Day 120 – Love your enemies

We talked last week in Sunday School about what it means, in a practical sense, to love your neighbor and your enemy. Sure, it’s a great teaching and a defining characteristic of Christians. We all know it, have studied it and have been taught it. We usually understand the concept.

But how do we do it? Like … now. How do I love my enemies right now? What actions does that require and what effect can it have, not only on our foes but on us?

I sat on that thought for a few days, even discussed it with a few people. Then I came upon this story, and God showed me what it means in stark, practical terms.

Love your enemies.

History seems to reveal that when Christians respond this way, the Gospel is magnified in such stark ways that Christ cannot be ignored. The world would prefer to just ignore the Gospel, if at all possible, and not be confronted with the realities it presents. Ignorance is bliss.

But forgiveness on such a massive scale grabs the heart and demands attention. I thank God for what He has done in our brothers in Egypt. They have indeed revealed their Christ to the world. Tragedy befell them, and their response was not to pick up swords, but rather offer up forgiveness.

Day 119 – Thoughts on the Pope’s TED Talk

Yep — I’m gonna write about a Roman. Let’s do it.

The Pope gave a TED talk recently, and I felt like that was worth exploring. But before we get into what he said, allow me to quickly (and somewhat brutally) lay out my opinions on Catholicism:

  • I admire quite a bit of Catholic history and some Catholic theology, but not all. Definitely not all.
  • I am somewhat fond of Francis for reasons I can’t quite explain, even if I find the notion of the Pope being apostolic hilarious and absurd.]
  • I think Protestants do themselves a tremendous disservice in categorically tossing aside anything remotely “Catholic.” (And, of course, we simply pretend the Orthodox do not exist.)

I assume I just triggered some of you. Oh well.

Anyway, the Pope gave a TED talk, and he stressed the importance each individual person can have in making the better world a better place. The TED conferences are about the sharing of ideas, and so Francis brings an idea as old as time. Help people.

He quotes and explains the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and then says this:

Now you might tell me, “Sure, these are beautiful words, but I am not the Good Samaritan, nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta.” On the contrary: we are precious, each and every one of us. Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God. Through the darkness of today’s conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.

We do not agree on a number of important beliefs. Just above, I expressed my concerns about the office (and the rights it claims) he holds. But I read those words … and I am impressed, and I’m impressed because we live in a world unified by one phrase: “someone should take care of that.” It’s never my fault. It’s never my responsibility.

Do you want your world, your family, your church or your life to look different? That responsibility falls not to your neighbor, but to you. We all have work to do.

Day 118 – The High Priestly Prayer

John 17 is astounding.

I’m not sure how else I can describe it right now, other than to simply say: it’s astounding. Christ’s prayer for the church in all times is beautiful, challenging and a reminder of how everpresent His grace and love is.

Read it. Dwell on it. Heck, read it everyday. I don’t think it will ever not be valuable.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you. We don’t deserve this or you.

O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Day 117 – Time under tension

I learned an interesting concept last week during my training session with Pete. The idea when weightlifting is to maximize (and therefore increase) your time under tension, which would be, for example, the amount of time you have the weight off the rack for bench press. Or, the descent, pause and climb during a squat. You get the idea. The more time your muscles are being worked, the more you have to achieve.

I’ve been focusing on that the last two times I’ve been in the gym, and I can tell a difference. I tend to go very fast — perhaps I think I’m on fire? — and that minimizes the #gainz I could be achieving.

It’s simple, really. Just go nice and slow. Why? You maximize that time under tension.

In particular, the difference was felt with rows. I adore rows. They are my favorite. The Y allows me the opportunity to do hanging, bodyweight TRX rows, which are awesome (and by awesome, I mean totally sweet). I hit them twice a week anyway, but tonight I went slow and steady … and goodness I can feel it already.

I followed my squats (the time under tension thing made my ankles and calves wake up, that’s for sure) and rows with 35 minutes of hard cardio and finished the day with a few sets of what I like to call a #brosesh. What’s a #brosesh? Bis and Tri’s, homie. Bri’s and Tri’s.

Let’s do something similar tomorrow.

Day 116 – TED talk

I don’t have much to offer or say today — it’s been busy, productive, thought-provoking and challenging. It was a good day, but I don’t have a lot on my mind to share at this moment. You can rest assured (and have enough history with me, by now) to realize that isn’t always the case.

So I want to leave you in someone else’s hands. He’s sorta famous, controversial (and worst of all to Protestants)  … Catholic.

Pope Francis gave a TED talk, which I find all kinds of interesting and noteworthy. I have not had a chance to study what he said, but I’m sure there are good and bad points. You should listen if for no other reason than to have your borders challenged a bit, if you will. Such activity can be healthy.

(Note: You’ll be reading subtitles.)

Day 115 – Worth dwelling on

Take it away, Peter:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

All by the power of God. His great mercy, he gifted something that does not fade or wither, and guards us until it is time. All by Him.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

This will not be painless, and frankly I’ve seen that firsthand lately. Dedicated, passionate followers of Jesus encountering tremendous difficulty. Those folks have not bent, they have not swayed. That humbles me, because I cannot say I’d be the same way. I truly cannot. But then I remember — it isn’t as if humans get credit for holding onto faith.

No:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Dwell on this with me.

