Thursday, May 17, 2012

How I lost over 30lbs! (or, my bday gift to myself and my LORD (or, an attempt to bring things up to speed: Part 3))

     One of the coolest wedding gifts Kaitlin and I got last year was a Nintendo Wii with Wii Fit (courtesy of my brothers and sisters, who are awesome!). On the last day of our honeymoon, we opened it, plugged it in, and tried it out. For anyone who hasn't played, the first thing that you experience after you make your character and everything is a body test that measures your weight and your posture/balance. I didn't really care that my balance was 2% off, but being 30lbs overweight (and 50lbs over my "ideal weight") was just unacceptable to me. I had always known I was probably overweight, but I had no idea how much I had gained over the years. My "freshman 15" turned into my senior 40! I knew that if I didn't change something soon, I would regret it down the road. 235 pounds may not seem like a lot (and didn't really look like a lot on me since I was so tall), but it was enough to wake myself up and motivate me to do something about it.

     The waking up and motivation took about 6 months to get going. It started out as one of my new years resolutions, and has turned out to be one of the most significant achievements I have made this year. I decided that reaching my healthy weight range (150-200lbs) would be my birthday gift to me, and accomplished it a little over a week early, when I weighed in at about 198. The same game that gave me a hard pill to swallow gave me a sense of pride in myself for my commitment and of gratitude towards God for pulling me through when I saw this:

     It was a relief on multiple levels, because not only does it give you that fancy BMI meter and reading, but it also verbally lets you know what's going on, which before meant hearing "That's overweight!" every single time. Depressing, right? Almost as depressing as when your little Mii character slowly gets fatter and fatter as the meter goes up to where you really are. Needless to say, this game is done putting me down! Not that I ever took anything personally, but you know. 

     The first question people have asked has been what I've been doing different, which is mainly three things:
  1. Running/Jogging
  2. Eating lighter
  3. No more sugary soda
     And honestly, there have been countless days when #2 probably didn't happen, but 1 & 3 usually made up for it and then some. Has it been a smooth course? Nope. Even now, there are days when I feel like I still have a million miles to go and won't ever get there, but I am encouraged when I think about how healthier I am now and how I am doing my best to glorify God with my body. If you are thinking about taking on a journey like mine or are in the middle of one and just need some encouragement, feel free to contact me with any questions! Here are some tips, things to avoid, and just general good-to-know stuff that I have picked up along the way:

1. Do it for the right reason! I have heard countless stories of people who starve themselves or pay for expensive surgeries to lose weight just in order to improve their looks. It is almost never healthy, in my opinion, to try to lose weight solely to "look better." Before you try to change anything about yourself, love yourself for who you are, and try your absolute best to adapt a positive self-esteem. Being more athletically fit, looking slimmer, etc. should all be by-products of your journey, not the main reason for it. We are all told to love others unconditionally, and we should exhibit the same kind of love for ourselves. Love yourself with the possibility of never being able to change those things that you sometimes wish were different about yourself. I know it isn't easy, because it's a mindset I had to work towards too (and I'll admit sometimes I don't feel like I'm completely there yet). God designed us with purpose and love, including our bodies. Part of loving God back is loving His creation, including ourselves (including our bodies). Love yourself first, and out of that love for yourself (and the LORD), strive to adapt healthier habits which lead to weight loss. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:20 that we "were bought with a price," and we should "therefore honor God with [our] bodies." Let that be your reason, above everything else.

2. Walk by faith, not by sight. This doubles as just a great Bible verse for everyday encouragement! (2 Corinthians 5:7). Do not judge your progress based on your looks or your own perception of how much you've lost (also, see #1). There are two main reasons why we tend to not feel like we're losing anything. Primarily, the weight we tend to want to lose is ironically the last weight we tend to lose. I can only really speak for myself as a guy, but I know from studying Anatomy & Physiology that this is true for females as well. The first place the body stores fat tends to be the places I don't want it (i.e, the belly). It's where my body wants to have extra cushion/protection/insulation, because that is where most of my visceral organs are. Makes sense, doesn't it? The body strategically tries to burn fat in other areas first before sacrificing it in areas that it prefers it. Another reason we seem to look like we're not getting anywhere is the fact that while we are losing weight, we're losing it fairly proportionally. Up until you get into a normal weight range, you will likely look proportionally the same as the way you started, even if you really have significantly lost weight.

