Category Archives: fitness

Focusing On Jesus, and the Art of Throwing Kicks and Punches

Physical Therapy

About a week and a half ago I hurt my foot – my Achilles tendon, to be precise. I was mowing grass with a push mower on this deity-forsaken hill (the front part of the same yard where I fell three years ago and tore my right rotator cuff) when I strained the tendon where it inserts into the right part of my right heel. The pain woke me up from my sleep.

And this is what the front yard looked like until someone else came and mowed it for me. Did you know the grass in Tennessee could grow to 30 feet?

Because I could barely walk, even with crutches, I had to go to the orthopedic doc to find out how bad I was hurt. Long story short, I ended up going to physical therapy to strengthen my ankle and receive treatment for the tendon. As of today, praise God, everything is going well and I’m back on my feet with little or no pain.

But I’m NEVER mowing that yard again! I’ll make my daughters do it!

Physical Observation

Well, as I was sitting with an ice pack on my foot, there was a woman across the room throwing a weighted ball onto a slanted trampoline. The object of this exercise was to strengthen her ankle and increase her balance.

Earlier, not long after I got to physical therapy, I, too, was doing something to strengthen my ankle and help with my balance. So, as I was waiting for the timer to go off so they could remove the ice pack, I had time to ponder something.

Martial Arts

I began a conversation with one of the physical therapists standing close by and asked a few questions similar to the following:

“Are you familiar with martial arts? Have you ever noticed how martial artists have great balance? Have you ever considered teaching people how to balance the way I learned?”

The physical therapist was not too familiar with what I was talking about, so I explained.

Amateur artist’s rendering of actual martial artist named Anthony.

“When I learned how to fight, I learned to keep my eyes focused on my opponent. I never looked down, or around, only at the person I was fighting, usually in his eyes. As long as I kept my eyes on the one I was fighting, straight ahead, I could kick, punch, do whatever, all the while keeping my balance.”

“That’s interesting,” the therapist replied.

And here’s the thing. In my therapy I had to stand on a soft cushion, putting all my weight on the heel of my right foot. As long as I focused on an object in front of me, I could stand there with no support on that one foot and never fall. As soon as I looked around or looked down at my foot, I would lose my balance.

And when I eat at Chinese restaurants I catch all the stray flies with my chopsticks.

Focusing On Jesus

If you are already a believer, and if you’re familiar with Peter and his stroll across the water, then you’ve probably already figured out most of what I’m about to say: When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we are less likely to fall.

However, I never thought about Peter when my foot was being iced; I just thought about Jesus. You see, I don’t get to ride in too many boats, and I’m not likely to get out of one once I’m in it. On the other hand, this old flesh gets distracted and falls every chance it gets, even when the ground is solid and flat.

Instead of glancing around at what’s going on in the world; instead of looking down and wincing at what causes me pain; instead of looking at the clock and wondering when it’s all going to end; maybe I should keep my eyes focused on my Heavenly Sensei (Jesus), bring this body under control, keep it in balance, and train it for the fight.

After all, I’d like to land a few more good ones on the Devil, wouldn’t you?

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Filed under Christian Maturity, fitness, General Observations

Helping Me Lose Weight 5/11/17

Let’s get serious…

It’s 5/11 and yesterday I picked up my new 5-11 tactical uniform pants (for the Sheriff’s Office – I’m a chaplain). They are a size 36 waist, and they barely fit. 

On top of that, my new uniform shirt, which is an XL, fits ok, but I still need to wear a vest underneath. But I have a beer gut, just without the beer.


This morning I weighed myself after my shower… 222.4 pounds. 222.4! 

Now it’s 7:04 a.m., I’m in between bus routes, and I can’t tell you how much I want to go inside and get a cup of coffee and a honey bun!! 

You guys have GOT to give me some encouragement! 

I’m too much of a man to look pregnant! 

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Filed under clothing, fitness, Food

Help Me Lose Weight!

I am now going to make use of the world wide web and call out for advice, because I know a lot of you have plenty to offer (I mean that in a good way).

I will be 50 years old in September. For years and years I have stayed around 200 lbs (average of 210 for the last decade). But now I am gaining…and I want it to stop. I mean, just look at the scale from today! I am going to have to let out my suit coat before I can afford to buy a new one!


Anyway, some of  you are very knowledgeable in this subject, so I am going to ask for your best weight-loss tips and stategies. Keep in mind the following before you respond:

  • I am 50 years old.
  • I have a damaged rotator cuff in my right shoulder.
  • I have a bad right knee (can’t run).
  • I hate cottage cheese with a passion.
  • I don’t do kale.
  • I will NOT give up coffee.
  • I have a Total Gym, but no money for a gym membership.
  • My weight goal is 180 pounds (I’m 5’9″), even though some may advise it to be more like 160; I don’t want to look like a stick; some fluffiness makes me more adorable.

So, can you help?

Even more importantly, do you care enough to hold me accountable?