Day 114 – Build

Today was overall a good day.

Why? Because I pushed myself all day long. I survived pizza lunch (our company honored its late, former owner with a pizza lunch — I ‘survived’ by not eating all of it) and plucked away at various tasks, learning new stuff along the way. Check.

I then went to the gym and had the best squat day of my entire life, thanks in great part to a recent coaching session from Pete. I’m pretty stoked, you guys — the mobility work is paying off. I’m darn near breaking parallel and doing it with hardly any pain. Yes, there is plenty of discomfort, but that’s not a hindrance. Pain != discomfort.

I’m fascinated by the moving parts of that exercise, how each part of your body plays a role in doing it effectively. I’m not all the way there yet — heck I’m not even close. But today’s Adam beats the tar out of March 7’s Adam. Check.

Then, I spent some time in God’s Word. And now I’m writing to y’all. Check and check.

Let’s do it again tomorrow.

Day 113 – In the house of the Lord

Today, it was good to be in the house of the Lord. It always is. I’ve found more and more that I enjoy being in no place more than God’s House, surrounded by God’s people. We can be singing hymns, studying the Word or messing around with ping pong. Doesn’t matter – my heart is happiest in the church.

I’ve been attending mine for just over four years now, and it has been a beautiful experience. I’m an outsider – not of the major family stocks that run through the church’s history. And yet, I’ve been welcomed and encouraged from day one, and in a multitude of ways. Straight up: I entered this church with barely any knowledge and a weak, fledgling faith. I needed them.

From joining bible studies, to leading those studies (at a point where I was overmatched and unfortunately, too cocky to realize) and most recently, with lay preaching, I’ve encountered nothing but love and encouragement. It’s astounding. I ain’t nothing special, man.

The unity in a church … the bonds … the community … I am so thankful and amazed by it. So this is what it’s like, eh?

No place I’d rather be.

 

Day 112 – On discourse, part 3

You may want to read parts one and two of this discussion before hitting today’s. Up to you.

Adam

I agree, and I also want to remind folks that the party controlling the White House ends up getting that spotlight. Republicans at the end of Bush’s term looked just as out of touch and lost as a lot of Democrats do now in the afterglow of Obama’s administration.

There’s something to be said for making an effort here, I think. Decency stands out, which is a fairly unfortunate thing to say. The problem though, and please afford me the chance to appear arrogant here, is talking to folks who see politics as sport or their leaders as deities comes off as inherently unintelligent to me. It’s ridiculous.

And along the way, I find myself guilty of the very thing we both have come out against. Of course, it’s also just as ridiculous to taunt third-party voters about “wasting their vote.” I suppose my primary concern now is how deeply rooted this emotion is, this need to resort to taunts.

We should also realize that none of us can corner the market on intelligent thought. All of us are ridiculous.

I have news for you. Go ahead, take a seat. Grab a breath.

You ready?

All of us are “deplorable” and all of us are “snowflakes.” We all have pet concerns where bias floods our reason. There isn’t a person alive who doesn’t have some flaw to battle against.

The pejoratives only divide us further. And so, we must actually try and understand why people feel the way they do. Guess what? It might be illogical. It might not always make sense. But that’s humanity — we don’t always make sense. And yet, we’re in this together.

Kirsten, how can we do this?

Kirsten

What I personally am doing to try to understand is to seek out stories that showcase different and diverse perspectives. NPR does a great job with this, as its reporters spend a lot of time in small towns across the country talking to everyday people. Many times I come away from those stories able to understand how and why those people formed the opinions they have.

The media has gotten a lot of flak since the election because of biased and blindsided reporting. Some of the criticism is fair, while other criticism — such as deeming truthful articles “fake” — is nonsensical and dangerous. I think many people are now at a loss for where to get their news, and that scares me, because there are a ton of news outlets doing really good work.
But since we are having a hard time talking to each other face to face, a good place to start understanding is by reading or listening to stories. I can’t recommend NPR enough. WILL is my local NPR station, and I listen to it in the morning while I’m getting ready for work, during my commute, at work, and I download NPR podcasts. I subscribe to Time magazine and The New Yorker, and I have digital access to The New York Times. That’s a lot of content, but I know I could still do better because there are so many perspectives out there.
But seeking out a range of content gets us out of our heads. Like you said, Adam, it makes us realize that we are not the only ones with intelligent thoughts. Heck, we may realize that some of our opinions weren’t intelligent at all. And that will be an enlightening moment.

Day 111 – Finish

Yeah, ran out of time yesterday. Don’t kill me.

I’m nearing the finish line with school, a sentence that seems at once unbelievable and on the other hand entirely too late. I am simply unable to care a single iota about education at this point, as it has become a burden and hardly a worthy exercise. I gain very little from it at this point, especially as my career expands and I learn boatloads more from that experience.

It isn’t that school is devoid of value. Not at all – rather, at this point, it has served its purpose for me. I do not care about another associates – I care about the connections and job opportunities the new skills provide. That has happened, and as such, school just doesn’t hold practical value for me.

So, in this instance, unlike with work, faith, fitness or finances, I am OK limping to the finish. Those areas of my life offer a far greater return on investment than school. It ends up being rudimentary math, to be frank. I’m fine with simply graduating and moving on.

There are bigger fish to fry now.