Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Second Workout Class

Had the privilege of leading my second group in one of my "9 Minutes-to-Fit" workouts this morning--this time a group of supervisors and interns who attended an internship cluster retreat at Maria Stein Retreat Center. Had a great time with the group which included a physician as well as a person who has been attending Weight Watchers for about a year and has lost about 60 pounds. Good times...and as you can see from the picture above, it was a great start to the morning.

Getting a Life

Scripture Passage that Caught My Attention Today: Mark 8:37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?

Observation: Good Question!

Application: What can I give in return for my life? Some might argue that I can live it thankfully. Perhaps. Some say “life is God’s gift to you and what you do with it is your gift to God.” Perhaps.

There’s a similar question in the Psalms (116:12) that asks, “what shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?” The answer, at least there, is to lift the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord along with paying vows to the Lord in the presence of the people. So maybe that would be a good start.

Still, Jesus seems to imply that there is nothing that we can give in return for our life. Yet he informs his disciples that those who want to be his disciples should take up their cross and follow him. He goes on to say that they should also lose their life in order to save it.

So maybe there is something that we can give in return for our life. A life for a life. Perhaps a life given to God (as in lived for God) is very much a life from God.

Some time ago people used to say the phrase, “Get a Life!” It usually came with the connotation that the person was too caught up in his or herself and needed to take notice of the world around him or her and of the bigger problems that some people face. In Jesus, getting a life often involves giving one first—which, ironically, is exactly what Jesus did for us.

Prayer: Lord, help all of us to ‘get a life’ by being willing to share our own. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Job 22 and Mark 7-8)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Today's Workout

6 rounds of Jumping Rope followed by 6 rounds of shuttle sprints was all that was needed for today's "9 Minutes-to-Fit" Workout.

Hope Even For Humpty Dumpty

Scripture Verse that Caught My Attention Today: Job 21:23-26 One dies in full prosperity,
being wholly at ease and secure,
24 his loins full of milk
and the marrow of his bones moist.
25 Another dies in bitterness of soul,
never having tasted of good.
26 They lie down alike in the dust,
and the worms cover them.

Different lives but the same death.

Application: We are all so different and also so alike. People make much ado about everyone’s uniqueness. We are told to “be ourselves” and to “be all we can be.” Yet at the end of our lives the same fate serves connects us all—death. However fancy or mundane the casket (if there even is a casket), eventually the worms will feast and we will be the main-but-soon-to-disappear coarse.

I’m not trying to be morbid nor am I trying to be particularly original. Job understood the nature of such things long before me. But Job also understood something else. Even before the time of Jesus, Job knew something of the power of God to bring life out of death and freshness out of decay. Back in chapter 19 Job declared:

25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
26 and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God,
Good for him. Good for us.

Prayer: Lord, it’s almost easier to give thanks when someone does something for us that we could do on our own but is just a lot of unappealing work. Like when someone helps us carry the groceries in the snow or rain. But how do we give thanks when it’s something that we could never do on our own? It’s so big that the word ‘thanks’ seems woefully inadequate and, in fact, every expression of thanksgiving seems inadequate. After the worms have had their way, you are the only one capable of once again making us whole. That’s far beyond our abilities. As the old nursery rhyme puts it: “And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Job 21 and Mark 5-6)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Uncle Paul

Scripture Verse that Caught My attention today: Acts 23:16 Now the son of Paul’s sister heard about the ambush; so he went and gained entrance to the barracks and told Paul.

Paul was saved from the ambush by his nephew. I knew that Paul was not married, but I didn’t realize until tonight that he had a sister who, of course, had the son who saved his life (at least for a time.). Usually it’s Uncles who are benevolent souls for nephews rather than the other way around

I was an uncle the day I was born; I have three nieces who are older than me. Normally one would assume that Paul’s nephew was younger than Paul, but my own experiences bears witness to the opposite possibility. I wonder…was this an older nephew of Paul’s who was looking out for him? Probably not. Paul himself refers to the nephew as a “young” man in the next verse. Still, it’s neat to consider the wide variety of configurations that might have comprised Paul’s extended family. And while we often consider Paul to be one who sort of went about his ministry largely apart from his family, this verse serves as a subtle reminder that whatever family he had might not have been too far away.

