A wilderness of words

A wilderness of words
So subtly blurs the truth
That men rejoice in lies
They learned in Sunday School […]

Read the rest at Vine and Fig: Poems and Comments for the Lord

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He will have us all…

God loves his whole creation. Once sin was present in it, God began a long campaign to win the hearts of people so as to restore creation. God means for us […] to love everyone we can into the great mission of restoring everything in creation to all it is meant to be. The eventual destiny of redeemed human life is a restored earth.

— Trace James, So Just How Bad Is Rob Bell?

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Former translation nut seeking good home for many Bibles

Former Bible translation nut seeks an organization to which to donate many varied English translations for loving Kingdom use. Local (Minneapolis) would be ideal, but willing to entertain other options.

If you have any suggestions, please respond in the comments to this post. Thanks!

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Losing a third of me: Making a commitment to change

None of the workouts or diet tips and tricks that I’ve previously discussed could have been effective until I was willing to commit to the schedule changes and lifestyle changes necessary to support them.

When I first started to think about losing weight two or three years ago, I added myself to my wife’s gym membership, but didn’t really take it seriously, going a few times a month and poking at the weight machines. I wasn’t mentally ready to make the lifestyle changes necessary to effectively lose weight, so I didn’t. After pushing away from the blogging table in 2009, I tried to go the gym more often, maybe 2-3 times a week, usually in the morning before work. But when it’s not part of strict routine, it’s still pretty easy to say, “not today, I’ll go tomorrow.” Friday would come around and I’d been to the club once that week, or not at all. Eventually I realized that if I wanted to change, it needed to be drastic and it needed to be hard core.

So, beginning in early 2010, I began going to the club almost daily. At first, I had no idea what I was doing, but I was there and at least working up a modest sweat on a daily basis. At about the same time, my wife began working with a former personal trainer as a client (she’s a career development coach) and he agreed to meet with me as part of a work barter. We had a great meeting and I walked away with sheet full of actionable tips and tricks. It turns out that those tangible directions were what I needed to keep me focused on my daily goals. And daily means daily: every weekday, Monday through Friday, I was at the club before work. It became as much a part of my day as waking up, eating or going to work.

Fortunately, I had two things working in my favor: first, I am naturally a morning person and going to club every day simply meant that instead of parking myself in front of the computer for a few hours before work, I instead get up and go to the club. For those curious, I normally get up around 4am and make a cup of coffee, read some headlines or my Bible, then get to the club when it opens at 5am. I’m usually at the club until 7am, then get to the bus station and am in my office by 8am. That’s a four-hour commitment, but it works for me!

The second thing in my favor is that I have been blessed with a wife who has been willing to get our boys going in the morning and see them off to school before getting started on her own work. It would have been almost impossible to keep to this consistent schedule if I were also responsible for helping out with the morning house activities – or at least I would be getting to work much later in the morning and having to work later in the evening, which would take away from being home for dinner with the boys. Family dinner is an important cornerstone to our day and we’re very fortunate to be able to work our schedules around it!

I realize that my early-morning schedule doesn’t work for everyone — the point is to find a schedule that does work and commit to it. There are several people in my office who take their lunch hour to go to a nearby club and work out. That’s commitment too.

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Elected to bless the nations

HT: Peter Kirk, Gentle Wisdom

Election needs to be seen as a doctrine of mission, not a calculus for the arithmetic of salvation. If we are to speak of being chosen, of being among God’s elect, it is to say that, like Abraham, we are chosen for the sake of God’s plan that the nations of the world come to enjoy the blessing of Abraham […]— Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God’s People

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The marriage of the millennium

We tend to spend a lot of time interpreting Revelation 20 and trying to understand the 1,000 year reign of Christ with the saints. In our linear Western mindset, we mainly read the text as a narrative in which Event C follows Event B, which followed Event A. I have my doubts that this is how the text *should* be read, but I’m going to run with it for a moment to entertain a speculative thought that I recently had.

First, consider Revelation 19.5-9:

Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both great and small!” Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'”

Bookend that with Revelation 21.1-2:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

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Beyond the sanitized page: plunging into the letter to Thyatira

We’re in the middle of a sermon series at church on the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. This past Sunday, we looked at the letter to Thyatira — Revelation 2:18-29.  In the middle of the letter is God’s statement of intent to punish a person or source of authority that was leading Christ-followers into some form of physical and/or spiritual immorality.

The intent of this post is not to focus on whether the term “Jezebel” refers to a historical woman or whether it abstractly represents a non-Biblical idea or spiritual principle that represented a threat to the Christian faith. No, instead, I want to focus on something a little more earthy.

