Queen of the Treadmill…and Elliptical…and Recumbent Bike…and…

October 25, 2010 at 5:41 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , , )

 

With a few exceptions, I work out six days a week.  Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are my “elliptical” days.  I’ve built enough endurance to master the advanced setting on the trainer and can even do my entire workout backwards.

 Tuesdays and Thursdays are my “treadmill” days.  I must confess that running is not my forte’ and the slightest thought of it causes my nose to wrinkle up, my knees to ache, my stomach to contract, and my breathing to become labored!  Nonetheless, I drag myself onto that machine, command my children not to fight or mom just might die trying to respond to them and run at the same time, and huff, puff, and cramp through the next thirty-five moments of life. 

Sprinkle this general routine with recumbent bike rides and various ab exercisers from late night infomercials and you have a surefire recipe for success, right?

WRONG!

You see, I’ve always had this flawed mindset that I can eat whatever I want and workout twice as hard later to keep the pounds off.  The problem is… it doesn’t work that way!  Not only does medical science disprove my logic, my own body does!  Honestly, I haven’t lost a pound and kept it off in the last 3 and ½ years.  I’m sure you’re wondering how this can be possible with my rigid exercise schedule.  Well, there are currently three reasons…okay, a lot more than that, but three MAJOR reasons for my lack of success.

Number 1  Kettle cooked jalapeno chips

Number 2  Chocolate of any sort

Number 3  Ice cold Coca Cola

The three greatest loves of my life!  The things that bring me instant joy beyond anything else in this world…other than my family!

“I don’t want to do this the rest of my life!”  I complained to a dear friend as we worked out this morning.

“Maybe we’ll get where we need to be and not have to anymore.”  She encouraged me.

But deep down inside, I know that as long as there are jalapeno chips, cokes, Famous Amos cookies, chocolate covered peanuts, Hershey kisses with almonds, cookies and cream, Rocky Road, and chocolate Moo-lenium Crunch Bluebell (you get the idea) my weight will always be an issue.  It’ll be a constant battle and I’ll have to fight will all my strength because my self-discipline is practically non-existent some days.  The “no” in me is usually not big enough to overcome the temptation, so I give in almost every single time.

Knowing that nothing will change until something changes, (mind blowing concept!) I recently committed to giving up my daily cokes (Except when we go out to eat and in absolute emergencies.  Hey!  Cut me some slack here.  Everybody’s got to start somewhere! )  As the weeks have passed, I can see a very small but noticeable difference.  It’s that difference that strengthens the “no” inside of me a little more every time I encounter the desire for a coke.  And at the moment of decision, I can honestly say I’d rather lose the weight than enjoy the soda.  I’m well into the process of getting there on the chocolate…but have to admit that I’m still a slave to those darn chips!

We don’t have to look very hard to see a spiritual parallel here.  First of all, we can’t just intake whatever junk we want and expect to be unaffected by it or to easily get rid of it later.  Remember the old saying “Garbage In, Garbage Out?”   Sin happens to be a lot like junk food.   It appears to be harmless at first.  Like chocolate, it doesn’t take long for sin to become a regular part of our life and we certainly try to justify its existence.  What’s wrong with chocolate?  Well, nothing…except for the calories it contains that forever attach themselves to our hips in the form of giant fatty deposits due to unhealthy levels of sugar and fat!  Put that way, it’s not quite so appealing anymore!  Likewise, in the heat of the moment, the lure of unrighteousness usually doesn’t come with a disclaimer listing consequences that will be suffered for partaking.

  Sin offers the ease and convenience of grabbing a bag of potato chips over taking the time to make a healthy snack.  How often are we too busy to do the right thing?  We don’t have time to pursue righteousness, so we settle for less.  We think we’ll worry about the consequences later when they show up. 

Sin often appears to offer something “good” that masks all of its bad.   The caffeine in my coke makes my day go by much smoother, so I’m willing to overlook every other reason that it might not be a wise choice.  Sin’s “caffeine” might be physical pleasure.  Or maybe personal gain.  But any way we look at it, we WILL eventually pay.  Because nobody is immune to its effects.  Even my gorgeous stick skinny sister-in-laws can’t get away with a junky diet for long!

We can “workout” spiritually, reading the Bible, praying, spending time listening to God, and doing good deeds, but if we’re not willing to give up the junk  then we’re not going to get anywhere.  We’ll stay on our spiritual treadmill for a lifetime with no change.  No results.  No fit spirit to show for all of our hard work.  It is absolutely crucial that we get to the point where we desire spiritual change enough to say “no” to that little white lie, to those impure thoughts itching to be entertained, to the anger we feel rising up within us. 

Just like junk food, sin ain’t going anywhere anytime soon.  It’s something we’ll battle for the rest of our lives here on earth.  We can either let it take us down, or we can change our mindset, strengthen our inner “no,” choose to stand against it, and let go of the unrighteous indulgences we’ve picked up along the way of life.

