My Weight Loss Journey

Jeff Scurlock —  January 20, 2018 — 1 Comment

Weight loss 2016 - 2017I’ve lost a lot of weight. But first, I gained a lot of weight. This is my story in a snapshot.

I was always a big kid. Not fat; but I do remember that when my mother would buy me dungarees (that’s what we called them in those days), my size always included the word, “husky.”

When I became a High School football player, I was only in the eighth grade. Most kids didn’t play high school football until the tenth grade. I guess I showed promise.  From day one, my coaches preached, “Get stronger; get bigger,” and I did. I became massively strong for a kid in the seventies, bench-pressing as much as 400 pounds.  I did get bigger, but not huge and never extremely overweight. My body was comprised of a lot of muscle.

My ideal weight with all of that muscle was about 220 pounds. By the end of my senior year, I was about 230 pounds; just a bit pudgy in my stomach area. At nineteen, I married my first real girlfriend. We were young and hungry.  With no children yet, we ate good. Pizza, cookies, ice cream and ice crème with cookies in it became staples in our diet and I began gaining weight, at times as heavy as 250 pounds.

At twenty-three I entered college to prepare for the ministry. When our first child was about two, we became heavily involved in a little country church. In addition to going to school full-time, I worked a labor-intensive morning job at UPS.  With Felicia, at her job at J.C. Penny and our young son, Adam, at the daycare center, I worked a morning job so my afternoons were usually free. My college buddy and I spent a lot of those afternoons walking a golf course that allowed college students to play for two dollars.  We also played handball and tennis in the evenings.  With all of that activity, I got really fit and was back down to 220 pounds.

Following college, I entered full-time ministry at a small church in a small town. It was a shock to my system. No mornings at UPS. No handball. No golf buddy. No classes to attend. Long story short, I went from being extremely active to living a sedentary lifestyle.  In the first year of full-time ministry, I gained eighty pounds. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, I went from 220 to 300 pounds.

The years rocked on and my weight fluctuated with every new resolve that I was going to get healthier. I would lose a few pounds and then I would gain a few. Over and over, I went through the lose and gain cycle; and with every gain, I added on even more weight.

Years later, we moved to a small, sleepy community to serve a church as the pastor. By then, we had three kids and I weighed about 330 pounds.  The church fed us well, as small, southern churches do. It wasn’t unusual for someone to bring us a bag of groceries or a pan of biscuits.  Within four years of moving into that community, I had gained an even more substantial amount of weight.  No longer could I weigh at the doctor’s office because the scale’s limit was 350 pounds.  I didn’t know how much I weighed, but I knew it was more than 350 pounds.

Weight Loss 1997One morning, I was visiting a rehabilitation center because I was considering their gym membership offer. I noticed they had an electronic scale and it was a big one. I decided to step on. I received the shock of my life. I weight 394 pounds. This couldn’t be!  I had gone from being a specimen of health and activity to being a balding, 394-pound man. I was so big, that friends from my past who had not seen me in a while didn’t recognize me.

I’d love to tell you that I took immediate control of the situation, but I didn’t. It looked like a mountain that I could never climb. I felt hopeless.  Sometime later, I found out that I had type 2 diabetes. My doctor explained to me that my diabetes was most likely onset because of obesity. I had been obese for years by that time, but I had never heard a doctor use that horrible word when talking about me. I later found out that not only was I obese, but I was morbidly obese. That means that death could be imminent due to the amount of weight I was carrying. In addition to all of that ’wonderful’ news, the doctor told me that within five years, I would most likely lose my legs.  I thought he was just trying to scare me into doing something. His tactics worked well enough that I began a low carbohydrate lifestyle called, ”The Atkins Diet.”  This was my kind of diet because I could eat all of the meat I wanted. I am a carnivore. I love meat. I started losing some weight.  It took me about twenty years, and I managed to lose about seventy pounds. The only problem was that it took twenty years.. I was seventy pounds lighter at about 330 pounds; but by this time, I was in my mid-fifties. I still battled diabetes, which was never under control during those years. I was on medication for high blood pressure and with twenty more years on my body, I was not any healthier.The cycle continued.  About four years ago, I lost about thirty pounds. For the first time in years, I was less than 300 Weight Loss 2010pounds. I gained, I lost and I gained.  According to my doctor’s records, in February of 2017, I weighed 298 pounds; but by that time, I was fifty-seven. My diabetes was still not under control. I was still on medication for high blood pressure and I still felt horrible and horribly unhealthy.

