Saturday, April 27, 2013

What Does God Require?

What does God expect of me as a believer?  It is common, and tempting, to believe that God 's expectations for me are to live a life as free as possible from sin; avoiding doing any of the things that fall on your particular list of sins.  The focus too often times seems to be on what we don't do.  But should it be?

Now I will not dispute that as a believer, I should avoid doing things that will bring discredit to the name of Christ, that cause harm to others, or that are self centered.  But I have also come to realize that were I to actually be able to live a life that was guiltless before the law, either man's or God's, that I would still fall short.  In fact, I believe that what I do is more important than what I don't do.  Even in the Old Testament, where the Law reigns supreme, we find this remarkable passage.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 NIV
What does God require of me?  Not to obey the law.  Not to offer sacrifices.  Not to be sinless.  Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before him.  That is not a license to sin freely.  But it is a challenge to make a difference in the world around me as a child of God.


The Rich Young Man

In Luke 18:18-23 we see a young man of wealth approach Jesus.  "What do I need to do to inherit eternal life", he asks Jesus.  The response is to obey the commandments, which he affirms he has done.  Then Jesus tells him something unexpected.  Obeying the commandments is not enough: there is something else you need to do.  "Sell all you have, give it to the poor, and then follow me".  And like many of us, it was too much for him.  He was comfortable with his life.  Surrendering all he had in order to follow Jesus around the country was just too much to ask.  Walking humbly with Christ (God) is not as easy as just following a set of rules.  But how can I claim to be his disciple if I don't follow him?

Parable of the Talents

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells us a parable of three servants whose master left them with a sum of money and then went on a journey.  At his return he calls each of them in to give an account of their service.  Interestingly, he did not ask them if they had been good servants and obeyed the rules.  Instead he wanted to know what they had done with what he had entrusted them with.  Two had made good use of the resources given them and were rewarded.  The third had done nothing with them, and was cast out.  What is it that makes the master (Jesus) happy?  Using what he has entrusted us with in his kingdoms work.

Parable of the Sheep and Goats

Following this, Jesus tells another parable, this time about Christ dividing people, like a shepherd divides the goats from the sheep.   One one hand are the sheep, those who have seen a need and acted to meet that need.  They are invited to partake of their inheritance in the Kingdom.  On the other hand are the goats, those who chose not to respond when they saw others in need.  And they are cast out into eternal punishment.  In neither case are they judged by adherence to a set of rules.  The judgement is not based on sin avoidance.  Rather it is based on acting justly and loving mercy.

John & James

John reinforces the message of the above parable in his first epistle.  If I see a brother in need, and I have the ability to meet that need, but do not, then God's love does not dwell in me.  Again, it is my actions here that are important; what I do, rather than what I don't do.

James gives us the same message as John.  If I see a brother with a physical need, and only offer encouraging words instead of meeting the need, then my faith is dead and useless.  Faith, if not accompanied by action, is dead and useless.

What does God Require?

So what does God require of me?  He does expect that I will live a holy life.  A life that is set apart for him.  That does indeed mean that I put to death, or let go of, anything that would get in the way of being able to serve him; especially surrendering to my own selfish desires.  But holiness is much more than that.  It means that I am dedicated to his service.  I become an instrument that he can use in accomplishing his purpose here.  It means that I walk humbly before my Lord, responding to his purpose in my life, making a difference in the world around me.

Don't be satisfied with obeying the commandments, like the rich young man, and miss out on hearing "well done, good and faithful servant".  Instead, use the resources the master has given you to honor him, and then "enter into the master's happiness".



Friday, April 19, 2013

Jury Duty

A few weeks ago I received a jury summons in the mail.  This was probably the 4th or 5th I had ever received, in the 40 some years I have been eligible.  Only one of those previous summons had resulted in a call, and that one was for municipal court, and all of the days cases ended up being dismissed.  Would this be the one that actually landed me on a jury?

The Sunday night call-in was negative, but I had better luck on Monday night.  My group number was called.  Report into Superior Court in Port Orchard on Tuesday morning at 8:00 AM.