Remember, if we are the body of Christ, and I am a member of the same body you are, me being overweight might just be slowing you down, too!

Let’s do this thing, OK?

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Filed under Christian Unity, community, fitness, Food, Uncategorized

A Poem for Friday Repeated

Back in 2012 I was going full-steam in seminary, pastoring a church, and had a wife that was desperately ill with fibromyalgia. It was a pretty tense time around the Baker house, to say the least. Some things change; some things remain the same.

So, you see, I was going to write a post about not being ashamed of Jesus, but I will save that for tomorrow or Sunday. In the meantime, I will just share this poem I wrote back in 2012 while I help my wife finish some tax returns, eat some oatmeal, scrounge up some gas money for later, and do a little praying before I get back on the school bus this afternoon.

The following is a complete rip-off of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” song that everyone – including myself – hated. Funny thing, I still sing it to myself EVERY Friday morning!

“It’s Friday”

Eight a.m. waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go down stairs
Hot cup of tea, butter on raisin toast
Plagiarize a song by a girl with Black hair.
 
Got a mid-term that’s due tonight
Seminary’s really try’n to kick my buns.
Still gotta finish a honey-do list
Being out of work is fun, fun, fun!
 
Friday! It’s Friday! Out of work this Friday!
Studying and reading. Gettin’ ready for this Sunday.
Friday, Friday, gettin’ down on Friday.
Need to exercise and take my morning multi-vitamin for men.
 
Wife stayed up for two days straight
Now’s she’s in bed and can’t stay awake
Gotta figure out what’s wrong with her
Don’t know if much more she can take.
 
Daughter wants to ride her bicycle
Wants me to ride mine with her, too
Maybe I should finish this poem right now.
Daddy, pastor, student’s got a lot to do!
 
Friday! It’s Friday! Mail will come this Friday!
Maybe a check’s in the mail that’ll let me tithe a lot this Sunday.
Friday, Friday, gettin’ down on Friday.
Need to pray a lot and take my morning multi-vitamin for men.


P.S., That “Donate” button might make this Friday a wee more tolerable 🙂

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Filed under fitness, Humor, poetry, Relationships and Family, Uncategorized

I Need a “Spirical”

A What?

I need a spirical. You mean you don’t know what that is? A spirical is the spiritual version of a physical – hence, spiri – cal. The problem is that the last time I checked, my insurance policy doesn’t cover such a thing (unless it’s covered under psychiatric care).

Yes, I need a spirical, just like (well, almost like) the actual physical I received yesterday.

The Physical

Do I really need to go into a lot of detail about my physical? Some of it could be rather embarrassing, you know. Because even though I try to be as transparent as possible, there is such a thing as TMI (too much information). Nevertheless, let’s see what I can do.

My examiner for this round of embarrassment was a nice young woman (they keep getting younger) named Dr. Natalie McQueen. She was very professional, too, and never once laughed at how out of shape I am (which I appreciated).  No, all she did was off-handedly mention that exercise and diet modification might help lower my triglycerides.

depressorsThe typical physical includes much of the following…

  • Blood work
  • Checking one’s weight
  • Checking blood pressure
  • Listening to the heart, lungs, and bowels.
  • Checking reflexes and looking for nerve issues
  • Checking the eyes, ears, nose, and throat
  • Getting undressed and putting on a scratchy gown that opens to the back (the rest I will leave to your imagination).

It was when I was on my way home, feeling violated, yet relieved my report was good, that I started thinking about how we Christians should have annual spiritual check-ups.

The Spirical

Who better to give a spirical than God? What, you want pastor or counselor doing that kind of thing? Are you crazy? They’re not the Doctors; they’re just the receptionists, the P.A.’s, and the nurses. If you want a REAL examination of your spiritual self, you need to go straight to the Specialist of Specialists and let Him get to work.

If you think I’m a little crazy with all this spirical talk, then you must also think poor Job and King David were off their rockers…

  • Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity. – Job 31:6
  • Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. – Psalm 139:23-24
  • Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. – Psalm 26:2

One reason people shy away from getting an annual physical is because they don’t want to hear any bad news. They live their lives with abandon, then expect the doctor to examine them and declare them healthy.

Could it be that we rarely hear of spiritual check-ups because so few of us want to be weighed, searched, tried, examined, and proven by the only One who can see through our excuses and bad habits?

Maybe we like being unhealthy.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, fitness

Lying Athletes?

My Analogy

Last night I shared with my congregation the following analogy:

Let’s just suppose I told people I was a member of Riverside Sports Gym. And let’s just suppose I said to them, “Look, I’m an athlete!” What do you think people would think? All they would have to do is look at me (all 215 pounds) and conclude that something about my statement wasn’t very honest. People could rightfully judge my statement by what they see.

