In the Introduction of Walking With God I conclude with this observation:
"So now we have a perfect trifecta: physical exercise/health benefits + spiritual/emotional/mental energy + a bigger, smarter, younger brain. That's as good as it gets!"
This post is about the health benefits of walking. A new study by researchers at Saarland University in Germany found that daily, 25-minute walks added 7 years to the participants' lifespans. Wow! 7 years! 25 minutes! The study involved inactive but otherwise healthy people (how many Americans are in that category?) who began exercising regularly but moderately.
To make this study even more exciting, even the older folks (70 years) benefited. So it's never too late to start! After 6 months of exercise, DNA began repairing itself. The risk of developing abnormal heartbeats dropped.
None of us who are able to walk have any excuse not to. Just the health benefits from light walking are overwhelming. The spiritual, emotional, and creative benefits are icing on the cake. Really, it can't get any better than this, from a simple, daily habit. Put on your walking shoes or boots and get out there! Make it a habit and reap many rewards.
Source: Dr. Micozzi's Daily Dispatch, 11/26/15.
Do you ever feel, as I do often, that Christianity is under attack and that we as individuals are under attack because of our faith? I would be surprised if anyone answered no. Our "progressive" society is one of consumption and relevantism. Anything goes, so they say, if it makes you feel better about yourself. Our system of government, based on freedom and liberty and the principle of God-given rights, is no better than any other system of government, so they say. Freedom of speech should be sacrificed at the altar of the speech gods who determine what is and is not acceptable based on their own views, which are the only views to be tolerated (as exclusionary and oppressive as they may ironically be), so they say.
What's our response?
The good news is that we have an infallible standard, God's word, which is not subject to change based on the morals or immorals of the day. Either you believe it's God's word and should be obeyed, or you don't. There are no shades of grey. Does that mean everything should be taken literally? No, Jesus used parables and the authors used hyperbole for effect sometimes. But the message and meaning are clear, and those are inviolable standards.
The bad news is that overall, we have been far too sheep-like in our defense of Christianity, far too passive, far too quiet in just accepting society's demands that we change our outmoded beliefs or at least keep quiet while they use protest, name-calling, and ridicule to bulldoze their way to power and redefinition of normal behavior. It's easier for us just to keep quiet than draw attention to ourselves, face hostile reactions, or be ridiculed.
There is our problem. There is nothing to be ashamed of in God's word; just the opposite! We should stand proud to defend it. Just as Travis drew a line in the sand at the Alamo, so must we. Look at the persecution the early disciples faced, yet they persevered. One of the points I recall Lee Strobel made in his book, The Case for Christ, is that no one would endure such persecution, pain, and death for a lie. To use another example, from my book, Walking With God, consider what our hero soldiers endure and are willing to sacrifice to defend our freedom. How much less risk we face, yet we too often cower in fear.
Let us all not just meet at the river, but from there disperse into our communities and be a mighty force for good, for defense of our values and God's word, for what the highest ideals of man can achieve. Those highest ideals are our ideals. Love and honor God, reflect the light of Christ, love your neighbor.
But first we must draw that line in the sand and refuse to back up any more. Instead, let's test our faith and glorify God.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
- Matthew 5:11-12
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
- James 1:12
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
- 1 Peter 1:6-7
America the Beautiful
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness
And ev’ry gain divine!
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimm’d by human tears!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
Lyrics: Katharine Lee Bates
Tune: “Materna” by Samuel Augustus Ward
Just a brief note to acknowledge the superb work of my book cover designer and formatter, Matt Maguire of Candescent Press in Manchester, England (http://candescentpress.co.uk/). Matt's initial cover concept proved to be superior to my subsequent efforts. I counted over 300 emails between us over the course of three weeks. Matt was patient, detailed, responsive, and a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend him. Kudos, Matt.
Many families will be traveling this week to share fellowship, memories, laughs, and time together. Let's pray for safe travels and well being for all.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!
