“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
– Jesus Christ, Matthew 6:33
You ever hear the old adage “The man that dies with the most toys is still dead?” As I was thinking of something to write to encourage each of you, God put in my heart to touch this topic. As fathers, we are often driven towards success so that we can provide for our families and make our wives happy. I was at a bible study recently where the teacher made a statement that has been embedded in my memory, “you are not called to toil. You are called to trust Him.” Of course, this is all in balance. Paul stated that “a man don’t work, a man don’t eat.” You have to be gainfully employed. However, you can’t just work, work, work, and expect your kids to drop everything that they are doing when you get home. I am finding this as I am transitioning.
I miss my wife. I miss my kids. There are days that I hate going to work because I am there behind that desk so often that I miss out on so much. Often we find our fulfillment in such temporary things. So much so, God has challenged me on it. “Seek first the kingdom.” If my heart and my mind are in the Word of God and I am seeking Him, then all these things are added. When we put work above all things, even God, we find ourselves miserable.
Now you and I have to have a heart check. As fathers, what is our goal for our children and our wives? As you and I look at our hearts, let us see what the motive behind it all is. Why are you working so much and spending more time at the office? Jobs and employers come and go, but your family is there through thick and thin. When you seek the face of God, His hand will follow.
I know…you thought it would be a profound message. I believe it is. I also know that it is time for me to check out…and love on my family.
A few years ago, I went camping in Missouri with my family and we just enjoyed the beautiful nature that was created around us. On the first night, the sky was so clear you could see all of the stars in the sky as far as the eye could see. I was reminded of Psalms 8:3-4, which says “When I view and consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained and established, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of [earthborn] man that You care for him? “ Could you imagine all those stars in heaven being numbered and known by their name by their Creator? In Psalms 147, the psalmist wrote “He determines and counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names.” After reading this, it puts in prospective of how awesome God really is.
I used to find myself saying “awesome” so much that I could hear God saying “is it really awesome?” When God spoke that into my heart, I looked up the word awe and awesome. The meaning was this “have an overwhelming feeling of reverence.” I just couldn’t imagine saying that ice cream made me have an overwhelming feeling of reverence. I mean, I love it and it makes me feel good but does it make me have an overwhelming reverence for it? I don’t think so. I had to then ask myself, am I in Awe of God? Whenever we talk about God, do we talk about Him as “the big man upstairs?” Or do we talk about Him as the Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning, and the End?
We serve a God who cannot be destroyed and cannot be outdone. We serve a God that presented Himself in the form of a babe that grew to be a man who died on the cross so that you and I can have a relationship with Him. No longer is there a barrier between him and me. No longer is there an awkward silence or delayed response. Now, it is you and God. There is no one to cut in the line in front of you. There isn’t any dial tone. There is no busy signal. There is no rejection. You and God are One on one. How incredible is that? It’s not a deep message; it’s not anything that you have to fast and pray on to figure out. It’s pretty simple, our God is an awesome God!
I know you’ve heard of this saying before. “He is a Man’s Man”, generally referring to a more than macho version of any of us. But what really makes up a “Man’s Man”? Do they have to be as tough as the Brawny Man? His main task in life is geared around housework, so he’s out. What about these WWF wrestlers? They’re full of testosterone and steroids, but they also wear tights and shiny red boots, so they’re out. Oh I know, bikers. Harley riding, leather wearing, hardcore bikers. But even as tough as they are is this what a Man’s man is measured by?
I bring this up because these days there are all sorts of men out there. I can just look within my own circle of friends and find vast differences in each individual person. For instance, I have friends that are as strong as an ox, and then there’s me. I have friends who are daredevil firefighters, and then I have some who analyze reports all day. I have friends who work on massive electric generators that can power a small city, and then I have friends who can move millions of dollars with the stroke of their pen. We are all different but at the end of the day we are all still men. So this begs to ask the question, is there a Man’s man in existence today?
One of my friends owns a successful landscape company. He works all hours of the day in the Memphis 100 degree heat. He is toiling the ground, uprooting trees, and doing everything by the sweat of his brow. Look at me. I am in an air conditioned office surrounded by bottled water, an LED TV, and am wearing a suit and tie. Am I less of a man than my friend because my line of work is not as rugged as his, or his line of work is not as comfortable as mine? Absolutely not!
According to the Childress Dictionary a “Man” is defined as one who lives to serve God, accepts his responsibilities, takes care of his family even if it means sacrificing his own needs before theirs, being a spiritual leader for their family, loving their wives unconditionally, setting an example to his children on how a husband and wife should treat each other, never giving up, and probably the most important next to being a spiritual leader, spending quality time with your children and spouse. These are essential qualifications for being a man and it has nothing to do with your job or whether if your hands have calluses or paper cuts, it’s how you live your life that defines you.
So I ask the question again, What makes up a Man’s Man? You do.
Okay, so if you read my first entry, you know that we undertook Martial Arts as a Family group and it helped us collectively as a family unit. In addition to the TKD, I began meeting some fella’s at the gym at 4:30am. Yep, you read that right. We met 3-4 days a week at a gym and worked out. We even did P90X not once, not twice, but three times. Not because we were that great of shape, but because it took us three full attempts to kind of be able to do all the things it called for. Additionally my oldest Son (Dalton) decided that he wanted to start working out with me. Hold on to your hats folks, this meant that I would now be going to the gym twice on some days.
