A Tired Treadmill

It’s Thursday morning, and I just returned from the gym. It was brutal.

Why?

Some mornings I’m energized and ready for a great work out. Then there’s the other kind, the kind I had today. Don’t really understand why. Maybe it’s a lack of calories, or maybe a poor night’s sleep. Or both?

Limping Through

That’s how it felt, just limping through. It’s the work out I couldn’t wait to finish. Any amount of weight was too much to lift. Any kind of aerobics were too aggressive. The stretching was painful. I gave it a shot. But after 30 minutes, I went home. 

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Not me or my gym, but close, really very close.

And Now…

Well, and now I’m blogging about it. Why? Because it’s on my mind and it’s my blog and I can waste the readers time with something innocuous if I want too. Sorry.

A Lesson?

Maybe. Let’s see, is there something I can link this to, something of value? Hmmm. Well, here goes:

  • Perseverance: nothing good comes easy
  • Patience: nothing good happens quickly
  • Power: the body needs fuel to work effectively
  • People: my work out buddy wasn’t there
  • Procrastination: not sure how it applies but it’s a good P word.

Something Spiritual?

The Spirit is willing but the body is weak. Yep, how true. My spirit wants to soar, to aim high, to reach for the stars. My spirit seeks to be lifted by the Holy Spirit. A weak physical work out is one thing, but a weakened spirit due to lack of nourishment is another.

Can my soul be energized with too few calories? I need the Holy Spirit?

To Close

I’ll get by with a weak work out. But not so sure with the spiritual part. Frankly, I need the fresh breeze of the Spirit every morning. My day is better with it and far less effective without it.

How about you?

Try, Try Again!

I’ve noticed some things…

  • It’s hard to be brilliant with a mediocre IQ.
  • Its tough to be gorgeous with below average looks.
  • It’s difficult to be a high achiever with only basic skills.
  • It’s impossible to be accomplished without a work ethic.

Of The Four

I can’t raise my I.Q. My looks were fixed at birth. I can’t order more skills from Amazon. However, working harder is within reach. Effort requires no skill, only determination.

Determination is within everyone’s grasp.

The Lie

Some say success comes only to the brilliant, to the beautiful, and to the gifted. No doubt it helps. But how would I know? However, it’s a lie that success is only for the blessed.

  • “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” T. Edison
  • Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Unknown
  • “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” Babe Ruth

The Messiah

Reading about the Messiah’s ministry, I get these insights about his work:

  1. He was an early riser.
  2. Every day he taught, did miracles, and blessed people.
  3. He went to different villages & synagogues every day.
  4. He always welcomed children.
  5. He was never too busy to help someone.
  6. Jesus often worked till late in the evening.
  7. He had the Spirit’s power, but the work ethic was all him.

Now Jesus

“At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” Luke 4:42-44

A Famous Quote

The following quote came from a Teacher’s Manual written by American educator Thomas H. Palmer (1782-1861) He wrote it to motivate students to do their homework.

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Be encouraged. Don’t give up. Effort requires no talent, just an unyielding desire to see the job done.

Success may be just around the corner.

Shalom

A Bone Marrow Transplant

I’m not an expert, so please bear that in mind.

Stem Cell Transplants

Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow, where the blood cells are made. One treatment is to have a bone marrow transplant. The first step is to undergo a heavy course of chemotherapy, destroying the cancerous bone marrow, blood cells, and the immune system.

Then, the patient is given a bone marrow transplant with new stem cells. If successful, the new bone marrow will produce healthy blood cells and restore the immune system. Even the patient’s blood type changes.

bone marrow
Basically, something dies so something new can live, its transformation.

It’s a process of transformation. The cancerous bone marrow is destroyed so healthy  bone marrow can live, producing healthy blood cells. It’s almost miraculous.

The Power of Transformation

Paul wrote, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

Spiritual transformation is triggered by the renewing of the mind. As if to say, “If you want changed behavior, then first change your mind, if you want to be different, then get a different mind.”

Some Parallels

  1. Leukemia-Sin
  2. Diseased bone marrow-The ravages of sin
  3. Chemo kills the blood cells-The blood of Jesus gives new life
  4. Leukemia destroys the immune system-The Holy Spirit revives us
  5. What destroys must be destroyed-He who died makes new creations

A Renewed Mind?

It’s becoming holy in our thoughts, speech, and behavior. It’s the remodeling of that which was sinful and selfish into that which is holy and divinely beautiful.

The Holy Spirit is the architect of renewal. He will help you every day and in any moment. The Spirit offers renewal, if we allow it, if we seek it.

