What’s the big deal?

People ask me all the time why I make such a fuss over fitness and nutrition.  Two reasons, one very personal, the other a matter of record.

Personally, meat & three used to be my mantra every day.  My whole world revolved around what and where the next meal would take place.  I ate for taste and ate to fill full (code word: full=gorged).  One of my favorite words in the English language was buffet.  Man, you can go to one of those things, act like a hog in fresh slop (I grew up on a farm), and fit right in with just about everyone else who is waiting on the next slab of whatever.

Then, it happened.  Severe chest pain–ever had it?  Shooting pains down the arms, tightness in the chest like a load of bricks laying on me.  General sluggishness became my friend.  I’d just tell everyone how overworked I was and being tired was the result.  No, the result was thousands of dollars in hospital visits, 17 medications a day, and a warning from a cardiologist that I was going to die soon and very soon if I didn’t change my lifestyle.

It’s kind of weird that people don’t want to talk about lifestyle changes.  They’ll be happy to talk about going on a diet.  Just about everyone I know has been on one–and off–and on another–and off–and on another–and so on.  They all work for a week to ten days and then, boing, it’s back to the way things were except worse.  Did you know that almost everyone who yoyo diets ends up gaining weight?

That’s why I can’t stand by and not say something–to anyone who’ll listen–for personal reasons.  Back to the personal in a paragraph or two.

Now, for the record.  The following article by Annie Hauser, published on May 23, 2014, appeared all over the web.  I found it while checking the local weather on weather.com.  Read it and weep.

“The South might have more warm days than the Mountain West, but that hasn’t helped its residents’ health. Southerners and Midwesterners are the most-obese Americans, according to data, while those in the Northeast and West are more likely to be trim.

Nationwide, average obesity rates do not paint a sunny picture. The obesity rate among American adults is 27.7 percent, according to the latest data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the highest annual rate the organization has measured since it began to track obesity in 2008.

In 2013, American adults had an average obesity rate of 27.1 percent.

Pollsters use the self-reported height and weight of more than 64,000 American adults to calculate body mass index (BMI) scores. Individual BMI values of 30 or above are classified as obese; 25 to 29.9 are overweight; 18.5 to 24.9 are normal weight, with anything below that number considered underweight.

In the six years since Gallup began collecting BMI data, two-thirds of Americans have had BMIs rendering them overweight or obese, a figure consistent with government data, which uses height and weight measurements from clinical exams. More than one-third of these individuals (35 percent) are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Still, it’s important to note that BMI is an imperfect measure, as it does not take into account body composition (muscle vs. fat), so muscular athletes, for example, can be classified as obese.

Blacks are the most likely to be obese of any demographic group, a trend consistent with previous data, Gallup said in a press release. But older Americans (over age 65) experienced the largest percentage increase of obese individuals, from 26.3 percent to 27. 9 percent.

There might be some good news about obesity rates, however. In the past decade, children ages 2 to 5 have experienced a six-percent drop in obesity, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in JAMA in March. Still, the study noted: Across all youth age groups, “there have been no significant changes in obesity prevalence … between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012. Obesity prevalence remains high and thus it is important to continue surveillance.””

That same article had a lot of flashy graphics indicating the least obese and most obese states in America. For the upteenth time, my home state, Mississippi, had the highest rate of obesity, 35.4 percent.  How sad.

For the record, I’m trying to clean up my act and help everyone I can.  I slipped some, myself, in 2013.  My weight climbed back up near 200 pounds, where it was when I started having heart problems.  The warning signs were back–sluggishness, heavy chest, stupidity.  During the Thanksgiving holiday, while I was in South America trying to help some folks in Peru, I decided I better get back on track or I might not live to come back and share the love of Christ again.   I made a conscious decision to not let the holiday season become my fatter than ever season–I actually lost weight right through Christmas by simply controlling my intake (skipping some mighty tasty desserts and only having small helpings of Turkey and dressing and sweet potato casserole).

On January 1, 2014, I weighed 186 pounds which is totally acceptable according to my doctors for a 60 year old man of my height.  Yay!  However, what the doctors have on their charts can be misleading.  Those numbers are over-generalized and allow way too much leeway for continued unhealthy lifestyles.

So, I went to work knowing what to do.  I read and study a lot so I can do a good job teaching the Bible.  I want to look like someone who is in reasonably good physical condition when I stand up to preach.  My body is, after all, the abiding place of the Spirit of God.  Tweaking my nutrition and upping my physical activity did the job.  Now, I’m at 160 pounds–haven’t been there in about 30 years.  My heart is strong, my cholesterol is low, my blood pressure is that of a teenager (again), and I’m still writing and talking about how important it is to take care of your self so that you can help take care of others.

