Created to Fail - Invited to Live

I drive my dream car - there aren’t many like it - a 1988 Honda CRX with an extremely juiced engine. Like a missile, anything this small that goes that fast oughta have wings on it. Its air conditioning system is two windows open at less than 103 mph, though it could certainly top 120 - I’ve never tested that :)

Because, these days, I can run about five steps, without my one lung demanding a better path. I almost bought the t-shirt that advertised,

“Driving my CRX IS my cardio!”

But one thing I know about cars came from a list I obtained on the Chevy Cruze we just sold. The list identified parts in the car and the fail date (i.e. “This will fail after 50,000 miles; that will fail at 75,000, “X” number of uses and abuses, “Y” number hours; it’s all predictable because these parts have been designed to fail.

I see that in our highways too. Ours are less-than-adequate to put it nicely - a little moisture and we have a hydroplane fiesta! The excuse, 60 degree change in temperature in the swing of a day, constant truck traffic and add a little soil degradation, and zap - junk, though our neighbor to the east, Goodland, have had beautiful highways for years under the same conditions.  

But even the best products and roads are created to fail at some point - a growth economy requires that perfection is avoided so that employment is realized. We no longer want cars that last 10 years like they should (Thx Merle Haggard). We’ve got to be actively maintaining or rebuilding to enjoy the reward of something continuing to effectively work.

What about us? I can honestly say that at age 50, even after my first cancer surgery, my body was in the best muscular condition of my life, but obviously, there was a lot more going on under the hood that was failing. For the past ten years, I have watched my parts wear out and in some cases have had them discarded. You too? So far, at 61, I have not reached the replacement part stage yet.

A young man might laugh - but, young man, just you wait.

Someone who exercises vigorously knows that within 24-48 hours of inactivity muscles begin to atrophy - what do you think happens over an extended hospital stay? It’s tough to stay active and demand “growth” from our bodies. But as one speaker has said, “You’re either growing or dying - there is no middle ground.” Despite knowing dynamic P.E. teachers like Julie Anderson and Kerry Sue Sayles who have helped to imprint this fitness for life attitude, look at what we have seen demonstrated over the past year.

We knew before any viral attack that America was out of shape and endangered. We had watched the statistics rise for years indicating widespread type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity. We don't even have to examine the adult statistics.

In college, I was an English major and physical education and philosophy minor. As a child I was captivated by Greek history, civilization and their obsession with "body, mind and soul". It made sense to me that a person would want to be well-rounded. So it was no wonder that American education embraced this model. Yet, I don’t believe that model is widely held anymore.

Just before I graduated from college, I had a conversation with one of my closest friends about this. Dave was a physical education major and a superb high jumper for our college track team. Though just 6’-1”, he high-jumped 6’-7” heights. Wow! That took intense training, coordination and discipline, aside from the season he/we partied hard. It was college, remember?

In that conversation he said this to me, “When I graduate, I’m never training again.”

“What?!? You’re in the best shape of your life, why would you just let yourself go?”

That idea never made sense to me. However through his teaching career he dedicated his life to coaching others in track and cross-country. And to be sure, as a hunter (from Iowa) he could definitely out-hike me through the Colorado Rockies when it came to landing a big game tag. Whatever motivates you!

He’s not the only one who has ever felt that way after dedicating so much of their time to an athletic career. Even as a country, we have dismissed our physical education programs since the Vietnam War ended - war has always been our greatest motivator for fitness. Few programs today demand fitness, because that’s too competitive and might make someone feel inadequate. P.E. has been reduced to roll out the ball, and a “you-can’t-make-me dress out” for this class mentality. I just need a P.E. credit to graduate.

Funny thing. When I left Brooklyn Tech my senior year to move to west-central Illinois to complete my senior year, I discovered I only needed one credit to graduate. I had fulfilled all my required classes by my junior year, accept for P.E. Illinois required 4 years of P.E. credits. So I took P.E. and added calculus and US History and an English lit class and more... I ended up getting my Master's Degree in physical education at Adams State in '86.

Here’s a realization, as a society, even with a media blitz of fear-mongering, this has not changed our attitudes. Instead of confronting this issue with a “return to health philosophy” or a renewed focus on body, mind and soul, we have instead relied on keeping people isolated, inactive, indoors, on the computer and dependent on processed and fast foods. 

A recent Your Health magazine we received declared that according to analyzed data from 19 million Apple and Android devices from 187 countries WHO [World Health Organization]  following the March 11 lockdown, there was a 27% drop in steps taken worldwide (p 14). Think of it, we already weren’t walking and exercising and now through mandates, we are doing less! Does that sound like a good formula for recovery?

Gyms closed, beaches closed, parks were off limits, even things that would have aided mental health, like worshiping together and expressing one’s faith, were nixed in many states. In its place, pot shops, liquor stores and Netflix binging was promoted. Access to medical care and healthy living was limited, in some cases becoming short, online dialogues.

