Archive for the ‘Living’ Category

Muscle Mass

November 3, 2022

Muscle mass is an indicator of health and longevity.

Therefore, resistance training with weights provides a tool and and a discipline to increase muscle mass for improved health and longevity.

We can view our heart as a muscle.

Jesus checked the state of our heart’s well-being–always.

Therefore, we must exercise our heart—not only from the point-of-view of our cardiologist, but also from the point-of-view of our spiritual cardiologist.

Perhaps resistance training for the heart consists of loving those whose views we disagree with. Or perhaps those whom we disdain. Say something nice to someone you wouldn’t normally socialize with. Perform a small act of kindness for the next person you meet. Exercise that muscle.

It’s an indicator of health and longevity.

Play on Words

November 1, 2022

Social media is anti-social.

Health foods are not healthy.

Thinking on these plays on words, I wonder:

How many Christians are not Christ-followers?

First century Jesus-followers were said to be part of The Way. It was the way of life—how they lived—that attracted more people to The Way. 

Living in a certain way led by Jesus’ teachings was the crucial truth. 

And still is.

Contradictory Advice

September 23, 2022

“They” told you that you need to walk 10,000 steps a day for good health.

Then, we find out that the number 10,000 came about to fit a design in Japanese which looked good with the Kanji character for 10,000.

Then, another study says that 7,000 steps is good.

Followed by another study that the number of steps isn’t as important as how fast you take those steps.

I received a newsletter yesterday that put the number back to 10,000.

I study health, nutrition, exercise and have training and certificates for whatever good that does me.

That’s the trouble. There is some science, but not enough. Some opinion, but way too much.

Sometimes I feel that way about biblical studies and religious advice. Too many opinions; not enough life.

And many of us who try to put spirit to life fall short.

But, we try.

Are You Smart?

September 21, 2022

I picked these ideas up from Seth Godin. He is an acknowledged marketing guru. But his thinking is broader than that. An example follows.

Smart is no longer memorization. It’s not worth much.

Smart is no longer access to information. Everyone has that.

Smart is:

• Situational awareness

• Filtering information

• Troubleshooting

• Clarity of goals

• Good taste

• Empathy and compassion for others

• The ability to make decisions that further your goals

The good news is that smart is a choice, and smart is a skill.

This thinking applies broadly. People memorize great amounts of the Bible. Yet, nothing in their lives reflects any awareness of this knowledge. Jesus confronted the Pharisees of his time on this very point.

The question for us today. Where have we stopped with mere memorization? Where have we acted like someone “smart” putting the knowledge into action?

Truth

September 9, 2022

As far as I can remember I have been on a journey seeking truth. I had not idea what it would be when I found it. But “it” had to be out there somewhere.

Even studying the sciences, that was in the back of my mind. When I describe God in terms of quantum physics, my poor Reformed friends just shake their heads. They know what truth is and have no need to explore.

I wasn’t satisfied.

I wrote a paper as a freshman in university about the concept of truth revealed in Henrik Ibsen’s play/poem Peer Gynt. It’s stuck with me ever since.

Truth isn’t a statement. A belief. Something that separates me from other people such that I can feel justified hating or killing them.

Truth was a journey. Sort of like the peeling of an onion. Layer after layer. Day by day. I live today for the day. I learn something new today. I serve someone today. I grow a bit today. Some days I’m closer to God; some days I’m farther away. But God is always around me.

Doing More Than The Minimum

September 7, 2022

A department of the US government establishes something called Minimum Daily Requirement for a number of nutrients.

(Poor) Students ask the teacher, what’s the minimum amount of work I need to do to pass this course.

Laws establish the minimum requirements for staying out of trouble.

Religious laws also establish the minimum requirements, as well as, offering means of comparison with others.

Some people in the workplace get by with the minimum amount of work to avoid being fired.

The Pharisees (rule-followers) asked Jesus what the minimum effort was to get them right with God.

Jesus continually told them that it would take their whole heart. Similar to Yoda’s words to Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Jesus said, don’t look back. Do–with all your heart (and soul, and mind, and strength).

Jesus does not want followers looking for the minimum daily dose of goodness. He wants people whose whole life is immersed in that goodness.

Personality

August 4, 2022

The woman next door dressed most of the summer in the back yard in very skimpy bikini swim suits. Yet, she did not exude sensuality–that special personality.

