of the right ingredients, blended together at the right time for the intended result.

I have long enjoyed a poem by Rudyard Kipling that expresses the balance a life is meant to enjoy. “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute, With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run – Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!” (If, 1895). Keep your balance in all the experiences of life – the gain, the loss; the pleasure, the pain; the good, the bad.

As in everything, Jesus is your model for a truly balanced life. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52 NIV. Jesus’ natural maturing encompassed His development mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. As you grow spiritually, you should increasingly reflect the loveliness of Jesus. Paul writes of the ultimate goal of your coming to, ”the knowledge of the Son of God, to a [maturing] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that Jesus is always your example and highest goal.

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No Better Time

February 22nd, 2011

“This is the day the Lord has made.” Psalm 118:24 NKJV

“There is no better time than now to do what you should and what you can.”

My thoughts today are about “no better time.”

Life works best with a sense of balance. Some recent allergies briefly affected my inner ear. A few mornings ago, I stood up and suddenly everything seemed to be spinning. I took a step forward only to feel the sensation of being strongly pulled to one side, stumbling against a wall. I had momentarily lost my sense of balance. It was puzzling and temporarily worrisome. That little escapade made me newly value my body’s inner balance that I had taken for granted.

So much of life is about balance. You will always be balancing today and tomorrow. Today needs attention; tomorrow needs forethought. A person is shortsighted to be so focused on the moment that they face the future unaware and unprepared. But it is also unwise to be so preoccupied with plans and schedules for tomorrow that you miss much of what’s going on around you now.

Life needs balance; balance requires perspective. It is important to set goals and make plans, but be careful not to keep your happiness waiting upon reaching your goals. With those, your life has priorities and direction. Keeping plans and progress in balance helps you stay focused on what needs to be done today in order to succeed tomorrow. Don’t neglect today; don’t forget tomorrow.

My wife, Gayle, and I travel differently. She loves the experience of travel; I just want to “get there.” She brings a book to read and relax in the airport. I look at my watch to see how long before the plane leaves. Enjoy the journey, not just the destination; you’ll be a lot happier, and less stressed. I have realized that for too long I was usually working toward something future – when I had more time, when the kids were older, when we had saved enough money, when I wasn’t so busy, etc. I lived too many years by deferral. Don’t make the mistake I did.

You can defer a lot of living by not recognizing today as a gift from God. The Bible says, “This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it!” Psalm 118:24 NKJV. The day is the Lord’s gift; rejoicing is your choice. So much depends on what you choose to do with the few, brief moments in which you currently live. It’s not that complicated. Yesterday is done and gone, out of your power to redo or undo. Tomorrow remains well beyond your reach, waiting just off stage for its cue. You can’t save today or store it; you use today well or lose its possibilities and opportunities altogether.

There is no better time than now to do what you can and what you should. And the one thing for which there is no better time is for settling the matter of your spiritual life and eternal well being. Jesus told of a very successful man whose plans for the future ignored his moment of salvation and lost his soul forever. See Luke 12:16-21 NKJV. Felix, the Roman Governor, dismissed Paul’s witness of faith saying, “When I have a more convenient time I will call for you.” Acts 24:25 NKJV. To those who would procrastinate their single most important decision, the Bible says, “Now is the accepted time; today is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you value the days and moments God gives you.

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Spiritual Disciplines

July 20th, 2010

“If the axe is dull . . more strength is needed.” Ecclesiastes 10:10 NIV

“Spiritual disciplines are not optional, nor can any worthy substitute replace them.”

My thoughts today are about “spiritual disciplines.”

Working hard is important, very important. Not much at all happens without that to begin with. Without a willingness to do what it takes – the time and effort required – you will not achieve your greatest success. But hard work alone does not produce success. Success is more than the result of mere effort or added exertion. Success is in knowing how to be effective as well as what to do. Without wisdom, as the work wears on you may wear out.

The Bible says, “That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.” Ecclesiastes 10:10 NIV. Success usually comes to those who value wisdom. Read James 1:5-6/3:13-18 NIV. Wisdom helps you keep a growing edge in your life, a real advantage over your assuming that effort alone will produce the desired results.

