Friday, August 22, 2014

LEGALISM: How thinly do you slice the apple?

     So earlier today as I was checking out my feed on Google+ I ran across someone using Matthew 6:3 - 4 to be what I felt was condemning to Christians for participating in the ice bucket challenge for ALS. It also had a link attached to a blog pointing out all the things the organization does to "violate Biblical ethics".

     Now I agree that it is good to educate others on practices that may not align with your values and belief system, but at the same time this challenge has raised a lot of awareness and I would bet raised millions of dollars for a disease I have had ties to in my past. There is no known cure and it always leads to death. Family members have to watch their loved ones deteriorate physically while their mental awareness remains intact. It is a horrible disease.

     I am sure not everyone will agree with my opinion on the matter, but I think we need to be careful of being so judgmental and unwilling to do business with or support businesses and organizations we feel "violate Biblical ethics". Below I have attached a photo from an article showing ten companies that control a massive amount of consumer goods. I would be willing to bet everyone of those ten companies supports and contributes to other businesses and organizations that "violate Biblical ethics". Now what I am not saying is that we should just go through life ignorant of the truth, but at some point we would have to disconnect from the grid and live off the land to live this perfect life of commerce that so many seem to desire Christians live.

     The same type of thing occurred a while back when someone was asking all Christians to boycott Starbucks. Now I do not frequent there, but only because I cannot justify spending two dollars on my cup of coffee when I have the convenience of a less than fifty cent cup of coffee from home.
Besides during off-peak hours they only have Pike available; who has time for a pour over? HAHAHA I digress...

     I think both of these actions could also be considered a violation of Biblical ethics. As Christians we are called to die to ourselves daily, take up our cross, and strive to live like Christ. I fail daily, but I keep trying. It is called progressive sanctification and we should progressively be getting better in areas we struggle in. Christ came not to condemn the world but to save the world, and He did this through love. So should we not do the same? ...LOVE...

     I realize we all have different callings and different burdens we carry so maybe you do boycott Starbucks or choose to not support a particular business/organization. However, we must keep in mind others have other burdens and other platforms to reach others. So maybe that other person should give to the business/organization with faith that their money is blessed and can and will make a positive difference. And maybe the other person should go to Starbucks everyday and love on the employees there spreading joy into their workplace. Maybe even paying for the drinks of the individual behind them or even just giving an encouraging word to the person they hold the door open for on the way out.

     My point is we are called to be in the world, but not of the world. So why not get in there and get our hands dirty shake things up!

     You can also watch this video below, go ahead and skip to 2:00 to avoid the nonsense and get right to the main point. YOu will see first hand what ALS does. So tell me this. If we (Christians) refuse to donate to help find a cure because of some violation of Biblical ethics, will this gentleman or his family likely accept or reject the love of Christ?


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Oneness Weekend...


     This last Friday evening and then Saturday we had a conference at my church entitled "oneness Weekend". At first glance many may believe this to be a marriage conference. It was not...or was it? We are called to be the bride of Christ and I can assure you after this last weekend I feel closer and deeper in relationship with Him than I did when I awakened Friday morning.

     This all began Friday evening when J.T. Mlinarcik Began by giving a highly detailed medical account of what Christ went though on that bloody Sunday more than 2,000 years ago. By hearing it laid out by a medical professional it makes it all more tangible than just a story in a book. I have always known that it was much more brutal an experience than ever depicted by any movie or photo I have seen, but it still brings it to a new life.

     All of this led me to realize that I could definitely suffer more for His glory. I am no different than most Americans where I can find myself whimpering and whining over the most pathetic "troubles" I run across. I truly believe it is time I go on another mission trip to witness first hand true struggles on this earth. We take so much for granted and even in my awareness of true troubles in this world I fall into the trap of thinking I have it rough.

     Later in the evening I found a new perspective on things about heaven. Duncan Smith enlightened me that if I put all of my hope in heaven then I am putting all my hope in something temporary. Revelation 21:1 clearly tell us there will be a new heaven and earth. It also says the sea will seize to exist...OH NO! I love the beaches! HAHA On a more serious note, I am certain it will result in something much greater! I digress...

