Friday, August 31, 2012

"9 Minutes to Fit" Strikes Again

Working with my new 9-minute strategy again this morning but, instead of using 12 exercises, I went with 4 exercises and repeating each of them three times. In each case I would do the exercise for 18 seconds, then rest for 27 seconds and then repeat.

Soooo, after the warm-up the workout went like this:

--Barbell Squats (3 18-second sets of squats with 27 seconds of rest between sets)
--Bench Press (same sequence as above)
--Cross-body Mountain Climbers (same sequence as above)
--Dumbbell Overhead Presses (same sequence as above.

That was it. Took exactly 9 minutes (not including the warm-up). On with the day!

A Little Deception Goes a Long Way

Scripture Passage that Caught my attention today: Ezekiel 14:9-11 If a prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the LORD, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. 10 And they shall bear their punishment—the punishment of the inquirer and the punishment of the prophet shall be the same— 11 so that the house of Israel may no longer go astray from me, nor defile themselves any more with all their transgressions. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God, says the Lord GOD.

Observation: It seems a little unfair for some ‘prophets’ to be deceived by none other than the Lord. Yet the driving force of all the works of God is that we would be God’s people and God would be our God.

Application: I was listening to a little talk on persuasion the other day and the speaker was pointing out that, because the power of persuasion is, well, persuasive, it should only be used to persuade people to participate in things that are really for their own good. He was saying that only an unscrupulous person would use such powers and techniques in an unethical way.

While that sounded all well and good on the surface, I couldn’t help but realize that the speaker did not seem to be aware of the power of human sin. He didn’t seem to have a grasp of the fact that we all have a sinful nature that is persuasive in its own right, able to delude us into thinking that what we are doing or attempting to do is good when, in fact, it might be just the opposite. It’s a dangerous thing when we begin to think that we know what is best for everyone else. Perhaps we can become so deluded in our thinking that, as is described by Ezekiel in verse 9, the Lord actually adds to our delusion by deceiving us even a little more!

At the end of the day it is most certainly better to simply know God and to see oneself in relation to God rather than any other way.

Prayer: Lord, help us not to be deceived in our own thinking but, rather, to get more acquainted with your way of thinking. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Ezekiel 12-14 and Revelation 5)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lifted Up

Scripture Passages that caught my attention today: Ezekiel 4:10 You shall fall by the sword; I will judge you at the border of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD. AND Revelation 4:9-11 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,
11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”

Observation: One of God’s earnest desires is that we know God

Bette Middler, I think, sang a song with the line “you are the wind beneath my wings.” The song itself is normally interpreted to be about a person. A parent perhaps, a significant other, or some other person who has been a constant source of support throughout one’s life.

But Scripture speaks of a deeper level of support, a deeper level of lift, if you will. Scripture, in the end, is not ultimately about battles or humanity gone awry or divine punishment. The Scripture strive for humanity to know the identity of the one who offers this ultimate level of support. In short: the Lord.

I know. It’s simple, basic and, for many, nothing new. It’s hardly “breaking news.” Or is it?

There was a mighty long stretch of time between the writings of Ezekiel and the writings of Revelation. Yet God saw fit to continue to offer the reminders of who is behind this grand world in which we live. And as we go about making our plans for the day, however noble and determined and such, they are also feeble. A hurricane, an argument, an accident, an illness or any number of other events can change our to-do list in a hurry and leave us scrambling to re-establish our priorities.

Such scrambling wouldn’t be so necessary if our priorities were in line to begin with and we truly “knew” the one who truly knows us.

Prayer: Lord, help us to grow to know you more and more and to focus on ourselves less and less. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Ezekiel 8-11 and Revelation 4)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Change-of-Pace Workout

I'm fasting today. Not for religious reasons but by the instruction of my doctor. It's time for my yearly physical and today I need to get some blood drawn for the related lab work. It's a 12-hour fast and I've just got a couple hours to go.

Still, that provided a little dilemma related to exercise. I wasn't sure I wanted to to all-out in terms of a work-out without my normal opportunity for breakfast.

Since yesterday's interval running went so well (18 seconds of sprinting at 3/4 speed followed by 27 seconds of rest), I decided to try that approach to resistance training.

So, I did each of the following exercises for 18 seconds with 27 seconds of rest before beginning the next exercise. It took 9 minutes and was really rather fun. If I were to do it again I might do the whole thing twice, but opted to stick with just one time through today, which was still a great workout.

Here's the exercise list that was begun after my warm-up:

--Vertical Jumps with knee-ups
--chin-ups with knee-ups
--Front barbell squats
--Spiderman pushups
--Pikes with feet on skateboard
--dumbbell inverted rows
--kettle-bell swings (using dumbbell)
--1-leg stability-ball curls
--Dumbbell Overhead Presses
--1-leg planks
--turkish get-ups.

That was it. I simply did each exercise for 18 seconds and then rested for 27 seconds before beginning the next exercise. My gymboss timer eliminated the need to pay attention to any watch and allowed me to simply listen for the next beep.

Have a great day!

Knock, Knock

Scripture passage that caught my attention today: Revelation 3:17-19 For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.

Observation: First, these verses stand well on their own. Second, these verses immediately precede one of the Bible’s more famous verses. Revelation 3:20 states, “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.”

Application: It’s always a concern when someone says something to the affect of, “I don’t need anyone or anything.” Such people might think they are being completely sincere, but nothing could ever be further from the truth. All of us, at some level, have needs—for companionship, sustenance, and the ability to truly stand tall (not by our own efforts, but with the help of the One who is really able to help us stand).

When Jesus says that he is standing at the door knocking, he does so on the heels and/or in response of/to those of us who somewhat stubbornly insist that we don’t need any help. And in our proclamation of self-sufficiency we reveal the very depth of our weakness. It’s like broccoli in our teeth--obvious to almost everybody around us but hard to see for ourselves without a mirror.

