Walk Humbly

I had a great conversation with a friend this morning about my kids. I described what I often tell the kids: these years (14-24) are the most important years for decision making that shapes the course of your life. I tell them that these years are like them going through a dark tunnel and it is my job as their mom to keep them on the tracks until they reach the other side. So, they might feel some push back, but it is only because they are about to fall off of the tracks and I am there to steady them and keep them on. They can’t see what is ahead, but I have been there. My perspective is different and since I love them more than life itself, I ask them to trust me to help them navigate through these important years.

After our conversation, I was taking my kids to the Lord in prayer. I prayed that they would be filled with a passion for the Lord and His purposes. That they would be merciful people and do good. I was reflecting on this “dark tunnel”, how they can’t see what is ahead, then the Lord said to me, “Aren’t you the same?” I realized that it was true. I can’t see what is ahead of me either. There is only One who loves me more than life itself and who knows what is ahead. He is asking that I also trust Him to guide me through the years ahead of me.

The Bible is full of direction when it comes to trusting God. He asks us to put Him first (Matt 6:33), to search for Him (Jer 29:13), and to trust Him with all of our heart (Prov 3:5-6). By doing so we will receive the things we need (Matt 6:33), find God (Jer 29:13) and receive direction for our steps (Prov 3:5-6). He led me to Micah. In chapter 7 vs 8b: “When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me.” I am in my own dark tunnel and I need Him to be my light. So what do I have to do? Just the chapter before (Mic 6:8), it reads: “And what does the Lord require of you, But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

Of course, in all of my interactions, I need to be just and show mercy. And isn’t is easy to stop there? I can be a good person. That’s enough. The enemy would love to have us believe that. But there was more. God requires that we walk with Him. How are we going to get the things we need, see the light, hear His voice or know which way to go unless we are in a close relationship with Him? He has a purpose for us that is so much greater than the mundane life we lead everyday. But there is no way to find it without His direction. There is no way to get His direction without being close to Him. This is a battle for our own minds and hearts that has to happen individually everyday. To purposefully choose to take the time to foster our relationship with God. I ended my prayer praying for myself, that I would be filled with a passion for the Lord and a desire to get closer to Him everyday. To make meeting with Him a priority and not to allow “our time” to be consumed by some distraction of the enemy. The laundry and the dishes will still be there when I am done. They can wait. He is more important.

 

Death to Life

Have you ever felt that time is passing you by? My husband and I have talked on numerous occasions about this. How we feel that there is something else we should be doing, but the day-to-day life stuff always fills our days and next thing you know another year has gone by. We are physically alive, doing the tasks of our days, even enjoying some fun times, but it is almost like we are spiritually dead or numb.

Our spiritual side, the one that provides purpose and meaning to our lives, does not appear to be alive. Both my husband and I are Christian. We are active in our church. We love our God. We know that God has made our spirits alive. So why do we feel dead?

According to Ezekiel 37, a beautiful illustration of what God does when we are filled with His Spirit, the valley was full of dry bones, and the Lord raised the vast army from the dead. The Lord tells Ezekiel to tell His people that He will put His Spirit in them and they will live (vs. 14). So when we came to Christ, our spirits came alive because God filled us with His Spirit. So why do we not feel this way?

Now there are some times when we feel alive. In church, when we are in praise, our spirits are awakened and for the briefest of moments, we see with different eyes. But it doesn’t take long for the business of the week to dull that and again, we find ourselves slipping into a spiritual slumber.

That thought reminded me of a part of Christian’s journey in Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress:

“I saw then in my dream, that they went till they came into a certain country, whose air naturally tended to make one drowsy, if he came a stranger into it. And here HOPEFUL began to be very dull and heavy of sleep; wherefore he said unto CHRISTIAN, “I do now begin to grow so drowsy, that I can scarcely hold up mine eyes; let us lie down here and take one nap.”

Chr. “By no means,” said the other; “lest sleeping, we never awake more.”

Hope. Why, my brother, sleep is sweet to the labouring man; we may be refreshed if we take a nap.

Chr. Do you not remember that one of the shepherds bade us beware of the Enchanted Ground? He meant by that, that we should beware of sleeping; wherefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.

“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6

Hope. I acknowledge myself in a fault; and had I been here alone, I had, by sleeping, run the danger of death. I see it is true that the wise man saith, “Two are better than one”.

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.” Ecclesiastes 4:9

Hitherto hath thy company been my mercy; and thou shalt have a good reward for thy labour.
Chr. “Now,” then said CHRISTIAN, “to prevent drowsiness in this place, let us fall into good discourse.”

