Life is complicated… but your life can be simple


Life is complex, varied, deep, and extravagant.  It is all encompassing, vast, wild, and extreme.  Indeed, life is many things which is the main reason why nobody can quite figure life out.  But then again, that is the point.  You are not supposed to figure life out nor will you be able to figure it out within your life time.   This is not a negative fact, it is actually quite liberating.   It is like that old saying “the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know”…or something like that.    The point is, life is too much for us to try to figure out.  So instead of stressing yourself out with this impossible feat, refocus your energy to engage life in one of its many aspects; your life.  Live your life to the fullest, brightest, highest, and strongest.  Make sure that your life is full, glorious, alive, and in motion.  But here is the kicker:  Your life won’t ever be any of these things, until your life impacts someone else’s life; for as it is written, “It’s not good for man to be alone”.   A life that makes an impact in this world is a life worth living.  Seek to make an impact my friends, by allowing your life to be full, great, awesome, bright, and by so doing making another life full, great, awesome, incredible, and worth living.

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Teaching and planting seeds


ImageI don’t entirely know why, but today I was pondering on the similarities between a good teacher and farming.  Much to my surprise, the similarities are striking.  Consider this; the pupil can be equated with the earth.  The lesson can be equated with the seed.  With this in mind notice how:

A teacher plants seeds

Good teachers wont spoon feed you, rather they will plant seeds in your mind, that will make the pupil ask questions.   The best teacher of them all did this often.  In fact, Jesus was notorious for making seemingly bizarre statements and then allows people to struggle with what he said.  A perfect example is Nicodimus and being born again (His story is found in John 3:1-21.  Jesus basically said, “You can’t enter the kingdom of God unless you are born again”.  To which Nicodemus was like “um, what? Born again? Like enter the mother and come back out again?” Jesus had him hooked.

A teacher waters the seed

After a teacher plants the seed, they proceed to water it.  Every seed needs water, nourishment, and care in order for it to germinate.  The water is like a tease if you will, meaning it promotes the seed to start developing.  It is not the full explanation, rather, just enough information to bring some knowledge out.  Going back to Jesus and Nicodemus, Jesus did this as well when he proceeded to explain to Nicodemus that “you had to be born of water and of the spirit”.  By this time Nicomdemus was like “how can this be? This is crazy!?! But I want to know more!

The seed grows a root

After some informational teasing, the implanted seed starts to grow a root.  It important to understand that it’s the root that grows first and not the branches since the root will feed the branches.  The root is like foundational information.  It is not necessarily the main point, but it’s essential to have in order to arrive at the main point.  Jesus does this by telling Nicodemus “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life”.  Believe it or not, this if foundational to what Jesus wanted from Nicodemus not the main point.

The seed grows the trunk

Now the seed is shooting up its trunk wrapped in folded leaves.  This is represented by the teacher allowing the information/lesson to take hold and guiding the student to formulate a though and reasoning.  It may not be a completely coherent reason, but it will be some form of reasoning nevertheless.  This can be seen when Jesus was asking his disciples “who do the people say I am?” (Mark 8:27).  The disciples gave several answers…I.E. The trunks wrapped about with leaves.

The seed unfurls its leaves

Eventually, the lesson will sink in and your pupil will have that “Aha” moment.  This is represented by the complete, unfurled plant that proceeded from the seed.  This is the moment most teachers strive for;  that “Aha” moment.  Peter had that “Aha” moment when he realized that Jesus was the Christ (Mark 8:29).

The plant grows

Just because knowledge is unfurled does not mean that the lesson is over.  Plants grow.  They create new leaves, branches, heights and eventually even fruit, flowers or some form of duplication.  It’s the same with students.  Knowledge grows as they internalize the information given by the teacher.  They test the information, they learn something new about the information, they add to the information and eventually, they duplicate the process by teaching it to someone else.  This happened with the disciples as they went about preaching the kingdom of God and bringing people to Christ.

So what’s the application?  I really don’t know.  Maybe one of you guys is a teacher (well, actually in some form or another we all are).  Maybe we need to see this and realize that our lessons have a deeper impact than we think.