When Jesus knocks he kindly offers both the mirror (so we can see ourselves for who we really are) and his presence (so that we can see how much we are really loved and valued). He also offers a meal—a truly satisfying meal.

Lord, thanks for your persistent knocking. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Ezekiel 4-7 and Revelation 3)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Today's Lunch/Supper

This was easy, delicious, and healthy.

In the electric skillet I added:

2 T cooking oil
-wedge of cabbage
-4 cauliflower florets
-1 medium green pepper
-1 medium sweet red pepper and,
-1 jalapeno pepper

I sauteed that mixture until almost done and then stirred in:
-4 roma tomatoes
-a helping of homemade shredded turkey

I mixed that all together nicely, let it cool, and put it in a container for today's meals at church. Lots of natural flavor that blended together quite well.


Just 9 minutes to a Better You

Most of the time I only work out 3 days a week. In those workouts I use some combination of body-weight and other forms of resistance training in a fast-paced fashion that, as they say, kills two birds with one stone (muscle building/toning and cardio training all in one).

But sometimes on the day between workouts I'll do some from of interval training as well. Such was the case today after dropping off our son for Show Choir practice before school.

I simply stopped off at the high school/college track and did the following workout:

First, as always, a warm-up routine made up of simple bodyweight exercises such as prisoner squats, leg raises, lunges, pushups, planks, stickups, waiter's bows, etc.

Then I adjusted my gymboss timer to 18 seconds and 27 seconds respectively. The timer beeps after each of those intervals, meaning it first beeps after 18 seconds, then after 27 seconds and then repeats the process.

So, I simply ran at 3/4 speed on the track for 18 seconds, walked for 27 seconds and then ran for 18 seconds and walked for 27 seconds, etc. I did 12 rounds (the first round was at 1/2 speed).

As it turned out, every 3 rounds equaled about one lap around the track. So I basically ran 1 mile, plus a one-lap walk at the end to cool down. And the actual workout was--get this--only 9 minutes!

Yep, 12 multiplied by 45 seconds (18 second run and 27 second rest) equals just nine minutes.

Even if you alternate walking fast and walking slow instead of running and walking, you can have a great workout with minimal time investment.

Listen instead of clamoring for control

Scripture Verse that caught my attention today: Revelation 2:7 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.

Observation: Several of these letters to the churches in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation end with some sort of reference earlier Scriptural stories. For example, the verse above refers back to the tree of life from which the man and the woman in Genesis 3 were banned. Another verse refers to manna, drawing quick comparisons to the manna that God used to feed the Israelites in the wilderness.

Application: It seems that our God is a full-circle God. God seems to long for the day when humanity will live in light of God’s promises of old. It hasn’t happened yet. It is so very hard for us to totally trust God with our lives. Our own insecurities tend to fuel a futile clamoring for control. Sometimes we actually delude ourselves into thinking that we have achieved such a position. Over time we discover that such is not the case.

And that, by the way, is actually a good thing! It is good for us to regularly be confronted with the fact that we may have influence, but we do not have control. God is the great permission-giver, the only one with the authority to offer sustenance from the tree of life or otherwise provide the bread our soul needs for our journey. If only we will listen to what the Spirit is saying…

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your patience with us. Help us to live our lives with more and more trust in you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Ezekiel 1-3 and Revelation 2)

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of School Workout

Today was the first day of school for our kids. Down from 3 to 2 in school now as the oldest prepares to head off for college in a few weeks. After taking the obligatory first-day-of-school picture, I wished them well, waved good-bye, and then headed to the basement for the following workout. Twas a good one!

Started off, as always, with one round of the following warm-up:
--Prisoner squats
--leg swings
--walking lunges
--close-grip push-ups
--waiter bows
--dumbbell dead-lift to overhead-press combo.

Okay, then on to the main event...

Set 1:
--chin-ups (underhand grip) with knee-ups (10 on first series, 8 on second)
--Barbell squats (25 reps at #100)
--Bench-press (25 reps at #100 on first series, 20 reps on second round)
rest 1 minute, then repeat set

Set 2:
--Dumbbell step-ups (10 reps/leg while holding 2-#25 dumbbells)
--Bent-over inverted rows with #25 dumbbells (15 reps)
rest 1 minute, repeat set

Set 3:
--Plank sequence (30-second plank followed by side-planks with leg raises). For the side planks I usually do 15 leg raises and then hold a side plank for an additional 15 seconds/side.
--1-leg stability-ball curls (15/leg)
rest 30 seconds, repeat.

Set 4:
--Ab-wheel roll-outs (10)
rest 30 seconds, repeat.

Done and breathing hard and sweaty! Great way to start the day!

"Always is Forever"

Scripture Verse that Caught My Attention Today: Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Observation: Revelation presents our God as much more than a “has been.” Rather, our God is an “always.”

Application: One of the unique aspects of Christianity is the simultaneous past, present, and future nature of God. We can look back to what God has done, we can look forward to what God will do, and we can take note of what God is presently doing. To the best of my knowledge this is quite unique among the world’s religions.

This three-fold nature of God can be seen in the life and proclamation of the church as a whole and it can also be seen in the lives of the individual members of the body of Christ. I can look back over my life and give thanks for what God has done, take heed of God is doing, and look forward to what God has yet to do.

In a world where leaders and purported role-models change like the wind, this is quite reassuring good news.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for your steady presence and work throughout the life of the church and the lives of your people. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Jeremiah 52, Psalm 143-144, and Revelation 1)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Today's Workout

Warm-up followed by:

Set 1:
-Pull-ups (10)
-Vertical Jumps with Knee-ups (10)
-Bench Press (25 reps of 100# on 1st round, 13 reps on second round)
Rest 30 seconds. Repeat.

