When God Gives a Time Out. Chapter 6. The Chemical Rush.

For the last few weeks I have been posting devotional material from my out-of-print book (2006), “When God Gives a Time Out.” Today’s post contains chapter 6, but you can read chapter 1 here: “An Introduction to Time Outs” and then catch up on the other chapters. Today’s chapter focuses on our compulsion to do things because of the chemical rush it gives us.

The Chemical Rush

We are fearfully and wonderfully made.  God has made our bodies so that we can survive and thrive in this world.  But humans have a knack for turning things meant for good into something harmful.  Just a few examples of turning the good into bad: sex, fire, gunpowder, nuclear energy, and fast food.  We have been given a wonderful brain with all sorts of chemicals that help us thrive in our environment.  When there is danger or something larger than ourselves that must be accomplished, our brains give us a nice shot of adrenaline to give us a boost in this important situation.  It is like Popeye on spinach, but to a lesser degree.  We feel strong and confident and say, “Bring it on Brutus!”  We enjoy feeling strong.  We like when our hearts race.  We enjoy it so much that we seek out situations that will produce this rush.  Teenagers play chicken with Mack trucks.  Day traders play the stock market. Senior citizens play bingo.  In all these situations there is uncertainty or danger in losing something valuable.  Like a well-oiled machine, the body senses this uncertainty and gives us adrenaline.  We feel alive.  People can seek the adrenaline rush in ways that are looked down on: gambling, racing trains, etc. or in ways that are actually encouraged by our society.  Doing job-oriented tasks, playing sports, and building stuff are all endorsed by our culture.  The Bible agrees that it is good to perform on the job, exercise, and make things.  The danger is when we do these things for the sake of getting a rush.  If we work for the rush then we are no different in principle than a compulsive gambler or a daredevil.  When “doing” becomes compulsive in this way it leads to burnout and strained relationships with those close to us (God included). Continue reading

A father’s faith: “I do believe; help my unbelief!”

Father’s Day always falls on a Sunday, and over the years I have discovered that in any given church Father’s Day brings mixed emotions. On the one hand, there is gratefulness and a desire to give thanks and honor dads because fathers have a tremendous impact on their children, on families, and on the nation. Not to mention “Honor your father and mother” made Moses’ top ten list of commandments. On the other hand, observing Father’s Day can be very difficult for those who are mourning a father’s death or for those who are dealing with an abusive or absent father. The pain of those experiences highlights the significance of fathers. For me, being a father has been one of the mostIsaiah, me, fish difficult and spiritually enlightening tasks I have ever been given. Integrating my faith with fatherhood has been both rewarding and heart wrenching. Whether as a father or relating to our fathers, fatherhood affects our faith journeys. Fatherhood can lead us into a better understanding of faith, of God, and ourselves.

To see how fatherhood can lead us into a deeper understanding of faith, we will examine one father’s journey described in Mark 9:17-27. This unnamed father was struggling. He was dealing with a son who was very troubled and no one had been able to help him. This situation, of course, also raised many faith questions for the father. With raw emotion and real faith struggles, this father sought out someone who made bold claims and performed miraculous deeds. This father sought out Jesus. Continue reading