9 04 2016

I’ve hit a major wall in reading outside the Bible. I don’t know what’s going on, other than I’d rather watch TV, which isn’t a good sign. It’s a bifurcated lack of zeal. I’m using Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System and I’m gladly and easily reading 8-9 chapters a day. Praying and reviewing memorized Scripture are going well. I’m even memorizing my first passage in Greek. But when it comes to worshipping and taking refuge in God by reading about theology, I don’t know what happened. I’m very tired of life, tired of dealing with these conditions and tired of trying (there’s a bad sign too) to have faith.

Pastor Tom mentioned that sometimes good branches are pruned back along with dead ones to get them to grow more robustly. As a gardener, I can see this. It’s a very unexpected thing to happen though. I know that God is in control of this. So while I wait, I try to just read a few pages a night and not watch stupid Youtube videos.

Just as a timeline for myself, I’m in the middle of reading Calvin’s Institutes for a second time–the 1541 edition though. I don’t think the size of the book is the problem.

Wrestling, Reading and Compliments

25 01 2015

After wrestling with God, I didn’t seem to have much of a limp–at first. In fact, I seemed a little less humble with people. I didn’t mean to be. I think the devil took the opportunity to try to discourage me by tempting me. But a few weeks later it seemed to set in, kind of like when injuring yourself and not realizing it until after the workout or after the game; except this was a few weeks instead of hours or overnight. I think a big part of it was reading The Crook in the Lot. This has to be the best book I’ve read on suffering. I don’t know if I should call it that, or if it was just the right book for me at the right time. In any case, it’s a great book, but I don’t know if it’s going to be that great for everyone or not. It’s a little hard to read the old English, but unless I was just getting used to it, God really seemed to be helping me to understand it.

I’ve gotten a couple of nice compliments from people lately, one from Louis at Baker Book House Church Connection that I have a hard time believing and the one by Esteban about writing. For some reason, I don’t handle compliments well. But I thanked him. In any case, I suppose it encourages me to keep blogging, right when I wonder if it’s doing any good for me or others. I’m just making a note of it for myself here on the semi-secret blog. I don’t like it when people announce it when others have complimented them or when their blog climbed in the (bogus) rankings or whatever. (Matt 23:12)

There are so many things I want to read. Reading has been going better lately. I hope to be able to read a lot more this year than last. I’m working on spending even less time on the internet–a constant struggle. There have been a lot of good articles and blog posts lately though. I’m reading some shorter books now. Later on, I plan on reading some longer ones like Communion With God and Horton’s systematic theology. I also want to read some books on Luther along with something by him, and more books on Ecclesiastes. I want to read a NT Theology book like Shreiner’s, but that might not get done until next year. I’d like to read more books on the gospel, like Horton’s, and I have a Kindle book I got for free by Derek Thomas.

Apparently, this is my 100th post on this blog. I can’t believe that’s true. I wonder if it’s an aggregate of other blogs.

Wrestling With God

1 01 2015

(This was originally erroneously posted on the old WordPress blog. It may appear to anyone getting it in their feed in the wrong order, not that there are many reading this blog. I’m not sure. I just slapped the date of Jan 1st on it.)

This is a serious post. I don’t know if the title sounds strange or not. I’ve been hesitant to post it on Facebook or the main blog. The wrestling reminds me of Jacob and his wrestling with a man/angel/God/Christ, but of course there is no man in my case, no audible voice, and it’s mainly an internal struggle with my own acceptance of God’s will. But I’m confident this was brought about by God, he’s helping me get through it, he’s disciplining wounding and humbling me, and it’s for my good.

I’ve been having a hard time accepting and knowing how to live in a spiritual way with all the chronic conditions. Things have been getting worse and worse. I’m not angry with God per se, which I think is silly, nor am I backsliding, which I can’t imagine ever doing. I don’t ask, “Why me?” because why not me? I’m not special. But I really don’t like how God does things with people as far as suffering, discipline, letting us live lives where we hate the prison of our life that we have to live–the prison of my body and my mind, and all of the losses I’ve had.

