On weight loss…

23 Mar

I was embarrassed!

It was a warm June day. My family and I were on our annual summer trip to Branson and this was the first year my oldest daughter, Sarah would be “big” enough to go on the large roller-coasters! Finally – someone to go on all the rides with me! What was even better was that Silver Dollar City was introducing a new roller-coaster, The PowderKeg, and we both wanted to ride it. As soon as the park opened, we went directly to the ride. Obviously, other people had the same idea as there was about an hour wait to get on the ride. Finally, we were allowed to board the car that would take us on an adventure that we had waited over an hour to ride. Sarah got in her seat and I got in one right next to her. The seat was a little tight but I’m used to chairs being a little small. When the attendant came around to lower the seat restraints, he couldn’t lock mine in place. He pushed and pushed and pushed. He used his feet to push to no avail. Finally, it was obvious that the restraint wasn’t going to lock. I was too large for the ride. I turned to my daughter and had to tell her the most embarrassing thing I think I have ever had to admit – I’m too big to fit on this ride. She was crushed. Everyone in line was watching as my daughter and I slowly walked out the exit – without being able to ride the roller coaster. She was crying – I was embarrassed. Life was not good.

The rest of the day was pretty much the same. I went from one ride to the next – not being able to fit in the seats. I was too fat! How did I let myself get like this? How could I be too big?!

A year after that incident, I still denied that I could lose weight. I didn’t want to discipline myself. There was already too much stress in my life – I didn’t want to stress about what I could or could not eat. Finally, in January of this year, I decided that I was tired of being too fat. It had taken me 13 years – but I had gained about 150 lbs. (Not good!) Now, I am on a mission to lose it. I had to go through an Extreme fat loss process to be able to have fun and enjoy life again.

My first goal is to be able to take my daughter on the roller coasters this year. We go in June and I promised her that I would do what I had to do to lose enough weight to get on the rides. I’m building her hopes up – I better not fail.

Second – I just want to have fun again. It’s not fun being fat. EVERYTHING is an effort when you have to move 350 lbs. I got to the point where I couldn’t even support my weight on ice skates! I want to start enjoying life.

Third – I want to develop a healthy lifestyle so I will be around longer to enjoy my family. The way I look at it, every pound I lose is a day or week or year longer I get to spend with the people I love.

Fourth – I want to be an example to my kids. I want to show them that if you set your mind to do something – you can do it. Ultimately I want to lose about 160 lbs. That is a big number. With God giving me strength, I’m doing it one pound at a time.

Fifth – I want to be attractive to my wife again. When she married me, I was in the Marine Corp and had a pretty buff body. Now I look like a buffalo! I told her last night that I’m bringing the sexy back!

Sixth – I would like to fit into my dress blues again. One of the reasons I joined the Marine Corp in the first place is that I loved the uniform. The Marine Corp Dress Blue uniform is one of the most recognizable uniforms in the world. I have mine still hanging in my closet. I want to be able to fit into it again!

Someone once told me that you have a 80% chance of achieving your goal if you write it down. The percentage is much worse if you don’t. So – here it is. I’m accountable to all of you that read this.

OK – so I know some of you are wondering how I’m doing! I started Weight Watchers on January 9, 2007. At my initial weigh-in, I weighed 349 lbs. As of today – I have lost 36.6 lbs. I’m still not below 300 lbs but it’s getting closer and closer everyday! So you can also learn more about dieting at Shapebloom.com

Digital Quandary

12 Mar

With the popularity of digital music and digital photography and digital video, I just realized that I have terabytes of digital content stored on various portable hard drives, internal hard drives and DVD’s. In fact, as I digitize my music and video collection, it is becoming almost unmanageable. My quandary began this morning when I realized that I have no way of backing up that much data! As hard drives have gotten larger and larger, other types of storage haven’t kept up. How expensive is a 5 terabyte tape backup? Does it even exist? What kind of backup strategy should I adopt to make sure I don’t lose any of my digital content? My first thought was to back it up on DVD’s but at only 4.7 Gig per DVD or 9 Gig on double-layer disks, it would take me 250 regular DVD’s or 125 Double-layer DVD’s to back it all up. Most digital content is already compressed so I wouldn’t even save space by using compression.

I’d love to hear your suggestions. What are you doing to back-up all of your digital content?

Worshiping In The Garden of Eden

9 Mar

Do you hold a preconceived idea of what worship is? How do you worship?

The other day I experienced one of the most enjoyable worship experiences that I have had in a long time. I was at the gym, getting ready to start my 28 minutes on the elliptical trainer. This is a special 28 minutes because I use that time to talk to God. Most of the music I have on my MP3 player is Rock & Roll. Most with a Jesus theme and the rest is old stuff that I grew up with. On this particular morning, the first song in queue was by Iron Butterfly. Yes – you know it as the 17 minute rock classic, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida“.

The words are simple:

In-a-gadda-da-vida honey,
don’t ‘cha know that I love you?
In-a-gadda-da-vida baby,
don’t ‘cha know that I’ll always be true?

Oh won’t ‘cha come with me,
and take my hand?
Oh won’t ‘cha come with me,
and walk this land?

Please take my hand…

That’s it. They sing the words at the beginning of the song and at the end of the song. In between, is about 15 minutes of instrumental guitar solos, drum solos and organ melodies that remind me of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. Anyone who was ever in a marching band has played that drum solo. The main riff of the song is instantly recognizable.

