Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Will He Find Faith?

I don't often wax preachy here, but occasionally, I feel compelled to pontificate on a topic that has been on my mind.
The posting of some thoughts on another blog got me to thinking about my past ruminations on a subject.
Thus....

Luke 18:8 reads: I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?

The context of this verse is the parable of the Unjust Judge.
The point of the story is that the constant, repeated request of a poor widow was finally granted by a judge who had no reason to consider the request, simply because of her persistence.
The point of the last verse is, even though requests of those who ask God for something may not be answered quickly, they will be answered.
In spite of this ("Nevertheless"), some will stop believing in the promises of God because of the delay.
Hence, the question, will Christ find faith on the earth when he returns.

The Greek word translated "faith" is "Pistis".
This word is translated "faith" every time it is found in the New Testament.(and it is found dozens of times.)
"Pistis" means persuasion, credence (acceptance of certain precepts as true), moral conviction, reliance on Christ for salvation, or constancy or faithfulness.

In these last days, and especially in the last couple of years, I have pondered this concept more and more.
It seems that the decline of "religion" in the U.S., and especially essential Christianity - meaning, belief in the Bible strong enough that it affects one's behavior (read: holiness) - in the last few years, has caused a fundamental shift in the general moral level of society as a whole.
It is like we have reached a critical mass of immorality or moral relativism.

As a result, the policies of our government are now changing.
In totalitarian governments/societies, the policies of the government may or may not reflect the values of the people/society they rule over.
In democratic governments/societies, the policies of the government generally do reflect the general moral values of the people/society they represent.
So, as I see the policies of our government change, I see it as a reflection of the values of our society as a whole.

And as our society becomes more secular, earthly-minded, given to more physical gratification, and carnal - even among so-called Christians, I wonder just how many people are really saved.
Only God knows.
I have long ago stopped trying to figure out who is "saved" and who is not, in the way that I used to.
That was a preoccupation of my former religious fellowship.

Generally, I now accept the testimony of each person at face value.
If they say they are saved, I usually accept them as such.
I can find something "wrong" with almost anyone who professes Christianity, but I cannot be sure that God does not accept them because of such flaws or shortcomings.
They may have overcome some issues/battles/sins way greater than what I have had to deal with, and God has not yet inspired them to work on the issue that I see in them.
Who am I to make such a judgment?
God truly knows who are his; I do not - and never will in this life.

So I now err on the side of acceptance.
If I am wrong, what have I lost?
The command for me is to encourage and build up, not to judge.
But I digress....

As the Revelation says, "Babylon is fallen..."
And the casual, ho-hum, sloppy "Christianity" that I see in most people who call themselves Christian these days is bothersome to me.
Most people can only bring themselves to attend one church service a week - Sunday morning worship.
They are too busy to get up for Sunday School, too busy to attend Sunday evening worship meetings, or mid-week gatherings.
They toss a few dollars in the passing plate, smile and say nice things to others around them, gladhand everyone nearby, listen to the preacher with half an ear (as long as he doesn't take too long), then blast off.

Do they pray every day for the disintegrating moral conditions around them (read: sinners)?
Probably not.
Do they read their Bible every day to constantly recalibrate their personal moral compass to offset the persistent intrusion of secular, humanistic, atheistic, fleshly, earthly concepts and ideas that surround them at school or work or from friends or neighbors or television or radio?
Probably not.
If they did, they would behave differently, methinks.

So, back to the question at the beginning (you thought I forgot, didn't you?), will Jesus find faith when He returns?
The answer is, yes.
But it will not be found in as many people as some might think.
It will be found in those who have resisted the general amoral tide around them, and fought to maintain the spiritual values and behavior the Bible commands.
It will be found in those who have importuned before - not an unjust judge - but a loving, holy God who, while loving each of, and all of, mankind, is still unmovabley righteous.

Christianity is still a pretty simple exercise - do what God's book says and you will be okay.
The Babylon in the book of Revelation is not just a physical location, like a church.
It can be that, but it is more.
It is a state of mind, a spiritual perspective, where obedience to the Bible is less important than going along with the crowd, "getting along" in spite of compromising moral principles, and spiritually sloppy, undisciplined living.
If what the preacher (or the television, or radio, or a neighbor, or the kids at school) says has more weight for you than the scriptures, then you are "in" Babylon.
God says, "Come out of her my people."

In God we trust.
.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mm - Mm - Mm - Toasty!

