Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving - In All

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

"YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!" I heard you think that. I have too.

Now it's front in center in our mind: The thing. Yes - the thing that collides with this verse.

The thing that is wrecking our life. The anchor that has slowed us or stopped us from moving forward in our life. The thing that causes rage or the looking for medication.

It doesn't matter what it is. Some thing entered our life; now it dominates. It may go under the surface for a while but it always dominates. Maybe there is a legion of these things.

But look again: In everything give thanks.... It's a small word but it changes everything. It liberates us to practice this Scripture truth. IN not FOR. In everything not for everything. Do you see?

I was hit by a car on my bike last week. Giving thanks in that situation is different than giving thanks for it. I am not a Calvinist. That person would say God caused or orchestrated or willed the accident so I have to give thanks FOR it.

I do believe in a big, huge, sovereign God. He isn't surprised by anything. I also live in a fallen world where horrible things happen. Evil is everywhere. The devil and demons are real and in some way are out to wreck my life. These two or three colliding things are beyond my ability to understand. I think error and false doctrine come when we try to put it in a neat little box that we can understand and explain.

So back to my bike wreck: I am thankful IN it. I'm thankful to be alive. I'm thankful I wasn't seriously hurt. I'm thankful that I learned to be more observant; in the future I will make sure the driver of a car turning right on a red light sees me before I pass in front of them. I'm thankful that I was able to meet with the driver of the car a couple days later and extend grace to him. I'm thankful that he took responsibility and paid for the damages to my bike. I'm thankful for a new bike that I like even more than my old one.

So a bad situation in a fallen world is redeemed because I can give thanks in it. I can turn it around in my mind. And something else can happen. Here is what Romans 8:28 says: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. God will work this situation for good. He will take a situation that was meant for bad and redeem it.

Thanksgiving and gratitude will save us from ourselves and an evil world. When we choose to give thanks we won't be tricked into blaming God for evil or for not caring about us or what is going on in our life. We will have a completely different perspective.

So, about your thing: In and not for. Start now.

Philip

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Mistakes

I was hit by a car yesterday. I was near the end of a great bike ride on a beautiful afternoon. I was about 10 minutes from home after a 20 mile ride.

I had a green light and headed into the crosswalk. The driver of the car was making a right turn on the red light. Thankfully I hit the side of his car rather than him broadsiding me.

The driver made a mistake. He should have looked to the right before turning. I know I have done the same thing myself.

What a jumble of memories I have of the accident. Things are coming to me this morning that I didn't remember yesterday. I have a slight pain in my left rib. That is where my body hit the car. Right after the collision I felt okay. Someone came to my aid and was asking if they should call an ambulance. I didn't think that was necessary. I didn't hit that hard, although there was quite a dent in his front fender right above the tire.

I expected my bike to be bent up. It ended up better than I thought. After some adjustments I rode it home.

The driver made a mistake that could have ended up worse for both of us. He will have some consequences and once my bike gets repaired or replaced I should be okay. I'm thankful for minimal damage.

I could have been in his place. He was more shook up than I was. I'm glad I wasn't the one who had messed up this time. But maybe I did. My wife said I should have called the police. Maybe so. What if he denies responsibility later she questioned. I don't think he will. He didn't seem like that type of a person. I probably should have called someone to help me think straight.

I called him on the phone later. He was very sorry and still upset. I imagine he will have his own flashbacks. It had to be very traumatic for him too.

So on this Thanksgiving Day I am very grateful for many things. I am also grateful that we can learn through our mistakes and that in God's mercy we get cut a lot of slack.

It's good to remember these things.

Philip

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Body and Blood

I am reminded this morning. Body and blood; not just any but that of Jesus. We have communion.

Resignation in the garden: there is no other way. Sweating blood in anticipation.

Betrayal and arrest.

Mocking, hitting, beating. Flesh ripped away. Crown of thorns.

Rejection.

Dragging a cross through the streets.

Nailed to a timber on a hill. Agony.

Separation from the Father. Unthinkable.

Spear to the side: last blood spilled. Death brings darkness.

Forgiveness and reconciliation. I am a friend of God.

Thanksgiving.

