A myHT Fortress

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Today is Day Zero



Today is “Day Zero.”  That is what the doctor said.  From this day forward, our lives our different – in a good way.  A healthy way.  As Kristi slept off some anesthesia in the recovery area, I had some thoughts about our life.

We are wrapped up in a culture of food.  Community festivals and events are all about the fried, portable foods that are found there.  When we have thought of showing Chicago to visiting friends and family, we have always thought in terms of where we would take them to eat: Chicago hot dogs, Chicago-style pizza, Italian beef, Chi Tung (our favorite Chinese restaurant,) etc. Family gatherings and holidays are surrounded by our grandmas’ recipes, and overeating all the appetizers, entrees, and fattening desserts that define Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and more.  Even church events are filled with dinners and sweets with coffee or tea.

Now comes a shift in thinking.  The culture of our own family is transforming, so that the food no longer controls or determines the enjoyment of the day.  That is not to say that food will be absent.  It simply cannot – will not – be the focus.

My wife will no longer be physically able to eat the sweet temptations, filled with added sugar.  The reality is, Ben and I need to join her, at least more often than not.  Proteins and vegetables/fruits need to be the vast majority of our diet.  Period.  Is this an easy culture-change?  No.  But it is the change for the better.

A few thoughts can guide our nutrition from “Day Zero,” forward.

Hydration.  Few people really drink the amount of water their bodies need.  Adults should be drinking 64 oz. – TWO QUARTS – every day.  Some trainers such as Ryan Masters actually teach that you should be drinking an entire gallon daily!  First of all, your body needs water to be in its prime condition.  In addition, sometimes people eat when their bodies really are simply thirsty.

Slowing down.  We eat way to fast.  In the car, on the road.  Scarfing down in front of the TV.  At the kitchen table, but rushing to get to ball practice, band, karate, meetings, or whatever we are cramming into our schedules.  In preparing for bariatric surgery, people are taught that we need to be chewing our food about 30 times per bite-full.  The fork or spoon should be set down each time.  S L O W down.

Balance.  Everyone has told you already: we eat way too many fats, and way too many of the wrong carbs.  Basically, the South Beach Diet has good advice: if you have carbs, they should be the right kind.  Not sugary, white flour-filled things.  Not a heap of potatoes or rice.  Not even your typical “wheat” breads.  Truly whole grain items, fresh fruit, etc.  And the fats you eat should be the ones that will contain the “good” cholesterol.  Plenty of protein and plenty of fruits and veggies for the typical person.  For the bariatric patient, it will mean just focusing on the protein at first.  I am sure that Kristi’s blog will go into all the details on that.

Activity.  Here is where we have been lacking.  In general, we don’t eat poorly.  Maybe we haven’t always made the best choices, but we haven’t overeaten either.  Still, we don’t move enough.  Too much of a pastor’s time is spent sedentary.  Writing at a computer.  Sitting in on meetings.  Sitting in hospital waiting rooms with families, or bringing the Sacrament to a shut-in.  Teaching a catechism class or Bible class.

I am one of the rare people that actually enjoys walking on a treadmill.  We have one in our basement, which I enjoy using while listening to podcasts on Disneyyouth ministry, theology, or wet shaving.  The problem is I rarely justify the time.  “I don’t have time to do this,” I convince myself.  And so there I stay, sedentary.  Well, guess what?  Today is “Day Zero.”  There is much more walking in my future, and some weight training down the road.

Our family events are going to be transformed.  What can we DO together, rather than what can we EAT together.  Bottom line is the slogan that has been around for a while and has much wisdom: Eat Less and Move More.  That’s a good family motto.

Today is “Day Zero” not just for Kristi, but for the entire Heinz family.  Want to join us?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Caught Alive: A Homily on Luke 5:1-11



5th Sunday after Trinity
20 July 2014
St. Johns, Chicago, IL

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Throughout my childhood, my family would typically spend a week at the end of July at a certain fishing resort in Bemidji, Minnesota.  And a little over thirty years ago was when our parents first allowed my cousin and I to go alone in the small boat for the day. It turned out to be amazing!  We ended up in a little inlet on the lake, and must have found a favorite spot for the blue gills and perch.  There was a point when it seemed that one of us had just reeled in a decent-sized fish, and the next would have a bite on his line, and catch it, too!  It was the best day of fishing we had ever experienced.

The disciples were not having as much success.  They had fished all night, and caught nothing.  Not just with a pole, either.  Large nets were cast to drag in greater quantities of fish at once.  Still, they spent hours, all night on the lake, and caught nothing.

But forget about the disciples for a moment.  Think about the fish.  Have you ever thought that life would be easy for fish in the sea?  Well, it is not.  Imagine yourself as one of these creatures.  Other fish, stronger fish, larger fish can be predators that are ready to eat you alive, just like the vicious barracuda in the opening sequence of Disneys Finding Nemo. Storms also can make the water you live in rough and perilous.  And some human can come along with a boat and a large net, and catch you to end your life and eat you.

My friends, you are such fish.  Others may be stronger, or larger than you.  They can preach the gospel of a godless system of (or lack of) morals; which is no gospel at all.  You are attacked by those other fish for your so-called narrow mindedness or simple or foolish biblical Christianity.

The thing is, you are prone to giving in, swimming with the fast and easy currents, wanting the attention and prestige and popularity of the bigger fish.  So you cannot lay all the blame on others; you become a glad and willing party to the very ones who eat you up.   

Yes, indeed, these are rough waters all around you.  And the Old Adam is enjoying the thrill of the danger.  Well, stop!  Repent!  Repent of the arrogance of thinking you can go to the brink of danger and then help yourself out of it.  Repent of laying all the blame on culture, society, Hollywood, and any politician who promotes different values and virtues than you.  They all play a role, to be sure, but you are right there with them.  Turn from this!