But whatever it is, I hope you guys can get some fruit from this post. 

Much love,

Juan

To give 100% you must give 0%


We are all familiar with the desire to give our 100% at something, whether it’s work, school, relationships, etc.  Not only are we familiar with the notion of giving 100%, but so is the rest of the world, that includes your boss, your teacher, your significant other, you family, heck even your pet (seriously).  The fact is, it’s an admirable discipline to have and yet it’s a discipline that is somewhat expected from us in this day and age.  But what few people realize is that in order to give 100%, you must learn to give 0% (That’s not a typo, I literally mean zero, nada, zippo).

You see, we should all strive to give our 100% at anything and everything we do.  If we’re going to do something halfheartedly, then what’s the point of doing it to begin with?  Life is too short to do things halfheartedly.    But what we fail to realize is that in order to have the strength to be able to give 100% we need to rest.  We need to be able to not give 100%.  We need to be able to give 0%.  Our capitalistic culture will not only ask for 100% from you, it will ask 100% of you, and there is a huge difference between the two.

 100% from you

When someone or something asks 100% from you, they ask that whatever you do for them, be done with all your devotion.  Once that task is done, you have accomplished your goal and have met the request.  For example, work.  Your boss asks you to give your 100% at work, and you do.  But once that shift is over, you’re done, you go home, and that’s the end of that day at work.  Of course this is different if you are paid salary, but even in a salary situation there are clear goals that once met, identify your completion.  This is not the same as:

100% of you

In this scenario, not only are you to give your 100% at the task at hand, you are to give your 100%, 100% of the time.  Meaning, our culture is always asking for your time.  This can be a combination of work, school, volunteering, etc.  Our culture does not care if you have worked a full day; if there is something left to do, and you happen to have a couple of hours left in the day, guess what;  our culture is going to require those hours.

 0%

Scripture tells that whatever we do whether in word or deed, we ought to do it unto the Lord with all our hearts (Colossians 3:23).  In other words, we need to give our 100%.  But the same scripture that says to work giving your 100%, also says to rest, that is to keep a Sabbath (Deuteronomy 5:14).  Now, this post is not about the religiosity of keeping the Sabbath, rather it’s about a principle, a simple one; the principle of rest.  The problem with rest is that, for the most part, rest is counter intuitive to our culture for true rest looks like laziness.  So we have all sorts of people running around, hooked on caffeine, stressed out of their minds, trying to find that ounce of energy to make it through another day because they don’t rest.  They can’t rest.  Think about it, if you ask someone “what are your plans for today” and they say “nothing” a few things will immediately happen.  One, you will probably think “well that’s a waste”, and or you will try to suggest something to do.  But the truth is, to do “nothing” is probably one of the hardest things to do.

My day

So I decided to put this principle to the test.  As you guys know, I am now the editor of List25.com.  It’s a decentralized job where I work from home and set my own hours (for the most part).  It’s a great job really.  The problem however is simple.  It’s easy to blur the lines of giving your 100% at the task at hand or giving yourself 100%.  In other words, it’s not that difficult for me to spend a whole day or even my weekends working on social media engagement, posting, editing, etc.  And I do it gladly, because I want to give my 100%.  In my mind I do this unto the Lord.   Nevertheless, I was recently struck with the realization that rest is just as important (If not more) than work.  Consequently, I decided to start observing a Sabbath on Sunday.  It is a time where I shut my phone off or at least put it on vibrate and place it far away from me. It’s also a day where I stay away from social media, websites, anything that I would consider work.  Furthermore, I stay away from people (check out this post to see why).  All in all, I am left with a day where I do no chores, no work (for the exception of about an hour in the morning where I have to post something) and no socializing.  It has been a complete game changer for me.  After I started doing this, I have realized that now I approach my weekday with more energy, a sharper mind, and a not so dreadful outlook for the rest of the week.

