My roommate was put in charge of organizing an open mic as community building event for the apartments. It was a first glimpse of how different the culture in the apartment is than the dorms. We were forewarned- a successful event is usually ten people, a farcry from the open mics we had in the dorms last year.
This past week I applied for a position on campus and I was required to submit a schedule detailing all my commitments: work, school, church, extra-curricular. First, I found that I do not have many extra-curricular activities. Second I spend nearly eight hours a week in the gym. Third, currently I am not very engaged in my Church.
I am alright with the fact that I do not have a whole bunch of commitments. it allows me to be more spontaneous with my friend and more flexible when I do homework and such. I do not have to decline events because of conflict of interests. And I am alright with that.
I decided to block off the time I train for a couple of reasons. First, my training is important to me, it is how I decompress and manage stress. Second, the weight room has very limited hours, therefore I must fight to protect my time there- I cannot afford to buy a gym membership even though it is something I would like to have. Lastly, there are people, I wish to maintain friendships with and that is the only venue in which for me to do so.
The last observation of my schedule was the most concerning to me..I only have two hours blocked out in my week for church. To put that in perspective, I spent that much time on Sunday afternoons prepping my proteins for the week. I spend that much time writing this darn thing. What does is say about my commitment to my church community when I am not investing my time into that community? I have said this before- it is not because I do not have the time, it is because I don’t see it as enough of a priority to make the time.
This is hard to say, because I truly care my church. But I have this lingering fear of becoming too attached the church that when i graduate and it is time to move, that I will not be able to make that decision. In the past I have been able to engage because I had it in the back of my mind that I would not get attached for I knew my time in that area was temporary. However, after my last church, I found that had changed.
No longer could engage in a community with the idea that it is temporary, because in reality it not- once I interact, people’s lives are impacted. I am not trying to sound conceded, but that is true for all people. When people step into my life, even if for a day, still have an impact in my life and I in theirs. Even though I was in Kingsburg for just a year, found that I was profoundly changed by my experiences and relationship made their, and found that held true for the people I spent time with there. I dove headlong into that community and in the end, despite, my expectations, it was very hard to move on.
Point is, it scares me what may happen I throw myself head long in to the church here. I don’t want to fall in love SoCal- but never say never (I had said that never want to live in the LA area, guess where I am now, go figure.) I am afraid to open myself to a church community knowing that I very well may leave this place soon. Not a good excuse. It is something that I am working through…
It was one of friend’s birthdays this past Monday, so we went to the Getty to celebrate her birthday. I had never been- It was amazing. The architecture was breathtaking. There is so much art in one place, it is a bit crazy- in our four hours their we only saw a small fraction of the exhibits. I worn my “Go Army, Beat Air Force Shirt” and found that the Getty employs many veterans and the shirt was a good conversation started,. I ended up talking to one gentleman for fifteen minutes about his service, football and bodybuilding and nutrition. Fun day, all in all.
This was the first full week of classes. I have a classes that only meets on Monday, and this week was the first time we met- It was strange to go through a syllabus the third week of the semester. In my Communication and Spirituality class we laid the foundations of the class- we talked about sanctification gap and the recognition of the need of spiritual formation. I am looking forward to most of my classes this semester.
If I get this position I applied for, my next few weekend and rest of the next 2 semester will be drastically altered- pray for peace and time management.
School is right around the corner. Last week I road tripped with the family to bring my sister’s things up to Portland for grad school- spent a couple days in Portland see some of the sights. This week has be spent finishing projects and packing for the move back to LA.
It is time to set some goals for this next semester-for school, hobbies, and lifting. To start, lets figure out how long long I have… sixteen weeks in La Mirada. sixteen weeks to get things done. Summer is over and it is time to get going.
- For school: maintain high marks- make sure that I get course work done in a timely manner; I must use my time wisely and know when to take a break to maintain sanity.
- For hobbies: play guitar at least 20 minutes a day, read a novel every two weeks, fish at least once a week, post to this blog once a week on Fridays. This things I hope will help maintain my sanity.