Please listen to what I’m saying. . .and take care of yourself.

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Conditioned or Condemned

If you have read my blog lately, you already know I’ve made a big deal out of being fit.  I stand by that, wholeheartedly.  Thats is not the subject of this little missive.  

The Boy Scouts of America have had as their motto since the beginning of the 20th century, “be prepared.”  You might also remember that Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  

Preparation, being ready, is an encouragement that can be applied to just about any part of life.  In fitness, preparation is a precursor to being conditioned.  You work your body hard, over and over, and it gets stronger.  The same can be said for the mind.  I prepare my mind by reading–a lot.  I ready voraciously, hundreds of articles, book after book.  The more I read, the more I open my mind to the world around me.

When I look at the world around me, I know something is wrong.  People aren’t very happy, they don’t have much joy.  Many struggle with life; sometimes they end their life and the lives of others tragically.  In the move, The Matrix, Morpheus tells Neo at their first meeting, “What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.”

Does that describe a lot of what we’re reading and hearing in the media right now, or what?  Preparation, conditioning, where am I headed with this?  Let me put it this way, if you prepare your mind with the right information, you will be conditioned to think right.  If you go the other direction–bad stuff into your mind–you’ll be conditioned to do bad stuff.  What is the right information?  Jesus and His Word.  What is the wrong information?  Anything that leads you away from Jesus and His Word.

Now, back to my premise–being prepared.  I don’t know where I heard it, but I’ve said more than a few times, if you are not prepared to die, you are not prepared to live.  That was kind of important to me today.  Several hours ago, I sat at a traffic light waiting for the green ball to appear above me so I could get on to where I was going.  The light turned green, I pulled into the intersection and very suddenly found myself rattled, dazed, and not knowing what was going on.  A few minutes later, I realized that someone ran the red light on their side of the intersection and plowed into my car.  After I composed myself and found that there were no serious injuries, it occurred to me that I could have died in that accident.

Was I prepared to die–yes.  Why?  Because my life has been conditioned by Jesus and His Word for more than 35 years now.  I surrendered my life, received Jesus as my Savior, put it any way you like–I was saved by God’s grace a long time ago and I’ve been preparing for life ever since.

While the police were sorting things out and the wrecker was loading my car, just across the intersection another wreck happened.  This time, a baby was in one of the cars.  The mom was livid; who could blame her.  She was rear-ended.  Thankfully, everyone was OK in that wreck, too.  

After a visit to my chiropractor for a much needed spinal adjustment and some therapy, Debbie (my personal chauffeur) was driving me home and guess what we saw less than two miles from the scene of the last two accidents–another one.  This time a beautiful white Harley-Davidson motorcycle was pinned under a pickup truck.  The driver of the bike was sitting on the ground talking on his cellphone, he looked OK, his bike was a mess.  His rider was standing nearby and didn’t look any worse for the wear either.

Preparation, conditioning–necessary, you better believe it.  If you don’t believe it, and you don’t prepare for eternity, one of these days it’ll be  your turn to get hit in an intersection or hit from behind or run over by someone not paying attention as you walk down the street.  Maybe you won’t be as fortunate as me or that baby or that biker.  Maybe your life will end that day.  Are you prepared to die.  If not, you are not prepared to live.


Body Rock, part 2

Today was an absolutely fantastic day.  The new BodyRock LifeGroup met for the first time at church. Being a fitness coach is a blast. I never imagined I could be a preacher and help people with their spiritual strength AND be a trainer and help them with their physical strength.

This has been and will continue to be an arduous journey.  It ain’t easy living for Christ.  The spiritual battle can be overwhelming.  It doesn’t have to be, but it can be.  Life is full of so many twists and turns; you never know what is around the next corner.  We were all born to be spiritual.  That’s why God gave us a soul and sent us a Savior.  When Adam sinned in Eden, the spiritual part of his life died–dead as a hammer.  Jesus came to give that life back to us, and to give it to us with loads of power and influence.

We were also born to be physical.  Well, that’s kind of obvious, huh.  Problem is, most of us take about as good care of the physical as we do the spiritual.  In other words, a lot of us don’t take care of either.  We just wander through life and hope it all works out.  Not gonna happen, takes effort, requires time.