In March of 2017, I prayed, “Father, if you will show me how to get healthier, I will do it.” I meant it! It’s easy to answer that question if you’re not in my shoes. I would get all kinds of advice. The advice that I loved to hate was, “Just push away from the table!” That’s much easier said than done. In April of 2017, I saw a Facebook post by another minister. In his post, he said that he had lost seventy pounds. Pat is a smaller framed guy than I and honestly, I had never noticed that he needed to lose weight, much less seventy pounds.  I posted a comment on his post that was something like this: “Pat, I’d love to know how you lost seventy pounds.” Almost immediately Pat responded: “Jeff, if it’s okay, I’d love to get on the phone with you sometime tomorrow and share my story.”  The next day, we were on the phone together. After about ten minutes, I was feeling a tinge of excitement.  I was thinking that this health plan might be the answer to my prayer.

I shared what I had learned with Felicia. She wasn’t impressed.  She didn’t say anything negative, but after thirty-seven years of marriage, you know.  I wanted her to be excited. I wanted her to encourage me to go for it. The only problem was that there was a cost. I was going to have to spend some money.  She has been with me through my whole weight journey. She has seen me try many weight loss programs and fail. She wasn’t sure she wanted me to spend money just to fail again and the money be wasted. I understood that.  The more I discussed it with her the tenser she became. She would tell me to do it, but I could tell she was frustrated with me. I was hesitant. She was then and still is my number one supporter. I wanted her to be on board.

After a few days of discussion and thinking, I decided I would go for it, with or without her approval. Please understand. I’m not trying to make Felicia sound like a mean, unsupportive wife. She is just the opposite and that’s why it bothered me so much when I did not have her approval.

A few days later, I started this program.  The first week I lost six pounds. The second week I lost seven pounds. The third week I lost four pounds. The fourth week I lost another four pounds. In one month I was twenty-one pounds lighter. People started noticing that I had lost a few pounds.  The greatest thing to me was that Felicia was now noticing and bragging about my results.  A couple of weeks later, she became so impressed with my results that she started the program, too.

By October of 2017, I had lost eighty pounds.  In five months I was eighty pounds lighter. Not only had I lost a substantial amount of weight, Felicia had also lost forty pounds, which, for her, was a substantial amount of weight as well.  In addition to our weight loss, we had become what our company calls, “health coaches” and we were leading others to lose weight and get healthier. That part was then and still is extremely rewarding.

During those five months, I didn’t visit my doctor. I didn’t have any reason to see him. I was feeling great. In October, I finally did see him but only because I was dealing with a shoulder injury. When he walked into the examination room, the first words out of his mouth were, “Congratulations! How did you do it?” It had been a while since I had seen him, so lab work was ordered. Blood was drawn and urine samples were taken.  As a result of having my blood pressure checked and blood and urine tested, I found out that my blood pressure was completely normal and my A1C was 5.2.  The understory to the story is that I had already stopped taking any diabetic or blood pressure medication and still I had those great numbers. Please understand, it was my decision to stop my medication on my on but I DO NOT recommend that you do the same. My doctor’s words to me were, “Keep doing what you’re doing and you won’t need any medication for blood pressure or diabetes.”

In October, I entered the maintenance phase of our health plan. During this time, the goal was to maintain the weight loss, which I have done.

Recent Weight Loss. On the left November 2016 298 pounds. On the right November 2018 218lbs

Recent Weight Loss. On the left November 2016 298 pounds. On the right November 2018 218lbs

 

Now it’s January 2018. I gained a few pounds during the Christmas holiday season but have already lost those extra pounds and am now back on the weight loss program. My plan is to lose another thirty pounds. When I do, I will weigh 190 pounds. I haven’t weighed 190 pounds since I was in the tenth grade. When I reach that goal, I will be over 200 pounds lighter than I was at my heaviest.

