Our Redeemer… October 12, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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handsIt was a five-pound mini-barrel of pretzel chunks, stuffed with peanut butter, given to me by a friend who was beaming with delight when I opened it on Christmas morning and eyeballed the monstrosity for the first time.

He was nearly leaping with joy, explaining how he purchased the gift thinking it was ideal for me, in my travels, to have a ready-made snack which would last for quite a while–and to make sure that every time I grabbed a handful, I should think of him and know that he was praying for me.

Having some acting chops, I was able to feign great appreciation over the humongous container of over-salted carbohydrates and even dodge his ongoing discussion of it during the day over turkey and dressing.

Here’s the truth: nothing is more useless to a traveling person than a five-bound barrel of peanut-butter-stuffed pretzels. Even if you enjoy the flavor, lugging such a burden around is not worth the occasional benefit you would receive in tastiness.

I regifted.

That’s much the way I feel about the idea of heaven. Being informed by highly theological sorts that if I accept certain beliefs and receive adequate amounts of grace, that I will someday have an eternal home with golden streets and jasper walls just doesn’t get me through the daily chores of human struggle. I can’t become a better person by thinking about the day when I will no longer BE a person.Our Redeemer Lutheran Church

So as I head off tonight and tomorrow to Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in McMurray, Pennsylvania, I will tell you what I think of the word “redeemer.”

Candidly, if Jesus is no more than a sacrificial lamb for my sins, it will be difficult for me to conjure any sentimentality for him in the midst of a traffic jam in the Steel City. At that point, I will revert to my training, giving into my frustration and festering nasty notions of mythical murders of nearby motorists. Here’s the kind of redeemer I need:

First and foremost, he needs to be a friend.

  • A friend is someone who tells you the truth but you still like him enough that you want him to hang around.
  • A friend is someone who catches you on a bad day but still shows up at eight o’clock the next morning for the next round.
  • A friend is someone who sticks closer than a brother.

My redeemer also needs to be a spotter.

  • I’m referring to that person who stands nearby when you’re lifting weights in a gymnasium, just in case what you’re attempting to take on becomes too much, and he or she can walk over and help lift the danger from your head.
  • I need a spotter who knows that I’m constantly trying to lose weight, and gently nudges me towards less caloric choices.
  • I need a spotter who knows me, loves me, but also challenges me to not bathe in God’s grace, but instead, pursue excellence by multiplying my talents.

And finally, I do need a savior.

If I were to describe the journey we call human life, I would refer to it as “pulling up a little short.” There always seems to be a few feet necessary to complete the task just when exhaustion suffocates our soul. At that point, I could use someone to carry me across the finish line.

If all God has to offer is heaven, He’s going to have some awfully crappy followers on earth. But I believe there’s more to being spiritual than waiting to be “spirited away” to the angelic Holiday Inn.

I believe that our redeemer is our friend, our spotter and our savior.

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An Amazing Diversion… November 14, 2012

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I ate like a pig.

Having survived an arduous morning in Parma, Ohio, trying to move along on my wobbly, sore legs, I creaked my way into my motel room, ordered in a bunch of food, took a spoon and fork to try to comfort my pain and reward my efforts.

It tasted good, but an hour later I felt worse. Matter of fact, by the time I got up the following morning, my legs were so stiff that I was unable to walk. It scared me. So I prayed.

Over the years I have learned that prayers uttered in fear are useless–because fear scares away love, and since God is love, He is not quite certain where He can enter our situation without first ministering to the trepidation. When Jesus was on the sea with his disciples and there was a huge storm and they were scared “fishless,” he calmed the disciples before he calmed the storm.

“Be not afraid.”

Well, I was afraid. I was afraid of not walking, I was afraid of losing my career, I was afraid of not being able to reach out to other folks, I was afraid of becoming a statistical fat person, who faithfully followed the pamphlet’s description of his own demise. So my prayer of fear just made me sadder. Finally calming down, however, I allowed myself a chance to consider my plight.

I realized that for my entire life, I had been very active but also quite obese. Believe it or not, those two are at odds with each other. So that morning, I committed to take care of my body and stop overeating by sneaking in extra carbohydrates and fats.

The by-product of that decision is that I started losing weight. I felt stronger. It was amazing that within thirty-six hours, I regained enough willingness to move forward that I held my dates, coming up with the idea of using the wheelchair. So I got to do my work, which made me feel valuable, building up my confidence so that I could continue to commit to losing weight. That was thirty-seven days ago.

Yesterday, I got into a swimming pool for the first time since then and discovered that my legs are gradually rebuilding back to the status where they were before. That is both good news and bad news–because where they were before was not giving me the mobility I needed to get around.

When I was changing clothes after the swim, I looked down at the big toe on my right foot and received quite a shock. For the last seven years, I have had a small open wound on my big toe. It wouldn’t heal. I doctor it every morning, bandaging it up to protect it from infection, but it has remained the same, without change. But now … it is healing.

I was shocked. Better phrased, I was amazed. How did that happen? For you see, in the process of trying to regain my legs, what I was immediately receiving was my big toe. If God had actually granted me new legs without me making any revisions in my lifestyle, I would have quickly worn those legs out also with my fat body.