Set 2:
-Bulgarian Split Squats
-Cross-body Mountain-climbers
rest 30 seconds, repeat.

Set 3:
-Bent-over Dumbbell Rows (15 reps with 25# dumbbells)
-Turkish Get-ups (5 reps/side with 20# dumbbell 1st time and 15# dumbbell 2nd time)
rest 30 seconds, repeat.


Beyond Desolation

Scripture Verse that Caught my attention today: Jeremiah 33:12 Thus says the LORD of hosts: In this place that is waste, without human beings or animals, and in all its towns there shall again be pasture for shepherds resting their flocks.

Observation: A word of hope in a time of despair.

Application: Desolation is still, in the greater scheme of things, temporary. It may come in a flurry with great pomp and circumstance to wreak havoc on vast stretches of land, sea, or soul, but then it disappears as fast as it came and, over time, new life arises again—even in and around the scars. From a distance one might not be able to tell that there was any time of pain, though those with a closer view know better.

Jeremiah, with God’s prompting, is onto something here. Grass can find the light of day and authentic hope can find the light of Christ in surprisingly desolate circumstances. Perhaps that’s all we need to know.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for your reminders that in you hope can always be found. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings included: Jeremiah 33-34, Psalm 74, and 1 John 5)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Love Thing: It's Complicated.

Scripture Passage that Caught My Attention today: 1 John 4:19-21 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

These are often-forgotten/often-ignored Bible verses.

Application: What would it take to get us to love one another as much as we say that we love God?

Truth be told, those of us who claim to love God and yet do not really love our neighbors are really living and proclaiming a lie. We can’t do one without the other. It’s not possible. We’d have a better shot a laying an egg.

Still, for some reason we are often undeterred—deluded in our thinking that loving God is necessary and loving others is optional.

Interestingly enough, people of no faith sometimes take the opposite approach. They sometimes do love their neighbors as themselves but find it a stretch to love a God who would allow the people they love to be in such dire straights.

The grace with which verse 19 makes clear is the only hope at the end of the day. We love because God first loved us. If we are really able to love our neighbors as ourselves, it is only because somehow or another we have been filled with more love than we can possibly keep to ourselves. It just oozes out. Christians believe this oozing is because God never stops pouring.

If that’s the case, some might argue that the world would be better served if God quit overflowing some people with love in favor of sprinkling this love more evenly over a larger crowd.


Then again, maybe that’s our job.

Lord, please keep pouring your love upon us and move us to be more and more able to share it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Jeremiah 31-32 and 1 John 4)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Plans? What Plans?

Scripture Passage that caught my attention today: Jeremiah 29:4-7 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Observation: These verses (along with a note in verse 10 that it will be 70 years before the Lord comes to rescue them) precede the much more popular Jeremiah 29:11 “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Application: Americans, myself naturally included, are sometimes so self-centered and narrowly focused in how we read Scriptures. I’ve probably heard Jeremiah 29:11 quoted 100+ times in various contexts. People read and quote that verse as such a promise of how much God is involved in their lives and how much good is before them. “Fiddle-sticks” as my dad would say. That’s not true…or at least not an accurate understanding of the context of the verse. These people are in exile. And they are going to remain in exile for the foreseeable future. For most of them there will be no coming back. There past life is, well, past. What they remember will, for all intensive purposes, only be experienced again through memory. Yes, there are plans…very good plans…but they are very long-range plans. There’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge until then and, in fact, they will likely be caught up in the current and long gone by the time “then” comes.

So now what?

Jeremiah puts it this way: Build. Live. Plant. Eat. Marry. Multiply. Do not decrease. Seek the common good for this God-forsaken place and people. Pray for their well-being and, in so doing, find your own well-being.

Basically, Jeremiah tells them to grow where they have been un-ceremonially transplanted, even though it was against their will!

So those were really God’s plans. God planned for them to get busy with life where they were and not to spend inordinate amounts of energy (or even any energy) looking back.

Centuries later Jesus once said that no one who puts hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. The gift of God is before us. Not as in “way” before us but as in “right” before us. To put it in Jesus’ terms again, “the kingdom of God is at hand.” It just might not look exactly like God’s kingdom because we don’t always recognize God’s kingdom even when it’s right before our very eyes.

Lord, help us to embrace the opportunities before us even now rather than to place all our eggs in some future basket of opportunity whose time has not yet come. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Jeremiah 28-30 and 1 John 3)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Faith and the Worry Meter

Scripture Verse that Caught my attention today: Psalm 11:1 In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to me,
“Flee like a bird to the mountains;

Observation: Good question.

There are times when faith is truly put to the test. One of the easiest ways to test our faith is consider our own personal worry meter. Most of us have one of these instruments lodged deep within our being. And most of us do worry on occasion. Some of us even have a chronic condition of worry that, seemingly, can’t be helped. But whoever we are, we pretty much know, at any given time, how high our feelings are registering on our worry meter.

Generally speaking, the more we trust in God, the lower our worry meter readings. The less we trust in God (and, by contrast, the more we trust in ourselves and/or human achievement,) the higher our worry meter readings. Part of the reason for this is that when we trust in God, we are trusting is the one who sees our life in light of two stages—earthly and heavenly. By contrast, when we trust in ourselves and/or human achievement, we are dealing with only our earthly life which could, in certain circumstances be in dire straights and give us every reason to worry.

