Archive for April 7, 2007

Looks two posts back.  See all those pretty flowers and bushes in pots?  Yeah, now I need to go lug those all in thanks to the record cold temperatures sweeping through the South.  And the ones I planted in the ground will require some kind of newspaper wrapped around them (with mulch around the base).  Pray for the best, we spent a good amount of money (we probably shouldn’t have) and a lot of time an energy.  I would hate to see it go to waste.

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When we hope we look forward to something with confidence or expectation of its attainment[1] Something that is hoped for is almost never a negative or bad thing, but something that will in some way enrich our lives; Captives hope for freedom, drunk men for libations, poor men for some cash, and weak men for power. There is not a man who lives without some hope- for once hope has departed life soon follows. It is what men hope in that defines them, and is the measure of their desires and character.

When Simeon of Antioch the stylite (388-459) stood upon a pillar twenty meters high and two meters wide for thirty-six years with very little sitting or lying down- preferring to bind himself to a pole so he could sleep standing- he certainly had an incredible amount of hope in something.[2] Then saint Simeon Stylites the younger (521-597) came along and sat upon a similar pillar for almost twice as long- sixty-eight years.[3] These men are two examples out of many men and women who devoted (although I would argue in a flawed interpretation of Christ’s commands) their life to God in the best way they knew- and should elicit some degree of respect for their resolve. If only modern Christians had the same resolve of these men to stand by their convictions with strength.

Would a modern Christian submit himself to such severe deprivation for the sake of his Lord? Would a modern Christian deny himself the pleasures of the world? I said earlier these men were flawed in their thoughts, I say such because they separated themselves from the world entirely- living apart the anchorite lifestyle. Yet, to endure such deprivation, such pain, such discomfort (imagine the blazing Arabian sun in Syria burning down directly on you for thirty-six years) was a task that could not be completed without a sure and certain hope. A hope that transcended the flesh and it’s base desires.

Now, over 1,600 years later, what is our hope? Where is the evidence of our hope in God, in Christ, and in God’s word? It is easily understood how we could not endure the life of a anchorite or stylite, but how much discomfort would we endure for Christ? Would you be willing to lose your family?[4] Would you be willing to be hated by the world for the sake of Christ?[5] Would you be willing to endure imprisonment?[6] Would you be willing to die for Him?[7]

We must all answer these question for ourselves. But as best I can guess, many believers will turn away due to the hardship. For today few in our nation suffer imprisonment, torture, abandonment, or death for their Lord- as believers in other parts of the world currently endure courageously. Could we as believers in America endure as much? I doubt it.

I doubt because so many of us are already too concerned with the way the world, our neighbors, and the media view us that we compromise scripture to avoid being stereotyped as a fundamentalist or evangelical Christian. We avoid confrontation on those parts of our beliefs and scripture that we are unable to defend, conceding ourselves into a more limited form of Christianity. A Christianity that isn’t defined by God or His word, but by man and his views- or his scorn of us as believers.

But why lay our trust and hope in men? Why value their opinions above those of the Lord? The great apostle writes, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”[8] As believers we are admonished to, “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”[9] But are all our thoughts obedient to Christ? Or have we adopted the wisdom of the world because we are ashamed of our perceived foolishness?

There is a simple equation that explains why we should not trust secular men to dictate our views as Christians. That equation is: No God = No Hope. If our secular friends win in persisting us they are right, if there is no God of the creation, no redeeming death of Christ from the fall, and no judgment and eternal life for the believer- then there is no hope. Men great enough to build pyramids currently slumber in museums and under the ancient sands of the Egyptian deserts, but their power, wealth, and privilege mean nothing to their rotting (or preserved) bodies. They know no thought, no judgment, no pain- only a constant void of existence. A similar fate finds kings and jesters, CEO’s and janitors, doctors and carneys.

We are free to hope in man all we want, but in man we will always find death. For even should man discover how to live 200, 1000, or even 10,000 more years he would still ultimately find the cold visage of death awaits him at the end of his journey. We will all discover at the final judgment that death is the result of sin and its entrance into our world. For as Paul writes that by one man sin entered this world, so by one man (Christ) we will be freed from sin.[10]

So we should never be ashamed to espouse our full and unfettered faith to friends, family, and strangers.[11, 12] For Christ is not ashamed of us when He stands before the Father to present our case as our great defender.[13] For when through a fear of shame before man we compromise our hope and faith in Christ and His creation- we show the world we respect them more than we do our own Lord. What image does that give unbelievers of our church, our faith, and our certainty in salvation?

Every so often it becomes necessary to change up a strategy, even if it has proved successful thus far.  Over the next few days I will be overhauling my workout from top to bottom.  There will be major changes (both additions and subtractions).

A short list of changes includes, agility drills, balance work, more outdoor activities incorporated into resistance training, and much more.

Even though what I have been doing has worked, I want to take a chance on something bigger.  A workout program that would build real world strength from the inside out.  I don’t want showy muscles, but functional  muscular strength- and I think I know how to do it.