Friday, January 28, 2011

God And

I know I did a recent post about idols but I can't get this out of my head lately...

For most of us, without even realizing it, we worship God and _____ or think we need God and ______. What comes after and for you?

The disciples left job security/income, homes, wives and children, knowing when their next meal would come.

Abraham came within moments of KILLING the son he had waited for decades to receive to ensure that God truly came first.

And we won't even go into how much Jesus had to sacrifice. We forget sometimes He was fully human when He went through everything He went through.

I think in this country it is difficult for us to really love and trust God because we'll never know what it means to rely on Him. We have the ability to earn or borrow our way to anything we could ever want. When we're not happy we just change something. Change churches, change jobs, change relationships, change locations.

Follow Me.

“Okay, God, I just need to finish out the week to make sure I can pay this bill.”

“Well, that sounds exciting God but can you promise to pay me as much as I make now?”

“Ok God! Yes, let’s go! In fact, I’ll even take a huge pay cut to follow you! Oh, nothing? Well you can’t expect me to follow you for nothing. That’s not how this world works. This isn’t heaven yet!”

“Is there a retirement plan for following you, God? I really want to serve you but it’s smart to get my future figured out! I can’t just go off the deep end and think that you’ll provide for me in other ways.”

“I can’t do that! I need to be relevant. I don’t want to look legalistic. I don’t want to look weird. I need to be able to reach people!”

“Oh, I gave my children to God a long time ago. I love them dearly but I know God comes first. What? Our home and land? Well, we worked hard for it! That's ours to keep!"

“Oh, I clip coupons and shop garage sales and thrift stores! I don't need that designer stuff. Move away from my grandchildren? No, I don’t really think that’s fair to bring up. They need me and I help out a lot.”

"Well, aren't you coming God? I'm going over here now to serve you! You just adjust your plans for me around where I choose to go right? Oh. I guess I didn't really ask you. But this is what I want."

“Oh we’ve really been working on this lately! We’re giving away more money, we’re cutting back, we’re scaling down. A stranger? We can't have a stranger living with us. Eh, that’s not for our family. We need our space. Plus, you can’t trust people these days."

"You STILL want me here? I'm kind of bored. It's become mundane. When do I get to be the missionary?"

"I really have learned you don't need much in life. I am more about people than stuff. I want to show Christ's love. My ex-wife? No, I've moved on from that. I'm all about the here and now. The current people in my life. The past is the past."

"I'm the pastor of the church! We have ministries to keep up with and people to serve. We're already established. I don't understand. Why are you asking me to leave?"

“Oh, okay, I think I could do that just let me run home and get one more kiss from my husband/wife.”

“God what do you expect from me? I’ve struggled my whole life to provide for my family. We haven’t had a vacation in years, we’re always at church, nobody is doing drugs, I don’t beat my wife, we’ve figured out how to keep my wife home and home school the kids all off my income. Now you’re asking for something else?”

"Them? I don't associate with those people. Can't I just keep loving my wife and kids and leave it at that? I've been a good leader."

“Right now? Well let me call my daughter and talk to her one more time!”

“But God, look at all these people I’m leaving that need to be witnessed to right here. This is where I wanted to be used by you.”

“Can you give me until 6:30pm? I need to swing by and pick up my son from daycare and drop him off at my mom’s.”

"Sell everything... that was just for that one guy in the bible, right?"

“I… I don’t know if I really want to do that God. I mean, I talk to you 3 times a day and I think we have a pretty good relationship. I am nice to the people around me. I have even talked to them about you and given out a few bibles. But you can’t expect everyone to LITERALLY follow you. That’s just for certain people.”

“That is so awesome my husband and I have been talking about traveling with our boys and getting them out in the world and serving… Uh, I don’t understand. My ministry is my family. You want me to come alone?”

“I am totally up for this. Yes. Let’s go. Let me just tell my boss so hopefully I don’t get fired.”

“Okay, let’s go! Wait, following you means stay here? With them? I am really done with this place God. They don’t treat me well. I am ready to serve you somewhere else! Let’s go! I’ll go anywhere! No, I can’t stay here. I am miserable. Doesn’t the bible say something about making me happy?”

“Yes, God! I have been waiting for this moment! Let me go get my fiance and we will meet you by the gas station! Oh… what? You want me to come alone? But we’re just getting started. We have big plans together.”

“Yes, I always wanted a real adventure with God! And then when we come back I’ll be able to show you to all my friends! Wait, we’re not coming back? What about all my hobbies that take up all my time but I try to make them about you so I feel better about it? I get back to those at some point, right? I mean, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to turn things I enjoy into serving you. I can't COMPLETELY follow you and give up all that.”

“I mean, I would totally be up for it. But I don’t think I can live THERE forever. What about somewhere else? You know I’m more of a mountains kind of person.”

“Well, wait a minute. Doesn’t following you mean I have to stop having sex with my boyfriend? I’ve heard that. I don’t really see why it’s wrong, but I guess it does make me squirm thinking about doing that with you around.”

“Awesome! Where is the limo?”

“God I would be miserable doing that. I know you only call me to do things that make me happy, so that must be for someone else. Remember, this is what I need to change in order to follow you. I have been talking to you about these things a lot lately so I know you’re going to change them really soon. You wouldn’t ask me to suffer. ”

“Well where are we going? Where are we going to stay? What will we eat? I mean, let me see this plan of yours before I go signing up for anything. Planning is the smart thing to do!”

