Tuesday, December 06, 2016

It's not Monday...

I was all set to wish you a happy Monday morning when I realized -- It's not Monday!

Some days are like that.
So ... Happy Tuesday Morning!

It has been a week since I wrote of my continuing healthy lifestyle struggles and recommitted to eating better and daily exercise. The good news is I have kept up with both. The bad news is it has only been a week.

But a good start is what is necessary to form the habits of healthy living and so I move on to week 2.

I've already managed to build a free day into my walking goal of 100 miles by the end of the year (a 33 day goal). I've also added a session on the indoor exercise cycle and a couple of light sessions with weights. I really wasn't feeling the walk yesterday and had to bribe myself with a nice Dominican toro gordo smoke that lasted for the one hour walk. Yeah, I know -- a little unhealthy habit to reinforce the healthy habit might not be the best way to go, but I did get the walk in.

I did decide to keep track of calories. It just helps me to make better decisions about eating -- or not eating, as the case may be.
With one week in the books, I'm minus 6 pounds (it's always easy in the beginning) and once again moving in the right direction to better health.

It's Week 2.
Here we go!

John <><

Thursday, December 01, 2016

People are leaving the church ... to follow Jesus!

I don't normally read the comments that follow articles or social media posts.
But after one article that lamented the overstepping of the religious right in the past election cycle, one comment caught my attention.

It said that across the country, people are leaving the church to follow Jesus.

Short. Simple. And sadly, true.

How I wish that our too proud and so smug religious celebrities could see this truth.
I choose to use the word celebrities instead of religious leaders because I feel that it fits better. I see that they often cultivate personal followers and supporters (fans) rather than showing Jesus as the one that we are to follow.

Sadly, there are also many local pastors that follow the same example. Perhaps my role as a supply preacher gives me a different perspective. For those that are not familiar with the term "supply preacher" that is a stand in or substitute for the the regular pastor.

If a large number of church members choose to skip church when they know the pastor will be gone, that is really a form of idolatry. They come to hear the pastor -- not to worship God. Pastors that cultivate this behavior or that don't address it as idolatry are missing out on their true calling in shepherding the flock.

I have listened to preachers that say inflammatory things that seem designed to get people to agree with him over political or social issues before getting to the meat of their message. Unfortunately, like others, I've already tuned out because this sermon isn't being given to glorify God, but ot gain followers for the preacher.

The pulpit isn't supposed to be a pep rally or high powered sales pitch.

Whether we find ourselves in the holy season of Christmas or in the political election season, our message must be the same --
God loves you.
Jesus died for you.

For the believer, our example must be as a follower of Jesus -- to live as He lived; to speak as He spoke; to love as He loved.

Do not be a follower of a preacher.
Do not be a follower of an organization or church.
Follow Jesus.

John <><

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Art of Misdirection

For my final post of November, I'm going to regress for a moment and offer a brief observation on the political front.
If you've had enough of politics or if you are a big fan of President Elect Trump, you might want to just move along. Nothing ugly here, just an observation.

If DJT were a magician (he would no doubt proclaim himself to be the greatest magician with the best tricks, better than any other magician's tricks), there would always be people in the audience that would heckle him with "I saw that!"
(He would have them thrown out or beat up)

Oh sure, he would fool a great number of people that just came to be entertained, but for the people that scrutinize magic -- not so much.
The same can be said for his politics.

I'm not following too closely everything that is going on with his transition team and cabinet appointments. I am following closely enough to be disturbed by most of his choices. And I've learned that every time something really outrageous appears on his Twitter account, something even more outrageous is about to go barely noticed on the political front. Magicians know that a big action covers a little action.

While liberal media jumps on the fact that he is tweeting based on fake news stories, he bottom deals a card that gets little attention. The more conservative news outlets jump on the liberal side for jumping on their candidate and hardly anybody pays attention to the real news. It would be interesting to see just how outrageous and inflammatory his tweets would get if people stopped giving them any attention.

I have to say that I have been pretty disappointed in the media over the past year. DJT has played them like a cheap magician at a 5 year old's birthday party.
...And they don't appear to have learned anything along the way.


Well, that does it for National Blog Posting Month!
Yay for me!
I managed to post daily for a whole month!

John <><

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ugh! The Struggle Continues...

In the year and a half prior to my retirement, I managed to lose 60 pounds.
I was eating well and getting daily exercise.
In the year and a half since my retirement, I've managed to put most of the 60 pounds back on!