I just happen to live in the state (Mississippi) with the highest incidence of child and adult obesity of all the 50 states in the Union.  Listen to this: for three years running, Mississippi has been the most obese state, followed closely by Tennessee and Alabama–must be a southern thing.  In 2010, more than 34% of people in my state were obese and over 68% were overweight.  That’s scary to me.  Why?  Just a few years ago, I nearly died from heart problems–directly related to weight [read weight as poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyle].

That’s why I’m so excited about my BodyRock class.  This morning, people came from age 20 to over 50.  Some of them were in pretty good condition and others weren’t.  Some had a high percentage of body fat, some did not.  Some were overweight, some were actually a bit light for their size.  Everyone had at least one thing in common–a body–a body that can honor God if it is cared for with some degree of diligence.

So, we put on some fast-paced Christian workout music, hit the machines, the ropes, the bands, the balls, the weights, and sometimes the floor–for an intense, body-rocking, fun time that challenged everyone.  I believe I’m up to the challenge; I hope I am.  Are you?  

If you read this, live close by, and want to get involved, let me know.  We’re just beginning, learning together, and having a blast.  We’d love for you to join us.  What’s it cost?  It’s free.  You can make a donation if you wish to help out with costs, but don’t feel obligated.  When do we meet?  Saturday’s at 8:30 AM.  The current class is almost full–I’ll be glad to do multiple classes on Saturdays.  We CANNOT do too much for God–spiritually or physically.

I praise God for letting me lead this.  Hoorah!


[disclaimer: after I decided to use the name BodyRock from a purely biblical position, I discovered there is a very fine commercial enterprise of the same name–what I’m doing is not part of that venture].  


Body Rock

Sunday, April 6th, 2014 is the 35th anniversary of my decision to trust Christ as Savior & Lord.  Life with Jesus has been a wild ride.  My poor wife never expected to be married to a preacher, much less a crazy one.  God allowed us to “raise” a son who is a wonderful dad, great husband, fine theologian, educator and leading children’s minister.  He gave me the opportunity to go to seminary to get an unbelievable education–Mid America Baptist Theological Seminary & Reformed Seminary.  God has blessed me beyond measure, letting me lead The Church at Lake Forest for almost 24 years.  He had surrounded me with godly leaders and great families. I’m having a blast.

If I live through the end of June, I’ll be 61 years old.  Some days I feel 16 and others I feel, well . . .old.  My wife Debbie and I have been married for almost 42 years.  We were born a week apart in the same hospital.  We do most things together, including working out at our local gym/fitness center–Desoto Athletic Club.  

A few years ago, I had some serious health problems that you might identify with: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high body weight, high fat content, high this and high that.  Sometimes I hate the word high.  When my parents died (I buried them on the same day), my health issues came to a head–severe chest pain, dizziness, arms aching, all the indicators of a heart attack.  My cardiologist confirmed as much and gave me a choice.  Either change my diet and begin an exercise regimen. . .or die.  I didn’t like the second choice.  So, I set out on a multi-year plan to change habits and health.  For the most part it has worked pretty well.  I’d like to say I’m now a picture of health but that’d be a stretch (for those of you who are highly spiritual–a lie).  

I trudge on.  Oh yeah, my weight is as low as it’s been in 20 years, my cholesterol is lower than it’s been in a long time, my fat percentage is low, my blood pressure is the same as it was when I was 16 and life continues to be a blast.  I still eat meat ’cause I’m a classic carnivore.  I just don’t eat as much or as often.  As I get older I’ve moved away from food being my good friend to being that which fuels my engine.  Every stinking time I get to chummy with food, I get in trouble.  I bet you’re the same.

All that brings me to the real reason for writing this blog.  On Saturday, April 5th, the day before my spiritual anniversary, I’m beginning a new chapter in my personal quest toward good health.  I’m going to be sharing a lot of the stuff I’ve learned as I have moved toward becoming a personal trainer.  Training is not a new career for me, it’s just a natural progression as a minister–as I teach people how to care for their soul, I want to help them with their body, too. 

At 8:30 AM, on Saturday, April 5th, I’m beginning a fitness class I call, Body Rock: high intensity, circuit training.  We’re going to do it at TCALF in the fellowship hall.  Fun, fun, fun.  Hard, hard, hard.  It really doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an advanced gymnomaniac.  I have three levels of intensity planned to help you along.  I hope you will consider coming.  I really want to assist you as you realize your need to do better so you can feel better and do more!