Conclusion

Wow this is a long post, lol.  Let me conclude it with this.  I summit to you that in order to truly give your 100% at something; you have to learn to give 100% to yourself, which translates into 0% for anything else.  Rest is not laziness, rather it’s the preparation for the awesome work that you are going to do the rest of the week, since your mind will be sharper, more energized, and will hold a more positive outlook on things.

Get some rest my friends.

PS

This is also the reason, why I don’t post on weekends…fyi 🙂

Stress is good…kind of


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It’s crazy how quickly and how easily your body gets out of shape yet how slow and painful it is to get back into shape.  Why is that? Because to get into shape, you have to “stress” the body.   Meaning, you have to expose it to an increased level of stress such as the body has not readily known.  In fact, if you keep placing the same amount of stress on your body, the body will get comfortable and enter into something called a “plateau” which means the body stops growing. 

There is a principle here that the laws of physiology understand.  Growth happens when you are exposed to stress.  Our society sees stress as a bad thing, and to be truthful it can be.  Similar to over training with your body, too much stress can actually have an adverse effect on you.  Nevertheless, stress in moderation is what causes us to grow. 

So what does this mean for you and I?  Well, in the least it gives us a weapon to manage stress.  Mainly, it allows us to see the benefits of a stressful situation.  Yet on higher level, understanding the role of stress, prepares us to tackle and deal with stress in a healthy manner.  Going back to the body analogy, when you understand the level of pain a particular exercise causes, you can ascertain how much more you can endure and how much more stress you are willing to summit your body to.  It is what gives you the courage to add more weight on the rack.  It’s what gives you that fire to push for one more rep.  Without this understanding, you will look at the weight rack, doubt yourself, and never venture to pick the weights up.

Don’t let that happen to you my friends.  Stress is just that, stress.  It is not to be feared but tackled.  We are not to allow it to overcome us but rather we must overcome it so that consequently we become stronger.  Will we fail?  Maybe.  But again, “failure” is only failure when you stop trying.  You will never be able to curl heavy dumbbells, until you try to curl them and fail.  Repeated failures will eventually produce success, and then, when you mastered that particular weight, guess what!  It’s time to increase the weight and start the process all over. 

Pick up the dumbbells of your life, and if you can’t lift it now, don’t get discouraged.  Keep trying and you’ll see that not only will you eventually be able to lift the weight, but you will lift it with ease. 

If you stick your finger into an electric socket you will get shocked


When I was in my teens (a troubled teen at that lol), I had a very wise youth pastor.  He used to say something to the youth group that even in my adult hood I recollect often (to be completely honest, he said a lot of things I recollect often).   He said: “If you put your finger in an electric socket you are going to get shocked, it’s inevitable.  So how can you expect to tap into the greatest power in the world and not get changed?” this may not be quoted verbatim but the gist of the statement is there are certain truths of cause and effect that cannot be denied.  If you come into contact with electricity, this cause and effect truth will kick in (I. e. you’re going to get shocked).  This truth also applies to God.  If you claim to have tapped into His power (I.e., accept Him as savior and receive the Holy Spirit as the sign of redemption) then you will be affected.  There is no way around that.  Make no mistake, your desires, goals, thoughts, ambitions, all of that will be affected.  To be clear, this does not mean that all of a sudden you are going to become perfect or incapable of sinning.  I argue it’ll probably be the opposite since the enemy will now be against you; which means you will probably stumble, get discouraged, fight against desires, selfish ambitions, etc.  But the true mark of a Christian (in my opinion anyways) is not his/her perfection; rather is his/her singularity. What do I mean?

Let’s take a normal relationship for example.  At first, you have the honeymoon stage where everything is flowery and peachy.  Your significant other could never do anything wrong because you are just so in love with them and they are so perfect.  But then, reality hits and stuff start to annoy you…a lot.  You get into arguments with your significant other to the point that at times you may even doubt your love for the person.  Mistakes happen, disappointment manifests itself, and you are left wondering (sometimes anyways) if you made a mistake.  But, through all the doubting, failing, arguing, and pondering, you know…you just know that this person completes you.  Relationships are not perfect, but there is no doubt that you are in a relationship.  I believe it’s the same way with God.  I make mistakes, lots of them.  Sometimes I can be “On fire” for the Lord and sometimes I can be as cold as a South Pole morning.  But at the end of the day, week, month, or sometimes even year; I know that I’m in a relationship with the Lord.  There is no denying that, even when I purposely tried to deny it.  You see, I tapped into the greatest power in the world and I was changed.  It did not make me perfect (at least not in the physical state), nor stronger, or even wiser.  But it changed my heart, my attitude, my fears and my hopes.  It changed my outlook on life, death, eternity, and finality.

