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Mr.Tuffbody
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197 Lbs.
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5'10"
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Mr.Tuffbody

My First Bulking Experience for Increase Muscle Mass

Eureka! a perfect storm for muscle building. If someone had told me I could gain 35 pounds in 2 & half months without drugs, I would have thought they were crazy. Granted it isn't all muscle, but I'm pretty pleased with the results. I hesitate to call it a dirty bulk though. Sure I had cake, ice cream, and a lot of other stuff I wouldn't normally eat, but I didn't go crazy stuffing myself with junk. Even though I wasn't trying to stay lean, I still didn't drink any non-diet soda or eat any carb without also eating some protein. Other than that my only dietary guidline was to eat as much as I could. I don't really count calories, but I was eating 4 to 5 meals a day. That's about 3 to 4 times more food than I've gotten use to eating.


I would do about 25 grams of whey protein as soon as I woke up. Breakfast was my post workout meal. For most of my bulk I used ON Serious Mass weight gainer. I dropped this toward the end of my bulk though, in favor of making my own weight gainer shake. I used about 50 grams of whey protein, a couple of big scoops of peanut butter, and a couple of bananas. I've been taking 5 grams of creatine for about a year now. No need to cycle off creatine. It's great stuff, a proven muscle builder, and really inexpensive. I'm talking about pure creatine monohydrate, not any of those fancy pants designer creatines. I also rotate test boosters supplements every couple of months. Nothing special. Pretty standard stuff.


Check the video for the workout routine, the end results, and why I thought this bulking program was so successful. Now I'm going to spend the next 56 days getting ripped for the Bodyspace Military Challenge, and after that I'm going to do another bulk.


Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

A 40 year old is the result of the habits they have been practicing since their youth. Do they have bad teeth? They will have poor oral hygiene habits. Are they overweight? This is the natural consequence of the accumulated years of their dietary habits. Do they lack the vitality of youth? The result of years of spending their strength without the habit of routining building it with exercise. Lines in the face, and posture of the body both take on the reflection of habitual patterns of thought. I firmly believe that life really begins at 40. It takes at least this long to be done with the foolishness of youth. Some may do it earlier, for some like myself it may take a little longer. For others it takes much longer if it happens at all.


There is an understanding though, that will ensure a better quality of life for you than what you have right now. Regardless of whether you are young or old. It is this: In the beginning we make our habits, in the end our habits make us. A better quality of life requires better habits. Start today, practice tomorrow, and continue the days thereafter. It may not be quick, but it is sure. It is never too early or too late to begin. Wherever you are today, this is how you can transform your tomorrow.


The biggest mistake to avoid is changing too much at one time. Going from 0 to 60 in less than 3.7 seconds is great when you are only going a quarter of a mile, but it doesn't do much good over the long haul of many years. Start with your one worst habit first. Work to replace it with something better. Replace, not just eliminate. Getting rid of a bad habit will create a vacuum. Better to fill it with something good on purpose, rather than something by chance or worst, going back to the original bad habit itself.


To break my habit of Friday night binge drinking and club hopping, I started going to the gym at 9:30 and 10:00 p.m. on Friday nights. It broke the cycle. Instead of sitting around thinking about drinking and partying I was in the nearly deserted gym getting busy. Eventually I no longer needed the late night workouts, and my desire to go back to my old Friday night debauchery was gone.


Change just one thing for the better. Give it a few months to make it stick, then change one more thing. Make this your habit and you will be better tomorrow, than you are today. Of this sweet dreams are made. It may not be quick, but it is sure. 

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Operation Increase DaBeef Week 7

The below progress picture this morning was a direct hit to my confidence. It was one of those accidental shots that just happen when you do self-photography. I was not flexed, not posed, and it was a terrible angle. I cannot deny the raw reality that I am getting bigger all over. Even the places that I would rather not. It's a hard thing to deal with for a person who used to be fat and not know what to do about it. Even though I do know what to do about it now, I would rather not be reminded of that time in the past. Really had me questioning whether or not I want to continue with bulking. 