How about this one? Since 2015 average device usage for kids has been relatively unchanged. "On average, American 8-to-12-year-olds spent 4 hours and 44 minutes on screen media each day. And teens average 7 hours and 22 minutes — not including time spent using screens for school or homework," reported an October 29 Washington Post article." Now with online school and their previous diversion, kids spend an average… AVERAGE - that means some more, much more and some less - 11 to 13 HOURS A DAY! Excuse me, that spells disaster.

Maybe we should be clocking our hours and compare them to kids' hours. Kids are not alone. 

Like a band-aid for the problem, a mask has been substituted for long-term change and lifestyle change. Let’s face it, it’s easier to mask up our deteriorating physique than it is to exercise, eat simply, and fill your life with quality thoughts. Jon, that’s not the point of the mask! 

Not for you, of course, but can we be sure this is true for everyone else? It’s much more convenient, and now fashionable than lifestyle change. Add a vaccination option and the reasons for change begin to disappear. Do you really believe any school in session adopted a more intensified P.E. regimen or do you think they simply demanded, "Mask up!" or else!

During my years of watching my dad fight through 27 years of fighting highly aggressive cancer through surgeries and treatments, I began my research. His experience and that study led me to mounds of recommendations; however, the best was summed up by a German study that settled with this summary. You didn’t need a multi-million dollar study to understand it.

To live a long, healthy and full life: “Eat like a poor man; get some aerobic, oxygenating exercise every day, and never let your mind go to seed/weeds.”

When people ask me my protocol, this is at the heart of it.

Eat like a poor man - That’s not the dollar menu - this is eating basic, simple, not rich, sugary foods. Essentially, prepare your food; don’t depend on packaged food. As one exercise physiologist put it, “You can’t outwork a bad diet.” You can mask it, cover it, hide it, but it will fail and it will come back to get you. Jenny has dedicated much of her life studying and applying this to her life. Maybe I can get her to write about that sometime.

Oxygenate - My own oncologist has said directly to my face - “Exercise is your best weapon against cancer.” Cancer loves sugar and hates oxygen." Demanding that your temple does challenging work helps your heart, circulation, immune system and mind to function well.

“But it hurts," people say, "and it makes me tired," and "I don't have time," and "what if people see my out of shape body and make fun of me?” People!!! - we need physical education and lifetime fitness, or we need medical care and disability care. Which sounds better?

Never let your mind go to seed - There are many diversions and brain games that can occupy the mind. In this context, I will share my slant - I honestly believe and have experienced that these would not have saved my life. Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:63

Some find this offensive,, because it sends two hard messages - the first message is: Jesus has a corner on the market, a monopoly, on giving life. Many don’t like to hear that, and if I tweeted that, it would probably be flagged for hate speech or disinformation.

 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6.

The second message is: your body, physical life and self-generated strength is going to fail (the flesh is no help at all). It’s just a matter of time. Even if you’re young, based on our fast-food dependence, current habits and locked down lifestyle, even in our younger generation, time is working against us.

Face it; our bodies have one goal apart from Jesus Christ; that is to be satisfied. We just want to feel good, be tantalized, filled with comfort food, soothed, sexed, and wowed by sounds, sights and sensations.

We can choose this road, but it will not end well. It will affect us. It will affect our relationships and it will have fallout. Let’s look around us.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.

But there is a narrow way - one that He initiates, delivers and finishes - that has life in it.

“For the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

1 Timothy 4:8

When a new believer comes to Christ or an old believer comes to understand their identity in Christ and asks, “Now what?” We don’t ask them to serve - that’s not what they need. They need truth to help them figure out what happened to them and who they are in Christ.

The best place to set their minds (So that it doesn’t go to seed) is to read The Book of John; read Romans 5, 6, 7 & 8 and read Ephesians. They are not very long, and they are worth pouring over and applying.

I would gladly walk you through the truth that gives life from these sources. Meet with me - dig in and do more than put a band-aid on your thought life.

Just as our cars and roads need maintenance and putting a covering on our cars and roads won’t fix the problem, pretending that our current way of thinking, living and eating works, is ridiculous. Taking steps in all these areas will be more fulfilling.

We were never designed to fill our lives with physically destructive choices, a couch-potato lifestyle and mindless distraction.In this, since the fall of Adam, we were created to fail, so that God could supply the remedy through His Son, Jesus Christ, His Word of Life.

Just so you know, I have to repeatedly take inventory of my life and re-evaluate where I am in these areas. Then, knowing my limits, I adjust. 

Here's a thought: start small in each area making a single adjustment - Cook something basic like eggs, take a brisk walk, read for 15 minutes a day for your own personal growth. Pray? Congratulate yourself.

This is described perfectly in Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

Consider where you are right now, then...Choose Life.

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