You can’t expect a 6-month-old to eat steak, and you can’t expect a new believer to know deep spiritual insights. Yet, we should all grow.
I came across an old home video this week while looking through archived files on my computer. It was of my youngest kiddo eating in a highchair. He had just learned to pick up finger foods, and he was eating peas and Cheerios – complete with green mush on his chin. The kids had a big laugh watching the video, especially with my sing-song voice in the background praising him for being such a big boy and feeding himself.
With kids, we get excited about every little milestone, don’t we? We ooh and ahh about moving from milk to baby food, then finger foods, and finally table food using a fork and spoon. In some ways, this progression mirrors our spiritual development. We start out our new spiritual lives needing to be nourished with the simple truth of the gospel. Peter described it this way: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2-3, NIV). Yet, our development doesn’t (or shouldn’t!) stop there.
In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he scolded them by saying, “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3, NIV).
Likewise, the writer of Hebrews challenged readers for being unwilling to grow in faith: “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:11-14, NIV).
What, then, does it mean to be ready for solid food, spiritually speaking? Partly, it means that there should be evidence of our growth. We should seek out spiritual instruction that challenges us to stretch and grow even more. It also means that we should begin teaching, mentoring, and leading others to help them grow in faith.
I don’t usually make New Year resolutions, and besides, the main thing on my mind eight months ago was finishing my dissertation so that I could graduate. That goal is in the books — hallelujah! — so now, in my abundance of free time (<<that’s sarcasm, in case you missed it), I’ve decided that I have no more excuses to get my body back in shape.
- Plank for 40 secs (I have not done a baseline test to see how long I can do this right now, but I picked 40 seconds because of my milestone birthday coming up this fall.)
- 10 pushups (I make the boys do pushups for various infractions at home, so I figured I should be able to do a minimum amount, at least!)
- Walk a 5K (I participated in an event a few months after my knee surgery, and it was brutal. Some of the half-marathon runners finished their race before I finished walking 3 miles! Overachievers.)
- Swim 400yds (This should be the easiest goal to reach, and I wanted to include one that would motivate me positively.)
- 20 squats (I had to do these during physical therapy for my knee, ugh. I can do about 5 in a row right now (maybe 10 with a rest), so this will be a challenge.)
- Walk another 5K (If I don’t find an event to attend, then I’ll just aim for 3+ miles.)
- Bike 4 mi (My knees hate cycling, but I think I can work up to 4mi on a stationary bike, at least.)
- Walk stairs at work 30x by October 31 (I report to my new office on the 4th floor on Monday, Aug. 18, which gives me 11 weeks to reach this goal. That’s only 2-3 times per week to take the stairs, so I think I can make myself do it.)
- Walk around the block 50x by Thanksgiving (There are four months until Thanksgiving, so if I walk around the block 3-4 times a week, then the goal is achievable.)
- 10 burpees (This goal is a stretch, because I cannot even do ONE right now. I have difficulty kicking my feet back (have to walk back one foot at a time) and then jumping back into a squatting position (though I could do it in two little pounces). I like the way this guy showed how to do them … not so much pressure on the knees.)
So, there you have it. I’m writing the goals down here for accountability’s sake. In addition to being more active, I know that I need to eat better. I think my new schedule (i.e., not having to be at my desk from 8-5 everyday) will be more conducive to eating prepared meals from home (rather than eating out at breakfast or lunch) and planning for my own meals throughout the day, instead of just thinking about what to fix for dinner. Not to mention, it will save money!
Well, dear readers, I got as far as sending the devotionals to my church media team and completely forgot to post them here. Oops, sorry! I decided to use the great suggestion that one reader offered of revisiting some previous posts, at least for the summer months while I’m trying to move and prepare for a new job. In case you’ve been holding your breath 🙂 , here’s this week’s new-again devo and daily posts through today:
Gather ’round the table (Prayer Devotional for the week of June 1, 2014)
What do meal times look like at your house? Do you have formal place settings with stemware, cloth napkins, coordinating dinner plates and [real] silverware? Do you have to-go boxes with plastic utensils, paper napkins and soft drinks? Do you have mismatched, hand-me-down dishes and plastic tumblers? Does it matter? What is the purpose of meal times? Meal times boil down to two things: eating and togetherness.
