There Is No Longer Fat or Skinny: Weight Management and the Incarnation

Thanks, Sarah Howell. This blog post is AWESOME!

Sarah Howell-Miller

The other day, I read an article that claimed women spend an average of 17 years of their lives trying to lose weight. That’s compared to 10.3 years working.

I had two immediate reactions:

  1. Well that’s depressing.
  2. That estimate seems like it’s on the low end.

(Before I go any further, a quick aside: if your response to this post is to tell me I look fine and don’t need to lose weight, that’s very sweet of you, but please don’t. You will have missed the point.)


It has begun to seem strange to me that when I want to lose weight, what I am really wanting is for some literal, physical amount of me to disappear. I can even point to the parts I wish would go away. When I want to lose weight, I want there to be less of my body–less of me.

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Breathing In 20150110

Psalm 46

God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.

We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God of angel armies protects us.

River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city, this sacred haunt of the Most High. 5 God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn. Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God of angel armies protects us.

 Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. 

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God of angel armies protects us.

There is a city of God and he lives there. Present Tense. The city of God is safe not because of unscalable walls and sophisticated security systems. It’s safe because it’s the sphere where God’s help is available . . . . .. In verse 8, the Psalmist says, “Attention, see the marvels of God!” In other words, quit rushing through the streets long enough to become aware that there is much more to life than your silly self-help enterprises.”

In a world that is falling apart all around us, it’s easy to become frantic these touch with God. But if God’s the living center of redemption its essential that we be in touch with him and responsive to him. If God has a will for this world and we want to be in on it, we must be still long enough to find out what it is.

It is then, and only then that we’ll be able to see the marvels of God that are going on around us and inside us. (Eugene Peterson, Message Bible, Ps 46, 825)


  • Obedience – Jesus lived in unbroken unity with God and yet sought nothing for himself by that unity – Paul Tillich
  • Simplicity – he refused the spectacular; he spoke the language of the people; there was no pose of any kind; he kept silent when he did not know the answers.
  • Humility – ‘take my yoke  upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly of heart.’
  • Frugality – Frugal in food, he fasted long days in the wilderness. Frugal in sleep, he spent whole nights alone in prayer with God. Frugal in personal relationships, he loved people but could get along without them if his truth offended them, “will ye also go away?”
  • Generosity – he gave everything to God. His day and nights, his dreams and deeds, his labors and his life itself were God’s. He gave himself without stint to people, sharing with them his truth, ministering to their souls , healing their sickness, listening to their questions…
  • Truthfulness – even his enemies had to say, “we know you are true…”
  • Purity – He not only said ‘Blessed are the pure in heart.” He was that!
  • Charity – Every quality of life that good usage names as charity was Christ’s in abundance – gentleness, graciousness, quick forgiveness, bountifulness, courtesy, self-sacrifice, universal good will, channeling God’s love toward all people – of all this Jesus was the perfect incarnation.

…God was in him because he did what the rest of us must do – by dedication and discipline keep one’s life open to God.

From Discipline and Discovery  – Albert Edward Day (quoted by Job and Shawchuck)

Kelli – Even scanning down this list our minds switch to auto-pilot.  I could never do all that, I’m not Jesus, so forget about it.

Up from the mists of memory comes another word from Jesus as he talks to his disciples, then and now:

Believe me. I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see —- these works.  The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it.  That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do  John 14:11-14

Kelli –  there are really no excuses except for our apathy and selfishness.  The world desperately needs more of the realities listed above.  Just one more quote to drive th3e point home. A work from the Apostle Paul who knew all about being tired and persecuted. More than that knew the joy and grace of knowing God and  living a life changed by that relationship:

May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together — spirit, soul and body – and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!  I Thessalonians 5:23-24

I really like the way Steve Harper presents this.. and like Steve, I tend to ‘gaze’ as well. Good, hopeful, challenging, read.


As you may know, Pope John Paul II spoke of the Western and Eastern churches as the two lungs of the Body of Christ, reminding us that the Body needs both lungs to be healthy.

Last week, while processing Pope Benedict XVI’s surprising resignation, I read an article about the ways he has kept that view alive during his papacy.  The article was accompanied with a photo of Benedict and the Metropolitan of Istanbul holding raised hands and smiling happily as they obviously faced a crowd who had gathered to see them.

As I read the article and gazed (yes, that’s the word–gazed) on the photo, I was reminded of John Wesley’s words, “If your heart is as my heart, give me your hand.”

I pray that the affinity between Western and Eastern Christianity will increase under the next Pope.  I think it is in the spirit of Jesus’ prayer…

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It is Easter that is the signed covenant of all of God’s promises to us. It is Easter’s truth that will meet you on the highways of your own becoming, as you seek desperately to make sense of the tragedies which now and then punctuate our days.  It is Easter which gives Lent its meaning and assures that there is a future beyond our repentance.  It is Easter that speaks to us loudly and clearly the Truth sounded by the voice of God so long ago in response to Moses’ question, “Whom shall I say has sent me?”  “Say that ‘I AM’ has sent you!”  Or, more correctly, “I am who I am” — there is no deviation in Me — there is no promise unfulfilled in Me — there is no obstacle that can stand in My way, but for a moment — I am the Lord of life and death.  I am the Creator andSustainer, without whom and beyond whom there is nothing else.  It is in My truth that you go — it is on My errand that you are sent — it is in My name that you preach — it is in My purpose that you live your days — it is to My vision that you are called to aspire — and “I will go with you now and always, although at times it may seem not.  Yes, you may be set aside for a time — you may give in to despair because of the seeming shortness of hope on the near horizon — you may be laid low by the seeming mismatch of your strength against the never-ending onslaught of obligation and challenge.  But YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I am with you, now and forever, and nothing you or others can do will finally thwart My love and separate you from Myself.  I am God.  I am Life. I am Tomorrow.  I am Resurrection!” 