Dear friends in Christ, the Lord Jesus today shows us that he is the Master Fisherman.  And He has sent His disciples, and all the generations of ordained pastors who follow them, to be fishers of men.  What?!  But isnt that commanding them to catch us!  And you know what happens when fish get caught?!  They get eaten!  And perhaps hung as a trophy on a wall.

Not so, with our dear Lord Christ.  The word Jesus uses for the verb, to catch, describes catching alive.  And He will keep you alive.  In fact, He gives new birth into an everlasting new life!

It is amazingly Good News that Jesus sends His fishers-of-men to cast the net of the Gospel, and haul you into the boat of His Church a boat filled with baptismal water that rescues and enlivens you.  Here in His Church you are nourished, sustained, and you thrive!  No longer in clutches that are ready to deceive you and drag you into hell, but safe and sound in the loving care of our Savior.

So many will try to take this passage, and turn it into a guilt-ridden mandate that every Christian should be evangelizing; that somehow you are all fishers of men.  To be sure, the Lord gives you the joy of witnessing in your various vocations, speaking the Good News of Jesus life, death, and resurrection for you!  And yes, you are to speak that to those whom God places in your lives.  And yes, when you fail to do that constantly, your compassionate Savior constantly forgives and renews you. 

It is a good thing that we gather each Sunday, and park in our lot, with our very presence drawing attention to the church on the corner of Montrose and LaVergne.  It is good that the behavior and talk of Zach Moore, as a college volunteer, will impact several hundred youth and their leaders in Utah this week and be a witness of faith in day-to-day life.  It is good that visitors come and witness our rejoicing in the forgiveness and salvation given in Holy Baptism!  Still that is not the main point of this passage from Luke.

Jesus is the Lord God in the flesh.  He casts His nets to save you from your enemies of the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh.  The nets are tearing, the boats are filling, and yet Jesus gathers them all into His Church.

Along with Peter, when you recognize Jesus as God Himself, you may be filled with fear, as you know your own sin.  But Jesus does not depart from Simon Peter.  He does not see your sin, and abandon you.  He does not rid Himself of undesirable friends.  He reaches out in love and forgiveness, absolving you and welcoming you into His midst.

Take comfort, dear friends in Christ!  Jesus has caught you alive, and gifts you with eternal life, body and soul, with Him!  Your precious Savior keeps you safe and sound in His Church on earth, and His Spirit brings you to follow Him, until you are caught alive through death and the grave to be gathered in His Church Triumphant!  Rejoice, dear Baptized ones, because when you are caught in Jesus nets, it is not the end, but the beginning of your blessed, eternal life, with Him!  Amen.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I Thirst: A Homily for Good Friday



Good Friday
29 March 2013

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
"After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), "I thirst."  A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth."

"I thirst."  do you drink your eight glasses of water -- two quarts -- every day?  While some are very faithful, most do not.  So your body's systems are denied this source of life.  Water is needed for your body, so that all the functions of your cells work in good order.  And they, in turn, keep your organs strong and functioning, and alive.

Our loving Savior endured every need of His human body, just like you.  He would get tired.  He hungered.  And He thirsted.

A thousand years before suffering on the cross, Jesus prayed through King David: "They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink" (Psalm 69:21.)  There were actually two moments when Jesus was offered something to drink during the crucifixion: when He first was lifted up, and later, when He cries out.

At the beginning of His ordeal on the cross, soldiers offered Jesus wine mixed with gall.  This gall would be a potent antiseptic, perhaps even with narcotic capabilities.  It was actually an act of mercy, meant to lessen the pain.  Maybe because they figured He wasn't a real criminal, but just some religious nut, they felt a little sorry for Him.  But as soon as Jesus tasted it, and recognized it, He refused this drink.  He would not deaden the pain.  He would endure the complete suffering of crucifixion for all.

But this time, they offered the sour wine.  Vinegar, basically.  The sainted Dr. Erich Kiehl, from our seminary in St. Louis,  pointed out that while this beverage may sound disgusting to most of us, this particular variety of sour wine was considered a refreshing drink in first century Palestine.  So, once again, this was an act of mercy.

As Jesus was suffering in His body, He felt the thirst.  With labored breathing, and loss of blood, His body was feeling the need for more fluids.  He thirsted.  And He knew it.

Sometimes you have gotten used to a lack of water, a smaller amount keeps you going, and you get to the point that you don't know any better.  Your body would burn more fat, eat less, feel less tired, and simply function at a better level.  Yet, since you do not realize you are thirsty, you get by with less water, while your health unknowingly suffers.

Dear friends, it is not only physical thirst of your body that plagues you.  You have a spiritual thirsting of body and soul.  And if you neglect it, you begin to no longer feel it.  "I'm not thirsty," you say, as you suffer from dehydration.  "I'm not thirsty," you say, as you decide to go to the park district game rather than church.  "I'm not thirsty," you say, as you imagine you need the Sacrament less than you do.

Our Lord who thirsted for you, has paid the complete price for your sin.  He has redeemed you, and rescued you from sin, death, and the devil. And bound to His salvation in Holy Baptism, you have been given faith that now recognizes this thirst, and yearns for the Lord!  "As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." (Psalm 42:1-2.)

Your dear Lord Christ then hung there, having cried out and given up His Spirit.  Pierced by the spear, from the side of the dead Son of God issued life-giving blood and water. 

Refreshed and renewed by the One who is Living Water, you are given an eternal quenching, receiving the precious blood and water, flowing from the Savior.  And you are blessed to be drawn to your Savior and drink from Him, speaking back His own words: “I thirst.”  Amen.