- Lifting: Current maxes are Squat 505, deadlift 525, bench press 405, these are maxes that I can walk into the gym any day and hit. By finals in December I would like to increase all my lifts by 20 pound- squat 525, deadlift 545, bench 425. I am going to start to clean/power clean at least once a week, reaching for a single at 10% over current body weight (~275lb)
I am looking to drop a pound a week-via the additions of sprints and caloric restriction. The weight lost will be hard-I have always had problem with portion control, but preparing my own food during the semester ought to help me keep track of what I am eating better. If I can maintain strength gains during weight lost that would be most encouraging. However, I would satisfied with maintaining current strength.
(For those who are starting their studies, good luck to y’all!)
Why do I train? I do not compete in powerlifting, though it is something I would like to do sometime down the line. I cannot say honestly it is for my health-the amount of stress it puts on my body between the lifts and the body composition cannot be the best thing ever. Besides, if you are like most people, you judge people on how fast they run or how many pull ups can do or how define their six pack is. I have not run a mile in many years, I can only do 4 to 5 pull ups (working on that measly number) and I certainly do not have a six pack. So the question is: why do I subject myself to this training.
To give you some background I started lifting in a commercial gym when I was in middle school-it was required for my PE credits. Most of the time was spent on machines, but my father taught me how to squat. When I got to high school I started using free weights for football conditioning; I took to it like a fish to water. Then In my senior year, I tore my ACL-I did not seriously squat for nearly five years after for fear of reinjuring my knee. For the three year out of high school, I lifted off and on, but nothing consistent. During my last semester at junior college, I started circuit weight training. It reminded me how much I liked to push myself moving weights, but it was only machines.
When I moved to Santa Cruz, I bought my own gym membership. I would start lifting, then get “too busy” with work and social events. I did not make much improvement in strength. At this point I still did not know how to properly bench press or overhead press, I just thought I had horrible genetics for building upper body strength and size. I did not keep track of my lifts- just went in and tried not to be embarrassed-my only saving grace was that had a job that that kept me moving and involved heavy lifting, so I was not completely inept. The biggest thing that happened during this time was that I started to squat again
I spent two years in Santa Cruz and then move to the Fresno area. Soon after I arrived I had a relationship end and needed a way process and vent my emotions. So I started lifting four to five times a week. I started keeping a journal. I started watching videos on bodybuilding and technique. It was here that I started to actually train-to keep track of my lifts and being conscience of my food intake. I trained like a bodybuilder for a few months-but I got bored with that training and I longed to feel strong again. Hence me reading deeply into powerlifting and starting to move heavy weights-it just felt right. I learned how to breath properly and how to properly brace myself for benching. I was no longer trying to lift to look pretty, I was getting noticed for moving heavy weights and be confident in my body, knowing what it is capable of, not if it looks necessarily attractive. But I was really alone-nobody really trained with me, I was just me against myself and for myself. The biggest thing here was that I had the time and took that time to train.
This last year, I went back to school, at the young age of 24. I gained access to the best equipped, but crowded weight room, since high school. I was surrounded young people who were their because they wanted something-bigger arms, lifts, or overall fitness. I was great My lifts progression slowed down, the PRs were farther and fewer between-but they were still coming and I stayed injury free. I made it a priority to get into the gym to train-I would plan my obligations around my training, take a break from homework to train. I did not use social life or school as an excuse to get out of training.
This summer has been much more different than I expected it to be. I had planned to work only 25-30 hours, have an easy summer class, and have time and energy to pursue my hobbies. Things never work out as planned-I am working 30-40 hours, the class had a bunch of reading, and I took of fishing. None the less, I have not let this things get in the way of my training. I am lifting 4 or 5 time a week. I am still making small improvements to my strength. I am learning how to prioritize the lifts I do- No longer am I doing 5-10 different movements a workout. It is a top of 4 movements.
I like what training has done. I has given me confidence in my body image. I like the fact that it has caused me to do a lot of reading and analyze different schools of thought. It has taught me to be discipline. It has taught me how to prioritize my time. It has taught me how to listen to my body. It has taught me humility-to know when to stop and how to take a comment and how to give advice.
I train because I believe it makes me a better person- not just physically, but mental as well. I am a better steward of my time. I learned how to focus my mind and to make my body do what I imagine it doing. It is very fulfilling to see look back a see how far I have come and to see how numbers that I could not contemplate are with in reach. it is exciting to look forward and see numbers that I am reaching for, knowing that I have not reached my full potential. This is why I train.
