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Friday, June 15, 2012

Body building and Spirit building, comparing the two
 I was reading up on the rules of body building on the internet[1] and musing on how these have similar spiritual parallels. (While these may be a bit contrived it was a fun exercise...:) ) The body building rules come from a site on the internet (see ref 1)

Body building rule 1: Never go to failure

“This is as good a place to start as any. A long held tenant of bodybuilding is that you should go to failure (lift until you cannot lift anymore). Take a turn around your local gym and you’ll see all types of people working out half reps and assisted reps that help push them into complete muscle failure.

Compare this behavior to the massive size and strength of phenomenal powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters and know that they never go to failure. Nor does the greatest fighter on the planet Fedor Emelianenko. This is because training to failure is training to fail”

Spiritual building parallel rule 1: Never go to failure

Some people take themselves past the point where they can resist temptation by pushing themselves into situations where they are going to be easily tempted. Can you think of any examples?

We should never allow ourselves to move from God’s spiritual direction until we fail over into Satan’s sinful spiritual domain. We stay in Holy Spirits control! To do this when we know we are getting to areas where we are weak and could fail we should remove ourselves from that area of temptation.

Body Building Rule 2 :No more than five reps per set

Completing no more than five reps per set carries on from the idea of never going to failure. Figure out what your one rep max for a particular lift is and set yourself to do 70 to 80 percent it. Use that do low rep sets of one to five reps. There is nothing wrong with doing heavy singles.

Also, while perhaps counterintuitive, 1 to 5 reps is the safest way to lift. This is because the stabilizing muscles get tired before the prime movers in high rep sets, which sets you up for an injury.

 Spiritual building parallel rule 2: No more than five reps per set (okay, God always listens… but…)

Repeating a prayer until it is almost meaningless is something people often do. Any prayers that we may have done like that?

When praying let’s try to not repeat a prayer more than five times unless it’s for forgiveness. The first time is good since we are connecting with God. The second we may add missing information. The third, we are perhaps focusing on how we can change ourselves to meet God’s guidelines. The fourth, we can be discussing our failures with God. The fifth should handing over everything to God and moving on. A sixth prayer on the same thing…why we are not leaving it to God at this point? Okay, I know of the parable of the whining widow and judge that says ask continually...so you make up your mind, but I really believe God listens and bugging him continually only bugs me!

Body Building rule 3: lift heavy

If you want to get strong you have to lift heavy. This is dead simple. Sure, using light weights for high rep sets may give you some tone but doing so will never make you strong.



Lifting heavy requires a large amount of tension. You will be forced to recruit muscle fibers in places not normally directly activated by the lift. Tension is strength. The greater the weight the greater the amount of tension required.



Think of strength as a skill. The more muscle fibers you can recruit to a movement and the harder the contraction of those muscle fibers the stronger you are. Lifting with heavy weights should be approached as practice as opposed to working out.

Spiritual rule Rule 3 : Lift heavy

If you want to get spiritually strong you have to take on heavy spiritual tasks. Sure one odd prayer to God a month may sound good, one little thing to follow God’s guidelines is useful but doesn’t really get us anywhere does it?

To build spiritual strength  inserting ourselves in spiritual warfare and this requires a large amount of tension. You will be forced to recruit spiritual skills in places not normally directly activated by normal life. The greater the challenge, the more we learn. Think of building spiritual skills. It takes EFFORT. Getting up to read bible and pray each morning. Getting your mind and attitude right for each day. Reacting correctly to circumstances during the day. Forgiving our enemies, loving everyone! How well do we think we do in this area?

Body building rule 4 : Lift often

Many powerlifting and Olympic lifting teams work out as many as eight times per week or even more.
 This means they are working out more than once a day. They can do this because they are not going to failure and are working low rep sets.

It has been found that completing five heavy singles per day for five days in a row is better for strength development than completing five sets of five reps on a single day.

Spiritual Building rule 4 : Pray often

          Don’t let events go by without exercising spiritual power over them.

