When i was in my early teenage years I began playing legit outdoor hockey, with an actual team, and an actual coach. We had practices, and were actually pushed to get better. I remember vividly my first training session. I hated it. We ran, and ran, and ran. And then as a team we ran around the oval and the last person back had to run it all again. Now at this stage I hadn’t seen all the mighty ducks movies, or any of the rocky films. I didn’t really understand the basic need of a sports team to be able to run and keep running. I didn’t know the beauty of the training montage when rocky runs up stairs, and past ducks in a stream and ends up happy and fit. All I knew, was that I was the last back, and i suddenly got struck with an interestingly intense asthma attack. That training session didn’t end well. In fact it ended in tears and a strange dislike of my coach.
I was kept on that team, not because of my skill, but because of my father paying the fees, and we needed the players. I remember not getting better that year. I didn’t put any effort in, I didn’t much care for early winter mornings in Canberra, running around with a stick with no shock absorbers. The fruit of our training wouldn’t hit me until I got a new coach, in fact I would go on to shock my team when I played better against them in a season we won undefeated.
Training matters, even when our Dads pay check keeps us on the team.
‘For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for ALL people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions to live self-controlled, up right and godly lives in the present age.’
Paul wrote a letter to Titus to encourage him and skill him up in putting order into a church of unruliness. Some argue that the book starts and ends the same and in the midst of it there are these ten verses and that are the crux of Pauls message. He speaks of training, renouncing, and our salvation being a mercy and not something that is deserved.
SALVATION was gotten for us on the cross, as Jesus released us from our lives of darkness that we chose to stay in, even after eons of God showing us that he was real and tangible and findable – he put a man on the planet to show us the way out. Through belief.
RENOUNCING our former ways, our ways of death and destruction and lies, we can then step into the truth unfettered by the veil, the blinders, the smoke and mirrors of limited existence. By renouncing our former legacy of death – our kingship in the darkness – we are given instead a crown of righteousness, to be heirs to Gods kingdom – adopted into the family of Jesus.
And as heirs, saved and adopted – we TRAIN to become better.
Earlier in the letter Paul speaks of sound doctrine. Sound being the idea of healthy and life-giving. Doctrine being beliefs and realities. As we renounce the bad stuff, our good stuff needs to be refined. Our healthy beliefs can be healthier.
A few years ago I was sitting with God sifting through some thoughts in my head and God pointed to one and said ‘you are not crazy’. Most of my life i have been labelled crazy or dumb. And God wanted to train my thinking to see that I am not crazy or dumb. The death-giving doctrine was slowly replaced by the life-giving reality.
Our security and reality needs to come from the knowledge that God is good, God brings life and God is merciful. Because as we convinced ourselves back into the slavery camps and death knolls of our former thought life – shame over takes, but God wants to invade those mental camps with mercy.
What are the camps in your head that you feel too comfortable returning too?
What is God saying about them?
And will you train so that by game time your asthma attacks cease and you score multiple goals to your struggling hockey team?