We sit more than we sleep. Nilofer Merchant calls sitting “the smoking of our generation.” So, how does she suggest we combat our sedentary ways? Well, if you have a lot of meetings, she’s got an answer in the form of a unique way of multi-tasking. In this short talk, Merchant reminds us that not only is movement good for our physical well-being, but it creates a spark in the mind as well.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about opposition. The genesis of this thought process came last week. I had given a passionate talk on Sunday about stepping up our game and really being all-in on loving our city. I was fired up. I know some other people were fired up. The idea of setting aside our personal agendas and pursuing God’s desires for our neighbors was one that we were ready to walk out.
But a funny thing happens sometimes when you decide to go all-in for God. You somehow find yourself in someone else’s cross-hairs. You see, God does protect us, but there is a very real enemy who wants to see us fail. The closer we get to God’s heart and plans, the more that enemy wants us to fail. Remember, this is the same guy who tried to get Jesus to base jump without a parachute just as he was beginning his public ministry.
In the days following my passionate plea to go all-in for God, I was hit left and right by unexpected problems. They weren’t life-altering problems. They were, in many ways, just everyday junk that all happened to hit me at the same time. They were mostly financial in nature – that is, they would cost me money I didn’t have.
One day, as all that junk mounted, I just kind of shut down. I completely ceased to be productive. I don’t even know if I was consciously thinking of anything. What happened next, though, got me thinking differently about my situation. You see, in the midst of my blank, mindless stare, I realized that I was coming up against opposition. This wasn’t just about bad stuff happening to me. I was being assaulted – an aggressive attempt to shut down what God had fired up in me. And when confronted with that reality, something in me rose up.
Suddenly, I no longer had a desire to shut down or to run from these issues. On the contrary, I was defiant! I wasn’t going to let the garbage of life drag me down. I wasn’t going to let it get in the way of what God had called me to. I was going to fight! And I was going to win! Come what may, I was going to push through this opposition and keep moving in the direction God had pointed me. I wasn’t going to back down. I was going to lean in!
Opposition has a way of causing us to do that, doesn’t it? The fastest way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t. That’s why reverse psychology works – the more I try to keep you from doing something (or fraudulently appear to keep you from doing it) the more you want to do it. You lean in to opposition.
And that’s just what I did last week when faced with opposition and, in many ways, that opposition shrank when I leaned into it. Sure, it got a piece of me. My wallet is little lighter (and my disdain for certain companies and professions a little stronger) but there was no way it was going to keep me down. The opposition was fierce. It is fierce. But in the end, I’m going to lean into it and I’m going to break through.
You see, in my eyes, that’s what opposition is for. It is not there to stop us. It is there to strengthen us. When we lean in instead of running away, we will get through it. When we push and reach and scratch and claw our way through, we will get to where we’re headed. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Items of worth always come at a price. But when it comes to God’s kingdom, whatever price I pay is and always will be a bargain.
So, if you’re faced with opposition – especially opposition to the thing you know God desires of you – lean in. You might be surprised at how much stronger you are when you break through to the other side.
I read a lot. At least, compared to 5 years ago, I read a lot. But lately, the kind of reading I’m doing is something that I haven’t done in quite some time. You see, I recently enrolled in college courses for the first time in a dozen years. That means that I now have to read in a completely different way than I typically read.
Most of the time, I read in one of two ways: 1.) I read a book to get the overall idea or concepts presented in the book. Most of the books I read really have one central theme that is then expounded on over the course of a few hundred pages. If I get the big picture and grasp some of the logic along the way, that’s good enough. 2.) My other form of reading is bible study, which is much more interpretive in nature. Some of the most profound moments when studying biblical passages come not from the words themselves, but from reading the reference materials that help put that passage into context historically and linguistically. (Mind you, it’s not that the passages themselves aren’t profound, but that my own ignorance of the culture and language keep me from fully grasping the profundity without some professional help.)
The point is this: I read for big picture ideas or I go a treasure hunt. Rarely, however, am I called upon to read in the way that most educational curriculum requires. You see, along with formal education comes exams and along with exams, typically, comes at least some memorization. You have to memorize terminology, dates, names of important figures, etc.
