Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Body and Soul

Body and Soul

January 18th, 2012 • Category: Healthy Living
Are you in the process of learning to live healthier? Maybe your New Year’s resolution was to eat better, exercise, or in some other way improve your physical health? Join us for the next few days as we offer scripture, insight, and encouragement to help on that journey.

Today’s scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:12, 19-20 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):

I just had this vision of how easy it would be for all of us to make a mess of our sanctuary at LifeJourney Church. We could eat pizza in the sanctuary during service, throw food at the pastor when he tells a bad joke, and put our muddy boots up on the sanctuary chairs. On Saturday nights we could take all the chairs out of the worship space, roll in some bars and hang a disco ball from the ceiling and have wild dance parties all night. We could sling our beverages all over, smoke cigarettes on the altar and roast a hog over the candles. I mean, we could… but all of us have learned to respect, in varying degrees, God’s house. In our reading today Paul explains that just like the four walls we commonly refer to as “God’s house,” our bodies are also a holy, sacred dwelling place for God.

If you are like me you may have set out to start 2012 committed to healthier living through regular exercise and changes in your diet. And if you are also like me, you may have set out on this path many Januarys of years past. So the question I have for all of us is, “How is this year going to be different?” How do I include God, who is the source of my will power and strength, in this journey?

I believe we have found it easy to compartmentalize God. We tend to treat the body as an appendage and the soul as what is most important, at least as it relates to what we bring to God. Many of us have been taught a kind of duality as it relates to our bodies and souls — that the body is sinful, lustful, of the earth, while the soul is, or at least attains to be, high, noble, lofty, and of the spirit realm. It seems part of our Christian nature to place the soul over the body.

But as I read our scripture for today, I believe Paul is calling for a shift to our old beliefs. Every soul needs a body, at least for right now, and the quality of the body affects the quality of the soul. How we treat our body directly affects our soul! I dare to believe that body and soul are one — neither is greater and neither is lesser. Despite the fact that the soul is eternal, body and soul are two sides of the coin of this life.

In our scripture the Greek word used for temple is naos. This term is not the word for a pagan temple, or even for the Jewish temple structure and grounds; rather, it refers to the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place for the people of God in the Old Testament. Paul is saying that God is resident within us. Your body is God’s mailing address and God dwells in YOU!

You would never consider trashing or disrespecting a church sanctuary, or letting it fall into disrepair, right? Our bodies deserve that same type of respect. We honor God by maintaining healthy strong bodies. It is a sacred house, a dwelling place for God.

Thought for the day: Do I see my body as special and sacred?

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Boring Haircuts and Sensible Family Sedans

Boring Haircuts and Sensible Family Sedans

December 14th, 2011 • Category: Advent and Christmas

This is the third week of Advent, the Christian season of preparation for Christmas. We’re looking at some of the traditional themes of the season. This week: Hope and Joy.

Today’s scripture: Zephaniah 3:14-20 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):

God is coming — look busy!

Whenever I hear that I laugh to myself. If you have ever worked in an office environment you can identify with the fear that the boss is coming to chop our heads off if we aren’t bent over our keyboards staring intently at some “life altering” project. It’s a fear based reaction that we learn early on and often we can so easily apply it to our Christian walk.

In today’s reading the prophet Zephaniah was speaking to the nation of Israel in a time of great national uncertainty. Israel was at war, losing badly and literally on the verge of being destroyed. The economy was tanking, death was everywhere around them, and peace and well-being were quickly disappearing. Exactly what was there to be joyful about? And here is the prophet saying, “Rejoice, God is here with you!”

So the idea of God being right here in our midst could be very troubling if all you have ever heard is that God’s wrath has fallen upon you. But today we are given a different image of our God.

I recently shared with a family member that I have been operating out of fear for most of this past year: fear of dying alone, fear of never finding love, fear of losing my job and fear of my health taking a turn. Fear is a powerful motivator, but it motivates fast solutions. Fear is what lands people in jobs that they don’t like in order to be sure that bills can be paid. Fear leads to boring haircuts and sensible family sedans. Fear leads to security. And while those things aren’t necessarily bad, I don’t want to be afraid of God looking into my life, entering my heart and taking over this body.

I want to be motivated by desire. Desire is much more powerful. Desire means working harder to do incredible things. I desire to be closer to God and I am anxious in this advent season for the coming of the Christ. As we prepare for Christmas day we should be mindful that being prepared for Christ has nothing to do with gifts and trees but has everything to do with preparing our hearts and minds to follow Christ! Rejoice! God is with us!

Thought for the day: Now is the season to acknowledge, once again, that God is with us. And, if we’ve never done so, to welcome and receive God into our lives, to make room for the One with all power in heaven and on earth — the mighty warrior with a quiet voice and a loving touch, the gentle parent.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 at 12:01 am and is filed under Advent and Christmas. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Love the Lord
October 21st, 2011 • Category: Encouragement
Today’s scripture: Psalm 116 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2

Have you ever heard Whitney Houston and the Georgia Mass Choir sing I Love the Lord? (Take a listen below.)

