Have You Fallen Recently?

The older I get, the more medical professionals ask me if I’ve had any recent falls.

Recent.

It’s like they’re thinking, “This guy is so out of shape that he’s bound to have fallen in the past few days. He couldn’t possibly balance all of that bulge.” 

I understand it’s all routine procedure and they aren’t personally attacking me (maybe) but the whole experience does show me that I need to be more serious about my own health and fitness. 

I’m thrilled about this and I plan to have a good attitude about it…

Yeah, right, that’s it.

Fact is, I don’t like watching my weight, I’m not a fan of exercise, I despise consistent healthy eating practices. And might I just add that kale is a tool of Satan used to destroy the happiness of men (and reasonable women) everywhere. 

What do I like to eat? I’m glad you asked. I like eating unhealthy foods, better known as “anything that tastes good.” I especially like carbonated, caffeinated, sugary drinks. I’m a big fan of red meat and I’m a consistent consumer of trans fat. I’m voting for gluten in the next presidential election.*

Well, you get the picture. I need help. I need accountability.

A lot of men my age do. 

Now, I have lost about 20 lbs since the beginning of the year. I’ll tell you the secret. If you want to lose weight, live with my wife during a world wide pandemic where she sees everything you eat for months… and walk a lot.

Seriously, now that things are opening back up, I don’t want to find all the weight that I’ve lost. So I’m starting on a new journey to be healthy. A few years ago, I posted a daily blog where I listed out everything I ate for the whole world to see. As time went by, I also listed my water consumption and exercise log. The accountability was amazing and the feedback was helpful. I lost 48 lbs during the process.

I’m not planning on doing that again, but I am interested in writing about my fitness journey. It seems to keep me committed. 

So I welcome your suggestions, especially if you’re starting to receive AARP applications in the mail or if you grew up listening to 80’s music on cassettes. Post your comments below, message me privately, text or email me. Let me know what helps you stay healthy. Thanks in advance.

P.S. I’m not really voting for Gluten. It’s not even registered as a candidate.

*Photo courtesy of Online Marketing and Unsplash

What If This Is It?

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Everywhere you look, people are searching for what’s next.

What’s the next career for them where people will pay and respect them like they deserve? Where’s the next place for them to live that will suit them perfectly? Who might they meet next who will become their perfect mate for life? What next step might they take personally that will equal God’s will for them in the future?  What person, place, or career might be next for them and be the ultimate thing that will finally give them the fulfillment they are looking for?

People everywhere want to know what’s next. But what if it doesn’t work that way.

What if what’s next is right in front of you? What if the next step for you is not found in searching the world to see what it might hold for you? What if the secret for your success and contentment is found in what you can bring to the world right where you are?

What if this is it?

What if the perfect job for you right now is the one you currently have? What if the home you’re living in is the one that can be perfect for you? What if you’re already serving the organization that will propel you to greater heights of success? What if you’re currently married to the person who is right for you now and will still be right for you in 50 years? What if God’s will for you is to be right where you are?

Think about it. If you knew for sure that where you are right now is exactly where you should be and is the catalyst that will launch you to greater things in your relationships, career, happiness, satisfaction, heck, your whole life… If you knew this for sure, what would you do differently? How would you treat people? How would you invest in yourself and others around you? How would your habits and attitudes change?

What if this it – your shot, your chance, your destiny, your opportunity to do and be something in this world? Whether you believe it or not, acting as if this IS it will move you forward in all of these areas because it will change your actions, your behaviors, and your results.

It’s your move. It’s your turn. You’re up to bat. It’s your big break.

What are you going to do about it?

*photo courtesy of Eric Parks and Unsplash

Dream

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We’ve all lost during this time.

We’ve lost finances, 

We’ve lost positions,

We’ve lost experiences, 

We’ve lost time,

And we’ve lost people… 

So many people.

But God is not finished with you or me.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)

In all of the weirdness that is this time, 

Don’t give up.

Keep moving forward.

Take the next step.

Trust in God.

He is faithful.

Allow yourself to dream once again

And trust Him to complete His will in and through and for you.

 

*Photo courtesy of Johannes Plenio and Unsplash.