          This means praying and exercising spiritual power more than once a day. We can do this because they are not going wasting time and are working low repetition prayer. Short, to the point, enabling spiritual power into the situation.

          Regular prayer and applying spiritual power on consecutive days is better for spiritual development than completing everything on a single day (i.e. God rocks day or Sunday).

Body building rule 5 : Take longer rest periods between sets

          Many powerlifting and Olympic lifting teams work out as many as eight times per week or even more.

          This means they are working out more than once a day. They can do this because they are not going to failure and are working low rep sets.

          It has been found that completing five heavy singles per day for five days in a row

Spiritual Building rule 5 : Take longer rest periods between sets of tough spiritual warfare

If we continually chase to the next event, the next activity, doing the next thing without taking time out to rest and allow God’s peace to settle into our spirit, allowing time to meditate on God’s awesomeness and glory, allowing time to let God’s words settle into our minds…we will not be as effective as Spiritual Warriors!



Body building rule 6 : Focus on compound movements

Powerlifters and Olympic lifters do not train body parts. As discussed above with regards to tension, your body combined is far stronger than your body broken down by isolation exercises.

Stick to lifts such as the deadlift, squat, benchpress, military press and the Olympic lifts – snatch and clean and jerk.

Spiritual Building rule 5 : Focus on compound movements

          To grow spiritually we need to have a wide area of focus

        the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is love, joy and peace. It is being patient, kind and good. It is being faithful 23 and gentle and having control of oneself. There is no law against things of that kind. [2]

        Finally, let the Lord make you strong. Depend on his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor. Then you can stand firm against the devil's evil plans. Our fight is not against human beings. It is against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world. So put on all of God's armor. Evil days will come. But you will be able to stand up to anything. And after you have done everything you can, you will still be standing. So stand firm. Put the belt of truth around your waist. Put the armor of godliness on your chest. Wear on your feet what will prepare you to tell the good news of peace. Also, pick up the shield of faith. With it you can put out all of the flaming arrows of the evil one. Put on the helmet of salvation. And take the sword of the Holy Spirit. The sword is God's word. At all times, pray by the power of the Spirit. Pray all kinds of prayers. Be watchful, so that you can pray. Always keep on praying for all of God's people. [3]

          and focus on doing it the right way

Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things. [4]

Are we going to be spiritual warriors and how much will we train to become warriors?  Thats the core thought and the above is a light humourous way of considering aspects of this. Have a great day!


[1] http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/10/six-rules-of-building-strength.html
[2] Galatians 5
[3] Ephesians 6
[4] Philippians 4:8
Fri, June 15, 2012 | link          Comments

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The importance of preparation, and follow through...
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“Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity” ~ Henry Hartman

 Successful people are held in esteem by many who never see the careful work, dedication and preparation that these people put into preparing for their success.

We can learn from them! Preparation counts!

Opportunities arrive at sporadic times in life and we need to be able to use them effectively. Prepared we can use them! Unprepared we are likely to falter, run out of resources or vision, then our focus can falter and we fail.

Not wanting to pass up an opportunity means being ready to spend some time in preparation for these events.

Consider Jesus! Totally God and totally man!

Jesus had a mission from the time he was born (perhaps we could say from before the beginning of time). This focus was with him as he grew as a boy.

Did Jesus rush out and start his ministry as soon as he became a teenager?

No!

Did he start it in his twenties?

No!

He waited until in his thirties to start doing his Fathers work.

Why?

He was under God the Fathers direction and Holy Spirits inspiration. He was living life to ensure he fully understood how each of us need to deal with the stresses and strains of life.

Jesus was preparing not only for his life purpose, but for his task as our defender to his Father. He wanted to be prepared when it comes to the great judgement that we Christians believe everyone faces after death. He needed to understand and know life as a human in all it’s complexity, in order to defend us in truth at that future time.

Jesus was preparing for eternity with us!