I love to engage in UV therapy a couple of times a week.
I would do it more often if is were not so provocative for skin cancer.
But I LOVE laying in the sun.
There must be a lizard gene in me somewhere.
I use a timer so I won't over-cook.
About 30 minutes on a side is enough.
Plus, I look better with a tan, methinks.

Today it was hot.
Like 97 degrees hot.
And, even though it was humid, there was a nice breeze.
Rare for summer days in these parts.
It reminded me of the western lands of the USA.
It was so hot, I cut the session short by about four minutes.(I still got just a tad of a burn)

But when it gets hot like it was today, I cannot comfortably lay my arms on my patio for a minute or two until the shadow of my arms causes the concrete to cool a bit. (the rest of me is laying on two big towels, in case you were wondering.)
I was wondering just how hot the concrete was today so, after my baking session, I enlisted my trusty thermometer and laid the remote sensor ON the cement.
It stopped counting at 129.
I think that may have been the limit of the instrument.
That is toasty, folks.
No wonder my arms did not like to lay on it.
It read the humidity as 74%.
That seemed a bit high for the "feel" of the air, but, hey, who am I to argue with my electronical instrument?

IN OTHER NEWS

This week I start a four-day-per-week workout plan.
Today was "Leg Day" in the new workout system.
Since I am still building myself up to an as yet to be determined maximum level of stress/workload, I did just two exercises - Squats and Standing Heel Raises.
These two puppies are supposed to simulate SOME of the stress/work of running.

I was pleased with how deep I was able to go down in my Squats with 165 pounds on my shoulders.
Ideally, I would like to go all the way down to the point where my thighs are parallel to the ground/floor.
I ended up doing three sets of twenty reps - except on the last set I was feeling frisky enough to add two more reps.
Woo Hoo!
17,050 pounds.
Not bad for an old geezer.
My knees were okay, my lower back, though touchy, was okay.
I know working with this weight will help my lower back get better again.

The Heel Raises were not as positive in result.
Part of the reason is because I added more weight to reduce the reps.
And it worked.
I calculated how much weight to add to reduce my reps from 24 to 20 for each leg and it came out to 45 pounds, for a total of 85 pounds.
Whatever.
You just do it.
And I did.

But I could only do about 15 reps with this new weight, instead of 24, like last week.
But this was not the 20 I had calculated would be the result.
So instead of lifting about 15,000 pounds with each leg (like last week), I only lifted about 11,300.
But I fried the little puppies in the process.
Between the strong internal burning sensation (from Lactic Acid buildup) and the positive failure, they knew they had been pushed to their limit.

Sooo, I get to build up some strength in my calves (Lord knows they need it.)
We shall see how that goes.....
The total for todays session (including my ab work) 42,299 pounds.
Tomorrow is arms.

Enjoy your property, freedoms and income.
You will not have them much longer.
In God we trust.
.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another Saturday Walk

I miss running.
But I am feeling better doing the weights more often.
Running seems to be/have been an emotional thing as much as a physical activity.
My body, as I have said before, likes the weight lifting.

For the last two weeks I have increased my weight lifting sessions to three per week (did I already tell you this?).
Next week - like, starting tomorrow, we go to four sessions per week.
Woo hoo!
My back is still sore from Friday's hoedown.
This is good.

The walk Saturday morning still feels a bit strange.
My body still craves the thrashing that 6-mile session on the Cotton Row course provided.
I loved that course (for some reason).
And this morning, another walk, feels so wimpy.
But we will learn to adjust. (won't we, body?)

Four sessions per week with the pig iron should make everybody happy, once they get used to it
again.
I am building up gradually.
When I was running, my weekly totals of weight lifted was between 50,000 and 65,000 pounds.
For the last two weeks I have lifted a total of about 75,000 pounds.
This week my total should be about 81,000 pounds.
I will keep adding weight/exercises until I find the level that my body will not recover from in a day or two.
Then back off a tad.
Methinks that will not be the level it was five years ago before I started running.
It will be less. (duh)
But I will rotate workout plans more often this time around.
Like doing four weeks of four-per-week sessions then dropping back to three-per-week for a week or two.
Then back to four-per-week for another month.
The strategy is to keep my parts guessing about what will happen next (since they cannot read my plans...).
This will force them to respond with growth.
And cause them to be ready to respond to any kind of stress (this is one definition of exercise) quickly.
Stay tuned.

Enjoy your freedoms and property while you can; you will not have them much longer.
In God we trust.
.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Have You Ever ....

