Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Boiling Over (with Enthusiasm)

Ever have a craving for a certain food? Last night I just had to have some potatoes. 

Not just any potatoes. Boiled potatoes. Along with some gouda cheese and sweet ham slices, they were delicious. 

Here is one more pic. It's of my workout this morning at the Y, doing "isometric" exercises without any weights.

Let me try and tie these two photos together. The passage I studied in my morning Bible time was Rom. 12:9-21. Here Paul sets forth the characteristics that mark out what a gospel family looks like. He intends to say what it means to be the church, the kind of people God is building. Among other things, we are to be people who are zealous (see v. 11). We are to be people who are full of vim and vigor. Enthusiasm is to mark all we do as Christians. "Keep your spiritual fervor," says Paul. Or, as the Living Bible puts it:

"Never be lazy in your work but serve the Lord enthusiastically." 

I love the word Paul uses here for "fervor/enthusiasm." It gives the image of a boiling, bubbling pot of potatoes. (See the connection now?) The picture is one of movement, of energy, of vitality. That's how the Christian life ought to be. It ought to be bubbling up with the goodness of the gospel and flowing out into the lives of those around us. 

How easy it is to lose that enthusiasm!

More than once, I have run out of steam. Life is barely in a simmer let alone bubbling and boiling. So, what is the answer? It is to get our focus right, says Paul. "It is the Lord you serve!" That thought is to drive all we are and all we do. I love how Jim Elliott put it: "Wherever you are, be all there, and live to the hilt whatever you are convinced is the will of God for your life." Or how about this motto a housewife put over her kitchen sink:

"Divine services performed here three times a day."

Paul adds that this spiritual fervor, this enthusiasm, is "in the Spirit." His enthusiasm and power is to pervade all of our lives.

I think that's a great word for today, don't you? That's the way I want to live my life. I suspect all of us want to live like that. I take this to heart because I'm all too aware of my natural tendency toward sloth and laziness, to take the easy way out, to simply go through the motions. No matter who you are or what you do, there's always room for improvement. If I thought I was done growing, I would probably shrivel up and die. For me, life is about continuing to improve, to learn, to risk, to GROW. But even the best of us get stagnant at times. I've said this a million times, but running is a decision I make. I get to do a marathon. It's not forced on me. Your life is like that too. So shut up and stop being lazy and filled with excuses. If you don't, you'll never know what you missed. Also, choose to be around people who are forward thinking, dreamers, go-getters, risk takers -- people who are passionate about life and who take adversity as a personal challenge to become stronger. 

With the Spirit's help, you can bounce back.