Category Archives: Biography

Billy Graham

Billy-Graham-Nixon-Funeral-2Billy Graham has passed on to see the Savior he faithfully served and spoke of for so many years. I don’t believe any evangelist has had the same impact, but I pray God will raise up another. What would that require? One word: integrity.

Billy Graham was never involved in a scandal. Every time I ever heard him speak, it was of Jesus, who died and rose to save us from our sin. I watched Billy Graham preach the funeral of Richard Nixon. Seated in front of him were five living presidents, all of whom he knew and most of whom he had counseled. Billy Graham preached the Gospel, not politics, not personal opinion, not a people pleasing eulogy, just Jesus. That’s what it will take to bring about a revival in this tragically bent and backslidden nation of ours. May God raise up another Billy Graham.

When I was a young teenager I was hurting, lost and had little hope. I had been exposed to the Gospel, and that is likely due to earlier influence from Billy Graham on the culture in which I was raised. If I were growing up today, that influence would be absent. However, it took more than a generalized cultural exposure to Jesus to save me from my sin and self. I needed to hear the Gospel, clearly and plainly proclaimed.

I was watching television in my bedroom, must have been 13 or 14 years old. Billy Graham was on, preaching one of his many crusades. At the end of the message he gave the invitation to make a decision to trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He invited people in the stadium where he stood to join him by coming from their seats to the stage. However, on this night Billy Graham did something else, which I don’t remember seeing him do on other occasions when I watched his crusades. What he asked was directed to those of us watching the telecast, and it seems a little silly, but my willingness to join his invitation demonstrates just how much I wanted Jesus in my life. Billy Graham said (something to the effect of), “If you’re watching the telecast from home and would like to put your faith in Jesus, why don’t you get up and place your hand on the television as you pray with me.” I knelt in front of my TV, placed my hand on the screen, and prayed the sinner’s prayer with Billy Graham. I remember it clearly.

During this time I was also exposed to the preaching of Richard Jackson of the North Phoenix Baptist Church. That too was on television. I prayed the prayer with Pastor Jackson on numerous occasions and eventually went to his church and publicly committed my life to Jesus Christ. The public commitment, walking the aisle, going down to the front like all those people did at the Billy Graham crusade, that was important. Jesus said, “If you confess me before men, I will confess you before my Father in heaven, but if you deny me, I will deny you” (Matthew 10:31-32). That was the final step in the process of my decision to believe in Christ. I took it on Easter Sunday, 40 years ago, and I’ve never gone back.

“I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

No turning back, no turning back.”

It all started when I heard the Gospel plainly preached by Billy Graham. Simply stated, this is that Gospel. Jesus Christ came to earth, lived the life that you and I are supposed to but don’t, then died on the cross to pay the price for our sins and prove God’s love. Then Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, and now he offers the gift of eternal life to anyone who will decide to put faith in him. Realize, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23 & 6:23a). We see evidence of this in our own lives and all around us today. Jesus came to offer life. In fact, he promised: “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come to offer a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10). So, even though sin brings death, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). Do you want that gift? Will you put your trust in Jesus who died and rose to offer it? “that if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Saved from what? Saved from death and eternal separation from God and love and life in hell. All you have to do is believe. Call out to Jesus. “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Will you make the decision today to believe in Jesus? Speak to him in prayer right now. You can say something like this:

Dear Lord Jesus,

I am a sinful person, and I need you to forgive me and save me.

I believe you died on the cross for my sins. I believe you rose from the dead.

I open my heart and accept you as my Savior.

Jesus Christ, you are Lord. Take charge of my life right now.


Thank you Lord Jesus for saving me. Thank you for sending your servant. Please send another to this generation. Send revival. We need it desperately. We need to return to you.


Don’t Give Up

When your expectations aren’t met it’s tempting to give up. When on a fitness program–or most any other plan you make in life–you need to see progress. Or what’s the point, right?

I’ve seen progress, but it hasn’t gone according to my original plan, which was to lose 2lbs per week until January 1, then lose 1lb per week until around Valentine’s Day when I reach my goal. I wrote my target weights on a calendar and met about half of them at the right time. I did the 10 day modified juice fast and hit my goal for January 1 on December 24. Then I proceeded to gain SIX POUNDS. The next week I dropped back down a couple of pounds then fasted for three days and got back to where I had been. That’s where I am currently, and it’s about three pounds off of my original goal.

Still I look at myself in the mirror and it has been a remarkable physical transformation in a two month period. My scale measures body fat, but I’ve determined that it is grossly inaccurate. At my current weight, based on the original body fat calculation, I should be at 10-12%. The scale says 15.6. I’ll need to get calipers and pinch the fat in various places and plug those numbers into a formula that calculates more accurately than my $100 scale from Amazon.

So, although I’ve not met my original numeric goal YET, I have made significant progress. I’m not giving up. In fact, I’m more determined than ever to make my body do what I believe it can and will do: reach 9% body fat with 40% muscle mass by my birthday, which is in 52 days. At middle age this is not as easy as it used to be, but I’m up for the challenge! And I’m looking and feeling great–except for the constant muscle soreness!

Body Fat comp

Addendum: I used calpers. The various formulas for determining body fat lead me to believe my scale is closer than I’d assumed. I’m probably between 14-15% now. So, I adjusted by goal to be at 9% by my birthday, which is 49 days from this addendum.

A Quick Juice Fast Review

Well I finished my modified juice fast at about 1:00 pm Christmas Eve Day. I’ve probably eaten more since then than I did the entire week before! Not to worry, I won’t go back to old habits. This is the only time I intend to cheat on my diet, and I wasn’t even that bad (Well, except for the two pieces of pecan pie!). I’m doing great today. In fact, I started German Volume Training and had the best weight workout in years. All that glucose in my muscles from the Christmas eating was amazing!

