Archives For Culture

Do you use an iPhone, an Android-based phone, or something else? If so, what are your reasons for picking one platform over another? Do you like the tight integration of hardware and software in IPhone land, or do you prefer the flexibility and themeability of Android? Are you diehard Apple fanboy/girl, or have you sold your soul to Google?

Or do you maybe still use a flip phone?

Sound off below on what you like, and why you like it. Peace out.

For a number of years, I’ve suffered from hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Because of this, I’m forced to supplement my underperforming gland with synthetic hormone.

I guess it’s helped. After losing about forty pounds a few years ago doing low carb, my body seems to have settled in the 210s. Even with supplemental thyroid, I don’t lose–or gain.

I decided to do something about that. Beginning about five weeks ago, I hit the gym. I’ve been going six days  a week, alternating cardio, and weightlifting, days. This had worked out for the most part.

I say “for the most part” because I’ve hit some speedbumps on the road to wellness:

I strained my low back doing squats (my fault–I wasn’t wearing a belt).

I’ve begun experiencing what are termed “exertional headaches.” For a phenomenon this common (all over the Internet), I’d never heard of them. Guess I’m in the lucky ten percent of the populace that gets to experience:

                            

I know that’s gross–but it’s exactly like what an exertional headache feels like. In my case, it presented as an intense bilateral pain in the base of my skull. Having never had a headache like this before in forty-five years of life, I thought I was going to stroke out. Yes. It. Was. That. Bad…

Having since read up on the phenomenon, I’m not as concerned. However, I’m bummed. Because the only cure seems to be time. Time to heal whatever damage I caused via poor form, straining, performing the Valsalva Maneuver (holding one’s breath to stabilize the thoracic cavity).

It’s a bummer because I was making progress, getting stronger. But it is what it is. Pain is warning which tells us that something is awry. My body didn’t like something, and I’ve got to slow down. It’s not as young as it used to be, and I’ve been (he who knew very little exercise) pushing it pretty hard.

Now it has pushed back.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s the lesson of the Tortoise and the Hare; namely, that slow and steady wins the race.

These speedbumps will be overcome. And I will be the best me I can be.

For Jesus.

For my family.

For my friends.

And coworkers.

You see, I used to view the gym as a temple to the self, as a form of self-worship. I don’t see it that way anymore. I see it as taking care of the one and only temple God has given me: my body (the temple of the Holy Spirit). At the same time, that while “physical exercise profits little,” and that “godliness profits in all,” there’s still value in exercise.

It’s a way for me to buffet (not buh-fay) my body. I’ve spent a lifetime buffeting, eating what I wanted. Now, I’m eating, and exercising, for a purpose. And that purpose is many-fold; chief among them is to be used of God for as long as He wills.

At the same time I’ve been pursuing physical fitness, I’ve also been pursuing spiritual, mental, and emotional fitness via: Bible reading, prayer, a faith community, and counseling.

If this is what a midlife crisis is, it’s not that bad. ;-)

In closing, I’d like to say this:

All praise and glory to God, for in Him I (we) live and move and have our being.

I stand–mouth agape, arms akimbo–in awe of people who manage to maintain large coteries of friends, social media connections, socialize with coworkers, etc.

Because that’s not me. When first I began blogging, I was there: commenting, sharing, interacting. Then I hit a wall. I burnt out. I couldn’t keep up with everything and everyone. It got overwhelming.

Funny thing is, when I pulled up virtual stakes, my Internet presence began to go along with it. This blog may as well be drying on the vine as much as it’s read these days. I can’t say I ever had halcyon days, but the old grey mare sure ain’t what she used to be. I wanted to use it as a springboard to launch a platform, but what influence do I have?

That’s as may be. I don’t know what to do about it. I only that I’m not above the pangs of jealousy whenever I hear that coworkers have gotten together over the weekend, that so-and-so has another book coming out, that this other guy is getting all these hits (and comments).

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m defective, off putting, something. I have a family that loves me, but I sure don’t have a lot of friends. And the Internet friends I once had have gone their own ways. Some days I just feel so alone. It feels like childhood all over again: being ignored, left to my own devices.

I mostly get by. I have a God Who loves me, a wife and kids who adore me. But anytime I’ve gotten close to a group of friends something has happened. I don’t know if it’s me, them, or just this rotten world.

In any case, I’m not unhappy. I love Jesus, my wife, kids, family. But it would be nice to be known, to be appreciated, to be able to share life with brothers of like minded faith sometimes.

I know we’re all busy. And I hope I’m not just writing on my own behalf. I’m sure there are others of you out there feeling the same.

I’m here. I’m still here.

