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  • "A Musing Pastor"

I Challenge You!!


I might have a bit of competitive spirit in me. I like to strive and push myself beyond what I think is possible. Not sure if that gene comes from my mother's side of the family or from dad's. Probably from both! Ma always says, "Success comes in 'cans' not in 'can'ts'!!"

This little gadget is my pedometer given to us by our health insurance company. It serves me the same way a cattle prod serves the rancher. This thing keeps me moving (without the shock).

Virgin Health maintains that a healthy person is more productive and can fulfill more responsibility than one who is less active. They track our steps and offer monetary rewards for reaching certain levels of activity. Some folks might poo poo this as the 'carrot and the stick' method to get us to exercise. Maybe, but I can find no way to poo poo receiving up to $400 a year for simply walking. Occasionally, challenges are offered to participants to engage in a competition (most steps wins). In our corporate challenges you are invited to join with the idea that this is a competition. While competitions are designed to be fun, they are also events where serious approaches to activity are encouraged. This is voluntary but a large percentage of participants may not fully grasp this concept. They might excitedly sign up to compete then never show up. In a 20 day competition it is possible to register 600,000 steps but many folks near the bottom of the list finish with less than 10,000 steps (averages around 500 steps a day). I'm sure some are chained to a desk at their work and others may suffer physical ailments. I get it.

The words "competition" and "challenge" connote doing something out of the ordinary. Pushing oneself to achieve more than normally realized is part of the challenge. I wonder why one would sign up for a challenge then underachieve? Challenges like these in the Virgin Health system ask us to go for a walk instead of plopping down on the couch to watch TV. They ask us to take the stairs rather than the elevator. They suggest parking as far away from the building as we can to enjoy the benefits of the walk and fresh air. These activity suggestions are things one consciously does to gain more steps. The key concept is that one has to choose to do these things and change lifestyle practices. It's tough! It isn't easy to push oneself away from normal practices to embrace a more active approach to life.

I wonder how many folks who confess Jesus as Lord simply throw life into neutral and coast along?

Their faith is rarely engaged in the Bible and little time is invested into understanding God. Actively living out one's faith in ministry and mission is avoided and looked at as an unnecessary part of faith. The writer of Jame would be aghast at this misconception and the apostle Paul would have never considered pursuing Christ with anything less than 200% effort.

James 2:14-26 is an extensive call to service ministry. James closed this section of text with:

"As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." (James 2:26, NIV)

And Paul raises the bar for active Christian excellence here....

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take

hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have

taken hold of it. But one thing I do: 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.

(Philippians 3:12-14, NIV)

How are you exercising your body? How are you exercising your faith? Are they both commensurate with the grace and love God has showered upon your body and soul? If so, great! A little walking each day strengthens muscles and builds stamina. Digging into the Bible, feeding on God's word, and internalizing scriptural truth will strengthen your faith and allow you to offer a compelling image of Jesus Christ to a world largely out of spiritual shape.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that

hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for

us." (Hebrews 12:1, NIV)

NOTE: With any change in exercise levels, a consultation with your doctor is suggested. If you choose to read more scripture, no consultation is necessary.


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First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com