Practical Lessons From Immediate Obedience

Two full weeks into the 90 Day Challenge from Immediate Obedience, where I have been following God as wholeheartedly as I can. There have been some bumps along the way while I have learned some things along the way.

  • Pray often for God’s guidance, usually answered in the form of verses that come to mind in relevant situations.
  • I did not become a puppet, it is an act of will to choose to obey or not. I will make mistakes.
  • Occasionally while helping others it becomes a teaching moment for me as well. For example:

Wow…was driving to church and saw a SUV on the side of the road, hazards on. I perked my spiritual ears, nothing I’m used to came in. Passed by thinking “I don’t have time, I have to clean the church.” I lead the Sparkle and Shine cleaning team.

That instant I was struck by the Good Samaritan parable and the Legalistic Pharisee that passed by the man in need. Loud and clear, God. Turned around and went back, just as it started to rain really hard. I couldn’t jump them off, the battery was bad or really weak.

I took the younger man home, to get his battery from his truck. I shot a quick email to Pam asking if the Ushers could get the Sanctuary, I won’t make it before it filled up.

His battery wouldn’t work, wrong type so I dropped him at a friend’s at his request. He was on his way to Sunday School and said “the Enemy was working today”, I saw it as a teaching moment for me.

I got quite a few teaching moments since then; sometimes it is just a day of instruction during my Bible studies. If you want to follow my day-to-day adventures (?) of immediate obedience then check out http://firstsamuel1224.wordpress.com/

I update it daily.

Simple Strength and Bad Diet; Six Week Assessment

Limited measurements this time, had a time crunch so I just measured lean body mass and body fat. The program I used, Simple Strength, has kept my strength in place. But no progression in press strength, which I think was from cycling floor presses and military presses in two week blocks. My swings progressed, so I’ll focus on just military presses for another six weeks.

Body Composition (inches)

Body Part                      Before                  After                   -/+

Neck                               14.12                 14.2              0.8

Shoulders             43.25                   N/A

Chest                      37.5            N/A

Waist                             32                  33         +1.0

Biceps                    12.37                N/A

Forearms                   11            N/A

Thighs                         21.25                 N/A

Calves                          13.75                   N/A

Weight                  153.4lbs          153.4          0lbs

Body Fat %                14.8%                16.7%         +1.9%

Lean Body Mass    130.7lbs            127.8          -2.9lbs

Those bodyfat levels are unacceptable, the cause was I stopped logging my food. My weight being the same I’m not worried about a caloric deficit but dropping my carb levels.

I almost did not write anything, I have been juggling studying and traveling to gun shows for Wicked Jester. The journal insights did not really have anything in depth short of me ‘thinking on paper’ about my Bible studies, then I thought how could I make it personal, applicable. First, my study methods:

  • Reading a chapter in my NIV translation study Bible, highlighting what sticks out at me.
  • Then the many days afterward, I pick apart the meaning of the verses or the group if they build into context.

I do this while reading the more literal NASB translation, checking cross-references, and occasionally checking the study notes if I am still stuck. Then I do an overview where I paraphrase what I got out of the chapter.

Since the third chapter of James rocked my world, I decided to study the entire book and it is very convicting. The first chapter teaches to take joy in life’s tests; they show the strengths and weaknesses in someone’s character and faith. Will we compromise? The root of many of people’s issues is a lack of self-control.

Then I read advice that I had seen in ConCom, listening actively, in fact the book was looking at the monkey problems of status, hierarchy and the way things are done. It dealt with anger a lot, thinking before you speak (advice my dad preached), controlling your temper since most of the time it is self-righteous as opposed to righteous. James was also adamant against being a ‘Sunday Morning Christian’, writing about studying, dwelling in and applying the Word.

He then wrote that a person’s words and behavior betrays their religious depth. I liked that, I do not want to be an intentional hypocrite. I will make mistakes, I am human, and they have to be unintentional and as rare as possible. I am saved, not perfect, no matter what my ego tells me. Which is where the second chapter of James starts, on not letting it go to your head.

It warns about not looking down on those who have not done anything to us, judging their status and worth. This really spoke to me since in a moment where I was overwhelmed I did just that. I did not know where to put a volunteer in my ministry and brushed them off. When I see them, again I will apologize. The number one rule is to love others as you love yourself. Something to think about in proportion to one’s ego.

