Pressing On

Our church choir recently sang an anthem called “Press On.” It’s based on something the apostle Paul said in the Bible:
“Brothers, I do not consider myself to have embraced it yet. But this one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I keep pursuing the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly call in the Messiah Jesus. Therefore, those of us who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will show you how to think.” (Philippians 3:13-15)

That Scripture has great relevance to Christians, and so does the anthem. The anthem reminds me of something else, though. As I continue to age, life itself requires me to keep pressing on.

I feel so blessed that God has given me musical and creative writing skills, and I’m always thankful when I get to use those talents to bless other people. And I admit I’m apt to get frustrated when I don’t have a chance to do that. I don’t believe God gave me those abilities just to amuse myself and my wife.

I’ve heard of too many older people who, upon retiring, basically quit living. They quit living useful and productive lives, anyhow, and that’s the last thing in the world I want to do. I can’t imagine what sitting around all day and doing nothing would be like.

Boring? For sure.

But also how sad. When life no longer has a purpose, what’s the use in living?

I’ve been working hard on my twelfth novel the past six or eight months. I thought I was finished except for some minor revisions, but my agent  pointed out some major problems–major in terms of failing to grab the reader’s attention and make her want to keep reading.

Out of curiosity I asked a good friend who is a much more experienced writer than I am what she thought. She not only agreed with my agent–I’d expected that–she pointed out a problem my agent hadn’t mentioned.

So much for thinking my manuscript was almost complete and ready for my agent to pitch to a publisher.

I believe the purpose of life is to bring God pleasure. Not just in doing my best to live the way He wants me to, but by using the talents He’s blessed me with to the best of my ability. And that means continuing to sharpen my skills.  And not to be satisfied with less than I’m capable of doing on the current project, be it a novel or a new song.

It would have been far easier to ditch that twelfth novel manuscript and start something new than to make the necessary changes. But God didn’t create me to be a quitter. He wants me to press on until I can’t do any better. And thank goodness His Holy Spirit is living inside me, urging and helping me do my best.

That doesn’t mean I’ve finished making those changes yet. But I’m getting there.

It’s no wonder I enjoy life in spite of the fact my body–like everyone else’s–is in the process of deteriorating. My life still has purpose. And it will continue to do so as long as I keep pressing on.

What about you? Are you “pressing on” to reach a difficult goal because you believe it’s the right thing to do? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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Best regards,
Roger

 

Christians & Alcohol

I believe the Bible is true for all ages–past, present, and future. But I also believe many things in the Bible describe a culture much different from ours. Rarely have I seen Christians so conservative, for example, that they insisted that women’s heads should be covered in church, although I dare say such Christians exist.

I doubt seriously that many of the Jews in biblical times were teetotalers. And I don’t know of anyone who’s found an eleventh commandment that says, “Thou shalt not drink alcohol.”

Although I grew up being taught that biblical wine was little more than grape juice, I find that hard to believe now. When Jesus turned water into wine, people marveled that the best wine had been saved for last. What that implies to me is “after they’d drunk enough they wouldn’t care about the quality anymore.” If my understanding is correct, it sure doesn’t sound like grape juice, does it?

The Bible preaches against drunkenness, though. And it tells about people who did some pretty objectionable things while intoxicated. Look up the story of what Noah did sometime after the ark landed if you question that. I’m not sure the Bible says King David was intoxicated when he was dancing naked in the street, but it sounds like a possibility.

By now you’re probably expecting me to say that I approve of Christians drinking and only disapprove of drunkenness.

WRONG!!! Although I have no right to judge Christians who believe drinking is okay, I don’t understand the need for it. Other than in countries where drinking wine from an early age is part of the culture.

The apostle Paul had some interesting things to say about eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. I won’t try to explain the significance of that in the culture of Paul’s day, but suffice it to say that some Christians ate that meat without thinking twice about it, while others found it an extremely offensive practice.

Paul didn’t say whether it was right or wrong. Instead he told Believers to act according to their own consciences as long as they could do so without offending Believers who felt differently. Years ago I penned the following saying. “It’s not that Baptists don’t drink. They just don’t drink in front of other Baptists.” That generally gets at least a smile because people tend to recognize how accurately I’ve described the issue–and what Paul was talking about.

But what constitutes offense? Let me illustrate with a true story. I’ve changed a few of the identifying details, but otherwise it’s all too factual.

My ex- and I belonged to a good-sized church committee that went out to a local restaurant for a meal together. More than half of the members ordered alcohol. Now, in all fairness to them, no one drank to excess–or anywhere close to it. But what kind of example were we setting for other people in the restaurant?

It probably didn’t matter, some of you are saying. But suppose one of our group who had never drunk thought it must be okay because so many other people were doing it. And suppose that person ended up an alcoholic or caused a fatal auto accident while intoxicated.

Quite a few IFs, you might protest. Perhaps so, but my wife and I will continue to be teetotalers–she hasn’t always been one–because we don’t need alcohol to feel good. And because we want to set the best possible example–and make other non-drinkers feel comfortable.

What about you? Do you have an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to have you share a comment.

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

A Different Look at Teamwork

If you read this past Wednesday’s post, please feel free to skip this paragraph. I wrote about the importance of learning to function as part of a team, using some of my own experiences as examples of how the failure to be a team player can create problems. Humongous ones.

Although I was talking primarily about teamwork on the job, every area of life that involves other people requires a certain amount of teamwork. Whether it’s me mowing the lawn and vacuuming while my wife cleans the bathroom or not butting in line in front of someone at the grocery store, society depends on our ability to play our roles properly.

The Bible has some interesting things to say about that. The apostle Paul was writing to the church in Corinth. And here’s part of what he had to say:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. (NIV)

Although he was talking specifically about people in the church having varying roles, what he said is also relevant to society as a whole. In one sense, the world population is one team, and no member of the team is more important than anyone else. Each of us is needed, and we must all work together in a general sort of way in order to remain at least marginally civilized.

If I should knowingly drop a piece of trash on the floor in the mall, my action affects the custodian. Yes, his job is to pick up trash, but I’m not a good member of the “earth team” if I knowingly make his job harder–or cause someone to trip and hurt himself on the trash I drop. If I should knowingly exceed the speed limit enough for a policeman to pull me over, I’m making his job harder than it needs to be.  But I may also be endangering another member of the “earth team.”

Even though the policeman’s job in helping to maintain safety seems more important than that of the custodian, I both  people are parts of the same body. Parts the body couldn’t function without.

What do you think? Is the application of the quoted Scripture to humanity in general too much of a leap of faith? How about leaving a comment and letting the rest of us know what you think.

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger