What’s a Low Maintenance Friendship?


This is probably my most read blog. I guess it hits home to a lot of people.

Originally posted on David's Body Temple:

Two friends

Two friends (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.  Proverbs 18:19

I was talking with one of my friends the other day on a short run and we were talking about how awesome it is to have a friendship that is a low maintenance friendship.  A low maintenance friendship is one that is bathed in comfort and knowledge of the other person and who they are and what they mean to you without having drama tossed in the middle of the friendship.  You don’t offend each other if you don’t see or talk to the other person in a certain length of time.  Or you text or email them and they don’t respond in the same day, but you know what their life is like and how hectic the schedule they have is. …

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Dynamic Change

The lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation.  I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.  I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.  All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”  Genesis 12:1-3

The definition of dynamic is pertaining to or characterized by energy or effective action; vigorously active or forceful, energetic.  The above verse is an example of dynamic change that Abram had to deal with.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have three friends that are going through some major changes in their lives.  One friend is trying to decide the direction of a business.  A second friend is going through a divorce.  A third friend is in the process of being trained for a new job and taking it on.  For me I am in the process of starting a business.  I think all of us have heard the voice of God for this change and that change is dynamic.  One of the things I want to keep from falling into again is having a stale life.  The American dream is an awesome dream, but if part of that dream means to slog through a day that is the same every day, I don’t want any part of that type of living.  I have lived that life before and I refuse to go back to it.  I think of it as the waiting to die way of living; which is not really living.  This is an attitude and is not indicative of any particular job.  To me the abundant life is one where you get up most mornings and are expectant of a great day ahead, because you love what you do and you do it as unto God.  As a personal trainer, we have this thing called muscle confusion.  The more I confuse your muscles, the more tone you will have and the more fat will be burned.  If you do the same exercise routine, repeatedly your body will adapt to what you are doing and results will be ineffective.  The plus on this is you are not allowing your body to be stale with the exercise, and it makes it more exciting and less of a chore.  It’s the same with our lives, we have to have some adventure thrown in there to keep us from that repetitive life.  What are some ways we can keep the excitement and expectation coming in our lives?

The first thing to do is take a faith-filled step.  What does a faith-filled step look like?  You work toward whatever change you are going for.  If God’s path for you is a banker, get a job in a bank.  Part of the issue here is people don’t take any risk, they stick with what they know and may hate that thing.  They feel safe and are “comfortable.”  Comfortable does not get you a feeling of expectation every day; it gets you stale.

God meets us with a faith-filled step.  He will give either more encouragement in the direction you are going or you may get a dead end and a possible failure.  This is where patience comes in.  I think more times I can count that I have found a dead-end with the “perfect” idea I had.  That promotion I was shooting for that I was so upset I didn’t get.  Then I look a year later at the poor stressed out person that got it and I thank God that He lead me in the right direction.  That dead end is a character builder or a character destroyer.  You have a decision in your attitude whether to accept it and make another faith-filled step forward or you don’t take it well and allow bitterness to set in.

This brings me to the last thing to keep expectation in dynamic change and that is your attitude.  God has brought me to a place in my life where I can look back over the years and see His hand in all of it.  I have gone through some personal hell in my life and what has come out of it is gratitude to a God that has stood by my side and picked me up every time I’ve fallen.  Therefore, I get up every morning with hope in my heart and expectation of the coming day instead of dread.  You have a choice when you wake up whether to have a great attitude or a poor one.

Abraham heard the voice of God and his faith was strong, because he stepped out when it was very difficult leaving his family.  He knew God had his steps planned out and they were awesome steps.  Abraham had effective faith-filled steps, he tried to be patient, and he had the best faithful attitude.  Dynamic change is energetic and continued movement in the path that God has set before us.

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.

Does God Have a Sense of Humor?

Peter finally came to his senses.  “It’s really true!” he said.  “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”  When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer.  He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it.  When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!”  You’re out of your mind!” they said.  When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.”  Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking.  When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed.  Acts 12:11-15

If the above verses don’t answer the question, does God have a sense of humor, then you probably need to find one.  There are studies that show us that laughter is something that we need to have in our lives to relieve stress. Laughter and joy bring us back to the light we need to display in our lives.  Granted there are some questionable things that are considered humor that I don’t think are funny because of the subject matter.  Somehow, comedy has gone from the creative to the shocking.  Watching old shows before the 80’s that are situation comedies the humor had to be creative.  These days it has to be shocking to be funny, there is no creative thoughtfulness to have clean fun.  My focus for this blog is not to have a moral piece that aims to shame, just to talk about laughter and joy.