Jesus took time! He rested and prepared!

If God can do this, shouldn’t we? We need to consider if we take enough time to prepare for our life’s events.

Continually I am faced with young people who regret not having used time correctly at school, or even looked after their health more(eaten less and better). Later in life when they cannot take up opportunities as others around them do, claiming that job, that car, that sports team position, they express regrets.

Let’s not have regrets! Let’s prepare!

Preparing means knowing what we are preparing for.

Jesus knew his purpose. When he was questioned by John teh Baptists disciples as to whether he was the messiah, he answers:

If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

“I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing —testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

“I do not accept glory from human beings, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”[1]

He knows God the Father sent him, he points out John knows what his purpose is, he knows his purpose is more important than Johns, he knows he has the Fathers authority, that he can give people eternal life.

Jesus knew what he was doing. Do we? Do we spend enough time with God to know our life’s direction is God inspired and not greed or self-service inspired?

Do we

take action based on that knowledge?


Jesus prepared for over thirty years for a few years of action. Those years were filled with action. He didn’t waste time, but he didn’t try to cram everything into time either.

That is the skill of living well! Live at a pace dictated by god and not by our own minds. If we have lives directed and led by god, we will find time for rest, prayer, peace in the midst of ongoing action and activity. The joys and events of life will color our existence and paint a wonderful path leading us into our future with God encompassing our every activity.

That’s the way to approach life! That’s the way we want to enter our days! That’s the way we should be preparing to go today.

Have a great day!


[1] John 5:31-46 NIV
Thu, June 14, 2012 | link          Comments

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Walking tightropes. . .

tightropeWalk.jpg

   
Is Nik Wallenda a nut or a heroic daredevil? Is there a difference?


Sometimes I think people get caught into a weave of familial patterns that enmesh them into a net, out of which they seemingly cannot free themselves.

Nik Wallenda is from a circus family, and has been doing the walking of tight ropes from the age of two, when he did his first performance. He proposed to his wife while 9.1m high in the air on a rope. It seems as if his life is locked into his purpose of walking ropes.

In 1963, Wallenda's sister-in-law, Rietta, fell to her death. In 1972, his son-in-law Richard Guzman was killed by accidentally touching a live electrical wire that was part of the rigging of that high wire. Then in 1978 his grandfather Karl, at age 73, fell from a high wire and was killed, (so much for experience!) Nik then repeated what his father did, to show it could be done!

Compulsive behaviour has been a pattern in Nik’s life! Is he sensible or simply unable to face a compulsion that drives him and many of his family to a near death experience? Is he perhaps unable to live without the adrenaline rush, of completing the next death-defying stunt?

How many of us in lesser ways, cannot give up our compulsive behaviour? It can take immense strength, courage and dedication to do so. Can I suggest that Nik would be more courageous and successful, if he could face his compulsion, conquer it and find another occupation that is perhaps less self-aggrandising and more life sustaining in the long term.

We all need to die, so the fact that he does something that can lead to death is not an issue. It’s the compulsiveness of his behaviour that, to me, seems to be the problem. When we don’t seem to be able to get relief, except by giving into compulsions, I see the work of Satan in our lives. Selfish, nasty and out to steal our inner peace, he throws waves of desires and emotions into our path, to try and drown us, pulling us down to repeating that compulsive activity.

Jesus died to give us the way out of compulsion! Yes, people get out of compulsions without Jesus, but they have to work so much harder to do it. Love of God, if allowed to grow, expands our lives, replaced the need for the compulsive behavior and cuts us free from the nets of sin. Unhindered, we can move into true living, with humility and love for God, ourselves, and others.

I trust Nik has, or will find a love of God, himself and others that can take him past these limited adrenaline highs to the plateau of high living that comes from daily spiritual connection with God.

That’s my prayer for Nik, not that he is successful at crossing Niagara falls on a rope, although I do hope he doesn’t kill himself(not likely since he is using safety gear). I would like to see him connect solidly with God’s love and compassion, and broadcast that to millions in whatever way he finds adequate.