This morning while walking I came upon a dead duck, its body ripped open by a predator. Moments later, I watched a pre-dawn sky painted by the rising sun. Then on the lakeside road, crows were out in force, caw-cawing all around me. That reminded me of ravens, which brought Poe's poem to mind, which again brought death to the forefront. A short distance down the road, I walked by a decomposing opossum. Today's walk struck me as a juxtapositioning of life and death. Death and symbols of death were all around. But so was life in all its abundance. Canadian geese over the lake, ducks on the water, people walking and working, dogs running and barking. Life is precious, and it can be taken away in a second. The juxtaposition reinforces the importance of appreciating the life breathed into us by God and not wasting it. How sad that many people do waste their lives, laid low by drugs, alcohol, or apathy. If only more of us could realize the latent talents and specialness given to us to do great things -"great" in the sense of bringing joy and blessings to one person or many people, in ways that glorify God. Let those of us who are able carry this message to others who may only need to hear it to walk away from the circling crows and into the brilliant light of the sunrise.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
- Ephesians 2:10
I just returned from visiting my mother on her birthday (age undisclosed) at our home in Missouri, the same one where I and my three siblings grew up. I managed to catch one brilliant sunrise while walking there. Walking around the acreage, I couldn't get past the echos and images of my memories. Seeing the big drainage ditch a short distance from the house, I thought of my many walks and bike rides over there with either my cane fishing pole or my .22, sitting on the culvert for an hour or two after school or on Saturday, catching small perch, or walking along the bank looking for a target. Now the farmhouses over there are gone, as are the trees. I thought of the hours and hours of fun spent in the yard, football with my 4th-grade buddies, jumping out of our fort, playing in our pool. Now the pool is filled in, many of the big trees are gone, and the laughter and running of the football, baseball, and frisbee games are memories long ago filed away. I thought of the many mornings spent across the road waiting with our cousins for the school bus. Now our grandchildren will be in grade school in five short years. I thought of days spent riding horses and motorcycles, how cool we thought it was to have a bomb shelter (yes, we called it that, a now-funny product of the cold war), and hours spent looking for quartz and other neat rocks on Rock Island (a ten-foot diameter rock pile at the edge of the pecan grove, don't ask me how it got there because I have no idea). No internet back then. Three broadcast TV channels on good-weather days. We entertained ourselves. We roamed far and wide, out there in small-town, country, U.S.A. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I miss it, but love the memories. As I walked around the yard and house one more time before we headed back to Mississippi, I pictured trees now gone, fresh, white paint now faded and chipped in spots, the big garden that once yielded its bounty for dinner and supper, the poolside laughs and splashes of yesteryear. All of these reflections reinforce the importance of relishing every day, every moment with family - for one day, all that will be left are memories. As we walk through our childhood and adult memories, let us hope and pray we do so with no regrets, no words left unspoken, no differences unresolved, no love unexpressed. If we wait until the rooms are all empty, and all that's left are faded paint and soft cries of "if only," well, that's too late.
First, thank you to all our veterans for your service! Because of you and those who went before you, America still is the land of the free. And it's certainly the home of the brave.
On the way early this morning to the car dealer in a nearby town, I experienced "rush" hour. It's much worse in the large cities, but this morning's experience re-confirmed my advice in Chapter Five of Walking with God: we need to slow down! So you get to work or school two to five minutes later. Big deal. But you'll be less stressed (leave home five minutes earlier if need be), and most importantly, still alive.
Here's a perfect example. Driving past the university, on a curving portion of a highway with a 45 mph speed limit (which is the speed I was going, plenty fast), a motorcycle ran up behind me; the rider looked agitated. Seconds later, he zipped into the other lane, between cars, and then cut in front of me, with about three feet of clearance. Then he cut back into the other lane and exited into the university. Clearly a student (backpack, MSU shirt), he was in such a rush (at 7:45 am) to get to school he put his life at risk. He literally saved five seconds, at best. But had he miscalculated slightly or lost control when he cut sharply in front of me, he would have been crushed and mangled under my truck. I just shook my head.
All the way to the dealership (30 minute drive), cars were zooming by me going 70 mph or faster (speed limit 65) and tailgating each other. So many people in such a rush. Just last week two local fathers and sons were killed in car wrecks. I don't know the specifics, but it's reasonable to assume speed was a factor.
Folks, slow down, you move too fast (there's that Simon & Garfunkel song again). Savor the drive, the sights, spend the extra energy thinking and reflecting rather than trying to imitate Jeff Gordon, death grip on wheel and furiously looking for an opening to gain a one or two car advantage. The life you save may be your own. Or your child's.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
- Psalm 37:7
Be still, and know that I am God;
- Psalm 46:10
Welcome readers and prospective readers! Thank you for stopping by to visit!
Southern River Publishing is the publishing house and imprint under which, going forward, I'll publish my non-fiction and fiction. The first Southern River Publishing title is Walking with God - How a Simple, Daily Habit Can Change Your Life (November 2015). This book was inspired, quite literally, by my early-morning walks in Natchez, Mississippi. Walking for fitness turned into something much more and much greater!
We now live in Starkville, Mississippi, home of Mississippi State University. Our house is on a lake, in the country. Quite a change from our "garden district" cottage house in downtown Natchez. Both are great, and each is conducive to the walking "setup" described in Chapter One of the book - scenic routes, relatively distraction-free (save for a portion of my lakeside walk).
I hope you enjoy, and truly benefit from (in life-changing ways!), Walking with God. I wrote the book in an informal, conversational-style, but please let me know if you find any typos or other glitches. After you read the book once-through, I think it could be really useful to re-read just the scripture passages and highlight the verses most impactful on you. I have Joshua 1:9 and 1 John 5:14-15 taped to my laptop keyboard, so I'll see them constantly and take them to heart.
I hope Walking with God becomes a reference book for you - one you want to go to time and time again for motivation, insights, and inspiration. We're all in this together! God's attentiveness to each of us, and His blessings, are amazing.