It stirs my soul every time I hear it. That song and the reading for today always remind me that God is ever-present and listening to our hearts when they cry out!

We live in fearful times. We watch the news nervously to see what the next earth shaking calamity will be. Will it be terrorism, natural disaster, a worsening economy, or a violent criminal on the loose? And on top of what happens outside of our homes we also tend to remain fearful about our own Christian walk and faith. Oh God, I want to believe that your grace and mercy are forever but what about my sin, what about my walk, what if I get so far off track that you no longer want to be bothered with me? What will I do then? Where is God in all of this?

Let me share a powerful lesson I learned years ago. When you get real with yourself and with God, you will discover closeness with our Creator that you may have never known before. I may not get everything I want in just the exact way that I want it and there are rough days, but one thing I know and abide in is that God is keeping me and making a way for me every day.

What are you afraid of today? What keeps you awake at night? Please hear me clearly on this point: You are not less of a Christian for being afraid!

It’s OK to talk to the Lord about it. Cry out to God and even shout if you need to. These are the moments that you will develop a deep love for the Lord. In this age of uncertainty there is one thing that is absolutely certain: The Lord will respond when you cry out.

Thought for the day: Listen to the song I Love the Lord. As you listen to this song, think about what troubles you today and take it to the Lord. Rest and be secure in God’s presence.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 21st, 2011 at 12:01 am and is filed under Encouragement. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

When The End Is Actually The Beginnning

Today’s scripture: John 20:1-10 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):

Have you ever been faced with a problem that you just knew was impossible to solve?

Perhaps it made you feel overwhelmed, like this-is-it-there-is-no-way-out-I-am-going-under. Has a doctor ever shared the results of medical tests and the prognosis they gave was guarded at best? As you walked out of the office you felt a wave of despair and thought, “I’m not going to make it. This is the end.” Maybe your dead-end experience concerns your finances. The bills keep growing and growing and you think there’s no way out — you’re headed for the shame of bankruptcy. Or, maybe its child-rearing that has made you feel this way. You used to have a great relationship with your son or daughter, but when they hit adolescence things changed. Now, all you do is fight and from your perspective the relationship has gone down the tubes. You feel like quitting. It’s a dead end that you can’t avoid.

When I read the verses for today that is exactly how I imagine Mary, John, and Peter must have felt. This is the end. One-hundered-percent of the time, the problem with that thinking, as it was with Mary and the disciples, is that we forget that God’s plan is at work in all of our lives. Who can argue with Mary’s loyalty to care for the dead body of Christ and her right to mourn his passing? But clearly we can see that Mary believed that Jesus’ life was over. Peter, confused by what his eyes were telling him, did not know what to believe. And as for John, the text only says that he believed. What exactly John believed we aren’t told, but I believe that in that empty tomb John found hope! No grave robbers leave clothes intact or fold kerchiefs neatly in the corner. There had been no struggle at this scene — there really was only one logical conclusion. Christ must be alive! And if that be true then hope must live as well! If Christ can defeat the grave then what in this world could God not deliver us from and give us strength to conquer?

Did you know your sorrow can become joy and your disappointment can become hope? Did you know your guilt can become a cleansed heart and your fear can become love? The resurrection teaches us that the mission of Jesus was divine, and his willingness to enter into suffering on our behalf would bring healing. The resurrection assures us of God’s unchanging character and our own eternal life.

Thought for the day: The resurrection of Jesus is a down payment and assurance of our own resurrection; and the resurrection is Christ’s pledge that we can trust the goodness of Jesus and the truth of His message.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


September 7th, 2011 • Category: Gospel of John
Today’s scripture: John 16:16-33 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):

Today’s scripture: John 16:16-33 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):

I love the way Jesus uses imagery and parable to teach us. In our reading for today we are instructed that just as a woman must suffer and grieve before childbirth, we too will suffer. However, on the other side of suffering, after the pain there will be great joy! Joy so great that we will soon forget about the pain, much like a mother casting her eyes on her newborn child.

Clearly Jesus is attempting to prepare his disciples for what is ahead — the grief and suffering of his impending death and the joy will come at the resurrection when he and his faithful disciples will see one another again. We know the disciples didn’t factor the resurrection into their thinking about this Jesus, just as they had not factored in the cross. But as the story unfolds, we see them struggling to cope with the brutal death. We also see there surprise and joy at the news of his resurrection. In our lesson today Jesus is attempting to prepare them and us for both eventualities.

Eventually it seems as if the disciples get it! And in our own limited understanding, we too may believe that we get it. But if we were to read ahead a little further we might understand that the disciples did not get it, and while they struggled through their grief and disbelief they seemed to forget his promises. There will be grief but “in a little while” you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy!

Our understanding of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ must be viewed as an example to each of us. Yes, there is life and with that life will come trials and challenges but in every situation there is resurrection! When we grow through our struggles, learn from our mistakes, keep our eyes focused on God, and continue to put one foot in front of the other Jesus promises us today that their will be joy, great and unspeakable joy!