So the Psalmist gets it right...having God as our refuge has an affect on how we face life’s challenges. It doesn’t mean they will be easy or even that we will necessarily conquer them. But we can face them head-on knowing full well that we do not do so alone.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for the reminder from people of old to keep all things in perspective in the light of you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Jeremiah 21, 24, and 27, Psalm 11, and 1 John 2)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Today's Post-Reunion Workout

Hosted a wonderful family reunion yesterday. My sister made our mom's brownie recipe. And how many brownies did I eat? I believe the number was 6, though maybe it was 7. Which meant the following workout was especially important! :)

Warm-up followed by:

Set 1:
--Chin-ups (underhand grip) with knee-ups
--Barbell combo move of standing snatch, front squat & overhead press
rest 30 seconds, repeat set

Set 2:
--bulgarian split squats (1 1/2 reps per rep)
--Spiderman push-ups
rest 30 seconds, repeat set

Set 3:
--bent-over dumbell rows
--cross-body mountain climbers
rest 30 seconds, repeat set

Set 4:
--side planks with leg-raises
rest 30 seconds, repeat set.



Scripture Verse that caught my attention today: 1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.

Observation: Light is seen as a positive thing.

Throughout the Scriptures we find God to be closely related to light. The first account of creation in Genesis mentions light as God’s first act of creation. Moses was drawn to a burning bush to begin with and later, after encountering God on a mountain, had a face that shown like the light of God.

True, there were occasionally times when God’s people worked in darkness—like when Caleb and others were called to spy-out the promised land—but only so that, come the light of day, the will of God might come to fruition. So it’s little wonder that Christ is known as the light of the world and even referred to the importance of not hiding light under something like a bushel basket.

As humans, however, we have a love/hate relationship with light. We love it when we love it and, well, we hate it when we hate it. In other words, we like the world to see some parts of us and we hate the thought of the world seeing other parts of us.

I’ve been thinking about that a little bit. Why would any of us have any desire to hide anything? After all, we all know that everybody (whether Christian or not) has good points and bad points—saintly parts and sinful parts. Why do we therefore seek to hide or otherwise seek to shield some aspects of our lives from public view?

I believe part of the answer to that has to do with trust. We are not sure (and probably with very good reason) that we can trust everybody with our foilbles. Someone might try to take advantage of us. Not everyone wishes us well. And we do not necessarily always wish everyone else well either. So it’s better to be safe than sorry. Better to keep some of ourselves to ourselves.

But God is light. In God there is no darkness, no ability to hide.

For some this is a fearsome thing. For others, however, it is a glorious thing. It’s glorious not because God overlooks our faults. Rather, God embraces them. Because no matter how decrepit we might be in some areas of our lives, God is able to look us over from head to toe and heart and mind and clean us up. God can put us back on track, set us right, move us on. God can show us where we were going in comparison to where we are ultimately called to go. In God’s light it’s all plain to see.

Prayer: Lord, light up whatever darkness there is in our lives on order that we might see more clearly the way in which you are leading. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Jeremiah 48-49, Psalm 67 and 1 John 1)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Try, try again.

Scripture Passage that Caught my Attention today: Jeremiah 26:2-4 Thus says the LORD: Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the LORD; speak to them all the words that I command you; do not hold back a word. 3 It may be that they will listen, all of them, and will turn from their evil way, that I may change my mind about the disaster that I intend to bring on them because of their evil doings.

Observation: God held out hope that the people would listen.

Application: This hope of God is hopeful in and of itself. Clearly God’s longing is for reconciliation. A key theological understanding of the work of Christ is that in Christ God was reconciling the world to God’s self.

Humanity, however, is not so eager for this big reunion—unless, of course, it’s on our own terms. We want God when WE want God, when WE decide that we NEED God. Aside from that we go about our merry or not-so-merry (and perhaps even ‘evil’) ways.

I don’t really understand why we are the way we are. Chalking it up to original sin seems far too easy and seems to take away the role of personal responsibility. We are much like the ancient king referred to in Jeremiah 36:20-36; he heard God’s ways toward hope and restoration and paid them no mind.

Still, today’s another day for preaching and for hearing. Through every preacher and every hearer God tries again to move people to grasp what God through Christ has already done.

Prayer: Lord, today there is a funeral and a regular (is there such a thing?) worship service. I pray that both preacher and hearers would somehow feel and convey your presence and hope. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Jeremiah 26, 35-36 and John 20)

Friday, August 17, 2012

What Kind of Shepherds Are We?

Scripture passage that caught my attention today: Jeremiah 23:2-4 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. 3 Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the LORD.

Observation: There are shepherds who shepherd and there are shepherds who scatter.

Application: A good question to ask of oneself as a clergy-person is “what kind of shepherd am I?” Am I the kind of shepherd who scatters or am I the kind of shepherd who shepherds?

Strange and even harsh as it might seem, I’m beginning to think that many of us scatter more than we shepherd.

The scattering of which I speak is certainly not intentional. I can’t imagine myself or any of my colleagues waking up one morning and thinking, “gee, I wonder how I can best scatter the sheep today?” Still, it would seem that many of the sheep are scattering as evidenced by dwindling attendance, lack of volunteerism, and lower contributions at many a church today.

This morning, around 3:50, to be precise, I woke up thinking about this fact and considering to what extent I might have the means to help myself and some of my colleagues to begin to reverse this trend.

I’m taking some time to think it through because I don’t want it to be like one of the empty prophetic ‘dreams’ that Jeremiah described later in this chapter. But if the words to the verses above are true, God can and will raise up shepherds who will shepherd. And to me that includes God’s ability to make better shepherds of the shepherd’s that God’s already got.

Stay tuned...

Prayer: Lord, help me to keep chewing on these ideas in my head and to discern whether they are truly worthwhile. And if so, give me the fortitude to begin to put them into action. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Jeremiah 23-25 and John 19)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

When your reputation goes down the toilet.

Scripture Verse that Caught my attention today: John 18:15 Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest,

Observation: The other disciple in this passage doesn’t get much attention these days for some reason. And why wasn’t he chastised for knowing Jesus like Peter?

Application: When I was in 4th grade (I feel like I may have told this story before, but maybe not) we still had whole-class restroom breaks. On one of those breaks, those of us in the boy’s restroom were especially noisy. Everyone was just especially boisterous for some reason, although I wasn’t really making much noise myself.