Day 1 - Jury Selection

Shortly before 7:20 (I don't want to be late) I pull into a parking spot in front of the court house and discover the place does not even open its doors until 8.  So I wandered around a bit and then fell in with the rest of the crowd waiting at the door at 7:45.  Stood out in the cold for 15 minutes until the doors opened and then another 5 until my turn came to go through security.  Then on to the jury waiting room where I am given a form to fill out and told to take a seat.

Over the next hour and a half I filled out the form, read a book, was given a briefing, watched a video and finally given a number; 13.  Then the Bailiff lined us all up in the order of our numbers and marched us up to the courtroom, all 60 of us.   The first 13 of us made it into the jury box while the rest took a seat in the audience.

The judge asked us a series of questions to evaluate our fitness to serve and then sent us back to the waiting room, and eventually off to lunch.  When we came back we discovered that we were down to about 50 prospective jurors; the other 10 or so eliminated because the judge or lawyers didn't like their answers.  Twice more during the afternoon we were lined up and marched to the courtroom.  The first 13 of the remaining jurors always got the jury box while the remainder filled up an ever shrinking section of the audience benches.  The lawyers now asked the questions and eliminated jurors they didn't want, although always for some cause.

At the end of the day the lawyers got to take turns eliminating jurors without any given reason.  They each could eliminate 7 jurors, and did take out 11 between them.  Each time someone from the jury box was eliminated, the next person in line would come up and take their place.  When they were done with this, the jurors not in the box were thanked by the judge and sent home.  The rest of us were sworn to secrecy, briefly exposed the the charges, and sent home until 9:00 AM the next morning.

Days 2 & 3 - The Trial

By 8:45 in the morning the 13 survivors of the previous day are gathered in the jury room.  12 are the jury and 1 is an alternate, although they don't tell us which is the alternate until the case is sent to the jury.  A bit after 9 we are marched across the hall and into the courtroom and sworn in by the judge.  Looking around the courtroom I was amazed by the crowd that had come to witness this trial; all four of them.

Opening arguments are given by both attorneys, and we finally get a good idea of what the trial is about.  A highly dysfunctional couple, with a young child, and no adult supervision, had finally imploded.  A month and a half after the events, the 33 year old girlfriend goes to the police and charges her 24 year old sailor boyfriend with assaulting her on three different occasions.  One of those was outside the county so we would not touch it, but we were left with two distinct events, and a second and third degree assault charge for each.

The girlfriend is brought to the stand first and occupies the bulk of the first day of the trial.  This girl needs some serious help, and hopefully someday she will get it.  Next up is one of her girl friends.  This gal is later disavowed by the prosecutor who put her on the stand.  She was obviously lying, and had a different story than her friend.  Finally we heard from 4 policemen, extending into the second day of the trial.

I found this whole process to be fascinating.  Such great care is taken to ensure that everything is done in a certain way to ensure that the trial is conducted properly and fairly.  Evidence is entered into the trial in a very precise way.

  • Attorney gives it to the clerk to get a sticker
  • Attorney shows it to the other attorney
  • Attorney shows it to the witness and discusses
  • Attorney requests of the judge that it be entered as evidence
  • Judge asks the other attorney if that is ok
  • Judge declares it as evidence (the other attorney always accepted it)
  • Attorney may or may not publish it to the jury
  • Judge allows the publishing to the jury
  • If published, the attorney shows it to the jury, even though many of us saw it at the same time the witness did
We got to hear several objections to questions, told to ignore one response (how do you do that?) and had to leave once while the lawyers fought over admission of some little bit of testimony, looked at many pictures of bruises and watched a video.  Finally the prosecution rested and the defense opted not to present a case.

After lunch on the second day the lawyers made their closing statements, the judge read us 29 instructions, the alternate juror was selected and sent home and we received final direction from the judge and were also sent home.