Philip

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Fitness Pal

I was surprised yesterday by a message from my food diary app. I have used it for 365 days straight. I credit that app with helping me lose 70 pounds last year and keeping it off for 7 months now.

It can be very difficult to lose weight if you don't know the calorie value of what you are eating. If you are guessing, you are probably way low – that’s why we progressively add weight. Some people try extreme exercise, hoping that that will help. Others try fad diets or think there are foods they can never eat again. That doesn’t work in the long term either. I have written in other blog posts of the need for a lifestyle change so I won’t repeat that here.

My Fitness Pal is the app I use. It is available for most phone platforms or you can use their website. I use it on an IPod Touch. It is completely free. It is also very easy to use and only takes a few minutes of time each day to track what you have eaten or what you are thinking of eating. I have been spared from many high calorie meals by looking up foods before I eat them.

Here is the link to the MyFitnessPal website where you can set up an account and get the apps. All of the data syncs between app and website so you can enter info in either.

You can also track exercise in the app and get a realistic picture of how many calories are burned. This is an important part of weight loss too. If I walk 30 minutes at a very brisk pace I will burn between 160 and 180 calories. If I ride my bike very hard for an hour at 14 mph I will burn about 500.

Well I hope what I have learned in my weight loss journey will help you be successful in yours.

Here is a link to other posts about my weight loss journey.

Philip

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Grief


It comes in waves; it settles in layers. It brings pain, sorrow and sadness.

Today was a day of celebration that turned to sadness. My son Matthew turned 13 today. We celebrated him being a part of out family.

Then my 23 year old daughter, one who could be called a prodigal, brings news that tears the joy out of me. She is one who pursued God with a passion. Then came bad company; the kind that Scripture says corrupts good morals. It was a spectacular slide downward. She abandoned her husband of 1 ½ years and took up with an infidel. Her whole life changed.

On the way down she joined the company of those who call themselves “childless by choice.” Yes, this from a lady who so loved children and would be an amazing mother. But caught by the snare of the world, the one that says there is so much more than the blessing of children. Money, possessions and fun were to be chased after.

So the news of today: Some health issues I won’t go into but leading her to a hysterectomy. This bad news for a 23 year old, my young daughter and one I love but feel so far from.

And she says it’s all okay, no big deal, didn’t want kids anyway. But is a rock thrown into a pond with no ripples? The ones that hit me feel like a tsunami. Is a curse come upon her; the one called barrenness? Oh I know that is such archaic language; and such archaic thought. Yes in a society that no longer values children in the Biblical way.

I grieve for my young daughter even if she can’t or won’t or maybe will at some time later. And to be honest, I grieve for me. Yes, this will affect me and my wife and the legacy we had hoped for.

And I will pray for something else. I pray for her heart to soften, to be broken by the gentle hand of God that it may be made tender like His once again and that she will return to Him. And I pray that she will not have such a final thing happen to her. That she and the news will change. There is so much being lost now in the place where she dwells.

Will you hurt with me for this wandering lamb? Will you now say a prayer for her? Thanks.

Philip

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fear

Bandit
We have a dog that is full of fear. We got him from the pound. Who knows what happened in his life before he came to our home.

When I walk I take Bandit with me. He knows when I am getting ready and gets all excited. Sometimes he is disappointed when he finds out I am going on a bike ride. I look the same for both. The clue is I either get the leash or water bottles.

It's on the walks that I recognized his fears. He will see someone or something and his pace changes, he slinks down and I have to encourage him along. It used to seem funny to me.

One of Bandit's bad habits is barking at the mailman. Some people around the house have said he is being protective. On our walks I have noticed that when we encounter a mailman he becomes especially fearful.

With some things I have read recently and some work I am doing in my own life a light went on. I think the reason he freaks out about the mailman is not because he is being protective but because he is terrified.

I see the same thing in my life. Certain experiences have led to various fears in my life and those fears help cause me to react in wrong ways.

I have fears about being abandoned. I have fears of relationships ending. I am just discovering how these fears influence my behavior. An example: why go to all the work of trying to build relationships with other men when they are just going to fall apart? And why would someone want to be my friend anyway?

So I am terrified and barking at the mailman.

Glad to hear your thoughts on either me or Bandit.

Philip

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