Lord, thanks for the families that you provide for us, regardless of their configuration. Help for our earthly life comes from many corners, though ultimately from you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Job 16 and Acts 21-23)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Today's Workout

Just two moves today: Jumping rope and push-ups. Worked just fine.

The Wisdom of Silence

Scripture Verse that caught my attention today: Job 13:5 If you would only keep silent,
that would be your wisdom!

Job had had enough of listening to his friends wax on and on.

Many of us can probably relate to this passage, not just in terms of others, but even of ourselves. How often have we wished that we could take back what we’ve said, kept in the mind what unfortunately came out of our mouths? It is just as wise (and perhaps even wiser) to know what NOT to say as it is to know what to say. This is best learned one day and conversation at a time.

Prayer: Lord, help us to listen more before we speak, ultimately striving to listen to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Job 13-14 and Acts 17-18)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

From What Little We Know

Scripture Verse that Caught my attention today: Acts 12:17 He motioned to them with his hand to be silent, and described for them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he added, “Tell this to James and to the believers.” Then he left and went to another place.

Observation: Apparently Peter didn’t know that Herod had already put James to death (if this is the same James).

Application: We don’t always know the full story. For example, sometimes coaches have particular reasons for playing particular players or running particular plays. Novices from the stands may not always understand the strategy and are sometimes prone to form opinions that are not particularly well-informed. We can’t help ourselves.

Here’s a case-in-point. When I made the observation above I assumed that the James that Herod had killed as reported in Acts 12:2 was the same James that Peter was referring to in Acts 12:17. But a quick concordance check reveals that Peter and others are reported to have spoken with James in Acts 15:13 and Paul speaks with him in Acts 21:18. Furthermore, Acts 1:13 speaks of James and also James son of Alphaeus, thus revealing that there are at least two people by the name of James in the book of Acts. So my whole premise for this particular devotion has been crushed in one fall swoop of a concordance search!

THIS is what it’s like to be human—to know some things but not everything. To know part of the story, but not all of the story. But here’s the good news nevertheless…by the grace of God we are IN the story ourselves. And that may be all that’s necessary. As long as we know that we are in God’s story, we know that we are in a very good place.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for finding a way to include me, through Christ, in your unfolding story and drama in this world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Job 6-8 and Acts 12)

Friday, October 19, 2012

God's Work Through Our Experiences

Scripture Verses that caught my attention today: Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

Observation: Peter spoke from personal experience in terms of what he saw to be the word of God.

Application: I was reading earlier today an opinion that we have turned the Word of God into the word of words. It was mentioned that, for all our emphasis on the importance of the Bible, Jesus himself never wrote a word of it.

It’s ironic stuff. Jesus—who IS the word of God—never actually wrote the Word of God…unless one counts whatever it is that Jesus once scribbled on the dirt while people were accusing a woman of adultery.

What we have in Scripture, then, are largely the experiences of people who were moved by the Word of God to write words about God and about how they understood about what this God has done and about how this God was involved in their lives.

Peter’s story is a case-in-point. He understood God’s people to be of a certain type (circumcised Jews) but grew to understand God’s people to be of larger scope and greater diversity.

His was a powerful experience which led to the sharing of a powerful story.

I’m thinking that God is still busy creating powerful experiences which lead to powerful stories today. At least that’s what I’m counting on as I prepare to undergo my first-ever colonoscopy not long from now.

Lord, thanks for the many ways in which our experiences—for good or for ill—shape us to see your work in this world and to be part of your ongoing powerful story. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Job 5, Psalm 148 and Acts 10-11)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

When One Despairs of Even Life Itself

Scripture Verses that caught my attention today: Job 3:1-3 After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. 2 Job said:
3 “Let the day perish in which I was born,
and the night that said,
‘A man-child is conceived.’