3. Set healthy goals. Losing 50lbs in 2 weeks probably isn't healthy at all. In fact, losing 50lbs period may not be healthy for you. Know where you are, where is healthy for you, and how long it needs to take following a healthy rate. 1lb a week, I've heard, is a healthy goal. Every pound of fat is equal to burning about 3500 calories. So, a pound a week requires cutting back 500 calories a day. It's best not to count calories, because that leads to a whole mess of associating food with guilt, but if you're a numbers kind of person, this is a good place to start. Be comfortable with the idea that this may take a while, because it will. It needs to. Your body doesn't want to let go of fat without a fight. It takes some major convincing.

4. Consider investing in a pair of these:

I've never gone on a run so far without them. Despite everything your mother and/or peers may tell you about Vibram Fivefingers, they are beyond healthy for your feet (exceedingly more so than conventional shoes). Besides strengthening your feet and lower leg muscles, improving your balance, and being ridiculously comfortable, these shoes are pretty fun to wear and look cool! They come with a hefty price tag, but nothing is free, right?? These were thankfully a gift from my best friend and best wifey in the whole world, Kaitlin, but if I had an extra $100 lying around, I'd buy them over again in a heartbeat. They are great for running in, and come in plenty of colors/styles (even for youth!). If ever in your life there was a time to get some, now is that time!

5. Work out. Not only does working your muscles burn calories, but just having muscle burns calories. It takes more energy to maintain muscle than it does to maintain other tissues in the body. Also, when you are burning calories, the body destroys muscle before fat. So, if you are exercising your muscles, you are more likely to conserve/build muscle while getting rid of excess fat. Don't go overboard with this though and consider it an alternative to everything else. Not only is cardiovascular exercise (running/jogging/etc) vital to your well-being, but over-working your muscles does more damage than good and could actually lead to an outcome opposite to what you desire.

6. Find a partner. Having someone to support you along the way makes it a million times easier and more fun. Kaitlin is well within her healthy weight range and doesn't need to lose any at all, but runs with me anyway. It has become a part of the time we spend together, and is a great way to fellowship and catch up with each other. Since I have given up sugary drinks, we've started to drink less of it as a family, which helps tremendously. Little things like that, when shared with people close to you, make a huge difference.

7. Give yourself breaks. There are going to be days when you don't feel like running or working out or even eating healthy. Accept that this will happen and let it happen every once in a while. Don't deprive yourself of a well-deserved break. It really wont hurt you to eat a big dessert every now and then or spend a day or two resting. Think big-picture lifestyle change, not small details. Unless eating that Molten Lava Cake from Chili's is a part of a habit you're forming to pig out every single night, or unless your nap signifies your transformation into a sloth, it will not hurt your overall progress to indulge every now and then. Remember, you're doing all of this out of love for yourself, not condemnation. Be loving toward yourself! Don't let yourself slip away from your path towards better health, but also be careful not to deprive yourself of joy!

     Seven is the number of completion, so I'll end it at that. Above all else, lean on the LORD. A friend of mine recently prayed Ephesians 3:17 over me, and it has been an extremely powerful prayer in my life, and one that will give you the strength and power to overcome every obstacle in your path:
"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:17-19
      Christ's love gives us the power to do all things, and the ability to live life to the fullest extent of God's purpose for us. Part of that is being free from everything that oppresses us and keeps us from experiencing God's joy. If that happens to be the need to shave off some weight, I hope and pray that God may have used me in some way to shed some light in that area of your life. If that's not where you are right now, I still pray that you may be rooted and established in his Love, so that no matter what obstacle you are currently facing, you may be freed from it by His power and love in you.

Until next time,

Saturday, May 5, 2012

AHHHH, FINALS!! (or, an Attempt to Bring Things Up to Speed: Part II)

     So, as the title suggests, I am currently studying for finals (or rather, distracting myself from studying for finals). You may be wondering why I even have finals if I graduated over a year ago, and that is a perfectly reasonable query for I have not yet revealed to my (small, but existent) group of readers a crucial update: I went back to school. Being a prospective medical student, I have come to terms with the fact that this will probably be a recurring event throughout my life (or at least for the next decade or so). Counselors from various medical schools across the state have all given me the same advice: to raise my GPA as much as possible, get more clinical experience, and strive for the highest MCAT score possible. Which, although appreciated greatly, is not easy stuff to take in. My brain translates their well-intended advise to "Hey, I know you've worked your butt off in your undergrad studies, survived studying and taking the MCAT with a pretty decent score, and through persistent bugging of every physician you know, gotten the most shadowing and experience HIPAA will allow you to. However, it's just not good enough."