Thought for the day: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” Jesus purpose is not to shame or humiliate; it is to lead us into his peace even while we’re in the teeth of the storm!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Why I Build Muscle at the Age of 45

Why I Build Muscle at the Age of 50

even though I am only 45 right now I believe this article still holds some
key principles and I hope to be building muscle for the next five years
and beyond:

Why I Build Muscle at the Age of 50

Lately its occurred to me that I’m in a groove, my schedule, diet, routine and rest are all in sync and its fun when everything is moving in the desired direction Naturally when its fun the inclination is to focus more and work harder, which has led me to be in the gym a lot. Enough so that some people at my gym have commented on how much time I’m spending lifting and how cool it is “at my age” to take fitness so seriously.

This got me to thinking, about why I actually work out. I mean is it because I take fitness so seriously? I never really thought about the reasons why I do what I do, it is just who I am. But in thinking I have concluded that there are 4 reasons I build muscle at 50, and the 2 biggest reasons are nowhere near what you would think. In other words, they have nothing to do with my health or appearance.

Let me start with the two obvious reasons, those would be the previously mentioned health and appearance. I could drone on and on about the health benefits of muscle building at every age but suffice it to say they are real, and it is in and of itself reason enough to do it. They say 60 is the new 40 and they are right, and it is because of a better understanding of all things related to muscle building, diet, rest, and a general devotion to a healthy lifestyle.

I am a believer in responsibility, accountability and consequence in all things life. The point is that the people you see walking around with bodies you wish you had weren’t born that way, contrary to what those that don’t have these bodies think. They have chosen to look that way and pay the price every day to do so. That price is hitting the gym, eating properly and living clean. I decided a long time ago that when I was 50 I would not look like the average 50 year old.

I don’t and I am proud of that fact. So I do work out to affect my health and appearance. But they aren’t the two biggest reasons.

Mohammad Ali, once he reached middle age was asked where the angry rebel attitude of his youth went. His response was “A man that views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20, has wasted 30 years of life”. You have to be 50 to know the wisdom of this comment. As much as you might think you will, you will NOT view things the same as you age. You do things for different reasons and you will value different things. For example, I still like and listen to the music of my youth. It makes me feel young. But that’s the music of MY youth. Not the youth of today. When I WAS young I swore I would always listen to current music. I had NO idea at 20 how I would think at 50!

Age has taught me to appreciate the journey, not the destination.

Though the destination is important, having a good, attractive, healthy body, I understand and value MORE how you get there.

The actual effort required to accomplish the goal.
The beauty is in the process, this is where the metal of a man is tested.

To have and live out the discipline to “do it right”, without the benefit of youth is hard, and because of that, it demands and commands respect. I like knowing that other people notice and respect that I do it. It is this feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that washes over me after a tough gym session, after a long day of work, that drives me to not take days off or take it easy because of my age.

Lastly, the final reason I build muscle at this age? It’s because I still can.

Once you arrive at my age you realize and know that it's VERY possible that in the blink of an eye, that could change. So by using the other 3 reasons for building muscle I help create the fourth, and since I like still being able to build muscle, I am smart enough do know that "if it ain't broke, don't mess with it".

Monday, August 08, 2011

While Jesus Is Waiting.................

While Jesus Is Waiting

August 8, 2011 • Category: Gospel of John

Today’s scripture: John 11:1-16 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):

As I studied the reading for today I could not help but be reminded of the old familiar adage: “God’s delays are not necessarily God’s denials.”

I think it is important to read ahead to verse 21. Martha, the sister of the now deceased Lazarus, rushes to Jesus and says, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” I always find this to be the most compelling line of this story. As modern day believers we have the advantage of seeing this story played out in its completion. In our piety we may frown upon what Martha is saying here, but if we are honest, who among us has not been guilty of saying, “Lord, what is taking so long?”

We’ve probably all had difficult situations where we went to God in earnest prayer, asking for some sort of deliverance or quick healing. I encourage you today to read this passage and understand that all of the individuals in this story knew that if there was going to be a victory in the circumstance of Lazarus’s death, it would come only through Jesus.

So the primary issue for us and in this story doesn’t have to be one of faith. We have familiarized ourselves with the promises of God. We believe, or at least can believe, that God is capable of moving in mighty ways — I don’t know about you, but I have evidence of what God will do. The place where the rubber meets the road is that place where we’re stuck in the gap between the fantastic promise of abundant life and the painful reality of life in a fallen world. It’s when we look about in confusion and hope that God will show up to make things right.

But we wonder, “Why is God waiting?” It’s when God’s clear calling on our lives is to do something that is difficult, painful, or seemingly beyond our ability — it’s when God wants us to do something totally beyond our strength or ability to manage that God shows up. Let’s not be surprised that confusion and perplexity are exactly where Jesus puts his followers in today’s text and in today’s world.

It is in this place of confusion and perplexity that we find all we can do is wait on God. Today, Jesus tells us that our waiting is not in vain. Our patience and faith are necessary in order for God’s true glory to be revealed. So, in the face of confusion, when Jesus seems to be waiting to enter into our lives, this passage challenges us to respond in faith by persevering in our discipleship with Christ.

Thought for the day: Lord, teach me to wait on you!

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.