What Comes from Within

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I am learning that one of the joys of being a diabetic is having ones blood tested every three months. Spent a small portion of my day, yesterday, having blood drawn and meeting with my doctor. The tests showed a dramatic improvement in my glucose levels, which made the doctor happy. He told me that he thinks that I should be able to kick this diabetes diagnosis to the curb.

Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

But let me tell you, the holidays were tough! I had to be more vigilant than normal about what I was putting into my body. There were some days that I didn’t do the best of jobs; but more days than not, I succeeded.

Has me thinking about something I taught on this past Sunday, in Mark 7 (bolded emphasis mine):

14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”   17 Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used. 18“Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? 19 Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)   20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

Before this passage, the Pharisees are arguing over the tradition of hand washing before eating. Jesus calls them out on using man-made law as an excuse to ignore God’s law:

6 Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,   ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’   8 For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.”   9 Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition. 10 For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ 11 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ 12 In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. 13 And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.”

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
One of the greatest games ever created. No joke.

But what I want to go back and focus on verses 22-23:

20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you.21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder,22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

Unlike diabetes, which is all about what one puts inside them, the Bible talks about what comes from inside being the problem. We can feed this problem through what we consume on a day-to-day basis through:

  • The books we read
  • The games we play (excluding Ice Ball above)
  • The movies/television we watch/stream/consume
  • Even through our daily bad habits we’ve picked up–I see you picking your nose!–.

All of these, as with the sugar I am fighting against putting into my body, can act against our souls in unhealthy ways. Diabetes is teaching me that I can give up/avoid certain foods. That I don’t have to have a Vanilla Coke, 2-3 times a week, in order to stay awake/just enjoy/fend off headaches. We get to where we think that we have to have certain things. That we have to watch a certain series or play a certain game so that we are on top of what is going on culturally. The fact is, some of the things that we consume hurt us… and God calls us to let those things go.

We are our own worst enemies. I am thankful that I do not have to operate on my own strength. That I serve and love a God who gives me discernment, wisdom, and the ability to know when my self control has failed and I just need to flat out run/get away from whatever it is.

From Across the Net – “Don’t Let the Angry Ten Percent Control the Direction of Your Church”

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Photo by John Cafazza on Unsplash

This is a good article from Thom Rainer. I hate it when personal preferences start to make Sunday School Teachers, Youth Leaders, and even the Pastor question the path God has them on.

In churches, I see pastors, again and again, yield to the pressures and criticisms of the ten percent. I get it. I’ve been there and done that. May I suggest some perspectives on this issue? Perspectives are not solutions, but they can help us persevere when the ten percent get really loud.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “Untangling the theology of Star Wars”

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Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

Not sure I ever noticed the destiny vs. free will difference between the older and newer movies.

Lucas sold his production company and the franchise to Disney for $4.05 billion in 2012. But he continued to work as a consultant to the producers who created the third and supposedly final trilogy in the Skywalker saga. Those movies depart from Master Yoda’s obsession with destiny and focus on free will. The heroes strive to break free of their circumstances and discover their true selves: An Imperial Stormtrooper becomes a rebel leader, Luke’s Jedi apprentice turns evil, and the orphan Rey must decide whether to follow the path carved by her dark ancestry. The characters use the force mainly to communicate with one another, like an innate cellular network to which some people have stronger connections.

You can read more here

Adoption Update – National Adoption Month 2019

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November is National Adoption Month. In church, we’ll typically show a video or two that highlight the need for adoptive families for children in foster care. Online, say on social media such as Facebook, you may see graphics highlighting the need like the one below released by Buckner International:

Tabitha and I are in the midst of the adoption process, as you may well know. A process, that we are finding, is filled with weeks and even months of silence. I was recently about to email our caseworker to see if her email address was working when she suddenly made contact. Our caseworker wanted us to know that she is still looking for us and has not found any potential matches.

If you look at the graphic above, you’ll see that there are 452 kids waiting to be adopted here in Longview. But note my previous paragraph, specifically the part where no match has been found for us, even though there are a supposed 452 kids waiting. I can’t help but get a little passionate. You’d think out of that 452, which are JUST here in Longview (not across the State of Texas even), there would be one child for us.

Having attended foster/adoption classes and being certified to adopt, I realize that there are many variables in this equation:

  • Siblings Groups
  • Level of Care (we are certified for basic level)
  • Special Needs (Behavioral, Physical, Learning, Risk Factors, Emotional, Medical, Developmental)

But at the same time, I bristle a bit at the above graphic. I understand that it communicates that there is a need for families. At the same time, the longer we spend in this process (which to be honest, hasn’t been super long, only since May), the more I see that the need is not so much for adoptive families but for families to support the system through foster care.