    Taking their advise led me to taking some more upper-level science classes at a public college nearby, Georgia Highlands College (formerly known as Floyd College). My posion? Anatomy I and II. At the same time. It initially included Medical Microbiology too. At the same time. But my class section was cancelled due to a small number of participants. Skipping to the present time, I am infinitely glad that it didn't work out to take all three because studying for just these two finals is really taking it's toll. I know, I know. Some of you are studying for like a hundred finals right now and would trade with me in a heartbeat! I feel your pain (I've been there), and my prayers go out to you! Anyway, I've been studying human anatomy and physiology for the past couple months (and I've actually been loving it, despite the stress), and now have to recall it all in two cumulative finals, after which I am free! Temporarily. And not totally. But still.

     It's during finals and thinking about my next steps in getting into medical school that my relationship with the LORD really takes a beating. No matter how many times He's helped me get through tough tests and provided for me financially, physically, and spiritually, when times get rough the doubting inevitably starts, and I fall back into anxiety. I start questioning myself and my life, start regretting not doing better during my undergrad studies, wishing I was more secure financially, etc. The kind of questions and worries Satan loves to pitch at me, and laughs when I swing and miss, guiding me to worldly things for comfort (Angry Birds, food, Facebook, Twitter, anything he can make me turn to instead of God). Why is it that despite all the wonderful things God does for us, we are so prone to turn away from Him when hard times come?

     God has never let me fall! God has blessed me with an honorable, Holy, captivating, gorgeous wife! God has provided my family with jobs, and never let us go without food, water, or shelter. God has helped us combat everything that has come our way, exactly when we needed it the most. Will not this same perfect, Holy, sovereign God rescue me from my anxieties and pave a path for His perfect will for my life? Absolutely! Will he let fall? Never! Will He provide and care for me (and my family)? Always!

     Why, oh why, then, is it so easy to forget and doubt that He will pull through for me? Reading in the old testament (part of my reading the Bible in a Year goal via YouVersion) has provided me with some insight to this question. I used to think of the Old Testament as being all about God's wrath, as if He was always an angry God of justice before Christ came. I soon have found that this is NOT the case. The Old Testament (and New Testament (and the world as it is even now!)) tells of countless stories that follow the pattern I see in my own life:

  1. God rescues and provides 
  2. His people follow Him obediently & with thanks, but soon forget about what He's done for them
  3. His people are tempted to abandon Him and live in sin, and do so
  4. God gets angry (and rightfully so!) and disciplines
  5. His people repent and ask for His help
  6. God forgives them
  7. Repeat Steps 1-6
     Without fail, as far as I've read so far, God's people trap themselves into this pattern, and I'm not any different sometimes. I can't help, sometimes, feel like Gideon when He says this to an angel of God:
"If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn't they say, 'The LORD brought us up out of Egypt'"? - Judges 6:13
     I hate to admit it, but caught up in Satan's lies, my "out of sight, out of mind" mindset kicks in and I quickly forget how MIGHTY our God is, and all the wondrous things He has done for me. I forget how unfailingly He provides for His people and holds them in His loving, Fatherly arms. He knows His plans for me, and they are plans "to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future!" (Jeremiah 29:11). Now, if I would only submit myself to Him and let Him guide me into that life! Thank the LORD for Jesus Christ, who is the ONLY way for me to do that. God knows as a human I am unable to serve Him by myself (Joshua 24:19). I am way too prone to turn to those things I have mentioned before. And yet still He longs to show me mercy and grace (Isaiah 30:18)! He wants me to have life, and have it to the full so He sent His son, Jesus, as the permanent sacrifice for the forgiveness of my sin, so that absolutely NOTHING could separate me from His unending love.

Worried about finals? Psh. God is bigger than your finals! Give it to all Him! He's already figured it out and has it all laid out for you! He desperately wants you to take hold of it!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Our First Christmas! (or, An Attempt to Bring Things Up to Speed: Part 1)

     For someone who loves to write and has had lots to write about, I've been terrible at it! I could pitch you a series of convincing, half-true excuses why I haven't been able to keep up with this blog, but I'll save you that and cut to the first installment of my massive catching-up update: my first Christmas spent with Kaitlin (and family!)