Here is an example of what a regular workout & TKD week looked like:
Monday – Wednesday – Friday:
04:30-05:30 1hr of routine weight training (mostly standard routines or have been shown by others )
05:30-05:50 Drive home to wake up and pick up Dalton
06:00-06:45 45 minutes of routine weight training (standard lifting such as bench, squat, curls, etc.)
17:00-1800 (5-6pm) Tae Kwon Do session
Tuesday – Thursday:
Evenings 1-2 hrs. of TKD
Whew, I am just tired looking back on that schedule…….
The answer to the next question that may come to mind may surprise you. Here’s the question: “I bet all this exercise and movement got you guys get into great shape?” The answer is a bit painful……it did help a little; however, all of this really did not help my overall fitness and personal weight. It seems unreal that all the early morning exercising, practicing, sparring and evening sessions would not influence major weight changes and cause major overall improvement of my fitness. The cold hard fact is “I simply COULD NOT out exercise my own BAD DIET“.
After some serious personal soul searching, I realized the need for me to make real changes in order to reap healthy benefits. I began a quest to seek out how other people with my similar weight issues were able to make successful long term changes. Sure, we’ve all seen the infomercials for the latest Magic Diet or 20 Minutes Exercise program that will change us into chiseled granite. Just 19.99 or 99.99, and you too can look like the TV models. At first, it felt like a never ending process of reading about things I had to buy or try. Don’t worry though; I am not going to point you to the magic solution or even a program that I would most recommend you buy. Instead, I plan on using this forum to share some principles of change that have been followed successfully for years by physically fit and overall healthy people. Nothing I post or state will be earth shaking new or something that has not been known by many folks for years. However, I am living proof that implementing these principles do work and they helped me (and my family) to improve health & overall fitness.
One of the hardest things that I ever did was have my oldest son take a photo of me without a shirt on. Why did I do this? Well I needed to actually “see myself” in an unaltered painfully truthful way. Oh man, this was painful! There before my own eyes was the brutal reality of years of poor choices. Could that big bellied rascal ever really look different? Was I destined to always look this way due to my genetics? After all, I couldn’t possibly workout more…………..then the words from years past, spoken to me by a Friend (who was a Natural Body Builder), echoed in the deep closets of my mind. “Chris, in order to achieve lasting changes to your body, you have to first change the junk that you’re eating”. Of course, I just shrugged at the time while mumbling “Yea, whatever”.
As many of us men can be, I was too stubborn to reach out to him or maybe just too embarrassed to face him. Whatever the case, I knew that my eating had to change in order to see a physical change. Furthermore, I needed to be the example for my kids of how to eat healthy and how doing so will reap benefits. You know it always seems to come back to living by example and not talking about it. This holds true for our outward living for Christ as an example for our kids and all other aspects of Fatherly areas of guidance that should be led by our example.
After some thoughtful consideration, I decided to share a visual of where I physically started from and what today looks like. Before looking at the pic, please understand that this is in no way intended to be a fishing expedition for comments. I just want you to know if this fat rascal can change, then so can you!
Before starting to make changes, my daily regiment including taking High Blood Pressure medicine (12+yrs), Re-flux Meds (10+yrs), and other Heart related meds (10+yrs). After the first 30 days of change, God blessed the efforts by allowing me to get off all of the medicines. Additionally, I still have not had to take any of these medicines for the last 9 months. It still amazes me when I take my blood pressure how it has dropped and maintained near perfect readings.
Hmm, does that mean that the key to the health mobile is not found in exercising and the latest program fad? All those long slow cardio sessions and long workouts following the latest Exercise Guru in futile attempts to lose weight and get my blood pressure down, didn’t really help a thing. Are you kidding me…….Ah, but that’s a story to be shared another time. My belief is that the actual KEY to Fitness and Health can be found in what we eat! Of course, many also subscribe to the belief that it’s more about quantity of food and not so much quality. We’ll start slowly to peel back the layers of this complex onion.
“Where do I start”, is often the question that I have been asked. I would say start with the elbow before any other body part. Get that thing slowed down and pointed in the right eating direction. One of the fella’s that I interacted with during the early stages of change is a Pastor named Mark who lost over 100lbs. Now 100lbs of fat loss is pretty incredible, but that’s not what stuck with me. It was a statement he made that has stuck like glue. When Mark is asked what does he eat? He responds, “If God created it then I eat it”. Seems simple huh?! I add a bit to that simple statement when asked what I eat. I usually respond with, “If God created it, then I’ll eat it. But if man added to it or messed with it, then I leave it”. That statement sums up the basis for my posts on eating & diet moving forward.
Now Step One, get a pencil and a paper and write down every single thing you eat or drink and what time you consumed it. Do this every day for a week (or two). You’re probably asking yourself about now, “Is this really necessary?” My response is “Yes”. If you do this first, you’ll see some trouble areas right away. In fact, this same process is the one that I still use today. Now, I am not suggesting writing the complete details for every product like the carbs, protein, calories, sugars, etc. Just document the name and portion size if possible. Keeping a simple food journal allows you to identify not only the bad, but as you lose weight, you will identify what works for you (or does not work).
So, that is your virtual homework until the next time. Remember that our body is God’s Temple, so we will explore some ideas on doing our part to take care of it!
Until the next time…….
BTW: I plan on alternating these posts between exercise activities and diet related topics. Please feel free to leave me comments on the topics that you want to see for fitness or eating and I’ll try to address them in the future.