James warns not to judge, that I will be judged by the same measure that I judge with. Scary since I am very critical at times. He hammered at me again about not just paying lip service, do it, and live it; working in faith according to the Will of God, actually walking the walk. I am enjoying the book; it speaks to me a lot.

Surprising Advice That Begins Another Journey

If you read the Emotional Vampire post where I discovered my OCD vampire tendencies to lecture, criticize, and loom. I can be downright puritanical. That particular vampire tried to come out of its coffin again until I sat on the lid. Generally, it stays bottled up and runs as what I call “internal script scenarios” that play out in my head and get me worked up. After watching one situation play out with family, I had a lot of personal opinions and judgments. My brain was in full-blown lecture mode and I was suffering through it and what should I do.

During the last break of the night I go on my walks outside, it is my quiet time with the Creator. As I walked I poured my heart out, I just wanted to leave, and be done with the stress. I stopped, staring at the stars and asked what to do? I would take anything, a feeling, scripture, what? It got quiet, I stood in the shadow of the building staring at the ground, quietly, silently pleading, and waiting. I got the impression I should read the third chapter in the book of James. I pulled out my phone and opened the Bible app, read two verses and had to sit…

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers; because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” (James 3:1-2 NIV)

This is why when it comes to the supernatural my walls are coming down. It fit perfectly though I never read this book in the bible so I did not know what was there. I do not believe in God because I was halfway brought up in the church, it is because of experiences like this one. With pen and paper, I delved deeper into the chapter to see an immediate application and later with some quiet thought, a deeper sense of something else.

For the situation at hand, it was clear to me that I am to be quiet. Anything I could have said I had said before, it would just create more problems. Just close the lighter and back away slowly from the gas-soaked wood.

In the deeper sense, I had been wondering what I could do to help people, toying with the idea of being a counselor. With this, I do not think I should teach, the standards are high and words are powerful. I could hurt more than help, so that door closes until I am ready if at all. The last part of the chapter goes into a good life, helping others as needed.

I do not know if Pastor Jaime realized when she suggested I read Immediate Obedience, she gave me a way to do just that. It has a 90-Day Challenge to serve God at his urging, so I started a separate blog to track that adventure. To follow along you can go to firstsamuel1224.wordpress.com.

It is a bit scary, and I am admittedly nervous, something the book’s author echoed. He saw himself “On Call” with God as his King and commanding officer. I could make a Captain America reference here but I will restrain myself…this time.

Wrestling With The Spiritual

It has been an interesting trip so far, especially as I write the book to see the differences between past and present. I realized I have been working on my body for four years, mind for two and spirit the past few months. By working, I mean with focused progress. Ever since I was baptized again, when I heard the phrase, “Lifelong follower of Jesus Christ” I have been thinking about that means to me. For the past few weeks, I have been wrestling with thoughts of the supernatural and an indwelling spirit inside at work. It is something I have a hard time wrapping my head around, and a conversation with my wife clicked something into place. It is because I am a focused, compartmentalized thinker. I have been trying to put the supernatural/spiritual in a box that I cannot build without a frame of reference. So I buried myself into research, reading, and listening to Christians, agnostics and atheists, weighing it against my own experiences. I know that a person’s inner strength, as great as it may be, still is limited compared to the weight of everything else in the world. Some never have it tested to that point. If I am not applying it, somehow I do not know what to do with myself. It is not quite feelings of insignificance, but uselessness. In my journal, I compared it to a shark that has to keep moving to live. I have made great progress in cleaning out the parts of me I do not like. Like the example in Matthew 12: 43-45:

43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”

What do I do when I get tired or the onslaught is too much and I am only operating on my own strength? I slip, stumble, and maybe cannot rise, however if I have help from something greater than me? Then I have a better chance. The thing about the supernatural I’ve learned is it’s to be experienced, the evidence is anecdotal, something people experience and believe in yet don’t fully understand. At least I do not, and I will keep asking questions because I have experienced it at work within me so I want some grasp. After I wrote the draft to this I had this thought that helped put it more into perspective for me. The Holy Spirit is to Christians what the Super Soldier Serum is to Captain America. That pleased my little comic geek heart.