The trouble is, I’m not very good at memorizing things. It’s just not in my gift mix. I don’t remember details very well. And so, I find myself flipping back and forth in the book as I read, just trying to keep everything straight in my brain by reminding myself what it was that I read just moments ago. It slows me down, makes reading much more tedious and, in all likelihood, is why I took a hiatus from serious reading for several years after college.
Indeed, it has been a while since I had to read like this. The difference, I guess, is that now I can appreciate the benefits of this kind of reading and I have developed at least some capacity to “suck it up” and do what needs to be done. And honestly, even though it’s tiring, I’m actually enjoying it!
Ever have one of those nights when your brain refuses to shut down? (Now that I’ve got that old Soul Asylum song, “Runaway Train” stuck in my head, my night may have just gotten even longer.) I have them often. My runaway brain nights are typically A.) when I am thinking about the past, B.) when I am dreaming about the future, or C.) when a creative writing or songwriting bug hits and I can’t shake it. Tonight, it’s kind of all three.
As I sit here about to embark on some new adventures in my life, I can’t help but think through all of the details and all of the possibilities that come with each new thing. What will come of this initial trip to Kenya? How is the first course of my new college career going to go? How in the world are we ever going to pay for this new adoption? What about Lucy’s adoption? (I must admit, there is still a lot of anxiety in that one and there will be until the day it’s finalized.)
And yet, even as I look forward, I’m also looking back. At the encouragement of a friend, I am writing out the complete story of how Melody and I got to where we are now. I will be posting it in a series of blog posts on our new adoption blog. And, what reflection I’ve done up to this point (I’m up to 2001) has brought back a flood of incredible memories and set my mind to wondering about some of the people we encountered along the way.
All of this, the looking forward and looking back (and now I have a Paul Abdul song in my head…great) has spawned a little creative monster in me. He creeps up now and again and REALLY doesn’t want me to sleep! But sleep I must, because I have a 14 month old who will wake up early tomorrow whether I want to sleep or not. So, I’m hoping that a little bit of writing here will calm that little monster down. Here goes:
Journeys longed for; adventures sought
Joy experienced, but pain brought forth
Forged by skilled hands, I stand alone
Unique among creation, just like everyone else
My story, not so unusual as to be remembered
Not so drab as to be left untold
Seemingly enjoyed by my Father
As he reminds me of its arc
Yet, once again, my particulars,
Not singularly spectacular,
Amass in strange ways
Which seem, somehow, to matter
Matter, at the very least
At most, perhaps, to shape
The course of another’s destiny
A story not my own
Would that one day a great he or she
Would put pen to paper and write
Not of my life or deed
But of that which by some divine plan
I have imparted
This talk from the Web 2.0 Expo in 2008 may be the greatest motivational talk ever. Mom (and others) I apologize for his salty language, but Gary Vaynerchuck is a passionate guy. The funny thing is, I think he’s almost right. Almost. Here’s a guy who has (almost) figured it out. You take the thing you’re passionate about, add absolute determination and hard work, and you find yourself doing something significant.
But here’s why I say he’s almost right. Because the thing that he’s passionate about is boring compared to what I’m passionate about. His hard work is wholly unrewarding compared to my hard work. The significance of his legacy is not nearly as great as he thinks it is. Why? Because Gary Vaynerchuck still thinks it’s about him and about us.
But here’s the thing, I think every church planter and pastor needs to see this video. Everyone who has ever felt like God was asking them to do something and giving them a passion for it needs to watch this. Every missionary, human rights activist and college student determined to change the world needs to listen to the words Gary is speaking.
Why? Because he has tapped into something fundamental in the human soul. What he has stumbled upon is the thing that God has placed inside of us that allows us to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” He has found an echo of the voice of God inside of us.
Take his words and apply them not just to the thing your passionate about, but the thing that God has made you passionate about. “Hustle” at the things that God puts in front of you. You want significance in your legacy? Work for the only One who was here long before you and will be here long after you. The passion that Gary exhibits in this talk should be reserved not for Web 2.0, but for a king – for The King.
If we can become as passionate about Jesus as Gary is about wine, web and whatever else, we can absolutely change the world. Jesus isn’t about Web 2.0. That’s WAY too boring for him. What he’s up to is World 2.0. And we’ve been invited to be on his team of initial investors. Let’s sign up and take the plunge!