     Just as I have become one with Christ the heavens and the earth will be come one creating the new heavens!

     Other things the Lord spoke to me this past weekend were soft, almost silent, reminders that He has given me a warrior Spirit. I just need confidence going into battle, much like the confidence of Ragnar Lodbrok. He was true warrior and legendary Norse ruler in the Viking ages. He was wise in that he thought things through well before going into battle. He was patient yet he progressed through live with an incredible boldness. He was curious and open-minded to new discoveries. I feel I can be of the same stature in the Lord's army by being bold and using Spirit led discernment.

     Those are but a few of the things I received this last weekend. Many of them I am still processing. Especially an overwhelming amount of revelation having to do with fatherhood. Both in my relationship with my earthly father and and with my amazing and incredible son Andrew. Thank God for working that relationship because it has been difficult to say the least for me.

     Anyway enough of my thinking out loud for now. I need to go back and mediate and continue processing much of what I experienced, heard, and received over the last two days.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Weak progression...

     I have been consistently pursuing a healthier lifestyle for several months now. This includes but is not limited to: healthier eating, more exercise, more rest, and more "me" time. Aside from just feeling better, my primary motivation is to have better health in general for Andrew's sake. I know the time will come when I will get to spend more time with him and I am not getting any younger. I want the precious time I do get with him to be the best it can be. If he wants to go to the park for four hours I want to be able to "hang" with him. As he gets older he will likely get into other sports or active lifestyle hobbies and I want to be able to do those things with him.

     The progress I have seen in 2014 has been tremendous. It is a direct result of my dedication and consistency. This is also helping my finances, the gym comes out to approximately a dollar a day and so I can redirect money from other "entertainment" activities to chip away at my debt. My debt is another thing that disallows me from seeing Andrew more often. As frustrating as this all is I know these baby steps I am taking are still progress.

     OK I kind of got off track from the purpose of this post!

     So last week I hit personal records just about every day I was in the gym, doing different body parts. It started out Monday when I trained legs with a friend of mine. I lifted close to 50,000 pounds in just over an hour, training with a partner so my rest intervals were increased; 17 sets of nine different exercises. Two hours later when I was at home I had an itch to go running. For anyone that lifts, you know the last thing one should want to do after legs is go running. I pushed myself to go do a quick mile and quick it was! My second fastest mile ever clocking it in at 7:39! I continued on throughout the week by pushing and pulling more weight than I ever have in my life. It was a great feeling. A good friend of mine that is a personal trainer was very encouraging by stating how my body was "turning a corner". It was a great feeling to experience the progress in such dramatic and obvious ways. (Well, it was a great feeling until the DOMS set in, then it was quite a different feeling!) Progress is always a good feeling in any part of life; finances, health, relationships, etc.

     Yesterday I went into the gym to train chest and biceps. I started out with a ten minute warm-up on the elliptical. I felt energized yet tired simultaneously. I thought nothing of it. Then off to begin lifting. I was really struggling, nothing like last week where I felt like I could run through a brick wall. At first I was very frustrated but I quickly remembered that even in my weakness and struggling I was stronger than I was just a few weeks back. In that moment, the Lord spoke directly to my heart.

     Spiritually I have progressed and grown stronger than I have ever been in my life (sound familiar?). Since 2008 I have been consistent in my "Spiritual" training and as result made great strides in that area of my life; not without some falls along the way. Very recently I have stumbled in some areas I had previously defeated and I was very frustrated and discouraged. Recent history has shown my weaknesses completely exposed. But God, shifted my focus to my progress rather than my shortcomings. In that moment where I was so frustrated and confused for struggling with my lift, He showed me that both Spiritually and physically my weakest day is stronger than it was in my past. With a gentle, soft whisper in my ear He reminded me that His mercy, not my sin, is new every day.

     That is not to justify my shortcomings or sin, but rather tell me I am forgiven. To honor God through my prayers and worship and He has redeemed me. All these bunny trails just to say that even weak progression is progress.