Monday, November 28, 2005

battling slow change

i stepped on the scale this morning as i have done everymonday for the past 6 weeks or so. i was surprised to see that my weight had gone up, again, for the third straight week. i started rationalizing, after all, this past week was thanksgiving (see post from 4 days ago), and i couldnt be expected to not take in as much of the food as possible since their had been lots of work and preparation.
but, after just a few moments of rationalizing, i had to confornt the truth that where i want to be, and where i am didnt change that drastically from just this past week. weeks and weeks of less and less excercsing, and more and more odd and late night eating habits have been the source of my increasing waistline.

as i step back and look, wondering how did it get to this point, the first thing i think of is the beginning of the semester when i was working out and eating healthy everyday of the week, except for the a "cheat day". i felt good, i was determined to keep it up, and i was sure i would. then of course, the first few assignments started coming in, and i started my balancing act. i was successful at first. i shifted around my priorities to make sure i still had time to work out and eat the right meals at the right times. i had just started a new job at the same time that classes started back. so i went from, no job, no school, plenty of time to excercise and prepare healthy meals, to my current scehdule, which gets me uo at 6:30 am to get to class on time and gets me home from work around 11:30 pm. there were breaks throughput the day, but i had to study,read, and do homework. little by little i started working out less. much faster, my eating habits staretd deteriorating. and now, here i am, little my belt out a little more than i used to, and quickly getting dressed after a shower so i dont have to see the reflection in the mirror.

how did this happen when i had such good intentions?

i have often thought that our, or at least my, spiritual level of "fitness" are linked in many ways.
both our souls and our bodies need nutrition, excercise, rest, and maintenance in order to function properly. once any of these start to go, inevitably they all go. then we are left a few months later with memories of our good intentions but the reality of our actions.
what are the culprits? again the comparisons continue. the first one is laziness. if i dont excercise, then i dont get stronger, and i dont burn off calories. this results in lack of muscle and weight gain. the same holds true spiritually. if i am lazy and dont spend time in the word or in prayer, then my strength (spiritually) begins to wane. the same can be said for lack of nutrition.
the big issue, no matter what the name, is sin. physically, eating what i know im not supposed to eat, or eating too much of anything, is in direct rebellion to what i know i need to do, and what i dont need to do. i am aware when i eat "x amount of something that i am overeating, or eating something i shouldnt eat at all, yet it is my choice, and therefore, the consequences are mine as well.

The same is true spiritually. when i sin, knowingly commit an action, attitude or a thought that is contrary to god's will or commands, then i reap the consequences of that as well. then one day i wake up and evaluate my spiritual condition, and the picture i have in my mind of what i should look like is nothing like the reality staring back at me.

the thing about it is, it is a process. while i was working out and eating right regularly, i would allow myself one cheat day a week. on that day, i could eat whatever i wanted (within reason). i fi wanted pizza, go for it. hamburger and fries.. go ahead. but then that next day, i was back on the wagon. the reason why this was ok (and yes, i did research and it is suggested by many doctors and professionals to do this to keep the body from thinking it is "starving" and stroing every calorie and fat gram) was because it was one day out of seven. one day of less than stellar eating would'nt wreck the efforts of the other six, and remember, i cheated "within reason".

it works the same way with sin, although the analogy breaks down at this point, because we know we aren't allowed a "cheat day". scripture is full of commands to constant obedience and holiness. but still, sin sneaks in, and we fail in one area. we know that failure that one time won't be the end of us, so we pick ourselves back up and go along. the thing is though, those sins are never excusable, and they add up. so when th etime comes when we take inventory of ourselves (which is never as often as it should be) we act surprised.

we must be on guard to watch over our souls, minds, and hearts, the way we meticulously count calories and carbs. praise god that as believers we are covered by his grace, but that is no excuse to continue in sin. as paul said:

" What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? "
(romans 6: 1-2)

let us keep careful watch on the sin in our lives, lest we look in the mirror one day and not recognize the reflection. sin transforms, but praise god, so does grace.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

thanksgiving for grace

eph. 1:3-6

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us[b] for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

i was hoping to avoid the obligatory "thanksgiving" journal entry, if for no other reason than it seems too obviously cliche'. but, i find myself at my parents house for thanksgiving, and quite thankful to be here.
i purposfully chose this verse because it is so easily out of my mind when i should be dwelling on it daily. it is truth that christ has blessd us, has blessed us with "every" spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. so often we look for fulfillment or validation in so many places, something to prove to us or others that we have merit before god. paul tells us that not only are we blessed, but the blessings have been prepared before the foundations of the world. they aren't a recent idea or decision. before we were ever born, or had ever done anything good or bad, god chose us without any forseen merit in us for adoption in christ (salvation). it was *his* will, not our right.
that is grace.
our praise to him should be completely and totally void of any thought of our having anything to do with our standing before god. the reason we are his, is because he chose us. praise god, for if left to our own sinfulness and rebellion, we would never choose him. (read rom. 3... for just one of many times scripture teaches this truth)
on a grander scale, our blessings serve a larger purpose than or own mere pleasure. our adoption and blessing has a purpose... to serve as a springboard for praise of "his glorious grace".
on this thanksgiving, i want to be mindfulof how much i have been blessed, and to recognize god's grace-but not to stop there, with simple recognition. but to move from recognition to praise of our Gracious Father.