Monday, January 31, 2011

The Consequences of Loving

I discussed a specific question a few weeks ago. Here it is again.

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?

Now, I’m going to add another question for you to consider…

Do you love Him?

Do you?

Go ahead and answer for yourself. Say it out loud.

If you said “yes!” you need to realize that there are consequences for loving Jesus Christ. Let's explore it.

Love is an interesting thing. (The fodder for poetry, novels, plays, movies…it never goes out of style.)

     Love is a force of nature. (We are made to love.)
          Love drives us to act in certain ways. (You can’t stop it. It just happens.)
               Love is the one thing that can make us look beyond ourselves.
                    Love drives us to GIVE.
                         Give your heart.
                         Give your service.
                         Give your time.
                         Give your money.

There was a man in Tuscon a few weeks back who was driven by love. He and his wife went to the store one morning; not to shop, but to encourage a congresswoman. Dorwin Stoddard and his wife, Mavy stopped by to see Gabrielle Giffords. Suddenly, shots rang out. Dory Stoddard didn’t dive under a table. He didn’t run for his life. No dodging behind a pillar.

No. Dorwin Stoddard, driven by love, pulled his wife to the ground, shielded her with his own body, and gave his life over to the bullet that perhaps would have taken his wife’s life instead.  He loved.  He gave.

You see….

How much you love is reflected by how much you are willing to GIVE!

Love drove God to give to us.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. John 3: 14-17

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4: 9-10

God was driven by His love for us to send His Son.
          Jesus was driven by His love for us to lay down His life.

Is that love from God real to you? Do you realize what that means to you? Do you feel the impact in your life? Have you considered where you would be without it? What would your life be like if He had not given so much for you?

Two new questions:
Does God loving you DRIVE you to love Him? Does it drive you to love His church?

We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4: 19-21

If you feel the love of God in your life, it should (will) drive you to love your brother.

     That is an expectation that God has for us.

          Consider what Jesus said to Peter…

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

“If you love me, take care of my sheep!” GIVE. Give to my people! If you love me, give to my people. Give your love. Give your time. Give your service. Give your money.


Here is another thing about love. Its brilliance fades as we become comfortable.

In 1982, I took the woman who would become my wife out on our first date. In March of 1983, we began to “go steady.” Each month after that, I brought her carnations. Each month, I added another to the bunch that I would bring; one for each month we had been dating. In 1985, we got married, and the flowers slowed down….eventually becoming almost nonexistent for several years. I grew comfortable. I’m trying to rekindle that these days, but I’ve got a good deal of work to do to get back to where I was.  I am on the road, however.

The bottom line is that despite how much I love my wife, I had slacked off.

Don’t we do that with God too? I think we do. We grow comfortable, and we slack off.

Human relationships often fade over time.

The start is intense. Boy meets girl! Can’t get enough of each other. Can’t wait to be together. Spend hours together. They get married.

Time passes.

I’ve got her. I can relax now. A few pounds. A few whiskers. She knows I love her. Time together becomes something you squeeze in.

Time passes.

I’m putting up with her. She gets on my last nerve. Secret thoughts of others. You’d rather do anything but spend time together.

Time passes.

You’re done.

Early flames can wind down into fading embers. Fading embers become just a faint hint of a dying glow. Soon, there is only dead ash; blowing in the wind.

We get that way with God too.

Early Flames

• You feel the need for God in your life.

• You’re alive with passion for all things spiritual, and it shows on your face.

• You’re grateful for the Grace that God has provided you.

• You can’t get enough of being with God’s people.

• You can’t find enough ways to serve.

• You wish you had more money to give.

• Your heart is fully engaged.

Fading Embers

• God is an important PART of your life, but so are so many other things.

• You make time for church on a regular basis unless you find something else to do.

• You’ll serve…when it’s convenient.

• Extra stuff like Bible class or special events are not particularly appealing…after all, they’re just extra anyway.

• One of your favorite phrases on Sunday afternoon starts with “I don’t like it when…”

• Contribution is just one of your budget items.

Faint Hints of a Dying Glow

• God has become something you take for granted…or worse yet, an afterthought.

• You’ll go to church if you get up early enough, or if you don’t stay out too late on Saturday night.

• You’re too busy to serve in some ministry, and you’ve done your time there anyway

• Bible class? Wednesday night? Are you kidding?