It's not an easy thing to say full speed ahead when torpedos are staring you right in the face. I've set my course on bulking up to 220 pounds. I'm going to adjust my "not so good" carb intake, but I will not stop. There are no guarantees. This may or it may not work. I'm willing to accept that.

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All I Need

If only I had game like LeBron, an eye brawl like the Rock, and a medicine cabinet full of designer pharmaceuticals like a highly paid pro, then I could be a baller, a shot caller, and a world champion. Or maybe you think you need a fat farm with big brother and the whole world watching you 24 hours a day. Or maybe you just need the high profile celebrity trainer to finally get it done. I used to think stuff like this. Most of my life I've always felt like I've been missing something that I needed. Well, not any more. This was a part of my daily Bible reading this morning:


May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:14


As soon as I read this I knew that I have the grace of Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The one who has this has it all. God alone is more than enough. If you are reading this and understand it, that understanding is from God. Do not hardened your heart. How long will you return God's call with a busy signal?

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Good, Not So Good, and Ugly Carbs

About 15 to 20 years ago dietary fat was believed to be responsible for making people fat. Low fat diets became the norm and what happened? People got fatter than ever. Why? Because a low fat diet means a high carb diet. The easiest way to cut the fat is to reduce animal products. Get rid of the animal products and you also eliminate a lot of protein. So to fill the calorie gap the only thing left is more carbohydrates. It's not the fat that's causing the obesity epidemic, it's the carbs. Specifically sugar and refined grains.


Sucrose, aka table sugar, is composed of one glucose and one fructose. Glucose is a ready energy source used by every cell of the body. Muscles store glucose in the form of glycogen to provide the instant energy you need to run from that wild beast that is about to eat you. Now glucose has a double edge sword effect. Blood glucose levels control fat storage and fat metabolism. Let's say you decide to have a couple of doughnuts and a glass of orange juice for breakfast. It is not the amount of calories that you just ate that will cause fat storage, so much as it is the type of calories. The doughnuts are made with refined (white) flour. Basically they strip all the fiber, protein, and vitamins from the grain leaving only the starch which is just a lot of glucose.  What about the juice though? Lot's of vitamins in fruit juice. Well you get some oxygen with every inhale of a cigarette, but I still wouldn't recommend it. Fruit juice is the same. The fiberless sugar is much worst for you than the benefit you get from the vitamins it contains. Half of the sugar in the fruit juice is also fructose. I will get to that just in a minute.


You take this meal void of protein, fat, and fiber, and your blood sugar level will rapidly increase above the normal range. To compensate your body will release a hormone called insulin to bring the blood sugar back down to normal. Insulin is the body's storage hormone. It causes nutrients to be taken out of the blood stream and put into the cells. In the case of glucose the muscles take it in until glycogen storage is filled up, and then any left over is stored in the fat cells. The muscles can only hold so much glycogen. Fat cells don't seem to have the same limitation though. They just keep growing and growing. When glucose levels are constantly being spiked from these types of carbs, insulin starts to lose its effect. This is somewhat oversimplified, but the lost of insulin sensitivity brings on the metabolic syndrome (obesity, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease). 


I said it was a double edged sword. Here's the good news. Insulin is a natural anabolic hormone. To take advantage of the storage mode it creates, take some simple sugar with a whey protein shake post workout. Pure 100% honey is my post workout sugar of choice. Post workout your muscles are hungry to repair themselves. Whey protein requires practically no digestion and the sugar causes an insulin spike that helps to transport nutrients into the cells. The effectiveness of this is increased by keeping your insulin levels low at all other times. 


The other half of sucrose is fructose. Fructose has been called a poison. Just like alcohol only without the buzz. This is because just like alcohol fructose can only be metabolized by the liver. Fructose is stored as liver glycogen after being metabolized. Once liver glycogen stores are filled though, it is converted into body fat. This is important to understand if you are trying to get ripped. Even if your overall calorie intake is low, a high level of fructose in your diet will make it very hard to eliminate body fat. So what about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)? Metabolically it is nearly the same as sucrose. That's not the problem. The problem is that HFCS is ridiculously inexpensive. It's basically cheap sugar. As such it is now in just about every thing. That's the real reason HFCS is considered a worst threat than regular sugar.


