Get some exercise!

I am not an athlete. When I was a boy, say anywhere between 10 to 15 years old, ineptitude at sports was a particularly discouraging attribute. Perhaps some of you other non-athletes can relate. Though he remained unaware, I constantly pitted myself against my more athletic cousin. Granted, he was a year older than me, but to me it seemed like he could toss that football a mile. When I would attempt to return a pass it would kind of flop around in the air a bit like a beached fish and then sort of plop on the ground some 10 to 20 yards short of its destination. I achieved similar results in basketball, soccer, baseball, golf and just about any other sport that requires dexterity, strength, and aggressiveness (i.e. all of them).

Needless to say, I became a bit cynical about sports in general. I stopped trying and instead diverted my excess energy into a much more valuable alternative, video games (I hope you caught the sarcasm!). Now don’t get me wrong, I am not sitting here telling you all that you better get rid of the X-Box 360 or the Playstation 3 (though I personally always found Nintendo’s products to be far more ‘family-friendly’ and to be frank, fun). But when I look back at the hours I spent in front of that lit up box, I do not see a lot that was profitable for me. It wasn’t profitable for my health. As soon as I got a little older and my metabolism caught up with me, though I had developed no habit of exercise, I was quickly beginning to resemble the Pillsbury Doughboy. Neither was it profitable for my spiritual life. When you sit for a period of time and take in images, and this applies to just about any form of modern entertainment (music, movies, television), it stays with you in your mind when you walk away from it. I even remember sitting in church, after a Saturday evening of video game playing, seeing the pastor with my physical eyes, but traipsing through the imaginary worlds of video games with my mind’s eye. To an extent, video games were shutting off my intake of spiritual good and filling it instead with a lot of empty fantasy.

I think I Timothy 4:7, 8 is instructive in this matter:

“But refuse profane and old wive’s fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”

Godliness is always our desire. We want to be like God. That is, we want to be holy. This is what we need to strive for. Being busy in the church, learning our catechism, attending society: this is sanctification! But notice what the text does not say. It does not say bodily exercise is unprofitable. It is profitable, a little. It is good and profitable to run and jump, to play. In contrast to this, playing video games and watching television more resemble the activity of a slug, except even slugs move a little bit.    I do not think that the Bible necessarily condemns video games and television (provided that the content is OK). There is something to the activity of inactivity; it’s basically a form of resting (although you would probably be better off spending this time in a good novel!). I am, however, saying that such should be at the bottom of the list of priorities. Do those things which will have a positive impact on your walk as a Christian. That includes using your body as well as your mind (that goes especially for students and other pencil pushers like myself)! First of all, we need to strive for godliness, and I believe that this includes living according to the calling God has given us in a godly way, whether that be in a career/job or as a student. Second of all, we need to get some bodily exercise, even those of us who throw a football like a cheerleader. The 20 pounds I gained after marriage spurred me on to hit the gym a couple times a week, and I can attest to its profitableness. Entertainment ought always to be peripheral to these two things.


Iniquity shall abound

Iniquity is abounding.

Iniquity is lawlessness. Jesus told his disciples and us in Matthew 24:12 that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Because lawlessness is rampant in society, the love of many for Christ is dwindling. We see that in the church today. The things of this earth and living a carefree, spiritually lethargic lifestyle without Christ at the center are the lives of many. Satan has sent out a flood of great wickedness to devour us, to overcome us (Rev. 12:15). He didn’t send this flood to devour the wicked; he already has them in his clutches; he reigns in their hearts. His focus is on the church. He spends all his energy and time trying to destroy the church. He has learned much since the Fall in the Garden of Eden. He knows how to penetrate our homes through the internet, radio, cell phone, and TV.

We all know how much of a struggle this is in each of our lives. We need to be vigilant, patiently awaiting and looking forward to the return of Christ. Christ assures us, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (v 13). Are we going to be in a drunken entertained stupor when he comes, just as the people in the days of Noah were when the Flood came and destroyed them? Or will we be engaged in battle, actively destroying and rooting out the wickedness that Satan is trying to make reign in us. David in Psalm 101:8 says “I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord.” Notice the word “early.” David does not say, “I am going to live a carefree, Godless lifestyle now, watching what I want to watch, listening to what I want to listen to; after a few years of this, then I will start cutting it out of my life.” No! He says, “I’m going to cut off wickedness NOW! I’m not going to wait and be taken unawares when Christ comes again. In the same Psalm (v 6) David says “Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land.” It is important that our friends are like-minded when it comes to our faith and not allowing evil to reign in our hearts.

 To those who are in the church only outwardly and who are carried away by the flood of great wickedness Christ will say, “I never knew you.” To those who live in a daily struggle against this flood now, but who are by grace elect children of God, the Lord will gently lead them back with the Shepherd’s staff.

By grace God gives us the strength to fight against this flood of wickedness. Where are we strengthened? In the church. We must remain in the church so that we are fed every week and strengthened for the week ahead!


Amusing ourselves to death

We live in a culture that is constantly trying to distract us from what really matters in life, namely Christ and the glorification of his name in all we do. There is no room anymore for thought and meditation on God’s word. Burk Parsons, editor of Tabletalk magazine, said in the January 2013 issue, “We stand at a crossroads, and we will either rediscover the lost virtues of listening, meditating, and thinking, or we will amuse ourselves to death.” One who does not designate time each day for meditation on scripture and prayer to God is slowly dying. The distractions slowly pull the noose around our spirituality, weakening our faith. We as young people need to start designating time now for meditation and prayer, because it isn’t going to get easier as we get older.