• At least complaining isn’t a problem, because you don’t even think about church after you walk out the door—you’ve done your time. You’ve punched your clock. Time for lunch.

• Contribution? Well, maybe, if you have an extra dollar in your wallet or purse.

Dead Ash—Blowing in the Wind
• God? Who cares?

• I sleep in on Sundays.

• I’m here to serve numero uno.

• Bible? It’s on the shelf in the corner covered in dust.

• It’s my money. I earned it. I’m keeping it.

Take time to consider where you might fall in that progression. Which category best describes your relationship with God?

I’ve heard of married couples renewing their vows. They go off on a cruise or fly to Vegas, and once again after 25, 30, or maybe 50 years, they pledge their love for one another anew.

We can do that with God too.

As with any relationship that has faded a bit, it can be…





Or, perhaps you need to start at the beginning.  Maybe you need to ask God to "go steady."


Back to my original question…

Do you love Him?

Is that love driving you?

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3: 18

Loving Jesus Christ has consequences.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

WMBO-Fitness Update-Week Four

I feel like I'm on a pretty good track right now.

Anyone need a spare?

This is an old concrete fence cornerpost.  There are lots of these along my route.  I can imagine in 1000 years, some future archeologist is going to find one of these and speculate about:  Why it was built?  Who built it?  Where did they get the technology?  Was it an ancient directional marker for alien vistors?
 Folks, this was another less than idea week in a few ways.  I started off well enough with some good mileage early on, but by mid-week, I'd developed a pretty good case of tendonitis in my previously undamaged Achilles Tendon....yep....the one that has not yet torn.  As a result, I decided to rest it for a few days and not walk.  As it turns out, that worked out well enough because I had a business trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the schedule there wasn't conducive to walking anyway.

I also went a little off the wagon with my diet on Friday.  Had pizza for lunch and a sandwich for dinner.  I followed that up with several chocolate chip cookies later in the evening.  It was a lot of starch!  I guess it was sort of a mini-binge.  When I got up on Saturday morning and visited my scales, I was a little apprehensive.  All is well that ends well, though.  I was down.

Now, I've got something to say to all those folks who keep harrassing me about ONLY counting miles that I complete outside, and the fact that I am not counting treadmill or exercise bike miles...

Wah, wah, wah!  I think you're a bunch of weenies!

I do have one concession, however.  If I am traveling on business, and there is not an adequate and safe area to walk in, or the schedule prevents me from doing the walking at a reasonable time, I will consider putting some miles on a hotel treadmill.  That is my lone concession to this rule I've created for myself.  Frankly, I'm kind of proud that I've been out walking in the freezing cold temperatures while the rest of you have been huddled up in your cozy Lazyboy chairs.

Now for the details....

Total Miles Completed:  44.9
Percentage of Goal Completed:  2.23%
Miles to Go:  1966.1

Current Weight:  259.4 lbs
I was down 1.4 lbs from last week.

Yes!!!!! I hit my first weight milestone goal this week despite my Friday binge!  The new milestone goal will be to get under 255 lbs.

I have lost 10.6 lbs since January 1.

More roadblocks this week, but I need to stay the course, eat as healthy as I can, and walk whenever possible.  I'll catch up with you again next weekend.

See you on the road.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ZipZip, Pillowman, and a Shower Full of Poo

I thought I’d tell you about a week I spent as a volunteer maintenance guy at a summer church camp near Culpepper, Virginia a few years ago. Even though my job was to simply empty trash containers, clean some bathrooms, and fill some water containers, it wasn’t as mundane as you might think. Just go to bed and try to get some sleep, and the action began.

The deal was that my friend Steve and I would join a couple of other guys as the maintenance men, and all of us guys would share a tent cabin with some other guys who were volunteering at the camp in other functions. The tent also housed two or three teen boys who were actually working there during the summer. They had weekends off, so when we arrived on Saturday, they were no where to be found.

Yes. Teen boys. Teen boys without their mothers to make sure they picked up after themselves.

We walked into our tent cabin the first night and found their stuff strewn everywhere. Every bunk (twelve in all) was covered in various and sundry items: dirty clothes, towels, blankets, books, etc, etc. We couldn’t tell which bunks were taken and which ones were open. Okay. They’re boys, and we’re men. Executive decision time. We piled all their stuff on the floor in the middle of the tent, and took the bunks we wanted. Sunday night comes, and they show up.