     As is the case every major holiday, the struggle to sort out how to visit both of our extended families began about a month before Christmas. This year proved to be less simple than years past, because while we both wanted to visit our families, we also kinda wanted to have Christmas time to ourselves, with it being our first. Most of the ideas to solve this dilemma involved too much stress (and gasoline) than our minds and bodies would be able to handle (driving from Rome to Marietta on the Eve of Christmas Eve... going to the Christmas Eve celebration at my grandmothers house in Woodstock the next day... then driving back to Rome that night to spend Christmas morning together alone the following morning... only to try to make it all the way to Macon by lunch time!). Not to mention Christmas fell on a Sunday that year, which brought church attendance into the equation!

     It was somewhere during that whole deal when one of us (I want to say it was me, but I cannot be sure =P) thought of the brilliant idea of spending the weekend before Christmas in a cabin in Tennessee, celebrating Christmas together there instead of Christmas morning. I have to admit, being too much of a sentimentalist made this hard, but after I let go of religiously and emotionally HAVING to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day, it became the funnest Christmas idea ever!

     This was our view from our cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains! I find that I'm more of a mountain person than a beach person. There is nothing like enjoying a view like this, and experiencing God's beautiful design in creation. The Great Smokies are a personal favorite of mine, having visited multiple times during my youth (not to mention my honeymoon!). Kaitlin always gets a kick out of me never leaving out the "Great" in Great Smoky Mountains. It turned out to be a fairly cheap and endlessly fun Gatlinburg getaway Christmas, mostly spent at Dollywood (with rain checks from the time we went during our Honeymoon and it closed because of a storm), eating, and shopping.
     Although ridiculously overpriced, Dollywood is such a fun place to go, and doesn't get old (or at least hasn't gotten old yet). Being the holiday season, they had the whole place lit up, like this:

I don't remember what the name of that chapel is. It's on the picture, but pretty fuzzy. It amazed me how many people put honest, personal prayer requests in the guestbook. It really had the feel of a church rather than a part of a theme park. Kaitlin and I did a little bible study hear and then continued a long the park. Can you imagine having to put Christmas lights on buildings like that? The chapel was pretty tame compared to the countless lights put up on all the buildings in the entire park. Over 6 million lights in all! At least, that's what they told us when we were on the train:

     Kaitlin snapped this jewel. Pretty cool, actually! This train really put the one at Six Flags to shame. We soon found out (thanks to the guide) that this train doesn't stop for NOTHIN'; if you pulled the emergency line, you better have a good reason (dropping your cell phone/camera/iPad is not considered an emergency (nor is getting a cinder in your eye (I guess they get that a lot))). Aside from the lights and the train (and the rides, which I sadly have no pictures of), the blacksmith is always a winner:

     If I remember correctly, it's Kaitlin's favorite part of the park. We spent at least half an hour watching the blacksmith work his magic with the fire (and knocked out some people on our Christmas gift list too!).

     And what would Christmas (or anything in life) be without great food? If you ever go to the Great Smoky Mountains/Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, there are three restaurants that you absolutely have to go to:

Shrimp Lover's Feast, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.,
The Old Mill Restaurant
The Old Mill Restaurant,
Hungry Bear Breakfast @ Smoky Mountain Pancake House
...and the Smoky Mountain Pancake House.

     If you happen to have ever driven all the way to this part of Tennessee and did not come across these fine eating establishments, you seriously missed out to say the least. Arrive hungry and order what you want, because it is going to be one of the best dining experience your mouth has ever encountered, hands down. If you go to Bubba Gump, freshen up your Forrest Gump trivia, because you will be tested! Also, go ahead and order the hush pups. Just do it. At the Old Mill, just about anything on the menu will be great, but make sure you order extra corn fritters. They are the best in the world! Seriously. What you see in the last picture is the Hungry Bear Breakfast! I recommend it.