Observation: Job was in a most difficult time in his life and he despaired of even life itself.

Application: Recently there was a person in the community who took his own life. Regrettably, it happens. Since this particular person was a teacher and a coach, you can imagine the ripple affect.

A few days later we addressed the topic with our youth and some parents and colleagues at church, especially those most directly affected. We had frank and honest discussion, including my own admission that there has been a time or two in my own life when I’ve briefly considered such things. I’m thankful that I never gave it truly serious consideration, but just the thought about it is scary in its own right, both to oneself and to others.

I don’t think that I or others are necessarily alone in this way. The Bible reveals that Moses once asked that he might die rather than go about the Lord’s business. And in chapter 3 of Job it’s clear that he’s not all too keen on the life experience either. Sometimes to go on living is really tough. It almost makes you wonder why, according to the Bible, that people who have died are sometimes brought back to life. Need they experience human misery again? Job laments ever being born in the first place. From the looks of the passage above it appears he might actually be more inclined to support planned parenthood than the right to life (though I have no interest in opening up that debate here).

What’s far more important, I think, is that sometimes people have a need to simply express how they truly feel at a particular time in their life without having to deal with judgment or condemnation or even well-intended but still patronizing little pats on the back to the affect of “now, now, the sun will come out tomorrow.” The sun may indeed come out tomorrow, but first one needs to get through today—starting with the ability to call it as dark as he or she sees it. If only someone would just listen.

That was part of the problem with Job’s “friends.” Try as they might, their method of “help” was to try to prove him wrong, thus piling even more emotional garbage on his plate.

Of course, hindsight’s pretty good and, had I been there, I might have piled it on pretty thick too.

Thankfully in Christ we have the most tangible proof of all that, regardless of its intense difficulty in some cases (which Jesus openly acknowledged AND experienced) life is still worth living…and with his help, living again.

Prayer: Lord, be with all who experience life’s difficulties at any time. Allow us to be absorbers of true feelings and, at the same time, conveyors of true love—the kind that is only found in you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Job 3 and 4 and Acts 8-9.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This Morning's Workout

I'm just getting around to posting this but this morning's workout, after the warm-up, went like this:

--Chin-ups with knee-ups
--Barbell Squats
--Spiderman Push-ups
--Side Planks with leg raises.

--Chin-ups with knee-ups
--Barbell Squats
--Spiderman Push-ups
--Side Planks with leg raises (other side/leg)

--Chin-ups with knee-ups
--Barbell Squats
--Spiderman Push-ups
--Pikes with feet on skateboard.


Just Catching Up

Just before heading off to bed at a synod council retreat back in September I somewhat nervously invited the other synod council members to join me for one of my "9 Minutes-To-Fit" workouts the next morning at 6:45.

Keep in mind that even though I've been an exercise practitioner for years, I had never actually led anyone else in exercise before. So this was new ground for me.

Anyhow, the next morning six people showed up to see what it was all about, including our bishop and a member of the ELCA deployed staff.

"I sure hope this works." I thought to myself!

I didn't waste any time getting started cause I don't like to dilly-dally when it comes to exercise. I'm a let's-get-it-done-and-get-on-with-the-day kind a guy.

I explained the drill, pointed out the variations to consider depending on one's individual fitness level, started the timer and we were into it just like that.

They were really great and the work-out was a lot of fun. Later we took a snapshot of the group after we all had a chance to grab a shower. As you can see, they were great sports. I had posted the pic on Facebook some time ago, but I'm just getting around to posting it here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Today's Workout

Went with a 2-exercise circuit this morning repeated six times.

--Stationary Bike
--Basement Shuttle Sprints

Total Aerobic Bliss.

Purifying Work

Scripture Passage that caught my attention today: Malachi 3:2-4 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

These words, also found in a Bass solo in Handle’s Messiah, offer a rhetorical question with a most definite answer—only those purified by God.