Don't let any of this scare you. I would never suggest you go "no carb" or try to live on "zero sugar."  I've done that, been there, and returned that t-shirt for many reasons. People who suggest such extremes are sugar terrorists to me. And when you are too afraid to have a piece of your own birthday cake, they win and you lose. What I am saying is that you do need to restrict your carb consumption and keep sugar intake to a minimum. Not just for those who want to get ripped, but for everyone who wants to be healthy and avoid being a victim of the obesity epidemic that is sweeping our country as well.


1. Good Carbs. The best carb source I've found is the sweet potato. To be sure there are other good sources like brown rice, quinoa, and oats. For ease of preparation and taste, the sweet potato wins with me hands down. Vegetables would also be in this category. I'm not sure if it is even possible to eat too many vegetables. So have at them, as long as you don't cover them with sugar and salt.


2. Not So Good Carbs. This category includes all those things that taste really good, but have relatively high sugar content and/or limited nutritional value. This would include most bread products, cakes, cookies, and pizza. I'm sure you can think of many more that fit into this category. If you are trying to get into single digit body fat levels or just have a lot of extra body fat to lose, you may want to eliminate any of the carbs in this category for a while. For everyone else moderation is the key. Go ahead and have a slice or two of pizza at a party, or a piece of cake on that special occasion, but don't eat these types of carbs everyday.


3. Ugly Carbs. This is the way too much sugar category. These things aren't fit for human consumption. Avoid them like you would a little guy with a white coat trying to reverse liposuction five pounds of blubber on your belly. Soft drinks and fruit juices are the ugliest carbs in the world. Sodas are liquid sugar and have to be the fastest way to sky rocket blood sugar levels. Fruit juices are made by separating all the sugar from the fiber in fruit. The result is a non-fizzing soda with vitamins. I stopped drinking both soda and juices a few years ago. I will have a diet soda with a meal every once in a while. This is only when I really feel like having one. Never because I'm thirsty or just want to drink something though. I do not consider artificial sweeteners as harmless like vegetables just because they are calorie free. Most artificial sweeteners were made in a lab, and are a lot like those electric cigarettes they make these days. You may not be on fire, but you are still smoking. Better to just break the sugar addiction. 


What about raw fruit? I would place natural fruit in between categories 1 and 2 above. Not all fruit is created equal, but as a whole they are full of vitamins and antioxidants. Good stuff to be sure. You still need to treat the fructose in fruit with the same caution as any other sugar though. Moderation is the key.


Wow! I had no idea this post would be so long. I was just trying to answer a question from one of my bodyspace friends. I hope this covers it. 

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Consistency

A few years ago when I was a fat, pack-a-day smoking, rum guzzling alcoholic, I often suffered from cluster headaches for months at a time. The headaches would come and go a couple of times a day. They would be so severe that I couldn't see straight or sleep. Since my total life transformation though, I don't remember the last time I've had any cluster headaches. That is until recently. This morning I woke up with a headache that reminded me of the ones I used to have years ago. I just laid there in bed for about 5 minutes thinking about how I should just try to sleep and forget about working out this morning.


I know some of you will find this hard to believe, but I don't always feel like getting up at 3 a. m. when the alarms goes off every morning. This morning was definitely one of those morning when I just wasn't feeling like getting it going so early. Let me tell you something you already know though, nothing is accomplished without consistency. It was consistency that got me out of bed this morning, not my feelings. Feelings are like the wind. Don't anchor consistency to feelings which change like the wind. Time will come when the wind is contray. Put out the oars and go to work. So glad I did this morning. Once I got moving my head cleared and I had an outstanding workout.

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Reality Check

You will never win a lottery you didn't enter. Your chances of getting struck by lightening are better than winning the lottery you do enter. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Just because something is free doesn't mean there is no cost. You don't have a long lost relative in Europe who just died and left you millions. There is no foreign government waiting to send you a couple hundred grand as soon you wire them $2000 dollars for processing fees. No amount of drugs and hard work will turn you into Mr. Olympia if you don't have the genetics. Not many of us will ever be a NBA superstar with our very own line of over-priced basketball shoes. Few of us will ever even attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida. And only a very small percentage of us will get close to being a king of pop or a rapper delight. So what does all this mean?