... seen the bumper sticker that says something like -

THE LAST TIME THEY TRIED TO MIX

RELIGION AND POLITICS

THEY BURNED PEOPLE AT THE STAKE.

?

I have been thinking about that for many months since I first saw/read it.
First of all, it is usually worn by some liberal psudo-intellectual moralist.
Second of all, the statement is not exactly true.

The last time "they" tried to mix Christianity and politics, "they" produced the United States of America.
It think the product turned out pretty good.

There have been some less successful combinations of politics and Christianity - specifically the Roman Catholic variety.
Think of the Middle/Dark Ages and numerous trials/tortures of "heretics".
Then there was the crusades.
Treatment of native people by the conquistadors in the 1600 - 1700's.
History is full of wars fought over religion, both Christian and others.

The key element in the equation is which religion is in the soup.
If you mix the Muslim religion with politics you get Afghanistan under the Taliban.
Or Saudi Arabia.
Or Iran
Or Syria
Or Iraq under Saddam (though he was not a strictly religious man as much as he was a power monger - not unlike the current American dictator.)

If you mix atheism with politics you get the Soviet Union under Stalin.
Or Cuba under the Castros.
Or Cambodia under Pol Pot.
Or Sudan.
Or China.

We could do much worse than to mix Christianity with politics.
We are about to learn just how precious that experiment is/was as we enter an era of state-enforced atheism.
Enjoy your freedoms and property and income while you can.
You will not have them long.

In God we trust.
.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Strange Saturday

It felt strange this past Saturday morning, going out to walk the quiet streets of my neighborhood rather than drive to the VBC and run along the empty streets of downtown huntsville.

But there I was.... walking.
The New Plan.
I had to ignore my feelings.
My suffering whatever it is that loves the running-induced endorphins begged for a run.
I did my best to ignore it.

Logically, I feel better about this new system.
Weight lifting is better for me, and after one week on the New Plan, I can feel the difference and see subtle differences in different parts of my body.
We will see just how different I look/feel in a few months as my system adapts to the new regime.
I can already tell that my system is shocked by the increased weight lifting.
It tells me that it is tired and it loves it - all at the same time.

It does not help my feelings that I must watch the Chaldean invaders dismantle the basic structures and institutions of our nation/economy one piece at a time.
Supreme Imperial Exalted Leader Comrade Obama is making his pitch for socialist healthcare taxes to the doctors today.
Since I believe that it is the will of God that this nation be destroyed by this man and his blind followers, I feel that it is pointless to worry about it.
I will notify my representatives about my views, and they will do their legislative stuff to oppose the legislation.
But in the end, just like an avalanche it will happen, and the nation will fall further into economic collapse.

I want to put a sign in my front yard which would read: ENJOY YOUR NEW TAXES, SUCKERS.
But ultimately, it is pointless.
God is working his judgment on this nation.
It is time to read Ecclesiastes again.
All in this world is vanity, pointless, emptiness and grasping after the wind.

In God we trust...
.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I Forgot...

I forgot to post my race time from The Big Race.
You can verify these stats by going to the Huntsville Track Club website.

Time: 57:07.
Amazing for me at my age (though there are many my age - and older - who are faster).
883nd out of 1,846 .
Not bad.
This is a full six minutes slower than my best time on this course, about five years ago. (forget exactly when)
But like I have stated before, racing is not why I like to run.
Racing is fun, but just running is funner.
I LOVE TO RUN.
I do not love racing.

It is ironic that on the first week of my *new* weight lifting - non-running program, my lower back decided to act up, limiting some of the exercises that I can do.
That is the bad news.

The good news is that I have alternate exercises that I can do to accommodate my ouchy back.
And exercise is one way to get my whiny back to behave more quickly.
My bad back notwithstanding, I lifted a total of 74,689 pounds this week in three workouts.
I know that sounds ridiculous on first read, but I can explain.

If you lift 10 pounds 10 times, you have lifted 100 pounds.
When you figure total load that way (there are some other methods), it can amount to some impressive numbers.

Tomorrow is Saturday.
I will be walking in the morning instead of retracing of the Cotton Row course as I have done since last October 11, when I started running it again.
I feel sad just writing this.
But it is for the best.
The sadness comes from my endorphin withdrawals that I am still feeling.
I will recover.
It has been about nine months since I started running the CR course again.
My, how time zips past.
I will miss it.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Big Announcement

I have decided to stop running.
Again.

This time it is not the sad, weepy, forlorn type of situation that caused me to stop in March of 2006. (If you like, you can read the pitiful details in my October 2006 blogs.)
I was exhausted then.
This is a more logical, reasoned decision.
Let me explain.

