Posts Tagged ‘health’

Get Cleansed Not Just Healed

June 16, 2016

The Gospel of Mark is a great piece of writing. Declarative sentences, concrete nouns, action verbs. The action moves at an almost breathless pace.

The book was designed to be read to the gathering. The gathering was perhaps a synagogue or a courtyard of a large home. People would gather around and someone would read. Perhaps originally someone would be in the gathering who had been at one or more of the scenes. He or she would nod their head in remembrance.

Some recent studying I was doing discussed the idea that the healing miracles Mark reports also carried the concept of cleansing.

Remember the whole Old Testament thing about Clean and Unclean? A woman menstruating was unclean. Touching a dead body was unclean. Eating pork or shellfish was unclean. Lepers had to call out “Unclean” as they walked lest someone touch them and in turn become unclean.

Unclean meant separation from the community. When Jesus healed a leper or the woman with the blood flow that never ceased, he did far more than a physical act of healing. He cleansed them. They went from unclean to clean. They could now rejoin their community.

Doctors today can perform some of the miracles of Jesus daily. Physically. But healing the whole person and restoring to community? That’s hard.

I’ve read where plastic surgeons have done great work restoring a face badly disfigured by accident or disease. When the bandages come off and a mirror is held in front of the patient, they will often not see the change. What they see in the mirror is what they remember, not what they are.

Sometimes we fail to see the cleansing we receive through grace and instead continue to think of ourselves as unclean. Sometimes we forget as we are helping someone else that part of the help is to “cleanse”, that is, to bring them back into the community restored to wholeness.

The Body As The Temple of the Soul

March 18, 2016

The apostle Paul loved sports metaphors. He often discussed training using the example of athletes.

He also talked about the body as a temple.

We need to take care of our bodies. We need to maintain the best health we can and be in the best shape we can. We’re not all going to be body builders or anything, but we can be fit within our limits, healthy within our limits.

It is hard to concentrate on prayer or study or to be of service to others if we are always tired. If our concentration is lacking due to poor nutrition. If we can’t sit up straight due to weak abs.

Check out leaders. Often they have plenty of energy and fitness.

I’ve been reading a lot lately on nutrition. Just finished a book that began as a great report and survey of science regarding how bad simple carbohydrates are for our bodies. We consume way too much sugar. High fructose corn syrup, a sugar substitute in processed foods and drinks, goes straight to fat. White flour–not good.

The author of the book warned readers in the beginning that his conclusion would be controversial. I thought, with this great science, how could that be.

Well, he left science behind. His transition was a page or so discussing the glycemic index.

That’s a measure of how fast carbs are digested. The slower, the better. Whole grains are better than processed simple carbs. He mentioned the science of this briefly. Then jumped immediately into non-science.

He said someone asked a paleontologist what our first ancestors ate thousands of years ago. He said, meat. Lots of meat, and then maybe whatever plants they could pull off and eat.

Voila–the paleo diet. Supposedly this is what our genes are built to thrive on.

But, wait a minute. There’s no science in this. It ignores the science of glycemic index. It also ignores our ancestors who learned to cultivate grains, built civilizations and cities, practiced art and engineering, and lived longer and healthier lives.

Mostly in America we eat way too much. The dual problems are too much sugar (which is in everything) and too much food.

Train like an athlete. Eat lean protein, complex carbs, plenty of water (maybe some with coffee brewed in it ;-), lots of vegetables. Get plenty of appropriate exercise–walking, running, weight lifting, Yoga or Pilates, etc.

Your energy will go up. Miscellaneous health issues will disappear–although unfortunately maybe not the bigger ones. But you’ll still feel better.

Take care of the temple of the soul. It will help your spiritual discipline. It will help your leadership.

Ten Lessons for Long Life

March 4, 2016

I was at a conference last week, and one speaker led off with this slide. Well, actually, his first slide was in Chinese. This was the second slide 😉

10 Lessons For Long Life

These are excellent lessons for life and a healthy body. I’ve tried them all. They work. And when I’ve had health issues, it’s because of going the wrong way on a couple.

The result of having too much stress in our life has finally sunk in to me. I thought I handled stress well with meditation and Yoga. Not so much. You can do the practice, but if it is not deep and meaningful — and mindful — then it doesn’t alleviate all the stress.