Application: Every so often we all need, as they say, a swift kick in the pants. Something that gets us off our proverbial duff and spurs us to actions congruent with the faith we claim to hold dear. Truth be told, were it not for God’s mercy, no one could endure the day of God’s coming. All of us would be held up to the light and left wanting. Refining and purifying is God’s work to do on us until we more accurately reflect, by our actions, the one in whose name we gather.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for the purifying work that you have done, are doing, and will continue to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Malachi 3-4, Psalm 138, Acts 5)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Today's Change-of-pace Workout

Today I mixed things up a touch by simply changing the nature of my last two sets.

So the first set was simply the following:

--Front barbell Squats
--Pike (with feet on skateboard)

For the 2nd and third rounds of this set, however, I simply did "hold" moves.

For the Pull-up, that meant pulling up half way and holding that pose for the duration of the time.

For the front squat that meant gong half-way down and holding that pose for the duration of the time (legs got a little wobbly for the last few seconds.

Same goes for the Push-up and even the Pike.

Holding a move rather than going through the whole range of motion challenges the muscles in a different way and, when done occasionally, can offer a good change of pace to one's workout.

Try Presenting that to your Governor

Scripture Verse that caught my attention today: Malachi 1:8 when you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not wrong? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not wrong? Try presenting that to your governor; will he be pleased with you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts.

Observation: I love the line, “try presenting that to your governor;”

Application: I suppose what’s at the heart of this passage is the question, “does God care what we offer?” Can God tell the difference between that which is really prime and that which is scrap? And whether or not God can tell the difference, Malachi can tell the difference…and he is NOT impressed!

In some respects, what’s really at stake here is the witness. What kind of witness do we offer to others in regard to our faith when our offering is but the dregs of our production?

The implication is that, since God knows all of us personally, God is in a position to distinguish sincere and sacrificial gifts from those that are merely token and/or obligatory. Sometimes those around us can tell the difference as well. As the saying goes, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

When Malachi quips, “try presenting that to your governor,” he is reminding us that if a governor can tell the difference between a quality offering and a cheap one, surely God’s discernment is infinitely greater. Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that God doesn’t notice or even care.

Prayer: Lord, help us all to be more sacrificial and more joyful in our sharing. The goal is to want to do such things rather than trying to get by with the least amount of commitment possible. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(readings today included: Nehemiah 13, Malachi 1-2, Acts 4)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Today's Workout

Today I led our church council (at our retreat) in a simple little 9 Minutes-to-Fit stretch. The goal in this case was to have a nice stretch but NOT work up a sweat since we were in jeans and such. So we took it easy with the following routine done 3 times in 9 Minutes-to-Fit fashion.

--Bodyweight Squats
--girl-style pushups (sorry, don't know the official name for this)

That was it, but made for nice little start to the day.

A Few Thoughts on Goodwill.

Scripture Verse that Caught my attention today: Acts 2:46-47 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

I am most struck by the phrase “having the goodwill of all the people. I’m not sure if that means that everyone thought well of them or whether they thought well of everyone else. Either way it must have been pretty good.

Application: As humans it’s hard to be totally liked and it’s hard to totally like. There are almost always some people who think ill of us, who feel we are up to something or otherwise a swindled. By the same token, it’s hard to have complete good will for others too. We worry about being taken advantage of or we struggle with our own sense of envy. Perhaps this is why elsewhere the Scriptures say that no-one is righteous. It’s part of our sinful condition. A portion of the ill that others think about us is actually true.

Still, it’s nice to see in the passage above a glimpse of what life in the Spirit can be like. Like communion, it’s a foretaste of the feast to come.

Prayer: Lord, help us to both offer and receive more goodwill. Yet let us also be mindful that such good-will is not so much deserved as it is gracefully given and received. Just like you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Nehemiah 9-10 and Acts 2)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Just In Case You Didn't Win

Scripture Verses that Caught my attention today: Acts 1:23-26 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.

Observation: What ever happened to Justus? I would imagine he remained very active, but he didn’t make it into the list of disciples. Yet we never hear from Matthias again either. Hmmm….

Application: It’s not always important to win. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t always give it our best shot, but winning really isn’t everything. Sometimes it’s okay not to get the job, not to make the team, not to get the call.