First, let me be clear - I LOVE RUNNING.
A part of me wants to keep running until I die.
And I will miss it (and the endorphin highs it produces)
But my logical side ("Trainer") has forced me to face some facts.

I am 64 years old.
I have managed to stay injury-free my entire running career - almost ten years. (9 years 10 months, actually)
But I have less-than-ideal genetics for running/exercise.
My limited muscle mass is all I have to burn calories, and running burns a lot of energy and calories.
Too much for me to maintain what little muscle mass I have, it seems.
I have noticed that since I started running again last year, I have lost muscle in my legs.
This is not good.

So I am going to stop running and increase my weight lifting activity.
I had been lifting weights for five years before I started running.
I can go back to that pattern.
I have been doing it, on a reduced schedule (two days a week) all the while I have been running.
I plan to increase my weight workouts to three-per-week, and ultimately to four-per-week.
I will still walk three miles on the days that I do not lift weights.

The advantage of weight lifting is that it is very easy to control, both in areas of the body and amount of effort per body area and total body.
It is hard to reduce/adjust your running effort in mile four of a six-mile run.
You either stop (with wounded ego) or keep going and suck up whatever your issues are.
I enjoy the effort and challenge of running, but weight lifting has its own challenges.
Every rep is a challenge.
And if you are having a bad day, you can stop a couple of reps short of your goal/plan for that exercise (in fact, that is usually how I find out I am having a "bad" day - I can't lift as much.)
And I can do it in my house, any time of day, no matter what the weather is.
No traffic to worry about.
No concern about what to wear to accommodate the weather.

The contrast between running and weight lifting is interesting (and amazing)
If you assume that I take a 30-inch step when I am running, I take about 2,112 steps each mile I run.
About 1,056 steps for each foot/leg each mile.
That calculates out to about 13,096 steps for a six-mile run.
And if you assume that my bodyweight is about 165 pounds, my legs lift about 2,160,840 pounds during a six-mile run.
Amazing.
A weight workout for just my legs is nothing like that.

My total leg workout lasts a little over an hour (including rest periods between sets) - a little longer than it takes me to run six miles.
The total poundage that I will lift in such a session will be about 71,000 pounds. (weight times reps)
Nowhere near the 2 million pounds I "lift" in a run.

The difference is in duration and range of motion.
The duration of a "rep" during a run is about 250 milliseconds.
The duration of a rep in a weight workout is from one to four seconds.
Up to sixteen times as long.
The range of motion of the thigh relative to the hip is about 45 degrees in a run.
The range of motion of the thigh to the hip in a squat or lunge is about 90 degrees.
About double this range.

The net result of a weight workout is that I gain muscle (assuming I eat enough protein).
The net result of a run is that I burn a little muscle because I do not have the genetics (strength) to sustain such effort.
Genetically, I am better suited to running (medium frame/light muscle mass) than lifting.
But my body thrives on weight lifting.
But lifting does not produce the rush of endorphins that running does, so I subconsciously prefer running.

I have found that my body (this is true for anyone) will adjust metabolism, muscle mass, strength, appetite and cardio-vascular capacity to match the tasks/stress/challenges it faces on a regular basis.
I found that challenging weight lifting sessions will build cardio capacity.
Not as well as running, but well above just walking.
(when I first started running, I ran a three-mile course the second time I went out. I was amazed.)

So.....
I will miss running.
But this new plan will be easier on my aging body and easier to regulate.
Today was my first workout in my new plan.
I lifted 46,200 pounds.
Not bad for an old geezer.

In God We Trust.
.

Friday, June 05, 2009

I Be Back

I have returned from Oklahoma.
The trip was uneventful going out and back - except the Curse of Memphis is still trying to get me.
On the return trip, there was a monumental traffic jam on the I-55 bridge going over the Mississippi river.
Road/bridge repair or somesuch.
That cost me about 30 minutes or so.

THEN I got "lost" in the transition from highway 385 to 72 and spent about 30 minutes tooling through the lovely Tennessee countryside on highway 57.
How I got confused, I know not.
That little side trip prolly took another 15 minutes.
But after a brief map consultation, I made a mid-course trajectory adjustment and got on the right path.

I had a great visit with brother Doug and sister Laura Bayless.
We are long-time friends from the 60's.
I met Doug in the Army in 1967.

I am contemplating a Major Announcement soon.
Stay tooned.

In God we trust...
.