Several times in the past year I've said that I'm getting back to healthy eating and exercise only to fail after a relatively short period of time. Then I see pictures or video and decide that this time I'm really going to stick to it -- only to fail after a relatively short time.

So today is the day.
I did weigh myself, but I'm not going to focus on weight.
My focus will be on good health.
I'm going to start walking again -- every day.
We have no plans for traveling during the holidays so that won't interfere with a goal of 100 miles by the end of the year. I get all 31 days of December plus 2 bonus days left in November -- 33 days of just over 3 miles/day. I realize that on some days I may have to find an alternative to walking due to weather, but will make daily exercise a priority.

I don't know that I want to go back to counting calories. I might, but really don't want to do that. I would rather just pay closer attention to everything that I am consuming. If I watch what I'm eating, cut out the crap, and keep portion sizes reasonable, I should be okay. Typically, December wouldn't be a great time to start on a diet, but we are not big into the holiday baking and I'm not at work where people are bringing that stuff in. I do plan on boosting my protein intake and keeping an eye on the grains. We're going to do more daily shopping for fresh produce and try to throw away less than we have been in the past.

There is plenty of activity for today -- laundry, getting Christmas stuff down from the attic, dinner prep, and that long walk.
Better get busy.

John <><
Note: this will also appear on the Unhealthy Guy's blog.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Birth, Life, Death, Rebirth ... The Circle of Life

Life has it's way.
There are good days and bad days; days marked for celebrating and days for mourning.
Most days are pretty ordinary; some are extraordinary.

Some lives end quickly, others linger for more than a century.

Death, a very real part of life, is never far away.
We see it in people we know.
We read about it in people we don't know.

We have learned much through science and have managed to extend life for some.
But all of us come to the same eventual end.
This life -- the one housed in our human bodies -- always comes to an end.

It is not my plan to have a depressing, morbid post today.
It is my hope that you will take a few moments to consider what might be at the end of this journey.

Is there life beyond death?
Is there a judgment for the current life?
Do we recycle through again with an opportunity to do better?
Or does this life's judgment determine our future in another world? In heaven? In hell?

I think that with the certainty of death, it is worth the time and effort to examine what might be next and how we might prepare for it.

I really believe that there is more than the big dirt nap at the end.
How about you?
Is there more to life than death?
And if so -- What?

John <><

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas Decorations and Ebenezer Scrooge

Christmas decorations have been up in stores and at shopping centers for a little while.
Now they are popping up around the neighborhoods of our community.

This afternoon (late afternoon) I drove over to my daughter's and son in law's home to bring the ladder and help (a little) get the outdoor lights up. Daniel worked on the outdoor lights while Hannah decorated the tree on the inside. It was nice to visit with them for a little bit before returning to our unadorned home.

We've never been big on the Christmas decorations, but I suppose I will find myself in the attic sometime during the coming week and some simple decorations will be put up.

Bah! Humbug!

Call me Scrooge.
Maybe it's that Christmas is pretty quiet with the kids gone;
Maybe it's that Christmas is just too commercial;
Maybe it's that the people that say they celebrate the birth of Christ are just as commercial as everyone else, but with a holier-than-thou bit of self righteous indignation added in for good measure;
Maybe it's that I really am a grumpy, old curmudgeon;
But I can do without a month of Christmas music on every stinkin' radio station.
I can do without get togethers with people that don't really like each other the rest of the year.
I'm okay with celebrating Christmas for the sake of giving gifts and gathering with families.

But when the Church of Jesus -- the Bride of Jesus -- is disheveled and unkempt, can we really convince unbelievers that our celebration is any different than theirs?
How is our celebration of Christmas holy while theirs is secular and unholy?
Does the little nativity scene make the difference?
What about the big yard nativity with lighted life size figures of Joseph and Mary?
If we have a yard sign proclaiming "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" can we say that all of the commercial stuff is now holy?

I say...
Decorate your homes.
Give your gifts.
Go to your parties.
I will do the same.

Enjoy time with your family and friends. Giving gifts as an expression of caring is a good thing, right? The joy and fellowship of the season are worthwhile things to celebrate, but let us not pretend that they are holy. Let us not deceive ourselves into believing that these things are to the glory of God.

I would, however, urge you to make some time during the holiday season to honor God by remembering and sharing the Christmas story.
God became man and lived among us.
He took on our flesh so that He could die in our place.

God loves you.
Jesus died for you.

Merry Christmas,
Ebenezer Scrooge

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Christmas is Coming ... so is Jesus!