Life has it’s serious moments that we should never take lightly, but we cannot let those serious moments build up in our inner being.  Our spirit man was designed to thrive in joy.  Laughter happens spontaneously when we are presented with what we perceive as humor.  Joy, on the other hand, is an intentional action and not a spontaneous happening.  There are some ways to plan our joy and keep the light in our lives.

I think one of the things we as Christians suffer from is the idea of being serious and deep all the time.  When we are in church, we have to be pious and above all human frailty.  The bottom line is we all sin every day and don’t deserve to be joyful about anything.  The source of our joy begins with the salvation that is not deserved, the favor we should never receive, the grace given when we fail.  That alone should be a source of great joy that we are no longer held accountable to our sins and failures, we have grace.  God’s grace above all else is so awesome if you think about it.  We no longer have to worry about God’s wrath in our lives.  Wrath turns to unconditional love, a love that sees no wrong and is always giving, never receiving.  How can we give back to God for what Jesus did for us?  Wow, what love.

Because the source of joy is our salvation, and there is no way we can ever repay what He has done, we should find joy in serving Jesus.  We are His hands and feet.  What does that mean?  When we are His hands that means we are giving.  We are giving of our time and resources.  We love to spend time in changing someone’s dreadful circumstances and setting them up for success in life.  We can do that with money, time, and our unconditional love from God.  His feet means we are walking in His glory and sharing the light we have in our lives with unconditional love.

That brings me to the last point of what can bring joy in our lives and that is unconditional love.  When you begin living like Jesus and become more like Him as your life flourishes, you will find yourself loving more like Him.  You will serve Him better as you become this overflowing light in people’s lives.  God made us to be able to love intentionally.  It’s not some tingling sensation or a pain in our stomach when we look at someone we love, it’s an intentional action.  Marriages in this world don’t last long because we are really infatuated with our spouse, not really in love.  The love part comes in when we are faced with issues and disagreements.  That is the determining factor if your marriage is going to last.  A self-sacrificing attitude is unconditional love concisely.

Does God have a sense of humor?  He most certainly does, He created you and I.

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  I Corinthians 1:27

God takes the ordinary and makes them extraordinary.  You are God’s practical joke to confound the supposed “wise” and to weaken the supposed “powerful.”  The idea is to stay joyful and don’t take yourself so seriously.  You can stay joyful by having a grateful attitude in knowing Jesus died for you.  You can stay joyful by serving Him who served you in the greatest capacity.  Finally, you can stay joyful by intentionally using unconditional love and changing people’s lives for the better.

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.

The Drive to Survive to a Life Well Lived

Job Praying

When Job prayed for his friends, the lord restored his fortunes.  In fact, the lord gave him twice as much as before!  Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the lord had brought against him.  And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring.  So the lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.  For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. Job 42:10-12

It was 27 years ago this past May that the car I was riding in slid into the opposite lane and was rammed in the side by a car going over 50 miles an hour.  It was three days after I had graduated from college and was looking forward to getting involved in some kind of job that I could use my business skills in.  I was in the passenger side of the car and I blacked out for a couple of minutes with the sound of metal and bone crunching in my ears as I passed out.  That May began my downward journey into a 21-year spiral into depression.  I spent a month in the hospital getting over a broken pelvis, compound fracture in my wrist and a broken arm and elbow.  All my ribs on my right side were broken and I had a punctured lung.  Thankfully, the car we had back then was solid steel and so if I was in one that was built today; I probably would not have survived.  It was so bad they had to use the Jaws of Life to pry me out of that car.  I had to learn how to walk again; I was a total mess.  Job lost most of his family and all of his wealth.  I can’t compare myself with the faith Job showed because I went through so many ups and downs during those 21 years of wilderness.  May has gone from being a curse to a blessing in my life.  The number 5 has a new meaning for me and that biblical meaning is grace and favor.

I cannot say it was all bad those 21 years because God was keeping me in the game.  My depression was very passive; it was not in my face day in and day out.  For me it was a let’s do the same routine over and over again.  I can’t say I didn’t feel God’s presence at this time nor serve Him, I just felt like something was missing from my life.  I had the drive to survive, but not really to live.  My eating was how I felt comfortable, but as my girth grew, I was becoming uncomfortable.  If you haven’t figured it out yet May is the fifth month and what I consider my rebirth month.  May 2008 began my upward journey into finding the spark of life I was missing.  The first thing God wanted to work on was my physical wellbeing, so I began a weight loss journey that would take off 242 pounds.  He provided me with the best support through an awesome friend that has become a significant part of my life.  So, May has become special to me because I keep seeing God’s grace and favor in that awesome month.  I had reached the end of my rope and my body was shutting down with heart failure, sleep apnea, and asthma.  The drive to survive kicked in and I was able to take off 100 pounds in 7 months.