“Hey, that’s my bunk!”

“Really? We couldn’t tell. I guess you’ll have to pick a new one.”

What was unspoken was: We’re older and bigger than you. Get over it.

The concept of the week was simple and pleasant enough. Sure, there was a little nasty work during the day, but there’s no pressure, lots of hangin’ out with my friends, and then I got to sleep out in the woods every night for a week. And, well, for the most part, that’s exactly how it worked out. The problem wasn’t the days. They went just as expected. It was the nights. Starting with that first night, I did not have one uneventful, restful night ALL WEEK! Here are some of the adventures.

On the first night after the teens returned, there was the “screaming girl” out in the woods. We had not settled down for long, maybe a half an hour, when someone came to the tent to claim that they had heard a girl screaming out in the woods. Someone needed to go check it out! This someone happened to be a teen junior counselor boy, and guess who went running off with him to look for the girl in peril….yep….that’s right….the teen boys in our cabin. Turned out, of course, to be nothing. Probably two cats making kittens.

On every night, there was the guy I’ll call ZipZip. He was the assistant in the kitchen area, so he was the first out the door in the morning, and the last one in at night. Under his bunk he kept a huge suitcase with about a million and one zippers. He would come in after we had all settled down and had just gotten to sleep, and he would pull out that suitcase and begin to unzip and rezip every single zipper on that case. Zip, zip, zip, zip, zip, zip….and on it would go, and go, and go, and go, until finally he would settle down and go to bed only to repeat the process early in the morning before the rest of us needed to be up. In between, he continued the Zzzzzzs with one of the worst cases of snoring any of us had ever heard.

ZipZip’s snoring leads me to Pillowman. Now, Pillowman was a good enough guy, but he had a few quirks. First, he brought his dog with him, which seems nice until you realize that this was a camp full of little kids, and the only one that Pillowman’s dog was friendly with was Pillowman. As a result, he kept his dog tied up near his truck the whole week. Of course he visited the dog regularly, kept it fed and watered, and walked it when he could, and all was well…until the night of the July 4th fireworks, when the dog got so worked up that he snapped his line and fled into the woods. Pillowman was an emotional wreck. He was sure that someone had let the dog go as a prank. He searched and searched and searched. To everyone’s relief, the dog was found the next morning out in the woods with his broken line tangled up in some brush.

So, how does ZipZip’s snoring bring me to Pillowman, you might be wondering. Well, ZipZip’s snoring head was positioned within a few feet of Pillowman’s bunk, and after all the zipping followed by the snoring, sometime toward the middle to end of our time together…in the middle of the night…Pillowman had had all the zipping and snoring he could take, and he slammed his pillow into ZipZip’s head. Let’s just say that ole Zipper wasn’t too thrilled about that. Words ensued. Threats were issued. All were awakened. But, alas, no blood was shed, and no blows were thrown. Eventually, everything settled down and we all went back to our shortened night of sleep.

On my very last night there, I thought that surely I could get a good night’s sleep. Everyone was tired, so there wasn’t much energy for horseplay. Even ZipZip settled down quickly. I went right to sleep.

“Hello? Anybody awake in there? Hello? Can one of you help me out? Please? Hello?”

I’m just a volunteer. Surely, one of the paid staff guys will respond. I really need the sleep. I’ve got a long drive the next day. Just wait a minute. One of them will answer her.

“Hello? I need some help. Anybody awake?”

Oh, okay. I guess it’s me. I go outside, and here is a female counselor on the guy’s side of the lake looking for help from one of the maintenance crew at midnight on the last night. Why? Because she had a little girl who had an accident, and instead of taking her to the bathroom to clean her up as would be appropriate, she had the bright idea of decoupling a quick connect coupler on a hose that stretched out to the beach area. Now, water was flowing freely out into the grass, and she couldn’t stop it. So, while the paid guys slept, I made my way around the lake in the dark and fixed the problem in the middle of the night.

