Category Archives: Biography

Frustrated on a Plateau

Weighed in at the beginning of the week and barely made my goal (as recorded in the previous blog entry). Now it’s Friday, I’ve gained weight and it WILL NOT drop. I am frustrated and angry right now. I’ve confirmed, however, that even a small amount of alcohol consumption will interfere with fat loss. I had a margarita for lunch yesterday and a beer the night before. What to do? Channel the anger into determination. Change course to gain control and thereby eliminate the frustration.

The last time I got to the level of conditioning I am seeking I had to do something drastic to break through at this same weight: Juice Fast. I was introduced to the practice by watching the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, in which a man named Joe Cross drank only juice for 60 days and lost a huge amount of weight and was able to stop taking prescription meds in the process. I did an eight day juice fast and dropped eight pounds. I broke my pateau and stayed beneath it for years.

So, I’m writing this for accountability’s sake. I’ve been tempted to do a juice fast as a fast track to weight loss, but what I do must be sustainable, and one cannot go on a permanent diet of juice, even if that were enjoyable! However, I’ve gotten back on a path of healthy diet and exercise, which I will continue after this juice fast. I’ve got eight more pounds to lose by the end of the year, or roughly 7.5% body fat. I should be able to accomplish that by pulling out the big guns and drinking nothing but juice until, hmmmm, until when? How about Christmas Eve, which is nine days away, so that would be 10 days of juice fasting if you count both today and Christmas Eve day. I’ll eat again after our Christmas Eve candlelight service.

I’ll weigh in (pun intended) on what is happening along the journey, so stay tuned….

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Fitness v. Fatness Update

Weighed in today, and I barely made my goal. I ate a brownie last night. This is more difficult during the holidays when almost everyone else is going the opposite direction. I want to lead people in January, so I’ve got to be ahead of the ones I propose to lead.

I started my diet and exercise plan on November 8th (check the blog from that date). I’ve been eating a healthy lower carb diet of around 1700 calories per day. I’ve ramped up my activity level, working out at least 30 minutes per day, five days per week. This is not strenuous, I’m coming back from an injury I sustained several years ago. My muscle mass has increased and my gut has gotten smaller. I’ve now lost 10lbs and 2% body fat according to my smart scale.

I’ve also juice fasted several days in the midst of this. Well, not even a true vegetable juice fast, because I’ve added a protein meal replacement shake each day. However, it’s been part of my regimen. I’m watching and praying and may add regular fasting days, or more juice fasting before the end of the year.

I’ve dropped about 2lbs per week and  have six more pounds to lose to achieve my original end of year goal. I’m on target.

Return to Fitness 3

I’m sore.

Sometimes recovery from weightlifting and high impact exercise causes soreness. However, as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that this becomes a whole body experience! Ever had the flu and experienced the characteristic body aches? Yes, it’s like that. The result is different, though. I’ll become better, not worse.

When rebuilding my body I must give time for recovery. Working out hard every day is for teenagers and early twenty-somethings, and even they need recovery. Rest is every bit as important as exercise. Muscles don’t become stronger (or larger) until they’ve had time to rebuild after a workout.

So, after a day filled with exercise I took the next day off. During the rest day I ate high protein foods to help muscles rebuild. I avoided high carbohydrate foods and was careful not to overeat. It would be easy to justify eating whatever I want on a day like this; after all, I burned so many calories the day before. That, my friends, is how you fail a weight loss program. It is far easier to gain weight (for most of us) than it is to lose it. On the other hand, eating too little, particularly not enough protein, will interfere with recovery, and–ironically–slow down my metablolism and make it more difficult to achieve a sustainable weight loss.

The following are things I’ve learned after coming back to training as an over 40 adult. 1) The need to stretch and warm up before each workout. 2) For weightlifting: take the first month to focus on lighter weight and higher repetitions. 3) Good form for each exercise is very important. It is easy to pull a muscle, or stretch or tear a tendons or ligaments, and the first three principles will help me to avoid injuries. 4) Moderate my expectations. I’ve been in great shape in the past. I’ve been faster, stronger and had more stamina. It can be disappointing to find that I’m not there any longer (not yet!). As a result, I may push too hard and hurt myself, or give up because I can’t do what I used to. Meet yourself where you are, and keep moving forward. All of this applies to younger people too, with the understanding that their bodies may respond more quickly and take less time to heal.