 


I am so done with looking for short cuts, easy, and instant. I will waste no more time crying about what I don't have and what I can't do. I will do what I can, with what I have right now. In the end, it's not how high you've reached. It's the distance travelled from where you started to where you finished that matters. 

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Back On It!

How did I get back to lifting so soon after injury? Do I have some sort of mutant ninja healing powers? Not exactly. I've been given a mustard seed of faith, and by the grace of God I'm learning to fan it into flame. I'm I pain free? Nope, but what does that have to do with the fact that I'm totally healed? You've got to believe it before you see it or feel it. Otherwise it's not faith.


I'm making some changes to my training though. Getting me to change my "always go hard" personality has been a long process. I was going into my forth week of hitting it hard six days a week when pain forced me to back off. I picked up on Labor Day where I left off a week ago with no problem. Yesterday I had an early appointment at work so I didn't get my complete workout done. Today I was back on the full daily grind and bam....I was struck with an epiphany for altering my current training plan. Here it is:


There are only two types of exercise. Those which are capacity building and those which are energy enhancing. Examples of capacity building would be weight training, sprinting, long distance running. These increase the body's ability to lift more, run faster or longer by overloading the body's current ability level. These activities are metabolically expensive requiring the tearing down of tissue so it can be rebuilt bigger, faster, and stronger. Any activity that temporarily depletes energy levels and requires rest/recovery would be classified as capacity building. Energy enhancing exercise is just the opposite.


Examples of energy enhancing exercise would be tai chi, yoga, dynamic mobility, stretching, foam roller, walking and other forms of light cardio. These types of exercise are low intensity and approach no where near failure. Basically, if it is easy and gets the blood and breath moving, it will probably be energy enhancing. These activities are done well within the body's current level of fitness. So why do them?


I discovered the beneficial effects of easy exercise quite by accident. Energy is in the blood and breath. Like a river they are designed to flow. The circulation of the blood, and the in and out of the breath, are both enhanced by movement. Movement is necessary to keep things flowing, and a body that doesn't flow is a dead sea. This is why the typical sugar filled diet coupled with sitting all day at work, and sitting all evening watching TV, is the 21st century double barreled kiss of death.


The easiest energy enhancements are to just stand and walk more. Our whole modern society will not make this easy for you though. There are chairs in every room. Every where we go requires a car. Every Walmart has little electric cars you can drive around those superstores 24 hours a day. Every building has elevators and escalators. 



This photo is funny, but it is the same flawed mindset of those who drive around the gym parking lot looking for the closest spot to the door so they can go inside and get on the treadmill. 


Okay, I'll get off this soapbox now. My epiphany today was for perfecting the mix between energy enhancing exercise and capacity building exercises. I believe the perfect ratio is 2 to 1. That is twice as many that are energy enhancing as those that are capacity building. I am still going to continue with my energy enhancing work six days a week, but I'm going to limit the capacity building to only three days a week. I'm going to run with this for the next four weeks. That takes care of the training piece.


The diet is a little harder than I expected. It is hard to eat as much as I would like too. Maybe it's because I was doing intermittent fasting for so long. Doesn't matter. I'm looking to gain another 10 to 20 pounds, so I'm going to end this blog and go eat. I wish you peace, and some hard movement with twice as much easy. 


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Keys to Patience

Your gratitude and attitude locates you mentally, just like longitude and latitude pin points your location physically. Those who find no gratitude in the past, and have no hope for the future, will find themselves stuck in the mud and mire of the valley of despair. Those who are full of gratitude and hopeful for something better, even though they may sometimes slip and stumble, will always be found climbing the mountain of achievement.


In a couple of years' worth of daily checking my weight, I've learned that it doesn't matter which way you want the scale to move, it will almost never move in a straight line for more than a few weeks. It will go up and it will go down from day to day and even from one hour to the next hour. Realize that weighing yourself is like taking a picture. It is just one particular moment frozen in time. For this reason it is wise to detach your gratitude and attitude from the constant swinging motion. Instead be thankful always (see Thessalonians 5:16-18), and live by faith (see Jeremiah 29:11-13). These are the keys to patience.


