Friday, November 17, 2006

The Non-Trivial Pursuit

We chase after a lot of things in life, don’t we? Somehow, we humans seem to have a need for pursuit hard-wired into our genetic make-up. I pursued my wife. I got her phone number years ago, called her, and started the dating process. It must’ve worked, because we’ve been married for 8 ½ years now. I pursued the approval of peers in school. It was crucial to “fit in”, to know that I was accepted at all costs.

Now that I’m older, one thing I’ve written about recently is my health. I am pursuing better health. I am chasing after more strength. I am doing what I can to lose some much needed pounds from my midsection. This is a very necessary pursuit as I age my way through the 30’s, and one I need to stay focused on. That is one pursuit that is very easy to end.

But, these past few days have seen a different kind of pursuit. I’m not after this with this kind of zeal, but many are. It’s the pursuit of the Playstation 3. I have seen local news stories on TV all week about people literally camping out in front of Best Buy in tents to be the first in line to get their hands on one of these puppies. People are lined up at these electronics stores by the hundreds to get their hands on these and most stores will only get a few dozen in!

Now, I love video games. I am a child of the 80’s, and I grew up on Atari 2600 and the original Nintendo game system. I know Pitfall, River Raid, Super Mario and Donkey Kong. Even now, an Xbox sits in my entertainment center. And from what I’ve heard, this new system from Sony is absolutely amazing. But, is it worth camping all week in the rain for? Is it worth shelling out $600 for? I say wait a year and get it for half that. Not these brave, and may I say, crazy souls. I even heard today that one man was shot in the line for a machine at a Wal-mart because he refused to give up his cash (sad, and I pray for that man). Another was offered $3500 cash for his spot in line, and refused it! Yet again, I saw one on Ebay already. Want to hear the starting bid? Take your heart pills first. $25,000! Talk about a trivial pursuit! It’s not just a board game, friends.

People are creatures of pursuit, and we will pay dearly for it, whether that’s a game console or the thrill of free-falling at 5,000 feet. And, I believe that we as God’s creation were made this way by Him. He didn’t want to make a bunch of robots. He wanted people that would choose to love him. But that means we also have a million other choices besides God. Yes, I’m sure it pains God to know that people he created to love and enjoy Him forever ignore His goodness and chase after stuff that won’t last. But that is just how much He loves us. He loves us enough to let us choose to love Him.

I think of my own kids love for me. There are times I pick them up and hold them, demanding hug or a kiss, them in protest the whole time (Hey, the TV is more appealing them, you know!). Finally, out of frustration, they give me the hug and the kiss, and happily return to the tube, or the toy, or whatever. Then there’s the times that they seek me out, and climb in my lap, and give me hugs and kisses. The times they come just to tell me that they love me. You know, I’ll take the enforced hugs and “I love you’s”, but I rather have those that they freely give me. When they want to seek me out and tell me that they love me. Friend, if we feel that way about our kids, how much more does our heavenly Father about us?

This makes me think of one of my favorite verses: “…but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Phil. 3:12b. I love this verse because of speaks of the only pursuit with eternal value and blessings. It speaks of our pursuit of God, of knowing him intimately. I’m not just talking about theological knowledge. I mean a real relationship with God Almighty. We need to get our drive for pursuit going the right way. This is what that drive is about.

I don’t want to trivialize every other thing we go after. I wouldn’t have a wife or family if I hadn’t pursued my wife. I wouldn’t have a house if I hadn’t pursued a home. I wouldn’t have a job if I didn’t pursue employment. But the most crucial chase one can engage in is the one most neglected. Friends, it’s time to chase down God.

By the way, did you know that he is on a pursuit himself? But, tune in next time for that one!

God bless!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Here I Go Again!

Well, I'm at again. I once again decided that I need to start taking better care of myself. I need to get back in shape, and tone up. I started last week, and so far I've stuck with it. I decided to try a combination of things to get myself into optimal health. I am doing a cardiovascular workout of Cardio-kickboxing. I did this years ago, and it really works wonders. You can burn up to 800 calories per hour!

I also have been doing research on isometric exercise as a means of toning up. Basically, one isolates the muscle at the point where it is worked out the most. In the case of a push-up or bench press, that would be with the arms almost fully extended at shoulder level. So holding a push-up that point does it, as well as putting your palms together at shoulder level and pushing against the other hand as hard as possible for at least 7-10 seconds. The result? In 7-10 seconds you have done the work of a set, isolating the muscle. It also reduces the chances of injury. There are no weights to lift up, no back to hurt, etc. You know, so far, I have the "workout soreness" that follows a really good workout. And so far, I am feeling better.
I addition to the exercise, I am also trying to eat better. You know the saying, "garbage in, garbage out". So, I'm cutting down on the snacks and junk like chips and such. I'm trying to get more protein, and good carbs. I'm trying to eat more vegetables like carrots and broccoli, and also peppers. I do feel better!

