Archives For grace

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.

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?

Time Off

randomlychad  —  August 6, 2014 — 2 Comments

I’m taking time off work this week to spend some time with my family before the school year gets into full swing. There wasn’t a plan–we didn’t map out the week’s activities.

Not to say we haven’t done anything; we have. It’s just that, tied to schedules as we are: church, small group, who’s got ballet, who’s sleeping over, getting to work, etc… It feels good to pause. Like a break in the action of a particularly intense thriller, or the quiet after a dramatic scene in a book (like Gandalf falling into the chasm at Kazad Düm), we needed a break.

Time to catch our collective breaths, time to pause, take stock.

A time free from rote routine.

I think that’s a good thing. We, all of us, can only push so hard at life before it pushes back, and the stresses of demands, obligations, schedules threaten to overwhelm us.

It’s nice to take time, and simply do nothing. Face life without a map, or even a compass, and just enjoy it. I, of course, write this from a place of calm and comfort. My holiday will end, back to work I’ll go, and the kids will be back in school.

I hope to take just enough of the calm with me to carry me through. Because I think the point of mountaintops isn’t to live there (having summited Everest, none may abide in that place), but rather to take enough of mountain back into the valleys with us. <-- That is the art and skill of life well-lived, friends.

Now: how do we make it reality?

A Word About Men

randomlychad  —  July 23, 2014 — 5 Comments

Men are people. People have feelings. As such, we have feelings, too. We are not out to get you. Just having a penis doesn’t make one:

Bad

The enemy

An abuser

A potential rapist

It’s not our fault that your childhood was tough, or that male figures in your past abused their positions of authority, or violated your trust.

It’s not fair to view us all through the crap-stained lens of your past.

Just as you do, we have our own struggles, our baggage, our own stories to contend with. If you prick us, we will bleed. If you try to shoehorn us into a role to accommodate your worldview, we’re not going to take it very well.

We, having feelings–minds, hearts, opinions–of our own probably won’t take it very well. We might get loud.

This is not abuse, or bullying: this is usually the cry of a hurting heart. Yes, we may be bigger than you, stronger than you, louder than you… this still doesn’t make us the big, scary, nasty man out to get you. It’s a sign of hurt, of pain, of confusion.

If you accuse us unfairly, we will get defensive. It’s human nature.

Being men doesn’t make us demons.

So stop demonizing us for for our gender, for your past abusive relationships.

And let us love you.

That’s what our strength is for.

The Simple Gospel

randomlychad  —  July 18, 2014 — 4 Comments

I’ve spilled a lot of (digital) ink here on this blog over the years about life, struggles, pain, joys, needs, etc.

But I find I may not have shared the single most important thing I believe. Oh, I’ve talked about it–about Him–to be sure. But I don’t think I’ve shared the simple Gospel.

I saw this image on Facebook, and it so beautifully encapsulates the Gospel, what Jesus did, I had to share it:

image

He took my sin, your sin, everyone’s sin, so that we could become the righteousness of God in Him.

Now what is sin? The term, as used in the Bible, means “missing the mark.” What is the mark?

Perfection.

God is perfect (“Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,” said Jesus), and we are most decidedly not. Not by a long shot.

Which is why He sent Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice. Now you may say to yourself, “Self, I’m not so bad. I haven’t killed, committed adultery… I’m no Jeffrey Dahmer.”

But have you ever lied? Even a little white lie? If so, you’ve broken God’s law: “You shall not lie.” And we know from the Bible that to transgress in one part of the law is to transgress all. In fact, Jesus upped the ante when He said that:

Lust = adultery

Hated = murder

Have you ever hated? Looked at someone with lust?

Chances are, you have. So have I–so have we all. Or maybe you haven’t, but you have taken something (no matter how small) that wasn’t yours.

That’s stealing.

So if a holy God, whose standard is perfection, were to ask you upon what basis He should let you into heaven? What would you say? Would you appeal to your assertion that you’re not such a bad person (even though we’re all lying, thieving adulterers at heart), or would you–like Hebrew National–appeal to a higher authority?

Like Jesus? He who knew no sin became sin for:

You

Me

Everybody

Everyone who would believe.

DO YOU BELIEVE?