— Rev. Gil Hellwig




Whatever our traps, our inner prisons, our hopelessness, our gray, rigid lifestyles, our resigned, mediocre expectations, God longs to free us. God longs for us to rise with fully spread, powerful wings, no longer helpless, cringing children, but renewed and bold, close to God’s heart.

The summer I was twenty-one, I was leaving home for my first job two thousand miles away, in a western state where we had no friends. I think back to my mother and how she must have felt as she helped me choose my suitcases and buy my ticket. I think, with awed gratitude, how she did NOT offer to drive me there and to help me get settled. I remember her expression when she learned there was no doctor or railroad or airport nearer than fifty miles from where I was to be located. I saw her expression, but I also saw how she refrained from protest. “Spread your beautiful wings, darling,” were her releasing words as I boarded the train.

I have carried those empowering words of release in my heart ever since, especially when facing new adventure and feeling timidity and old habit holding me down. It is God’s voice.

— Flora Slosson Wuellner in Prayer, Fear, and Our Powers, published by The Upper Room, Nashville, TN. Used with permission.

Paying Attention

This is Monday’s blog which is now being written on Thursday because I don’t seem to have any words. The one hundred and forty characters of a tweet are beyond my ability at this point.  So, let me be intentional about sinking down deeply into God’s presence in the quiet of the early morning hours. Let me hold in my heart those I know are hurting, who are standing at the thin places of life’s edges, for those who have come before and will come after me. 


Even in that prayer, I am self-referenced.  As if the me in the middle of that generational prayer was somehow the most important thing.  The paradigm shift is to be God-referenced, not self-referenced. Not ‘what do I want more of’ but ‘what does God want more of’ and how can I be in alignment with that?


On Monday, I watched about 10 minutes of the new Master Chef series on Fox.  I only turned it on because a tweet rolled through my feed from Joe Bastianich, son of Lidia Bastianich.  Lidia is a restaurateur, business woman and cook whose cry of ‘tutti a tavola a mangiare!’ (sorry about the spelling, I don’t speak Italian) resounds through public television. Everyone come to the table and eat! I love to cook, I love to eat and someday want to sit down at Lidia’s table and eat after watching her for years.


So anyway, it turns out that her son, Joe, a powerful New York restaurateur and vineyard owner is a judge on this reality cooking show.  I should have known better when I found out Gordon Ramsey was  one of the other judges.  The show is all very slick and like so many other reality shows that have proliferated in every media venue I can think of.  The very first “contestant” has prepared some kind of  curry dish and seemed to know what she was talking about in describing its creation.  One by one the judges went to her station to taste.  By now, the world knows what to expect from Gordon Ramsey. Scratch him and he exudes the profanity for which he is famous (or infamous).  But Joe just takes one bite, never speaks to the woman, mutters something under his breath and then strides (struts?) back up to his place at the elevated judges table.  And then he is loud in his condemnation of her posturing as a chef.  Then I turned it off.


Here’s why.


Sometimes when I am really tired and fed up, I put in the DVD of the original Fawlty Towers with John Cleese.  Now in that show, John Cleese is hilariously funny because he says and does all the things we wish we could say and do when we, in our self-righteous, self-referenced-ness, feel like we are no more than a glorified Golden Retriever, doggedly fetching and carrying whatever the rest of the world throws at us.  In laughing at the ineffective buffoon of Basil Fawlty, I am really laughing at myself and being reminded not to take myself quite so seriously. 


What do we gain from Master Chef, Top Chef, American Idol and the host of other ‘entertainment’ where one group of people make themselves vulnerable so another smaller and supposedly knowledgeable people can rip most of them to shreds, tread on their dreams with hob-nailed boots and kick them off the island?  Is our culture so defined by violence and domination that watching people get hurt is now entertainment?  And that’s not a rhetorical question.


It’s time to say no, to turn it off, to unplug ourselves and our children and our friends from the violence. And it’s time and past time to begin working toward a culture that is not based in fear.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear for fear has to do with punishment.  Even our institutions that were set up to protect, to guide, to create havens of safety have become based on fear and scarcity and the overwhelming certainty that we have all been abandoned and left to our own devices. Not just the government, it’s also true of the church.


We are not alone, we have not been left to our own devices, the progress of man is not all there is. I came that you may have life and have that in abundance.  The God who created the universe isn’t sitting with God the Son and God the Holy Spirit behind a judges table waiting for you to give it all, sing it all, be all you can be so they can decide whether or not you are going on to Vegas or LA or the heavenly equivalent.  God Himself leapt over the table to join us on the stage of our lives, to sing and dance and work and play alongside us and through the miracle of Pentecost and the real-time presence of God the Holy Spirit to live within us and through us so that we too are part of new creation. That means that we don’t have to wait for other people to judge whether or not we are good enough, pretty enough or meet some other criteria. 


The moment we turn our steps toward home like the Prodigal Son, God the running Father comes sprinting down the road to meet us, to welcome us home and give us real work to do, work that will last beyond the time and space that seems to limit us today.


It’s not about us.


It’s about God.