But, that’s not even the scene stealer for the week. That came on the next to last night. You see, as I mentioned, it was my job to clean one of the shower houses everyday. My friend, Steve helped me, and we did that chore every afternoon. When evening came, all the campers headed to bed at 10pm, and then it was my chance to get a shower. My day was done. I was sticky. I was sweaty. A shower made me feel all better. Thursday night was no different. Around 10:30pm, I headed to the shower house. When I walked in, it smelled kind of bad, but there were toilets in there, and I figured that nature had called on someone, and they had answered. It would clear up in a minute. I took a nice hot shower. Ahhhhhhh! Clean again. Fresh. A wonderful feeling.

“Oh, dude! Someone’s really made a mess in that shower stall!”

It was one of the counselor’s. He pointed. He remarked. He darted for the door.

The smell was still there.

One thing to keep in mind with this story is that the camp had kids from all walks of life, and a great many of them were from places like inner city Philadelphia. A large number of them had never been in the woods and away from home in their lives.

I peeked into the stall. It was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I hope I never do again! There was poo on every surface. It was on all of the walls. It was on the fixtures. It was on the shower curtain. It was in lumps on the floor and clogging the drain. It was absolutely disgusting.

I’m a volunteer, I said to myself. I already cleaned this shower house today. This is too much. I need help. Where’d that guy go that pointed it out? All of the sudden, the camp was as quiet as a snowy Christmas morning. It was just me and the poop.

There was nothing else to do. Oh, I guess I could have gone and got those paid staff, goofy, teen boys out of bed and made them clean it up. But, this was my shower house. I was a maintenance guy. I knew the location of all the tools and supplies. It was my responsibility. A half hour later, after much internal self-reflection, and outward nose-holding and gagging, the shower house was again clean and smelling fresh.

The next day, I told some of my fellow staff members of the poo adventure, and there were calls for searching out the culprit! Who would have done such a thing! He must be found and hung from a tree! Well, I guess they didn’t actually call for his death, but severe humiliation was on the agenda.

No, I said. It was probably some boy from the city, scared of the woods, who had been holding it in all week. Finally, his counselor made him go take a shower, and when the hot water hit him….well…..pow! He’s probably embarrassed enough. I told them to drop it.

Here’s the thing. I was there to help. I had volunteered to work to the benefit of the kids at the camp. No where did I sign an agreement that put a limitation on my service. Sometimes folks, selfless service means just that…you are called to be selfless and clean up the poo.

By the way, that was my last year as a volunteer maintenance guy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

WMBO-Fitness Update-Week Three

This is "Point of View" week for my update.  I'm going to give you a view of what I see along the roads I walk.

Hickory Road looking south near my house.  Yep, that's my gloved finger in the upper left corner.

McGregor Road looking east.

Another old barn.  The little building on the left intrigues me.  At one time it had power running to it.  What it was for I have no idea.

A little further down McGregor Road; still looking east.

The Dinner Bell store in Acton, Indiana.  My two-mile turn around point.

I was on the way back when this large bird flew over me to land in this tree.  I'm not sure what it is, maybe a hawk.
It was a good week overall this week.  It was cold, and kind of messy, but I walked EVERY day.  I put in more miles this week than the previous two.  On Thursday, I walked through the falling snow and on the really messy road.  On Friday, it was really cold.  But, the main thing is that I did it every misses.

I also pretty well stuck to my eating plan.  I had to shift the start of my weekend to Friday night to accommodate an awesome meal with some friends, but otherwise all is good.

Today, I walked 4.2 miles.  This is the most I've walked in one effort since my injury over a year ago.  I hope to keep building on that distance.  If the weather cooperates, maybe I can hit 4.5 next Saturday.

I lost one pound this week.  That part is moving slower than I'd hoped, but it is still moving in the right direction, so no worries.

Next week will be a little more challenging for both the walking and the diet because I have some business travel out of town.  It is always harder to get walks in because I've limited my countable mileage to miles completed outdoors, and I don't know the area well enough to know the distances.  Plus, when it is tied to a business meeting, the guys are always scheduling dinners out as a group.  It is also harder for the meals because of the temptations of the appetizers the group usually orders before the regular entrees.  I don't think I'll struggle too much this week though.  Right now, I'm kind of excited about the program I'm on, so temptations don't have the power they may have in a couple of months.

Okay, now for the stats...

Weight:  260.8 lbs.  I'm down 9.2 pounds since January 1st.  I still didn't hit my first goal of 260.0, but I'm so close I could taste it....umm, maybe taste isn't the best choice of words.  How about I'm so close I can touch it?

