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What would happen if day in and day out you just never tried to do anything? By anything, I mean ANYTHING. You don’t pay attention to clocks and rise when you feel like it. You don’t go to work because you don’t feel like it. There is no showering, or grooming for you of any kind. You simply “step over” the trash in your home because you don’t want to take the time to throw it out and cleaning is just too much work. During the day you lay down some more, nap a little and watch TV, while of course sitting down on your trash ridden sofa. You eat whatever makes you happy for the moment and at night, or in the wee hours of the morning you retire to your disheveled, smelly bed to sleep until the next day begins…whenever you decide that is.
Some of you may be completely disgusted by the picture I just painted. But can I say that some who may be meticulous cleaners, organizers, and hard workers who never miss a day of employment sick or not, may also be living this kind of lazy-life existence? Sound funny? Well what if I told you that it is possible to suffer from emotional, spiritual, mental and even relational atrophy? It is. Proverbs 29:18 very clearly tells us that without a vision the people perish. So it is possible to neglect ourselves in the areas where most people don’t see. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it!”? It’s true. Just like our natural muscles suffer and degenerate with disuse so does our spiritual, emotional, and mental strength and acuity.
Atrophy does not only occur after disuse. It can also occur as the result of an injury. Have you kept yourself separated from others because you are “too busy” to make time for family or friends? Or is the real reason you avoid too much time with people because you have experienced hurt in past relationships and you fear opening your heart again to others. If you are nervous or anxious about building relationships here is a solution Paul gives us in Philippians 4:6 & 7. He says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” So in other words…Seek ye first… Matthew 6:33
Atrophy does NOT have to be permanent. Exercising the atrophied areas can build you up and make you strong where you were once weak. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be pain along the way. It happens, but we can grow through it and emerge stronger. When you work out for the first time in a LONG time you get sore. Even if you are normally a physical person you may have switched up your exercise regimen or done something that you normally don’t do. In the fitness world this is referred to as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). This pain can be alarming to a person who is new to exercise but someone who is used to exercising knows it and will be able to skillfully work through it because they know the soreness is part of a process that will lead to greater stamina and strength in that area.
Daily life makes it easy to neglect our health and growth in areas that we think are “unseen”. We are all busy but prioritizing is the key. For instance, how much time is spent watching television or trolling the social media sites? Could Facebook or Instagram stand a little less attention from you? Think about it. Could you replace ONE hour a week of social media time with actual human interaction? Could you attend a bible study or even sit down to read or pray by yourself in an effort to grow spiritually? These are the areas you can explore and only you (and God) know where you can give a little more.
Those who run marathons must train for this even if they are normally very physical. They must discipline themselves on a daily basis, watching what they eat, how much water they drink, and of course building their stamina for the race ahead of them. They push themselves to the limit and stretch the boundaries of their muscles and mental status keeping their eyes on the prize, the goal, the finish line. For some winning that race means crossing the finish line, no matter what number they are.
Others race against their own previous record. They want to push past what they were able to achieve before. For you and I…putting on those tennis shoes and making it to the starting line may be worthy of a gold medal.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
You can do it…Flex that muscle…It’s time to DO WORK!
Written By Victoria Aguila
I wanted to talk a little about what it means to THRIVE.
According to Webster Dictionary, the word THRIVE means, to grow or develop successfully; to grow vigorously; to gain in wealth or possessions (prosper); to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances. My favorite definition was, “to grow vigorously”. In this season, that is my goal, to grow vigorously, to grow radically. Any growth, however, is good growth. Even if I am growing in small increments, growth is growth BUT let’s ponder on THRIVING.
In Proverbs 11:28, (NIV) the scripture tells us that “those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will THRIVE like a green leaf.” We must always trust in the Lord and His riches and glory, not our own. We must remain righteous in the eyes of God (not man) so that we can THRIVE like a green leaf. When I think of a green leaf, I think of watered, refreshed, liveliness, growth. What about you?
Jeremiah 17:7-8 gives us a great description of a growing tree with green leaves and compares this to a man who trusts in the Lord. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” This portion of scripture is so rich. As we trust in the Lord, we will be blessed and we will be like that tree that is firmly planted by the water and our roots go deep into the fresh wet soil and our leaves remain green and fresh and alive and growing and we will not stop growing fruit.
Psalm 1 is a great chapter. I would recommend reading through it. I enjoy reading the VOICE version but of course you read it in any translation that speaks to you. Psalm 1:3 Voice says this: You are like a tree, planted by flowing, cool streams of water that never run dry. Your fruit ripens in its time; your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun. No matter what you do, you prosper. I would say these scriptures depict THRIVING. “The righteous will THRIVE like a green leaf.” (Proverbs 11:28). So that means to me, like a leaf that is watered, like a leaf that is alive, like a leaf that is growing. Let us plant our roots by the streams of Living Water. Water our leaves with the Word of God that refreshes our spirit and progress towards our goal of continued growth. We cannot wither away or dry up but THRIVE both despite and because of our circumstances.