AND, I need your help.  Some of the equipment I thought was going to be donated, hasn’t materialized and I have a few, specific needs.  I’m listing them below:

1.  I need a big ‘ole, heavy tractor tire. Big and heavy.

2.  I need an exercise bench (or weight bench).

3.  I need step/jump boxes.

4.  I need exercise ropes: 1-1/2 to 2″ in diameter by about 30 feet long.

Also, if anyone has any hand weights, dumb bells (not your spouse), jump ropes, kettle bells or such stuff that you want to get out of your house, let me know–I’ll take it and put it to good use. The best place to contact me is larry.sykes@tcalf.com.  

This is going to be fun!



For the past several days, Deb and I have been visiting our son and his family in Coral Springs, Fl.  We’ve had a ball playing with the grandkids.  But that is another story.  

Just this past Tuesday (it seems longer when life is moving at the speed of light) we got up at 3 am, dressed while still half asleep, and headed for Memphis International Airport for our flight to Fort Lauderdale, FL.  I knew it would be cool in the airports and on the planes so I wore my black, long-sleeved, No Perfect People Allowed t-shirt.  We didn’t much more than get into Memphis International than someone commented on the shirt.  A little further into the airport and it happened again.  When we boarded our flight to Atlanta (it was a two-parter), one of the flight attendants made a comment and smiled.  I turned sideways so he could see the back.  He read the church name and said, “Hey, I’ve heard of that church.”


When our brief flight to Atlanta ended, we were deplaning and Debbie handed that same flight attendant one of our invite cards and told him, ‘Here is your personal invitation from the pastor’s wife.”  Again, he smiled.  This time he said, “I’ll email you!”  Is that cool or what.

We then made our way through Hartsfield, one of the busiest airports in the world.  Lots of stares, lots of stares.  One TSA agent made a comment as we scurried down to our gate.  At one point we decided to go back for coffee.  She didn’t notice us.  But then, as we passed her by the third time, she smile and made another very nice comment.


Right now, I’m sitting in Ft. Lauderdale International airport and people are still reading the t-shirt–many wondering what it means.  Someone will ask. . .or make a comment. . .and the mission goes on.  

To all our friends at TCALF, remember to wear your NPPA shirt when you are out in the community.  Free advertising for Jesus is the best kind.  When someone makes a comment, invite them to church.  Give ’em a big smile, tell them God is doing some great things in your life and at your church.




Home Sweet Home

I am American.  I am more American than many, if not most, Americans.  My heritage is American Indian, Souix Nation to be precise.  Some would call me a half-breed; I’ve been called much worse.  I just call myself American.

Americans, citizens that is, regardless of what adjective you put in front of the word to give gender or racial specificity to it, are under open attack–by Americans.  To be more to the point, our court system seems out to get us.

In a recent article by Fox News and Associated Press, it is reported that a California court ruled that is was OK for a high school to force students to turn their American flag shirts inside-out on Cinco de Mayo (a Mexican holiday) “due to fears of racial violence.”  

I want to make something very clear right here.  For my part, anyone who comes to visit America is welcome.  It doesn’t matter if they are Hispanic, Muslim, or whatever hot-button group you want to mention.  It is necessary for me to think like this because I am also a Christian–a believer–a Christ follower.  But I also want to make it clear that in America, American’s rights and privileges guaranteed by the United States of America Constitution are supposed to come before any desire, want, concern, or complaint of the visitors.

For far too long now, the judicial system has operated out of the notion that the Constitution either doesn’t matter anymore or it should be “interpreted” according to the will of the various courts.  Hogwash.  The US Constitution was written and put into place to protect Americans.  

Liberals, progressives, and those who deny God want to get their way each and every time something doesn’t go to suit them–often at the peril of the Constitution.  The big problem with this is America is NOT a democracy.  America is a constitutional republic.  Eyes have  been blinded and ears confused by the noise of those who want to destroy the precious nature of our country.  

If Latino kids want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in America, I say let ‘er rip.  But don’t do it at the expense of those who make it possible for you to celebrate.  That’s not only foolish, it’s stupid.  America was founded on a Christian construct.  We ought to keep it that way.


I used everything You gave me

During a sermon a few weeks back, I was trying to encourage, incite, motivate. . .believers to do all they can for God.  That might sound a bit oxymoronic since we all assume all of us in church are actively serving God; don’t we?