Why am I doing this? I’m doing it because I want my days ahead to be greater than those behind me.   Because I want to be a better husband, father, papa, pastor, and friend.  At fifty-seven years of age, I’m healthier than I was at thirty-seven. That’s why I do it. Why do I offer to help other people do it? Because I know what it’s like to have no hope and I want to help others have hope. I want to help others be healthier, if I make a few extra dollars in the process, that’s good too.

What is your “Why?”  Is your ‘why’ large enough for you to make a commitment?  Is your ‘why’ large enough that you’re ready to re-align your priorities?

Felicia and I would love to help you. For more infomation please email me at jeffscurlock@bellsouth.net or via facebook messenger.

Have you read my book, The Eye of A Needle? Order your copy here.

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Note: I’m late posting this article from Christmas Eve, but the message remains the same. I hope it helps you.

It’s Christmas Eve, 2017. Do you know what that means? It means that it’s almost January first!

I’m not a proponent of New Year’s Resolutions; not at all. Resolutions rarely work. I won’t bore you with all the scientific details, but there are actually physiological reasons for the failure of resolutions.

Resolutions rarely work because we stand up tall, square our shoulders, and declare to ourselves that we resolve that next year will be different because we resolve to accomplish something; and it’s usually the same something we declared last year. Then something happens. It’s called life. As life happens, those spoken resolutions fade into the blur of a fast-moving calendar and everything that comes with it. But for the most part, those resolutions are forgotten until December 31 of the next year.

I am a believer in having goals and that leading up to January is a good time to review, renew, and establish goals. What’s the difference? Honestly, I’m not totally sure; but hang in here with me.

I believe in establishing goals. Goals are life targets. However, there are problems with goals, too. Goals can be forgotten. I have an application on my devices called Evernote. The cool thing about Evernote is that you never lose anything you put into it. Word recognition makes it almost if not entirely impossible for anything to be lost. Scan a document in and it will recognize the words in that document. Simply type some words into the search bar and every note and document you have that includes that word will appear.

Recently in Evernote I typed “goals” into the search bar. Goals that I had typed into Evernote as far back as 2012 came to the surface. With those goals came some disappointment. I had typed them into a note and forgotten them. Why would I forget an important goal? Because life happened and, well, I forgot.

Why is it so easy to forget? Life! Looking back at my goals from 2012, I found one of my goals that I didn’t totally achieve but I didn’t forget it, either. I set a goal in 2012 to read fifty-two books. I do believe in reading, but fifty-two books is not a goal that I necessarily recommend. I didn’t forget that goal to read all of those books because it was always in front of me. Every day, my current book was there for me to pick up. On my desk there were always three or four books that were in the bullpen just waiting for their turn. As I started reading one book, I ordered another. I didn’t read fifty-two books in 2012, but I did read thirty-four, which is pretty good and most importantly, I never forgot the goal because it was in front of me.

Lately I’ve been thinking again about my goals and that 2012 goal to read fifty-two books. So, I’m approaching the year with a new, untested goal- tracking system. I bought myself a cheap journal. It’s one of the spiral bound type that almost looks like your typical high school composition book.

Here is the untested system.

First, I wrote my goals on the first two pages of the journal. Remember, some scientists say that the action of writing makes the information more concrete, mentally. Now every morning as I have my quiet time, I read from the Bible, pray, listen to a podcast, read a few pages from my current read, and I re-write my goals. That’s right! The plan is that everyday of this next year, I will rewrite my goals. I will also add notes such as, “goal completed” and “goal dropped”; or I may write a note to explain what I will do on that day to help myself achieve that goal. We’ll see how it goes.

W Clemet Stone said, “No matter how carefully you plan your goals, they will never be more than pipe dreams unless you pursue them with gusto.”

Finally, here are a few goal-setting pointers:
1. Write you goals down.
2. Read or rewrite your goals daily.
3. Be willing to edit your goal list. You may find that your priorities will change as the year goes by.
4. Act! Do something to make your goals a reality.

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Here I sit with a sausage biscuit and a cup of coffee. It’s about 8am and I’m at one of many fast food joints that offer breakfast. I’ve eaten here for breakfast many times. As a matter of fact I’ve had sausage biscuits at many of the locations of this national brand fast food eatery. I guess it’s safe to say that over the last thirty years or so I’ve eaten hundreds of sausage biscuits at their many locations.