We don’t hear that kind of talk much in these days where people are labeled as winners or losers, success stories or failures. Yet it’s the truth. Not everything that is perceived as an “opportunity” is truly the best opportunity—or a necessary opportunity—for us.

In Scripture it does not appear that we ever hear from Justus again (the name is mentioned a couple other times, but seems to refer to someone else). Nor had we heard of him before. One might expect that fate from someone who didn’t make the final cut to be an official apostle. But Matthias isn’t heard from again either. What’s up with that?

No-one knows. My hunch is that Justus continued to be a faithful follower of Jesus just like the rest. Matthias may have made it to the inner circle, but that circle was designed to reach out. There’s a good chance that he was eventually martyred. It’s possible (though this is admittedly purely conjecture on my part) that Justus lived longer and witnessed longer because he wasn’t as much of a marked man as those who were counted among the apostles.

Whether or not that’s the case, the real take home point of this story may be that we can trust our “lot” in life to still hold plenty of opportunity of its own if we don’t spin our wheels lamenting about the opportunities that we think we may have missed.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for the lives we have. Help us to make the most of them. But let us also simply embrace them for what they are…opportunities for faithful service in their own right. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Nehemiah 7-8 and Acts 1)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Today's Workout

Didn't have time for a warm-up or anything this morning, so I just jumped right into the workout but chose exercises that could serve as a warm-up as well. Just a 3-exercise circuit repeated 4 times in the 9 minutes to fit fashion.

--Jumping Jacks
--Jumping Rope
--Stationary Bike

That was it.


Scripture Verses that Caught my attention today: Nehemiah 6:2-3 Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. 3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it to come down to you?”

Nehemiah was very focused on his work and was not easily distracted. Although it does seem as if Nehemiah was a touch full of himself, there is still little doubt that his accomplishments were largely a result of his resolute focus on the mission at hand.

Focus is hard work. There are sooooooo many distractions in life—both from without and within. Yet it does seem as if God’s leaders of old remained focused on their work. They were mindful of what they were doing and of the bigger picture within which they fit. This is more than a lofty long-term goal for someday. Rather, it is a long-term mission with daily ramifications, including the willingness to say “no” to some things in order to say “yes” to others. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but with a listening ear to the Spirit’s nudging, it is possible.

Lord, help me to stay (or get!) focused on your missions at hand. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings included: Nehemiah 5-6, Psalm 146, and Luke 24)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Today's Workout

Although many options are available, I'm currently enjoying the 4-exercise circuit done 3 times in my 9 Minutes-To-Fit program. This morning's exercises included:

Split-lung jumps
Walking push-ups (with feet on skateboard)
Pikes (with feet on skateboard)

Was a very good full-body workout.


Scripture Verses that Caught my Attention Today: Nehemiah 4:15-16 When our enemies heard that their plot was known to us, and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and body-armor; and the leaders posted themselves behind the whole house of Judah,

Observation: Nehemiah organized the people in such a way as to allow them to build the wall and protect the city at the same time.

Application: So often we’ll hear someone say something to the affect of: “if I just had time to dedicate to _____________, then I could get it done.”

There’s truth to that statement, of course, but the fact of the matter for many of us is that we have to make and fit the time into our existing schedule. It’s not so much that we need to multitask. Rather, we need to designate times to focus on one thing and the designate other times to focus on another. Nehemiah basically had the people organized into shifts, with some protecting and some building and then, presumably, the would switch over. Reading further he speaks of people protecting the city with one hand and building with the other. That might seem like multi-tasking, but actually it is a compartmentalizing of sorts, with one part of the body focused on one thing and the other part of the body focused on another.

In another part of Scripture we are reminded to number our days. Sometimes I think we would also be wise to number our hours so that we can focus our time on the opportunities at hand.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for the example in Scripture of your people accomplishing considerable feats with your help and their own sense of focus and will. And for Nehemiah’s ability to lead them in such pursuits. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Nehemiah 3-4 and Luke 23)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Today's Workout

Chin-ups with Knee-ups
Front Barbell Squats
1-leg push-ups
Ab-Wheel Roll-outs.