It's getting late and I have yet to post today. I'll be happy when this posting everyday for a month thing ends.

Tomorrow morning I'll be preaching at a church about 60 miles from home. It looks like rain is in the forecast, so I'm planning on driving.
It is the beginning of Advent -- the preparation for the coming of the Christ.

At some point, as a kid I thought it was weird that we did the Advent thing every year.
I mean -- Didn't Jesus come like two thousand years ago?

Today, I look at the season as a reminder that we are to be preparing for the Second Coming of Our Lord. It's a little strange that we always see Christmas as a gift received and Easter as a sacrifice made.
I wrote this post five years ago and it will be the basis for my pre-Christmas message for tomorrow morning.

I hope that you are doing more than preparing for the holiday of Christmas and are making daily preparations for the return of Jesus.

John <><

Friday, November 25, 2016

Traveling On...

The hospital where Chris works uses contract surgical techs on a regular basis. These contract workers get paid a salary plus a per diem and are contracted for a set period of time. (I guess that's supposed to be cheaper than hiring them and paying them wages and benefits.) They are refered to as "travelers" since they are not local employees.

Two if them came to join us for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. I hope they enjoyed the day as much as we enjoyed having them. I imagine that it is difficult to be away from home and your family and friends. I hope that we were a suitable stand in for the day.

Now it is the morning after the long, festive day and while others are fighting crowds for great sale prices on highly coveted items, I am enjoying my coffee in my quiet home and blogging away. It is another reason to give thanks!

Black Friday.
Back before Black Friday was a real thing and stores were just beginning to advertise great door buster deals for the early morning shopper on the day after Thanksgiving, I waited with a small group of people for doors to open at 5AM to buy hand held Gameboys for the kids. I was in, out and back in bed by 5:30.

Another year I got a leather bomber jacket for Chris. When I got to the part of the store with the jackets, a lady had just grabbed an armload of them and was sorting through them for the size she needed.
"Got a small?" I asked.
She looked down, grabbed one and handed it to me.
Again, I was back home in no time.

This year, we are skipping the Christmas shopping and simplifying Christmas -- sort of.
I say sort of because shopping might be more simple than making stuff. I think that Chris has been enjoying the crafting part of this season. We never really want the kids to spend much on us anyway, so this is nice for them, too.
I'm happy enough to have them home for the holidays.

It's pretty cool today, so I don't know if I'll go riding. It is supposed be 60F (15.5C) tomorrow. I've debated (with myself) about putting the windscreen back on for the winter. For now, it'll stay off. When it gets colder, we'll see if I keep it off and tough it out, keep it off and ride less, or just breakdown and put it back on. Since I doubt that I'll be taking any long trips, my guess is that I'll leave it off and keep riding.

I hope that you are one of the fortunate ones that get to enjoy the Friday after Thanksgiving as you please -- whether that is fighting crowds, enjoying nature or just relaxing.
Whatever the case (even if you're working), be thankful!

John <><

Thursday, November 24, 2016


There are so many things for which I am thankful!

I hope that my gratitude is expressed regularly and not saved up for a day of thanksgiving. I suppose that Thanksgiving is a good holiday to have right before we get into the Christmas shopping season. It is a bit ironic that the masses gather to fight over the Black Friday deals and even the early deals on Thanksgiving day right after giving thanks for their many blessings.

For some reason, this morning I don't really feel like writing about my many blessings.
I am happy to just feel thankful for them.
Sometimes, writing is a good way to express ourselves. I find that it helps to organize my thoughts and feelings in a way that helps others to understand this pea-brained mind of mine.
But I also believe that self reflection and random thinking is a good way to process my thoughts if it is only for me. I don't need to organize the thoughts and feelings this morning for others to understand me. I am grateful for many people and things, but I am most grateful to God for blessing me as He has.
...And I think that He understands me.

Be grateful.

John <><

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Day of Preparation

It is the day before Thanksgiving and so it will be a day of cleaning and preparing for a big meal and for a few guests that will join us for our traditional Thanksgiving feast.

This year we have a huuuuuge monster bird!
Fortunately, we know the folks that raised it and know that there were no growth hormones or any other kind of crap pumped into this turkey prior to its execution and delivery to our freezer a few weeks back. These people moved into their country home early in the year and decided to raise Thanksgiving turkeys for a few friends. We were one of the lucky families.

Well there is cleaning to be done in the house, a little yard work to be done outside of the house and I still need to enjoy a couple more cups of coffee.
Hey, a guy has to have priorities!

Be thankful!

John <><