Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Message in a Mug

A few weeks ago a friend dropped by my house. He and his wife had been to Starbucks (sorry Panera). While they were there they saw a mug that made them think of me, so they bought it. Then just a week ago another friend dropped by with the very same mug. He had seen it at a Starbucks out of town and thought of me, too. I guess there must be a message. Well, I think there is. It’s rooted in Philippians 3:12-14.

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The message for me is that I am supposed to live life looking ahead and not looking back. But according to the Apostle Paul that requires three decisions or disciplines.

First it requires the discipline of FOCUS, v. 13

“But one thing I do:”

One thing is a phrase that is repeated often in scripture. It’s something Jesus said to the self-righteous rich young ruler in Mark 10:21

21Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

It’s something Jesus said to his friend Martha when she was stressed out over fixing food for him while her sister was setting and listening to him.

42but only one thing is needed.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

It’s also something that the man blind from birth said to his accuses after Jesus healed him, John 9:25.

25He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"

Finally it’s something the Psalmist said in Psalm 27 when speaking of what was important to him.

4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

For the apostle Paul, his one thing was Christlike perfection, v. 12

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Second, it requires the discipline of FORGETTING, v. 13.

“forgetting what is behind. . . ”

This is the most difficult one for me. For some reason I have trouble letting go of the past. Maybe that’s the reason I connect so much with what Erwin McManus said in his book “Chasing Daylight.” He said, “I had things that wouldn’t let me go because I wouldn’t let go of them” (p. 18) Forgetting is a discipline. We have to choose to forget.

Third, living life looking ahead requires the discipline of FORGING AHEAD, v. 13b, 14.

“and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Paul uses two words here to communicate the discipline or effort required for him to make progress. First, he used the word translated "straining ahead". This is an athletic term, “straining ahead.” It’s a description of the kind of effort Michael Phelps used in winning the gold in the 100m butterfly. He didn’t glide in, but took one more stroke, making one last effort to push ahead.

Second, he uses the term “press toward” v. 14. Here he moves from the picture of an athlete to the picture of a hunter. The Greeks used it to describe a hunter eagerly pursuing his prey. It carries with it the idea of an intense endeavor.

Now when I drink from my mug, I'll be reminded by my friends and from Scripture that. . .

The past is over so. . . Forget it

There is a future so. . . Reach for It!

The plan is progress not perfection so. . . Start running!

2 comments:

Heather Conrad said...

You just nailed it Denny, some of my favorite passages, in fact, Philippians 3:12-14 has become my life verse. Thanks for sheding some more light for me, thank for spilling over with Christ, thank you for your "listening heart".

Dianne said...

Dennis,
Who knew there was such a good lesson in a mug from Starbucks?! Wow, thanks for sharing that. Letting go of the past is my hardest hurdle in life as well. But, since you brought that into the light, I am and will be striving to let that go. God calls us to do that for so many reasons. One of which, I'm sure, is for clarity in loking forward! How awesome. I am so glad that you and Carol are part of my journey!
Thanks for being such a great friend, teacher and pastor.