After Jezebel has exhausted her time to repent, Revelation 2:22-23a says that God will “cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.  I will strike her children dead.” (NIV2011)

Seems pretty straightforward and whether the adultery, tribulation and children are physical or spiritual, it’s not a stretch of the imagination in today’s world to picture the literal images of sexual disease, suffering and death. But let’s take a stroll beyond our sanitized evangelical translations, shall we?

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Losing a third of me: When to carb or not to carb

Recent studies have begun pointing an evil finger at the carbohydrates in our lives. And I’d certainly be hard-pressed to argue that processed food is not an epidemic in our modern culture. However, one of the most important points that my trainer made was that carbs as a whole are not the problem, it’s when we eat them that’s bad.

When we pile on the carbs for dinner and after-dinner snacks, we switch our body metabolism from energy burning (weight loss) mode to energy storing (weight gain) mode. To avoid this, he advocated front-loading my carb consumption so that my morning meal was more carb-heavy, then decreasing my carb intake throughout the day so that I would end up having a light carb dinner and none after that. I can’t say that I followed the plan perfectly, but I really tried hard to eliminate the post-dinner snacking and that has probably helped the most.

In conjunction with this front-loaded approach to carbs, I also had to consciously elevate my protein consumption throughout the day. Most health sites recommend that we take in about a gram of protein for every pound of weight (more if you’re into muscle building) every day. That meant that when I started out on this weight-loss program, I needed to be consuming 300g of protein throughout the day in order to keep my fat-burning metabolism going. Kind of like stoking a campfire to keep the coals hot and burning.

Since eating steaks 5-6x a day wasn’t realistic, I ended up using whey protein powder supplements to fill the gaps between breakfast/lunch, lunch/dinner and dinner/bed. A 50g protein mix three times a day is pretty doable and there are lots of flavors to choose from. My trainer preferred Isopure because it had no carbs and I certainly had a lot of success with it, though Optimum Nutrition is a cheaper alternative (with 3-4g of carbs per serving).

Finally, my trainer had a general rule of thumb to follow:

Eat for what you’re going to do, not for what you did.

It doesn’t take a lot of calories to sit at a desk and work on the computer. Following this guideline eliminates reward eating, e.g. stopping by a drive-through for a greasy fast food breakfast after working out, and helps keep you thinking forward.

 

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Losing a third of me: Cardio, strength, repeat, rinse

Some people will swear by cardio training, some people by lifting weights. I tend to favor cardio, but my daily routine tries to incorporate both. I typically work out for about an hour, alternating between 12-15 minutes of cardio and 10 minutes of modest strength training. During cardio, I’m pushing hard to hit 85-90% of my max heart rate (~145-160 bpm) or higher and typically burn 18-20 calories/minute. For the first six months, I did more interval-style training for longer periods of time, e.g. 30-45 minutes, but as my overall endurance has built up, I prefer shorter, harder workouts alternating with the strength work.

After each cardio session, I’ll do some modest weight training. By modest I mean 70-100 pounds of individual weight machines. My trainer really wanted me to do more integrated core exercises with free weights, but I never could get into that, especially in a busy club environment. Instead I do two sets of 20 reps on each machine, then move onto the next one, hitting 3-4 machines in each session. Then back to cardio. Repeat as many times as you have time for — I usually do 2 or 3 cardio sets and 2 strength sets.

After all of this, I hit the sauna or dry steam room for 10-15 minutes. In addition to obvious benefit of sweating out some extra water weight, I subscribe to the thought that the heat keeps your core temperature elevated, burning some additional calories.

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100 reasons I haven’t been blogging…

For those keeping score, it’s been about a year and a half since my last post on this site. I certainly haven’t been absent in cyberspace as my friends on Facebook and Twitter will attest, but this particular arena has been lying fallow for many reasons, most of which I am not going to discuss. However, one activity that has replaced regular blogging is worth talking about. And that is making a commitment to my personal health – specifically to addressing issues with my weight and the impact that it was having on my life.

Over the years, I’d slowly gained about 100 pounds as the result of work addictions, over indulgence in fast food and alcohol, relationship stress, sympathy weight during two pregnancies, late night snacking while working/writing on the computer, etc, etc. As a “big boned” guy, it was pretty easy to hide behind my wide shoulders and not admit that the weight was adding up. But it was a lie and took a toll on my ability to live well both physically and in my personal relationships with the people who cared about me, first and foremost my wife and our two boys.

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