Day 4 - Deliberation

The final day started at 8:30 with the 12 of us locked up in the jury room.  We started by electing a presiding juror and reviewed the judges instructions in an attempt to understand the precise legal terminology that was being used: reasonable doubt, assault, acting with intent, reckless behavior, bodily injury, substantial bodily harm, criminal negligence, self defense.  I think we invested as much time with understanding and applying these terms as we did actually discussing what happened.

While we all believed that he had probably done something at least close to what he was accused of, there were no witnesses other than the two of them.  He did not testify, other than a video of a police interrogation  and she was not judged very credible.  After about 6 hours we finally had decided that his own words in the video hung him on one charge, but we all had some amount of doubt on the other three and thus had to find him not guilty.

The bailiff was notified that we had reached a verdict and then we sat tight for a hour while the judge, lawyers and defendant were located and make their way back to the courtroom.  The judge was given our paperwork, announced the verdict and then polled the jury to verify how each of us voted.  After she was satisfied, she thanked us and sent us on our way.  Free for a year.

We were also invited to hang out in the jury room for a while if we wanted to talk to the attorneys.  Four of us, plus the defense attorney, took her up on the offer and visited briefly before heading out.  Apparently sentencing took place as soon as we had left and he was given 3 months in prison, time already served, and sent home, along with a 5 year no contact order.

Thoughts

I came away from the experience with a much greater appreciation for the role of a judge in the whole process.  I found the process very interesting, although I am thankful we did not have to deal with child abuse or murder.  And I found that the real thing is not nearly as exciting as Perry Mason.

Monday, April 15, 2013

How Big Is God?

One of my favorite web sites is The Scale of the Universe. This is an interactive site that helps to give a perspective on just how big things are in the universe.  I find it interesting to scroll through the site, comparing the size of different objects.

I would suspect that most people have no idea how big the universe is, or how small its individual components might be.  And even looking at the numbers it is still hard to fathom; it is so big, and so small, that the numbers are almost meaningless.  Just how big is the universe?  It is bigger than we can observe, but the observable universe is estimated at 9.3 * 1028 meters (93,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 meters) or 93 billion light years across.  In other words, it's pretty big.

At the other end of the scale is the theorized 'string' of string theory.  These are estimated to be 1 * 10-35 meters in length, or 0.00000000001 yoctometers long.  Just for comparison purposes, a few other objects are listed below.
  • Electron - 5 * 10-15 meters
  • Transistor Gate - 2.5 * 10-8 meters
  • E. Coli bacteria - 2 * 10-6 meters
  • Ant - 4 * 10-3 meters
  • Human - 1.7 * 100 meters
  • Large Hadron Collider - 8.6 * 103 meters
  • Earth - 1.27 * 107 meters
  • Sun - 1.4 * 109 meters
  • Oort Cloud (outer limits of our solar system) - 2 * 1016 meters
  • Milky Way - 9.3 * 1026 meters

But what does this have to do with how big God is?  If God exists (and I believe he does), and he created the universe (which I also believe), then it might be interesting to compare his creation with that of the next most capable known 'creator' in the universe, us.  Collectively, we have been able to to produce something as big as 8.6 * 103 meters in length, and as small as 2.5 * 10-8 meters.  In contract God has produced something that is 1025 times bigger and 10-27 times smaller.  So, by one measure at least, God is about 1026 times bigger, stronger, smarter and all around more capable than we are.  That is 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times bigger.

Is God really so much bigger than I am; for all practical purposes, infinitely bigger?  Even though the numbers given in the previous paragraph are nothing but conjecture, I do accept that one who is able to create the universe we live in, a universe whose size and complexity are beyond my comprehension, is infinitely more capable than I am.  And that he is just as much beyond my comprehension as is his creation, of which I am a tiny part.  I can study his creation and come to some limited understanding of it.  And I can invest time in knowing God, and come to some limited understanding of him.  But I can never really get more than a glimmer of who he is; my limited and finite mind is not capable of comprehending the infinite creator.

