Monday, January 31, 2011

Does This Make Me Look Fat?

DISCLAIMER: I'm eating a Baby Ruth candy bar as I write this.

I'll be the first to admit I'm not the epitome of health. I mean, I know I could stand to lose a few pounds...actually, about 20-25 would be about right. Is that still considered a "few"? But, and you knew there would be a but, I gotta tell ya, all this obsession with losing weight, cutting calories, trying to keep track of what's good and what's bad for your cholesterol, etc. gets a little overwhelming at times.

There are all kinds of books on weight loss, weight-loss programs, e.g. Weight Watchers, and even reality TV shows about people losing weight--Biggest Loser, Heavy, I Used to be Fat, and Obese to name a few. Tulsa area Youth Pastor, Sean Algaier, lost 155 pounds on The Biggest Loser. That's a PERSON!

Now, I know that some people really struggle with their weight; some have medical conditions that cause them to put on extra weight, but let's be honest--the reason most of us are on the "chunky" side is that we don't do enough push-aways, i.e. PUSH AWAY from the table! That's me. I love to eat...and I love to eat stuff that isn't good for me.

I went in for a physical not too long ago and the doctor told me my cholesterol was a little high and that I could stand to lose a few pounds. Oh, and I don't have colon cancer either, so I guess that's the good news. "Do you work out or anything like that?," my doctor asked. I told I did (and I do); I try to make it to the gym three to four times a week. Nothing overly strenuous--I get on the treadmill or stationary bike for about a half hour, then go through several different sets on some of the weight machines. I'm not trying to bulk up, just trying to stay fit.

"That's good," he said. "Keep that up --(he paused)-- and why don't you give up a double-meat cheeseburger a little more often, maybe eat some low-fat yogurt rather than the ice cream, okay?" I can do that, and I've been doing pretty good. It never hurts to eat a little more healthy, but honestly, I'm not going to knock myself out, 'cuz here's the deal: I'm 52 (soon to be 53) years old and I'm NOT going to be as thin as I was in high school...EVER. I'm in pretty good shape other than the "love handles" and I can't wear 32-inch-waist Levis anymore. I'll cut back (and have been) on the bad stuff, but from time to time, cholesterol be danged, I'm going off the wagon!

The way I've got it figured, this life ain't a practice run. It's the real deal and you've only got one shot at it, so I'm going to enjoy a little bit of it while I'm here. I'll keep going to the gym. I even got my Trek road bike out this past fall and started riding again; even talking about doing Oklahoma Freewheel again (I've done it twice) or some other ride, maybe Hotter 'N Hell. And every once in a while, I'm going to stop by Coney I-Lander!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

God Has to Follow the Rules?

I am a Christian, a Christ-Follower, Believer, "religious", "Bible-Toting-American"...whatever label you wish to put on me. I believe in ONE God, the only God of the universe. I believe He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present. I believe every word of the Bible is true. I also believe that God hears our prayers and actually does something about them, i.e. answers them. Sometimes the answer is "no;" sometimes the answer is "wait;" and sometimes the answer is "yes." God is God; I am not. HE is the one that determines how things will be.

Prayer is not about ME getting what I want--it's more about me submitting my life to God's authority/direction. Putting my trust in Him to know what is best for my life. But I still pray. I still ask. And I still believe that, even when things don't go the way I think they should, God knows what is best, He knows how His answer fits into His perfect plan much better than I ever could.

So, to my point, I got a phone call the other day from a friend who also identifies himself in much the same way as myself. The reason for his call was to ask me to pray for a friend of his that was having some serious medical problems and would be going through surgery that week. "Sure," I said, "I'll pray. Let me know how things go." I hung up the phone and prayed. (I find that if I tell someone I'll pray for them, and I don't do it right then, I tend to forget. That may be an entirely different post.)

A few days later, my friend called to let me know the surgery had been a success. His friend was recovering nicely and should be able to return to a lifestyle they enjoyed prior to the surgery. We both commented on how good God was/is to answer our prayers and how grateful we were that we believed in and served a loving, healing God.

As we continued to talk, the conversation turned to the Bible, specifically Creation. I am a 24-Hour Creationist, i.e. I believe God created everything in six, 24-hour periods ("...there was evening and there was morning, the first day...", etc.) by simply speaking it into existence. That's how I read the account in Genesis and it seems pretty straightforward to me. My friend doesn't believe that way. He believes--in a nutshell--that God did indeed create "the heavens and the earth" as it states in the Bible, but he believes God put things in motion over a period of millions and millions of years, having put into creation all of the DNA/molecular structures and allowing men, animals, sea creatures, and plant-life to evolve into what we see today. He reads the "days" in Genesis as being figurative, long periods of time.

