See How He Runs! (Diet for Dreamers)

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Around 1917, the citizens of Elkhart, a small impoverished town in Kansas, often remarked about eight-year-old Glenn Cunningham, “See how he runs?” In the early morning hours, they frequently watched as the energetic youth dashed through vacant lots and empty fields, on his way to the tiny schoolhouse where he was enrolled. Glenn and his older
brother Floyd had a special job to perform each morning before class: lighting the stove in the schoolhouse to ensure the rooms were sufficiently warm by the time the other students arrived. It was a simple chore, but one that required the boys to arise early and make great haste along chilly, dimly-lit streets.

Glenn never complained, because the task was just another excuse to run! And he loved to run! Perhaps he even lived to run. Running gave the boy both a sense of freedom and purpose. When Glenn ran he experienced the joy and excitement of knowing that he was going placesfast — with the world rushing by in a quiet, sleepy blur. When he wasn’t running, he dreamed about it!

On a morning that felt like those of countless days before, Glenn and Floyd arrived at the silent schoolhouse to light the stove. Still breathing hard from their race through town, the boys fetched the kerosene can they’d used the previous morning — unaware that someone had mistakenly refilled the can with gasoline! When Floyd lit the fluid the stove exploded in a fireball that engulfed the brothers. Floyd died in the fire. He was thirteen.

Glenn miraculously survived the explosion, but his legs were burned seemingly beyond repair. All the flesh from his knees to his feet was burnt away, and his left foot was practically destroyed: he’d lost the toes, as well as the ligaments and tendons located in the arch of the foot, which are necessary to support body weight and maintain balance when walking. Glenn’s doctor felt the boy would never stand again, let alone walk. So he strongly recommended that Glenn’s legs be amputated well above the knees.

The sheer terror of losing his legs, of never running again, sent Glenn into uncontrollable hysterics. He screamed and pleaded with his parents until they finally relented — and refused to allow the doctor to go through with the amputations.

After a long hospital stay, Glenn finally went home, where he continued the arduous journey to recovery. He was determined, however, not only to walk again, but also to run. Even as a child he had great faith in his God, and held tightly to what quickly became his favorite Bible verse, “But those who wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)

Two years after the accident, Glenn took his first painful steps. That was in 1919. By 1929 he was training for the 1932 Olympic Games. As he dashed through vacant lots and empty fields, the citizens of Elkhart would remark, “See how he runs?” With intense pride, Glenn’s neighbors named him the “Elkhart Express”! But in the 1932 Games, where he took fourth place in the 1500-meter run, he was known as the “Kansas Flyer.”

Glenn continued to run, always with the goal of getting faster. He again competed in the Olympics — this time in the 1936 Games in Berlin — taking home the silver in the 1500-meter run. He also set the world record in the 800-meter run that year. But Glenn’s greatest achievement came in 1934, when he ran the mile in 4 minutes and 6.8 seconds, setting a world record that remained unbroken for three years.

Fast as he was, although, one of Glenn’s big dreams remained unfulfilled. He wanted to break the 4-minute mile, but he was never able to shave more than 2 to 3 seconds off his own best time. Of course, as with most of the world’s greatest accomplishments, there were plenty of people around at the time who swore it simply couldn’t be done. (Another dream-chaser, Roger Bannister, proved them wrong in 1954.) Still, not bad at all for the Elkhart Express!

One last detail remains. When Glenn Cunningham ran, he had this peculiar way of tilting back his head — as though he were looking down his nose at the world around him. Some people took exception to this, and
commented, “See how he runs? He thinks he’s better than us!” But the man who was voted “Most Popular Athlete” by his fellow 1936 Olympians always remembered that it was God who enabled him to run! He remained humble throughout his career; but he did continue to look down his nose whenever he ran! You see, the accident that nearly claimed his legs had also severely scorched his lungs; but by tilting back his head, Glenn was better able to breathe!

Folks, never give up. Keep the faith and follow your dreams. Run if you can, crawl if you must — but never allow the shortsighted opinions of those who merely stand by and watch, to keep you from your prize! Let the whole world see how you run. Afterward, you’ll be able to echo the words of the Apostle Paul, who also overcame great odds: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV)

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Cinnamon Deceptions (Angel in the Kitchen)

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On Tuesday we discussed the “11 herbs and spices” in Kentucky Fried Chicken. Remember the difference between herbs and spices?

Simon (right): “Sigh! I’m tired of performing this song about herbs. We need to try something really different.” Garfunkel (left): “Hm, let’s do one about spices.”

