Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Power of Focus

I have enjoyed watching the Olympics this week. Michael Phelps has been unbelievable. At this point he has earned six gold medals. I have noticed that lots of world records are being set, by Phelps and others. Even a 20-year-old record was broken. One track and field commentator said that the track was a very fast one. I thought that all tracks were about the same, except for altitude. I wonder what makes a track fast…

But the water must be fast, too, with all the world swimming records being set. I think that the records are being set partly because of a new tool athletes have to help them focus. Around the fields and pools I see lots of athletes sporting ear buds. Listening to favorite music has a way of getting someone in the zone.

For the first time today I listened to my mp3 player on my morning fitness walk,. I started with one album, but found that the music was too slow or mellow. I switched to a DC Talk record, and felt the adrenalin kick in. I may have covered my 2.5 miles in record time. I know that my dog found it hard to keep up.

I do believe that athletes can use music to get in the zone and perform at maximum capacity. Focus is essential for scaling new heights. The Spirit is the one who really helps us focus, and maybe good music can help too.

I expect to see lots of “world records” being broken in the spiritual realm. Jesus is on the move. He is transforming people. He is changing the world. I want to be part of that!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Real Battle

In my personal devotions now I am reading through the Psalms, one of my favorite books of the Bible. It seems like there is a Psalm to match every emotion possible: joy, fear, anger, discouragement, contentment. I have noticed that I can’t really understand a Psalm thoroughly, unless I am in the mood of the psalmist. When I’m experiencing the same thing as the writer, I keep thinking YES, YES! It’s comforting to know that others have felt this same way.

One feeling I have a hard time relating to, however, is David’s desire for harm to his enemies. Maybe I’m not reading deeply enough, but it seems like David is sicking God on his own enemies. David takes it for granted that he is on God’s side.

Of course David was God’s anointed, and he was – during much of his life – on a mission from God. He enjoyed great intimacy with God and remained humble before him. There may have been no one in the world more intimate with God than David. Since he was a “man after God’s own heart,” he would know who God’s enemies were.

And God does punish the wicked. He hates sin. He is perfectly just. He brings destruction and judgment. But then Jesus tells us that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. God does love the world. He loves even those who despise him.

Recently a Crossroads daily verse (sent by email every day), was Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

While David is calling for God to destroy his enemies, the real enemy is not the people but the underlying spiritual forces of evil. The battle is a spiritual one. The spiritual battle is often waged on the field of human personalities. Maybe David was really asking for God to defeat the spiritual forces.

That’s where we need to focus our prayers. The real battle is a spiritual one. That’s why prayer matters. When we face unreasonable or wicked people, we need to remember that the battle is against the spiritual forces of evil. We need to ask God to win the battle in us and in our tormentors.