Miles Completed: 38.4 miles.  I walked 13.3 miles this week.  I've completed 1.91% of the goal.

Okay...that's enough for now.  If you've started you're own program, stick to it!  I'm gonna stick to mine!  Let me hear what you're doing, it might encourage me.

See you on the road!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Breathless by Dean Koontz

One thing I like to do, and I haven't done much of this year is read.  One of my all time favorite authors is Dean Koontz.  If you are unfamiliar with him, he writes mystery, suspense, and somewhat scary fiction; often with a touch of the supernatural.  He sometimes covers some horroristic (is that even a word?) topics, but I've never known him to get as graphic or vulgar as some other famous authors.

Dean is the author that got me reading.  What I mean by that is a long time ago, in a land far, far away...or, maybe it was just Columbus, Indiana...I suddenly, out of the blue, got into the mood to read a book.  As a result, I went browsing through the paperback section of the local supermarket, probably a Kroger, and found a book that intrigued me.  It was titled "Twight Eyes."  I bought it, read it, and got hooked on reading.  Since that time, I've read probably hundreds of books of multiple genres and authors, but I often come back to Mr. Koontz' stories.  The bottom line is that I really enjoy his work, and he writes in a flowing style that gives me a pleasurable reading experience.

What has spurred this post is that I just finished a Koontz book titled "Breathless."

I don't want to give anything away, but not only was this a fun read, but I found myself quite touched at the end by a couple of things.  One was a way that the story touches on an internal cord of faith and strums the music of the mystery of creation.  The other was a story of one man's struggle with his personal demons leading to an emergence from self-destruction.

If you want a good, fun, entertaining, and in many ways inspiring story sprinkled with a mix of some riddles and puzzles, give "Breathless" a gander.

See you in the bookstore.

Monday, January 17, 2011

If You're Happy and You Know IT

Do you remember the old children’s song with the line: “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands”? I’ve been thinking about it all week. Thinking about it, mind you. Not actually singing it out loud; at least not when someone was within earshot.

Wikipedia says there are several versions of this song, but I know the one that goes like this:

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

It’s that third line that’s been on my mind.

If you’re happy and you know it, then YOUR FACE WILL SURELY SHOW IT!

I think a great number of Christians should consider that line. After all that God has done, after all the ways that our lives are different than they would have been, after all the blessings that we have received,…

Someone needs to tell our face.

Smile!   :)

Smile, for crying out loud. Show some joy. We smile when our football team wins. We smile when someone puts a piece of apple pie ala mode in front of us. We smile when we get a raise at work. Shoot, I even smile when I get a new pair of socks. Maybe, perhaps, possibly, we should have a smile when we are praising our God for giving us new life.

Sometimes I look around at church during our worship times, and I wonder if folks are in pain.

Now, I don’t want to offend anyone. I know that different people show their joy in different ways. Just, the thing is, I’ve never known too many people that show joy with a drab expression, a scowl, or a frown.

If a stranger walked into our worship, would they know that we have the joy of our salvation in our hearts? Could they see it plastered on our faces?

Next Sunday, if this post has meant anything to you, then consider taking a moment and smile during your worship. Or, at least coddle me and give me a smile when you know I’m looking. If you see me with a goofy smile on my face, you’ll know that I’m just trying to live up to my own blog post.

Come on now! Show me those pearly whites!

Psalm 51:12 & 13Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.

Psalm 100:1-3Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Walkin' My Butt Off-Fitness Update Week Two

First, our "Tidbits of Americana."  Enjoy the photos.
I cross this creek on almost every walk.  I'll take "update" pictures from time to time to track the weather changes.

What would America be without red barns?

I might update this one too as the weather changes.

Do I look cold?

I've heard of Busch Beer, but...
This was a tougher week.  Besides the obvious cold weather, I had to travel for work for three days, and that played havoc on my walking.  On top of that, it is hard to eat right when you are on a business trip with a bunch of industrial sales guys.  Our first night in North Canton, Ohio, we ate dinner at the Fox and the Hound.  The only things on the menu that fit my eating plan were a large bowl of chili and a salad.  Sooooo, I ate a large bowl of chili and a salad while everyone else ate buffalo wings (I had three that they shared), and an assortment of other deep-fried delicacies.  Overall, I was okay with that.  I'm not really all that into fried stuff anymore.  The second night wasn't as tough.  We had better menu options, so I had piece of grilled scrod with some great vegetables.