Three rounds using my 9 Minutes-To-Fit routine.

Taking Stock of the Situation

Scripture Verse that caught my attention today: Nehemiah 2:13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate past the Dragon’s Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that had been broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire.

Observation: Nehemiah took some time to take stock of the situation before formulating his plan to rebuild the wall. It should be noted that he didn’t do this completely on his own. He was first given permission by the king to go to Jerusalem to begin with along with assurances of safe passage. Still, he took advantage of the opportunity.

Application: Every so often it makes good sense to take stock of our own situations and then formulate a plan. It’s a time to give thanks for the opportunities before us and to employ them as appropriate. There are any number of areas in life where we could take such stock: Time management, family, work, friends, school and church/faith to name of few. We can take a look at each of these areas and more to see if we seem to be headed in the right direction and what improvements might be able to be made—all in response to the gift that God has given us in Christ. It usually feels good to have a plan, even if it’s ambitious.

Today I formulated a plan which led to formulating still another plan. I'm grateful for such things.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for the opportunities you provide to take stock of our respective situations and to plan accordingly. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Nehemiah 1-2, Psalm 133, and Luke 22)

Friday, October 5, 2012

When You Can't Sleep

Scripture Verses that Caught my attention Today: Esther 6:1-3 On that night the king could not sleep, and he gave orders to bring the book of records, the annals, and they were read to the king. 2 It was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had conspired to assassinate King Ahasuerus. 3 Then the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”

Observation: It’s not always a bad thing to not be able to sleep.

Application: We probably all have times now and then when we have difficulty sleeping. Something tosses and turns in our mind and much-needed sleep eludes us. In such times it’s usually best to embrace the situation for what it is and make use of the time. King Ahasuerus did this long ago and, as a result, one man (Mordecai) was rewarded and a whole people (the Jewish race) was spared.

Not a bad night’s work!

Prayer: Lord, I love sleep and think it’s a wonderful gift. But on those nights when it doesn’t come so easily, help me make good use of the awake time so that the sleep is that much more satisfying when it eventually comes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Esther 3-8 and Luke 18)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Today's Stretch

Today I didn't even have time for a 9-minute workout. Well, actually I would have had time for the workout, but I wouldn't have had time cool down before taking a shower and heading off for this particular day. So I simply took 5 minutes to do my regular warm-up routine which still gets the blood pumping but doesn't break a sweat. Here it is again:

Body-weight squats
Leg swings
walking lunges
close-grip pushups
Waiter's bows
Light Dumbell deadlift/overhead press combo.

That was it! On with the day!

The value of "Worthless Slaves"

Scripture Verse that caught my attention today: Luke 17:7-10 “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”

Observation: This mirrors another verse in scripture that speaks of not thinking of oneself more highly than one ought.

Application: At first this passage seemed a little rough. I would be tempted to give the slaves a break. But in that day and time that was a slaves life. They functioned accordingly and would have found little support in complaining.

The challenge for us, of course, is that many of us think we are above a slave’s life. We think we are worth more, deserve more, should be catered to and the like. And on earth many of us have found ways to convince people that such things are true.

Still, at the heart of who we are is the fact that we are recipients of God’s mercy. We are servants who are called to be servants. And lest we think that is too harsh of a life, Jesus personally showed us an example of pure servanthood and called us to do the same. And in some ways one of the blessings is that we are actually given work to do. There is a purpose for our existence.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for the opportunity to serve you. May we always consider it something that we naturally “ought to have done.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Esther 1-2, Psalm 150, and Luke 17)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tasty and Healthy Meal

Yesterday's lunch consisted of an open-faced sandwich consisting of:

slim 100% whole-wheat sandwich buns spread with a generous helping of homemade hummus
covered with Kale that had been sauteed quickly in Olive Oil and topped with fresh diced tomatoes.


Today's Workout

I'm really loving these workouts because they are short but very focused and very challenging but still very doable.