To Close, Simply

We can be changed, we can be transformed into the very image of Christ.

Shalom

Kids, Cars, & Kitchens

Sometimes I do what I need to do. Sometimes I do what others need. Sound familiar?

Yesterday’s Schedule

  • 5:00-Work out at the gym
  • 6:00-Get ready for work
  • 6:30-Work on blogs 
  • 7:30-Writing/work on next book
  • 9:00-Arrive at office:
    • 9:15-Office appointment
    • 10:15-Office appointment
    • 11:30-Lunch meeting
    • 1:00-Meet with one of the ministers
    • 2:00-Coffee with a member for counseling
    • 3:00-Study and sermon prep
    • 5:00-Meeting with the Elders
    • 7:00-Meet with men’s leadership group
    • 8:00-Tidy up and head home
    • 8:05-Driving home, make calls to check on people
    • 8:20-Home! See Danielle, have dinner.

Not every day is a fourteen-hour day. Some are longer. Some shorter. Some days have more time for study, reflection and prayer. Some don’t.

Do you get to do what’s most needed? Or are your days busy with the needs of others?

Examples

  1. How busy are moms with young children?
  2. How much time does a single parent get?
  3. What about those who are primary care givers?
  4. Think about people who travel constantly for work.
  5. Some are avalanched with calls, customers, and contracts.

You get the idea.

Someplace Quiet

  1. “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place.” Luke 4:42
  2. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:16

He needed solitude to commune with his Father, because every day Jesus served the needs of others. But he always found a few minutes for himself.

I know

He didn’t have lunches to pack, or kids to get out the door, or rush hour traffic. There wasn’t  laundry to do or bathrooms to clean. He didn’t have events to attend. He didn’t cook for a family or wash the dishes.

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Sometimes we just have to do what’s needed most.

However, Jesus had his own kind of busy, with endless demands on his time, energy, and resources. Who among us would trade our life for his?

To Close

Be encouraged to be the best you can be. Find a minute to restore yourself. Listen to scripture while driving. Listen to uplifting praise music. Offer brief prayers throughout the day.

Connect with God, you’ll be glad you did.

A Thundering Menace

The storm kept me awake Monday night.

The Peals

It wasn’t the lightning or the rain, but the peals of thunder. It wasn’t booming over my house, but was distant, like a symphony of rumbling energy. As one peal ended then another started. As if God was conducting with divine inspiration.

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Things About Thunder

  • Can be scary
  • Can happen any time
  • Can warn of a coming storm
  • Can disturb your sleep
  • Can disturb your sleep all night

Sometimes the storm passes quickly, and sometimes not. Sometimes it parks over your neighborhood and hangs around like an uninvited guest.

Some Thundering Thoughts

  • We can’t control it
  • We can’t stop it
  • There is no volume control
  • Like it not, it happens
  • Ear plugs are ineffective

I Don’t Get It

What’s the point of it? I understand lightning, but not thunder. Sure, there’s all kinds of science to explain the physics, the electrically charged particles, and the sonic reverberations. But on a sleepless night, at 2:30 in the morning, who cares about science? What am I missing?

Maybe Job Can Explain It

“Behold, these are the fringes of His ways; and how faint a word we hear of Him! But his mighty thunder, who can understand?” (26:14)

“Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds, the thundering of His pavilion?” (36:29) 

“After it, a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice, and He does not restrain the lightings when His voice is heard. God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannot comprehend.” (37:4-5) 

To Close

Apparently, not even Job understood the thunder, but he knew where it came from.

Perhaps the thunder speaks of larger forces, of higher powers, and of divine things.  Once the thunder passes it leaves us with the sense of having been in the presence of God. That we exist within in his glory.

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It all points to Him!

Shalom

That’s Why We Praise Him

Great Expectations: not the Dickens novel, but the perspective of people of faith.

Some amazing places I’ve visited:

  1. The Grand Canyon
  2. The Great Wall of China
  3. The Mountain ranges of Alaska/Western Canada
  4. The view from the Empire State building’s observation deck
  5. The Statue of Liberty
  6. Jerusalem, London, Beijing, New York 
  7. The Temple Mt. and the Garden of Gethsemane
  8. The oceans

Some I saw as a child, and some I’ve seen since. But all were places intentionally visited, with eager enthusiasm, and with great expectation.

The Final Expectation

I’ve seen wondrous things and visited magnificent places. But there is still one place on my list. It’s the place I’ve wanted to see most, but haven’t gotten there yet.

I want to see Heaven.