Don’t strive trying to reach perfection; thrive in the preparation. If we are striving (simply making the effort) then we probably won’t achieve the result BUT if we are thriving, we ARE progressing and prospering, and reaching success.
Maybe today you find yourself withering away or as if you have dried up. Maybe you are feeling the thirst for the Living Water to refresh your leaves once again. I have been there! It’s a good thing if we are able to discern that we are withering away or drying up and in need of drawing closer to the stream of Living Water to get refreshed and renewed. We must continue to Thrive. Ask yourself if you are you THRIVING or withering away and then let’s make the necessary changes to be back in alignment and THRIVE.
Let’s pray: God we praise your mighty name and we thank you for who You are. I ask you to increase our thirst for Your Living Water. I pray that you will refresh each and every one of us. As we draw near to you, we thank you that our roots are going deeper and our leaves are getting greener and we are growing in this season. Thank you for the grace and the mercy that you have for us and thank you for your love that draws us to the Sweet Sweet Stream. Be magnified Oh Lord. In Jesus name I pray Amen.
Written by Tina Cobian
…but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord Save Me!” Matthew 14:23
There are so many negative connotations related to the expression “Tunnel Vision” but when you think about what it actually means in the spirit, it’s an amazing concept. In fact one natural cause of Tunnel Vision is through extreme elation or a surge of adrenaline. How many times have you caught hold of a dream or a vision God has for you and you take off towards your goal with His tunnel vision? All you can see is that finish line God has placed at the end. God’s Tunnel Vision is not dark and gloomy, like one would picture in the natural. In God’s tunnel vision, His light surrounds you and marks your goal. However, when you become distracted by life, storms, fear, people and false visions, that tunnel can quickly turn into a dark and gloomy place.
Are you lost in the dark tunnel vision? Do you feel weak, lonely and scared? Is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel now so far off that you can barely remember the dream or the vision much less see it clearly? Maybe you have somehow exchanged God’s tunnel vision for the wrong vision. I have to think about Joseph and the dream that God gave him. He saw the sun, the moon and the stars bowing down to him. In the pit he had to remind himself of that vision and recognize that where he was at that moment was not his final destination. Each time, through every trial, he reminded himself of the higher purpose of God in his life. Even the day he looked out over all Pharaoh had given him charge over, at all of his possessions, the treasures and even his family. He must have gazed out at the night sky from his bedroom in the palace and said to himself. “I see the sun, the moon and the stars and THIS is not my final destination. He knew that God had further purpose for him and his dream had not yet been realized.
I would love to say that on every one of my trips through that tunnel, I slid happily through it on a rainbow where puffy clouds of cotton candy (with no calories) met me at every twist and turn until I finally arrived at my destination. The truth is that there are struggles along the way and realizing your dreams will not always come easy. I can compare one of my journeys to a trip our family took to a water park. I decided to take a ride on a giant water slide. I sat down at the top and as I let go, I realized how high I was and how fast I was going. I became fearful and put my hands out to slow myself down. Have you ever tried to pull a water balloon through a tube? (Please don’t camp there in that visual, you may never reach the end of this story.) Well that was me inching my way to the bottom of this long winding water slide. In an attempt to save some portion of my pride I let go of the walls right before my triumphant exit. I pictured my children’s applause, heard it, and envisioned the moment. The problem was that I had just enough time to gain enough momentum, get scared, and make a failed attempt to stop myself as I shot out of the tube flipped over and landed face down in the water. Yes, my children saw me. No they did not applaud.
Have you ever asked God why it isn’t just a straight shot from vision to end goal? Here is what happens in these times of trials or times when you see the goal but don’t know how to get there. You turn to Father and ask. There will be plenty of questions on the way and He has all the
answers. As an example, I started a new job about a year or so ago. The work can be difficult and every day I am met with one or more questions or problems I simply cannot answer or fix on my own. The company placed me right next to a mentor and when I get stuck, I go to her for answers. Throughout this year, I have had the great pleasure of getting to know her beyond the relationship of “co-worker”. She is my friend and the process I have gone through daily with her has allowed me to build that relationship…are you getting it?
So we catch the vision, we are awakened to a dream, we get God’s tunnel vision and take off. Remember that we can take and keep hold of His hand the entire time. He knows each step we need to take and when each step needs to be taken. He delights in the journey with us and will impart wisdom in the process. It can be exciting to try and run ahead but the dream will only be realized in His perfect time. If you get lost, stop and listen for His voice to get you back on track and back into HIS tunnel vision…Be encouraged for hasn’t He declared to you that He KNOWS the plans that He has for you…? (Jeremiah 29:11)There is such power in that scripture. God, Himself is speaking purpose over our lives, we just have to keep focused.