I jumped back in this morning with some light weightlifting. I’ll practice my karate’ several times today also. All the while I’m being careful to meet myself where I am, as opposed to expecting my body to be where it was four years ago when I was in top condition. I will challenge myself, but I won’t push so hard that I sustain an injury or two, or three…

I weighed this morning and I’ve lost several pounds already. More importantly, I’ve lost nearly a percentage poin of bodyfat. My goal is to get below 10% bodyfat by the end of this year. That means a total loss of around 16 lbs. I’m on target. I’ll keep moving forward.

 

One Last Ride

I met you when you were young,
my brother, my friend Jonathan.
You were full of fire, anger, strife, desire,
and a need for friendship.
What was I to you?
a mentor, a teacher, a pastor,
and when all else failed,
a friend.
I loved you, my brother,
like a father would a son.
I taught you that love is
as love does,
and love does what is best
for the one it loves.
I sought to do that
until the end.
I gave and gave and gave,
to you and the two who
also were to you like brothers.
I fed “my boys” and shed tears,
as I tried to guide you three,
to show you, teach you, tell you
the truth.
I drove you all around,
and you drove me to see
that grace is often taken for granted.
Too soon I lost you boys to the world,
as each one consumed the Lie
that life is about the here and now
and not the hereafter.
Now you know without doubt:
This life is temporary,
but the unseen, eternal.
Why would you keep calling me
and coming to church
if you didn’t believe what I preached?
Why would you finally pray a prayer
to receive the Lord
if you didn’t want to be in heaven with God?
Where was your heart when you died
that night, Jonathan?
I truly hope and believe
that you opened up to receive
Jesus’ sweet love and grace.
You knew, or feared, you’d die young,
and you made me promise to do your funeral
some day.
Why did that day come so soon?
You’ve left this world
to face the Judge of all people.
But the Judge is also your Defender
if you entrusted him with
your soul, your spirit, your life.
Sunday I drove your family and your ashes
to the cemetery.
One last ride.
We laid white carnations in around your remains,
before we buried the little casket.
When I returned to the church I saw
a single carnation remained on the table
where we honored you.
This morning I took one last flower to your grave.
Now I leave you to the grace of God.

I kept my promise, Lord.
Will you tell Jonathan what I’ve said and done?
I don’t know why he had to die,
Lord Jesus, but I
have done my best to honor You
and exalt your grace
by speaking the truth in love
to all who would hear it.
Lord Jesus, I trust your love,
and this Gospel of God’s grace.

Looking Back

Forty years ago this week the first Star Wars movie was released.
U2 is doing a 30 year anniversary tour of the band’s Joshua Tree album. They were at ATT Stadium in Arlington last night. I didn’t see the show.
Outside the front door of my church today there is a car show going on with classic vehicles from the 50’s-70’s and music from the same time period.

We love to look back. Sometimes it seems we cannot escape our past; sometimes we wish we could return.

I saw the first Star Wars as a 15 year old during a visit with my birth dad in North Carolina. I had little hope of seeing this blockbuster movie in my hometown, since the lines literally circled the block at the Cine Capri—the only theater where it was playing in Phoenix, AZ. However, there were very few people in the theater in downtown Weaverville, NC that summer day in 1977. I sat in the middle of the auditorium all by myself. I felt special. That day I also bought my very first record album: Hotel California by The Eagles. That was 40 years ago.

I went to the first concert of U2’s Joshua Tree tour at ASU Activity Center in April of 1987. It was enjoyable. Then on December 19th and 20th of the same year U2 concluded the tour at ASU Stadium. I was there both nights with young men from Arizona Youth Associates, the group home where I worked as Program Director. Tickets were only $5, very cheap even way back then. U2 wanted to be sure to fill the stadium both nights because they were filming the documentary Rattle and Hum. If you fast forward to the middle of that movie, you’ll experience some of what we did. It was amazing, far and away the best concert experience I’ve ever had. After the concert ended 60,000 people exited the stadium peacefully singing “40” together, which is a song based on Psalm 40.