Walking outside on the business trip wasn't very feasable either.  There was a great deal of snow on the ground, there weren't any available sidewalks, and the schedule was too busy.  As a result, I only walked two-tenths of a mile on the first (travel) day, and not at all on the next two days.

I got right back on it when I got home though.  Thursday: 1 mile.  Friday: 2.2 miles.  Today: 3.8 miles.

The 3.8 miles I walked today was the most I've walked since I tore my Achilles tendon over a year ago.  It still aches some here and there, but overall it's doing pretty well. 

Let me just say that I don't much enjoy walking in the cold.  I don't regret making the "no treadmill" rule, but I really don't enjoy the blowing north wind and the frozen cheeks.  Oh well, I guess it will make me a tougher least that's what I'm hoping for.

On to the stats for the week....keep in mind, it was a tough week for both food and walking:

Weight:  261.8 lbs

That is down, but not by much.  I lost less than a pound this week.  That said, I'm not discouraged.  After all, my real goal is the miles completed, and as long as I keep that in mind and keep working on it consistently, the rest will follow.  My goal this week is to walk every day, and get below 260.

Total miles completed overall: 25.1 
Percentage of goal completed: 1.25%
Miles left to be completed: 1985.9

Obviously, I still have a long way to go.  I will say this, I already feel better.  I feel healthier, and believe it or not, my clothes are already starting to feel more comfortable.  On top of that, I just feel better about myself.

Exercise is a good thing.

See you on the road.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Week One Fitness Update-Walkin' My Butt Off

I've established my personal motto for this fitness adventure this year: I am attempting to walk my butt off this year...literally.

As of this writing, here are the details of my performance so far:

Miles completed: 15.1 (12. 5 since my first day update.)  1995.9 to go.

Weight: 262.4 lbs (Down 7.6 lbs!!!!)

It has been stinkin' cold the last several days!  Today, it was 18 F with a windchill in the single digits.  I really considered not walking, but I haven't missed a day since the first of the year, and I didn't want to miss one today.  Consequently, I put on my coat, hat, and gloves, and went out into the partly sunny cold air.  It really wasn't that bad overall.  I had on my long underwear for extra insulation, and three layers over my upper body.  The only bad spot was my face, and especially my cheeks.  My face is all red from being in the cold this week.  I look like I either have a sunburn or a bad alcohol program.  My face has already seen more sun this January than it usually sees all winter.

It is pretty awesome to lose 7.6 pounds in the first week, but I really expected a large number the first week.  It usually works that way, and then I slow it down in the following weeks.  The discouraging thing is that losing that much only brought me down to my previous HIGH weight.  I've got a long way to go.  As I was walking, I was thinking about the weight thing, and I decided that I need to NOT think about how far I've got to go, but instead I'm going to set short-term goals.  My current short-term goal is to get under 260.  After that, I'll set my sights on 255.

Lastly, I'm contemplating some ways to make these reports more interesting as the year goes on.  One idea: photos of stuff I see along the road.  It would kind of be like 'pieces of Americana.'

Enough for now.  If you're working on your fitness too, keep going.  Don't let life get in the way, and keep going.

See you on the road.  

Friday, January 7, 2011

Do You Believe?

“Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he died for your sins, was buried, and that God raised him from the dead on the third day?”

Do you?

I’ve heard this question asked hundreds, maybe thousands of times over the 34 ½ years that I’ve been a Christian. Usually, it was being asked of someone who was about to be baptized, as a means of publically confirming their faith. That makes sense, since it does encapsulate the basic tenets of Christianity.

I’ve never heard anyone answer this question by saying “no.”

I think if you walked into almost any Christianity-based church and asked the membership to answer that question, the overwhelming majority would quickly answer “yes!” After all, if you don’t believe the concepts contained in that question, why would you bother attending a Christian congregation at all? You might better spend your time at a movie, or working in the yard.

But, do we really think about what that question is asking? Have we really considered the ramifications? Let’s take a closer look. Here are the various factors of faith that the question is asking us to affirm:

1. Jesus is the Christ—He is the messiah. He is the anointed savior of the world.

2. Jesus is the Son of God—He is more than just an ordinary human citizen of the world, but rather He is a special offspring of the overriding Master, King, and Creator of all things.