Feel Like Giving Up?

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Do you ever feel like giving up?

If so, I have three messages for you.

First, you’re not alone.

People all over the world are working their way through this crisis. They play different roles and perform different services. Nevertheless, they are still a part of this battle, just like you.

Second, you can’t quit.

Things are strange right now, it’s true. But you must keep going. We need you. We need your strength. We need the difference you make. If you can’t keep going for you, do it for us.

Third, ask the Lord for help.

It may have been years since you prayed. That doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that He is right there, waiting for you to initiate the conversation. He’s a great listener. Why not give it a try?

God bless you.

 

*photo courtesy of Steve Johnson and Unsplash

 

It Happened On A Friday

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It started late on Thursday night.

BETRAYED – Jesus anguished through His prayer, knowing what was about to happen. He was betrayed with a kiss by one of His disciples, a friend, or at least a pretend friend named Judas Iscariot. Judas had spent three years with Jesus. Three years. Jesus had commissioned him, fed him, loved him, taught him, cared for him, and invested in him, but Judas betrayed him for thirty pieces of silver. 

It sounds like a lot of money but it was only enough to buy a small field.  

DENIED – Jesus was arrested and taken away. Peter followed, at a distance, to the home of the high priest, but had to stay outside the gate until a woman opened it for him. As he entered, the woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?”

“No,” he said, “I am not.” 

Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards made a fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself. Once again, someone asked Peter, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?”

He denied it once again, saying, “No, I am not.”

Soon after, one of the slaves of the high priest, asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?” And for the third time, Peter denied it.    

And the rooster crowed.

CONDEMNED – Jesus was taken to Pilate, the Roman governor, who asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent, much to the governor’s surprise.

It was Pilate’s custom each year during Passover to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted.  This year there was a notorious prisoner named Barabbas.  

As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas or Jesus?” 

Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death.  

So Pilate asked the crowd, “Then what should I do with Jesus?”

“Crucify Him!” they shouted.

“Why?” Pilate demanded. “What has He done?”

But they shouted all the louder.

Then Pilate sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.”

So Pilate released Barabbas to the people. He ordered Jesus to be scourged, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

SCOURGED –  Then the Bible says, “They took Him and had Him scourged.” Now, scourging was such that it often killed the victim. But Jesus was a young and strong man in his early thirties. He was in good physical condition. That could be why He didn’t die from the scourging.  They stripped Jesus nearly naked, and shackled His hands over His head. Then soldiers stood on either side of Him and whipped Him brutally with what’s called a flagrum or a cat o’ nine tails. It was a wooden handle that had long straps of leather protruding from it. At the end of each strap was a ball of either metal or stone, and that would tenderize the human flesh. Sometimes there were hooks at the end, usually made of metal.  

The soldiers took turns doing their job, inflicting as much pain as possible on Jesus.  

At this point, for Jesus, the process of death has begun.

CRUCIFIED – Jesus was forced to carry His cross to the place of death. The cross was an enormous wooden beam that you would use to secure a roof in an ancient home. This was recycled timber. Other men had carried it to their own crucifixion. It was covered with their tears and their blood, and their sweat.

On the way, Jesus was so exhausted that He collapsed under the weight of the cross. Simon of Cyrene, a bystander, was commanded to help Him carry the cross to the place of crucifixion.  And then, this Carpenter who Himself had driven many nails, had the equivalent of railroad spikes driven through His hands and feet.  

Jesus’ cross was then lifted up and dropped into the ground, shaking His body violently.

From the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”  

In that moment, something legal, something spiritual, something eternal happened. Jesus traded places with us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” Adam and Eve, in the Garden, substituted themselves for God and introduced sin to mankind. But here, in this place God substituted Himself for us, defeating the power of sin. 

Then Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” and then He died. 

His last words might have been hard to understand, but they were triumphant just the same.  Salvation through Him was available. It was finished. 

Jesus died on that Friday, paying the price for our sin. 

His mother cried. His disciples scattered. His enemies laughed. His followers mourned.

It happened on a Friday. Christ was killed on a Friday. God displayed His love on a Friday.

And the world was forever changed.