Hope. “With all my heart,” said the other.

Chr. Where shall we begin?

Hope. Where God began with us. But do you begin, if you please.

Chr. I will sing you first this song.”

That is it! Can’t you hear the enchanted song of the evil one trying to lull you to sleep even now? Satan cannot steal my salvation, but he can make me unproductive for the Lord, if he can entice me into spiritual sleepiness. I read the end of the passage from Pilgrim’s Progress to see what they did to keep from falling asleep. They decide to keep each other awake by talking of what the Lord has done for them and by singing. Doesn’t that make sense? Don’t we feel a spiritual resurrection every time we speak of what God has done, or listen to another’s testimony? And every time we lift our spirits to God in praise? There is no time left to be caught up in spiritual slumber. We need our spirits alive. We need to raise up as a vast army of believers, spiritually alive, ready to do the work of the Lord!

Let’s work together to stay awake. You tell me what God has done for you…. and I will start with a song:

Wrong Way

There was a time in my life that I was going the wrong way. It was a difficult time. I was headed in the wrong direction and I knew it. I also couldn’t stop it. I felt compelled to continue down this path. Even though I knew intellectually that it was completely irrational, completely illogical, and not at all me, I HAD to do it. There was no way to stop or to turn around. I was going down a path of self destruction that was not going to end well. I knew I was in trouble and sought help. I knew I needed God to help me, but I didn’t know Him as One who would be able to actually intervene in my life. When I sat with God, my one question was, “Do You love me?”

It was a question that had been in my heart for a lot of my life. I often felt unloved, unlovely, and unlovable. To protect myself from the hurts, I built a very large wall around my heart. I didn’t let anyone in. I kept everyone, and their love, at arms length. Although I heard people, and God, when they told me that they loved me, I didn’t let it sink into my heart. I never really felt it. Or believed it. The only one behind this wall was the devil himself who continued to tell me lies, tear me down, and beat me up.

And now here I was, acting on the lies that I had been told for so long. Being pushed into places I would never have gone or even considered. It was a full on assault and I was powerless to stop it. I remember throwing up a prayer saying, “God , You need to do something, because I can’t stop this!” Thankfully He did. God Himself intervened and pulled me from the quicksand that I was in. That rescued me from the immediate danger, but it still didn’t address the issue that drove me there. It took a very long time for the Lord to crack through the walls surrounding my heart and finally allow me to feel love. First He had to show me the lies that I was believing, and oust the devil from his place in my heart. Then God, with His gentle hand, began dismantling that wall brick by brick. It took a while because my heart had to become adjusted to the light and the warmth that accompanies love.

But now, life has new meaning. I give and receive love.

I am loved.

My heart is full.

John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Lost and Found

Have you ever felt lost and all alone? Even when surrounded by others? Even when you pray? Sometimes I have found that God seems so far away. It is like I can’t see Him, and perhaps He doesn’t see me. Then all of those things that bother me pile up and become such a mountain of burden that I feel they might crush me. And no one sees. No one knows. No one cares. I am all alone.

Occasionally  I feel  a glimpse of hope. When I am in church on Sunday morning, for the briefest of seconds, while praising God in my spirit, all seems well. Then I head home and the darkness closes in again.

There is something special about worshipping God corporately. But do we need to wait until Sunday morning to do it? No. When we read in Revelation 4 about John being taken to the throne room of heaven to witness the constant praise of the Father that goes on around the throne, we can be confident that we can join that worship at any time. From the confines of my home or car or anywhere, I can begin to praise the Lord and in the Spirit I can transcend this reality and join the throngs of elders and angels in the throne room of heaven just as John did. I can lay at the feet of Christ and there get the love I need, the healing I need, the direction I need, and the perspective I need.

This place is the opposite of alone. This is a place of fulfillment and peace. Here I can find all that I need. Here I am found. All it takes is praise. Anytime, anywhere I can join the song that never ends and never have to feel alone again.

Mortality

I sat with a lady not long ago that was dying. No longer able to respond to me, I held her hand and softly sang hymns that I hoped she would recognize. I sang about the love of God and about His grace.  I was disappointed that I never had a chance to ask her about God while she was still able to talk to me. I had no idea whether she had any faith or not. And now, all I could do was hope that my songs would stimulate her to call on the Lord. That conversation would not be audible to my ears, but still effective, if she already knew about Him. But I had no idea if she had heard the gospel or not.

