Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Live Not By Lies...


I want to make you aware of a new book (came out September 29) that tackles an incredible important subject. The book is Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents, by Rod Dreher.  From the Amazon description page:  

The New York Times bestselling author of The Benedict Option draws on the wisdom of Christian survivors of Soviet persecution to warn American Christians of approaching dangers.

For years, émigrés from the former Soviet bloc have been telling Rod Dreher they see telltale signs of "soft" totalitarianism cropping up in America--something more Brave New World than Nineteen Eighty-Four. Identity politics are beginning to encroach on every aspect of life. Civil liberties are increasingly seen as a threat to "safety". Progressives marginalize conservative, traditional Christians, and other dissenters. Technology and consumerism hasten the possibility of a corporate surveillance state. And the pandemic, having put millions out of work, leaves our country especially vulnerable to demagogic manipulation.

In Live Not By Lies, Dreher amplifies the alarm sounded by the brave men and women who fought totalitarianism. He explains how the totalitarianism facing us today is based less on overt violence and more on psychological manipulation. He tells the stories of modern-day dissidents--clergy, laity, martyrs, and confessors from the Soviet Union and the captive nations of Europe--who offer practical advice for how to identify and resist totalitarianism in our time. Following the model offered by a prophetic World War II-era pastor who prepared believers in his Eastern European to endure the coming of communism, Live Not By Lies teaches American Christians a method for resistance:
    SEE: Acknowledge the reality of the situation.
    JUDGE: Assess reality in the light of what we as Christians know to be true.
    ACT: Take action to protect truth.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn famously said that one of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming totalitarianism can't happen in their country. Many American Christians are making that mistake today, sleepwalking through the erosion of our freedoms. Live Not By Lies will wake them and equip them for the long resistance.


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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Health and Fitness Goals? Tips for Success!

By Timothy Gamble 

If improving your health and fitness was your New Year's resolution, you may already have stumbled. Many of us have. But that's okay, you can always restart your efforts. Here are some tips to make your new efforts more successful.

1) Get Medical Check-Ups!  Highly important, and not just for the usual legal yada-yada of "consult your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise program." Early diagnose of any medical problems you may have is extremely important to your ability to successfully and quickly deal with those problems, and may save you HUGE amounts of money (and suffering) in the long run. This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way. Please don't make my mistake.

Regular vision exams are important not just for your eyes, but they may detect type 2 diabetes long before other symptoms show up. Regular dental exams and cleaning are important not just for your teeth, but because there are some surprising and direct links between the health of your teeth and your heart. 

2) Find external motivation. Don't try to improve your health and fitness for yourself. Its easy to make-up and accept excuses when its only about us. Make your motivation external instead - for your wife, your husband, your kids, your grandkids, or whoever. 

Instead of quitting smoking so you can live longer, make it "I'm quitting smoking so I can live long enough to see my grandkids graduate college."  Instead of getting fit so you'll feel better and have more energy, make it "I'm getting fit so I can better protect my wife and kids.

3) Start small, and take small steps. The easiest way to fail at any diet or fitness program is to try to do too much, too soon. A little pain from sore muscles is probably a good thing, but too much will discourage you and give you an excuse to quit. Its okay to start small and slowly work your way to your goals. Small steps daily will quickly add up to success. 

4) Its good to have an exercise or diet partner, but only if they are as committed to it as you. Having a buddy to diet or exercise with is a great idea, but don't let their lack of commitment stop you. If they call with some excuse as to why they can't jog or work out with you today, DO IT WITHOUT THEM. Don't let their excuse become your excuse. 

5) Be aware of servings sizes and "hidden" calories and sugar. Even a healthy, low calorie salad can quickly become a high-calorie nightmare as you add all the extras - croutons, cheese, sunflower seeds, bacon bits - and top it with a sugar-loaded salad dressing. Besides, if you are just dumping the salad dressing on top instead of measuring out a single serving, you're probably using 2 or 3 servings, so multiple its calorie and sugar content by 2 or 3 to find out how much you're actually adding. With salads, stick to veggies only, and a small amount of zero-sugar olive oil-based salad dressing. Read the labels! Even with their small serving sizes, many salad dressings are loaded with sugar and calories. 

Read the labels for ketchup and other condiments. They often have a surprising amount of sugar, and official serving sizes are rather small, so chances are your using more than a single serving each time. That means, just like with salad dressings, you need to multiple to find how much calories and sugar you're actually consuming. A single serving of Heinz Ketchup has only 20 calories, but 4 grams of sugar. So, if  you're actually consuming 3 servings (easy to do if you like ketchup), the calorie count is 60 with 12 grams of sugar (basically, half a candy bar). 

Nuts are my weakness - I love them! And they do make a healthy snack in moderation - lots of healthy fats, fiber, minerals, and other nutrients. But they are also high in calories. The key is moderation - sticking to a single serving of about 1/4 to 1/3 cup shelled. If you love nuts like I do, its easy to eat a lot more than that, and those calories quickly add up.

6) Be careful of foods labeled "healthy." Words like healthy, lean, low-fat, natural and so forth sound great, but have no real meaning. Most often, they are little more than marketing terms designed by mega-corporations to get you to buy their product. Read the labels. You'll be surprised to find that most "healthy" frozen dinners have 2 to 3 times more sugar than the average candy bar, making the candy bar the actual healthier choice (chocolate does have a lot of antioxidants). But seriously, make your food choices based on what is actually in the food, not what marketing terms they put on the packaging.

Health and fitness is extremely important. Don't give up. 
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