After a few sips of delicious black coffee I unwrapped my biscuit. Something about it didn’t look right. As I said, I’ve eyed and eaten hundreds of these things, but I regress. I take a bite. It doesn’t taste right. The texture is so wrong. Is there something wrong with me? I took another bite and in the style of Andrew Zimmern I began to analyze it (quietly of course). It’s dry but doughy with a bit of a stale flavor. I’ve been known to dip my sausage biscuit into coffee for a little extra flavor so I dipped. There was no change. What is wrong with me, with this biscuit?

After a few moments I decided that I must have gotten a bad biscuit and that I would just get another one. I stepped up to the counter facing the same lady who took my original order. “One sausage biscuit”, I said. She looked at me kind of strange and then I asked her. “Have you guys had any complaints about the biscuits”? She being a good employee passed the buck and called the manager on duty over and said to him, “he wants to know if we’ve had any complaints about the biscuits”. His face turned a little red and he said to me, “it’s the wrong dough. We ran out of our regular dough and we’re using this stuff until the truck comes.” He seemed a little embarrassed like a child who had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He offered to give me something else but I declined. I was glad to find out it was the wrong dough. I was glad to know that my analysis had been correct and that in fact the biscuits were FAKE.

Like many things in life I left that restaurant with a thought. No matter what we’re doing in life, trying to be nice, living a Christian life or cooking biscuits, being fake doesn’t get it done. Here’s what I think. If the dough is wrong tell the customers up front don’t’ try to fake it. If you’re a Christian but struggling don’t be a fake, be real.

Most people can see right through fake. On the other hand, most people will respect you when you’re real, when they know you’re a Christ follower with real struggles.

Just a thought.

I’d love for you to have a copy of my book, The Eye of A Needle. You can find it in paperback and Kindle format here.

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My dad once said with a big smile, “I want to show you my butter bean vines,”  so we walked to his garden. This particular year, he had planted running bean vines that grew on a wire fence he had constructed. This way he could pick his butter beans standing up. I wish he would have thought about standing up vines when I was living at home. We picked butter beans that grew on plants very low to the ground. It was hard work. Anyway…..

“Have you ever seen more beautiful bean vines?” he asked me. My answer was a definite, “No.” We stood there and looked at the greenest, thickest, healthiest looking butter bean vines I had ever seen.  Sensing his pride, I bragged and told him that I was so impressed, that never in my life had I ever seen such beautiful butter bean vines.  Then he asked, “Do you see anything wrong with these vines?” “No sir!” I said.  He said, “Look closer.” I was puzzled and not sure what I was supposed to be seeing, so I asked, “Is there something wrong with these vines?” He wouldn’t tell me at first; he wanted me to see, but eventually he said, “These are the most beautiful butter bean vines I have ever grown, but look, there are no beans.  There aren’t even any blooms.  I’ve grown the most beautiful butter bean vines I’ve ever grown, and they are useless because there are no beans, no fruit.  I’ll just have to wait for them to die and then burn them”.

My dad passed away this past March. Just a few days ago I was cutting grass for my mother, I rode past that spot and remembered that conversation with my Dad. I also remembered the words of Jesus in John 15, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;”

My dad’s butter bean vine reminded me that looks don’t matter.  It doesn’t matter how beautiful we seem to be, how good, how Holy.

The answer: spend less time worrying about how you look on the outside and pleasing men and more time developing the inside and your relationship with God so that you will produce fruit and please Him.

 

Get a copy of my book, The Eye of a Needle here.