Meanwhile, let us tackle our days and push back compulsions that drag us down.

Have a good one!
Wed, June 13, 2012 | link          Comments

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Are we willing to have our faults brought to our attention?

DropThePuck.jpg

    
The Kings won! In Canada, the national sport is ice hockey. It’s a tough sport, exhausting, fast, hard hitting and strategic.


 
We follow the victories and defeats with intensity and focus. People everywhere want to know what happened last night!

This year, the Canadian team in Vancouver was doing well until the Kings came along and took them out.

For many of us, that’s okay, because last night the Kings won the highest honor, the Stanley cup! It’s okay to loose to the best!

What was interesting for me was what the Captain said of the guy who motivated and trained them.

He said...

There's games where I thought I didn't play my best and he brought attention to it pretty quickly," said Kings captain Dustin Brown. "That goes a long way, whether you're a young player or older player. When you have a guy that's pushing you to be better, not just you but everyone, it goes a long way. Maybe helping you look at yourself in the mirror."[1]


 Dustin was willing to have others point out his inadequacies, and used that to get better at what he did.

Maybe the school systems in North America can learn from this?

Maybe we as Christians can learn from this? Knowing we screw up and having someone confirm it, but then come alongside to help us improve, is critical to success.

If everyone only said good things, we would never get to our optimal state. We need to be willing to hear things about ourselves we don’t really like.

Some people criticise Christianity for talking of sin. Those selfish, nasty, and ignorant things we do should be left unsaid, many would like to propose. Dustin’s attitude and the fact the Kings won, indicates those dissenters are perhaps wrong.

We need to face our inadequacies! Truthfully!

Yet, for the Kings to win, they couldn’t only focus on the negative. No!

They also had to deeply desire and focus on the positive.

It’s the same with us as Christians.

We should be aiming for “sanctification”!

Now “sanctification” is a big word! A word we don’t use in everyday life! So why use it?

Well it combines all those deep spiritual truths that we need to have in one word.

The online dictionary[2] defines it as

1. To set apart for sacred use; consecrate.
2. To make holy; purify.
3. To give religious sanction to, as with an oath or vow: sanctify a marriage.
4. To give social or moral sanction to.
5. To make productive of holiness or spiritual blessing.

We need to aim at holiness! Purity!

Again, difficult words to understand. What is holiness?

We need to know where we are in relation to God, and the world. We need to know that Jesus has established a state in which we can live in the excesses, stresses and strain of the hard, difficult world, while being separated and having a spiritual state that overcomes our circumstances daily.

We can take the knocks of life, the pain of life, and still be euphoric. Maybe a little like the kings took the knocks and pain of the final game, but with the euphoric knowledge they were winning the championship.

It makes all the difference! To be part of the winning team!

Jesus led us, coached us, and left Holy Spirit to inspire and lead us in life. We need to face our failures, but rise above them to claim our victory.

Let’s have a victorious day today!
Tue, June 12, 2012 | link          Comments

Monday, June 11, 2012

Myth and truth, which is our culture?
Dunno.jpg


    “Myth is an attempt to narrate a whole human experience, of which the purpose is too deep, going too deep in the blood and soul, for mental explanation or description.” ~ D.H. Lawrence

Which describes our culture? A myth or truth based culture.

Yesterday, I started a course of lectures on archaic Greek literature and life. It re-emphasised something that had been percolating in my thoughts for a few years.



This is the fact that cultures fundamentally differ when it comes to how they think or consider their stories.

Think about it. . .

If you are Greek in origin, the great stories of Holmer will be fundamental to establishing your identity. From young, you will be hearing stories and in some ways considering them in part truth. If English, from Britain, Robin Hood and King Arthur would have pervaded the young brain and in some ways influenced that early play in childhood. Yet, my guess is these stories have probably been less influential in building a British national identity, than Holmer is for building Greek identity.