And so I marvel at the unfolding creation, and bow before its creator.  I stand amazed at the complexity, the enormity and the power of all that he has made.  I acknowledge that God is beyond my understanding or judgement.  I thank him for who he is, what he has done, and what he has in store for me.  And I join with the heavens in offering up praise to him.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19:1-4

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Stoveless Menu

I am preparing for another foray onto the PCT this year, and have been working on meal preparation.  Last year I left the stove at home and plan on doing the same thing again.  Not having to deal with a stove has simplified trail life, and helped in pack weight reduction.  But it has complicated the food preparation ahead of time.  It is not enough to browse through the Mountain House meals at REI and purchase enough dinners to get me through the hiking season.  It takes quite a bit more planning and effort to put together a menu that is appealing to my simple tastes as well as nutritious enough to keep me moving down the trail.  While I am far from finished, I am well on the way to being ready for this summer.

Dehydrator

What little drying I did last year was done in the oven on very low heat, and was pretty much limited to canned chicken.  All of the rest of the dry ingredients were bought either from a local grocery or online.  But the selection is somewhat limited and pricey, so this year I opted to buy a dehydrator and give that a try.

I looked at the Excalibur dehydrators first, but was apprehensive about investing so much money in something I was not sure I would use much.  So I bought a 4 tray unit from Nesco, opting for the rectangular unit rather than the round one.  I also bought a pair of screens for use in drying stuff that was small enough to fall through the spokes on the drying trays.  The only thing missing from the unit was a timer, and I solved that by buying a small timer from the local hardware store and plugging the dehydrator into that.

I have found the dehydrator to be fairly easy to use, and it does appear to do a good job.  Stuff dries evenly and, so far at least, it appears to be hard to overdry foods.  I would highly recommend this unit to anyone who was looking to get their feet wet in the dehydration business.  The only issue I have with it is the center hole that is used for moving air through the trays; it occupies about a 2" diameter section in the middle of each tray.  The Excalibur may be better, but this one works just fine for a considerably less investment.  You can buy additional trays if desired and add them to the stack.  I don't know what the limit is, but I would guess you could easily double the four trays that I have.

Drying Foods

So far I have dried a good variety of vegetables and meats as well as a couple of leftover meals that I could easily imagine eating cold.  I am not very good yet with being able to set the timer to the right value, and end up drying stuff several times until they are good and dry, but so far nearly everything has turned out well.  Below are some of the foods I have dried and some notes about each.

  • Chicken: I can put a can of chicken on a tray, crumbling it up first, set the temp to about 150 and it is dry in 4-5 hours.  
  • Tuna: I have dried several large cans of albacore, treating it just like the chicken, although drying it in the garage.  It did stink up the garage as well as the basement.
  • Hamburger: Hamburger meat, left over from taco's, also dried pretty well when spread out and crumpled up.
  • Broccoli: Cut up into fairly small pieces with little stem and then blanched for a minute.  Like everything other than the meats, they dried at 130 degrees for about 10 hours.
  • Carrots: Used small carrots cut up into slices between 1/8 and 1/4 inch and blanched for a minute.  I would never have guess how much water was in a carrot.  They almost disappeared when dried.
  • Bell Pepper: Cut up lengthwise into 12-16 sections, cleaned of seeds and interior walls, and then cut into 1/4 inch pieces.
  • Onion: Diced into small pieces.  Pretty strong.
  • Corn: I used canned whole corn.  Drained and rinsed and then dried until shriveled.
  • Pinto Beans: I used canned beans as well.  Drained and rinsed and then dried until hard.  The beans did not really shrink in size like most other things, but some did split open and were obviously dry.
  • Refried Beans: Spread out a can of refried beans onto a tray and dried.  It dried as a sheet that could be easily broken up into flakes and dust.
  • Tomatoes: I used Roma tomatoes, cutting into eights and then laying on the tray skin side down.  Those that ended up with the skin up, or on their side, stuck to the trays a bit.
  • Mushrooms: Dried sliced mushrooms until they were stiff and curled up.  
  • Barley: Cook the barley according to the directions and then spread out on a tray and dried until they become hard again.
  • Rice: I have tried both a mixed rice combination and a mixed grain combo.  For both I cooked as per the instructions, and then dried.
  • Hard Boiled Egg: I have tried sliced and chopped up in a food processor.  Chopped up was not bad, although not sure I will really use them for anything.
  • Cheese: Used non-fat cheddar.  It dried pretty good and then rehydrated into a clump.  Mixed in with other stuff it should be good.
  • Beef Stroganoff: After dinner, spread a couple of servings on a tray and try until its all crunchy.  It rehydrates well and is not bad cold.
  • Chicken Alfredo:  Same as the stroganoff.
  • Spaghetti: Same as the stroganoff except the bowl is more difficult to clean up eating.  Added some soap and water and put the lid back on for a while and it seemed to clean up OK.
  • Tuna/Bean Spread: A mixture of tuna and white beans pureed in the food processor along with some salsa.  Rehydrates quickly and works with crackers.  Mine was a bit bland when rehydrated through.
  • Applesauce: Spread out applesauce in a thin layer on a screen and doctor with cinnamon if desired.  Dry until firm to the touch and then peel it off the tray.  While others liked this, I did not, so will probably not do it again.
  • Bananas: Slice into 1/4 inches slices and dry until they flex but do not break. I ate most of these, but find them to be a bit overpowering; concentrated banana.  I will likely just opt for store bought banana chips instead.