American-Sniper-Chris-Kyle
The moment I heard there was going to be an American Sniper movie based on the book by Chris Kyle I knew I had to see it. My plan was to go the day the movie was released locally.
I don’t make it a habit of seeing R rated movies. I have seen a few. Movies like The Lone Survivor, Saving Private Ryan, The Passion of The Christ and now The American Sniper.
I didn’t get to see American Sniper the day it was released and now several weeks have gone by since that release. Finally, yesterday, I had the opportunity. I sat in a theatre without Felicia and with about sixty other people whom I did not know. When the movie was over and the credits rolled to silence (no music) the moviegoers left quietly and for my part, reverently.
I’ve heard so much controversy over the last few weeks about this movie and the legacy of Chris Kyle. Liberal moviemaker Michael Moore was quoted as having tweeted that snipers were cowards. The liberals jumped on board. I watched MSNBC one night just to see what they were up to and they were discussing American Sniper with a panel of liberal journalist who apparently all hated the movie. Why?
There is now a culture in our nation that hates this great country. They hate the pledge of allegiance, the national anthem, patriotism and the God on whom this nation was established.
They  murder innocent children. They have taken prayer out of schools, God out of the town square, Christ out of Christmas, and morality out of marriage. Many Christians barely bristle when they talk hate against heroes like Chris Kyle while in the same breath promote gay marriage and the rights of transgender anomalies.
American Sniper was a great movie about a great American hero. We need more men and women like Kyle who will take on responsibility and stand for what is right.  You may never be a Navy Seal. Even less chance that you’ll ever put your eye to the scope of a 50 Cal and shoot a target 1.2 miles away but, you can still live with courage and conviction.
What I find entertaining is that while the liberals scream their hate for American Sniper those who made it are laughing all the way to the bank.  As of this morning American Sniper is the number two top grossing R rated movie of all time behind only The Passion of the Christ, the two movies that the liberals hate the most.
Live with courage and conviction.

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Last week a federal judge ruled that the State of Alabama’s constitutional ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional.  A constitutional ban that was approved in 2006 by 81% of Alabama voters.  As an American I’m extremely troubled that activist judges are ignoring the will of an overwhelming majority of Americans. However, that’s another subject for another day.

I will approach this article primarily by responding to things I have heard from those who support homosexual rights.

1.  If you don’t support gay rights you’re a hate monger.  I agree that there are people in our country who hate gay people but those people do not represent all of us. I also acknowledge that there are people who call themselves Christian who are full of hate. They are not Christians.   I believe that same sex relationships are a sin but I DO NOT HATE HOMOSEXUALS.  I’m sure that some will read this post and respond to me with anger and even hatred but I refuse to hate you back.  I do not hate you and God does not hate you. God hates sin but not the sinner.

2.  I was born this way.  Ok!  I don’t have a problem with that statement and I may be one of the few conservative Christians that you will hear say it.  Here’s why I don’t have a huge problem with the statement.  The Bible (my authority) says in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.  I was born a sinner too. Let me give you an example. When I was three years old I lied to my mother. I was a three year old liar. No one taught me to be a liar, it came naturally. I was born that way.  God’s word teaches us explicitly that we should not lie.  When I became a follower of Christ, part of my growth as a believer was to overcome my “tendency” to lie.  So maybe you’re not a liar but you do have a “desire” to have a gay relationship.  If you are a follower of Christ you should be seeking the healing and deliverance of God to change you’re desires and overcome them.  I stopped lying years ago.

I have a few questions:

  • If a man is born with a desire to kill should he have the constitutional right to do so because he says that he was born that way?
  • If someone wants to have sex with children and their argument is “I was born a pedophile” does that make its ok?
  • If a man gets married but then discovers he likes having sex with multiple people should the constitution protect him from his spouses desire for a divorce?

3. People who use the Bible to support their belief’s are “Bible Thumpers.”  Ok again.  I believe the Bible.  I have been a  student of the Bible  for almost forty years.  Reading the Bible and accepting it by faith is part of my faith. However as I am referring to it I’m not angry nor am I foaming at the mouth.  In addition to accepting the Bible by faith I also see the Bible being fulfilled throughout history and even today.  It’s real and it is the inspired Word of God.  As a Christian I have to believe that. If I don’t believe it, then my Faith in Christ comes into question. The Bible is my final authority on all matters.  If you don’t believe the Bible, Ok but don’t hate me because I do and I want society to reflect it.

4.  God doesn’t care about homosexuality.  You have to ignore the Bible to make that statement. Scriptures are replete with passages that show God’s disdain for homosexuality.