 

*Photo courtesy of Dylan McLeod of Unsplash

Drive By

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I participated in my first drive by this week. 

My wife and I drove down a street and waved to a family we know.

After using so many different forms of communication recently, it was a welcome change.

In the past week alone:

I went to meetings on Zoom, Google Hangouts, and What’s App,

I spoke with friends over Skype and FaceTime 

And left video texts for my nephew on Marco Polo.

I got messages on Facebook Messenger and Twitter,

And I posted photos and left likes and hearts on Instagram.

I learned the difference between Facebook Live and Facebook Premiere, 

And chatted with people on both when I wasn’t on GroupMe.

I hosted a Life Group on Free Conference Call.

I did this when I wasn’t busy reading email, sending emojis, and liking texts.

Or, finally, talking voice to voice over my phone.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone because I see more people outside than ever,

Taking walks, playing catch, enjoying the day and each other.

In this busy time of social distancing, take time for some real communication

Even if it is only a drive by wave.

 

This blogpost is posted on WordPress.

*Photo courtesy of Ben Neale and Unsplash

Come Together As We’re Staying Apart

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I was wrong.

I thought this pandemic would cause most people to unleash their inner hermit. I’ve seen that some, but I’ve also witnessed the opposite.

Neighbors who never speak are checking on each other (from a distance).

Couples and families are spending time together “at home.”

Senior adults are learning social media.

And leaders everywhere are asking people to pray.

The pandemic is terrible, but let’s become better people through the struggle. Let’s care for others, cherish our children, honor the elderly, and whatever else we do, let’s not forget to pray.

I once heard a wise man say that if two people work at getting closer to God, they naturally get closer together. I think that’s true for all of us during this time. If we all strive to grow closer to the Lord, we can come together as we’re staying apart.

Photo courtesy of Sven Brandsma and Unsplash

 

 

 

 

Passover, Communion, and Covid-19

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Strangely, Covid-19 makes me think of Jesus at the Last Supper. 

Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, ate the Passover meal with His disciples. At that meal, He instituted the ordinance of Communion, still practiced by Christians worldwide today. We learn from Matthew 26:30, “Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.”

In the Passover Celebration, a collection of Psalms, called the Hallel, is sung throughout various parts of the meal. The closing Psalm is often Psalm 118 beginning with “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” 

This was possibly the last song of worship sung by Jesus before His crucifixion. And yet, He still chose to sing.

He sang knowing what was about to happen,

  • He knew He would be betrayed that very night.
  • He knew Peter would deny Him three times.
  • He knew He would go through a mockery of a trial.
  • He knew the crowds would cry out, “Crucify Him!”
  • He knew about the crown of thorns that would be placed on His head.
  • He knew He would be flogged, beaten, ridiculed, and crucified.
  • He knew He was going to die.

But He continued in faith, knowing and believing and demonstrating that the faithful love of the Lord endures forever.

No matter what.

I wish I had that kind of faith. 

I have to admit, my first thought regarding this pandemic is not the love of the Lord. Instead, it’s worry. I worry about whether or not I’m going to run out of toilet paper. I worry about whether or not we have enough food for two weeks, or four weeks, or eight weeks, or more. I worry about the health of my wife and I, about our parents and family, about my church family and friends, about my city and state and frankly, the whole world. 

I’m not alone. 

I see worry everywhere, on the faces of people, young and old. I see it in posts and tweets and newscasts and in articles. It’s everywhere.

How different would it be, though, if we tried to approach what’s happening with the faith demonstrated by Jesus as He sang the Hallel?

It’s going to stretch me, but today I choose to live by faith. 

I will give thanks to the Lord. I will remember that He is good. His love endures forever.

Care to join me?

Photo courtesy of Neil E. Johnson and Unsplash

With the Lord’s Help, She Did It

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Carol was in the top ten of her high school graduating class, but some life setbacks prevented her from enrolling in college. Four years later, she took a job cleaning restrooms at the local hospital. She never thought of herself in that line of work, but she needed the money. She prayed, then looked in the mirror and said, “With the Lord’s help, I can do this. Who knows? Maybe I can make a difference.” 