Storage

I do not have a lot of experience with dehydration, and the shelf life of the product.  But most of what I have read indicates you need to keep it dry and in an airtight container.  And keeping it in the refrigerator or freezer will prolong its shelf life.  So, I bought a case of quart sized canning jars and am using them to store dried ingredients.  Sometimes the ingredients are also in Ziploc bags, allowing peppers and onions, for instance, to be kept in the same jar.

Once I get them combined into actual meals and bagged up, I am putting them into the freezer until it is time to hit the trail.  Hopefully they will keep well until I leave in July.

Meals

Like last year, I a planning on four meals a day, plus snacks.  Most of these meals are pretty simple: a pint of instant breakfast and Nido while breaking camp; granola cereal with Nido mid to late morning; tuna salad (in a foil packet), spam (also in a foil packet) or PB&J on a tortilla in the early afternoon.

Only the evening meal will require any preparation, and that will be minimal.  After the mid afternoon meal, I can empty a dehydrated meal into a two cup Ziploc bowl with a lid, cover it with water, and stow back into my pack until dinner time.  Then I can pull it out, eat, clean the bowl and then set up camp or hike on farther.

Top Ramen Casserole
One of my primary dinners will be Top Ramen based.  But added to the noodles will be a teaspoon of onions and peppers and a tablespoon each of corn, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and one of the dried meats, seasoned to taste.  I take 4 packages of noodles and divide them up 5 ways and then add the other ingredients into a sandwich sized Ziploc.  2-3 hours before eating, pour it into a bowl, add just enough water to cover the mixture and put the lid on the bowl.  When it is ready you can just eat it out of the bowl with a spoon.

Burritos
My burritos are made of beans, a grain and a meat, along with some onions and cheese.  Since I have both whole and refried pinto beans; barley, mixed grain and mixed rice; chicken, tuna and hanburger; I can make quite a variety of burritos.  I prepare ahead of time by putting 1/4 cup of each of the three main ingredients into a Ziploc, along with onions and cheese and seasoning.  2-3 hours before eating, pour it into a bowl, add just enough water to cover the mixture and put the lid on the bowl.  This makes enough to make two nice burritos using 8" flour tortillas, plus maybe a bit left over to eat directly from the bowl.  I take along enough individual mayonnaise packets to be able to add one to each burrito for extra fat and flavor, but that addition would be a very personal thing.

Leftovers
So far, I have found that Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Alfredo and Spaghetti all dehydrate well and are tasty when rehydrated and eaten cold.  After they are dried, store in a Ziploc and treat just like the Top Ramen.  I am looking for other leftovers that I can treat the same way.