Action rather than talking is good. Sometimes we’re good at talking about what we’d like to do–or what we’d like someone else to do–and never get around to doing.

Giving grows the soul. We all have too much stuff. I just threw out almost 1,000 lbs. of books from my library. That was about half. I still have four bookcases full. Some books I’d like to have for reference. Others, I’ll never read again. Like I told someone, I’ll most likely never program in C or C++ again, so why keep the books. Or the first version of Java. Programming and math books are the heaviest.

More chewing slows us down. I still have residual habits from working in manufacturing where we had 10 minute breaks and almost 30 minutes for lunch. You learned to eat quickly. Bad habit.

As for walking, never seek the parking spot closest to the door. Park at the end of the lot and walk.

I’ve been reading Dallas Willard’s “The Spirit of the Disciplines” again. He devotes much space to discussing Paul’s approach to the body–the body and its care is important to Paul, as it was for all the ancient peoples. We should learn from them.

Seven Principles Of Thinking Like Da Vinci

November 11, 2015

Michael J. Gelb’s book, How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, reminds us of how to elevate our consciousness, creativity, and contribution.

I talked about curiosity as the first principle Monday. Let me quickly summarize the entire seven. Then go pick up the book and dive into the details. The bonus last chapter teaches how to draw like da Vinci–maybe not as good, but builds on his ideas.

(Gelb uses the Italian. Go figure.)

  • Curiosita–Am I asking the right questions?
  • Dimostrazione–How can I improve my ability to learn from my mistakes and experiences? How can I develop my independence of thought?
  • Sensazione–What is my plan for sharpening my senses as I age?
  • Sfumato–How can I strengthen my ability to hold creative tension to embrace the major paradoxes of life?
  • Arte/Scienza–Am I balancing Arte and Scienza at home and at work?
  • Corporalita–How can I nurture the balance of body and mind?
  • Connessione–How do all the above elements fit together? How does everything connect to everything else?

It is about body, mind, and spirit. You can, and probably should, incorporate these into your spiritual practices. Something to think about.

Have We Become Voyeurs

October 28, 2015

One of my Spiritual Disciplines is fasting–fasting from TV news, that is.

No, I’m not a flaming conservative who thinks all the media has a liberal bias. Nor do I think about whether there is a conservative bias. TV news has a distinct sensationalism bias.

It’s all about how each network can get the largest number of people to watch for a long enough period of time to serve up plenty of advertisements. Don’t kid yourselves. You get sucked in to your news source of choice because they have figured out ways to get you to watch. This is simply a business model.

We fall for it.

The TV in front of me the other day while I was running on the treadmill showed off some so-called “expert” speculating about the motives or mental health of someone who injured and killed a number of people with her out-of-control car.

What good was that speculation? There was no fact discussed. Merely opinion. And not even informed opinion. Just the fantasy of speculation about someone they don’t know and really don’t care about. And a million people watched it. I even read the closed caption for about a minute to see what was up.

This is what you get when someone thinks that showing news 24-hours-per-day is a good thing. They quickly discovered that filling all that time with valuable information was either too costly or too boring. They have to hook you and reel you in. Not enough viewers means not enough advertising which means not enough revenue.

But people watch. And not just in North America. It’s a human trait.

Why do we get so wrapped up in idle gossip and speculation about others when there is so much of ourselves that we need to pay attention to? Maybe that’s too hard.

Practice the Spiritual Discipline of fasting from TV news. You might just discover your blood pressure dropping, your emotions more centered, your friends and family more understanding, and your attention fixed upon others whom you can love and serve. I call that a good thing.

Teach About the Whole Body

October 15, 2015

The Christian church, especially the Protestant tradition that I’ve grown up in, focuses almost exclusively on the “soul”. Most Protestant denominations, at least in the US, focus on salvation messages.

Thanks perhaps to Dave Ramsey, more and more churches are beginning to discuss money not in terms of law–you should give more money to the church–but in terms spiritual development. How you manage your finances is an important part of your overall spiritual focus and development.

I hear almost nothing about taking care of your body. This “temple of the soul” as Paul says.