3. Jesus IS the Son of God—It is not ‘WAS’ the Son of God, but rather He ‘IS’ the Son of God. He still is.

4. Jesus willingly placed himself in a position to die for YOU, and not just you, but all of humanity because He cared so much that He chose to sacrifice Himself.

5. Jesus DID die for you and me.

6. Jesus ROSE from the dead three days later.

The last one is the most amazing of all the concepts! Stop for a second and just consider it! As Christians, we commonly accept that Jesus was dead for three days, and then He came back to life! How simply far out and wild is that?!

Have you ever seen or heard any credible evidence of anyone else ever doing that in your lifetime or any other lifetime? Most of us have attended funerals or visitations at funeral homes. Has it ever occurred to you while you were standing around chatting with folks and the body is lying over there in the casket, that maybe he or she will just sit up and step out of the coffin?  Of course not.  It would be an obsurd thought.  If, however, that did happen, what do you think the reaction would be? What would be the reaction of the whole world if it could be documented as fact?

But, we believe that Jesus did it.

Or, do we?

It wouldn’t be too unusual if perhaps we doubted a bit. We would be in pretty good company. Consider the Apostle Thomas:

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” John 20:25

One week later, he got his wish. Jesus told him to do exactly what he said it would take for him to believe.

Thomas’ reaction? “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29

None of us have the luxury of having “seen,” and yet we claim to believe.

But, let me ask you these questions:

If you really believe, what DIFFERENCE is that belief making in how you are living your life?  How are you different than you would be otherwise?

The belief in that resurrection made all the difference in the world to those who first believed. Did you know that all but one of the twelve apostles were murdered for that faith, including Thomas? They gave up their very lives. How often do we fuss about sacrificing enough time to go to worship, or to bible class? “Oh, I want to sleep in.” “The service is too long!” With our human complaints, we disrespect the gift of mercy we have been given, and disregard the example of our forefathers in the faith.

Another time when the Apostles Peter and John had been arrested for sharing their faith in Jesus, they were ordered by the authorities of the time to “speak no longer to anyone in this name,” meaning Jesus. What was Peter and John’s reaction?

“Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19

They couldn’t help it. They couldn’t contain it. It wasn’t socially acceptable. They were running opposed to popular culture. It didn’t matter because what they believed DROVE them to share it. There’s a common phrase today: “I don’t wear my faith on my sleeve.” Folks, the early Christians did. They couldn’t help it.

I look at myself and my fellow Christians, and I have to wonder if we really do believe in the power of God and in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we did, would we not be so blown away by all that God has done that we would be scared to death of His power, overwhelmed by His love, and compelled by the faith spawned in us by His resurrection to share it with everyone that crossed our path?

I’m asking myself this question, so I’ll ask you too…

Do you really believe?

In the words of a distraught father speaking to Jesus:  "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"  Mark 9:24

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Grand Canyon Rafting-2005

I thought I'd share with you about an adventure that my oldest daughter, Angela and I took in 2005.  We spent a week rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.  What an AWESOME trip!  I highly recommend it to anyone who loves the outdoors, and enjoys some physical challenge.  We joined an excursion led by Arizona Raft Adventures, or AZRA for short.  You can check out their website:

Loading the boats at Lee's Ferry
These guys have this thing down to a science!  Hot breakfasts, hot dinners, fun side trips, and great stories and histories of the Canyon.  You won't go wrong by letting these folks be your guides.

This was the view from the ledge I slept on the first night.

We slept on the riverbank at night.  The first night, I was wondering what in the world I'd gotten myself into.  It was pouring down rain, and we were sleeping on a rock ledge under an overhang just feet from falling into the river!  In a couple of days, I was totally comfortable with sleeping under the stars, bathing in the river, and not having the slightest interest in shaving.

Lazy floating; followed by crazy rapids; followed by silly water horseplay.

We spent the mornings and afternoons moving down the river.  We'd stop at mid-day and have a cold-cut and fresh fruit lunch.  There were several rapids everyday, which always raised the excitement level.  It was kind of like climbing the big hill on a rollercoaster as the anticipation would build.

A cool view from one of the side hikes.