Evangelism has always been a difficult thing for me. I love God. He has done wonderful things in my life. But the thought of presenting Him to strangers, or worse, people I know, is very unnerving. I tend to avoid rejection, not seek it out. Those awkward conversations where they try to be polite, but tell you off and/or insult your God, your faith and your intelligence all at the same time tend to make continuing a relationship with them difficult. But it never fails that when I am faced with that person dying that I regret not having taken the risk and told them about the Lord.

Romans chapter 10 tells us:

“”Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (vs 13-15, 17)

We have all been called by the Great Commission to go out and preach the gospel. It is not left only to those who do it professionally. We are God’s hands and feet to our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and the strangers we meet along the way. Even though we may not see the person immediately drop to their knees when we present the gospel, we can know with certainty that the word we have placed in their lives will be brought to their remembrance when they need it. Whether that be in those dark days of trial or loneliness, or in those few moments before death, the Spirit Himself will bring our words back to life and lead them to the Lord. But without having heard the hope of the gospel, what can they draw on?

We cannot wait until they are physically dying to decide that we now have an audience ready to hear what we are saying. The likelihood that they will be able to respond is slim. And who knows if we even would have that time? The fact is that without Christ, we are all dying. And salvation is not something that begins in heaven, but here on earth. It makes us come alive to an abundant life of purpose, hope and light.

Take the risk. Present the gospel in love. Live it. Know that His word does not return void, but accomplishes that for which it was sent (Is 55:11).

Live with no regrets.

 

 

Quiet Confidence

I was driving to go visit with my parents today. It is a two hour drive, but there is an urgency lately to spend as much quality time with them as possible. While I was driving I was listening to the Christian radio station and singing along with the praise songs. When I got so far out of the city that I could no longer pick up the station, I turned off the radio and began to pray. There is much to pray about. I started praying for my parents, for my children, for my husband and grandchildren. My prayer seemed to become more like a desperate begging for God’s intervention. I prayed for miracles as I imagined they could be. Then I was reminded that God’s ways are higher than mine and His thoughts higher than my thoughts (Is 55:9). My prayer started to change. Now I was asking God to glorify Himself in all of the circumstances that surrounded us. I asked Him not to limit Himself to the little box that my imagination could think up. I acknowledged that even though things may look bleak, He is ultimately in control and He can use these things to bring about a far greater purpose and victory.

He reminded me of the story of Elisha and the king of Aram. The king wanted to capture Elisha because he kept warning the king of Isreal of his plans. He sent a large army to the city where Elisha was and surrounded him. When his servant saw it, he panicked. But Elisha didn’t. He was calm.

“”Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:16-17

Elisha knew God. He was confident that God was with him.

Or what about the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. When Elijah finally got up to call on God, his prayer wasn’t a doubt-filled begging for God to appear, it was one of confidence:

“At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.  When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”” 1 Kings 18: 36-39.

What about Paul and Silas in jail? Were they panic-stricken and begging God for their lives? No. God was with them and they knew it. God had other plans:

 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.  The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”  The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.  At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.” Acts 16:25-34.

God is moving now too. He has big plans. He is calling His people back to Himself. He is readying His church for His arrival. He is answering those prayers that have been outstanding. Do I need to panic? No. God is with me. He will glorify Himself in this. I can be confident and give glory to the One who has it all under control.

Time’s Up

I was cleaning the kitchen the other day, grumbling under my breath at the state of it. We installed a dishwasher, but the dirty dishes remain on the counter just above it. We have a garbage can right at the end of the counter, but the garbage stays piled up on top. It is so close to the garbage can that if you blew on it, it would fall in. And yet, there it is! I was lamenting about all of the effort we had put into all of the conveniences that we have and still, no one uses them. It was then that the Lord spoke to me:

“You do the same thing. I have provided My Word to show you My heart for you. A source where you can learn about Me, but you don’t read it. I have provided My Son to die for you so that you could have direct access to Me, but you don’t take advantage of it. I have provided My Spirit so that you could have the power you need to impact this world, but you don’t tap into it. What more must I do?”

“What is holding you back? Do you still not trust Me? Have I not proven Myself enough?”

“You are entering, and presently are, in a season that requires mature faith. No longer will you be able to get by on the meager morsels that you have been sampling. There is no time left for casual introductions and feel-good stories. You need Me.”

“You must choose – now – right now – whom you will serve (Josh 24:15). If it is Me, then get out of the boat (Matt 14:29). This is the time. If you remain in the boat, you may go down with it. If you get out of the boat you may be afraid that your faith is not strong enough to allow you to walk on the water, but walk or sink, I have your hand! I won’t let you drown! You must overcome your fears and doubts (Rev 12:11). It has nothing to do with you. You must trust Me. I will walk with you, but you must reach for Me. You must call out for Me. You must tap into My source of strength and power.”