     When we got back home, we still had a day to rest and prepare for all the traveling. We celebrated Christmas with my family at my grandmother's (Nanny!) Christmas Eve party, and headed to Kaitlin's house to celebrate with her family on Christmas Day. All in all, it was such a peaceful and fun alternative to running around across the state that week. Who really wants to get stressed out during Christmas? It's hard to avoid it, but should we really celebrate the birth of our Savior by stressing out, running around like chickens with our heads cut off, buying people things they don't need just because it's what we're supposed to do, etc. I'm not trying to be a Grinch at all here; Christmas is actually one of my favorite times of the year, and I don't have anything against buying Christmas presents (I bought Kaitlin a new study bible and a barn coat, and she bought me an iPhone (which produced all the pictures in this post!). I just think that anything that can be done to make Christmas more of a joyous celebration and peaceful fellowship with family should be wholly pursued, and we had such a great time pursuing it this year.

Such a great time, that Christmas in the Smokies may become our first family tradition. =] Well just have to see.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Reading the Bible in a Year: Day 1 (Part 2)

I guess it's time that I at finish sharing day one (even though I'm on day 14 right now...). I think I left off towards the end of Genesis 2, where God showed me something pretty cool about marriage that I never really thought of before.

In verse 24, the Word declares that "therefor a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Whenever the Bible (or any book) says "therefor," you gotta step back and ask yourself why. Some versions will say "for this reason..." For what reason? I had read this a while back and came to the conclusion that, like the Bible says, marriage was created because it is not good for man (or woman) to be alone. We all need a suitable helper. When God saw that it was not good for man to be alone, he designed and purposed a helper for him.

But now I see that it, perhaps, is a little more than that. God created Adam from the dust of the ground and very well could have done the same for Eve. He did not, though, and I believe that is important. In verse 23, the man says:
"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,'
for she was taken out of man."
Then, we see the "therefor." To me, that painted a more powerful picture of the bond God intends a man and his wife to share, and of the duty the man has for his wife. As men, we should hold fast to our wives, and treat them and provide for them just as well as we would our own bodies because they ARE of our own bodies. We should honor, respect, nourish, love, cherish, and protect them as we do ourselves, because together, a man and his wife are one. God says that not only in a sexually physical way, but in a literally physical way, as well as spiritually and emotionally. God gave women each so many unique gifts and strengths that men are missing, and vice versa. God created the two out of each other so as to eternally bond them together. Marriage was the first covenant God created. He values it infinitely, and desires us to do the same.

Reading through the Bible chronologically, I have come across so much OT scripture that represents Christ. I believe this is one of them. Christ left His father to be here with us on Earth, and to cling to US, the Church, and the two of us have become as one! If you let Christ live out in you and strive to die to yourself everyday, you are a part of this illustration of God's perfect view of marriage.

[Genesis 3] This is the fall. The consequences of the events in this book are told throughout the Bible and end with the mess of a world we live in today. As I was reading through the fall, though, I can't help but think that we're all like Adam and Eve. Sin takes almost the exact same route as it did in that book. Basically the serpent tempts Eve, who sins, and then tempts her husband, who sins. When asked by God about it, the sin takes the opposite path. Adam blames his wife, who blames the serpent. Who is at fault?


That sequence is so real, that I bet everyone can relate to it. Satan tempts you or your friend or your significant other. He clouds your thinking and tricks you into compromising. Once one person sins, it can quickly tempt others or you (i.e. gossiping, impurity, lying/cheating). Afterwards you may think "I can't believe whats-her-face talked me into that" or "I can't believe he/she let us fall like that".

People naturally like to blame others when they see sin manifest itself in the world or in their own life, but the truth is we all need to rise up and be accountable and humble. Silence Satan's lies with the name of Jesus, and stop sin from spreading before it already does. Ditch the idea that perfection is obtainable, and embrace God's grace.

The fall is referred to as an event, but in reality it is a condition. Without the cross, we would all be continuing to fall away from God. The sooner we can admit to ourselves (and to others and to God) that we are weak and are incapable of leading a sinless life, the sooner God can help us combat Satan through Christ and the guidance of His Spirit in us. We can do nothing alone but fall.

God's love and mercy, through Christ's sacrifice of atonement, allows us to stop falling and start rising. Check out this pretty sweet verse from St. Paul:
"For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"
-Romans 5:10

PS - There is no way with school and work and letting this Bible plan sink in that I'll be able to give an update of every day. Maybe next year when I am done, but it is just so overwhelming right now (in a good way!). All I can say is that if you have never committed to a plan to read the whole Bible, try it out! It's such an amazing experience.

