Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Few Tips

A few people have been asking - what have you been doing to lose the weight? Well I'm not going to share all my secrets but here's a couple of things that have worked for me:

  • Carry a water bottle - its trendy and it keeps you full while ensuring your water levels are up. Because I hate water I keep mine chilled and add lemon or lime to it - turns it from a tasteless necessity into a refreshing beverage
  • Drink herbal tea after dinner - deals to the need for SOMETHING after the witching hour for eating 6-7pm - most weight loss gurus will tell you not to eat after this time - also its non caffeine which helps with the next one
  • Go to bed earlier - with the above in mind - if you stay up to 11pm thats 5-6 hours without food - you bet you're gonna struggle not to snack in that time!
  • Don't miss the snack breaks - a no brainer cos I'm so damn hungry I'm living for that snack break! But actually, as you become accustomed to living in a state of hunger, it is easier than you'd think to miss those important top ups
  • Weigh yourself once per week. Yup don't count the little steps - go for the big weigh in and feed off the euphoria for the whole week.
  • Make a plan when you go into habitual feast environments. For example, I went to the rugby recently at which its every man's God-given right to eat a burger, fries and a hot dog. Instead I treated myself to an espresso. Its also every man's God-given right to die young of a heart attack...the other night with some friends at a restaurant, while my friends gorged on delicious looking gourmet meat lovers pizza, fries and wedges, I treated myself to seafood which I love and roasted field mushrooms which were awesome.

Anyways, just a few thoughts from me. Most of the rest of the time I'm living off the juice of 2 lettuces rubbed viciously together...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lent II

Been a bit slow in updating last week's Lent journey. The Discipline of engagement that I was trying to encounter was:

Holiness: The Virtuous Life - By God's grace, I will strive mightily against sin and will do deeds of love and mercy.Questions of Examen:What temptations have you faced since our last meeting? How did you respond? Which spiritual disciplines has God used to lead you further into holiness of heart and life?

Once again it proved to resonate very strongly with the Discipline of Abstinence - controlling my food intake - with the resistance of temptation regarding food being a very significant dynamic this week. So, I tried to focus a little on the pathology of resisting temptation. It was very interesting:

  • Surprisingly, I found it easier to resist food than I did to resist other temptations. As I thought about this I realised it was because deep down i do not really believe that these other things are harmful to me or others. Now I do think that they are, but at the behavioural level, I am still inclined to trade the benefit (cos all sin has an apparent benefit) for the cost.

  • This leads me to ponder the process by which I take that belief deeper. No answers yet, but thinking through consequences certainly helps.

  • Most of these things are minor issues - I didn't give into the temptation of homicide anytime this week for example, but I agree with Jesus when he looks at the heart on these things rather than the act - and so its been valuable to be more aware of these things.

For those of you who are interested, this week's weight loss was 3.4 kg bringing the total to 6.9 kgs (15lbs).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Grand Epic?

So Sunday night I preached the first in a series titled Passion - this week, it was a Passion for Truth and I was exploring the scriptures as a source of truth. I was heavily influenced in my approach to John 1 by NT Wright's view of the Bible as a story which gains its authority from the power of the whole story of Creation and Redemption as an extension of God's own authority. I hope I haven't done an injustice to his thoughts in paraphrasing it like that!

Meantime I came across this article by Scot McKnight - he has a blog which I read a lot (check out the side bar). Scot McKnight is professor of religious studies at North Park University in Chicago and the author of the upcoming book, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible. The article has now been followed up with an online version of a quiz which allows you to test how you actually approach the reading of the scriptures.

Take the test! I tested as a low-end progressive with a score of 70 (its starts at 66). According to the test, the Progressive:

"...tends to see the Bible as historically shaped and culturally conditioned, and yet most still consider it the Word of God for today. Following a progressive hermeneutic, for the Word to speak in our day, one must interpret what the Bible said in its day and discern its pattern for revelation in order to apply it to our world. The strength, as with the moderate but even more so, is the challenge to examine what the Bible said in its day, and this means the progressives tend to be historians. But the problems for the progressives are predictable: Will the Bible's so-called "plain meaning" be given its due and authoritative force to challenge our world? Or will the Bible be swallowed by a quest to find modern analogies that sometimes minimize what the text clearly says?"

Love to know where you come out...bound to be some heretics out there!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lent Update

So far, Lent has been an engaging experience for me. The 2 parts of my Lent commitments have been working in synergy to produce some interesting results.

On the Discipline of Engagement side I have been pursuing aspects of the Contemplative Life - mainly the practising the presence of God idea which I referenced in my previous post on this. The idea originated with Brother Lawrence, a French monk, who lived in the 16oo's:

That we should establish ourselves in a sense of GOD's Presence, by continually conversing with Him.

You can read the full text of Brother Lawrence conversations here.

The Discipline of Abstinence which I am undertaking is to moderate my food intake. Moderate is perhaps an understatement - slash, savage, eliminate comes closer!