“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.” C.S. Lewis
Something that I have always struggled with the concept and implication of prayer in daily life. How does one really pray continuously? Why am instructed to in pray so often? I have moved away from trying to the have right and eloquent words to talk to God. I just talk… and listen. These are a few things that have helped me start cultivating a life of prayer.
I am sitting at one of my most frequent places of quiet contemplation: Starbucks. It is the place I go to get out of my room and away from the distraction of a decent internet connection. That being said, today is the day before Easter, the first I have spent away from family, it’s strange…. but I digress, this about my musing of the three things mentioned in the title: Easter, the Bible, and the Translation of the Qur’an*.
For one of my classes, I have been assigned to read the Qur’an (Currently at Surah 45). The Qur’an (Koran) is most definitely not a common text to be assigned for study at a conservative Christian university, but this assignment is for an entry level Communication course at a college who believes missions are of the utmost importance. At the introduction of the assignment, the professor said that little over one percent of people who claim Christianity ever read the Qur’an (I could not find a source, sorry). If we are Christians are going to enter into discussion with those who believer Islam, we must be able to find common ground and be clear of presupposition of those we wish to talk with.
According to atheismresource.com, less than ten percent of Christians in the America have read the Bible in it’s entirety (source). According to this Gallop poll taken in May 2011 (here), there is a divided view of the role and nature of the Bible in America- ranging actual words to inspired words to fables… If these statistic are correct, there are a lot of people who claim to be Christians who do not know what their holy book says nor believe it is from God. How can they speak about another’s person’s religion? What gives any sort of credibility to compare or contrast their religion with another?
(This is a personal blog; therefore, I am entitled to an opinion, right? But then again, everything written here could be though as of opinion… However, I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God; the writers were guided by the Holy Spirit but allowed to express the message with their own words and personality, ie plenary verbal inspiration. For the record, I have read the Bible in it’s entirety once and studied other section in greater depth.)
I was trying my hardest to focus on my homework, reading the Qur’an and looking for sections that talk about salvation- what is said outright, how it is achieved, and Allah’s disposition towards individuals seeking salvation. (I must say the later Surahs read much easier than the first 30, the writing becomes much more eloquent and organized.) I was struck by the lack of Jesus’s role in salvation- anywhere! It is made clear in the Qur’an that only Allah can save, Jesus plays no part in salvation for Muslims. For a Christian, Jesus is God- if he is no more than a prophet born of a virgin, then the Christian’s faith is dead and useless (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). For a Christian, the death and resurrection of the Jesus Christ is essential!
There is no Easter story, because Jesus only appeared to died at the hand of the Jews, but he was taken up to Allah, by Allah (Surah 4:157). Those who put trust in Jesus will be counted “superior” to those who rejected Allah, but will still be subject to judgment (Surah 3:55), but Jesus’ life does not provide any kind of saving grace, it does not pay the debt of the sins of man. Jesus was just a good man and a prophet, who can only provide a little leniency before Allah on the day of Judgment. Nothing more, nothing less, Jesus is not the way or a way of salvation. Allah only saves those who believe that he is the only God and Lord and do what is righteous according to Islam.
At this point, the life and teaching of Jesus becomes a guide to living a righteous life as Muslims.Sadly, this view is not far from how many people approach the Bible today; it becomes a guide to live a good and moral life- a law book for righteous living. By reducing the Bible to an instruction manual and story of a good person, it is stripped of the message- the good news of the Gospel, the salvation from sin, and gift of eternal life… Easter is the pinnacle of the Old Testament and the focus of the rest of the New Testament. The Old Testament foretells the coming of a Messiah and what was going to happen, the Gospels attest to how the Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus, and the rest of the New Testament explain how the new covenant that we are under is played out in life and the ramifications it has on the world and those who follow God… It a story of life over death, and life after the death of sin and the freedom that we have in Christ’s death and resurrection,…celebrated by Easter.