This is week number 5 of my Operation Increase Da Beef. After last Saturday's workout however, the focus of this week shifted to recovering from a back pain so severe that it left me in bed for nearly two days. Physically I wasn't able to lift anything, and mentally I wasn't able to force myself to eat as many calories as I did last week. So where am I? Gratitude check: I am thankful for the rest. It is way too easy for me to push myself until I break. You can take the Ranger out of the woods, but you can't take the Ranger out of the man. I'm working on getting better at this. I would prefer to willingly lie down in green pastures when it is time, rather than having to be "made" to do it (see Psalm 23:1-2). Attitude check: The unexpected is to be expected, and the destination is only reached by making adjustments and holding to the course (see Proverbs 4:26-27). 


I have become convinced the only true set back is to quit. Everything else, distractions, detours, and obstacles are common to every journey. Be steady, and you will have the patience to overcome them all.   

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Three Things That Make This Grandma Great

This is by far one of my favorite videos on YouTube. I seem to learn something new every time I watch it. Here's my list so far:


1. At 00:36 - Don't take age so serious. Life is full of pain. Don't let it cripple you mentally.


2. At 1:49 - Pray that the weight will feel light. Give a Ronnie Coleman shout of faith, "light weight baby!" Then get it lifted.


3. At 4:15 - Ride the wave of the present. Thoughts about the past and the future have there place. Do not let them distract from the now. The secret of enjoying the now is summed up in the following quote:


"For all your days be prepared, and meet them ever alike. When you are the anvil, bear - when you are the hammer, strike." --Edwin Markham


 

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Horse Sense

Eternal life is suppose to start on this side of eternity. Continue to work the body without neglecting to workout your salvation (Philippians 2:12-13 - Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose). Wrestle with Philippians 2:12-13 and do not let it go until you are touch by its truth.


This divine guidance is just one of the wonderful promises of God. Obedience to the spoken and written Word of God is the key.  I am convinced that you will never hear the spoken without obedience to the written. You will never obey the written without faith. Faith is spiritual muscle. Saturating the mind with the written Word and persevering through testing, are to faith what protein and weight training are to muscle. God has already provided you with both faith and muscle or you would not be reading this. Development of both, either, or neither is your choice. No one else can workout for you. We are not to be like the horse or mule to God (Psalm 32:9 - Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you). Willing obedience is the key.

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Peace Through Pain

From feeling like a big cat ready to pounce on Saturday, to feeling like a little kitten flat on my back licking my wounds less than 24 hours later on Sunday. Off the top rope, out of the clear blue, and I never saw it coming. I went to bed Saturday night with a sore back (nothing unusual about that). The pain increased throughout the night. By morning I could barely get out of bed or stand up straight. I was walking around like a frail 90 year old. Just one muscle group out of whack, the spinal erectors on the left side, and the whole body became weak. It even hurt to breathe. I was left dazed and confused about how this happened.


It is amazing how much we take for granted. It is not until they are taken away do we appreciate what we have all day every day. For the past two days just standing up straight has been difficult, sitting has been painful, and bending to tie my shoes impossible. The privilege I miss the most though, is being able to get down on my knees and pray. I started medicating with 800 mgs of ibuprofen yesterday. I was able to kneel to pray this morning, but I do not think it wise to attempt any kind of workout just yet.


So what happened? Poor form? Too much weight? Overtrained? An unfortunate accident produced by the inherent risk of lifting weights? I considered all of this, but these are just possible natural causes. They are more like symptoms and not the cause. Where I once saw only coincidence, I now see the providence. What I've come to strongly believe recently is in the total sovereignty of God. In fact, the word sovereign can only truly appliy to God alone.


My daily Bible reading has brought me to the book of Job over the past few days. To me this is one of the more difficult books of the Bible to understand. So many deep things. This is my 6th time reading through the Bible and I still only have a very basic understanding of the book of Job. It gives us a peek into the throne room of God. The first thing that is clear is that Satan is not in charge. Nor is he God's equal. By the dialog between God and Satan is quite clear that Satan is the inferior one who can do nothing without the permission of the Most High. This knowledge should be a comfort to us: the greatest hater of our soul can do absolutely nothing to us that the greatest lover of our soul won't allow. 