An athlete is one whom, by definition, is athletic. With a gut like mine, how could that be possible? If asked to prove my athlete claim, shouldn’t I at least be able to jog a mile or two, do 20 or 30 sit ups, or something like that? Or, is it possible my profession of athleticism was only wishful thinking, if not a bold-face lie?

On the other hand, is is possible that calling myself an athlete would be accepted as a valid profession…if it was sincere…and if I had a totally different understanding of what a true athlete is. 

My point was that a lot of people may have joined a church and have a membership card to prove it, but that doesn’t make them any more a Christian than joining a gym makes them an athlete.

Disciplines

Beside joining the gym and signing up for the team, what determines the difference between a true athlete and one who just claims to be? Discipline.

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:12-13

A genuine follower of Jesus Christ should be one who lives in such a way that others SEE their salvation. To “work out” one’s salvation is to not keep it hidden on the inside, but bring it to the surface, evident to all. It’s like the sweat of an athlete; it comes to the surface when we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.

An athlete will take advantage of his gym membership, use the weights, run on the tread mill, and all that stuff. He will discipline himself to go at least 3 times a week (if not more) and spend a certain amount of time on some things, more time on areas in which he’s deficient. On top of that, a real athlete will exercize outside the gym, too.

A Christian should be like an athlete (as the Apostle Paul has hinted – see 1 Cor. 9:24-27), acting with discipline, staying in shape, growing stronger, shedding excesses, turning into what would appear to be the outward evidence of an inward determination.

Prayer, church attendance, worship, meditating on God’s Word, thanksgiving, forgiveness, compassion, contentment, kindness, encouragement, love: these are the spiritual equivalents of push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, jogging, cardio, and weight lifting. It’s what “athletes” do.

Will Power

But you don’t have the will power? Strange that you should say that. Was is not Philippians 2:13 that said it is God who works in us both to WILL and to DO His good pleasure?

Honestly, many of us need to make sure of our “gym” membership. More than that, we need to make sure our claim to being on the athletic team is legitimate. Because, if we are nothing but overweight, out-of-shape wannabe’s with no desire to do better, just wasting away in our own undisciplined, broken-down bodies, what does that say about the Life that is in us?

Work Out

I have one of these. I just need to use it!

I have one of these. I just need to use it!

In 2016 I want to work out more (I NEED to). This temple of the Holy Spirit needs a total renovation! But even more, I also want to “work out” my spiritual life. I want there to be more evidence that I take the race before me seriously, like I’m actually out to win it, not just run it.

My thanks to all of you who’ve read my blog this year (2015). Now, as we head into a new one, let’s challenge each other to not only run the race of faith, but run as those who want to win (1 Cor. 9:24). Let’s not lie about our spiritual fitness; let’s be athletes worthy of victory!

Happy New Year!

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Filed under Bible Study, Christian Living, fitness

Surgery Day

Sometime this afternoon (after 12 p.m. EST), I don’t exactly know when, a surgeon, a man highly skilled in his art, will open up my flesh and attempt to correct a problem which has been bothering me for several months. I’m going under the knife.

Oh, it’s not a big surgery, like having my brain removed and replaced with a turnip (that only happens when conservatives become liberals, and the government pays for the operation). No, I am having my hand operated on, specifically my left thumb. Why? It’s not working the way it should, or rather, “designed.”

Even for small surgeries like this, but especially when one is going to be put to sleep, one is asked serious questions about life and death.

  • “Do you have a living will and power of attorney?”
  • “Who do we contact if something goes horribly wrong?”
  • “If you were to do something in your sleep to make the anesthesiologist screw up, would you prefer a priest or a generic Protestant?”

The fact is that no surgery is a “little” surgery when it requires one to be anesthetized. Let’s face it, even though I’m only going to be having my thumb and hand cut on, I literally could die today. Yes, things like that happen.

This could be my last post. Sobering, eh?

But I’m not worried; my eternity is secure.

This operation has also gotten me thinking about spiritual surgeries, the kind when God has to come along and cut on our hearts. Fortunately, there is no need for anesthesia or living wills, but it’s surprising how many people refuse to let Him operate, even when the end result would be much better health.

Why is it I am so willing to allow a human doctor to put me under and cut me open when I’m so unwilling, at times, to trust my Creator with cutting away the things that make my spiritual life sick? Why would I want to be less effective in my walk with God any more than I want my hand to be crippled? Makes no sense, does it?

So, I’m having surgery in just a few hours. Pray for me.

In the meantime I’m going to be having a consultation with my heavenly Doctor. The great thing is that when He does His cutting, the Sword He uses not only cuts, but heals, too. Recovery time is up to me and how quickly I want to obey.

God bless! 

UPDATE: I am still alive, but typing is a tad bit limited. My left thumb was cut open at the palm to release the tendon which makes it bend. I was suffering from an acute case of “trigger thumb.” Now let’s just pray I don’t do anything crazy in my sleep 😦

painful hand

Pain medication is a wonderful thing.

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Filed under Faith, fitness, Future, General Observations, Life/Death