“Come. I have so much to tell you. Come. I have so much to show you. Come. I have so much to give you. Just come. Jump in with both feet. I am waiting.”

He Is

Over the last few months my body has been under attack. The constant assault beat me down and strained all the other areas of my life. All I wanted to do was sleep. It has been similar to getting a physical beating. Imagine being beaten and kicked by a gang of people. Down on the ground in a fetal position, arms covering your head. There is a point when the will to survive gives in to the will to let go. There is a moment when you think that if only you could pass out. When you become totally defeated and escape is the only option left.That is the way I have been feeling.

A couple of weeks ago I went to an evening praise service at the church. Even getting there was a feat.But while I sat listening to the others praise God (I didn’t feel like it), He spoke to me, “Don’t I deserve your praise?” I was stunned. He knows all about the way things have been and how I was feeling. That didn’t matter. The circumstances of my life did not change who He is.And He is worthy of praise. I realized that from the time that this began I had stopped praising Him. I would pray and beg for something to change.I would read my Bible hoping for something profound. But I stopped praising. I stopped looking at Him for who He is.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “…, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, …” And we know who He is: out provider, deliverer, healer, ruler, redeemer, Lord, and King. And we know as it says in Ps 22:3 , “But You are holy; Enthroned in the praises of Isreal.” If we know that God is present in the praises of His people and that He is all that we need, doesn’t it make sense that what we need must begin in praise? Is it any surprise that Jesus taught us to pray by first praising the Father? If I really recognize who He is, then my first response will be the same as the elders around the throne in Revelation (4:11a) declaring, “You are worthy Oh Lord, to receive glory and honor and power…”  Isn’t it here, in the presence of God that we find our healing and deliverance and provision?

I found myself repenting of the sin of holding back praise from the One who is worthy. I recognized Him as God. My God. I lifted my hands and cried out in praise. Not because He had healed me, but because He is the healer; not because He had delivered me, but because He is the deliverer. He is worthy. And in the process of giving honor where it is due, healing and deliverance came.

Praise the Lord!

The Bear

The Honeymoon Stage. You know it. You remember. Back in the beginning of your relationship with your husband when everything was easy. Love flowed just from looking at each other. The passion was written on your faces and expressed regularly without effort. Joy overflowed by the mere mention of his name.

The same thing happened when you came to Christ. The realization that He loves you – that He has always loved you was overwhelming. Joy was new every morning. You spoke of Him to everyone you met. You longed to know Him more.

The same thing happened when you started that diet. Those first ten pounds just came flying off. You really didn’t have to do much of anything. It was easy. You start to believe that you are on your way.

Then it happens. The honeymoon ends.

Children come and work gets stressful. Trying to juggle bills and playdates and sports leaves you tired. Passion is now about sleep. The physical part of your relationship dissolves into decisions of whether you should even bother to take your clothes off or just leave them on as you need to get up soon anyway.

You go to church on Sundays and the worship which used to bring you to new heights with the Lord now just seems to bounce off of your forehead. Reading the Word becomes a chore. Knowing that Christ loves you is understood, but the joy is gone.

You hit that plateau in your weight loss. You did the same things you did the last few weeks and now you not only didn’t lose anymore, but you gained back a couple.

Everything suddenly seems so hard.

It is at this moment, like when Jesus was in the wilderness, that the enemy arrives. He smells your feelings of weakness and doubt. He is ready for his assault.

He asks you the questions: if the passion is gone from your marriage, then maybe he was not the right guy? Shouldn’t it be easy? If your husband really loved you, he would know that you are needing him right now. Clearly this was a mistake. It’s time to pull back and start guarding your heart against the hurt that he will bring you.

He continues: Church isn’t doing anything for you anymore. Maybe it really didn’t do anything in the first place. Maybe you just got caught up in the hype. It was just a feeling and nothing of substance. Why don’t you just sleep in today? It will do you so much more good than pushing yourself to go to church, wasting two hours and then being so far behind in the things you need to do.

And finally: Of course you aren’t losing any weight. You are not meant to be healthy. You don’t have it in you to look good and feel good. Isn’t this good enough? You’ve been like this forever. Why change now? Just accept it. You are fat and ugly and nobody loves you.