I still have about 3 months until I start this summers PCT travels, so I am sure that the menu and options will change between now and then.  I expect to update this article over the next three months as I continue to work on the menu.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Homosexuality and the Bible

I am a follower of Jesus, a Christian.  I try to follow the teaching of Jesus and the apostles as recorded in the New Testament.  I hang out mostly with other Christians.  And all of that has an effect on how I react to social issues in the community at large.  And one of the biggest social issues today seems to be concerning homosexuality.  It is causing much anguish, gnashing of teeth, and condemnation in the Christian community today.  But why?

Well, the Bible does seem to clearly speak against the practice.  I know there are those who argue that those passages that speak against homosexuality are actually mistranslations, but I find that a reach.  There are several New Testament passages, Romans 1:26-27 & 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, that seem to be pretty explicit in their stand against homosexuality.

But this doesn't really explain why so many in the Christian community are so outspoken in their condemnation of the practice.  Why are those same people not speaking out just as loudly against other practices that the New Testament opposes.  Take a closer look at the 1 Corinthians passage mentioned above.
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
I seldom hear the same outcry against greed in general, although there are individual exceptions.  And it seems that the outcry against everything else on this list does not approach that against homosexuality.  Why do we pick that one thing to focus our attention on?

I suspect it is because I have a certain amount of guilt concerning most of the rest of these things, or at least recognize that I could easily fall to them.  But, for me at least, homosexuality is icky.  It is not easy to have much physical contact with another man beyond a handshake or occasional hug.  I cannot even imagine anything more intimate.

For so long our culture has been uncomfortable with male intimacy, while at the same time accepting adultery, greed, drunkenness and slander, even while saying they are wrong.  And so, being largely a product of my culture, homosexuality becomes one of the worst thing that I can imagine.  And that's too bad, because I do not find anything in the Bible that would elevate it to such a lofty status.

So how should I respond to the New Testament admonitions against homosexuality?  The same way I do regarding greed.  My primary focus should be towards personal holiness, living up to the instructions of Jesus, Paul, Peter and John.  Second, encouraging other believers to live holy lives.  And finally, responding to the people of this world in the same way that Jesus did, who ate and hung out with sinners and outcasts, those that the religious folks of his day condemned.  Jesus was more concerned about getting them into a right relationship with the Father than with having them 'clean up' their lives.

I am responsible for my own life and actions.  It is not my place to judge those who make no claim to follow the teachings of Jesus.  It is really not my place to tell them how they should live their lives.  It is my place to share the good news of Jesus love with them.  If they accept that, then God will deal with them concerning holiness.  If not, then ultimately it makes no difference how they live.

So, I will not be a voice crying out against the evils of homosexuality in the world around me, in spite of my feelings about it.  Instead, I will try and follow Jesus example, and demonstrate love to my homosexual neighbors.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Final Word on My Heart - For Now

In the last three months I have seen my doctor, a cardiologist and a physiologist; been wired up to a heart event monitor for two weeks, had my thyroid checked, had an echocardiogram and a treadmill stress test; told not to run; told I could run; started taking metoprolol to lower my pulse rate; and spent a lot of time online researching heart arrhythmias.  It has been interesting, as well as a bit unsettling, but all of the visits and tests are done for now.

I have an irregular heartbeat.  This is nothing new, fairly common and nothing to worry about.  When it gets bad, I can feel it.  But it is safe to ignore, or so I am told.

I also have both atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation.  These are not all that uncommon and can be a source of concern.  But I am assured that in my case the risk of blood clots and stroke are pretty low: lower than the risk of taking blood thinners to prevent potential clots.

The cause is pretty much anybody's guess at this point.  Most of the common causes are not applicable to me: don't smoke, don't drink, not obese, no other family history of heart issues.  Cholesterol is up a bit and caffeine consumption is way down with no impact.  It does seem to be triggered by exercise, but no indication that running brought it on in the first place.

There is a fairly easy and reliable procedure to deal with atrial flutter.  There is also a similar procedure that can deal with atrial fibrillation, but it is more involved with only about a 70% chance of correcting the problem the first time.  Both procedures could be done at the same time, but my condition is not really serious enough to justify the risks during the procedure or the risk of having it not work.  At some point in the future that may change; but for now those procedures are not planned.

