Wednesday, September 28, 2011

1 John 3:6

I had a friend ask me recently about my take on 1 John 3:6 "No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him." Wow, take a moment and think about that!

It's difficult to consider the implications of that verse - because we are all sinners (people who, well, sin!). It's our nature. And it's something that John spoke about a lot in his Gospel and in 1 John. In 1 John 1:6-10 John makes another statement that echoes that of 3:6. He says that if we say we have fellowship with Christ but walk in darkness that we are liars. If we say we're sinless we're deceiving ourselves. If we say we haven't sinned we make Christ out to be a liar! On the positive side of things, John writes in 1 John 2:5-6 that God's love is perfected in us when we keep His word and walk in the same way He walks. John goes on to explain that by walking in darkness (as mentioned in Chapter 1) he means specifically that we aren't loving each other.

Later in Chapter 2 (1 John 2:15-17), John states that the love of this present world is something else that proves we do not love God. In a brief discussion about "anti-christs" that were among them but didn't confess Christ (1 John 2:18-27), John states they never were truly "of us."

However, the section in 1 John 2:28-3:10 is where I would like to focus in this post. This section starts with perhaps the key statement that we who know him and practice righteousness have been born of him (see also John 3:3-8). We have "been born of him" - we are "called children of God". We will one day be like him, but not yet.

Certainly, much of the direct context we've read so far shows that John was focusing heavily on Christians needing to love each other. And even the rest of his letter after this section deals heavily with this theme. So, this is extremely important - for how can we love Christ if we don't love his bride (the Church)? But a broader application of 1 John 3:6, and one that I believe has much scriptural basis, is that we simply cannot have life more abundant as followers of Christ when we are continually seeking after something that is contrary to what His will is in our lives! Daily, do you wake up planning to do what's against His will? Do you go to sleep at night knowing that tomorrow will be a continuation of disobedience to God? I believe this is what John is talking about. Do people struggle with daily sins? Of course! Paul even said that he does what he doesn't want to do and doesn't do what he wants to because of the indwelling sin in his life (Romans 7:19-20)!

Of course we are going to stumble and fall, but I believe that we should take heed to this warning John is giving to us in this verse. This is especially true, in context, of those who live their lives daily with anger and resentment toward another brother or sister in Christ. And let's not forget 1 John 3:7 immediately following it - "Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous." This is how we know we are His children, and what a blessing that is! We are working hand-in-hand with our Savior towards our sanctification! (Philippians 2:12-13)

Just a couple of hours after my friend brought up this topic, I was in the car listening to some Page CXVI and Come Thou Fount was playing and the words to that hymn are so fitting with what I believe John is teaching us in this letter:

"O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee."

Or as I re-phrased it - Grace! Each day we are indebted to it. And Christ's goodness binds us to him as with handcuffs to keep us from wandering!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How I've Lost 27 Pounds (and counting...)

Since July 1, I've lost 27 pounds - over 10% of my original body weight (247)... First of all, thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement! The first question I always get asked is "how are you doing that?" - usually wondering what method or diet I'm using.

Well, the short answer is "less food and more exercise." I'm not doing any of the fad diets where you stop eating one particular type of food, etc. Just less caloric intake - a lot less, actually. And, to be honest, it hasn't been as hard as I would have imagined!

But to expand a bit, let me start by saying that after getting back on July 16 from our mission trip to El Salvador, I had lost 7 pounds. I wondered "what did I do differently?" I didn't deny myself food when I was hungry, but I also didn't snack or eat anything right before bed. We were also very active during the day - we're talking aerobid-type active! :) So, I decided when I got back that I would try to apply some of this in my day-to-day life. I stopped eating at night and stopped snacking and drinking non-diet sodas (I mostly drank diet anyway, so that wasn't quite as tough). And I try to go shoot hoops with friends once a week and get on the elliptical machine once or twice a week at home. And I kept dropping the weight.

After I had lost about 13 pounds, I was told about - it's free and there are apps for mobile phones. You use it to keep track of your calories and exercise. So, I started doing this (along with Jen) and it was good to see that what had already become somewhat normal for me was an intake of between 1,200 and 1,300 calories. At this rate, I should be able to lose around 2 pounds per week - which is pretty much right on track with my weight loss!

I put in some things that I used to eat (like Zaxby's Wings & Things - nucular lol - which is almost 1,600 calories and 93 grams of fat!!!) And that would be just one meal from the day (of course not every day)! Yikes... Seriously bad! Can't do that anymore, but that's fine!

So, that's my "secret". Just eat less - we rely way too much on food. I didn't realize this as much, but it's true. Of course I miss some things, and sometimes I will splurge when we are eating with friends. I also realize that the more I lose the more focused I will have to become to continue losing weight - i.e. more exercise and less of certain types of food. I'm drinking a lot of water now, too, and generally limiting myself to one caffeinated drink per day. I generally eat the same types of food as before, just less of it. If we go to Moe's I may not eat the big burrito, but would get a junior or split the big one with Jen.

And you know what? I'm feeling great!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Worship Service Full of Misery

Since we're on the topic of music, I remembered something from high school as I was listening to some music this weekend. OK, so I wasn't listening to Christian music... I have this soft spot in my heart for "The Big 90's Weekend" that is on 94.1 down here in Atlanta. It's actually quite disturbing to my wife at times (sorry honey!).

But I digress. A song came on and it made me think back to a time when I was very disappointed, to put it nicely, with a youth event I was attending with my church group. This was around 1995/96 and I was a high school senior when this event was going on, so if you're familiar with the Christian Music scene from the early 90's there wasn't exactly a whole lot happening that youth would really get into. In the mid 90's things started going pretty good (bands like Third Day and Audio Adrenaline were just getting started). This was the time of "Lord I Lift Your Name on High" being one of the big praise songs and "Shout to the Lord" wasn't written yet either. I guess I'm rambling possibly to excuse the fact that most of the songs played by the host church's youth band that night were not worship songs, much less Christian music. I remember then during the first part of the night thinking that I could let the lack of praising God at a church event with a focus on Bible teaching slide some.

But then we were done with the first half of evening and I still remember the gist of the prayer of the Youth Minister hosting the event before the band started playing again. He prayed that we would have hope and a blessed lesson, etc... But then a load of bricks hit me. Hard! Because on the opening chord I knew the song the band started playing. They played "Misery" by Soul Asylum. While the meaning of this song is debatable, the theme for any interpretation is that people are in misery and they try to bring other people down with them. Really? No. Really?!? I had to walk outside to think and compose myself.

That's not what the church should be about - not even youth events. Students want more than many adults may give them credit for. If they want to hear popular music and play games they can go just about anywhere. But this isn't what  we should give them in place of The Gospel. In some ways this experience was a turning point for me and I still feel strongly about this bait-and-switch trap churches often fall into - unwittingly as it may be at times. Of course I'm not saying that we should shun everything secular; as I started out with this post I mentioned listening to secular music and it reminding me of this. But I think you get the point - enough rambling.