Sunday, February 27, 2011

Friendship

I like most men don't have many friends. I used to hear that women were better at friendship but I'm not sure that is true. Someone told me, "Women talk more but are not any better at relationships."

Friendship is hard. It requires a lot. It's also different from acquaintance. I know many people but that doesn't make them friends. I know most people in my Men's Sunday School but I'm not sure if any of them are my friends. They don't really know me and I don't really know them. We just see each other at church. I don't say that to cast bad light on them; it's just the way it is.

A lot of my problem is that I am a loner. I also don't do very well at relationships in general. Another thing is that I know true friendship would require someone to give to me. Due to insecurity or whatever, I have a hard time believing someone would want to do that. Maybe I create my own destiny.

We have all heard of the church visitor who left and proclaimed, "They were not very friendly." Of course, that person wasn't either. It's been said, "If you want friends, be a friend." Very true. Sometimes that's it; we don't really want friends.

Here is what a dictionary says about a friend: a person you know well and regard with affection and trust. Those three elements are big. I have to know someone well; that takes time. Affection; I have to like them and have positive feelings for them. Trust; this is probably the biggest. Trust is a fragile thing. It takes time to build and can crumble in an instant.

I belong to a group called the Samson Society. One of the main goals is for men to build true friendship and relationship: on a daily basis. It involves getting to know another man and all his crap and still loving him. That process builds heavy on two of the friendship elements: knowing well and trusting. It involves more listening and less fixing. The truth is that most of the time we know what to do already. We just need someone along for the trip as we walk it out. And sometimes we need a kick in the right place.

I know I need friends and am working to build those relationships. I'm also watching a friendship crumble; someone I hoped I knew well but didn't.

Life can be a long and lonely path and we were not meant to travel alone. Friendship with God and man makes the journey possible. Loners usually end up as road-kill.

Philip

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Got Rest?

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

I woke up thinking about this verse today. Isn't it interesting how we can take the simple and make it complex and unobtainable?

Here is how my mind works: first comes the exegesis; take it apart in the Greek.  Parse it and look for interesting grammatical constructions. Feel satisfied with that process. Not done: application.

Have you ever heard a sermon about this verse? Many center on the salvation experience: “Oh sinner, come to Jesus and he will free you from your sin and give you rest.” Or maybe it explains how this verse speaks of a future rest. Someday, not on this earth we will experience the rest of God. Both are partially true.

What I heard this morning is the right now of this verse. Jesus wants to do this right now. He wants to do it everyday.

How many times am I weighed down with something or someone and I walk alone? Like a stubborn toddler I say, "I do it myself." I press on moaning and groaning. I may complain about the rough life and heavy load. Everything but the present application of this verse: Come to me. Come to me right now. Come for rest.

Are you worn out? Is fatigue a word that describes your life? Do you feel like giving up? Do you wish your weariness was physical? Is there not enough sleep to fix what shadows your life?

Are you carrying a backbreaking load: guilt, regret, hopelessness, failure, fear? This thing on your back: maybe you can't even see it or name it.

Bills to pay, work to do, people to deal with, mountains to climb. The noise rises, it starts to spin; fade to black. Crushing, numbing load.

Or: Come to me. Now. Simple. No exegesis needed. Just do.

Come to me - rest.

It goes on: learn of me and take my yoke. Learn so we know. Learn the new way. Replace my way with his. And his yoke: it's easy and light.

Simple. Note to self: do it today; do it now. Do it tomorrow.

Philip

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Predictable Weight Loss

I have lost 58 pounds now. It's single digits to the final number. God does miracles!

On a regular basis, people are asking me about it. It may be someone I haven't seen in awhile or an old customer and last Friday it was my barber.

My barber was very curious; just the day before he had met with his doctor. His blood pressure was up and stronger medicine was prescribed. His doctor told him that he really needed to lose some pounds; even 30 would make a dramatic difference. He was one year older than me, one inch taller and about ten pounds heavier than where I was when I began. After our talk he was very encouraged to know that he could do it. I know he can too - if he will follow some well-defined steps.

The universal question is: how did I do it. Some do want assurance that I haven't been sick. I think many are looking for the magic formula; a new, easy, melt the pounds away with no effort potion.  My initial answer is that I am eating less and eating better. If they continue to question then I let them in on the details - the way to predictable weight loss. For me it has been writing down what I eat and knowing how many calories that translates into.

