The Care and Feeding of the Heart: Consider Then… The Purpose and Posture GAP
“Yum, Yum Eat ‘Em Up!” (The Little Rascals)
How’s your spiritual diet been lately? I wonder if you have ever considered a very simple yet profoundly insightful and thought-provoking quote by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) the French Jesuit priest trained as a paleontologist and a philosopher, We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience? Whether we believe this is true or not has a bearing on our sense of purpose and our posture on everything in life… in death… and beyond.
If indeed “We are what we eat”, it would make sense that maintaining an appropriate [E.g., designed by The Creator and Sustainer God of the Bible] and the best spiritual diet is not just a handy reminder that the food one eats has a bearing on what one’s state of mind and health… But plainly and literally THE KEY TO OUR TEMPORAL AND ETERNAL LIFE. Period. It’s that fundamental and important…
Spiritually-speaking, over the past 75+ years the systematic and thoroughgoing secularization of the Western culture has resulted in a smaller and smaller percentage of people having a regular spiritual diet based on a sound, Reformed, Bible-based menu of spiritual fare—which has led to as massive a market for and proliferation of spiritual junk food as Costco’s offers of Everyday Low Pricing: A consumer’s delight… but we’re actually paying a very… very… high cost!
Please remember, Beloved race-runners, when God’s words written by men in the Bible states in a host of ways, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) it is saying that the goodness and/or the badness of every thought, word, and deed of man is predicated on the stewardship of God’s Person, Truth, and Love as manifested in the Bible—first, as God is revealed in Creation (Romans 1:20), and then as God revealed in Jesus Christ Who is the centerpiece of the Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. From the beginning to the end.
“Got Purpose?” It Will Define Your Posture on LIFE.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
No matter a person’s stature or station in life, the importance of beginning the race each day with the proper POSTURE is the key to being a winner everyday! But, being as clear and confident as possible about one’s PURPOSE is an often-overlooked prerequisite for attaining the best, most healthy posture.
I raced road bicycles during college in Denver from ’72 to ’75. Yes… that the 1900’s… I had a twofold purpose that underlay my posture about cycling: a) prove my self worth, and b) go to the Road and / Track Nationals and ’74 Olympic Trials.
I was light and lean and built for hill climbing, which was a good thing for living in Colorado. I also knew the “The King of the Hills” road race course near Greeley, Colorado like the back of my hand. I had trained on and competed on the course many times. The course started off with rolling hills and then climaxed in an extended climb to the finish. I knew if I could hang on in the top ten through the hilly section where good leg and burst speed to close gaps were required, I would fare well on the sustained hill section to the end. My purpose was clear and my strategy went exactly according to plan on the first hilly section. And then the climb began.
I sat slightly farther back and brought my knees in tight. I then rested my hands on the top of the handle bars lightly so as to not exert any undue energy in my upper body. I drove my legs down in a slightly more forward stroke and my heels down in an exaggerated motion to maximize leverage in my ankling motion. I made sure that pressure was being applied evenly in the downward and upward stroke of the pedal and the largest muscle groups in the quads, hams and buttocks did all the work. It was like I clicked into “the zone”: I didn’t notice who was around me. All ambient noises seemed to be muted. I felt syncopated, strong, efficient and very confident.
I was set… I was at my best while being one of the best. I had a deep-seated purpose for performing my best; and beyond. I was in a hill climbing posture; and it yielded winning results!
[To be continued…]
The word “posture” has several meanings which are important to distinguish such as, “A position of the body or of body parts”. Or, “A stance or disposition with regard to something”. But the one I am most interested in exploring at The Training Table today is, “A frame of mind affecting one’s thoughts or behavior; an overall attitude”. (FreeDictionary.com)
It is very important to note that I have chosen the word posture above a more common, and perhaps even hackneyed, synonym, attitude. I have done this because the idea of one’s posture is far more robust and connotative: for the next several weeks, make a special effort to notice how the people around you hold themselves, think and behave under extremely adverse or deeply joyous situations. Take careful note of their spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical posture: It’s all included within the heart of man.
Head held high? Smiling? Quietly confident? A crisp and lively step? Positive tone and inflections in the voice when under pressure? Resilient? A tendency to encourage others rather than whining? Shares equally in the happy and the sad times of others? Refers to a higher power when discussing matters of “coincidence”, trials, suffering, gratitude, or universal needs? Patient? Persevering? Is not easily distracted during a conversation while trying to understand first and then be understood?
All of these descriptors reflect a person’s physical, mental, spiritual, emotional posture. But, in reality, they are merely symptoms of a deep sense of underlying purpose that must transcend the world’s everyday circumstances in ones life… OR be defined by them. It’s either one OR the other. Is your life controlled by life’s circumstances OR your story and ability to go deeper and be more circumspect?
Please stay with me as we take a closer look at the content of this particular definition of posture.
Consider reflecting within yourself, and with a close and trusted friend, a counselor (or life/leadership/spiritual coach like myself) about the rhetorical questions associated with each segment. This exercise can help you reflect upon what your purpose is first; and then you might discover how your posture or overall attitude about the everyday up’s and down’s we all experience begins to emerge!