Should every Christian read the Qur’an? Yes, I think so; however, I think that they ought to have read the Bible in it’s entirety and have with proper motive to be reading the Qur’an- to find common ground to open dialogue. Christianity Today did a wonderful job outlining why (and why not) Christians ought to read the Qur’an- Here is the article: Should Christians Read the Qur’an. Reading the Qur’an is not going to make God smite you nor make you all-knowledgeable about Islam, but will give you background to enter into conversation with Muslins without being completely ignorant. To be truthful, to better understand all that I am reading, especially doctrine, I would need a study guide of some sort; and a frame of reference that goes beyond seeing the Qur’an a just a literary work. I have so much to learn about the Qur’an and Islam- all I have is a rudimentary understanding.
As always, you’ve made it to the end of my ramblings, congratulations! I pray this read was edifying and caused you to pause and examine what you believe and think.
* I mention the term “The Translation of the Qur’an” because Muslins believe that translations are not truly the Qur’an, the meaning is lost, so those who can not read it in the original text are not privy to the full meaning of the text- the Qur’an was persevered for year via oral tradition before it was compiled in to written text. (I found in surah 41:44 it states that language irrelevant.) This information was found in a letter shared on a forum that gave the testimony of a Christian who converted to Islam, here (username Deepest-Blue). He writes about the things that compelled him to convert.
The movement we realize we don’t know as much as we thought, I think that we have two choices can take:
The first choice is to throw your hands up and become indifferent to the world, claiming since you don’t understand that you never will; therefore, there is no point in trying to learn about it. Some would call this the skeptic’s cop out, I would call it selfish.
The second choice is to use that acknowledgement to fuel your pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, to become well rounded and able to speak truth when needed. We ought not only pursue knowledge for the sake of information, but to find truth and be able to impart those truths to others in love and with gentle rebuke.
You see, when you learn, it is not just for the your sake; it is for all who are influenced and touched by you. You take that knowledge and then pass it on to those around you. This does not mean being a know-it-all nor a smart ass. It means learning when and how to impart that knowledge to others; in other words, wisdom.
When I graduated high school, I thought I understood how the world worked, I mean, someone gave me a piece of paper and handshake and told me that I was ready to live in the real world. But I was not. All the book learning and social observations I had made until that moment went out the window. Example, the summer following my senior year, I learned more about grace and mercy than the previous 18 years of my life. Yes, I had book knowledge, but it was not until I experienced life and was forced to reconcile my head with my reality did I truly realize how little I knew and understood- instilling a driving desire to learn and build wisdom.
I guess this is how I am here, back at college, with a bunch of young men and women, easily 5-8 years younger and not bitter about my situation; a situation I could easily be bitter and resentful about I have realized how little I know and my desire to learn and to teach what I learn drives me to be here. To be here and to enter into conversations and be patient with kids who were just high school seniors just ten months ago. How does a 25 year old talk with an 18 year old… does one elevate self or one lower self or do they meet in the middle some where….
Yes, I do know a lot, I have a lot of life experiences that many others have had not had yet, but they also have experiences that I do not have- Death of a parent, divorce, abuse of all kinds, heavy financial burdens. I can learn from them and I can teach what I know, when they realize that they do not have all the answers.
I am constantly reminded that I have a lot to learn about life, academics, relationships, God… I chose to take that acknowledge to push me to learn all I can where I am.
Currently, I am writing from the Starbucks in Kingsburg. It has since been remodel, complete with new leather seat that am more than likely scuffing with the clip of my pocket knife. It has been almost four months since my time in this lovely central California town came to an end and I restarted my pursuit of a college degree.
I am feeling a wide range of emotions; however, they are mostly dulled by the mounting weariness of school. The culmination with semi late nights and earlier-than-normal-college-student morning are final showing it’s ugly face. The cortisol that the stress of school brings is wearing off and I am certain now that I am much more tired than I had let myself believe.
In the dull ocean of emotion (yes I did rhyme that on purpose) there are few familiar feelings. The feeling of sadness of leaving a constant community of likeminded individuals. Happiness for going home to see and be my family for an good amount of time (more than a week). It is always strange to have polarizing emotions at the same time.
I am looking forward to this time off from school and work. I think this is the longest down time I have ever had. I have a few projects I want to work on. More writing for sure, a couple of music things, and a few personal things.
All y’all who are traveling this season, Godspeed and safe travels!