What Paul Said

To encourage those who were struggling, Paul wrote this:

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with the Lord forever.”

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I Can Only Imagine

No pain. No hardship or heartaches. No disease, sickness or suffering. No abuse or cruelty.  No hate, malice, or war. No greed. No oppression or poverty. No sadness. No mental illness. No more struggle. No more death.

No more.

It’s Why We Praise Him: From Psalm 145

I exalt You, my God the King,
and praise Your name forever and ever.

I will praise You every day;
I will honor Your name forever and ever.

Yahweh is great and is highly praised;
His greatness is unsearchable.

In Closing

Worship is more than liturgies. Its more than reciting rote prayers and mumbling ancient hymns. It’s the expression of our minds and hearts and comes right out of soul. It’s our gift to God, the gift of honor and exaltation. 

That’s why we praise him, that’s why we sing.

Shalom

The Blog of Solitude, Part 2

My last post was, “The Blog of Solitude,” Part 1. Click the link if you’d like to read it.

The Blog of Solitude

Part 2: Addicted to Distraction

When I was 14, I worked all summer at a Christian Bible Camp. The counselors were college age or older and everyone else working there was just older. 

It was almost perfect. The exception was that my room was isolated and I was its only occupant. At first, it was cool to bunk alone, but it began to wear me down. I didn’t like being alone, wasn’t used to the solitude. 

Solitude

Sometimes we crave empty spaces. When stressed by people, projects and problems, we escape to someplace devoid of the three P’s. 

Sometimes we crave crowded spaces. When stressed by the absence of companionship, contact, and company, we escape to someplace filled with the three C’s.

Still, solitude tends to make us uncomfortable.

Spiritually

There is an idea that, “A Closer Walk With Thee,” is best found through solitude. That the desire to be closer to God gets blocked by our crowded existence, by people, noise, and distraction.

Some say we live in a culture of distraction, that we crave the sounds, voices, and images of everything else and of everyone else.  

We have TV’s and smart phones and tablets and computers, and keep them all online all of the time. What have we become? Are we addicts and junkies? Are we constantly craving a fix?

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Is It A Global Conspiracy? 

Those who push the drug of distraction are excellent marketeers. They convince us that personal fulfillment can only be realized by an ever invasive technology that populates our homes and preoccupies our minds.

So Where Is God?

Where is God in this culture of noise and preocupation?  When does his voice get heard? 

Does quiet solitude still exist? Do our addictions keep us from knowing ourselves? Are we afraid to see who we are, of what we’ve become? 

Answer this question:

       “Are you hearing the voice of God as much and as often as you need to?”

To Close

At some point, I had to admit that I didn’t like being alone in the room, and that I needed to do something to make it better. 

Are there other things that we need to make better? 

….to be continued. 

Shalom

A David & Goliath Thing?

Great game last night. Clemson prevailed 35-31.

A Competitive Contest

  1. Alabama was favored to win.
  2. Clemson scored three TD’s in the 4th quarter.
  3. It was competitive to the last second of the game.

Some Observations

  1. Alabama seemed to be the better team: faster, larger, and stronger.
  2. But they made some key mistakes.
  3. Still, it felt like Alabama would win, until the last 2:00 minutes.

It was a come from behind victory. Another example of don’t give up, don’t give out, and don’t give in. Clemson just refused to lose. 

An Unlikely Player

The winning touchdown came with only 6 seconds on the clock. It was a two-yard pass play from Clemson’s QB to the smallest player on the field, a kid named Hunter Renfrow.

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Lots of people told Hunter that he would never play Division 1 football, that he shouldn’t get his hopes up. He was a walk-on player, just 5’10” and 155 pounds. But his family believed. His Dad, a HS football coach in South Carolina, endlessly encouraged his son. His mom threw hundreds and hundreds of passes to him in their back yard. He made the team, with a full scholarship.

He wasn’t big enough, strong enough, or fast enough. The college scouts didn’t notice him. But last night, with multiple millions watching, he scored the touchdown that crowned his team National Champions.

He was David and Alabama was Goliath. David won.

To Close

David was an unlikely hero. He was too small, too young, and wasn’t even a soldier. It was absurd for him to fight the giant, but he did.

David knew something Goliath didn’t, that some battles are fought by God, and size, strength, and weapons won’t make a difference. A huge sword over a small stone? Really?

When the Lord does the fighting, nothing else matters.

Shalom

Hanging A Shower Rod

“The right tool for the right job.” My Dad said it a thousand times.