I asked him why he believes that way and he explained:

I believe God created everything, but there are things in Genesis that just don't add up or make sense to me; things that appear to be figurative in nature. I also have a hard time believing that on the first day (or period) of creation, God created light, but it wasn't until the FOURTH day He created the sun, moon, and stars. Now how is that possible? The Bible says God created light and darkness on the first day and called them morning and evening. That's just not possible without the sun!

I knew a rebuttal would be fruitless, so I just commented something like, "Well, we will just have to agree to disagree on that one, " and we finished the conversation with some small talk and a promise to get together some time soon.

Later in the day, I was thinking about what he had said. His explanation sounded good, if you contend that God HAS to do things in a particular order. But that puts limits, i.e. human limits if you will--on God. If God is God and capable of CREATING an entire universe, who says HOW He has to do things? And what really got me to thinking was the prayers we had prayed. We both believe that God is all-powerful. We both believe that God is capable (not because we prayed, but because He is God) of healing someone, whether it be through the skillful hands of a surgeon OR by reaching into our human realm and completely removing a cancer as if it had never existed!!

If God can make cancers disappear, not to mention intervene in the courses of human history, direct the actions of men, cause events to come about, that from a human standpoint, seem totally insurmountable...who says He can't create LIGHT without a sun?! If you believe Jesus could take five little barley cakes and some sardines and feed over five thousand people, I don't believe it's that much of a stretch to believe God can create an entire universe, instantaneously having all the laws of physics, etc in place, capable of sustaining life and do it simply by saying "it is so"...and do it in any order He sees fit.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Not A Fan

I've lived in Oklahoma all of my life and I've never been a fan of the University of Oklahoma, aka OU, aka "Sooners" football team. I just don't like them and haven't for a long time. In fact, my disdain for OU goes back to the Barry Switzer days.

Actually, part of my dislike for the team is due to their fans; many of them I am acquainted with are down-right obnoxious. Their team is the best team in the ENTIRE NCAA! Their team is definitely better than your team. Their team has won this and Their team has won that! And God forbid you don't love their team as much as they do.¹

Here's the deal: I enjoy watching a sporting event from time to time. I played baseball from the time I was six years old until I entered High School. Like most every red-blooded American boy in the 60's, I dreamed of growing up and playing in the "big leagues". So I'm not against sports per se; I just don't put them in a place of prominence in my life.

Many sports fans live as if their team, its existence, its wins and [gasp] losses, its coaches, it players...are THE thing that makes or breaks their very own existence. Everything they own has their team logo on it. Their dog, cat, horse and parakeet (if they have one) are all named "Sooner" or "Boomer" (OU fans).

I watch NCAA baseball, basketball and football WHEN I HAVE TIME. I don't plan an entire weekend around it. I don't go into a manic state of depression when "MY team"² doesn't win. I watch the game. If the team I like wins, great. If they don't, I go out and mow the lawn or whatever activity/chore I've got lined up. I don't have entire team rosters memorized. I can't tell you who won the National Championship last year...or the 15 years before that. I can't tell you the names of the Offensive and Defensive coaches. In fact, I can rarely recall the final score of a game the next day. It just doesn't matter to me.

Sadly, some of these same fans, when asked, couldn't name their current Senators or Congressman. Some won't be able to tell you the names of the three branches of the Federal Government. Some won't be able to quote the books of the New Testament...but ask them who the starting defensive tackle or quarterback is for their team and they'll be able to tell you his age, weight, GPA, color hair, where he went to high school, his major, his stats from the last three seasons, his jersey number, and his celebrity girlfriend's name!!

It's just a game people, and in the total scheme of things, it really isn't that important.


¹ The Sooners have amassed an impressive number of National Championships in football, seven to date, I believe. All together, they have won 26 NCAA National Championships in baseball (2), football (7), golf (1), gymnastics (8), wrestling (7), and women's softball (1).

² For the sake of full disclosure, I graduated from Oklahoma State University (OU's in-state rival) and that's about the only team I'll make an attempt to follow. During my time in college, I don't recall actually attending a football--or any other sporting event. I have an OSU sticker on my vehicle, but again, my life doesn't revolve around the OSU Cowboys. The "Pokes" haven't won a football national championship, but the OSU does have 50 NCAA National Championships in wrestling (34), golf (10), basketball (2), baseball (1), and cross country (3). They have the fourth highest number of total NCAA Championships:
1. UCLA (101 titles)
2. Stanford (94 titles)
3. USC (84 titles)
4. Oklahoma State (50 titles)

Does that mean MY team is better than theirs?