A teenage girl talked with me about a career in entertainment. She possessed a marvelous singing voice. Her posture, however, portrayed defeat. I tried to guide the discussion into the areas of self-assurance, personality,

I was a nerd as a teenager with no particular personality until I was almost 30.

Listening to Guy Kawasaki’s podcast interview with Abraham Paskowitz about surfing brought out a key component of personality–that inner joy with being and with doing what you love.

I think Jesus had that characteristic–doing what he was meant to do and enjoying it immensely (well, except for those three days).

The Apostle Paul’s preaching was so bad that once he put a young man to sleep. He was unfortunately sitting in an open second floor window, fell out, died, and had to be revived by Paul–who went on preaching. But he must have exuded that inner joy of doing what he was meant to do.

Having a personality infused with the fruit of the spirit–love, joy, peace, and so forth–shines through the personality. People can tell. We can tell. It’s quite a way to live.

Tips For A Stable Life

August 2, 2022

Fear less, hope more

Eat less, chew more

Talk less, say more

Love more, and all good things will be yours.

Swedish Proverb

I wrote about some of my disciplines recently. These four thoughts speak volumes with few words.

Let me be quiet and allow the meanings to sink in.

Extreme Discipline

July 29, 2022

The original theme of this blog concerned spiritual disciplines riffing Richard J. Foster and Dallas Willard. I read their books many years ago and even taught a couple of classes on the subject. 

It was discipline that brought me through the pandemic plus moving to a new state in reasonably good shape. The discipline of consistent bed time. Rising early for workout and meditation—even when the workout had to change because I had moved to a new community and all the gyms were closed due to Covid. Specific writing times. I did gain some pandemic weight which is all off now. Working on dropping more, although my doctor told me I was doing fine two weeks ago.

One of the few news sources I trust (even though I sent a reprimand to the CEO about too many adjectives in headlines at times) is called Axios. They use a technique called Smart Brevity, which I applaud. They’ve started a new newsletter called Finish Line focusing on life lessons. 

Here are thoughts from today. I endorse all of these.

1. Our diets: There are countless good ones, but let’s face it — most boil down to limiting things (sugar, simple carbs, booze, processed food) and starting things (more water, greens, fiber, healthy proteins — peas, eggs, fish). Try extreme dieting discipline for one week and measure how you feel.

2. Our faith/mind: It’s hard to center your brain and soul without some daily meditation, prayer, reflection. I try to meditate twice daily for 20 minutes and pray afterwards in the a.m. For me, this only works when I am extremely disciplined about it.

3. Our bodies: To me, every person should find a daily exercise habit, even if it’s walking, air squats, planks or biking. The body and mind vastly underperform without it. Start young to make it an extreme habit. But better to start now than tomorrow.

4. Our careers: All of the above give you a massive edge at work. But if you really want to crush the thing you spend the vast majority of your hours doing, you need to be more disciplined and self-demanding than others. There is no easy way to be great.

5. Our goodness: This might seem an odd coda. But few things fuel contentment and inner joy more than giving to others. If you think about the benefits (helping others + the psychic lift of doing it), it’s a very efficient use of extreme discipline.

The big picture: Start small. Pick a passion — practice extreme discipline for a few months. You’ll find it gets increasingly easy to apply it to other parts of your life.

Why Meditate?

July 22, 2022

Mindfulness meditation infuses all manner of psychological and New Age counseling. Varieties include thousands of apps on your phone, Zen, Yoga, and, yes, our Christian tradition going back to ancient times.

Regular meditation of whatever variety will change your personality. You become calmer. Centered. Aware of people and circumstances. That has been my experience. If your meditation is focused on God, then you are given occasional glimpses of life with God.

Spiritual writer Eberhard Arnold points to another benefit coming from meditation, if we but dare to go there.

Eberhard Arnold

The only justification for fleeing the confused and hectic whirl of contemporary culture so as to withdraw into the inward self is if doing so will increase our fruitfulness. The goal must be to unite with eternal powers in order to gain a strength of character that is ready to be tested in the stream of the world and is equipped to meet the demands of our day. Our watchword is not “Retreat!” but rather “Gather for the attack!” 

Eberhard Arnold

We retreat into the silence of meditation to prepare ourselves for life outside when we meet people who are at odds with us. How will we deal with people and circumstances? With a solid core of spiritual strength, we can face the challenges.