And there in the background you feel it. That heavy blanket of self-loathing and doubt. Depression. Fear. All of the characteristics of your old man. Right there, pouring in to smother you in darkness. You find it hard to breathe. Your body aches. Nothing is good anymore. The habits of your old man are there too. I should just lay down here and accept my fate. I am alone. In the dark. There is no hope. I will just close my eyes and sleep. Maybe then I won’t have to face it.

Is that the end?

My father used to tell me about a dream he had as a child. Many nights he would dream that he was being chased by a bear. Just as the bear was about to overtake him, he would wake up. Over and over again he spent his nights running from this bear. Finally, one night in his dream, he stopped running. This time he turned around to face the bear. He beat the tar out of it and never had the dream again.

This story taught me that I do have the power to change things. I could spend my life in despair or I can say, “Wait a second devil! Just hold on here. I belong to God. You don’t have any hold on me anymore!” I can push back against the darkness and see the light.

Paul tells us in Hebrews 5:12-14 that we can’t continue living on spiritual milk. We need the meat. We need to mature. We need to search for the Lord with all of our hearts (Jer 29:13) and seek Him like silver and gold (Matt 13:44-46). The most precious gems are not on the surface, they must be mined. It takes a mountain of effort to uncover one precious stone, but once you have found it – how precious it is!

It is after the honeymoon stage that marriage moves into something much more precious. When love goes so much deeper than the surface stuff and can grow roots into each other. When “oneness” really begins to flourish.

It is in the search for the Lord that we begin to understand that love is more than a feeling. We learn His heart for us and that in turn changes our hearts toward others.

It is in the work that is required to lose weight that new healthy habits that can last a lifetime are born.

Everything requires work, persistence and the unwavering belief that what I am working for is worth it. Your marriage is worth it. Your health is worth it. Knowing Christ is worth it.

It is time to face the bear. Time to stand up, roll up your sleeves and say “no more!” When you stop running and hiding, when you look the enemy in the eye, when you realize that you are not alone in your fight as the Lord’s armies are with you, you will see, the bear is not as big and scary as you thought. In fact, it is nothing more than a flea with a big growl.

Remember who you are, and fight!

Resolutions

It’s that time of year again – when we resolve to do things differently. This year’s resolutions are much the same as every other year: save more money, eat healthier, exercise more, stress less. And the year started out well. At least for the first week or so, then the wagon ride started to get a little bumpy. And by now I have not only fallen off of the wagon, but gotten run over by it as well. You would think I would learn. Every year I do the same thing, and every year I fail.

Each year I resolve to change something about myself or my life and I plan and I prepare and I do what I can to solidify my willpower to make these changes. But isn’t it this same will of mine that doesn’t want to cook supper, so I go out and buy it instead? Isn’t it this same will that wants to eat the cupcakes and sleep just a little longer instead of exercise? How can I expect to be successful when I am empowering the very thing that causes me to do the actions in the first place? Didn’t Jesus Himself say that a house divided can not stand (Mark 3:25)? It makes no sense to ask my will to go against itself to affect change. I can no more change my will than I can change my skin color. So do I just give up then?

I may not be able to change myself, but there is One who can. He has already miraculously changed many parts of my life. I know that. He has saved me from destruction and set my feet on a straight path. He has given me access to His mighty power. And He has instructed me that if I am faithful in the little things, then I will be faithful with much (Luke 16:10). Is it possible that God has given me access to His resurrection power and asked me to use it in these little things? Wouldn’t we all like to see someone raised from the dead? God has given us this power, but we must practice using it. In every other area of my life I am trying to become less so that Christ can become greater (John 3:30). I surrender my will to Him. But here in this part of my life I am still holding on tightly to my will. My way. I have not surrendered it to Him. It is still dead in sin. It is like this part of my life is Lazarus, buried in the tomb, and I can hear the voice of Jesus calling me out, but instead of heading to the light I am stuffing the cracks at the door with cupcakes. I am happy here in the dark, with my cupcakes. But while I may be afraid of leaving my cupcakes behind, I must remember that God has never taken me from something that He hasn’t replaced with something so much better.

And isn’t it just like the enemy to keep us down in these little areas? After all, he makes us think that they don’t matter. God didn’t really say that I could never eat a cupcake did He? But perhaps he works so hard at keeping us from accessing God’s power to see miracles in these areas of our lives because he knows that if we would be faithful here, he wouldn’t be able to stop us when we access God’s power in the bigger things!

Perhaps then I must change my resolutions. I resolve to know Christ and the power of His resurrection (Phil 3:10a). I will press on because He has so much more ahead for me. I will surrender to Him in this area too and experience His power changing my life again. I will meditate on His word for encouragement:

Phil 3:7-14: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, 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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”