What I DID do however, was respond to a challenge. Myself and two of my friends were standing outside of a restroom stall away from the noisiest of the boys. One of those friends dared me to stick my hand in a toilet. I rolled my eyes. As a farm-boy who handled manure on a regular basis, sticking my hand in a clean toilet didn’t seem like much of a challenge at all. So I obliged, they laughed a little bit and that was that…or so I thought.

When we left the restroom the teacher (Mrs. Ferguson, as I recall) lined all the boys up against the wall in the hallway and demanded to know what all of the noise was about. No-one volunteered an answer, so she decided to ask someone directly. Wouldn’t you know, she picked me.

I wasn’t really sure why everyone else was so noisy and didn’t want to get anyone else in trouble, so I just replied, “nothing.”

Not satisfied with that answer, she scanned the group and picked another classmate for the same question. She just happened to pick one of the boys who had been with me outside that restroom stall. “Kent stuck his hand in the toilet” he said.

Gee, thanks!

From that point on I was the only one in trouble.

To this day I can’t remember who either of the other two friends were. They were there, they had dared me to do it, and they were the ones who laughed so loudly. But they got off scot-free and I don’t even remember their names.

So I suppose in a small way I know how Peter might have felt.

Lord, regardless of whether we are known or unknown, remembered or unremembered, I can only give thanks for the fact that all of un are known and remembered and treasured by you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Today's Workout

At first I wasn't sure I was up to a full workout today. I started a little later than I wanted to and figured maybe I would just go through one round of everything at most. But once I got started I just couldn't stop! :)

5-minute Warm-up followed by:

Set 1:
Pull-ups (10 reps)
100# barbell Squats (25 reps)
100# bench press (25 reps)
rest 1 minute, repeat set (only 20 bench presses on 2nd set)

Set 2:
Split Squats with 2-25# dumbbells (10 reps/leg)
plank sequence (regular, then side planks with leg-raises)
rest 30 seconds, repeat set.

Set 3:
bent-over dumbbell rows (15 reps with 2-25# dumbbells)
Cross-body mountain climbers (50 reps)
rest 30 seconds, repeat set.

Set 4:
2 rounds of 10 ab-wheel roll-outs with 30 seconds rest in between rounds.

Finished with a 2/3 mile walk with the dog.


Protection from Evil

Scripture Verse that Caught My Attention Today: John 17:15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.

Observation: It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t ask that his disciples be taken out of the world that hates them, but simply protected from the evil one.

Application: I suppose all of us would prefer to be liked and appreciated for all that we have to offer in this world. We are not all liked, however. In fact, chances are good that each of us has someone, if not a whole host of people, who find us to be unlikeable. They might even hate us.

Sometimes it’s just a misunderstanding. Sometimes it has more to do with their own personal issues than with us. Sometimes we are just a victim of circumstance—being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But there are also times when we are in the wrong. There are times when our fallible humanity shines through. Through Christ we may be redeemed, but that doesn’t make us perfect—at least not while we are still in this world.

And while we are in this world there will be times when, deservedly or undeservedly, we will be the focus of hate from one corner or another. Such circumstances are not particularly pleasant, especially in cases where we ourselves feel we’ve been wronged in one way or another. Interestingly, Jesus didn’t pray that we would be spared from such things. He simply prayed that we might be protected from the evil one. Apparently that’s the only protection we truly need.

Prayer: Lord, help us to become one with you and you with us. In that way no evil can ultimately befall us, even though life itself might at times be hard. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(readings today included: Jeremiah 18-20, Psalm 93, and John 17)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tombstone Tribute

Scripture Verse that Caught my attention today: John 16:33 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

Observation: Jesus helps us keep everything in perspective.

Application: Normally I like the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) translation of the Bible. But once in a while I come across a verse where I prefer it old school style. In the King James Version this verse reads:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

This verse most vividly caught my attention in the spring of 1987. I was working, believe it or not, as a salesperson for a large cemetery in Oklahoma. Within that cemetery there was an estate (a grouping of several graves all owned by the same family). The family’s name was “Daniel” as evidenced by a large broad piece of stonework that served as a backdrop for their estate. Etched into that stonework was the second half of the verse above: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

For some reason that has always stood out for me as a lasting testament to the Lord we serve. Even death will not have the final say.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for the powerful way in which the reality of your power still speaks. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Jeremiah 16-17, Psalm 96,and John 16)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Today's Workout

A good workout is a great way to start the day. Today's workout went like this:

Warm-up followed by:

Set 1:
-Full Chin-up with knee-ups (6 solid reps--normally I would do 8-10)
-Barbell Squats (25 reps with 90#)
-Barbell Military press (12 reps with 90#)
Rest 1 minute, repeat set but with only 10 reps on the military press

Set 2:
-Dumbbell Split Squats (10 reps/leg while holding 2-25# dumbbells)
-Barbell Bench Press (25 reps with 90#)
Rest 1 minute, repeat set but with only 20 Bench Presses

Set 3:
-Plank (hold for 40 seconds)
-Side Planks with leg-raises (15 leg raises/leg followed by holding pose for 15 more seconds)
-Cross-Body Mountain Climbers (50 reps)
Rest 30 seconds, repeat set

Set 4:
-Ab-wheel roll-outs (10 reps)
Rest 30 seconds, repeat set.


Don't confuse bearing fruit with accomplishment

Scripture Verse that Caught my attention today: John 15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Observation: It’s interesting to see what pleases God.

Application: I know of a pastor who has done some really incredible things. In fact, the ministries of which he has been a part are nothing short of phenomenal—so much so that if I were to accomplish just 1% of what he has accomplished, I would still likely be quite pleased. To be sure, I have great respect for him.

Still, he seems to carry a burden about him that seems out of character with the nature of the call. It’s almost seems as if he feels that if he doesn’t do it, it won’t get done and God’s kingdom won’t come.