What has been fascinating to me is how the two have worked together - the constant hunger acts as a constant call to prayer - and so the discipline of abstinence which for me is about redeeming the hold food has on my moods, is promoting the discipline of engagement, which is to be more constantly aware of God's presence. And of course what I need is a greater awareness of God's presence and less self-medication with food.

Here are some other outcomes:

  • Food has become somehow different to me this past week - it is less of a habitual passtime and more a part of a sustainable life rhythm. In one sense food has become fuel.
  • Meal times have become more worshipful - not of the food(!) - but I have been so hungry that I find myself really thankful for what God has provided.
  • It has forced me into a more healthy eating paradigm - I consume massive amounts of milk and bread in a given week. My family have been in awe that the milk has lasted a full week! Same for the bread. But more so, in order to eat anything substantial at night, I have had to increase my vegetable intake - so I've been enjoying finding ways to enjoy veges that I do like: onions, garlic, capsicums, chillis, zuccinis, mushrooms and managing to use others, that I don't much care for, in creative ways - carrots and tomatoes would fit in here!
  • I've invented a couple of great new recipes
  • I have lost 3.5kg in week one. That's nearly 8lbs for US viewers.

The most enduring outcome though has been a sense of God's peace. This is in a time of great personal challenge with difficult family issues and demanding work transitions. The last 2 Sundays for example have been fraught with unbelievable personal challenges and yet I have not felt the stress of that as I have been a part of sharing from scripture with the church community.

And for me, the fruit produced, is the main thing I'm looking to measure in all this.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Its that time againt - Lent a time of preparation for celebrating Easter. For me this year there are disciplines of abstinence and engagement that are needed! So what exactly is a spiritual discipline? I like the Renovare definition:

A Spiritual Discipline is an intentionally directed action by which we do what we can do in order to receive from God the ability (or power) to do what we cannot do by direct effort.

This year I am trying something different. I am going to focus activity in the following 6 areas based on the Renovare approach. In terms of specific abstinence I am going to arrange my life so as to lose 10kg - the importance of this for me in terms of the disciplines, is not to lose 10kg per se but to deepen my engagement with God instead of food, as I seek to know that all is right with my world. I'm expecting it to be very hard.

Contemplative: The Prayer-filled life - By God's grace, I will set aside time regularly for prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading and will seek to practice the presence of God.
Questions of Examen:In what ways has God made his presence known to you since our last meeting? What experiences of prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading has God given you? What difficulties or frustrations have you encountered? What joys and delights?

Holiness: The Virtuous Life - By God's grace, I will strive mightily against sin and will do deeds of love and mercy.
Questions of Examen:What temptations have you faced since our last meeting? How did you respond? Which spiritual disciplines has God used to lead you further into holiness of heart and life?

Charismatic: The Spirit-Empowered Life - By God's grace, I will welcome the Holy Spirit, exercising the gifts and nurturing the fruit while living in the joy and power of the Spirit.
Questions of Examen:Have you sensed any influence or work of the Holy Spirit since our last meeting? What spiritual gifts has the Spirit enabled you to exercise? What was the outcome? What fruit of the Spirit would you like to see increase in your life? What disciplines might be useful in this effort?

Social Justice: The Compassionate Life - By God's grace, I will endeavor to serve others everywhere I can and will work for justice in all human relationships and social structures.
Questions of Examen:What opportunities has God given you to serve others since our last meeting? How did you respond? Have you encountered any injustice to or oppression of others? Have you been able to work for justice and shalom?

Evangelical: The Word-Centered Life - By God's grace, I will share my faith with others as God leads and study the Scriptures regularly.
Questions of Examen:Has God provided an opportunity for you to share your faith with someone since our last meeting? How did you respond? In what ways have you encountered Christ in your reading of the Scriptures? How has the Bible shaped the way you think and live?

Incarnational: The Sacramental Life - By God's grace, I will joyfully seek to show forth the presence of God in all that I say, in all that I do, in all that I am.
Questions of Examen:In what ways have you been able to manifest the presence of God through your daily work since our last meeting? How has God fed and strengthened you through the ministry of word and sacrament?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

What if...

...NZ had a President. Who would you vote for? It doesn't seem fair that we just get to vote for a party, when we could also have the excitement of a Presidential election! Now so this doesn't turn into a party-based vote, I want you to vote for the current party leader that you'd love to have as the "head of state" regardless of the party that might hold sway in the legislature. Just vote to your right!

Monday, February 04, 2008

My New Rugby Team

Still shattered from the World Cup and slightly scandalised by Rhett Snell becoming a Blue's supporter, it did my heart good to see the "old country" beat the "old farts" this weekend. Wales 26, England 19. Unbelievable.

To be fair, I've always held Wales as my second rugby team just ahead of Manu Samoa. What's more amazing was the turnaround from halftime - 10 points down at halftime, they held England to just 3 points in the second half, for a 20-3 second half. Now that's a downtrow for England. No wonder Ryan JONES (no relation) describes it as "one of the greatest days of my life".

Nice Kiwi connection too with new coach Warren Gatland working the magic.

posted by Brett Llewellyn Jones "the Jonesboyo"