THE CLOSER

June 3, 2010Read: Matthew 24 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." -- Matthew 24:36

Can I give you another reason why I love the game of baseball? The role of the closer -- someone who specializes in sealing the deal. See, in baseball you play until the game is over. Not the case in other sports. Take basketball for instance. There's a minute left, you're up five points and rather than drive to the basket, you run out the clock. In football, you take a knee. Soccer, hockey -- you name it. Most major sports have a way to play it safe. And don't get us started about ties!

I think we all have the tendency to play it safe on occasion. As Christians, we can get into a mindset of "I'm saved, I can coast, I think I'll run out the clock today." But days can turn into weeks and weeks, years. Which reminds me, in baseball, there is no clock. You don't know how long a life -- I mean -- a game can last. Thus, the need for a closer. Someone who does his best work at the end.

Recently I read that Billy Graham hopes to preach one more time before the Lord takes him home. Even though he struggles to stand, Billy still wants the ball. Talk about a closer.

Now, granted, we're no Billy Graham you or I. Nobody's waiting to hear our last words. Or are they? The fact that we're reading this sentence means we're still in the game and the ball is in our hands. So stay warm. We just never know when we'll be needed to take the hill.

--J.P.

KEEP MOVING The way of the walk is as powerful a health instrument as ever

One of the most basic things you can do to look out for your health is to simply put one foot in front of the other -- even at a leisurely pace. In other words, go for a walk! Take your spouse's hand, put the kids in the stroller, grab the dog and a leash -- just walk. New research continues to emerge, almost daily, that demonstrates the value of a casual stroll.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, for instance, found that postmenopausal women who had walked regularly for more than a decade avoided heart disease, falls, hospitalization and surgeries far more successfully than their inactive peers.

In fact, starting your day with a walk not only offers a slew of health benefits, but it can also help you improve your body composition.

>> Try this modified walking workout. Walk slow for 3o seconds, then walk as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then slowly for another 30. Then walk with super-long strides for 30 seconds, then walk with a high-knee action for 30 seconds. Continue this sequence for 20-30 minutes. Increase the time of each phase by 30 seconds each day for five days.