May 2009 I began to learn how to run.  This was a goal of mine because I had learned the quickest way to lose some pounds was to do some awesome cardio.  God’s next step was to work on my spiritual.  I kept working on the physical, but the most important part was beginning; changing me on the inside.  When I was a child, I used to hate to run because I was never fast enough and I hated how it made me feel.  Trust me when I did that first minute of running I had the thought go through my head was I sure, I really wanted to do this.  I did a 30 day to 30 minutes of running program and slowly fell in love with it.  The first day I ran 30 straight minutes was the most awesome feeling in the world.  As I would add more time to my run, I would spend more time in prayer.

Fast forward, to May 2013, God blesses me with enough money to work toward a goal of helping others get to their goals and I enroll in a class that gets you certified as a personal trainer.  As God was changing my spiritual, my gratitude quotient became off the scale.  I wanted to give back, to show others how to change for the better.  So, I made it through the class and passed with flying colors.

This past May 2014, God has been working on my patience.  I had to do a 30-hour internship before I could be certified as a personal trainer.  My friend who helped with my weight loss is whom I trained with, but because they had to have a certain type of trainer, they rejected all my hard work.  I had to find a new one, and so God provided me with another and to the very last day I was able to get it done.  The last day of course was in May.

It took 50 days from Jesus’ resurrection for the Holy Spirit to be released to us.  That right there is God’s grace and favor.  Job in the above verses had lost everything, but God restored him two fold.  God restored my heath, strengthen my spirit man, taught me gratitude and patience.  I’m not going to say God made the bad stuff happen in my life, I will say He allowed it to happen, but He turned it all around for the good.  I can’t take full credit for the change in my life, yes I made some great decisions, but I have to give God all the glory.  Without the Holy Spirit in my life, the drive to survive would not have been there and I would never have learned how really to live.

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.

Staying Power: The Test of Salvation

There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions of Moab.  Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it.  Once, armed only with a club, he killed an Egyptian warrior who was 71/2 feet tall and who was armed with a spear as thick as a weaver’s beam.  Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it.  Deeds like these made Benaiah as famous as the three mightiest warriors.  I Chronicles 11:22-24

Staying power is commitment.  Salvation is only salvation if you stick with it.  I am one of those that believe that once you commit your life to Christ, you will always be His.  There are always debates on this point, but there is a ton of scripture that teaches the once saved always saved doctrine.  This blog is not for me to prove that point.  I want to talk about how to get staying power or another word for it, endurance.  If you endure something, you are committed to it.  If you can turn your back on Christ, to me, you were not really saved to begin with.  That is the definition of apostate.  When I think of commitment, I think about the men and women who constantly are trained to give their lives to protect our American heritage.  Soldiers are a great example of committed endurance.  They have that staying power.  The Christian life is like the life of a soldier, we have to have that staying power in our lives.  I use Benaiah as the example above.  I first heard of him when I read one of my favorite books In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day by Mark Batterson.  Benaiah was one of the most powerful warriors in the bible; he was amazing.  He was fearless, he was fast, he was strong, and he was faithful.

Endurance of a soldier begins with being fearless.  General George Patton said that courage is fear holding on a minute longer.  Courage in essence is faith.  Benaiah had tremendous faith in his abilities and most importantly in God.  I have to admit for me to chase after a lion on a snowy day into his own lair, I would have to have a ton of faith in not only my abilities, but in God having my back.  He was either stupidly reckless, or excessively confident.  I would say he was the latter.  You can be excessively confident when you have God backing you up.  Besides, he was the chief bodyguard for King David and King David was not slouch when it came to being a warrior.  He led by example.

A soldier needs to be fast to endure.  When I talk about being fast, you need to have the grace to switch gears quickly so as not to miss the blessing God has for you.  Sometimes the path we are going is not leading anywhere, when that still small voice says go this way we need to be prepared to act quickly to adjust to the new path.  Benaiah when he faced the Egyptian faced a seven and a half foot tall giant.  The spear he carried was large as well.  Benaiah used his quickness to avoid the thrusts from the spear and was able to grab on to it and yank it out of the Egyptians hands.  Then he took the spear and killed him with the Egyptians own weapon.  Be fast to change your perspective when you are directed.