“A frame of mind”. How we understand ultimate reality and the universe at large, as well as down to the smallest order of society in which we live MATTERS! John Milton said, “He whom has light within his own clear breast may sit in the centre, and enjoy bright day: But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts benighted, walks under the mid-day sun; himself his own dungeon.”
St. Paul, in his letter to the new Christians living in Rome encouraged them, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-3)
Discovering potential GAPS: In no more than one brief paragraph, state your “frame of mind” about what the world exists of and for, and what inspires you to get out of bed each day.
Are you aware of how the world’s styles, trends, fashions and phobias have molded your thinking?
In what ways do you define who you are by your job?
What set of 3 to 5 principles or resources do you use to continually grow and renew your mind? Do you have a sense of what God’s will, purpose or giftedness for your life might be? Why does this matter, or not, to you?
“Affecting one’s thoughts or behavior”. It has been said, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” (Buddha) Having started taking an inventory of how you think about ultimate reality and universal issues, your purpose, and how your overarching “frame of mind” influences your daily thought life, it is crucial to understand and accept the connection between the mind and the heart: the origin and predisposition of one’s behavior, words, intent and attitude.
Dante said, “Avarice, envy, pride, three sparks, have set the hearts of all on fire.” (The Divine Comedy) The Bible says avarice, envy and pride begin in the mind and heart and soul then move “downward” to affect the spirit, emotions or affections. Joseph Conrad, in his must-read book, “The Heart of Darkness” said, “Woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love, and to put its trust in life.” But, for Conrad, even this apparently discerning and bold warning was devoid of the Bible’s definition of LIFE. We must go deeper…
Discovering potential GAPS: If you have already undertaken, or might be in the midst of, or interested in beginning some sort of self-examination journey, where have you begun to discover and admit any areas of darkness… immorality, unloving relationships, withholding forgiveness, impurity, lying, passion, evil desires, greed, anger, sloth, malice, slander, and abusive speech?
And where have you begun to see the polar opposite of these “natural born”, Fallen, and Sinful attributes (Genesis 3; Romans 1:18-32) in the form of light… the fruit of having been born-again, Spirit-filled, and serving in Jesus’ name: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)?
If you have discovered any of these “symptoms of an incorrect OR correct frame of mind”, have you gone so far as following the trail back to “the source of nourishment” for any or each issue or fruit? Can you try and explain the difference and potentially negative impact between the plain existence of any of these issues or fruits, and the denial of the same? In what sorts of ways have any of these “light and/or dark habits of the heart” negatively or positively affected your relationships?
Within a brief couple of paragraphs define what the word “forgiveness” means to you. This apparently anomalous or isolated request has a huge bearing on your posture… or “frame of mind”.
Dear friends, each and every person ever born under the sun has a special purpose for their lives. But, there are numerous worldly, fleshly and Satanic forces that continually attempt to distract, discourage, delay, deny, divert, or defeat… so we never spend the time necessary to know our unique yet interdependent purposes.
Today, as we are all deeply challenged by all varieties of “bad news”, we might tend to try and “lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps”, improve our attitude by eating fewer Hostess Twinkies or more Kale, stay positive and upbeat by snorting one more line, be stoic by “not getting too deeply involved”, stuff it or numb it and / or maintain a positive posture despite the pain by means of any array of hedonistic and evasive habits. These “reality-avoiding and self-help practices” will not sustain any human being because we are made of far grander and far more purpose-FULL stuff. We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
Allow me to end by going back to something I said in the beginning: “I had a twofold purpose that underlay my posture about cycling: prove my self worth, and go to the Road and / Track Nationals and ’73 Olympic Trials.”
My twofold purpose for competing in cycling and other ultra-sports at a national level for many years was never big enough to enable me to sustain my posture or my winning performance. It was around 1980 or so when I burned out like a supernova. Well, maybe it was more like a sparkler compared to the examples of “ultra-this” and “ultra-that” these days!
It’s makes little difference: It was my supernova… my sparkler… my life for what it was… coming to an end. And yet just beginning. And yet this is the place we ALL have to come to.
Oh yes, I won a bunch of races, I made it to the cycling Road and Track Nationals, set a world record in the winter triathlon, and could run 60+ miles in one run. But I was as down, empty, sad, angry, and alone inside as anyone could be.
It was in 1983, from “down there”, having seen the utter and bottomless blackness of my own heart, where I went back to begin the journey I never had started towards my greater purpose: “To glorify God and bless others.”
Do not delay any longer. If you have not already, please begin today. Begin the journey with someone today to understanding your PURPOSE and then watch and see how your POSTURE concerning all the most painful travails as well as all the deepest joys in this life are positively influenced beyond your wildest dreams!
Thank you for feasting at The Training Table today. I know it’s been a full-meal deal! Please don’t treat the above fare as a mere snack: GoDeep. Don’t do it alone. Treat your LIFE as carefully as God hopes so dearly that you will.
As a reminder, we are gathering here to reinforce the Feast of the Heart’s Mission:
Feast of the Heart exists to help bring about Christ-centered reformation, revival, and constructive revolution so that God will be glorified and people blessed.
- Reformation… we seek to abide by and serve up the true truth of the Bible.
- Revival… we seek to model biblical Christians living in word and deed.
- Constructive Revolution… we seek to spread the true gospel right where God has planted us with urgency, compassion, and radical self-abandonment.
‘Till we feast… in order to serve… again,