Now, here’s the question: If I could go back 40 or 30 years ago, would I? Maybe for a visit, but I wouldn’t want to live it all over again. Movies and music help us to visit in a sense. However, I want to live today. Now that doesn’t mean I like our current time period better than the late 70’s or late 80’s. I really don’t. However, everything I’ve experienced, all of the lessons I’ve learned, and all of the life I’ve lived has been preparation for where I am now. I need to remember the past, but also forget the past. I must remember what I’ve learned, but forgive and forget the pain and evil caused by people. I also need to seek forgiveness from God (and others when it’s possible) for my failures and wrongs.

The most important decision I made in the past changed the trajectory of my life. I’m in a much different place than I could have been. At 16 years of age, on Easter Sunday to be precise, I committed my life to Jesus Christ. I received forgiveness for all of the wrong I did. That was 39 years ago, and the forgiveness has never stopped coming. I confess, he forgives. That commitment is something I cannot forget because Jesus has stayed with me and continues to transform me. Through all of the changes in my life and in this crazy world the unchanging Christ has been the constant. He has always been my leader and friend.

You Won’t Get It Until It Happens to You

Inspired by an incident 18 years ago today…

You won’t get it until it happens to you.

Shake your head at the perp being led

from the cop car in cuffs.

Just shrug off the one shot dead.

After all, he deserved it.

Validate the stereotypes of your set.

Identify with your race, your income, your politics.

You won’t get it until it happens to you.

It was cold that night back in ’99,

2AM when the police pulled us over,

four friends ironically

on the way back from a donut run.

Why? I asked the officer.

“For changing lanes and making u-turns.”

But I never got a ticket.

No, something worse went down.

The big cop was a bully

and I was incensed at the injustice,

What I said was,

(and under my breath):

“You’ll see me in court.”

The bully had good ears

and appeared at my window,

“What did you say?”

I should have said nothing more,

but my wounded pride repeated

my powerless threat.

The bully changed that.

Made me get out of my car,

searched me spread eagle on his hood,

then sat me like a criminal

in the back of the police car.

Then the big cop

gave me a long talk.

“We can pull over anybody we want,

whenever we want.”

I stayed quiet,

but it was too late.

They turned a deserted street

into a stage that night.

Pulled me from the cop car,

and marched me out but not far.

The rookie cop cuffs me in front of my friends,

while the bully who gave the speech pretends

to find something

in the back seat of his own cop car.

With a fast sweep of a long arm,

he reaches down and then,

like a magician produces

into the cold thin

air of a February night

a charred plastic baggy.

“Your youth minister’s a doper!”

he slandered loudly

to the gape-mouthed young men

in my car.

It sounded like a joke

or a B movie line,

but he waved his charred baggy

to prove the lie.

The cops made my passengers walk

in the middle of a cold night,

even though one offered to drive

my car.

The cops maced him

and took the two of us jail.

For what?

Possession of what the officer

actually had in his own possession.

My life changed after that night:

even though I was innocent,

even though my first and only drug screen

was clean,

even though I passed

a police polygraph,

even though the DA dismissed the case

without me having to plead.

For too many people an arrest is enough.

Innocent until proven guilty?

A reputation can be ruined by an accusation.

You won’t get it until it happens to you.

So don’t jump so fast

to those conclusions

Sometimes the “guilty” are not.

Sometimes the good guys are not.

But you won’t get it until it happens to you.

The Merge

Church splits are common. However, I only know of only one church that reunited after dividing, and I was part of it. “The Merge” of First Baptist Church, The Colony was official 28 years ago today.

In January of 1988 I began the Master of Divinity program at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth. I filed my resume’ in the placement office with the hopes of serving in a church during my seminary career. By the end of the semester I received a call from the newly appointed pastor of First Baptist Church, The Colony. Pastor WB had seen my resume’,  and, after an interview, wanted me to be their Youth Minister. He invited me to introduce myself to the congregation during a Sunday morning worship service.

On the drive from Ft. Worth to The Colony that Sunday morning I took a wrong turn and ended up passing by the old Texas Stadium in Irving. First time I’d seen the fabled home of the Dallas Cowboys in person. As I walked up to the church I encountered two middle school boys sitting on the monkey bars in the children’s playground. They would be part of the small youth group I led beginning in the summer. Our first official activity was to attend the Youth Evangelism Conference at Reunion Arena in downtown Dallas.