That morning, it was perfect praying music. For seventeen wonderful minutes, I was walking with my God in the Garden of Eden. I was talking to Him. He was talking to me. I told Him about my kids and my hopes and dreams for them. I told him about my wife – even thanking Him for providing such a wonderful woman to spend my life with. I thanked Him for giving me great parents and grand-parents. Great examples of lovers of Jesus. I thanked Him for my job and for opportunities to show Jesus to others. I asked Him to help me be a great husband to my wife and a great Dad to my kids. It was a great conversation.

The point of all this is that worship isn’t a song or a place. Simply – it is time spent with God. You can worship with music, you can worship without music. You can worship to “Christian” music and you can worship to psychedelic rock.

Wondered why I called this post “Worshiping In The Garden of Eden“?In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Wikipedia says, “A commonly repeated story says that In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’s title was originally “In the Garden of Eden” or “In the Garden of Venus” but in the course of rehearsing and recording singer Doug Ingle slurred the words into the nonsense phrase of the title while under the influence of LSD. However, the liner notes on ‘the best of’ CD compilation state that drummer Ron Bushy was listening to the track through headphones, and couldn’t hear correctly; he simply distorted what Doug Ingle answered when Ron asked him for the title of the song (which was originally In-The-Garden-Of-Venus). An alternate version of the story, as stated in the liner notes of the 1995 re-release of the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album, states that Ingle was drunk when he first told Bushy the title, so Bushy wrote it down. Bushy then showed Ingle what he had written, and the slurred title stuck.”

Little did they know then, that for me, they would record one of the best worship songs in years!

The Ruler Is Just

5 Mar

Yesterday during his message, Pastor Bart said “The Ruler Is Just” (along with an accompanying power point slide), in his discussion of the Ruler of the Kingdom of God as described in the Book of Matthew.

My adult mind processed that phrase and, taken out of the context of the message, was quite uneventful. My 7 year old daughter Emily processed it a bit differently.

She turned to me and asked, “Just what?”

I said, “What?”, and she would reply, “Just what?”

It didn’t hit me until about 4 or 5 rounds of “What? Just What?”‘s that she didn’t know what the adjective version of the word just meant. She was only familiar with the adverb version of just. So, that led to a lengthly explanation of the word just and the different meanings, ways we use the word, origins and roots of the word.

To which her reply was: WHY?

Understanding the Emerging Church

1 Mar

I have been disturbed by the “emergence” of post-modernism in the Church for quite a while. I couldn’t articulate my feelings. I had a lot of thoughts and opinions, I just couldn’t find the words. What I did do was to start reading. I read a number of blogs and recently came across a posting by C Michael Patton of the Parchment and Pen called “Understanding the postmodern mind and the emerging church“. When I read this, I thought he had been reading my mind. He is clearly a better writer than I could hope to be. I recommend that you read this excellent post.

Because of their distrust of tradition, my conversations with those in the “emergent movement” have led me to reevaluate why I believe what I believe. Sometimes this has softened my stance on the issues in the church that the Bible doesn’t speak clearly on (infant or adult baptism, sprinkling or submersion, pre-trib,mid-trib, post-trib etc.) and it has strengthened the foundation of my beliefs on the things that matter most (salvation, redemption, grace). I used to tell people that there is Doctrine and Dogma. Loosely, doctrine is man’s interpretation of what we believe and dogma is God’s truth that is undeniable. We can agree to disagree on doctrine as long as we both agree on the dogma.

One of the authors points, and one that I see too much in emerging churches is this attitude that you can’t take a stand for anything or you won’t be liked. They come to this because they believe that in our limited understanding, we can not fully know the truth. So, if we can’t know the truth, who is to say who’s truth is correct. My truth is true for me and your truth is true for you. We are both right, can’t we all get along? Like he says in his post, the less you stand for, the more people will like you. I was even told once by someone professing to be a Christian that although they believe that Jesus is their answer to salvation (their truth), they believe that God might have provided alternate truths and who are we to condemn a whole group of people who might have another view of God or how to attain salvation. He believes that there might be alternate paths to Heaven! Now if that isn’t compromise, what is?

Again, my words aren’t scholarly. I wasn’t just taught these beliefs and now I’m just regurgitating what I’ve heard. The formation of what I believe and why I believe it is a process. I have gone from belief to unbelief and back to belief. I have seen physical evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit. I have seen lives changed by Christ and their belief in His redemptive sacrifice. I have seen the miracle of the birth of my four daughters to my wife who we thought couldn’t conceive. I have been miraculously healed of a 20 year smoking addiction. One day, God just took the addiction away – I have no memory of what it is like to smoke. I know that God is real and I know that He wants to have a personal relationship with all of us. All we have to do is acknowledge that we aren’t perfect. We’re going to mess up – and because we can’t help ourselves, we aren’t worthy to enter into a relationship with God on our own. But God has provided us a way. Jesus said that He was the Truth and the Light. All who believe in Him will be saved. I believe that God, in His grace, sent His son, Jesus, as a perfect sacrifice for our sin. He paid for our sin with his blood and because of this selfless act, we are assured a permanent residency in Heaven with Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit where we will be able to ask Jesus Himself all of the mysteries that we can’t even hope to understand here on earth.

One last thing…to those planning on watching the Discover Channel’s program about the possibility of finding Jesus’ bones? It isn’t possible.

Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God where He will rule until He returns. I would give up my life defending that…. would you?

–Postscript–

I almost ended it here but then I thought how appropriate the Nicene Creed was. Shouldn’t we all say a creed such as this everyday to affirm (at least to ourselves) what we believe? If you wish, you may want to read this out loud. Think about what is says as you read it.

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son].
With the Father and the Son
he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.