Metoprolol is a beta blocker that is used to treat a variety of ailments, including mine.  I am taking it because it reduces the heart rate and keeps it from getting to high.  It has dropped my resting heart rate from the upper 50's down into the upper 40's, as well as reducing my blood pressure a bit.  More significantly, it drops the 150 bpm when running down to about 115.  So now, when my heart decides to go into fibrillation it only gets up to 150 instead of 210.

The downside to this is that my legs complain when running that they are not getting enough oxygen, reducing  what was a moderate pace for an old guy to what seems like a crawl.  But of course the upside to it is that I can run and hike and whatever other strenuous activity I want to do, so long as I take a pill twice a day, and am not in a hurry.  Small price to pay, I guess.

The bottom line is that I am free to resume my normal routine with no limitations, so long as I continue to take the metoprolol.  Keep an eye on the heart rate while running, and if it begins to climb again, report back to my electrophysiologist.  And check back with him in a year.

"In everything give thanks
1 Thessalonians 5:18a KJV

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Top 10 Reasons Why I Believe in God


I cannot prove that God exists.  Nor can I provide compelling arguments for why a person should believe in the existence of a creator God.  But I do believe, and am convinced that God exists and that he has a purpose for my existence.  What follows is a sometimes light hearted attempt to express just why I believe.  I do not expect that these reasons will be compelling to one who does not currently believe in God, but hopefully they will give some insight into why at least one person is a believer.

1. My past:  I have accepted that God exists for as long as I can remember.  I have believed in God for the past 41 years and 7 months, give or take a few days.  To me, the difference between accepting that God exists and believing in him is that belief requires some action on my part.  In the past 40+ years I have sought to make God a part of my life. Today, I look back at that 40+ year journey and believe that I can see God working in my life and can remember the encounters I have had with him.  To a large extent my past serves as the foundation for my present.

2. My current condition:  Today, as most every other day, I felt the need to talk with God and to listen for him.  God is a part of who I am and gives purpose to my existence.  I am what I am today because of him.

3. Friends:  Over the years I have had a number of friends, as opposed to acquaintances, the vast majority of them church goers, and there have been some of them with the same relationship with God that I have, and some that I could only dream of having.  Their presence, and our shared experience, is a reminder to me that God is not just a figment of my imagination, but is something that others share as well.

4. Other believers through history:  There are many many examples over the past 2000 years of people who have given their lives for their belief in God.  Foxes Book of Martyrs is one compilation of the faith of some early believers in Christ and the price they paid.  There are many other accounts as well.  It was a very real thing to them and worth dying for.  They encourage me.

5. The Bible:  The New Testament actually.  This collection of writings has been an integral part of my life for the past 40+ years.  I have read some parts of it easily a 100 times and all of it at least 30, memorizing large portions of it.  These writings speak to my heart, and shape what I believe about God and his purpose.  While technically I do not believe because of the NT, it does dramatically effect what I believe about him.

6. Makes more sense than no God:  A universe that was purposefully put into place by a creator makes more sense to me than one that happened accidentally.  While I do not know why God exists, his involvement in this universe provides an answer to the big 'why' questions for me: why the universe, and myself, exist.

7. It is rational:  There are a number of 'proofs' for the existence of God, although I believe they are really only effective for one who already believes or is looking for a reason to believe.  But they do tell me that belief in God is at least a logical possibility, that it is not irrational to believe in a creator.

8. I am comfortable with it:  Maybe not the best reason in the world, but I am happy believing in God and it comfortably fits into who I am.

9. No valid reason not to:  No one has yet provided me with a compelling reason not be believe in God.

10. It irritates atheists:  And finally, in order to make this an even 10, it appears to bug atheists, getting them all lathered up, just as much as the thought of atheism does to most who take it for granted that God exists.  And, just in case your irony meter is broken, this one is a lame attempt at a joke.