Every weekend I commuted from Ft. Worth to The Colony and built a Saturday-Sunday youth program. Over the next six months our group doubled in size, from a dozen members to a high attendance of 26. I really enjoyed working with those kids.

At that time The Colony had around 20,000 residents, many of whom were younger families, so you’d probably expect the First Baptist Church to have more teenagers. In fact, you’d anticipate more members. Our auditorium seated 200 and it was never filled on Sunday mornings. You see, something had happened to this church before I arrived.

When Pastor WB first interviewed me he mentioned that the church had exprienced a split. A large group had left First Baptist and formed a new church called Calvary Heights, which met at the local high school. They called the former youth minster of FBC to be their pastor. The old pastor of First Baptist had evidently been the source of the contention that resulted in the split, and had subsequently resigned. First Baptist had called WB to be their pastor only a few months before he brought me in as their new youth minister.

So, the church had split over a disagreement concerning their former pastor. I was leary about this when I interviewed, but once I met the youth it didn’t matter. Several months into my tenure at First Baptist talk of a merger began. Each church appointed three members of a committee, which met for several months to discuss the possibility. By the end of the year, the committee had a recommendation: Merge! Wow, I was amazed at this. However, the pastor that hired me was not so enthusiastic. In fact, WB wholeheartedly opposed the merger.

You see, the committee’s recommendation was for the 27 year old pastor of Calvary Heights to be the senior pastor of a re-formed First Baptist Church, and for 60-something WB to be the associate pastor. I would be the youth minister. I was in favor of the merger. However, I had been hired by, and called by the church to, serve under WB, and he was opposed.  During my brief time in ministry training I’d been taught that staff at a church are called to serve under the pastor. That means submit to his authority. However, I was still a member of the congregation of First Baptist Church, and the church would make the decsion here. What should I do?

I remember the meeting I had with WB to discuss the issue. He was angry with me. He accused me of undermining his authority because of my support for the merger. In fact, at one point he began to yell, then lunged at me over his desk. It was not a very Christlike display of character. However, it helped me decide what I must do.

A business meeting where the congregation would vote on the merger was scheduled for a Sunday night in December. I knew what I must do. At the appropriate time in the meeting, before the merger vote, I stood up and read my letter of resignation. Then I walked out the back door, expecting never to return to First Baptist Church, The Colony. I met with a couple of my students at the McDonald’s across the street to say goodbye. I drove back to Fort Worth that night sad and shaken.

Now, that’s not the end of the story, or I wouldn’t be writing this today. But perhaps I should explain why I resigned rather than remain and vote for the merger. My primary responsibility if I am not the pastor is to serve the church under the pastor’s authority. If I cannot support the pastor, I do not oppose him or try to undermine him, I simply seek another place of service. That’s why I resigned.

On Monday morning I received a call from a congregational leader, perhaps one of the deacons (I don’t recall), informing me that my resignation had not been accepted. Ok, what, how could they refuse my resignation? This leader continued: WB had quit, stormed out the back door (and broke the glass on his way out!), the congregation had voted to merge, call the pastor of Calvary Heights, as pastor and me as youth minister. My objection to supporting the unstable and unChristlike WB was eliminated when he quit. I chose to serve the newly merged congregation under the new pastor, Bill Wilks. I would serve alongside two wonderful men: Morris Seay, education minister, and Ralph Baxter, music minister. It was like being called to a new church, except I got to keep the youth I’d worked with over the previous months.

The first official day of the merger was Monday, January 9, 1989. I remember the date distinctly because it was listed on so many records as the date people had joined the First Baptist Church. I had nine youth in attendance the last Sunday before the merger. On the first Sunday after the church reunited we had 90 youth!

There is so much angry energy expended when we disagree with one another. Divorce, political division, church splits and many other examples abound. It’s like the power of an atomic bomb, the destructive power of which was unleashed by the USA at Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Those bombs worked by splitting atoms. However, there is exponentially more energy released when atoms unite in nuclear fusion. That is, when atoms unite.

When the church unites to do God’s will, His power is released, and people are saved, delivered and healed. Our families, our churches and our nation need to come together in the name of Jesus. I believe that will only happen when we who claim to be Christians actually follow Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill us so that we have “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

“… walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Ephesians 4:2–6.