Email Me

I sometimes (often) marvel at God’s timing. If you, like me, are a theist (and indeed a Christian), then you likely believe that God is sovereign (in charge). Yet somehow, within the context of that sovereignty, he created us–creatures with free will. So today, of my own volition, I ventured out to CVS pharmacy to pick up some heating pads for a stiff neck. Well and good. On the way back, I was treated to sudden wet slap falling upon my right shoulder. This moist blat managed to splash on my right earlobe. For the briefest of moments, I thought it rain. It was not. It was the digestive leavings of an avian exiting its cloaca.

To be precise, it was pigeon poo (yuck!).

How did my little jaunt to CVS, and back, place me (so to speak) at the scene of the “crime” at that precise instant?

This avian accident necessitated a detour into Starbucks, where I cleaned off the alimentary outburst to the best of my ability. Leaving there, I proceeded back to work.

Which put me at the intersection near my office just in time for:

An older lady, decked out in a red jumpsuit, cane in hand, yelling at the top of her lungs, “You don’t get no p*ssy for letting me cross the street. You hear me? You don’t get no p*ssy for letting me cross. Maybe if I’s a younger skank, but you ain’t getting any.” This tirade seemed to be directed at no one other than the ether.

Here, again, it’s all about timing: if I hadn’t been so rudely detained by a roosting winged rat, I would have missed out on this colorful outburst.

What does it mean? What, if anything, is God trying to tell me?

As I said above, I believe He is sovereign–the superordinating power which runs the universe. That said, and in the words of C.S. Lewis, “free will almost requires a kind of divine self-abdication.” In other words, if lesson there is to be had here, it’s that:

1) God is good; and

2) Sh*t happens

Sometimes it flows from a cloaca; others, from the human mouth.

If we learn anything from history, the Bible, culture, we are, by and large, an idolatrous people. Wars have been fought for lands, possessions, people. Helen of Troy is said to have had a face that launched a thousand ships. The litany goes on and on.

Point is, we’ll make an idol of anyhting: beauty, our cars, our T.V.s, our summer homes, what have you. Sure, we’re much too enlightened for that these days–we don’t call them idols anymore.

But idols they are. Come on: we idolize celebrities, needing to know every minute detail of their lives, while decrying the presence of those rags at all the supermarket checkstands. Fact is, if we didn’t buy them, if there weren’t demand, those magazines wouldn’t be there. The publishers just give us what we want. So, too, Hollywood with its movies and T.V. shows: whatever sells tickets, and generates ad revenue, is what it will keep churning out. Ad nauseum.

It’s all fine and dandy to lay the blame at another’s feet–when the problem lies about eight inches beneath the head, and in the center of the human chest.

It’s a heart condition.

And the worst of all the idols we put before God is the one we fashion in our likeness. (Look no further than our iconography: every people group wants to claim Jesus as their own. There’s white Jesus, brown Jesus, black Jesus, yellow Jesus, etc. When all we know for sure was that He was a Semitic man, “without form or comeliness”). Instead of letting Him claim as His own…

Just as the God who hates everything/everyone we hate is likely one who we have created in our likeness, so, too, is the God who approves of everything we do. Who likes everything we like.

If God (if Jesus) we serve doesn’t offend our sensibilities, He’s a poseur, an impostor.  A fake. Because the real one is an iconoclast: someone who defies labels, will not be pigeonholed.

Just like nobody puts baby in a corner, so, too, no one puts God in a box. Oh, we try. How we try:

There’s conservative God, who wants to close the borders, and doesn’t care about the aliens and strangers among us. There’s the gay God, who wants to just tastefully redecorate our souls (and His son is coming back clad in rainbowed-colored robes, bestride a unicorn). There’s also the social justice God, who only cares about hot button issues, about righting this world’s ills, about making a heaven on earth. But from Him one never hears the Gospel, of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Cause he’s too busy trying to make a heaven on earth now. When the real God says nothing about doing that; rather, He says He’s going to make a new heaven and a new earth. (This is not to say that there are not worthy causes–there are. But the Gospel is the cause).

Lest we forget, in addition to the Gods, the Jesuses, detailed above, there’s also Focus on the Family God–whose focus is indeed upon the family. Families are good, for sure.

But can you imagine that God saying:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” ( Matthew 10:34-36 ESV).

That’s not very family friendly, folks.

The point of all of this, in case you hadn’t guessed, is to simply state this:

It’s a slippery slope, folks, when the God we serve shares all of our values. And not the reverse.”

Jesus didn’t die just to tastefully redecorate, but rather to knock the whole building down, pour a new foundation (Himself), and start afresh.

He came not to make us nice people, but rather new people. People fashioned after His image and likeness. Anything less, or else, is idolatry. It’s Jesus-and–which, as we know from Galatians, is not the Gospel. He tells us come as we are, but he doesn’t leave us there.

Because an encounter with the real Jesus will always leave us fundamentally changed.

Always.

So, which God–which Jesus–do you serve?