I would hope that during National Adoption Month, that you would indeed see that while the need is great, the need is also complicated. These kids are immersed in a complicated system… What drives me nuts is that I know that Tabitha and I can provide stability. We are here to fill that need in a child’s life. There are just so many variables, so many factors, between us and our potential son or daughter.

I am amazed that the system works.

I am discouraged over finding no one on the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange.

I am hanging onto the hope that the God who nudged Tabitha and I down this path is bigger than all of variables.

From Across the Net – “The sacrifice in adoption that I didn’t plan for”

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God is good.

Adoption is often referred to as a beautiful tragedy, and it is—for all involved. The tragedy of it is man-made, but the beauty of it is fully from God. He used our adoption story to not only change the life of our precious baby boy, but he also used it to transform the life of our precious baby girl.

I knew God would use my sacrifice to change my heart and draw me closer to him, but I had not been willing to let him do that with our children. Thank goodness he is the one in control, though.

You can read more here

Life Changes: Learning to Live with Type 2 Diabetes (for now)

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I am having trouble remembering which finger I used last; which finger was pricked with a needle to test my blood sugar. It has been more than a few weeks now, but I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

Shock, anger, and even disbelief were my first reactions. Looking at the symptoms for Diabetes, I had none of them. My soda intake wasn’t terrible (maybe two a week). In fact, I am eating better than I ever have (unless you count the candy that has been introduced at work).

Diabetes Symptoms

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Slow wound healing
  • Blurry vision
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling hungry (even though you are eating)

I had gone in for a routine doctor’s appointment. I needed some refills on medicine. Happened to mention that I have been losing weight for awhile now (about 10-15 pounds). The doctor started panicking, looking over past blood tests I’ve had, and then looks at me:

“I don’t want to alarm you, but I think you have Diabetes.”

We finished up my visit, and I was sent to go have blood work taken without fasting. I walked away trying not to panic.

The next morning, at work, the doctor called me:

“Your A1C tests, average blood glucose levels for past 3 months, are really high. You have Diabetes.”

He went on to throw out a bunch of medical jargon. Something about my liver being surrounded by fat, diet changes, and how he thinks I can be off medicine in 2-3 years. Never was checking my blood everyday talked about nor slowing ramping up the Diabetes medicine he called in for me to take. Once the shock, depression, and FEELINGS wore off, I made some phone calls. Had my doctor’s nurse call in a glucose meter.

Photo by Kate on Unsplash

Stabbing Myself

The evening I first tried lancing myself, I was soaked in a puddle of sweat. No matter what, I couldn’t press the button! Suddenly I was flashbacking to summer camp in high school. I remember waiting in a long line for the rope swing. I waited all this time in line to ride, got to the front, and I couldn’t do it. My fear of heights kicked in. So I stepped off the swing platform. Although their faces are fuzzy, I can still remember having to walk past the other kids waiting in line. Pure shame. Not being able to push the button on the lancing device, I went to bed. I had dreams about needles and woke up to pray many times. My anxiety threatened to swallow me as I lay there in the dark.

The next morning, I woke up exhausted. As I headed towards the kitchen table, where the glucose meter and lancing device were, I could feel my anxiety kick into a new gear. Thankfully, Tabitha started making breakfast. The smells of food cooking proved to be the motivation I needed. I finally pushed the button, tested my blood, and I went on with life. Not a big deal. Funny though how small things like momentary pain keep us from doing things.

Moving Forward

At this point, I’ve given up things like soda. I see my soda intake / liquid intake in general as something I can easily control–hello water!–. I am learning a lot about sugar in food.

HINT: Sugar is in EVERYTHING!

I am also learning not to freak out when my blood sugar levels vary from day to day (in this case, when they go up). I am trying to focus on collecting what I see as personal data points to a much larger picture. The medicine I’m on, Metformin, has been horrific. The side effects of dizziness, weakness, and nausea, early on, were very hard. I still have moments, but I can tell that my body is getting used to the half dose I’ve been taking (the doctor wants me on more).

Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

Since my diagnosis, I have learned that Diabetes runs in my family far more than I ever knew. I have also realized that this is not a death sentence. Checking my blood sugar, everyday, isn’t that big of a deal. I know that some have to check it far more that just once a day. What I need to do though is come up with a system as far as which fingers I use to test:

  • Left Side of Index Finger = Monday
  • Right Side of Index Finger = Tuesday
  • And so on

I am relearning that life can be trucking along, we think we have everything under control, and then something happens. In my case, my body decided to ambush me. But cutting back on sugar and watching what I’m eating (food, portion control), even more so, aren’t such bad things.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28 (NLT)