Saturday, July 14, 2012

Season's Opener

3:53 p.m. Today's project was to pray for our son Steven's first bodybuilding competition of the season. Like all of his fellow bodybuilders, he has prepared all year for one, or in his case, two major shows.

Steven was chosen by his pastor to exemplify discipline, determination and hard work to achieve a large goal. He was interviewed by his pastor all three services at the Peoples' Church in Fresno last month about what it means to be a champion, to persist through to the win, letting nothing deter him from the path he is on. Steven testified that his platform for sharing the Gospel is in the fitness and bodybuilding world, which now has no credible--read "champion"--witness standing up for the Lord Jesus Christ. It's a world of extreme self-absorption and obsession with money and fame. To have the credibility to speak, Steven knows he needs to sacrifice most aspects of a normal life, mainly in the food and exercise areas, in order to be a top professional who will be listened to.

The Lord has found Steven a job that is perfect for him, as a supplements expert at Lassens' Organic Market in Fresno. Since he began competing at the age of 19, five years ago, he has had professional diet coaching, and now, in addition to being a fitness trainer,  which he did for a number of years, he designs healthy diets for his clients. He spent a season coaching soccer at a local Christian high school also. At his church, he has been active with the high school ministry, where, because of his size and list of competition wins, the teenage boys, including a group of boys bused in from an honor ranch-- find themselves listening and are willing to give Jesus a chance, admitting that church is a manly, even cool, place to be.  That's the power of the Holy Spirit, who uses any of us who are willing to win souls!

In I Corinthians 9, Paul talks about the fact that he is willing to go anywhere, speak and share local customs with anyone, that he might win souls for Christ. Verses 19-22:

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without the law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without the law; to the weak, I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

As for Steven's dad and me, whoever thought we'd be attending bodybuilding competions? Or that our baby would become well known in the nutrition and fitness world, winning "Trainer of the Year" for LA Fitness at the age of 18? In the picture above, Steven was being interviewed by KSEE TV 24's reporter on the subject of "Going Green" with powerful anti-oxidant-rich greens. God has obviously laid out an unusual path for our son--one few would attempt to walk.

As Christians, no matter what physical shape we find ourselves in, we are called to the "narrow way that leads to life" --that few find, by the way, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:14. "The broad road," which billions of people take, leads straight to hell. And He tells us straight up that the narrow way is difficult, confined. Like Steven is not going to eat french fries and sleep all day, a believer has no business getting drunk or watching "adult entertainment." There are more parallels: when we are called to the narrow path that leads to eternal life with Christ, the Holy Spirit begins a work in our heart, soul and mind to the point that we gradually (or suddenly) lose the desire for harmful, sinful practices or substances! I feel more free today, 32 years after ceasing to use foul language, drink or smoke, than when I boastfully said to myself, "I do whatever I feel like doing!" And tough as it is for him to do 2 hours of cardio before breakfast, weights and leg work later in the day, I've never heard Steven complain about his lifestyle, or his road to championship! I'll continue in I Corinthians 9:24-25:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

Rewards in this life are satisfying, worth the hard work, and given to us by God to encourage us and propel us into a higher level of ministry of His word, credibility and boldness in sharing the Gospel with the lost.

The crowns we will receive in heaven are imperishable, God saying, Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord (Matthew 25:21).

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