We have to eat; that’s a given. Cooking a meal can be a fun adventure in trying out new recipes. Figuring out what to make with what’s left in the pantry two days before payday can be a good exercise for the imagination! Even Leftovers Night can be enjoyable if you give it a silly name like “Buffet Surprise.”
Meal time is also an opportunity to pause and thank God for his provision. If you have kids, why not invite them to take turns saying a blessing for the meal? Even if they thank God for a litany of everything except the food, then it’s still a good practice to get into. Meal time is more than just shoveling food in our faces; it’s the building block of community. It’s a chance to unwind from the stress of the day, reconnect as a family and refuel our bodies. What if you don’t have a family to gather around the table with each day? You might consider meal time as your chance to invite God to join you at your table; set it apart as a devotional time with the Lord. As you refuel your body with food, refuel your spirit with prayer or reading.
The Old Testament – especially the books of Kings, Samuel and Chronicles – has many references to the king’s table. It was a place of honor, to say the least. Your dinner table can also be a place of honor – for your family and for your unseen guest. This week, let’s invite the Lord to be our unseen guest – not only at our dinner table, but throughout our day.
Originally posted April 3, 2011
Sunday: If you don’t have the habit of praying at mealtime, try it today. Thank him for his provision. Already pray? Say it a different way today.
Monday: Jesus called himself the Bread of Life. He is nourishing to our spirit. He is satisfying. He fulfills our every need. Thank him today.
Tuesday: Try something new at mealtime today. Use the fancy dishes; sit in different seats; eat with your non-dominant hand. Be joyful.
Wednesday: Think about someone in your life who needs a sense of community. Invite them over for dinner … to your Life group … to church!
Thursday: Open your pantry. Even if all you find is beans & rice, thank God for it. We are richly blessed! Thank him today for his abundance.
How is it that kids move at the speed of molasses when you actually need them to get somewhere, but as soon as you turn your back for a split-second, they can perform superhuman feats of agility? I have found myself in this situation more often than I care to admit, but I’m thinking about a particular instance when one of my sons (about 4 years old, at the time) managed to climb onto a curio table, and the sounds of broken glass and him screaming sent me running back around the corner from where I could swear I had *just* turned.
By God’s grace, he was ok, but my table was demolished. It was the one “pretty” thing I had displayed in the house, and it held my most precious souvenirs from when I lived in China. The trinkets may not have much monetary value, but they are certainly sentimental and irreplaceable – especially a Chinese art book from a friend whose English nickname is Debbie.
I remember going to dinner with Debbie one evening in the city where we lived, and she asked for a fork. I thought she was being polite and offering it to me (though I knew how to use chopsticks), but she said that she had never used a fork in public before and wanted to try it. We had such fun together. The colorful book of ink drawings that she gave to me when I left is all the more special simply because it was a gift from her. I would be devastated if it was ever ruined.
Yet, in that moment of consoling my son and making sure that he wasn’t injured, the table and its contents didn’t matter. That art book may very well be the most priceless possession I own, but it is still just “stuff.” Matthew 6:19-21 reminds us where to place our priorities when it comes to the “stuff” in our lives. It says to not worry so much about stocking up treasures here on earth, where thieves can rob and time can erode (and preschoolers can demolish!). Instead, stash away heavenly treasures – the ones that can never be destroyed or stolen.
I haven’t told you the most special thing about Debbie yet. Yes, we had fun together and I miss her a lot, but she was more than just a sweet friend … she became a sister in Christ. All of the fine art in the world cannot compare to the joy of knowing that even though Debbie and I may never see each other again this side of eternity, we’ll be friends forever in Glory. And that is a treasure, indeed!