Today's workout, after the warm-up, consisted of the following 4-move circuit repeated 3 times in my 18 seconds of work/27 seconds of rest interval fashion.

--Chin-ups with knee-ups
--Split-Lunge jumps
--Spiderman push-ups
--Ab-wheel roll-outs.


Scripture Verses that Caught my attention today: Luke 16:11-12 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?

Observation: Thought-provoking verses.

Application: I’ve been studying direct-response marketing principles for some time now and trying to figure out how such things can be appropriately utilized by the church. I do believe it can be done and that it in fact should be done. Yet it does require considerable theological and pragmatic thought. Be that as it may, the key person I’ve been learning from is from the secular side of things and his occasional rants into philosophy never fail to provoke thought. He is unapologetic in saying that the purpose of any business is to ethically make profit for the shareholder or the owner. He would go on to say that the purpose of any employee is to be profitable for the company. He is very, very, blunt and certainly provokes one to deeper thought.

Jesus was blunt in his own way. He forces us to consider the similarity in how we handle “dishonest wealth” and “true riches.” He forces us to see the similarity in how we are to treat what belongs to another and what is our own. He doesn’t necessarily provide us with easy answers, but he certainly leads us to deeper thought that is meant to eventually be expressed in deed.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for all people who, however blunt, cause me to think more deeply about life, about you, and about our role in your world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Ezra 5-6, Psalm 138, and Luke 16)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Today's Workout

A 4-exercise circuit repeated three times made for today's 9-minute workout:

--Running in place (high knees)
--Squat jumps with knee-ups
--Outside-elbow mountain-climbers

The squat-jumps are killers, but made for a very good workout.

Simple, healthy, and delicious meal

I picked up some Kale at the store yesterday and decided to saute it with some round-steak tips, slice of onion and some salt and pepper. That's all there was too it and it was deeply colorful, healthy, and delicious.


Scripture Verse that caught my attention today: Luke 15:32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

Observation: I’m struck by the words “But we had to celebrate…”

Application: There are times when celebrations are required—not in the sense of drudgery, but simply because the occasion is too grand to let simply pass by. Often times there is celebration when a soldier returns home, when a hostage is released, when an at-risk pregnancy finally delivers a healthy child. These are times when we just have to celebrate.

I get the feeling from the stories of Jesus that God truly longs to celebrate. With so much on earth not going according to plan, whenever someone finally ‘gets it,’ God can hardly contain Godself and breaks out into celebration. That’s a good model for us to keep in mind.

Prayer: Lord, help us to celebrate whenever appropriate. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Zechariah 13-14, Psalm 147, and Luke 15)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Today's workout

When possible, I like to incorporate some weights into my Monday workouts. Today I used a #100 barbell for two of the middle two of my 4-exercise 9 minute workout. So the work-out was 3 rounds of the following circuit:

--Neutral-grip pull-ups with knee-ups
--Barbell squat
--Bench Press
--Jack-knives while resting on my elbows and putting my feet on a skateboard.

Great little full-body workout!


Scripture Passage that caught my attention today: Luke 14:22-23 And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ 23 Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.

Observation: The Lord seems to love a full house.

Application: I’ve spoken to a fair amount of pastors who report declining worship attendance. There are any number of excuses for the absenteeism. More people traveling. More retirees with favorite get-aways. More extra-curricular activities for the kids on the weekends, more sleep needed, etc.

It’s tempting to think of such situations as “new,” and in some ways they are. But there is also historic precedent for such apathy as reflected in the verses that precede the verses above. People were making all kinds of excuses for why they couldn’t make it to the ‘banquet.’ The master (who represents the Lord in this parable) would have none of it but, rather, sent his slave out to “compel” other people to come.

It’s unclear how they compelled people to come, but perhaps that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Maybe we are supposed to be creative in our own time and place, sensitive to what might help people in our day and time feel a compulsion for worship.

Prayer: Lord, thanks for your gracious invitation. Help us to compellingly pass this invitation on. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

(Readings today included: Zechariah 10-12, Psalm 126, and Luke 14)