For years I’ve heard a cacophony telling me to slow down.  Every once in a while it would work.  I’d give declarations about what I was giving up so that I could rest more and ultimately do more.  And, then, I discovered that just doesn’t work.  Speaking only for myself. . .let me repeat that, speaking only for myself, when I slow down and try to give something up, I just don’t do as much.  And then I start getting used to having the extra time (there is no such thing as extra time by the way) and ultimately get lazy.

There’s an arthritis medicine commercial on TV that says, “A body in motion tends to stay in motion; a body at rest tends to stay at rest.”  Every time I hear that it seems like a call to action.  Of course, when it’s on television I’m usually reclining. . .in my big, leather recliner.  Bummer.

During that hopefully propitious Sunday lesson, I said to the congregation, “I’m going to burn the candle at both ends until I burn up.  Don’t tell me to slow down anymore.”  And I meant it.  

Much to my surprise, one of the sweet ladies in the church who has travelled with me to South America and who is a worker in spite of her limitations, embroidered a small placard for me.  I imagine she was rehearsing her own prayer and I am sure she was listening to me as I shared the desire of my heart.  Here’s what it says: When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.  

That pretty much sums it up.  Whether I’m transporting kids on a school bus, doing sermon preparation, counseling for marriage, rehearsing with the praise band for Sunday services, or doing any of the other myriad activities in which I find myself involved, I try to remember that this one life God gave me is all that I have.  HE gave everything for me and I want to try to give all I am back to Him with thanksgiving.  This is not about performance or trying to prove myself worthy.  I’m not worthy and I can never perform well enough to satisfy God.  This is about being grateful.

One final thought.  When I get tired (that’s not very hard these days), and my body needs rest, I go to bed.  These days, I go to bed early and get up early.  I go to the gym and train myself; I go to the gym and try to keep up with trainers; I work my body to keep it, make it strong(er).  The purpose is simple, so I can use everything he gave me.


Giants in the Land

Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum! Maybe you remember those words from your childhood.  Maybe you’ve read the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.  The story itself has circulated in some form since at least the 1700’s.  Giants have most assuredly always been around.  Jonah’s giant was a big fish, David’s giant was a big Philistine—what’s your giant?

In the 1950’s, I had the joy of growing up on a 550 acre farm with cows, pigs, and chickens.  Granddad, or Pap as we called him, grew and harvested many different grains as well as tobacco.  Not until I was grown and the farm was turned into a big residential development did I realize how valuable that time in life was for me.

Giants were everywhere on that farm.  Some of my earliest memories contain thoughts of milk cows kicking me while I tried to shovel manure out of the milking stalls.  Long before I could drive a car, I rode a big, black Arabian horse.  He was a giant!  That horse was like a good friend.  There were little giants, too.  Rats, snakes, and spiders were their monikers.

The rats were large but not very imposing.  The snakes were quite slithery but they didn’t bother me at all.  In fact, if it wasn’t a cotton mouth or a copper head, I’d play with them sometimes.  Then there were the spiders—spiders of every description.  Arachnids might as well be ten feet tall and weigh 1,000 pounds when I see them.  They cause my bones to shake like an earthquake.  If I never see another one it will be too soon.  Obviously, spiders strike fear in my heart.  Why? Who knows.

Bad habits are like spiders, especially the little spiders you can barely see.  They can be the most poisonous.  Sometimes they are tiny little thoughts that confuse the mind.  Those thoughts seem to be innocuous, but every time they invade your mind they cause chaos.

Other bad habits are not nearly as inconspicuous, but they are just as ominous. In fact, some of our worst habits are just things we have gotten used to—we know they are bad for us, but they are easy, they don’t bring immediate harm, and we just ignore them.  Oh yeah, this type of habit usually affects our waistlines.  Know what I mean?

Bad habits and bad health go together like a spider and its web.  You rarely see one without the other.  Poor mental health comes from poor thinking.  Poor physical health comes from poor eating and poor fitness.

Why in the world is it so hard to get over these habits that act to our detriment.  Everyone of them is a giant—at least in our individual minds.  We really don’t want to face them because we know we will have to change.  We’d rather continue in their web of deceit than overcome them.

How sad for us.  Take a moment to read Romans 8:1-11.  Then, think about your giants.  After you read the first part of that chapter and dwell on it for awhile, read verses 12-17.  Stay there awhile and let God show you what a privilege it is to know Him.  Then, read the rest of the chapter and experience God—the giant killer.

Sometimes, I believe we would rather stand in the shadow of a giant than stand on top of its dead body. I can’t slay my giants; Jesus can.