I’m not sure that’s the burden we were meant to bear.

True, the passage above indicates that God is glorified when we bear much fruit. But in the Bible “fruit” refers more to character than accomplishment. The fruits of the Spirit, according to Paul in Galatians 5:22-23, are: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Perhaps this is why Jesus so closely binds bearing fruit with discipleship. It is in following Jesus that we find such things and, indeed, move toward becoming such things. When we are running low on fruit in our lives, it’s often because we are running high on ourselves and low on Jesus. In fact, we might be doing much in his name but little to reflect his name.

There’s nothing wrong with accomplishment. Following Jesus is no excuse for apathy. But let’s not forget that God is the great doer in life and that we are simply the responders to the call. The freshest and most plentiful fruit we are to bear is the fruit that he himself so graciously offers to those who follow him.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for the reminder once again that you are our all-in-all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(readings today included: Jeremiah 13-15 and John 15)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

When the Efforts Seem Hopeless

Scripture Verse that Caught My Attention today: Jeremiah 7:27 So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you.

Observation: This is a rather discouraging verse.

Application: Much has been written and spoken about as of late in regard to how to be ‘successful’ or ‘effective.’ Strategies are recommended. Systems are given the utmost attention. Daily habits of time management are examined and honed for the utmost efficiency. Determining priorities is given priority—all with the anticipated result of desired fruit in whatever form that might be.

Still, there are no guarantees in life. Although empirical testing and experience over time has taught us that there are some things we can do to increase our likelihood of success, wild cards still exist, not the least of which is the human heart’s capacity for both good and for ill.

I am struck by the task given to Jeremiah; speak…but they will not listen, call…but they will not answer.

No new strategy, procedure, system or the like would effectively change the hardened heart’s mind. No creative rhetorical device on Jeremiah’s part would bring about the change Jeremiah was summoned to seek. What a seemingly hopeless task! Why bother?

Because, as I’ve either heard or written about (or both) before, “the gift is the call.”

In this Olympic season there are literally millions who dream of someday standing on some Olympic podium. Yet regardless of one’s determination, sacrifice, and persistent training of body and mind, only a precious few will even get the opportunity to try out for the Olympics, much less ascend to the podium.

What shall the rest do? They shall run and jump and dive and tumble and whatever else tugs at their heart as a way to express the gifts they have been given.

The gift is the call, not the result. The gift is the process, not the end. The gift is the journey even more so than the destination.

So what if the people of Jeremiah’s day were not prone to hear his words or respond to his call! So what if our dreams are not always (or ever!) realized in the ways that we might have hoped. The process itself has redemptive value. God has given many a gift, many a task, many a ministry. The opportunity to simply engage in this work is precious in its own right.

That’s exactly what Jeremiah did, speaking on behalf of God for another 45 chapters even after he learning from God that the people wouldn’t even listen.

Prayer: Lord, systems, strategies and the like all have their place. But let us not succumb to determining our own value in relation to what we have accomplished. Rather let our value be deeply rooted in our trust in what you, through Christ, have already done. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Jeremiah 7-9 and John 13)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Living as A Target

Scripture Verses that caught my attention today: John 12:9-11 When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

Observation: Lazarus was really in a tight spot. He was given a second chance at life only to become a target not of illness, but of spite. It was a crazy situation.

Application: There are situations that simply defy rationality. I’m sure that Lazarus, like all other human beings, had his own share of faults. Yet the only cause for which he was a target of the chief priests was is willingness to do what Jesus said—come out from the tomb alive after having died. Such was the world of Jesus’ day.

Yesterday I was at a satellite location for Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was one of the speakers. She indicated that the nature of political life in Washington is—surprise, surprise—not exactly prone to public displays of support and solidarity. Many a political leader becomes a victim of circumstance.

We don’t know whether Lazarus was any kind of a political leader, but he did become a political pawn—a target of the opposition party. It would be interesting to know what his second life was like for him in light of that reality. How did it feel to rise again only to live with the threat of another demise, this time from without rather than from within?

Someday I hope to ask him such things.

Prayer: Lord, in some ways we all get another chance at life. In some ways each new day is such an opportunity as we put the previous day to rest and rise again. Sometimes we must live with the consequences of our own actions. Other times we are the collateral damage of someone else’s intentional or unintentional strides. In all cases help us demonstrate our trust in your ability to raise us up again, whether in this life or simply in the life to come.

(readings today included: Jeremiah 5-6 and John 12)

Simply Mighty-Effective Workout

It doesn't take a lot of equipment to have a great workout. Today's workout included just 4 items: 1) A basement i-beam for pull-ups, 2) 2 25# dumbbells, 3) an old skateboard and, 4) Me.

Here's the workout that followed my regular warm-up exercises:

Set 1:
-Pull-ups (10 reps on 1st round, 8 reps on second round)
-Vertical Jumps with knee-ups (10 reps)
-1-leg push-ups (8 per leg)
rest 30 seconds, repeat set

Set 2:
-Bent-over dumbbell rows (15 reps)
-1 1/2 rep Bulgarian split squats (10/leg)
rest 30 seconds, repeat set

Set 3:
-Ab Pikes with feet on skateboard (10 reps)
-Ab-wheel roll-outs (10 reps)
rest 30 seconds, repeat set.


Note: I wouldn't normally recommend putting two strong ab exercises back-to-back (as I did in set 3). But scripted today's workout in a hurry and then just went with it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Working with a Harsh Word

Scripture Passage that caught my attention today: Jeremiah 3:2 Look up to the bare heights, and see!
Where have you not been lain with?
By the waysides you have sat waiting for lovers,
like a nomad in the wilderness.
You have polluted the land
with your whoring and wickedness.

Observation: Jeremiah uses the explicit language of unfaithfulness to describe how Israel and Judah have behaved against the Lord.