In review, I did a 10 day modified juice fast. Modified because I included a protein shake; intiially, using whey protein (which is a ‘no-no’ for juice fasting, but I’m a rebel). I did this before and it worked with the protein. That was five years ago, and apparently my body has gotten good at converting protein to glucose, so the whey may have slowed my weight loss intially. In fact, I actually gained a half-pound between the fourth and fifth day! There are issues of water and elimination to consider over a period of one day, but I stopped using the whey protein as a precaution. I purchased some vegan protein powder with tons of other micronutrients and that worked well.

The end result was I went from 161.8 to 152.6 in nine actual days of modified juice fasting, which is about a pound a day. I’m more interested in body-fat loss than weight loss, but it would seem my scale is not accurate in measuring that. I can look, though, and I’ve lost my gut. YEAH!

On day eight I was praying and became convicted of the selfish nature of this fast, so I converted to a standard water only fast and focused on praying for personal breakthrough and for my church. That was a tough, but fruitful time. I experienced a vision issue and stopped after 36 hours. It is likely the issue would have cleared but I was in prayer and it seemed time to go back to juice to end it.

In deciding to do the water portion, I prayed that the Lord would take away my caffeine addiction so that I wouldn’t have to cheat by drinking tea or taking a caffeine pill to keep away the headaches I normally get when detoxing. My prayer was answered!

So, now I’m back to the diet I was on previously, and I will be in the gym five to six days a week, along with my karate’ training. All of this will ensure I maintain the weight (fat) loss, gain strength and some muscle mass. All in all, I feel good! Most importantly, I believe I’ve had a breakthrough in the spirit that parallels breaking the 160 lbs barrier. In fact, the spiritual breakthrough is most important to me. I believe I’m where I should be physically at this time, and where I must be in relation to God.


Modified Juice Fast

Today is day nine of my fast. That’s farther than I’ve ever gone before on a fast. I’ve lost about eight pounds. I don’t know that my scale is accurate in determinig body fat, because it would seem from what it calculated previously I should be lower, but according to this scale, I’ve cracked into the 15% range.

Yesterday I met my weight goal for this week, and I converted to a traditional no food fast, drinking only water. This part of the fast is for God, not me. I dropped coffee three days ago and all caffeine yesterday. This is something I’ve wanted to do for some time. I don’t want to be addicted to anything. “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Caffeine has a way of getting a hold that is not easily shaken. I detox on it periodically, usually for Lent. Normally, it takes two weeks before I can completely drop all caffeinated substances, reducing the amount gradually. If I go cold turkey, I get terrible migranes that no pain reliever will stop. When I stopped drinking coffee two days ago, I expected to drink green tea (less caffeine) in its place until the caffeine addiction ended. I drank two cups that day, and it was that night that I prayed and determined to do a full fast with no juice. I told God that if he was behind this he could show me by keeping  the headaches away. He did! I haven’t had any side effects from eliminating the caffeine altogether. This is a big deal for me.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of praying, and I’ve been reading the book God’s Chosen Fast by Arthur Wallis. There are many reasons for fasting, and many benefits as well. I’ve written about it, and have observed six. The first I’ll mention is the last in importantance, but the reason I began this one, Diet. I’ve benefitted by losing weight, ending caffeine addiction, increasing my water and micronutrient intake (the latter applies only to juice fasting), and there are many other benefits.

Here are five more reasons to fast.

Fast as an Act of Dedication–  Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted after his baptism and prior to entering into his ministry. Perhaps he did this to gain confirmation and clarity by intensely focusing on God.  By denying the body what it needs most I am saying that something else–in this case Someone–is more important than me.

Fast as an Exercise of Discipline–  Learn to say no to “me.” All of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness were for him to act expediently and egotistically. If the Lord had given in it would not have been an exercise of faith, but the wildly alternating swings between self-doubt and presumption. My body cries out for food, but I say no. This teaches me to say no in other areas where my earthly nature (or “flesh”) cries out. It teaches me to resist temptation.

Fast as an Affirmation of Dependence– Learn to rely on the power of God. Jesus’ first statement in response to Satan’s temptation. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3 as quoted in Matthew 4:4, also John 4:34). I am dependent upon food for survival. I transfer my fundamental dependence from a substance to the Sustainer of life.

Fast to Establish Determination–  Learn to have a tenacious and unshakeable faith. “This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29, Matthew 17:21). I fast for a breakthrough, as Daniel did when he needed God to answer his prayer for this people (Daniel 9:3). I fast to prove I am serious, both to myself and to God. This has been the main purpose of converting my juice fast to water only at the end.

Fast as an Act of Desperation–  Cry out to God in repentance (Joel & Israel, Jonah & Ninevah). I have the need to hear from God at all costs (Daniel10:2-3 & 21 days of prayer). Repentance may be part of fasting. Joel called a fast for the people when disaster loomed (Joel 2:12, 15). This includes mourning for sin, and prayer for transformation. I have been doing some of this too.

Well, tomorrow will be the end of my fast. I’ll likely end the water portion earlier. As of this writing, that has lasted about 35 hours and has been a physical challenge. I’m praying and monitoring my body and the Lord’s response. Either way, I’ll end the juice fast sometime tomorrow. I’m praying for a big breakthrough in my life and in the life of my church. I am praying for both of our Christmas services to be filled with people who are seeking God and willing to respond to him. I’m praying that we will have Spirit filled worship. I am praying that our church will grow in the new year. Fasting and praying, and praying. Seeing that the Lord has responded obviously by ending my caffeine addiciton, I have encouragement that he will respond to these more significant requests.



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….


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.