I thank God that I grew up in a christian household that believed in disciplining children with spanking. I'm not talking about beating children out of anger, drunkenness, or just because it was a bad day. I'm talking about teaching a child right from wrong, and you can't do that by trying to reason with them as if they were just small adults. This has been common knowledge for thousands of years, yet there are still those who refuse to believe it (Proverbs 13:24 - Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.). My parents used the rod, the belt, the hand, and the shoe if I was trying to run away. Some of you old folks might remember the worst of all. That was having to walk outside to break a switch off a tree, and to bring it inside so you could get whipped with it. Of course I couldn't see it then, but I do understand and love them for it now.


God is our Father, God is good, and God is infinite. That makes Him infinitely better than the best human father. Not only does the Bible speak about a good father disciplining his child, it also speaks about our Heavenly Father disciplining us: Proverbs 3:12 - My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline, do not resent His rebuke, because He disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.


For those of us who call the Almighty God abba, fear not. For God has promised that all things will work out for our good (see Romans 8:28). That He has plans for us, to give us hope and a future, not to harm us (see Jeremiah 29:11). Open your Bible to Hebrews chapter 12. Read it, allow it to soak into your heart, and put away your unbelief. Know that you are a highly favored child of God.


I finished my workout on Saturday. Took a few progress pictures, got cleaned up, and then drove the wife over to a local swap meet to get some of the unusual vegetables she likes. Turns out the vegetable lady only shows up on Sundays. So we got back in the car to head home. The parking lot was stuffed. Small spaces with slanted parking spots to make max use of the available space. The rows were tight, with only enough room for one car to pass at a time. We get in the car and I'm driving in accordance with the direction arrow painted on the pavement. I've gone about 10 feet when this lady comes from the opposite direction. She then does a 16 point turn to get her car into a free parking spot just in front of us. All the time I'm just sitting there with no where to go. I finally get by and turn a corner with an even longer row of cars.  I get half way through this row when another car going in the wrong direction comes up and meets me half way. No room whatsoever for either of us to pass. He just sits there looking around his car like he was looking for his common sense.


He's going in the wrong direction, blocking the way, and now he is just going to sit there. I was not thinking too kindly of him as I backed my car up about 30 feet to the turn so that he could pass by. I returned his wave as he passed by with only a dirty look. Then the wife said something that I needed to hear, but didn't want to. She said, "is that anyway for a christian to act?" I've told her many times not to get upset with a clerk who just couldn't seem to get the simplest of orders correct. Yet here I was getting just as upset over a similar manner of incompetence, and she called me out. It took me a couple of days in bed flat on my back to admit it, but I was being a hypocrite.


After getting pass this guy, I get almost to the end of this long row of cars when in comes another driver in the wrong direction. He stops and let's me pass. I remember saying that I wasn't coming back to this place again because "these people don't know how to drive." That may be true, but that doesn't make me right. It took a little back pain to get me to see it.


Hebrew 12 explains that God disciplines us to keep us from the sin that so easily entangles and grows up bitter roots. In this light I asked myself was there some sin I had committed that warranted this back pain. At first I didn't see it. I had even forgotten all about the parking lot incident I described above. So I prayed for God to show me my error. It took a bit of time before this verse came to mind: Matthew 18:10 - See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. Now Jesus had called some children to come to Him as He was teaching His disciples, so I always assumed that when He said "little ones" He was only talking about children. Certainly He was talking about children, but that's not all.


There will always be people who have more gifts, talents, looks, money, and status than you do. Compared to them you are a little one. Just as surely, there are people who have been given much less than you have. Compared to you, they are little ones. All have one thing in common. God is the maker of us all (see Proverbs 22:2). If you look down on those who are little ones to you, in effect you are exalting yourself by putting them down. This is a form of pride. The mother of all sins. It was pride that caused Satan to want to exalt his throne above the Most High (see Isaiah 14:13). And Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit because pride caused them to want to be like God (see Genesis 3:5). This is a sin that crouches at everyone's door. A most poisonous viper ever waiting to strike.