Sometimes we forget that God can not go around contradicting His own creation and overriding His own system just so we can escape a bit of inconvenience. It is why the Bible tells us we can ask God for wisdom any time and know we will receive it. The Bible does NOT tell us that we can ask God for miracles and immediately confiscate one.

In my clumsy, unaware fashion, I backed into a truth: The only way I am ever going to get the use of my legs again in this lifetime is to lose enough weight, get healthier and start healing in places on my body, so that my legs can follow suit. Healing my legs on that October morning from a prayer of fear would have been the worst thing God could do. He would have ended up with a grateful, gushing, unrepentant porker who would continue to live a lifestyle detrimental to his own good.

For thirty-seven days I have done something I never thought I could. I eat my dinner and then stop snacking. An amazing diversion.

For thirty-seven days, I have removed excess carbohydrates, fats and sweets from my diet. An amazing diversion.

For thirty-seven days, I have found it easier to sleep without constantly waking up with symptoms of insomnia. An amazing diversion.

I have begun to lose weight again–slowly–which I had convinced myself was impossible at my age. An amazing diversion.

And a small, open wound on my big toe is closing up and healing–a wound which seemed to be a live-in roommate and now is gradually being evicted. An amazing diversion.

As you pray for your miracle, keep in mind that God has a system in place. Keep in mind that God is smarter than your perception of your need. Be cognizant of the fact that there are processes that take us to other processes, which place us on a pathway to conclusion.

  • My toe is healing.
  • My body is getting lighter.
  • My physicality is growing stronger.
  • My health seems better.

Can my legs do anything but join the band?

Life is an amazing diversion, where God teaches us how we work on a planet of His creation if we’re willing to go there without fear–bringing along paper and pencil to take notes.

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Peanut Better … July 19, 2012

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I like peanut butter.

I do. If you’ll forgive me a bit of presumption, I think it’s safe to say that most folks enjoy the stuff. There are those who have allergies to it, and always some who will insist that it’s “just too something or other,” but peanut butter certainly has not survived merely because of its partnership with jelly. Especially since I’ve been cutting back on eating too much meat, peanut butter is a great source of protein. Unfortunately, like meat, it is an overwhelming storehouse of calories.

Español: Mantequilla de maní

Español: Mantequilla de maní (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do not understand why we live in a nation that can work on several I-phones at the same time and have numerous reality shows funded, leading to no seemingly sensible conclusion while raising funds for all sorts of causes, many of which are nearly impossible to explain, yet we can’t come up with a way to make peanut butter that’s low-calorie.We have also failed at the search for really good-for-you pasta. Sugars, carbohydrates and fat seem to escape the purview and perfection of our scientists. We have come up with products that are fat-free, but normally that just means they add more sugar. We have come up with products that are sugar-free, but their textures, taste and timeliness are debatable.

Is it too much to ask to have someone seek out a government grant to make peanut butter plausible to our diet? Maybe it’s because we talk about healthiness in this society as we come up with a double-decker sausage McMuffin (since the first one certainly was not large and greasy enough). Is it really necessary to have three hamburger patties with bacon and cheese?

It comes down to the issue of healthy, wealthy and wise. That is the order that we have placed these three pursuits in while advertising our vision for a successful existence. But I don’t think it would hurt for us to begin with wisdom. If the most nutritious and healthy foods are also often those products that are least in calories, why can’t we take a hint from Mother Nature and learn how she makes delicious treats without stuffing them to the rim with calories? Isn’t there a scientist somewhere who might actually want to help humanity instead of padding the bottom line of drug companies? I guess if we worked on food that was healthy and low in calories, using wisdom in doing that, there are other companies that might suffer temporarily–until they made the transition over to better choices.

For instance, we were making plows in this country until World War II started, and then those who were making farm implements just changed over to constructing bombs and airplanes. I realize we have become dependent on oil, but there’s no reason to believe that within a decade the oil companies couldn’t turn their profit margins over to better, more practical choices. If you start talking about a healthy diet, the farmers and ranchers get very nervous because they wonder if they will be able to get rid of all their crops and cattle.

So if you decide not to lead with wisdom, it’s going to be very difficult to be healthy. And if you’re not healthy, you’re probably not going to have the initiative or the lifespan to achieve wealthy. So I would suggest that we change the old saying from “healthy, wealthy and wise” to “wise, healthy and wealthy.”

And let the first piece of wisdom be an attempt to put nutritious food in our mouths that is low in calories so that we can eat a lot of it and feel very satisfied without putting on excess pounds and loading ourselves down with obesity and health problems.

Why don’t we start with peanut butter? Yes. Let’s make it peanut better. Let’s find out if we can make a product that is absolutely filled with good taste but is lower and lower in calories. Why don’t we make pasta that is not packed with carbohydrates, which shoot up our weight and our blood sugar?

It is a worthy project for some aspiring young researcher, who would like to really help this society instead of debating health care for our populace, which is suffering under the load of food that is inevitably destined to make them too plump.

Peanut better. Yes–I will believe that our country is going forward when the citizens are the primary concern of both the government and the corporations, instead of maintaining a traditional approach to sales and commerce, leaving us unhealthy, pretty stupid and without enough time to get wealthy.

Let me know when peanut butter has much less to butter me up and is better for me. Until then, I will continue to eat it–cautiously–convincing myself that it’s better than Sloppy Joe.

   

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