It’s not like the Bible is silent on the issue. Many of the Mosaic laws are in reality health laws. Of course, like all religious laws they quickly get taken to the extreme and the initial reason lost.

There is the “Daniel diet” that has gone around. You know, when the Babylonian king picked a group of Hebrew young men to join his leadership academy, they asked to stay on a healthy diet rather than the foods rich in fat and sweet and alcohol. After a trial run, they proved to be more healthy than the others, so they were allowed their own diet.

If you take care of your body, you are in better shape to pursue your spiritual development.

Taking care of your body does not mean that there is no illness or physical debilitation. Some of that is unavoidable genetics. Some accident. 

All of us can be like Daniel and watch what we eat. We could be vegetarian or allow ourselves some meat. Either works. But eating more of your diet from plant sources, eliminating excess fat and sugar, eliminating sodas, eating until 80% full, drinking more water, dining rather than gulping down your meals (like I did last night proofreading some PowerPoint slides while eating) all work for the betterment of our bodies. We can practice this no matter what we have.

Even those who have physical challenges can get some form of exercise. For those who can walk, few things are better than long walks in nature. For those who can run–run. Resistance exercises like some form of weight lifiting build muscles and bone. Mind/body fitness like Yoga, Tai Chi, or Pilates tone the whole body. Yoga is good for people with a number of chronic physical problems who can’t exercise any other way.

Lots of things contribute to our spiritual health. We need teach about mind, body, and soul so that we are fit for the race set before us.

A Mind Like Water

July 13, 2015

We read in Proverbs (14:30) “A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh.”

David Allen, author and consultant of “Getting Things Done” fame, talks about having a “mind like water.” That is actually a phrase he learned in Karate class that may come from Zen. The metaphor is of a pond of still water that absorbs the disturbance of a pebble or rock thrown in with the ripples gradually going away to nothing.

In Getting Things Done (all about personal productivity and effectiveness), this means writing down everything that you are holding in your head. Empty everything, every task, every commitment, everything you are trying to remember by writing it and putting it in a trusted space.

I’ve written before that I love Nozbe for doing this. It is a hard discipline to write things down. But when you empty your mind, you have “mind like water”–still, tranquil, waiting to handle the next disturbance.

James Altucher, a Silicon Valley investor, just wrote about productivity. He quoted Albert Einstein who once derisively stated, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what is an empty desk a sign of?” Altucher says, “that’s OK, Albert, I’d like an empty mind. That way I can fill it with what I choose.”

A tranquil mind means that I can concentrate on my Bible reading and other reading early in the morning.

A tranquil mind means that I can meditate with a clear focus on God far from all the distractions of clutter.

A tranquil mind means that I can come up with creative ideas for my business and my ministries.

As the wisdom teacher says, “A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh.”

Be Ye Doers of the Word

July 7, 2015

Paul’s work in writing Romans results in his mature thinking assembled into one letter.

He starts with why we need God. He continues with how through Jesus we have access to God’s grace. Then he concludes “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.”

That was in chapter 10. Not satisfied to stop with the basics of spiritual formation, Paul continues with many examples of how we continue our spiritual formation journey through how we live.

I told yesterday how I struggled with Romans 13 in my younger years. But if you read the first several verses of the chapter you can see where Paul was going. Government is instituted by God to create order in society punishing the wicked and upholding the good. Insofar as government does that, it is fulfilling its work as ordained by God.

The 20th Century witnessed the rise to power of the idea that government should take a much more active role in promoting the welfare of the citizens.

It’s kind of like we transferred the idea of God as the “big vending machine in the sky” as when Janis Joplin sang, “Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz” to the idea of “Oh [insert name of capital city], won’t you give me…”

Before you jump all over me on a liberal or conservative slant, step back and look. From my perspective as merely an observer, I see people of all political stripes in almost all countries with their hands out to their governmental leaders at every level looking for money or favor. Business people want tax breaks or preference for roads and sewers. On the other hand is the dependency we’ve created with the welfare state.

It is a human condition; not a political one.

From God’s point of view, we should obey that government that provides justice and order so that we may go about God’s work in us for our spiritual formation and to teach and to love our neighbor.