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A Tool Guy

He was a tool guy. He could repair cars, lawnmowers, and airplanes. If it had a motor, he could fix it. He could build, assemble, and make just about anything. He had more tools than anyone I knew, and yet he was always buying more. His motto, “The right tool for the right job.”

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Here’s What Happened

Yesterday evening my wife and I installed a shower rod in the guest bathroom. The challenge was drilling through the wall tile. Drilling ceramic tile made me nervous, I had never done it. We watched a you-tube video, then got busy.

It Didn’t Work

I, of course, ignored the advice, as well as my Dad’s tool motto. I attempted to drill the smooth, slippery tile with a standard drill bit. Nope, it didn’t work. The bit kept sliding off point and didn’t make a dent.  

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Not Me Or My Tool, But Close

What I Needed

What I needed was a bit with a hardened tip designed for tile. It cost a little more, but it made all the difference. We had four holes to drill and the new bit worked perfectly. With my wife’s help we had the shower curtain up in no time. Sweet.

The right tool for the right job. Uh huh.

A Life Lesson

Actually, nobody needs a drill bit. What they really need is a hole. Which sounds odd because a hole is nothing, it’s the absence of something. I went to a big box store, spoke to a guy, and paid money for a tool so I could go home and create nothing. Hmmm.

The Romans Used Tools

The Romans built roads, aqueducts, fortresses, and impressive buildings in great cities. They knew about tools. They used tools to torture and execute their enemies and criminals. They didn’t invent the scourge, they just added pieces of glass and bits of sharp metal. They didn’t invent the cross, but made crucifixion an art form. They made it hurt more and last longer. The Romans were good with tools.

The right tool for the right job.

To Close

I like tools, but I’m not very good with them. I try to honor my Dad’s heritage of self-reliance, that a good man maintains and repairs his equipment. I do what I can.

Good tools create, build, repair and make our lives better.

I’m sorry Jesus had to experience the other kind. But he did.

Just a thought.

Shalom

Healing In Hard Times, Pt 2

Good morning Holy Spirit. Thank you for the time off yesterday. Now please bless us as we resume whatever it is we’ll be doing today.

Right after the resurrection of Jesus, several of the disciples left Jerusalem and went home to Galilee. Why? Maybe they were grieving the future they believed was torn from them. Perhaps they were feeling unsettled. Maybe they needed something to focus on while they processed their Messiah’s death?

John Recorded This:

John 21:3, “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you…”

Struggling With Loss

When people grieve the loss of a family member, close friend, or loved one, a challenge they face is getting through the days and nights. The pain of loss makes the days feel like weeks and the weeks like months. Time seems to stand still. When it does, the grieving magnifies. With nothing to do and nothing but time to do it with, the daily experience of grief can be brutal, and interminable.

Let’s Go Fishing

My encouragement is to take a page from the disciples. Find something to do, something you enjoy, perhaps even challenging or new.

My encouragement is to find something that helps manage the pain. Peter and the disciples didn’t understand why Jesus died, at least not at that point. They were hurting and they were grieving over Judas, the crucifixion, the denials, and the abandoning of their Rabbi. Jesus had resurrected, but they didn’t understand.

They had two choices: (1) To sit around feeling sad and sorry for themselves, slowly sinking into depression. Or (2) To get up and do something productive, expend some energy; get through the days by having something else to think about. The 2nd choice wouldn’t eliminate their grief, just help them cope with it.

A Few Suggestions

If you are grieving and have too much empty time then consider:

  1. Volunteering at a local shelter, food bank, or lunch program; helping someone who may be in worse circumstances than you.
  2. Get involved with a ministry at your church. Help with something. Become a greeter. Greeters have to be warm and friendly, it will do you good.
  3. Start a project. Plant a garden. Paint a room. Do something needing to be done.
  4. Be creative. Paint a picture, redecorate a room, write a poem, or start attending concerts, plays, and musicals.
  5. Get fit. Start walking. Swim a lap or two. Drop some weight if you can. Follow your Doctors orders regarding your medical care, but as you are able, get in better shape.

Here’s The Thing

The thing is, all these require two essential elements:

  1. The will to get up and go fishing, or something!
  2. The energy to make it happen.

It can be hard to get up, to get out of bed, and be productive. But if you will then you can engage your mind, heart, and body in something worthwhile, and it will help you. It’s not a magical pill to dissolve your grief, but it will help.

To Close

“Let’s go fishing,” Peter said. They weren’t fly fishing in the Colorado Mountains. They were casting their nets; they were working and being productive. It’s what they could do.

Fly fishing sounds pretty good too.

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God Bless You

Shalom