Now there may be some overweight people with hormonal or medical reason but for most of us it is very simple. If you take in more calories than you are burning then you gain weight. So the way to predictable weight loss is to reverse that.

There are many calculators available that take your weight, height and level of activity and give you a fairly accurate idea of your daily calorie need. From there, predictable weight loss is simple. If you take in 500 less calories a day than you need, you will lose 1 pound per week. For most people you can safely lose 2 pounds per week.

When I started on my weight loss journey I knew I needed to lose at least 50 pounds and I knew I needed to eat less. It was a simple beginning and I learned a lot along the way.

Without the diary and calorie count, it's just a guessing game. You may be eating more than you should or the foods you eat may be high in calories and low in nutrition value. You end up not losing, maybe gaining and that usually leads to discouragement and giving up.

The single most important thing for me has been the food diary - writing down what I eat. It gives me knowledge and keeps me honest and most of all gives me the numbers that insure predictable weight loss. It doesn't take a lot of time either. I probably spend about 5 minutes a day doing it. I use MyFitnessPal.com online and it syncs to my IPod Touch. It's free and easy.

So that's the secret to predictable weight loss. Fad and quickie diets usually don't last and many people gain back more than they lost. The good habits developed with what I have talked about are something you can live with, help maintain the target weight and can last for life.

Here is a link to posts about my weight loss journey.


Philip

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why Try?

Do you ever feel like giving up? Do you ever feel like you keep ending up in the same place – a place you hoped never to return to? Does life seem just too hard?

Have you felt victory so close only to have it fade like a vapor? Are you tired of fighting the same sins? Does the thought of doing battle for the rest of your life make you feel beyond exhaustion?

I think of a daughter, caught up in years of bad decisions, entangled in a whirlwind of sins. Does she look at it all, wanting to be free but thinking it could never be… again. The hole is just too deep. How to ever get out; it’s way too complicated. Where would one start?

Would you fight the battle if the end seemed reachable? But now all it seems is sword swinging in the dark, loud clashing with metal, more pain appearing but no end in sight and fatigue makes another round seem impossible.

I think of those who climb a mountain like Everest. Why? Yet it becomes all consuming. Huge amounts of money are spent and the chance of victory is overshadowed by a greater chance of failure or death. Many vow that they will try again, next year.

Here is a quote by Sir Winston Churchill that I remember sometimes when I am feeling discouraged:

When you feel you cannot continue in your position for another minute, and all that is in human power has been done, that is the moment when the enemy is most exhausted, and when one step forward will give you the fruits of the struggle you have borne.

That’s what I need to remember – there is an enemy. I need to remember that an enemy wants to win by me giving up. This devil knows that power is mine if I will have it. He wants me to think that I’m in this by myself. He knows that left to me, operating with my vast resources will insure my dramatic failure.

He also knows that God’s spectacular power is at my disposal if I will just remember. If I will just give up; if I will just give up my feeble efforts. If I will just admit to myself and God and others that I can’t do it, can’t go on. I need to quit making promises to do better, quit making resolutions of reformation. Simply ask for His aid.

That’s it. That’s the victory. That makes the hard road bearable, the impossible possible.

Philip

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Breakfast, Sleep and Weight Loss

If you are interested in losing weight two things are very important: eating breakfast and getting good sleep.

Some people think that if they skip breakfast it will help them lose weight. The opposite is true. When you skip breakfast your metabolism slows and your blood sugar drops. This results in low energy and hunger that may lead to unhealthy snacks or overeating at lunch because you are “starving.” A healthy breakfast is the start of a good day.

My favorite breakfast is one slice of whole grain toast and two egg whites. For less than 100 calories I get a good load of protein, high fiber, good carbs and very little fat or sugar. I’m ready to work.

I also have a small meal between lunch and dinner. This keeps my metabolism going and helps prevent a feeling of hunger. My favorite is three dried apricots and five almonds. Less than 100 calories and it’s loaded with good stuff that keeps me fueled. A small amount of trail mix is good too.

Studies show that those who sleep less often weigh more. It seems that good sleep and the right amount of sleep helps with the hormonal balance necessary for weight management. Dieters who didn’t get enough sleep lost muscle rather than fat. Also a lack of sleep seems to stimulate appetite which can lead to weight gain.

Well those are a couple more things I have learned on my weight loss journey. More later.

Here is a link to posts about my weight loss journey.

Philip

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