Application: usually the term “whordom” relates to a woman who has sexual relations with many a man, perhaps for pay, perhaps not. Setting aside for a moment the notable double-standard of men who do the same thing, there can be no doubt that Jeremiah does not use the term ‘whordom’ as a compliment. He and God are disgusted by Israel and Judah’s more-than-obvious lack of fidelity to the one true God. Elsewhere in these chapters the prophet declares that they practice their infidelity toward God “on every high hill and under every green tree.” Classy!

The language is harsh and raw but also true and vivid. The people have forsaken their God. Following the customs of other people, Israel and Judah have bowed down to other gods with striking regularity. Their homage to the God who first loved them is seldom put into practice and, even then, Jeremiah suggests that it is under false pretense. Tis a sorry state of affairs, if you’ll pardon the pun.

God’s people have not improved much over time. Today as much as ever we have trouble giving the God of our ancestors the allegiance that our Lord both craves and deserves. This God has come to us in the form of the crucified and risen Jesus and has done what we have been unable to do—remain faithful to us even though we have not been faithful to him. We may not worship poles and rocks and other a sundry items, but we are as prone as any to place our trust in people and material conditions that are a far cry from works of God and this God’s call on our life. I don’t normally think of such things as “whoring.” But maybe I should.

Prayer: Lord, help us to be more faithful to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Today's Workout

Back home now after the week away. Worked out in the basement this morning.

Warm-up followed by:

Set 1:
-Barbell Squats
-Bench Press
rest 1 minute, repeat set.

Set 2:
-Bulgarian Split Squats (1 1/2 rep counts as 1 rep--did 10 reps)
-Bent-over Dumbbell Rows
rest 1 minutes, repeat set

Set 3:
-Plank and side-plank with leg-raises sequence
-Mountain climbers (straight, not cross-body)
rest 30 seconds, repeat set

Set 4:
-ab-wheel roll-outs
rest 30 seconds, repeat.


A Question of Agendas

Scripture Verses that caught my attention today: John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Observation: We tend to emphasize verse 32, but perhaps the bigger promise is in verse 31.

Application: It seems to me that what Jesus wants more than anything else is more loyal followers, more disciples. At times Jesus promises truth and even goes so far to say that he is the way, the truth, and the life. But what he really wants is people to follow him. Finding truth, life, and being set free are like icing on the cake. But the heart of discipleship is following Jesus which involves continuing in his word.

Truth be told, we tend to prefer our own word. We prefer to answer our own questions our own way. We’d rather not have anyone else tell us what to do. Perhaps this is why it is so hard to follow Jesus. Perhaps this is why there are so few authentic disciples and a whole lot of wanna-bes. In fact, it could be argued that all of us are wanna-bes at some level. Continuing in Christ’s word requires setting our own agendas aside.

Prayer: Lord, help me to invite you to set my agenda. That would at least be a good start. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Habakkuk 1-3 and John 8)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Today's workout

Another great morning of interval training on our last day at a conference in Pittsburgh.

Just needed the following 4 things for this workout.

1) the large yard in front of the hotel (pictured above)
2) a jump rope
3) my gymboss timer
4) me and my willing spirit.

Did essentially the same workout as Thursday: 10 24-second rounds of jumping rope followed by 8 24-second sprints at 3/4 speed.

Simple. Effective. Fun.

Have a great day!

A Lesson in Goals

Scripture Verse that caught my attention today: John 6:69 [Peter said] “We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Observation: Faith is a process.

Application: At the conference this week there was a segment that distinguished process-oriented goals from results-oriented goals.

In short, process-oriented goals are goals related to establishing processes that are sound and true and that, most importantly, leave the results up to God.

For example, I cannot make you love me more. That’s beyond my control. But I can act in loving ways toward you, endeavor to think in loving ways about you and speak in loving ways about you and then strive to be content to let the chips then fall wherever they may. I can leave the results up to the working of God.

If you love me, great. If not, well, perhaps it’s just not yet the right time or, perhaps, it will in this case never be the right time. Sad but sometimes true; the actual return of your love is beyond my control.

I find it interesting that even Jesus seemed content to focus on process rather than results. Those who chose to no longer follow him (verse 66 says “many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him”) Jesus allowed to go. And he didn’t place demands on the 12 disciples that were left either. He simply inquired, to which Peter replied as indicated in the verse I chose this week, “we have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Even then Jesus didn’t completely focus on results. He correctly noted that he himself chose them and implied that he himself trained them, but went on to note that one of them (Judas) was not really onboard.

The results did not deter Jesus. He was focused on process, a process that led to the cross and, through which, many, many more have come to believe that he is the Holy One of God.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for involving us in your process. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: 2 Kings 22, 2 Chronicles 34, and John 6)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Today's Workout

Warm-up followed by:

Set 1
Lat Pull Downs
Dumbell Squats (with heavy dumbells)
Elevated push-ups (actually, it's push-ups with one hand on top of a dumbell--I just can't remember the actual name of this exercise at the moment)
rest 30 seconds, repeat set.

Set 2
Dumbell Swings (like a Kettle-bell)
Planks and side planks with leg raises
rest 30 seconds, repeat set.

Set 3
1-leg stability ball curls
Dumbell Squat and Overhead press combo
rest 30 seconds, repeat set

Set 4
two rounds of 50 cross-body mountain-climbers.


Today's Devotion

Scripture Verses that caught my attention today: John 5:39-40 “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Observation: Jesus points out what Lutherans (most) hold dear—the ultimate value of the Scriptures is that they point to what God has done through Jesus. The Scriptures themselves are not Jesus.

Application: A great many Christians (and even non-Christians) see the Bible primarily as a rule-book—a list of do’s don’ts with a side helping of Jesus.

In reality, Jesus is the main course and dessert all rolled up into one. The rest of the Bible is more or less the appetizer—a foretaste of the feast to come. A sign of what God longs for in this world and from us.