A warrior has to be strong.  We gain strength through the reading of God’s word and applying it to our lives.  As a Christian, we need to have strength of character, body, and spirit.  We are responsible for the first two thirds; God is responsible for the last third.  We first have to shape the first two thirds in order to have a healthy spirit.  Benaiah had to have all three when he chased after a lion and killed it.  Who does that?

The last thing we need to have to endure is faithfulness.  It’s not mentioned here in this scripture, but Benaiah was faithful to his king.  When David’s son rebelled Benaiah stayed by his side and had David’s back.  Because he did that Solomon made him the head of the army after the other head rebelled with David’s other son.  Faithfulness is an important attitude for us to have in our Christian life.  Being faithful to the church, to God, to our family are things that keep us enduring, that keep us moving on into the next chapter of an abundant life God has planned for us.  It’s one of the best character traits you can have, faithfulness.

Being fearless, fast, strong, and faithful makes you a powerful warrior like Benaiah was.  Opposition will find you, but don’t shrink back, always keep moving forward.  I think back to that Movie Lone Survivor.  It’s a true story that depicts the greatest loss of Navy Seals in our military history.  Out of four Navy Seals on a recon team that had to fight their way off a mountain, there was only one survivor.  One of the Seal’s that was killed, Axelson, whether this is true or not, I would hope it was true said this looking at all three Seals on his team he said, “I care for you, I care for you, and I care for you.”  The point of the whole story was the special bond these men had on the battlefield.  One of the other things Axelson said was” tell my wife I died with my brothers”.  How awesome is that?  That’s my goal is to stand before God and tell Him I died with my brothers and sisters on the battlefield of life holding the line for my God.  Staying power the test of salvation is a consistent test every day, but is made easier with our team of brothers and sisters God provides for us.

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015

The 3 Negative C Attitudes Replaced With Compassion

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Do not look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  Philippians 2:3-4

I was having a discussion with a friend about how people can be harsh sometimes not realizing that what they are saying can hurt us.  Selfishness can cause insensitivity and justify what is being said as good for us when all it really does is hurt us.  Fear can give us many impressions of what may happen if, but that is the key word, if.  Relationships can be damaged or ruined by a careless selfish word.  As Christians, we need to be vigilant in our attitudes.  Out of the discussion, God gave me three attitudes we need to do the opposite of, competition, comparison, and complaining.  The question becomes why can’t we be just happy for one another.

There is nothing wrong with healthy competition, as a runner I love to compete, but I compete against myself.  I have long ago learned that if I am going to have any kind of peace in my running competition I need only to compete against me.  In reality isn’t that what we are doing anyway?  We are competing against ourselves because we are finding how far, faster, further, we can go.  The real competition comes from deep within us and we are striving against the flesh that slows us down and tells us we can’t do it.  This is healthy competition.  This is where good sportsmanship comes from; we are focused on competing against ourselves, not others.  Teamwork is what causes us to become close and strong together.    It is a team spirit or team attitude that congratulates the person who beat you in the race and you are genuinely happy for them because you did your best against them.  To me winning is outdoing my previous effort and improving.  Heck, just being out there and doing something active is a win against the flesh.  Our true competition that is healthy competition is going against our flesh.  Teamwork is the remedy to competition.

Having a comparing attitude can bring nothing but disappointment in your life.  I cannot keep up with the Joneses; they make way too much money for that effort to be even possible.  I am me, you are you, and we are all different in every way from other people.  God broke the mold when He made me; He broke the mold when He made you.  Comparison is nothing more than saying, God I don’t like how you made me, I want to be like so and so.  Being comfortable in your own flesh is so important.  If you do not like who your are, you have the power within you to change what you don’t like.  Sometimes life gives us some terrible things to recover from, and we can spend years healing from those painful experiences.  Those negative experiences are gold, because we can learn from them and they make us who we are today.  Had I not gone through some of my own personal hell and finally allowed God to show me the positives of my negatives I would not be the compassionate person I am today.  The cure to the comparison attitude is to be real, be you.  Be happy about who you are.