Carol learned her job quickly and worked hard. Her supervisor noticed Carol’s strong work ethic and the care she showed patients as she entered their rooms. She encouraged Carol to complete the training to become a Nurse’s Assistant. Carol had never thought of herself in that line of work, but helping patients sounded good to her. She prayed, looked in the mirror and said, “With the Lord’s help, I can do this. Who knows? Maybe I can make a difference.”

Within a year, Carol had completed the training, and began working directly with nurses and patients. She learned her job quickly and worked hard. After two years on the job, Carol’s supervisor called her into her office. 

“Am I in trouble?” asked Carol.

“Not at all,” replied her supervisor. “In fact, I’ve noticed your strong work ethic. I’ve seen your interaction with the patients and staff as you clean. You treat everyone with respect. I think you would make an excellent LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). You can keep your job here while in school and when you’re finished, I would love to hire you.”

Once again, Carol gave her supervisor’s suggestion consideration and prayer. She looked in the mirror and said, “With the Lord’s help, I can do this. Who knows? Maybe I can make a difference.”

It wasn’t easy to balance work, family, and school, but Carol finished her LPN training in two and a half years. She learned her job quickly, and worked hard. She took advantage of every training and continuing education opportunity. It paid off. In a couple of years, Carol’s supervisor once again called Carol into her office.

You can probably guess what happened. Carol was encouraged once again by her supervisor to learn and grow. Once again she prayed, looked in the mirror, and said, “With the Lord’s help, I can do this. Who knows, maybe I can make a difference.” Four years later, Carol graduated once again as an RN (Registered Nurse). 

A few years later, with more encouragement from her superiors, more prayer, and more time in front of the mirror, Carol realized she wasn’t finished growing. She went on to earn a PhD in Nursing. She is now the Chair of Nursing Department in her alma mater. She is often asked to speak to nursing students at pinning and graduation ceremonies. She tells the students to learn their job quickly and work hard. She encourages them to take advantage of every training and continuing education opportunity that comes their way. She tells them to pray about every decision, then look themselves in the mirror and say, “With the Lord’s help, I can do this. Who knows, maybe I can make a difference.”

*Photo Courtesy of Taylor Smith of Unsplash

Something I Hate

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I hate being sick. 

I hate doctor’s visits, uncontrollable coughing, sickness fatigue, the inability to concentrate, and forced rest. But more than any of those, I hate the feeling that everything is not right with my body. It makes me feel incomplete, somehow lacking, and worthless.

I hate it when I cough and someone asks me if I have the Coronavirus. It’s not funny.

I really hate it when the sickness lingers. That’s when I get anxious and wonder to myself, “Maybe I’m never going to get better.”

This happened to me years ago when I was serving as a missionary in Central Asia. I’d lost my voice and felt like I would never get better. I began to envision my life without the ability to speak. I felt alone, lost, and scared. 

Then the Lord thrust the following scripture right in my face. I read it in the Bible, I heard it as a song, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Sometimes I find that scripture comforting. However, both then and now, I find it convicting. How is it that I can dedicate my life to God’s will, serve Him with all that I am, but then forget Him when sickness strikes and worry beds down in my house? How can I work to share the love of Jesus with people and help people grow in Him and then forget Him when I am in need? Do you ever have that problem? It doesn’t make sense, does it?

So, join me as I remember Him:

He is Almighty.

He is our Creator.

He is Beautiful.

He is our Savior.

He is Eternal.

He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

He is our Peace.

He is Good.

He is our Healer.

He is Holy.

He is Love. 

He Knows all things.

He is Faithful. 

He is Kind. 

He is Lord. 

I’ve been reminded, once again, that me being sick doesn’t change His identity or His characteristics. He is God no matter what happens to me. I don’t have to worry. I can go to Him and ask for His help. But first, I must repent.

Father, forgive me. I’ve forgotten Your goodness in the midst of serving You. I’ve misplaced Your love and mercy while focusing on my own need. I’ve forgotten Your grace. Forgive me for worrying and not coming straight to You. You are my God, my Healer, My Rock, and I will ever praise You. Amen.

*photo courtesy of Ben White of Unsplash.com