For the greatest success, you must stay sharp physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is not extreme attention and effort in just one area that succeeds, but taking time to achieve balance and excellence in all of those. Without balance and excellence, ordinary, every day life can become difficult and dull and be harder and far less satisfying than it should be.

You sharpen your edge physically by paying attention to your health, getting rest, proper nutrition and regular exercise. You care for your mental health by seeking to learn and understand, enjoying the intellectual stimulation and challenge of doing so. See Philippians 4:4-9 NLT. You restore and increase emotional balance by successfully managing negative emotions such as doubt, worry and fear, and nurturing healthy emotions of gratitude, cheerfulness, optimism, and contentment – while maintaining healthy, edifying relationships.

Most important of all is guarding your spiritual well being and growth through the daily disciplines of God’s Word, sincere prayer, personal and corporate worship, Christian fellowship, and regular church attendance and active participation. Those are not optional nor can any worthy substitute replace them. They are spiritual disciplines essential for your spiritual health and vitality. Practice them well; your future well being in many ways depends upon them.

Into our vocabulary has come the mention of phrases like “growing edge, leading edge, and cutting edge.” It would seem this matter of edge is important in everyday life. People often refer to keeping their edge, or advantage, but not everyone talking about it actually does it. Be the one who does!

Solomon observed this practical truth, “If the axe is dull and the workman does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.” Ecclesiastes 10:10 NAS. You can sharpen your edge by highly prizing true wisdom that comes from above, and in that you will find the greatest of success, with ample satisfaction as well. Regular time to “sharpen the edge” is never wasted so that your effort is efficient and productive.

My prayer for you today is that your efforts are rewarded with fruitfulness and accomplishment.

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A Balanced Life

April 15th, 2010

“Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8 NIV

“Here’s how God says life works: give it – find it; keep it – lose it!”

My thoughts today are about a “balanced life.”

Life is often a balancing act – between earning and spending, between home and office, between  family and friends, between spouse and children, between work and play, between rest and recreation, between reason and emotion, between laughter and tears, between triumph and struggle, between God and man, and between spiritual and natural. Get the idea? Life is a balancing act, and for yours and others’ harmony and happiness you will have to become good at doing that.

Balancing your life is not about always having equal parts. No one would suggest that the things I just mentioned are equal to one another. That’s what makes it a little complicated. I always thought of the concept of balance as pictured by a butcher’s scale, a half-pound on one side counterbalanced by a half-pound on the other.

I am fascinated with jugglers and their dexterity of hand and eye coordination. Juggling three or more objects of equal size and shape, such as yellow tennis balls, is one thing. Do you feel like your life is like that? No, that’s not what life is like, as challenging as that might seem. Imagine this: juggling multiple objects of vastly different sizes, shapes, and weights – like a basketball, a golf ball, a dinner plate, and a chain saw (not running of course!). That’s more similar to what life feels like sometimes (and the chain saw is running!).

I suggest for your consideration that balance is more like a recipe – requiring the right mix of the right ingredients in their right measure and each blended at the right time. Life, nor any slice of time and season, ever seems to afford equal parts of everything. That could be overwhelming, even unmanageable. Life really is about finding the right mix and out of a diversity of often competing things. A balanced life is about learning how to turn competing, maybe conflicting, things into being complementary. How is the mix of your life? Anything out of balance? Much of that is solved with clarity about purpose and priorities. See Matthew 6:33 NLT. Balance is not static; it is dynamic, in need of continuing readjustment and rebalancing the mix.

Today’s verse is about balance really – “freely you have received; freely also give” – advocating a lifestyle of balance between what you are given and what you give. You might at first think that giving is the hardest part but probably as many people struggle with receiving, without needing to have earned what is offered them. Are you a better giver, or receiver? Those are not always equal, but they need to be proportional. You have received; you have to give.

Our daughter, Lori, captured this truth succinctly on her Facebook Wall this morning, “Give it – find it; keep it – lose it!” The Bible explains that’s how life works, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV. Greed and generosity: opposite responses in life with  very opposite results! Which would best describe you and what you are experiencing everyday?

My prayer for you today is to receive graciously and to give generously.

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