Leviticus 18:22New International Version (NIV)  “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

Leviticus 20:13 New International Version (NIV)  “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. Note: Because I understand scripture and understand that Leviticus is the law, I’m not suggesting that God wants us to put homosexuals to death. All I’m doing in sharing this verse is to show you that indeed, God does care.

New International Version (NIV)   1 Timothy 1:   8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

Look at this passage of scripture from Romans 1

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

I’ve given you just a sampling of scripture. There are many more. My only motive is not to “Thump” the Bible but to show you that God does care and that God does not approve of homosexuality.

If you have made your mind up about this matter I may not change it. But if your trying to decide what you believe then take my argument to heart and mind.  If you call yourself a Christian but support the gay rights issue I’d love to have you hear my heart.

If you feel trapped by a desire to be a homosexuality, there is deliverance.

As I close I’d like to reiterate that I don’t hate you if you disagree. I love people,  even those who do not agree with me. I love you!

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Note from me: I usually write when something is burring in my heart or heavy on my mind. I write and  type fast and I make mistakes. I don’t take the time to have my entries proof read because of the urgency in my heart at the moment and, spelling and grammar are not some of my strong points. So please excuse the spelling errors that get by Word and for my grammar and  mistakes.

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Every year during the month of January many in Christian churches spend time fasting as a first fruits offering, a way to give God the first of the new years. The church where I serve has done this for many years. I thought I would share with you two, only two important points about fasting, points that will help you.

One: It’s not supposed to be hard. Our bodies need food and when we don’t give it to them they rebel with hunger pangs, dizziness and other negative side effects. In addition to the need to have food for health and survival we Americans are accustomed to eating, eating a lot and eating a variety. Our social lives surround food. We sit at the lunch table talking about what we will eat for supper. It’s harder in our culture because food plays a bigger roll here than in many places.

Two: It’s not for your glory. If you’re drawing attention to the fact that you are fasting then you have your reward. Your reward being that other people know you’re fasting and possibly admire you or feel sorry for you. J

esus is recorded in the book of Matthew chapter six saying, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

We fast for the Glory of God. Read Isaiah chapter fifty-eight and see the results of fasting. Here is the list.

  • To loose the chains of injustice.
  • To untie the chords of the yoke.
  • To set the oppressed free.
  • To break every yoke.
  • To give food to the hungry
  • To clothe the naked.
  • Your light will break forth.
  • Your healing will appear.
  • You will call and the Lord will answer.

Wow. That’s pretty impressive but there is no way a man can get or take glory for those results. The glory goes to God. If your fasting for attention or for your glory, STOP and go get something to eat. You’re wasting your time. That’s it! I believe in fasting and I believe that it brings great results in our lives. Blessings on you.

Below are links to good books on fasting.

For Sermon Audio on Fasting Click This Link.

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I live and pastor a church in a small town, East Brewton Alabama.  East Brewton is separated only by a creek from the town of Brewton. Brewton and East Brewton, both small towns that make up one community even though some who live In these towns would deny that both communities are one. That’s another subject for another day. The point, It’s a small community. We only have one zip code for home addresses and that zip code also includes much of the rural area around these two towns.  The total population of the zip code is just a little over 16,000. Ok, I’ve made my point. It’s a small community.The church I pastor, First Assembly of God in East Brewton is located on nine ares of beautiful land that years ago was home to the Eagle Drive in theatre.  Sitting on this property we have three buildings that are used for ministry. The first houses our main sanctuary which only seats about one seventy-five the building also houses our offices, old fellowship hall, nurseries and several classrooms. It measures one hundred feet by on hundred feet or ten thousand square feet.   Building number two measures one hundred feet by seventy -five feet or seven thousand five hundred square feet with bout another one thousand square feet upstairs.  It houses our student ministry center, the kitchen, banquet hall, our clothing ministry and video studio.   Our third building is an old school portable building that was moved onto our property and renovated.  It houses part of our children’s ministry and is maybe seven hundred and fifty square feet (I haven’t measured).  All other buildings are storage and maintenance related. So we have a little over eighteen thousand square feet of ministry space, total.

Right now our Sunday morning attendance bounces around from about  one hundred thirty to one hundred fifty-five.  Not a big church by the worlds standard.  There are hundreds and hundreds of churches in our nation that run in the hundreds and thousands. I know many churches that are in small towns and are larger than First Assembly.

