Countdown to FREEDOM

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Six Simple Verses

This is the outline that I developed for the lesson that I taught on the 23rd Psalm last night.  The lesson was well received and I find it fascinating that teaching these lessons is much easier than applying them.  I'm a work in progress.

King James
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever

The Message
1-3 God, my shepherd!  I don’t need a thing.  You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.  True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.

4 Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.  Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.

5 You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.  You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.

6 Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.  I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

These six simple verses are well known and probably the first bit of scripture many of us memorized as children.  Knowing the 23rd Psalm is almost second nature.  Like knowing your birthday or your SSN.  In fact, I never really gave it much thought until I became an adult and really, truly understood what it meant to have a shepherd.

I think that before we can appreciate the Lord as our shepherd, we have to first view ourselves as sheep.
I have never viewed myself as a sheep.  Probably because sheep aren’t very smart.  Some say they are quite dumb.  They are always trying to wander off and go their own way, they get lost easily, they are relatively helpless and totally dependent on the shepherd.  They make the shepherd’s job very difficult – it’s a 24-hour a day job. (Isaiah 53:6 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all)

Why do we need a shepherd?  Scripturally, sheep are the natural prey for lions, leopards, bears and wolves.  (1 Peter 5:8 …because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour) That is the enemy’s number one job:  to devour us – the sheep.
If coyotes came upon two sheep and killed one and began to eat it, the second sheep would not have the sense to run away and try to save itself.  It wouldn’t understand the danger.  It needs the shepherd.  Sheep have no claws, no sharp teeth, no horns.  They can’t climb trees or squirt mace like a skunk.  They can’t fly away.  They are helpless without the shepherd.

We are helpless without our shepherd.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Day

It’s a new day and I’m happy … like a room without a roof.

Seriously though.   I wish I had a camera to see what exactly goes on inside my head and my body when I go through these weird mood swings.  I had such an amazing day on Easter Sunday.  I went to church and was completely overwhelmed by the service.  It was beautiful.  Then I spent the afternoon with my Mom and we had dinner together.  Then after she left I curled up on the couch and watched a movie.  It was a pretty good day.  Then when it was time to go to bed, all that happiness seemed to just disappear.  I woke up Monday feeling empty and sad.

What is that?

I skipped the gym and went to work fighting off the “I hate my job Monday blues”.  The whole day was just bad.  At the end of the day I decided to go for a 3-mile run and I felt pretty good after that.  I skipped a meeting that I had scheduled for that evening and worked on a lesson that I had to prepare on the 23rd Psalm.  Yes, the Lord is my shepherd. 
I went to bed still feeling kind of wonky.  Woke up this morning and for the second day in a row, skipped the gym and got ready for work. 

The sun is shining and I’m having a good hair day.  I don’t have that heavy, weighted down feeling that I had yesterday.  Weird.  I should’ve become a doctor.
I’m anxious.  I’m almost eight months away from FREEDOM and I’m anxious.  Doubt keeps sneaking into my psyche and it’s a constant exercise in reassuring myself that I’m making the right move.

I have so many decisions to make and so many actions to accomplish by the end of the year.  It’s overwhelming because I don’t feel like I’m being productive when it comes to reaching my goals.  Time to re-evaluate.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Small Beginnings

I am inspired by Zechariah 4:10 which states:

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.

The commentary in the Life Application Bible says:

Many of the older Jews were disheartened when they realized this new Temple would not match the size and splendor of the previous Temple built during King Solomon’s reign.  But bigger and more beautiful is not always better.  What you do for God may seem small and insignificant at the time, but God rejoices in what is right, not necessarily in what is big.  Be faithful in the small opportunities. Begin where you are and do what you can, and leave the results to God.

My first apartment was one room in the basement of a building in a questionable Boston neighborhood.  Today I live in a modest home in a neighborhood where people feel comfortable walking their dogs and jogging at 5:00 am.

My first car was a blue Chevy Chevette

This is what I drive now

When I first started working out I looked like this:

I took this picture last weekend:

Here is the progress of my fitness studio

And one day in the not-so-distant future, this space will not be able to hold the client demand and I’ll be moving into a larger facility.

I have had to learn how to shed the need for instant gratification.  Everyone has to start somewhere and I’m at the point where I don’t mind starting small.  At least I’m starting.  There is no such thing as overnight success.  They say that good things come to those that wait.  I say, good things come to those who work their butts off while they wait. 

This has not always been my dream.  For years I have been uncomfortable in my employment.  I wanted to do something that meant something.  I wanted to wake up every day and do something that I enjoyed.  Last year when I was training for the show I loved every minute of it.  I loved waking up at ridiculous hours and driving across town to meet with a trainer and allowing him to torture me, for lack of a better word.  Because I knew that during that one hour I was doing something that would change me for the better.  My trainer changed my life and he will never know exactly how much.  I want to do that for people.  To be able to help someone live a healthier life is my goal.

I have been prayerful in this journey.  It’s not something that I’m doing on a whim.  I asked God for guidance and direction and he has answered my prayer.  I’m not fearful and I have no trepidation regarding this next chapter of my life.  I do not despise my small beginnings.  I’m going to do the work and leave the results to God.