PPS - I pray that what I post on here is representing the true Gospel. Please, as my brothers and sisters in Christ, let me know if the Spirit is telling you otherwise.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reading the Bible in a Year: Day 1 (Part 1)

I'm only on Day 5 of my chronological reading plan of the Bible, and I can already tell this is one of the best commitments I have ever made. Most of what I have read so far are passages that I have already read before - Genesis 1-11, Job 1-9. It's amazing though how God can teach or point out something totally new to you nearly every time you read something. Honestly I came into this dreading the first week or so when I would be reading chapters I'm already familiar with, but God totally rocked my quiet times and put me back in my place.

Who am I to even think that I don't need to read the book of "X" chapter "X" verse "X" because I have already read it a thousand times? Isn't it referred to as a living book? The very words of God? It reminds me of a passage from Isaiah:
"As the rain and snow
come down from Heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the Earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
-Isaiah 55:10,11
When I first read that passage a while back, it made me think of missions witnessing. It was a comforting verse I thought of when I needed to know that despite how things looked, God was using His word through me whenever I shared it. Now, though, I can apply that to any reading. God has a purpose and desire for every quiet time you spend with Him. He can and wants to teach you something about Himself. He wants to grow with us intimately everyday!

My first day of reading included Genesis 1-3. I don't really want to summarize anything, but rather my thoughts and what stood out to me.

[Genesis 1] First off, the creation sequence bears a striking resemblance to what scientists believe the "evolution" of life on earth was. Photosynthesizing creatures, then sea creatures, then land. I don't really give any thought or credit to scientific origin theories, but the fact that their arriving at the same conclusions despite efforts to alienate themselves from creation-thinking is just really cool and satisfying to me.

In verse 2, the Spirit of God is described as "hovering over the waters." What a loving and beautiful picture of God! I read probably a million times before, but this time it just stuck out to me and really comforted me. It made me think of a similar verse from 2 Chronicles that we read during my mission trip to Los Mochis:
"The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole Earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him."
-2 Chronicles 19:9
In the first few verses of scripture, we see the essence of our marvelous God and Creator. He is loving and caring towards His creation. He hovers across the waters (even when the Earth was new and formless) to make sure everything is just so, and probably also to enjoy what He has done. Try to just picture that scene: God's spirit hovering over the waters. Awesome, isn't it? Truly awesome.

Skipping down to verses 7 and 8, I noticed something else really awesome. Please forgive me if this is dumb or obvious, but when I read that God separated the waters "above the expanse from the waters below the expanse" and that he "called the expanse Heaven," I immediately thought... "Woah, this is talking about waters in Heaven!" I know this sounds like a basic thing and you're probably thinking "Oh yeah, waters in Heaven, Zack, whoop-de-stinkin-do." To me, though, that was just really cool. God referenced Heavenly waters in Genesis, and I had missed it until now. These waters that God gathered in Heaven way back in Genesis are the same waters that God promises to His people through both Isaiah and Jesus Himself:
"Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters.
You who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me
listen, that you may live."
- Isaiah 55:1-3
Through Isaiah, God uses the waters of Heaven as an invitation to those who are lost and need the LORD, and advise them to stop investing themselves in worldly desires that do not satisfy the soul like only the waters of His love can.
"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
-Jesus Christ (John 4:14)
Here we see God again inviting His people to drink of His waters. Not only that, but we see Him consistently making a separation between what Earthly and Heavenly satisfaction. In the beginning God set His waters aside with a purpose and plan in mind. He new that only they can truly give eternal joy, satisfaction, and life. He separated them from our own with the infinite expanse of the Heavens, and advises us to do the same with our own desires. We must greatly distance ourselves from the unfulfilling desires of this world that and cling to His waters and His Kingdom. Any other desire will disappoint us and trap us and corrupt us. This isn't an easy task, and we cannot do it without Christ! But what joy is there in thinking of the great expanse of God's living, Heavenly waters, and how He invites us to drink of it and live! He hovers over us to give us love and support when we call on Him. He intricately and carefully designed us. He offers us and promises us His waters, with which we will thirst no more, hurt no more, and suffer no more.

I thought when I started reading Genesis 1 I would be going back to the basics. Wrong! Right from the start, God is working miracles and preparing a place for me, for us. Working hard to make sure He is there when we need Him. How great is our God?