I should have written this down earlier because I’m having a hard time remembering exactly how it started. It was a few days ago, and I guess I got so worked up and I was trying to fight it so much and realizing that according to Thomas Watson, “Unsubmissiveness to his will does not ease our burden but makes it heavier.” It got heavy and I didn’t want to give up. I’ll submit to this part, but then I want something else as a concession. If something bad happens, then please ease it with something, anything good. Why can’t this happen?

I love God, but right now I don’t much like him.

So two days ago I decided to do what the psalmists do and complain the way they do, in a more formal and systematic way than the previous few days. Then I was led to the cross. The enormity of what Christ did and the enormity of the ramifications was rather overwhelming. Not like a big emotional experience, but a reminder. I decided that my next book is going to be The Cross of Christ by Stott. I need to go back to the cross. In the mean time, The Lord’s Prayer by Watson has been great. The section on Thy Will Be Done has been excellent for me. It’s been a good education on affliction. I read Ross’ commentary on Genesis for the wrestling part. I listened to part of a sermon by Sinclair Ferguson on that. He said that when he wants to hire someone at the seminary, he wants someone who walks with a “limp”. He can often tell when someone has a limp–when they’ve been through something like this. (This is on the computer. I found it at Monergism.) I started reading the Psalms a few days ago, which I thought was appropriate.

I think the worst of it is over. It’s a lifelong process, but there are times of special struggle, and I’ve never been through anything like this before. I thought I better write it down now while I still remember the details, although it’s something I’ll never forget. I Surrender All. I suppose we can work on it, but for me to say/sing that before heaven–I’d be lying.

P.S. – now I remember–the start of this was when a medication that was helping me just a little was probably going to have to be discontinued. I was thinking, “Really? Yet another thing taken away?” I had pretty much come to terms with it. But as it turns out, I’m able to take it again. That’s a long story that I’d rather forget about.

Some Little Stuff Before The Big Stuff

7 11 2014

I’m not going to update what I’ve read here because it’s on Goodreads (the ones I remember to note) and I want to start writing about them on the main blog after having gotten (?) the idea from Louis at Baker Bookhouse Church Connection. That will take more time, but it will be good for me to review some stuff. I haven’t wanted to spend the time yet, probably because I have quite a few to write about. And I really need to tell about the preteen fiction book I read to get my reading mojo going again. It’s embarrassing, but it’s a Christian book.

I posted about a year ago about a goal of increasing my bench press by 100lbs in a year. This sounds impossible, but it’s because I’m doing it for the second time around and I started out so weak after a couple of surgeries and chronic fatigue really doing a number on me. Well, when you’re improving fast, you think it’s going to keep up, but it inevitably slows down, even when you’re 18, unless you’re taking the special vitamin S. But, I’m really not very far off. I’m about 90% of the way there. I should be very glad about that. I’m still so much weaker than I used to be back in the day because of fatigue that’s still there and all the medications I’m taking, but I’m so thankful I’m able to workout at all.

My back pain has gotten worse, which is troubling. If it gets much worse, I will have to cut back on all weight training except for maybe forearms. Which brings me to my next post…

Lot of Updates

28 12 2013

Weight training is going well, for me anyway. Nothing like before chronic fatigue and back pain came on the scene, but coming along. I’m eating better than I ever have.

I read more Scripture this year. Now I will be slowing down and have started studying Colossians as deeply as I can. So far I’ve read it in GW (multiple times), NEB, REB, NLT, TNIV, MSG, NASB, CEB, NRSV, GNB and GW again. I’ve read through intros in study Bibles. I need to read deSivla’s NT Intro to it. Then start with Sam Storms blog posts, which I think have become a book, and the Exegetical Guide to the Greek NT. I’ll also use Fee’s exegesis book and that new one by Blomberg et all. 

I’m finishing a chapter of Proverbs a day and will keep reading so that I’m not just on Colossians all the time.

I started over with reading Owen’s The Glory of Christ.  It’s been worth it.

I can’t believe how long it’s taking me to recover from Christmas. 