Jesus is Calling

This morning, as I was moving from a deep, restful sleep into the real world (that happens to me at about 3 AM every morning), an old, old song invaded my mind. . .Jesus Is Tenderly Calling. Fanny J. Crosby wrote this great call to the wayward, weary soul in 1883.  It goes like this [you’ll have to imagine the tune as I did]

Verse: Jesus is tenderly calling you home, calling today, calling today.  Why from the sunshine of love will you roam, farther and farther away?

Refrain: Calling today, calling today, Jesus is calling, is tenderly calling today.  

Verse: Jesus is calling the weary to rest, calling today, calling today; bring Him your burden and you shall be blest; He will not turn you away.

Verse: Jesus in waiting, oh, come to Him now, waiting today, waiting today; come with your sins, at His feet lowly bow; come, and no longer delay.

Verse: Jesus in pleading, oh, list to His voice, hear Him today, hear Him today; they who believe on His name shall rejoice; quickly arise and away.

This and many others songs in hymnals are called Invitations.  Invitation to what?  Well, it could be an invitation to faith in Christ.  That is reflected in the last verse.  Everyone who hears His voice, through Scripture, through a song, through another person’s words, and believes on HIs name, comes into a living, breathing relationship with God.  Pretty cool, huh?

For me, this morning, the tune and the words were a reminder.  Reminder of what?  

First, God was reminding me not to wander too far from home.  Homebase for me is the Word. Why? It’s where I find the most comfort, like being under a warm blanket by a roaring fire. . .at home.  

God was reminding me to rest.  I don’t know about you, but I’m busy.  It seems like I’m always busy.  Busy, busy, busy.  I love reading the Bible just to read it, but I have to dig deep into it for weekly sermons.  That keeps me busy.  I enjoy going to South America on mission.  You probably can’t imagine how much work goes into planning.  That keeps me busy.  Playing guitar in our praise band at church really gets my blooding moving.  Lots of rehearsing.  That keeps me busy.  Many other things reach out for my time. too.  And they all help keep me busy.  I need to rest.  Where is that blanket and fire?

God was reminding me that I’m not as strong as I think I am.  I’m a weak sinner.  I desperately want to be an overcomer in every part of life. . .but the truth is, I’m not.  Each and every time I think I’ve got a handle on this or that, the world slaps me up side the head with something new. . .or something from my past.  Bowing at Jesus’ feet is pretty important.

And God was reminding me that most of the world needs Him.  They don’t know Him. They don’t care about Him.  Heck, the don’t even acknowledge Him.  But He’s still calling, tenderly calling today.



Baby! It’s Cold Outside!

Just ask the people in the Northeast.  We have a relatively balmy 16 degrees here in the Memphis area.

Watching the network news, one would think maybe this has never happened before.  After all, what the heck is an Arctic Vortex? I remember way back in the early 1980’s going out one morning in the snow in Knoxville, TN to ride a sled with my son.  As soon as I walked out the door, the hair in my nostrils froze.  Wow, I thought, maybe we better  go back inside and rethink this.

It didn’t take long to discover that the ambient temperature, that’s right, the regular temp, not the windchill, was -25 degrees.  On that day, for that one morning, Knoxville, TN was one of the coldest places in the US.  So this is not the first or second or third time that we’ve had frigid temperatures in America.

Frigid, what a word.  It’s an adjective that describes the weather when is it very cold, bitterly cold, freezing, frozen, bleak, arctic, etc.  Even when I think about it I like words like hot, tropical and sunny much, much better.  But, frigid can be used in another way.  The one I’m thinking about is describes people instead of the weather.  A frigid person can be one who shows no friendliness toward someone else, or someone who has no enthusiasm or passion for life.  In other words, they come across to those around them as indifferent, distant, aloof, or maybe unapproachable.

That’s sad, really sad. . .especially for Christ followers.  I wonder if people ever think about me that way.  I certainly hope not.  The last thing a redeemed person should be is distant. After all, we’re heaven bound, right? We’re part of a kingdom that will last forever.  We’re part of a family that is based entirely on love.

Jesus gave his life for us. He made is possible for us to understand love. And he gave us some marching orders to share that love.  It reminds me of two passages in the Bible: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy,” [KJV]–I really like that one and, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” [ESV]–I like that one, too.  How can we share our faith, make disciples, and change our world if we are frigid?  We can’t.

So, thaw out, speak up, and show some enthusiasm about Christ.  The world around you will be better for it.