Pride is thinking yourself better than others because of your own strength. God has already dealt with me on this type of pride and I stand guard against it. But this looking down form of pride I didn't know existed, nor did I realize that I was doing it. It took being put flat on my back in pain to get me to see it. I repented of this sin quickly, asked for forgiveness, and claimed the promised cleansing in 1 John 1:9.


Here is the end of the matter. Do not exalt yourself, for pride comes before a fall. Do not place anyone on a foot stool beneath you, for we are all made of the same lump of clay, and all return to the dust in the same way. 


This was a part of my daily reading this morning:


Psalm 41:1-3 


Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;


the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.


The Lord protects and perserves them--


they are counted among the blessed in the land--


he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.


The Lord sustains them on their sickbed


and restores them from their bed of illness.



Is the reading of this passage today just a coincidence? Not at all, it gives me great comfort. When I get what I need, when I need it, I don't call it coincidence or luck. I see the unseen hand of my God, and I give Him thanks. I may still be in pain, but there is no longer any sadness with it.

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Be Steady

The problem with most people is too much looking and talking, and too little believing and doing. Let the sea with its wind, waves, and clouds come as they may. Be steady. Fix your eyes on the prize and let's go to work.


1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 

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Power of One Day


One day is like a grain of sand passing through the hourglass of our life. Make it count or throw it away. There is no other alternative. The sand in the top of the hourglass represents our future, and no one knows how much or how little remains on any given day. The sand in the bottom represents the past. It is gone and remains untouchable forever. The future is just the opposite, and just as untouchable. The only grain of sand we can touch is today. Today is the narrow part of the hourglass where each grain of our life passes through our hands. The future is not certain, the past is history, but each new day is a present. What are you going to do with it?



On the wall in the solitude of my home gym/garage hangs this quote from Muhammad Ali:


“The fight is won or lost, far away from witness. It’s won behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road. Long before I dance under those lights.”


It reminds me how much better it is to be ready to dance without the opportunity to get under the lights, than it is to have the opportunity and not be ready to dance. First opportunities never come from a sharp dress sports agent, with a fancy car, and a multi-million dollar contract. First opportunities come from a no-nonsense boss wearing work boots, with a beat up truck, and a shovel. If you can’t work hard in the small time, what makes you think you will make it to the big time? Working is the planting and watering of that grain of sand in your hand today.


Sowing and reaping is a universal natural principle of this world. By universal I mean it doesn’t just apply to a farmer and his crops. It applies to us all, be it study, work, or skill development. All things must first be planted, then nurtured, and then in its season will it bring forth a harvest.


Ecclesiastes 11:4


New International Version (NIV)


Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.


I believe the wind in this verse represents our negative feelings and desires. Feelings of fear, laziness, complacency, and desires for comfort, pleasure, entertainment, and instant gratification keep us from putting in the work needed for planting. I believe the clouds are doubts. They all amount to an overprotective grandma saying “you’ve tried your best baby, it’s okay if you quit.” Doubts will cause death on the vine, get you to stop working, and thereby not mature to reap the harvest.


I am convinced that the wind and clouds are common to us all and must be overcome by each individual. You can’t just let the grains of sand fall through your hands without the seed and water of purposeful work. Today is the only time you can work for the harvest. The power of a day is in the fact that days become weeks. Weeks become months, and months become years. This is how victory is won. Daily work is the only currency capable of paying for your ticket to dance under those lights. First the work then comes the dancing.


Do not worry about tomorrow’s work today. No need to leave anything for tomorrow’s work. Pray for the grace to get tomorrow’s work done tomorrow, and like the manna it will be provided when it is needed. It is enough to take care of today’s work today. Be thankful for the gift of being able to get it done.


Ecclesiastes 3:12-13


New International Version (NIV)


I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.


Add these days together and the power multiplies. This is known as perseverance. When perseverance has reached its maturity you just may find yourself dancing under those lights with your hands held high in victory. 




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References


I made some pretty bold statements on my last post. This morning I thought I should provide the references on which my faith stands so that my fellow believers will know that I'm not delusional. They're packaged in this video:


 


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