This of course is a reminder to me personally that as important that my physical health is, especially that I'm getting a bit older, my spiritual health is much more important. And, just as we have to decide to start getting the needed exercise, so we have to decide to keep our spirits in shape too. We need to take the time to pray, not just prayers, but to live our lives in communion with Christ. To "keep the lines open". How do we do that? Worship is one way. The Bible says that we should "sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord" (Eph. 5:19).
We tune up our spirits in prayer. I think prayer is summed up nicely in one particular verse: "Keep on praying" (1 Thess. 5:17). Now that doesn't mean to live on ours knees, but it does mean that we need to keep an attitude of prayer. It's keeping the line open.

We keep in top spiritual shape by reading God's word. "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do." (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

And finally, I'll stop here. We keep in spiritual shape by giving. God is a giver. Just read the most well known verse of the entire Bible, John 3:16- "For God so loved...that he gave...". Just read this passage from 2 Corinthians 9- "And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, 'Godly people give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will never be forgotten.' For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will give you many opportunities to do good, and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched so that you can give even more generously. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God." (vs. 8-11, bold emphasis mine)

Giving doesn't just have to be about money, either. Don't get me wrong, the Bible tells us to honor God with our money (Prov. 3:9-10), but we need to honor him with all areas that we can give from. Like our time, and our talents. When you learn to give, and let God work that giving heart in you, you will come away blessed many times over in every area of life.
So, here's to good health, both spiritually and physically. God bless!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Timmy's 3!

Hey, all, well, it's hard to believe that my son Timmy is now 3 years old! It seems like just days ago that he was born. I remember the day vividly. It was Sunday, November 2, 2003. Our church's first service in our new building, and we weren't present because we were delivering Timmy. He now runs all over that building like he owns the place.
We are constantly learning new things as a result of having Timmy. Most readers know that we have 2 older girls, 7 and almost 5. But, as I guess I should know, boys are different. After all, I am one! Just yesterday, my dear wife was wondering why Timmy loves to seemingly painfully throw himself around the place, jumping, purposely falling, and sliding around. He seems play much rougher than our girls do. My only answer: he's a boy. We're different than you girls. Look, I've done my share of crazy boy stuff too. (Don't be too shocked if you read this, Mom!) As I mentioned in past blog entries, I once made a makeshift hanglider out of scrap wood and garbage bags, and tried gliding off the shed. Word to the wise: it doesn't work. I did my share of "smear the queer" style football, full-contact basketball, and attempting to invent "skateboard hockey". My brother and I would string our bedsheets across our room from one dresser to another and practice "diving over the line" with a football into the bed "endzone". So, yes, my wife can expect Timmy to venture off into much more physical play as he gets older (I really pray he doesn't try the hangliding thing!) Hey, at least we'll have a heads up for when Jayden starts getting mobile!
So, to Timmy, I love you buddy! I hope you have a great birthday today. Now go play nicely with your sisters!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Chasing Lions (My First Book Review)

*This is my first ever book review. I have no idea how it should be done. I pray that this review makes you want to click the book title and buy up a copy on Amazon!

I've read a lot of books. I've read a lot of good authors. People like C.S. Lewis, Max Lucado, and John Piper. I have one more author to add to my list-Mark Batterson. Mark is the Lead Pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., a church that is innovative even down to its multiple locations it meets at. The book Pastor Mark has recently written, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, is as unique a book as its somewhat odd title would lead you to believe. Taking an obscure story from 2 Samuel 23 about one of David's mighty men, who dared to chase down a lion and kill it in a pit all while in the snow, he begins to encourage us that there is a lion-chaser somewhere in all of us.

Now, chasing a lion is crazy. The first reaction to seeing a lion in its territory is one of flight. But Mark's point: a lion-chaser is a different kind of person. It's the person who realizes that life's biggest problems are all too often hidden opportunities from God.

Citing personal times of lion-chasing, and the experiences of friends and church members, Pastor Mark skillfully lights a fire that makes you want to take a risk for God, and his purposes. He encourages us to find our natural weirdness. To think outside the box.

This book is for preacher and parishioner alike. Everyone has a calling. Everyone Christian is a minister. And, in the end, the things you'll most regret in life are the lions you never chased, the chances you never took, the opportunities you passed up on.

So what are you waiting for? Chase that lion!