Growth

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character develops our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

Growth is hard. Any kind of growth is hard work. Whether we are trying to grow new muscles, learn new things or grow aspects of our character, growth is hard. I think that’s why Paul chose to remind us of the benefits of growth in this passage of Romans. He knows that growth is hard. Whether the growth is forced upon us as a result of circumstances or whether we are choosing to grow and train in a particular area, we need reminders of the end game. We need reminders of the ultimate goals and objectives we desire for ourselves. We need reminders of the goals and objectives God desires for us.

I don’t know about you … but when I am training to grow in a certain area, sometimes I get tired. Sometimes, usually when it’s getting really hard, I want to quit … or slack off … or “adjust” my goals. I begin to doubt if I really want what I am pursuing or whether it is worth it. But the truth is, those are the moments when I need Paul’s words the most. That’s when I need to remember that the hard moments are the ones when strength of character is forged, if I will just press on. These are the moments when I can, if I choose, become closer to my true self — the self that God made and desires for me to be. These are the moments over which I can rejoice, if I simply don’t quit. (And, by the way, the hard moments are not the best moments to consider adjusting goals. It’s wiser to wait until we are out of the hard spot and more sober-minded.)

Growth is hard. But the outcomes are good. Rejoice!

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Counter-Cultural

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2014 states (in reference to women’s clothing): “The measurements for a size 0 today were the measurements assigned to a size 8 in 1978.”

Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2014 states: “2.1 billion people, or about 29% of the world’s population, were either overweight or obese in 2013.”

And the May 30th article continued: “The increases in overweight and obese people ‘have been substantial, widespread, and have arisen over a short time,’ said the study.” The USA, of course, tops the list with 86.9 million people categorized as obese in 2013.

It’s a sad statistic.  And it’s had a toll on people’s health, longevity, lifestyle and pocketbook.  Health care costs have risen substantially.  But the truth is that our culture has endorsed it, if not encouraged it.

The link between the above two articles is obvious, isn’t it? Our culture has given everyone permission to gain weight, by calling what was a size 8 now a size 0.  Heck, you can gain weight and wear the same size!  Such “reframing” of sizes only furthers the epidemic.  What are those of us who, under the old system, were a 4 or a 6 supposed to do?  Ask the salesperson for sub-zero sizes? I can just imagine the evil glares!

I’m not saying that everyone needs to be skinny.  God made people in all shapes and sizes.  What I am saying is that we need to take care of the bodies God has given us.  But our culture has given us permission not to.  God loves everyone and wants us to be all that He created us to be … in this life and the next.  He gave us beautiful, capable, strong, complex, intricate bodies (see June 3, 2014 post). He gave them to us to steward. Let’s not let the world dictate our behavior, let’s let God renew our minds. Let’s steward everything that He has given us well.  Let’s reclaim these bodies to glorify the One who gave them to us!

All of Me

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made! Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14 (NASB)

Hanging in my exercise room, I have a poster of the human body and all its various muscle groups. Each muscle group has a different color, and as you look at it, you cannot help but be awed by how intricate and complex it all is … how all the various muscle groups are interrelated and interdependent.  I find it amazingly beautiful! And on this poster, I have placed a translation of Psalm 139:14 to constantly remind me of the amazing God who fashioned us with such care.

Sometimes when I look at it, I am reminded that this poster only represents the muscular system. There are other systems too, like our skeletal system, our neurological system, our system of veins and arteries, etc, etc. Layers upon layers of care and complexity! We truly are fearfully and wonderfully made.

So, with fear and wonder, I want to honor what God has so carefully fashioned. With fear and wonder, I want to care for this intricate mechanism He has fashioned for me. With fear and wonder, I want to thank God not just with my mouth, but with my whole being.

With fear and wonder, I am reminded that my physicality is intertwined with my spirituality. And I want to love God with all of me.