[Genesis 2] I could spend so much time sharing how fascinating this chapter is to me. It's basically a more detailed account of the creation of man and woman. The scene that is described is so incredible:
"the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of them man, and he brought her to the man."
-Genesis 2:21,22
It reminds me almost immediately of a surgery scene, where a physician will use anesthesia and operate on a patient while they are sleeping. This is written way before the idea of putting someone to sleep for surgery (or even the idea of surgery itself) were even thought of, so we can be absolutely sure the person who is narrating this book (presumably Moses) is not making this up (I would never suggest that any part of the Bible is made up, but Genesis and the creation story get attacked so frequently by atheists that it is so sweet and legit and satisfying to note scriptures that can be used to combat those claims). There is something incredibly awesome about this scene though...

Many people have said that men have one less rib because of the creation of women. It's a myth that is certainly not true, though something even more amazing IS true: the rib is the only bone in the body that can be used to reconstruct damaged bone and...... (drum roll please...).... regenerates itself. That's right! In fact, physicians today use the bone in reconstructive surgeries. The rib has to be removed perfectly in order for it to grow back, but hey, we're talking about the Great Physician here, aren't we? He does all things perfectly (He even says so after each step in creation, calling His work "good.") and takes great pride in His work.

After reading that verse and reflecting on research I had come across, I couldn't help but just sit there in awe of His glory and wisdom and perfect design.

I think I'll stop there and pick back up in a little while. On the seventh day God rested and probably just admired it all and let it sink in. Let us do the same! Rest, and let God's perfection and glory sink in. Seek His waters and drink of them. Rest peacefully, knowing his eyes are watching over you. Rest in Him, loved and cared for.

Isn't our God amazing?

Monday, January 2, 2012


It's kinda sad to see 2011 go, because it was such a monumental time period for my life (probably most definitely the most monumental, eventful, fun, growth-filled, and important year of my life) for reasons just about all who read this know. I got married, moved to our own place, found new friends, got a new pet and a new job. I love 2011.

God's movement in my life isn't transient, though. It's constant. And I want to commit to growing in Him daily, both as an individual and together with my wife. There is not a reason in the world why 2012 can't be just as filled with adventure, romance, God, growth, and fun; I have a feeling it totally will be.

I'm not a fan of "resolutions," because they rarely work for me, but one goal I have set for myself that I am excited about is reading the whole Bible in a year. Only being a Christian for about four years means that there is so much of the Bible I have yet to even scratch the surface in. Entire books and prophets, even. Plus, reading the bible daily is the one sure way to constantly grow in Him and know Him better, so I started a chronological reading plan of the whole Bible on New Years Eve (which you can find on YouVersion); so far it has been great.

However, I know that the hard part of committing to such a plan hasn't even begun. Will you pray with me as I begin this journey?

Anyway, Happy New Year everyone! I know this is late, but I've been busy! The good kind of busy. Kaitlin and I had a really nice two-week break from work (since we both work with kids and therefor still get Christmas break!). I hope everyone has also had a nice New Years day and Christmas!

One last thing before I call it a post: the subject of "change." Many people look at a new year and find it the perfect time to start all these changes in their lives. Eating healthier, working out more, praying more, reading more, etc. I don't think all of that is bad, but don't let it consume you. God has already made you new, and is continuing to do so:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
The source of the voice telling you to change is ultimately either God or Satan. Pray and be sure before you leap into something. If you feel the urge to change or make resolutions, give it all to Him, and let Him guide you to change as He sees fit. He has been molding you and changing you constantly since the moment He entered your heart, mind, body, and soul. Pray, pray, pray, and pray some more. There is no rush to figure something out soon so you can start changing at the beginning of the year. Let God's timing take over, lest you become your own God. And most importantly, don't look back on regrets of the past year. Look forward to the future. Don't try to make this year different; try to make your life follow God's perfect will. Jesus reminded his followers to seek first the Kingdom of God, and everything else will follow and present itself to them (Matthew 6:33). Paul says in his letter to the Philippians that although he has not achieved his goal yet or taken hold of all that Christ meant for him, he focuses his energies on "forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. [He presses] on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [him] heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Seek Him and His kingdom, growing in Him daily. He'll take care of the rest. You are precious to Him and incredibly loved. If there is anything in the world that you need, ask Him first! He will never fail you. In fact, He alone will not fail you. He is your Helper, your Guide, your Savior, your Love, your Father, your Everything. He makes all things glorious. He makes all things new.