I think part of the church’s role in loving our neighbor is not abdicating our role to the government. When a plague hit Rome in the early years of the church, it became a time of great growth in the church. Why? Well, the brave heroes who governed Rome took off for the hills leaving behind women, children, sick, and elderly. Who took care of them? Christ followers left their hiding and cared for the sick and weak.

Should we work to change governments that fail to live up to God’s work for them? Of course we should. Just look to the example of the prophets. Even Jesus tackled the problem of his local government leaders (the Jews, not the Romans).

Should we work to tackle some of the social problems we’ve abdicated to government? Yes! I know the theology that says that all we should do as followers of Christ is to preach. But I cannot find that theology anywhere in the New Testament.

As James instructed, “Be ye also doers.”

Read With Mindfulness

April 22, 2015

Did you miss National “Pot” Day? 

Sometimes I wonder about all these “national days”. Or “national months”.

We are in National Overeaters Month. Did you know that?

Paul, the apostle, talked of keeping the mind and body fit along with the spirit. But Christianity often became just a theology rather than a complete way of life. If we are bringing our entire selves as a sacrifice to God making our body a Temple of the Spirit, then overall fitness should be part of our daily habits.

The reason I know that it’s National Overeaters Month is because among all the sources of information I digest daily are writings on health and fitness.

One such source discussed how we eat–indeed, over-eat–due to a response to our emotions. When we feel down, we eat. Doesn’t a big bowl of ice cream seem especially delicious and enticing when we have bad feelings?

Aside from opinions about religion, no other topic has such a diversity of views (and mis-information) than health. Especially nutrition. No carb, who cares about carbs, high fat, no fat, eat as much as you want, starve yourself, and on and on.

Most of us know that in America one of the greatest national diseases is piling our plates too high with food. I just returned from 9 days in Europe. The emphasis was on reasonable portions of high quality food.

One woman said to me following our first dinner served on the river boat, “The amount of food on our plates looked incredibly small. But after I ate, I was satisfied.”

The one buffet on board was for breakfast. I noticed people taking an omelette, a couple of scoops of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, cereal, bread. Wow. I found an omelette with a couple of the small hard-crusted rolls sufficient for the entire morning (considering that this week, breakfast is just an English muffin).

Neither my wife or I gained weight over the 10 days we were gone.

But…

Scanning my nutrition news yesterday, I ran across an article that said be careful of limiting your portions. You may not be getting enough to eat. This was an American source writing to Americans (this blog is read globally, so I try to differentiate). 

I would hate for someone to read this and use it as an excuse to pile the food on higher so as not to starve!

When you read, read mindfully. Be aware of context. Be aware when someone is just filling up space. Even when reading the Bible, be mindful. Don’t just grab a verse at random. Read it in the context of the paragraph, the story, the whole of the Bible.

Be as fit as possible within your capabilities and constraints–emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. Take your entire body to God as a worthy sacrifice.

Spring Cleaning for the Soul

April 1, 2015

It’s spring cleaning time. The traditional time to air out a house long closed while winter brought bitter cold and snow. Things that are closed up for long become stuffy and even unhealthy.

Including lives. Including churches.

It’s time for a renewal. Maybe even coinciding with Easter–the celebration of the ultimate renewal, the resurrection of Jesus.

Maybe this is a good time to take a look at yourself. What clutter has accumulated around us and in us. Maybe it is some accumulated “stuff” that just occupies space. Adding nothing. It felt good when we bought it. But…time to give it away or send to the trach.

Maybe the accumulated stuff lies in hates/aches,  cares/tears. Or maybe unhealthy relationships whose toxicity is slowly killing our energy, desire, focus. 

The power we have to improve our lives starts with eliminating, as opposed to accumulating. 

Clear out our personal physical space

  • Toss stuff
  • Clear clutter
  • Clean everything

Clean out the body

  • Weed out distressing habits
  • Weed out distressing individuals
  • Find friends who are energetic, positive
  • Drink more water
  • Eat healthy foods in moderate quantities

Calm the soul

  • Quiet the mind through prayer and meditation
  • Put worries and negative thinking behind
  • Focus on service to others, less focus on self

It all starts with a quiet mind, which lets us begin to achieve focus. Then we can find the important things in life.

“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm,” said Robert Louis Stevenson