Monday, August 25, 2008


Fast food is bad for you. That probably didn't surprise anyone, but I'd like to take a different perspective on why: usually it's the grease/fat content...or whatever other problems health experts and doctors have with your average value meal. I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about why WE (the consumer) magnify the effects of fast food. We do it with our lifestyle. We "need" fast food because we try to do too much on a regular basis. We grab fast food in the drive thru lane on the way to work or school, scarf down a few thousand calories, then we don't allow our bodies the time to properly digest it. We do this on road trips, before a long day of sitting at a desk...not always, but I'm fairly certain we've all done that quite a few times.
The body needs time to break down a meal. It helps to have a few moments to let food settle, then a small amount of light exercise could help a meal (even a heavy fast food meal) to sit better. Large amounts of grease and no exercise afterward are a great way to the unhealthy diet that many of us are dependent on these days.

So, what's this have to do with reflection (the title)? Our eating habits are a reflection of our lifestyle- we try to do this, or go to that, and never really stop to think about what we're doing. We never allow ourselves time to digest what we're doing, and what we're getting out of it. When was the last time you examined your day as you prepared for a restful evening? I'm willing to bet that for most of us, it's been a while. Usually, we're less concerned about yesterday and today, and more worried about tomorrow. We never reflect on our days, re-examine what you learned/accomplished/enjoyed...just like our meals-we're so concerned about the next thing that we don't get everything out of what we're doing or have done. Make it a point to reflect on a daily or weekly basis. Here are some questions to ask as you re-live your day.
1- What was my favorite part of the day?
2- What did I learn today about people, my job/school?
3-What was the most challenging part of my day?
4-What is the one thing about today that I never want to forget, or will always remember?
Learn a lesson from Mary during what must have been a particularly hectic/stressful time in her life:
"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
The angle I take has nothing to do with the scripture itself and is out of context, but look at what Mary does- takes time to reflect/digest everything that's happened.
PS-If you're not familiar and too lazy to look it up, Mary's just been told that she'll mother the son of God by an angel...kind of a lot to handle!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Work vs. Play

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, at time to mourn and a time to dance," Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

This bit of wisdom from the author (Solomon) is among a book that shares the valuable lesson that many of us fail to learn for most of our lives: if you're looking to be satisfied by material things in this're setting yourself up for disappointment- "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?" (Eccl. 1:2-3) This is the main message that Solomon is trying to convey in Ecclesiastes, but that's not what I want to focus on.

I'd rather talk about changing seasons. This is the time of the calendar year when many of our lives change. School is about to begin- summer's over, some are starting in new schools, some are starting new lives away from home, some are starting new jobs...this list goes on.

This is true for our youth group. During the year, we have a fairly regular schedule, but this changes during the summer- with mission trips, mystery trips, church camp, and VBS, it's difficult to fit much else in... We've had a lot of fun, made new friends, strengthened existing relationships, and grown closer to each other through fun activities. But all that is about to change. We're about to get back into our regular schedule.

While some may resist change (especially when it's change from fun and travel) we often forget that it's during the times when we are challenged that we grow the most. This year we'll discuss things that might challenge our faith, we'll experience situations that are more difficult than anything we've ever known, and through it all, we will grow closer to God. Solomon knew that everything in life had it's place, and that there are definite seasons in life. Change is much easier to deal with when we stop resisting it and accept it as an inevitability that might actually benefit us in our relationship with God and our relationships with others.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

They Must Be Giants

Saturday I was reunited with a few people from my past. The youth group from the church I grew up in, was baptized in, and was a member of through high school and college. They were finishing up a mystery trip and needed a place to stay.

As the group walked in and looked around our facility, I immediately noticed a familiar face. Mrs. Lee was the youth volunteer that always seemed to be around. She did Bible studies, trips, messy game nights...everything. Basically, outside of our parents, and the youth director, Mrs. Lee had the most impact on many of the spiritual lives of the people that I went through my years as a youth. The youth director (not the same youth director I had, but still an acquaintance that I'd worked with in the past) did not tell the group that I was going to be there, so it took Mrs. Lee a few seconds to recognize me. We talked for a while and she tried to catch up on the happenings in my life over the past five years.

Mrs. Lee is one of the people that I see as being a spiritual giant in my life. She was a spiritual giant because she was such an influence on my faith formation.

Do you have any spiritual giants in your life? If so, how often do you seek to be around them? My bet is that no matter the number, it would always be helpful if that number was higher. If you don't have a spiritual giant, talk to a pastor about getting a mentor. Learn all you can from those "giants" and be sure to express gratitude for them lending you a hand.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A little R & R

"The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good man rewarded for his... A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless." Proverbs 14: 14 & 16

I'm no economic expert, but one basic idea that I'm familiar with is the idea of Risk and Reward. When making an investment, you have to consider the risks and the rewards to determine if the investment is worth making. Generally, an investment that is high risk can have huge rewards (or opportunity for making lots of money), and low risk investments usually don't pay off as well. A savings account is a good example of a low risk-low reward investment. Since there's very little chance that you'll lose your money, the pay off (or "interest") on savings accounts is usually tiny- a fraction of a percentage. Whereas, a savvy investor might be able to make lots of money by knowing a lot about stocks and economic trends, so that he/she can "play the market" and make lots of money by making wise investments.

At school and in life, the way we conduct ourselves works in much the same way. Making fun of others and being cruel are easy ways to earn the approval of many of our peers at school. You might have faced opportunities to do something "cool" in order to earn the respect of your peers. Many times, this can involve making decisions that you wouldn't be proud of in the company of your parents, or church friends. Giving in to this type of peer pressure is not very risky, but the reward is minimal- being "cool" and earning a little respect for a short time. However, doing something that is right, might not be seen as "cool" and is therefore risky to your reputation. But just like in the economic system, your risk could earn you a new friend, and possibly change that person's life.

Are you willing to do the unpopular thing by standing up for what is right?
Do you think that your friends will stop liking you if you become a Christian example?
If so, are those friends really your friends?