Terry R Baughman is Lead Pastor for LifeChurch in Gilbert, AZ. See his complete bio at trbaughman.com
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Fitness for Launch
RELEASE — empowered to rise
Terry R. Baughman
“A true athlete will be disciplined in every respect, practicing constant self-control in order to win a laurel wreath that quickly withers. But we run our race to win a victor’s crown that will last forever. For that reason, I don’t run just for exercise or box like one throwing aimless punches, but I train like a champion athlete. I subdue my body and get it under my control, so that after preaching the good news to others I myself won’t be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:25–27 TPT).
There’s no time like the New Year when people are so avid about fitness and exercise. The resolutions may include weight loss, health and wellness, or preparing for a competition. The lines are long for joining the local health clubs and the fitness centers are packed with sweaty participants who workout with determination. It is usually less than a month when the fitness centers are much less crowded and many fall back into their normal habits of indulgence and neglect of intended disciplines.
Discipline is required for any athlete who desires to win in a competition. Marathons are not run on a whim, but require many weeks, even months, of preparation. Core strength is developed. Endurance is built over time and other competitions develop skills to insure success. This must have been Paul’s analogy for developing spiritual stamina, enduring setbacks and discouragement, and continuing to train and compete for the greatest reward, the crown of life.
Seeing others make meaningful resolutions and changes at the beginning of the new year challenges us to make commitments for greater spiritual disciplines. Annually we may start a new Bible reading plan, a devotional guide, or a prayer journal with full intention of this year being different and with the goal of ending the year with a victorious conclusion. Many times our resolutions fall by the way along with those who neglect their gym membership. The stakes are certainly higher with our goals than shedding a few pounds or building muscles; the crown of life is worth our greatest efforts.
Paul spoke of those who began the spiritual race with fervor only to be defeated with a lack of self-control, and losing out after being a good example to unbelievers for a time. He challenged us to avoid being disqualified when we come before the reviewing stand to be judged. Where the prize is greater, so also is the responsibility to run well. We are representing the ultimate conflict, the battle of the ages between life and death, good and evil. The outcome is not in question. Righteousness prevails! However, our personal destiny hangs in the balance. Mark gave the assurance, “He who endures to the end shall be saved” (Mark 13:13 NKJ).
Astronauts undergo rigorous training in preparation for space travel. Some train for many years studying engineering, living with strict dietary plans, and consistently engaged in physical training just for the opportunity to be considered for a space mission. Not all will complete the training. Others will be disqualified for deficiencies in any of the areas in which they are trained.
As we navigate the launch of a New Year and prepare for our spiritual growth plan, take special notice to be physically prepared, mentally conditioned and prayerfully packed for the journey. Get ready for a release. Insure that the training manual has been followed, and spiritual preparations are in order. We have a task before us and an incredible opportunity awaits.
“Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NLT).