Herbs come from the green, leafy parts of certain plants. Basil, oregano, and mint are herbs; and the 1970s folk-rock duo Simon and Garfunkel included a few others in one of their somber songs: “…Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.” (Of course, when we were kids we thought they were crooning about breakfast sausage and the sands of TIME.)

Spices are derived from parts of the plant other than the green leafy bits. Cloves (flower buds), ginger (roots) and pepper (seed pods). And then there’s … CINNAMON. Oh yes, how can we forget cinnamon. To mention that we love it would be an understatement. In French toast, how much cinnamon is enough? Answer: More!

Are there any songs that mention cinnamon? None we know. But the Bible signifies this aromatic and flavorful spice in several passages. It was included in God’s recipe for holy anointing oil, when “…The Lord said to Moses, ‘Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh … of sweet-smelling cinnamon … and of aromatic cane … and of olive oil…; and you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil….'” (Exodus 30:22-25 RSV)

Solomon wrote “I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.” (Proverbs 7:17 NIV) Other references to cinnamon are found in Solomon’s Song of Songs 4:14; and in Revelation 18:13. We like to think that the Creator of the Universe loved cinnamon as much as we do.

But what’s so special about this particular spice? Well, in addition to tasting and smelling absolutely divine, cinnamon is loaded with fiber and antioxidants, and it contains a unique compound called cinnamaldehyde. These components make cinnamon conducive to good health. Indeed, the spice is known to produce 7 health benefits. (SEVEN!! — Hey, that’s God’s favorite number!) Cinnamon: (1) can lower bad cholesterol or LDL; (2) help treat Type 2 diabetes; (3) has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties; (4) can reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; (5) has anti-carcinogenic properties; (6) has anti-inflammatory properties; (7) and can help manage polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS.

And did we mention it’s delicious in French toast? No wonder cinnamon was once valued almost as highly as gold, and was considered a gift fit for a king … or a god. Cool, right? But times change. So does “stuff”! Not all is as it seems. And not all cinnamon is really cinnamon!

The English word cinnamon can be traced back to the Hebrew qinnamon, a spice imported to Egypt from India. This is known scientifically as Cinnamomum verum. You may recognize the Latin adjective verum, from which we derive such words as TRUTH and VERIFY (as in “Trust … but verify!”)

“True Cinnamon” is produced from the inner bark of an evergreen tree that’s native to Sri Lanka. TRUE cinnamon was rare and expensive during Biblical Times. It was delicious, aromatic, and had many health benefits. It’s what God requested be mixed into His Holy anointing oil.

But there’s another spice currently marketed under the name “cinnamon.” It’s less expensive and more readily available. It’s produced from the bark of trees originating in China and now cultivated throughout Asia. Spice manufacturers call it Cassia, to distinguish it from the real deal. Cassia looks like cinnamon, tastes like cinnamon — but contains none of the cinnamaldehyde or antioxidants that promote true health.

Heh!
Eat up! Heh-heh!

To the contrary, Cassia contains massive concentrations of a blood-thinning compound called coumarin. Consuming large amounts of this ersatz cinnamon (as a health supplement, for instance; or maniacally tossed it into French toast batter) can lead to kidney and liver damage.

Who knew that something traditionally prized and sought after, something beneficial and even Biblical, could be replaced with something TOXIC? But again, the same can be said of many things, including the evening “news” and a lot of stuff that gets posted on the internet. So we can no longer accept things at face value.

Nor can we always go by the “label.” This also applies to people — who often aren’t what they seem or proclaim to be. How many of us have learned this truth the hard way? How many of us have trusted someone only to find out too late that he or she had a hidden (and self-centered) agenda? Even the Bible warns us against “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” (Matthew 7:15)

Toast or toxic?
Toast or TOXIC!

Let’s be clear on this point: Not everyone who calls themselves a “Christian” is truly a follower of Christ. Again, labels are convenient and can ultimately be deceiving. Even Satan sports a misleading label. Many of us (thanks to pop culture) imagine him as this red dude with horns and a pitch fork, but the Bible states, “…Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14 NLT) Why? Because he is “a liar — indeed, the inventor of the lie!” (John 8:44 Complete Jewish Bible)

In regards to all things, ask the Lord to help you distinguish the lie from the truth. Ask Him to grant you the ability to discern truth from error. And always do a little homework. Ask yourself, “Does this or that line up with the Bible (the infallible Word of God)?”

“Is it nourishing and beneficial? Or is it something spiritually toxic in disguise. Above all, is it TRUE?”

Don’t swallow life’s “cinnamon deceptions.” Jesus said, “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (John 24:4 NKJV) The Lord also said, “Not all who sound religious are really godly people.” (Matthew 7:21 TLB) “The way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit produced.” (Matthew 7:20 TLB)

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