Our eastern Chinese and Japanese friends have many stories that fill that comfortable place between myth and truth, and definitely weigh in more on the myth side as the gods and goddesses of yesteryear influence and move each other. Indian religions have so many god’s that stories have little relationship to reality as exposed by science, but none the less, are very significant in driving national identity and thinking.

Whoever and whatever we are, we are products of our environment, our context, and this influences how we think and live doesn’t it?

When we come to the bible, we get told by historians and modern bible scholars (don’t you love how they claim the word “modern” as a right?) that those great books of the Torah or old testament supposedly written by Moses, could not be written by him. (They have some good points to make, consider the words “Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in Moab, just as the Lord had said. The Lord buried the body of Moses in Moab. His grave is in the valley across from Beth Peor. But to this day no one knows where it is. Moses was 120 years old when he died. But his eyes were not weak. He was still very strong.[1] These words could hardly have been written by him could they?)

So, I guess in part what these people say is true. However, there arguments that his words are written over many years, by many people. These can be put a little bit too strong. If someone had to take a look at the blogs I have been writing for a few years, and compare my original blogs with my later ones, they could say a different person was writing them. Now, if I re-organized then to form themes or promote concepts, these would read as inconsistent in style. I could see some wag in a few years claiming there were multiple authors. Being alive, I could tell him he is talking nonsense and that would be that!

Moses isn’t alive, and he lived for 120 years. Things, thoughts and ways of addressing things changed considerably in his lifetime, and during the Exodus a nation was re-inventing itself, so I want to punt in the idea that Moses perhaps did write it all. That maybe he re-wrote it, (scrolls don’t last well), perhaps even got a few people to re-write it for him, (he was a busy man) and so the apparent different authors may just be figments of the “modern” mind.


Just perhaps!

Why even address this? (Particularly since few people have even heard these great modern historians comments and arguments)

Well, to get back to the myth based and truth based cultures. . .

The Jewish and Christian faiths, focus on truth to the exclusion of myth. This is not normal in our world!

Most of the world holds to its stories as core to it’s identity, and powerful men even use these myths to build themselves in stature and importance, by aligning with aspects of these thoughts.

Yet, when we come to Christian and Jewish based thinking, truth overrides myth.

Even the creation story closely resembles what we have discovered from science and are still discovering. I am willing to say there is NO other creation story on this earth that so closely aligns with the known scientific facts of creation.



This means that from young, children of these faiths, are asked to believe stories that are considered true. They are based on strong archeology of places and times where much (not all) of the facts can be checked out.

I chuckled when the scientific world got so annoyed with Eilat Mazar, who used the bible to find David’s palace. Many archeologists considered this in some way “cheating”.

Why?

Because they so want our bible to be considered myth that when she used it for what it is, an ancient factual source, they got annoyed. Particularly when she was proved right by the facts under her feet!

Christian and Jewish kids, get told amazing stories.

Yet most of these stories are based in a historical and geographical context, that is true!

No matter what culture these Christian and Jewish kids grow up in, fundamentally they consider the cultural stories through the lens of “truth” or “fiction”.

Let us not forget that for more than 90% of the world, the “norm” is otherwise.

Greatness is not necessary linked to truth but probably to a large extent linked to myth. In such cases, myth can grow to the extent it can exert almost as much influence, as truth.

No wonder 90% of investigators of history are more willing to consider the bible myth than truth. They are after all simply giving into their origins. Captive by their culture and values!

Truly modern people try to limit this influence!

Let’s look for truth in a pure form!

I find it most significant that Jesus is no myth and can be proved not to be a myth.

He said, “‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”[2]

Let’s never lose sight of the fact, that we as Christians demand truth, even when it seems to disturb our cultural setting and identity. Truth is our desire and aim, and we should look for it today with intensity.

Have a great day!


[1] Deuteronomy 34:5 NIRV
[2] John 16:6 NIRV
Mon, June 11, 2012 | link          Comments


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