Frustrated that what God longed for from us was not coming to fruition, Jesus became the fulfillment of the way, the truth, and the life. Yet while he walked this earth, there were many who refused to come to him to have life. I’m not sure we would have behaved any differently.

Fortunately the tables are now turned. In Christ God has now made the first move. Christ comes to us. His offer of life is right before our very eyes—his life-giving presence in the bread and the wine.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for offering us life and, in fact, giving us life. Help us to cling to it for, well, dear life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Nahum 1-3 and John 5)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Just had to share this...

I'm out of state at a conference but I just got a text...and then a call...from our 12 y/o daughter who had spent the day at the state fair for a 4-H demonstration contest. The text said:

"So...with my new CLOCK I just looked at the time!"

In Ohio that's code for "I just won a Clock Trophy" which is a clock given to the top winner in his or her respective category at the State Fair.

And just what was our daughter demonstrating?


Actually, the title of her demonstration was: "The Smoothie Way to Health."

With my wife's help she somehow lugged the Vitamix Blender, the Greek Yogurt, milk, almonds, frozen spinach and frozen fruit (I think she used blackberries, strawberries and 1/2 a banana, though I'm not completely sure) on the two-hour trip to the fair.

Once there she wowed the judges with her knowledge, finesse, winning smile and, of course, a deliciously healthy smoothie which the judges all tried and obviously loved.

Naturally I'm very proud of her and happy for her. What a nice piece of news to receive this evening!

And since a healthy smoothie was the subject of the demonstration, I couldn't resist the opportunity to share the news with you.

Can't wait to get back home this weekend and enjoy a deliciously healthy smoothie myself. You might want to try one too!


Today's Workout

Today was a solid interval-training day on the grass in front of the Wyndam Grand Hotel in Pittsburgh. Simple but very effective.

First I warmed up and then switched into intervals of 24 seconds of intense exercise followed by 30 seconds of rest.

Did 10 rounds (after a 1-round light warm-up) of jumping rope (using the running-in-place style, which seems to be the only way I know how to jump rope)

So that would be 24 seconds of jumping rope followed by 30 seconds of rest before doing it all over again.

After the 10 rounds of jumping rope I did 8 rounds of 24-second runs (on grass) at at least 3/4 speed followed by 30 seconds of rest.

by the time I was done with that I was whipped! Great way to start the day! Gotta love summer weather.

The Vision of Harvest

Scripture Verses that caught my attention today: John 4:34-35 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.

Observation: Time can be short and the time can be at hand.

Application: It’s hard to know from where the urgency arose in this passage. Was Jesus urgent from word go? Or did the conversation with the woman summon up from within him the sense of urgency?

In other words, did Jesus always realize the potential before him, or did it suddenly dawn upon him through the conversation?

Either way, both Jesus and the woman suddenly expressed changed priorities. Jesus was no longer hungry and the woman was no longer thirsty. Jesus spoke of more important matters with his disciples and she spoke of more important matters with the townsfolk and eventually they all get together. It would be interesting to know what happened to her current boyfriend, but that isn’t noted.

What is noted is that, should we have the wherewithal to look around, the opportunity for harvest is before us.

On the farm, harvest time is not something to delay. With planting you never know for sure. Sometimes we rush to plant early and later find it might have been better to wait a while. Other times we wish we would have planted when we had the chance. You just never know at the time.

But harvest is different. When the crop is ripe and the conditions are favorable, you get your equipment in the field. As the saying goes, “bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush.”

The same goes for business and even for work in the church. If there are opportunities to impact lives, don’t wait.

I wrestle with this a bit personally. I do have an abiding trust (and thanksgiving) that the world does not revolve around me. That God’s work can be done without me and sometimes even in spite of me.

But by the same token, if we’re here...if we’re able…if we have opportunity and the ability…why wouldn’t we want to offer ourselves for service, such that we are, and participate in the harvest in whatever form that might be?

Time might be short.

Prayer: Lord, give me eyes to see whatever form of harvest you place before me and the wisdom to gather it in. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(readings today included: 2 Kings 21, 2 Chronicles 33, John 4)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Today's Workou

Twas another hotel workout today while I'm at a conference in Pittsburgh. It went like this:

Warm-up followed by:

Set 1
Pull-downs (underhand grip)
Dumbbell (DB) Squats
DB T-push-ups
rest 30 seconds, repeat set.

Set 2
DB split squats
DB Inverted rows on bench.
rest 30 seconds, repeat set

Set 3
1-leg stability ball curls
Spiderman push-ups
rest 30 seconds, repeat set

Set 4
Stability ball Jack-knives
Cross body mountain climbers
rest 30 seconds, repeat set.


Followed workout with devotions and am now ready to embrace the day. How about you?

Breath or Delusion?

Scripture Verse that caught my attention today: Psalm 62:9 Those of low estate are but a breath,
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.

Observation: The psalmist has it right.

Application: An article in the news this morning highlighted different perspectives on poverty. Some say poverty should be measured in terms of income. Others say poverty should be measured by spending. In other words, if a family claims to be poor, but has two flat-screen tv’s, are they really poor?

Although the article didn’t go on to say this, I suppose the alternative question could also be raised. If family income is high but spending is low, are they really rich?

In the end, according to the psalmist, it doesn’t really matter. On the one hand we are but a breath; on the other hand, a delusion. Take your pick.

In either case there is a kingdom both offered and available with completely different measures of worth. Old testament prophets and poets may not have personally known Jesus, but they still somehow understood that lasting value was only possible in relation to the creator of the universe. Otherwise, like breaths, we are here and then gone; like delusions, we are not seeing ourselves for who we really are.

Prayer: Lord, help us to see more clearly that our lasting value is only found through you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Isaiah 65-66, Psalm 62, and John 3)