“I can’t go there. Those people are weird. They eat weird stuff. You put me in America for a reason.”

“You want me to go where? That’s right down the street. Those people should be helping themselves. They’re a bunch of freeloaders. The bible says to work hard.”

“God, I can’t follow you until I finish my degree. You know I can’t make it in much of anything without a degree.”

“I will follow you if we go to somewhere cool and trendy that is in the news. But you said something about… Canada?! That really doesn’t make for a good story later, God. Let me know when another offer comes along.”

God And…

We all have hang ups in this world. Some of these are definitely mine. I don't know which ones you relate to. Some of them even seem well intentioned. Some people will say this is too extreme. What are you not willing to give up?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Exercise – Obsession, Dirty Word, or Moderation

My last blog post was about idols and the first two on the list were “good health” and “physical appearance”. See that blog post if you want some insight as to how to know if you have made these things an idol.

Also before I start, some (not all) pictures I included *should* be linked to other blog posts about exercise. They are not mine and I haven't read them fully to make sure they're not crazy, but they could provide more resources for you!

Next, here is my confession: I really struggle to exercise regularly, and this struggle comes from my lack of self-discipline! A few things have happened over the last 5-6 years:
1) I graduated from high school where I was constantly involved in at least one and often multiple sports that kept me active. I didn’t even have to think about exercising because there were practices, sometimes mandatory time in the weight room, and then obviously the games. I never fully jumped on the gym bandwagon in college.
2) I hate, hate, HATE, how many girls and women in our country have body image issues! I saw how many people were getting sucked into exercise, counting calories, eating disorders as a means of control and to make themselves feel better and it really made me sad. So what did I do? Made sure I did the exact opposite, which is almost never the way to handle a situation, I have to say. I think there is a time and place for extreme measures, especially when we know our weaknesses. (I think I will do a post later about “personal legalism”.) But so often we react to things by hopping clear across the spectrum to the other extreme when that isn’t necessary or even productive.
3) I join in with the rest of the world in trying to convince myself, “There’s no time!” This is a lie. We make plenty of time for other activities that are not necessary. I do not always manage my time well and do not choose the activities that matter over the ones that are more fun or convenient.
4) I am lazy. ‘Nuff said.
So there is my struggle in a nutshell. Up until recently, I have chosen to not spend the time and energy it would take to start working through this area in my life.

I will now insert a disclaimer:
1) I know I am skinny. (People who are overweight are judged so openly that it is just accepted and “funny” and they are assumed to be lazy. People who are thin are also judged and not taken seriously and despised… None of these are biblical attitudes. Just food for thought.)
2) I know I may not struggle with the same exact things that you do.

But I also know a few more things:
1) We tend to dismiss advice when it comes from someone who isn’t exactly like us or hasn’t had the same experiences. Prov 1:5 says, “let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance”
2) Physical training is valuable to God. 1 Tim 4:8 says, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Physical training is in fact of some value for many reasons but it is not the most important thing and should not be made an idol.
3) The First Lady launched a campaign to decrease obesity for a reason… it is a problem in our country!
4) My husband and I have just recently discussed how technology and our overall attitude of get more results for less work has slowly affected our society. I will be the first to stand up and say I love technology and my dishwasher, but really, we are a bunch of lazy, unmotivated, undisciplined, selfish individuals! Seriously. I say that in love. Who wants to be those things? Prov. 14:23 says, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

And here is a list of reasons to exercise from the Mayo Clinic website. They can be found with more details about each one here.
1) Exercise improves your mood. (see website for details) My cousin, Jena, over at Life is Beachy Keen often mentions how her evening runs help her recover from a stressful day at work.
2) Exercise combats chronic diseases. (see website for details)
3) Exercise helps you manage your weight. (see website for details)
4) Exercise boosts your energy level. (see website for details)
5) Exercise promotes better sleep. (see website for details)
6) Exercise can put the spark back in your sex life. (see website for details… at your own risk!)
7) Exercise can be – gasp – fun!

I think everyone can find at least one thing on that list that they could benefit from.

I alternate between trips to our apartment complex gym and doing these YouTube videos from home. I am attempting to work out at least 3 days a week for 30-60 minutes. I recommend these videos because they leave me little room for excuses. Even with the apartment gym sometimes I have to traipse through the snow to get over there. There’s my excuse! With these videos, I can do one in between loads of laundry right in my home. Everyone has what works best for them and yours may not be YouTube videos. All I’m sayin’ is find what works for you instead of finding excuses!

Like I pointed out at the beginning, I have really struggled in this area in my very recent past. However, I would go so far as to say it is a sin to not care for the bodies God has entrusted to us for this short period of time (compared to eternity). When something is a part of God’s will for us and/or His commands to all of us, I believe that is when we apply this verse:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13

I want to take care of the body God has given me, I want to look good for my husband, and I want to have more energy to do my other tasks well throughout the day and get more done! If my motivation is to please God and make His priorities my priorities, I fully believe He will give me everything I need to accomplish what I set out to accomplish. I do NOT think this verse means I can expect God to help me do anything my selfish motives cause me to pursue. I may achieve them, but outside of God's will. Different post, different time! :o) I just hate when that verse is abused!

I am hoping to discuss discipline and time management in upcoming posts so check back in for some encouragement and especially to hold me accountable!

I am linking up to Living Well Wednesdays!