The last attitude is the complaining attitude.  Have you ever met a person who complains about everything?  They simply do not have anything good to say or contribute anything positive about anything in life.  If you are like me, you want to avoid those people like the plague.  They literally suck the life out of you.  They can take your positive attitude for life and make you wish you never got out of bed.  The cure to the complaining attitude is how you begin your day.  Do you get up with a sense of dread for the day ahead, or do you get up expecting great things to happen.  I always try to get up with a sense of anticipation that God will use me to change someone’s life.  If it’s raining I know the sun is out above the clouds.  Starting my day with God is my caffeine for the rest of the day and my drive to continue.  Being positive and life giving can lead to an awesome day.

The three negative c words of competition, comparison, and complaining can be removed with one c word and that is compassion.  As the verse above says, we need to think of others better than ourselves and not try to make a spectacle of ourselves and let our egos take over our attitudes.  An attitude of compassion is thinking or ourselves less than others, it’s offering help, not preaching to people about how to live.  Showing love and having a life giving attitude.  It’s giving people mercy and grace when they need it the most.  It’s unconditional love in action.  It’s called being a team player, being yourself, and just being happy for each other.

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.

No Fear!

So be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid and do not panic before them.  For the lord your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will neither fail you nor abandon you.  Deuteronomy 31:6

It was a nice sunny Saturday morning and I was trying to keep up with my running buddy and close friend; we were trail running.  She is a foot shorter than I am and probably close to half my weight so she is fast.  My dog was unleashed and running between us.  I had been sporting an injury in my upper backside of my leg called the hamstring for a few months.  I was trying to get my joy of running back, but was falling short because of that pain in my butt.  Trail running has to be done when you are not tired and this was my third day in a row of running, besides having a full week.  My attention was also diverted to my dog who was keeping a good pace between my friend and me.  When you are trail running, your focus should be 3 feet in front of you, not 6 feet where my dog was.  I failed to see the root fragment sticking up far enough for tired feet not to clear and I ended up falling hard on my right arm.  I got the arm and hand out in front of me to break my fall and it took all the impact.  I strained my arm so bad that the pain was excruciating and caused me to tear up and writhe in pain.  This of course knocked me out of the gym.  I would not be lifting any heavy weights for a while.  Blessings can be found in the negative things we face if we are strong and courageous to know God has our best.

The blessing I got out of the injury in the hamstring was I was able to get over a fear I have had since childhood and that is fear of deep water.  The pain was so bad that I had to stop impacting the leg with running and take up aqua jogging.  Aqua jogging is done with a flotation device you fasten around your waste and guess what?  You have to float out to the deep end of the pool.  Well, I decided that I had to hang on to the side with one hand while I was jogging.  Finally after getting sick of hanging on to the side like I was going to go under and never come back up, I let go of the side and to my amazement didn’t sink or drown.  I was so excited that I went to the shallow end of the pool and took off the flotation device and swam from the shallow end to the deep end.  Courage is deciding to take action on something that needs to be done, even if it’s a scary proposition.  God took my work in progress life and knew I would injure myself and took full advantage of showing me what a little courage can do.  I am becoming a more confident swimmer and plan on some lake swimming this summer in preparation for doing a full triathlon.  God took my step of faith and is healing me in the fear I had.  Courage is found deep within you and when you least expect it to rise up out of you, it does.

The fall caused me to limit my gym time.  I felt like I was lazy and listless.  I still would get a couple of runs in during the weeks during the winter, but they were becoming hard to even get out and do.  My joy of running found it’s limit.  I started eating badly again and didn’t allow myself any grace.  During this inactive time, my arm healed and the pain in my hamstring completely disappeared; I was completely healed.  God not only healed me, but He worked on my ego as well.  One prayer I have had since losing all this weight is God please keep me humble so that I can encourage others to do what I did.  My strength came back to me when I allowed courage to get me past a fear.  My fear of gaining weight is not as strong as it was because my body is physically stronger going through the important healing it needed.  My joy of running and exercising my body is back and more passionate than ever.

As the word says being strong and courageous gets us to where God wants us to go.  He has prepared our steps for the godly life He wants us to live.  Trusting Him to set up our path is being strong and courageous.  You first have to be strong before you can be courageous.  You have to be courageous to find the inner strength to overcome.  Strength comes from His word and spending time in prayer with our great God.  The more we know Him the stronger we become, the more courage we get to face things we may have shied away from in the past.  There is a purpose in every opposition we face; whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  God doesn’t want us to be comfortable in this world, He wants us to be comfortable in Him.  Strength and courage always overcomes any fear we may have to face.  Find your strength and courage in His word and spend time in prayer.  The oppositions we face may be the blessings we have when we look back.

© [David Howard], [David's Body Temple], 2011-2015.