Archives For God

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.

A Post for Dads

randomlychad  —  September 2, 2014 — Leave a comment

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This post is for dads (or dads to be). It’s okay if you moms, wives, sisters, daughters (cousin’s former roommates) read it, too. Because what I’m going to share (I know, I’m sounding like an informercial here) has the potential to change. Your. Life, too.

I didn’t come up with it. A guy named Greg Vaughn out of Lubbock, Texas did. In a nutshell: Mr. Vaughn was one day cleaning out his garage, and came upon an old, worn out, rusty tackle box that had been his dad’s.

It was literally all he had from his father. There were no no notes, no letters, nothing to remind him of his dad’s love. Mr. Vaughn got angry. He was upset that all he had was this worthless tackle box. It was then that he heard God speak in his heart: “What do your kids have, Greg?”

Convicted by this, Greg Vaughn got together with a group of friends, and like the old shampoo commercial, they told two friends, etc.

Thus Letters From Dad was born. In the last 10 (or so) years it has gone quietly viral. What it is is a series of meetings (five in total), where men gather to learn the the lost art of letter writing. These letters are tokens of faith, hope, and love poured out upon the page for our families. It’s about not just writing well, but living well–backing up those words. Let’s face it: words are powerful. Why not use them to powerfully speak into the lives of those we love the most?

The program starts with us guys writing a letter to our wives (we wouldn’t be dads without them), proceeding through our children–eldest to youngest–and then our parents. Writing all this down gives us guys an opportunity to say the things we often mean, but forget, to say. We get to express our love, our gratitude, our hopes and dreams for our kids.

We get to leave a written record of what was most important to us. One that will live on after we are gone.

Again, I know this sounds like an informercial, or something, but I believe in it (Letters From Dad) so much that I wanted to let you, my faithful readers, know.

Look up Letters From Dad on the Internet. Ask your church to host it. Get your friends and neighbors together. It will really change your lives, men. And more importantly, it will change the lives of those that mean the most to you:

Your families.

(Ladies, if you read this far, I would encourage you to order the materials for the man in your life. You’ll be glad you did).

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?

When someone so well-loved, widely regarded, respected, and talented as Robin Williams was passes on it’s like losing a friend. Or a family member. This is someone who came into our homes week after week, who we visited at the cineplex, who was in the news.

So it hits hard.

Doubly so, and especially for those of is who grew up watching Mr. Williams’s work, because it reminds us of stark naked reality: if someone so rich, successful, and nearly universally loved as Williams was can die, so can we all.

We are not immune to death’s call. So far as I know there’s but one way to enter this world (birth), and though it take a myriad forms, one way to leave it:

Death.

As the story of Williams’s death broke we all felt you chill winds of mortality blow over our souls. Wealth, success, fame, power, regard are no antidote. While wealth may buy us extra time, it’s no guarantee. The late Steve Jobs was a billionaire, was able to extemd his life by a few years, yet still he had to pay the boatman.

Death, as Shakespeare said, is the “undiscovered country, from whose borne no traveler returns.” Even those of us who are Christians don’t know what awaits us on the other side. We have the Bible, and we have hope. But none of, despite claims to the contrary, has actually crossed over, seen what lies in that far country, and come back to report our findings.

It doesn’t work that way. God generally does not, as much as we wish it, gives us foreknowledge of our own ends. He teaches is instead to number our days, to live as if He were coming back, indeed to live as if each day was our last.

Because we never know. It could be a car accident, a plane crash, a heart attack, a tumor, or any number of things which could lay each one of us low. The only think I know that is sure, upon which I have staked my life, is this:

“He that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. He that lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

That’s what it comes down to, friends:

Faith, and

Trust

Where are you placing yours? Knowing that this one life you’ve been given here upon this earth will end, where–in whom–are you placing your faith, your trust?

Your (eternal) life depends upon it.