“Training Camp 3" By Pastor Joe "Physical training is good,
"Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.” 1 Timothy 4:8-10. NLT I'm going to leave this verse at the top of the article. This has always been one of my favorite verses even before thinking about this new set of articles relating to training camp. I've had a number of great counselors and teachers, individuals who have helped me to grow my spiritual life, and all of them have said just about same thing about a very critical part of training: keep the word of God before you on a regular basis. With repetition over the next number of weeks all of us should begin to embrace this passage into our long-term thinking.
Growing up in West Central Minnesota allowed all children the opportunity to experience something while going to a public school called "release time." Once a week we would leave school and travel (by bus or by foot, depending on where it was located within the community) to your church for an hour and a half during school for biblical training. Not very many schools have this type of opportunity any longer as part of the weekly schedule. It's important we recognize the vital need for the public school system, and the greater community, to honor God's Word and its priority in the health of the community. Most of us remember somebody, years back, saying, "it takes a village." Well, part of any “village” is a church! Let’s expand, it takes training camp for a community, neighborhood, home, family to succeed. Remember when the “normal/regular” week of church activity included Sunday school, morning worship, Sunday evening service, mid-week family service, and then one other time during the week focusing toward women, men, young adults, etc. All of these touch points are part of a healthy, growing, vibrant church. All are vital parts of training camp, and everything taught, rehearsed, experienced at camp is meant to be carried throughout the regular season. For us, as Christians, that's 24/7/365 until Jesus returns or he takes us home. Training camp helps develop the core fundamentals which carry us through life, and our church family knows Together is Better! Our commitment to learning and reviewing during these weeks of fundamentals will help us along our journey, knowing one day we will stand before the Lord. Training camp is not always fun, but the results are worth it, no different than beginning an exercise regimen, or healthier eating habits or wholesome lifestyle choices. The beginning is always the most difficult, but the results are worth the effort.
What’s your observation of the spiritual health of the church in America? An honest assessment shows the church bordering on being anemic. What does it mean to be anemic? A routine blood test is able to measure how many healthy red blood cells you have within a measured volume of your circulatory system. When you are anemic, your blood is low on oxygen and it is difficult to gain or retain strength. Physical illustrations can help us to better understand spiritual truths. (Your spiritual life could be experiencing very little of the life-giving breath of God.) Training camp is a great place to get into shape, physically, mentally, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually. Every year I am required to take a physical through the VA, and they send a report back to me indicating the condition of various health markers. Thankfully, every year my numbers are good. Usually, one or two can use a little improvement but most of them are in the normal range. Maybe it's time for us to have a spiritual check-up, and look at the health of our soul.