This is what Goodreads said that I read this year. The Institutes along with the guide was fantastic. I’m now all on board with classic Calvinism. Holstrom, Horton and Walton were also standouts. 

For some strange reason, Psalms is still a bit of an enigma for me. I’ll keep working on that. The 365 Days of Psalms book wasn’t that good for me.

I have some medical stuff going on that I hope will be improved in a few months. 

Photography has slowed way down. Just as I was starting a blog. I think working out kind of came in and stole some motivation for that. I had a good time photographing cats over Christmas, but it wasn’t as much as I had hoped. I have plenty of ideas written down if I ever need any. 

My motivation for reading has slipped a bit. I’m praying that will increase again. It’s so important. 

Bench Press

10 10 2013

Even with chronic fatigue, bipolar depression, and chronic back pain, I’ve been able to do just a bit of weight training. I used to be into bodybuilding (never competed, just like working out) and powerlifting. After all of my conditions got worse, I ended up 80 lbs lighter from at my heaviest, although I had some extra fat at that point. (No steroids)

Now, all I have to do is one or two sets within a certain rep range, which is different for each muscle group, and not put too much intensity of effort into it, and because of anabolic rebound, I’ve been gaining some muscle. It has taken me a couple of years to design a program around my back, and that doesn’t fry my nervous system and exhaust me. I started out with just walking, grippers, and calf raises, and have gradually added things. I’m at my limit, if not slightly over. A gluten free diet has helped me. I have my bad days where I can’t do anything. My endurance is still almost non-existent, but I can do things that are within a narrow window.

I have a goal of increasing my bench press by 100lbs in a year. It’s my weakest exercise, but that doesn’t mean it can’t improve. I’ve been working on biceps, forearms and calves just because I can, and it doesn’t take too much energy. So I gradually added chest, back, shoulders and triceps, for the most part only doing one submaximal effort set each, every 3-4 days. That’s all it takes, for now anyway. 100lbs on my bench press is only a little more than what I used to use on my second warm-up set, so it’s not a big deal. But in a way, in my condition it is a big deal. So we’ll see how it goes.

I’m just starting to get to the point where there are a tiny bit of endorphins secreted during and after “working out”.  That alone is worth it because it’s a bit of an anti-depressant. It also gives me something physical to work towards, although I’ve been improving for a few months now. Sometimes one or more things stagnate while others improve. As long as something is improving, I have to be satisfied.


10 10 2013

We lost our Eddie boy (cat). He was my buddy. I’m still kind of in shock five days later. It wasn’t a surprise though. He was diagnosed with kidney failure 9 months ago and wasn’t supposed to live for 2 months past that. I’m so thankful for the extra time I/we had with him, although I came to appreciate him more and more for a few years before that. So in this case, it didn’t take the threat of death for me to really value him like I should. He’s more of an anti-depressant than a typical cat because of how much time he spent on me while I’m lying down.  Now I don’t have that. Our cat Allie is great too, but she’s not on me a lot like Eddie was. It’s great to still have her. Since we don’t have kids, you’ve got to have a cat in the house, or better yet, two. 

God kept me strong before he died. I was able to be very rational about making the decision with my wife. We spent over an hour with him, deliberating and praying. We didn’t want to wait too long like we did with out previous cats. He was very uncomfortable, and nothing else could be done. 

Then after he died, I totally lost it. My wife had been steadily grieving for a couple days. With me it’s like I explode at some point. This time it was so bad, I thought I’d end up in the ER. I was breathing so hard and felt like I wasn’t going to stop, but I wasn’t hyperventilating. 

Since he left us not being in such awful pain and I was not in an unusually depressed or anxious state at the time, I think I will be able to think about the good memories and be able to look at pictures of him much sooner than our other cats, and our dog which was a complete nightmare. I’m handling it well, and I feel like I’m coming out of the shock and fog. There is still more grieving to do, and I hope I don’t just ignore it.

I have so much to be thankful for, and I’m thankful that God has given me a more thankful spirit as time goes on.