I want our church to be larger and we’re working hard to reach more people. However it amazes me when I talk to people in our community about our church and tell them where we are located. Without fail they will say something like, Oh, The Big Church. What?  The other day I was talking to a lady about our church and it’s location AND SHE SAID. Oh that huge church! WHAT? WHAT? A few years ago a man stopped attending our church of one-fifty and when I asked him why he said, “I don’t like big churches.” What? Granted,  we are one of the larger churches in our town but that’s not saying much and granted there are tons of churches in our communities that are much smaller in facilities and numbers than we are but does that qualify us a being big or even huge? I guess size is in the eyes of the beholder.

 

I live in a small town that I love. I love this community but if they think our church is big or even huge, does that make our church a mega church in small town in  south Alabama? No! I just thought I’d share. I aways smile when someone says, “Oh that big church.”  My hope is that this church will grow beyond anything we’ve ever been and blow the mind of this community.

 

Get A Copy of My Book, The Eye of A Needle Here. Also available in Kindle Version for only .99cents.

 

presentsThis morning I visited a local Dollar Store to pick an item we needed at home.  When I made it to the checkout line something  caught my attention.

In the line ahead of me was a young mother. I assume she was a mother because she had a baby with her and I am guessing she had other, older children because of the items she had in her buggy (which was loaded).  She was buying toys and a lot of them.  She was also buying several things in two’s. Two toy guns, two dump trucks and two of several other things.  My guess is that she was Christmas shopping and there were either twins or two boys close together in age involved.

Our society gets so caught up in the commercialism of Christmas, me included.  We think we have to buy expensive gifts for children who don’t understand the value of the gifts their getting..

I have three grandsons and the oldest of them is only twenty-eight months. I am crazy about those boys and love being their Papa.  I’ve got a feeling that as they grow older I’ll be spending a lot of money on stuff for them that they will not appreciate the value of.  I want to buy them things. I want to spoil them. Isn’t that what grandparents are supposed to do?  I’m sure right now I could give the two youngest empty boxes for Christmas and it would suffice. But as they get older….

Back to the young mom in the Dollar Store:  Her buggy was loaded down.  One by one she placed those toys on the counter and one by one the clerk scanned them. Finally he scanned the last item and gave the young mom the dreaded total that she would have to pay.  $45.46 was her total.  I couldn’t help but grin as it dawned on me that this young mom knew the secret of a happy commercial Christmas.  That may have been her complete shopping list for the kiddos in her life and she did it for $45.46.  The kids will be happy and she will not be stressed because she didn’t spend too much money trying to keep up with society.

Maybe we could all learn something from that young mom. Maybe.

 

Great Christmas Gift for the Reader In Your LIfe.

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iPhone Photo by Jeff Scurlock

It’s 10:50 in the morning. I’m sitting in a booth at the local McDonalds. I’ve been here since about 9:00.  My seat is next to a window. I can see the traffic going by and the sun is pouring in.  Some days this McDonalds is my office. Why McDonalds? Because my community doesn’t have a coffee shop with deep arm chairs and low light. That would be nice.

A very precious lady from my church came by about an hour ago and expressed to me that she knew I was having a hard time getting anything done with all these people around me. It’s quite the opposite.  I don’t do it often but it seems that I can get more done in McDonalds that in the supposed sanctity of my office.  There my desk is populated with notes, invoices, clutter and more. Things that distract me and draw my attention away from what I need to be doing.  Here at McDonalds the only thing on my desk are a salt and pepper shaker, my phone, my coffee and of course my computer.

I think the employees here think I’m homeless.  Or maybe the owners of this establishment might want to charge me rent for this space. Or, I might get the gossip lovers fired up. I can hear it now. One gossiper is talking to another fan of gossip saying something like, “I’ve been by McDonalds several times this morning and that preacher’s truck has been sitting there all morning. Surely we’re not paying him to hang out at the coffee shop.” Please excuse my limited grasp at humor.  I don’t have any people in my church that are like that (wink).

The truth of the matter is I’ve had a quite productive morning.  Life is full of distractions. Sometime escape is discovered in the  most unlikely place.

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