I just want to say that I am alive and kicking. The last few months have been crazy and full of new experiences leaving me little time to edit anything down properly. I have been working a few new things, I am will be posting again after finals in a little less than three weeks. Until then, enjoy the silence. 😉
I must say, I have never been moved to cry while reading the bible as often as I have in the last few weeks. And I ain’t ashamed of that.
I am taking an Old Testament Literature classes in which we are required to read most of the Narrative books and for 11 books, we are required to do “worksheets.” These worksheets asks us to worked out the themes, concepts and applications of the book (of the bible) we are reading. Not hard, just time consuming; you get what you put into it.
This past Saturday I was working on the book of Numbers, reading about the constant rebellion of Israel in the desert, their grumbling and seemingly ignorance of God’s hand, in spite of God showing himself in power. Reading through the sacrifices and offering what required for forgiveness and restitution was overwhelming
These passages nearly brought me to tears. I definitely got choked up, fighting the urge to cry a river (insert Justin Timberlake “Cry me a River” chorus here.) I almost cried in public, three or four time in the course of the four hours I was sitting in Starbucks. I literally had to close my Bible, take of my glasses and recompose myself.
Later, I started to reflect on the experience. I asked myself, “Why was I draw to tears?” It is not because it is a sad story, I mean it is, but that was not was drawing me to tears. I was the fact I was myself reflected in the actions of Israel. How easily do I forget that God is in control, how easy do I forget what he as done for me?! Israel, not 3 days after God had parted the Red Sea and destroy the Egyptian army did they complain to Moses that God had led them to the desert to die. Imagine about a million people complaining- overwhelming to say the least… but I digress.
I am here at one of the top Christian universities in the United States, if not the world. I am here because of the grace of God, yet I so easily for get what God had done, how He has blessed and kept me. God answers my prayer, and I forget he does and blame him for not hearing my- Oh how my heart is hard!
When the professor asks the class, “What do you think about this book?” most of the responses are “meh,” the book was boring- The Word is alive and breathing, why has it not bring me to tears more often?! Was there something wrong in me until now or is something in me now…?
… … …
This past summer, I took a New Testament Lit class, I don’t remember being moved in the same way. The class and the professor was amazing. But I read the about death of Jesus four times, how was I not moved to tears? Am I so desensitized to my savior death that I am no longer in awe of the sacrifice? I should be so ashamed! (Granted It was a sixteen week course compressed into six weeks and I did read and responded to a prompt on Mark in less than sixty minutes; it goes to show something, maybe…) I read about the death of a perfect man who is the Messiah, the solution to sin and I was not phased, not in the least bit disturbed. However…
…In reading through the details of sacrifice that was required by the people of Israel to forgive sins and for restitution, I started to see what Jesus’ sacrifice actually meant, I began to see the implications of His death. For an Israel, there is an immense amount of blood and wealth required to atone for sin. Blood of livestock and birds, wine and oil, and flour- blood, wealth and livelihood. Jesus death took the place of all that sacrifice, for the present and the future transgression of sin. The weight of my sin- all the blood of animals and food that would need to forgive all the sins and transgression of my life was placed upon one man… now all all of humanity, all who claims Christ; the weight of their sins are upon Jesus. “Oh my God, why have you forsaken me!” those words are an understatement, so is “Forgive them, for they no not what they have do.” We have not way to begin to fathom what Christ experienced.
I think I have been reading my Bible in the wrong order. I have always started in the New Testament, but I think for one to understand the magnitude of sin and the magnitude of Jesus death and resurrection, one must start in the Old Testament. One must understand that the God of the New Testament is the same as the Old, By way of Jesus, we are truly forgiven and we are free of sin that would otherwise have the need atoned by the spilling of innocent blood.
As a some one who claims Christ a savior, I can no longer stand unphased by the Gospel, the death one man for the sins of all mankind. The Gospel is too important to be relegated to cute little stories that I read and try to gleam morals from. I think I live to often in a way that takes Christ’s perfect sacrifice for granted… This has got to end.
~I pray that I am broken every time I open the word of God. The Word is living and gives testimony to the great and awesome God that I serve. I pray that my heart is open to the power of the Gospel.