Repentance Is a Life-Giving Word

What do you think about when you hear the word ‘repent’? For some, the word conjures up an image of a pompous person pointing his finger in your face and telling you what to do. However, repentance is actually a very good word. As a matter of fact, it is a life-giving word that can open the door to all kinds of possibilities in your life. ‘Repentance’ means a change in mind that leads to a change in direction.

As a Christian, I believe that the standard for repentance is found in the Bible. Sin is a deviation from God’s way and by repenting, we can get back to where God wants us to be. Repentance involves an admission of error on our part and a willingness to yield to God. That’s a good thing. God is the creator and sustainer of life. He is the source of eternal life, so to follow His way really makes a lot of sense.

However, sometimes we don’t want to yield. Sometimes we insist on doing things our way. God has given us a free will and we can go in another direction if we choose to do so. But you need to remember that it doesn’t end well when we choose our way over God’s way. Proverbs 14:14 says, “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.” In other words, if you go your way, you get out of life what you can provide. If you go God’s way, you get out of life what God can provide.  So, if you are in a backslidden condition and you find yourself eating the fruit of your own ways, why don’t you stop and repent? Get back in on what God can do in your life. I guarantee you; He can take care of you a lot better than you can take care of yourself.

Sensory Distortion

I hate being nauseated. I can’t stand it. I hate that queasy, unsettling feeling that lets you know you’re about to evacuate the contents of your stomach. When I get that feeling all I want to do is lie down and not move. So, I have to ask, why did I put myself in a position to experience this horrible feeling two weeks in a row?

A couple of weeks ago, I went deep sea fishing with some friends. I have had a previous experience on the ocean and it wasn’t good. I even told myself that I would never go in the ocean again on such a boat. However, my mind was changed by the promised cure of three little Dramamine tablets. I was told that if I took two the night before and one the morning of, I would be fine. Well, I wasn’t fine. I spent half the trip lying down on the couch. I didn’t throw up but I was semi-incapacitated.

Couple this boating experience with what I did a week later. My youngest son and I went to Six Flags on Memorial Day. Because we wanted to maximize our time, we bought a Flash Pass, which allows you to avoid long lines. We rode five roller coasters in an hour- Goliath, Batman, Scorcher, Mindbender and the Daredevil. Needless to say, I started to have some of the same feelings that I had the previous week on the ocean.

What I experienced is what we call motion sickness. This occurs when your brain receives mixed messages from your senses. For example, reading a book in the car can make you car sick because your body feels the car moving and sends messages to your brain that your body is moving. Conversely, your eyes are fixed on a page, so they send messages to your brain that you are stationary. For whatever reason, when the brain receives these mixed messages it activates a nausea response.

In this life, our senses can deceive us. Our perception can be faulty because we do not know everything that is going on. We are limited. Therefore, we need some help. As a Christian, I believe that help comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the steady place where we can fix our eyes and gather our senses. Scripture says that believers are to set their eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). This world is brutal and full of lies (#fakenews). When you leave faith out of life’s equation, it is easy to get distorted. However, Jesus says, “I am the way the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). Isn’t that what we need in the midst of a world that sends us conflicting information that makes us want to throw up? We need someone to guide us and to speak truth. Life is a roller coaster, so you better have a good point of reference. Otherwise, you just might want to throw up.

Crossfit & the Christian Life

Once you reach a certain age, it gets harder to stay in shape. The body doesn’t work like it used to and your eating indiscretions are more difficult to overcome. To top it all off, working out increases your appetite, so any gains you could be making are immediately neutralized by an increase in consumption. You become a walking billboard for the old adage, “you can’t outwork your diet.” So, what’s the solution? It’s quite simple. You have to learn to discipline yourself and make wise choices. You have to have a reason to want to get in shape. As we age, quality of life becomes even more important. We want to be able to enjoy the latter stages of life without being on a first name basis with every pharmacist in town.

A couple of years ago, I got serious about getting in physical shape. I have seen what pastors at my age can look like and it’s not always good. So, I began to take an interest in Crossfit. Perhaps you’ve heard the old joke, “How can you tell if someone does Crossfit?” The answer: “Just wait. They will tell you.” Well, I am telling you- I do Crossfit. I’m not one of those hardcore, all-out Crossfitters. I have not drunk the Kool-Aid, but I do know where they keep it.

Crossfit is defined as “constant varied functional movements performed at high intensity” which includes weightlifting, gymnastics, and various cardiovascular exercises (Defined by crossfit.com). Trust me- the workouts are intense. At first my wife was afraid for my life but over time, my fitness level has drastically improved and she has now joined me.

Workouts are referred to as WODs (workout of the day) and are constantly changing and always challenging. That’s what makes it fun. You never know exactly what you’ll be doing, but you do know that you are going to be pushed to your limit. When you finish a workout, there is a feeling of accomplishment. You feel like an overcomer. It’s good for you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It’s good stuff.

A lot of times when you talk with someone who does Crossfit, you will hear about the injuries they have experienced. Here’s my list. I have busted my shin wide open doing box jumps. It was so bad that it got infected and it limited what I could do while on vacation at the beach. I have also suffered a strained back and I have reinjured an elbow. However, my most painful Crossfit injury has been an intercostal strain. This injury occurs when you tear the muscle between your ribs. Words cannot describe the constant pain that this injury inflicted upon me. I could not do anything to get relief. I couldn’t stand, sit or lie down. It was horrible. But you know what? As soon as I was physically able, I started back. Why? Because I wanted to. I like the challenge and I like to push myself physically. At my age, I don’t want to feel like I am over the hill. I don’t want to just play golf or shuffle board. I don’t want to go gently into the night. Instead, I want to bend some bars and set PRs however slight the bend may be. I want to go down swinging and I don’t want to give up.

As a Christian, I want to have the same “never say die” attitude about my commitment to Christ. I want to overcome setbacks and push myself to live all out for Jesus. I want to have a passion about sharing the Gospel and I want it to cost me to follow Jesus. In Philippians 3:13-14, the Apostle Paul describes the intense concentrated effort that an athlete gives to win a race. He writes, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” The imagery is of an athlete who is intensely focused, giving every ounce of effort in order to cross the finish line and win the race. Paul uses this imagery to sum up his commitment to live all out for Jesus.

Although we are saved by grace, we should still live the Christian life with the all-out, overcoming effort of an athlete that is in it to win it. Quitting should never be an option. According to Romans 8:37, we are super overcomers. We not only can make it to the finish line, but we can do so with an unceasing effort.

This imagery is why I like Crossfit so much. It reminds me of how I should live my life as a Christian, and if that is all that I get out of this exercise regiment of varied movements performed at high intensity, then it is worth it!