Prepare Yourself

Gospel Reading >> Here

The economy was in more than a slowdown, it was destroyed.  The depression was breaking up families, husbands leaving wives, father fighting mothers, children disobeying their parents and parents abandoning their children. 

James Braddock struggled to survive his family’s woes as he wrestled with the one gift he is sure that he had – boxing.  After injuring his hand it appears that he will never enter the boxing ring again.  But when he is invited to be the “punching bag” for the contender to the heavy weight championship, he takes the challenge and enters a time of intense training.

The movie is Cinderella Man, an excellent movie that includes struggles of faith and family values where the boxing ring becomes the symbol of the struggles going on in the home and in the world.

To prepare for the big match, James Braddock begins his intense training, preparing for that difficult battle.  He knows his weaknesses, that his hands have been broken before, but he also knows his strength, the love his wife has for him.  The battle ahead challenges more than just his physical prowess and his mental well being but also his faith.  His church even begins fighting for him spiritually as they come together to pray for him in the church during the fight.

Can you imagine preparing for that kind of fight?  We can probably understand the physical preparation – in our time, beside having a place called 24 hour fitness in every community, we live on an island that beckons us outside to be in nature, to play and be actively caring for our bodies.  I just saw the premiere of Wall-E this Friday and unfortunately their picture of the future is not very bright.  People have gotten big and stupid because they didn’t have to work any longer.  Everyone is equipped with one of these loungers which moves them everywhere and makes sure they don’t do anything strenuous – there is one scene (won’t spoil anything) where a character actually gets up and walks while the theme of 2001 a space odyssey plays in the background and only because it was that monumental a moment.  I hope we never get to that point in our lives but we often know exactly what to do to stay healthy physically but perhaps we don’t like it, or just plain don’t do it, neglecting our bodies.  
Does God care how we treat our bodies?  Yes.  When our bodies are working well we are more likely to fulfill our vocations/our callings in life to the fullest.  Physical preparation is a part of our preparation for battle for faith and yet there is more. 

How do you prepare mentally?   It seems that this is the new fad of our time:  all you need is a Nintendo DS and this game Brain Age and your on your way to brain fitness.  An article just caught my attention recently about this phenomena: 

the brain fitness software market reached $225 million in revenues in 2007, according to a SharpBrains report published earlier this year, up from an estimated $100 million in 2005.   That’s a lot of money spent on brain fitness!  (to think I only spent $20 on my Brain Age, means that a whole lot of these have been purchased)

 

Science is concerned with the health of our brains as well.  A recent edition of the PBS show, NOVA NOW, related research being done on rat regarding our memories.   Rats are trained to find a target within a pull of murky water.  When their memory seems set their brains are damaged to simulate forgetfulness or brain disease.  Their question is: can memories be restored or rediscovered?  It turns out their research uncovered three ways to recover memories: 

1)Send them to rat Disneyland – guessing that the social interaction and play made their minds work more efficiently. 
2)Give them a neuron stimulator that allows their memory pathways to restructure,
OR and this was the funniest and it was mentioned last as if they were embarrassed to mention it
3)drink the equivalent of five cups of coffee for 2 months.  (sure makes me think that their may be an easier remedy available to some of the things that pharmaceutical companies try to sell us, be sure to ask your doctor if caffeine will work!)

Matthew 10 reveals a battle at the very grass roots.  Within families, within our own homes.  Some of you may have experienced battles having to do with faith in Jesus Christ.  Or perhaps this text sounds unrealistic.  I suspect, though, especially if your children are grown and at a family meal you started to bring up the subjects you don’t talk about (Abortion, divorce, homosexuality, candidates, or world affairs and politics?) then perhaps the home would be a much less peaceful place.  Would stating a position from the Bible make the peaceful picture of the home change? 
Do we maintain a picture of peace even though we know we disagree with many positions people take or opinions they espouse?  Do we not say anything because we don’t want to make waves.  Do we avoid sharing our faith because it will upset the peace?  Do we convince ourselves that somehow, someway our neighbors will find out about Jesus?  Or worse, do we think they’ll be fine without him?

 

Romans 7 verse 7 talks about how God’s commands reveal God’s will for us.  And because we cannot fulfill God’s will in every way God’s command or as the text puts it “the Law” shows us our sins.  You may think that knowing our sin is a weakness.  But knowing our weakness is a strength.  If you are a commander on the battlefield you want to know where your forces are the weakest so that you can help protect against defeat.  The Law shows our sin and therefore we know something about the battle ahead.  We know how we will be tempted, we may know some of the ways the temptation may come and we have the awareness needed to look for protection in those areas.  Not everyone agrees with this – when you get the chance to worship elsewhere is there any mention of sin?  Is there confession?  Or do you here only how good you are, all about your potential, are you glorified and is your ego uplifted?

 

When we are realistic about ourselves and recognize our sin, we then understand our need for a savior. 

We need to be rescued from this world of sin.  We need a hero who will take to the ring to fight the battles affect our life, our families, our world and lift us out of our sin to be a rescuer as well.    How very important it is that we are prepared spiritually for the battle ahead.  Seems like our world is all about being physically fit, or mentally fit even, but spiritually?   But don’t we understand ourselves at a fundamental, foundational level, when we see ourselves through God’s eyes.  Aren’t we stronger for the work God gives us to do because we understand?

 

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Jenni on June 30, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Wow, I think my I.Q. just went up 10 points reading your devotion. I miss your funny (I am hoping the mouse who goes to Disneyland ends up the smartest in the end!) and thought provoking sermons very much Pastor Shawn! I feel very convicted of my sin and I am glad that you reminded me that sin is my weakness. I am so glad I have my hero Jesus to rescue me from my sin. I feel prepared now to fight the good fight! The enemy better watch out for my left hook!

    Reply

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