Is it going to be hard?  Absolutely.  As hard as giving up that wonderful throat burn and eye glaze you get with that first gulp of coke, that second of pure bliss when chocolate melts in your mouth, and that ever satisfying blast of burning flavor you get from a jalapeno chip.  But once you’ve gone without it for a little while, the change you see and feel inside will be sooooo worth it!

So, today I challenge you to search your heart, actions, and attitudes.   Find your “junk” and tell it, “You’re just not worth it anymore.”  And don’t forget to pray for me…that I’ll one day have the strength to let go of those stinkin’ chips!

 In my next few blogs, we’ll talk about a lot of the character flaws and other “junk” that God’s been pointing out in my life and asking me to let go of.

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Safety Nets and Sacrifices

October 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm (More than Mediocre) (, , , , , )

My son, Josiah, has been trying for some time now to share Christ with a classmate at school. 

“Mom, he just doesn’t get it.  He tells me that he can go back and forth between evil and good.  He says he can do whatever he wants because God will forgive him anyway.  I tried to tell him that it doesn’t work that way but he just won’t listen.”

Josiah knows and understands the truth of God’s grace, or unmerited favor, which can be found in the fifth and sixth chapters of Romans.  Indeed, God will forgive those of us who come to Him with a repentant heart regardless of how “bad” our sin may be.  BUT…that does not give us freedom to knowingly sin. 

Many choose to embrace sin because they think there is a “safety net” of forgiveness available to “cover” them.  Not only do those with this mindset not understand how serious of an offense sin actually is to God, but they are choosing to take advantage of His mercy. 

God’s mercy is not an excuse to live in disobedience to His word and do whatever we want.  Sin is a BIG deal.  So big, in fact, that nothing other than a blood sacrifice can bring forgiveness to a sinner.  The Bible tells us that the price for sin is DEATH.  Before Jesus died on the cross to forever take away the sins of the world, God’s people were required to sacrifice an innocent animal, a “substitution” for themselves, to atone for their sins.  His people were responsible for much more than a quick prayer and an apology.  They had to face the truth of what their sin really was. They had to view it from God’s perspective-see it as filthy, awful, and so vile that it cannot even be in the presence of a Holy God.  To be forgiven, they had no choice but to place their hands on that innocent animal and to lean heavily against it, symbolically transferring their sins to it.  They experienced the animal’s undeserved death, watched the blood flow out, and literally felt life exit the animal’s body.  For the wages of sin is death.  No exceptions.  Something had to DIE to pay for their wrong choices. Because the sacrifice determined whether or not the sinner was in right-standing with God, it was not something that was approached casually.   No one justified ungodly choices by saying, “It’s not a big deal.  I’ll just go murder something, cover myself in its blood, and feel its very life fade to nothing.” 

 Sin was avoided at all costs.

Jesus’ death removed the need for the substitutionary animal sacrifices altogether –for He became my substitution and your substitution once and for all.  He was the undeserving lamb that paid the price for our sins. 

With great remorse for what we’ve done, we lean heavily on him to take away our sin.  We don’t approach him with a casual, “Forgive me for this today and tomorrow I’ll be back with something new for you to forgive” attitude.   A true understanding of Christ’s sacrifice removes our “safety net” mentality and replaces it with a deep resolve to pattern our actions and choices after those of Him who loved us enough to take our rightful place of death. 

Today as I was reading in Jude, I ran across an interesting passage that I didn’t even know existed.  In verses 5-7, Jude reminds us that the Lord delivered His people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those of His chosen who refused to adhere to, trust in, and rely on Him.  Jude also points out two other examples of rebellion:  the angels that were once pure, holy, and living in God’s presence who gave in to pride and joined Satan in rebelling against God and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah whose inhabitants were so full of sin that God wiped them clear off the face of the earth.

God is Holy.  He will not be associated with sin.  If God punished His chosen people, angels, and an entire city for justifying sin, what makes us think He’ll look the other way when it comes to us?  What makes us think He’ll wink and wave as we choose to take advantage of Him? 

Sin separates man from God.  Even those in relationship with Him.  When we choose to sin, or miss the mark or standard that God has set for us, we choose a small degree of separation from Him.  When we make sinning a habit and justify it, it doesn’t take long for that small sliver of separation to become a vast expanse.

 If you find yourself to be far from God perhaps it’s time to view yourself through His eyes.  Are you just using Him as a “get out of hell free” card?  As a safety net?  Or maybe you really do recognize the seriousness of sin but compromise has slowly crept into your life?  Either way, know that your situation WILL NOT change until YOU choose to change it!  It just takes one step at a time…in the right direction.

 Jesus paid for our sin with His LIFE! 

 The very least we can do in return is to LIVE FOR HIM.

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