Side hikes were a daily occurance also.  The guides were very knowledgeable about cool sights that you couldn't see from the river.  This hike took us through a cool little forest and back into a spot where a waterfall dropped into a small pool.  I stayed dry, but Angela waded right in.

We hiked out!  Follow that little white line all the way down and you still can't see the starting point at the river.
  We took a half-canyon trip which meant that they let us off the boats in the middle of the canyon, and we had to hike out carrying all of our personal gear...about 40 lbs worth.  It was an all-day, 7-mile hike!  I had prepared, but not enough.  It was a tough, tough day, but well worth it.  I would do it again without a doubt.

Probably my favorite picture from the trip! 

The day after we hiked out, we had to make our way back to Flagstaff, Arizona.  This part of the trip I had not totally worked out.  First, we had planned to ride the Grand Canyon Railway back to Williams, Arizona.  This was a great first step.  It takes about an hour, and you get to experience a fun little train robbery on the way.  After the train ride came the problem...I wasn't sure how to get from Williams to Flagstaff.  There was another couple on the train ride that was going through Flagstaff and offered us a ride.  We took them up on it, but I must admit that I was a little bit nervous about it.  It worked out well though.  They dropped us at our hotel.

The next day, we attempted to fly home.  That was another adventure, but not nearly as much fun.  We got to spend a night in a hotel in a city that was not anywhere in our plans.  We got home a day late, and Angela was stressed. 

All in all, it was a fantastic experience.  One day, I plan to go back and raft the full canyon.  I hope you get to try it too.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

DAY ONE-2011 Fitness Challenge

Today is the day. I’ve been anticipating this day for over a month. It is the start of my 2011 fitness challenge. If you are new to my blog, then let me explain. I’m planning to complete 2011 miles in the year 2011 by either walking, running, or cycling. All miles have to be completed outdoors, so treadmills and exercise bikes don’t count. If you do the math, that’s about 5.5 miles a day on average. I won’t be able to keep up with that pace by walking or running, but I plan to make up any deficit and get ahead of the goal by cycling in the late spring, summer, and early fall.  I can't afford to rely on the bike alone, however, so consistency is vital.

Since today is January 1, 2011, it is the beginning of the challenge.

I am planning to update my readers on my progress throughout the year. That being the case, I find it important to give you some starting details, and some of my personal goals that I hope to attain along the way.

Right now, I can say that I am quite uncomfortable. My clothes don’t fit very well, and my potential selection in my closet has shrunk. I’m pushing a new waist size that I’ve never been to before, and I definitely don’t want to go there. Also, I am beginning to feel the squeeze on my chest when I bend to tie my shoes. I can’t say that I get winded by climbing stairs, and I’m not feeling all that unwell overall, but I don’t really want to get to that point either.

Time to get busy.

I’m going to give you the following information on a weekly basis: Mileage completed, mileage left, percentage completed, current weight, and my feelings and attitudes that I experience along the way. I’ll probably also comment on problems and obstacles that I face, and how I deal with them. I also have a food aspect to this plan, which you can see in my previous “Guidelines” post, if you care to look. I’ll likely talk about how that’s going too.

Here we go:

WEIGHT: 270 lbs.

This is the absolute highest weight that I have ever seen from myself on the scales. I’ve been on a weight rollercoaster for years, and this is a new peak. I do have a weight goal, but I am considering it a side goal, and not something that I am going to focus too much energy on trying to nail. I figure that if I focus on the mileage goal, and do the food plan as I’ve laid it out, I should be able to hit the weight I want to see.  I am tracking it, though, and I may use it as motivation to tweak by program if I think it's needed. My weight goal is 210 lbs. I need to lose 60 pounds to accomplish that target.  Based on past experience, I feel really good at about 210.


Goal: 2011

Completed: 2.6 miles

Percentage Completed: .1%  (Yes, that's one tenth of one percent.  Long way to go.)

Miles Left: 2008.4

Yeah, I’ve actually already had my first walk. I didn’t start cold at 2.6 miles, though. I’ve been walking all the last week of December; five out of the last six days. My legs ache, and I’m definitely ready for sleep by bedtime, but it feels good being outside in the cool air.

If you want to follow my progress, I’ll attempt to update the details and comment on the process once per week, on the weekends.

Wish me luck in staying injury-free. Feel free to ask me how it’s going.

Maybe I’ll see you on the road.