I have six months to reshape my life. I can do this.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Life was meant to be lived together in community. Genesis (the book not the group) 2:18 says that it is not good for man to be alone. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 points out that two are better than one and that we are to be pitied if we don't have an encourager, a friend. Jesus surrounded himself with friends and even though he stole brief moments alone with God, he still made sure to be back with people. Hebrews 10:25 compels us to continue to worship together.

There is power in connecting to God together. There is heart in our worship, passion, when we worship together. Even Jesus promises in Matthew 18 that where two or three are gathered together, he will be there too. There is a promise when we worship together. That promise simply says that when we come together in Christ's name to worship the living God, He is present with us.

Now, keeping this in mind, Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father and son. Due to tragedy at birth Rick is unable to walk or talk. Eventually, through technology and the loving pushing of his parents to make sure he has as normal a life as possible, Rick was able to write out his thoughts. He communicated to his dad that he wanted to run in a simple five mile run. Dick wasn't a runner but agreed to push Rick's wheelchair in the run. Rick said it was the first time that he didn't feel handicapped, that race.

Now Dick pushes Rick all over. They have competed in marathons and triathlons, Dick towing Rick in a boat, riding with Rick on the front of his bike and pushing his streamlined racing wheelchair as he runs. Rick couldn't compete without his dad. Dick wouldn't compete without his son. But instead they do it together. Dick is the body. Rick is the heart.

There is deep spiritual truth to that. We shouldn't be happy or content worshipping without people we know should be in worship. If my worship lacks power or heart or passion, maybe it is because I know that there are people who should be connecting to God with me and I have let them slip away. I have not been living up to my end of the 10:25 challenge. Who do you know that should be in church but hasn't been? Why haven't you called them? Why is it acceptable to you that they are NOT in church?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Running the Cycle

Tomorrow night we move another group of graduates through the youth ministry. It is my seventh class to see off since I got to Hot Springs. While I do feel older and certainly look it, I am extremely proud of watching another group run the cycle with me.

I have taken two groups completely through, from 7th through 12th grades. I look forward to more challenges. But tonight I feel a bit reflective. I am also feeling a bit tired. And restless.

Restless because I feel like things need to change. We cannot do what we have always done. There has always been a sense of fluidity to how we do ministry. But a youth ministry must be a bit more flexible. Must be fluid. We have to be able to make some significant changes every few years. Our ministry is entirely different every two years.

A regular church, its dynamic remains a bit more constant. But the youth ministry must be able to change somewhat. We are on the verge of some significant things. And we must be able to make some changes. So I am excited to see what lies ahead. And I am praying fervently that God will allow the freedom, the elbow room, for us to make the necessary changes. If not, it is just gonna be business as usual. And I am not sure that is exactly desirable.

So, change for change sake? Bad. But change for purpose, to help you get where you feel you are being lead? Have to do it. The problem is, I am not sure how open we are to making some changes like that right now. But I am sure your church is totally different than mine. Totally.

And a quick FYI. Apparently, Super Summer in Oklahoma in the mid-90's...not a bad idea after all. Who knew?

One last thing on my mind...
RIP Jerry Falwell. I'm not a huge Falwell fan but he had moments of clarity. And he kept somewhat rooted to the effectiveness of the local church. I saw him once on the show POLITICALLY INCORRECT and he was asked about the problem with welfare. He said the church dropped the ball and stopped taking care of the poor. That is why Congress was forced to deal with it. I thought that was great. Until he said that the reason 911 happened was because of the homosexuals and the pagans. And feminists.

Falwell was much more palatable than other Christian nutjobs who try to rally the troops on the far right. Lord, spare me from anyone from the 700 Club or Colorado Springs.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The First Day with The Widowmaker

So I worked out today, for the first time, with a trainer. Now, to be clear, it was not my first workout. It was my first workout under the watchful eyes of a trainer. My trainer is named AJ but I affectionately refer to him as "The Widowmaker."

I call him "The Widowmaker" because as he was working me out, he told me about all of the men who have had health problems and/or heart attacks while he was putting them through a workout. That is encouraging news.

So today he just taught me some things I could do at home. We are not looking to be a musclehead. I just needed some basic exercises that I could do at home. I have been walking on the treadmill or around my neighborhood since November almost every day. But I need to start building muscle, getting stronger and toning up. And after today, I need to strengthen my core - the back and specifically my lower back.

Man, we did some stuff for about an hour and a half that I thought was going to kill me. And the thing is I could barely do any of the exercises: new-fangled push-ups, twisting, pseudo pilates, crunches, some easy weight training, working on the big ball. Honestly, I was not that successful doing any of the exercises. At first I felt a bit embarrassed and somewhat humiliated. How could I not do some of these easy things? But my core is weak. So I must work on strengthening the core. Luckily, according to "The Widowmaker", my back and chest and stomach will get stronger rather quickly.

When your core is weak, it makes every exercise uncomfortable and really difficult. It is hard to get into the flow when your back hurts or your legs give out from overcompensation. And as I was being pushed through that, it absolutely resonated with me spiritually. When my core is weak, everything else is just taxing. When my spirit is not connected with God, everything I do that is God or church-related is tiring and maybe even discouraging. It is certainly an empty experience. My prayers seems to bounce around the room. My praise and worship falls flat. My Bible reading might has well be a quick glance over the latest Red Sox box scores.

But as my core strengthens, both physically and spiritually, the harder things seem to come easier. And when the harder things come easier, I can experience more of them. And as I experience more of them, I become stronger.

The lazy fat guy who has been in charge for 32 years is still around. A part of him always will be. But I have to stay motivated to get healthy, both physically and spiritually. I have to work out each day, somehow. I can let some muscle groups rest some days but I still need some basic exercise. I need to spend at least one day a week working my exercises very slowly to activate multiple layers of muscle. And some days I need to work through the exercises quickly, to really get some cardio action happening.

I have to connect with God each day, somehow. I can let some of the intense study and prayer lax some days but I still need the basic connection. I need so spend at least one day a week working my prayer life out, digging deeply into God's word and meditating a while on what He is saying to me to activate deeper layers of faith. And some days I need to work out my faith quickly, to cover a lot of ground to sort of reconnect with some of the broader and larger themes happening.

Funny how things happen. The best thing? "The Widowmaker" actually came to me on his own and asked if he could help me out. He was really encouraging and wants to keep doing this. So I will. I will get stronger. I will be faithful to what he has taught me. And ultimately, my core will be strong enough to really allow me to work out.

Thankfully, working with "The Widowmaker" has sort of reconnected me to The Lifemaker.