I don’t say this to be super spiritual.  I say this to point out a simple truth.  No matter how bad I screw up (which happens often), I know and will always know, that I belong to the Lord.  And on that day when he rents the heavens in two, and descends with the shout of a bazillion angels; and calls out to those who have been waiting for him whether in the grave or alive, I will be one of those he calls.  Not because I’m perfect, not because I’ve done everything right, but simply because I entered into a relationship with Him.  We argue (and I always lose), I doubt, I fall, and I ponder.  But the undeniable truth is I’m changed (I.e. I poked into the electric socket and it shocked the heck out of me…thank goodness).

The simplicity of simplicity


I phoned my friend the other day just to hear his voice.  There was no pressing issue, no need for a favor, no desire for clarification on something; none of that, all I wanted was to hear his voice.  In hindsight, the conversation was pretty non eventful consisting of “how are you” and “Uh Hus”.  But that was OK, I did not need a profound revelation or deep philosophical insight, all I needed was to touch base and hear his voice.  This is normal among friends.

Shouldn’t it be the same with God?  How many times have I “called” Him just to hear his voice without needing a favor, a clarification on something, profound revelation, or even some Theological insight?  How many times have I just sat down and given God my ear, just because I wanted to hear his voice?  And why is it that my prayers have to turn into these elaborate “OH Omnipotent God of the Universe” monologues.  I mean, true, He is the Omnipotent God of the Universe…of everything, but is He not also my friend?   Must I really approach Him on my knees; with my head on the floor; with a sad and solemn expression on my face?  I don’t think so.  Mind you, there is a time for that, but I think that most of the time, God wants us to approach Him as we are.   I think He wants to laugh with us, talk with us, sing with us, dance with us, in short share life with us.

We are the ones that complicate things when it comes to God in spite of the fact that God is not the author of confusion.  We are the ones that somehow need to make the simple grandiose when Jesus was never grandiose while here on earth.  We are the ones that make having faith a 12 month lecture series when God says to have faith as a child.  Yes, God is big, too big for our full comprehension.  God is wise, much wiser than our cognitive abilities can handle.  God is powerful, more powerful than anything we can possibly imagine, but this same God can also relate to us.  And since He knows that our frame is but dust, then he knows that our joys are found in simplicity.

I think God is calling us into the deep truth of simplicity.  Complexity is normal for us; it’s something we do every day.  Simplicity is counter intuitive for it is something our minds cannot equate with God.  Therefore, seek the simple my friends.  Remember, Elijah did not find God in the “great and powerful wind” that tore the mountains, he did not find Him in the earthquake, nor did he find Him in the fire, Elijah found God in the whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13).

Hard times are worth their weight in diamonds


There are benefits to doing something to the best of your ability; at least for me.  Seldom, do I come across a better feeling than to stand back and see the fruits of hard work.  The danger of course, is to become prideful and haughty at the sight of “your accomplishment”.  Especially when you have labored so much for so long to finally obtain something tangible that you can honestly say is good.  The truth is, if it wasn’t for the Lord God Almighty, I would not be able to accomplish anything.  So all praise goes to Him.  Nevertheless, I am the instrument He chose to use to accomplish a task.  That in it of itself is awesome.

I guess I say that to say this:  Don’t be afraid of hard work and don’t be afraid of hard times.  If life was easy and work was a breeze we would live lives that are, for the most part, unchallenged and underdeveloped.  Think about it.  If rocks and minerals avoided intense pressure, would we ever get diamonds?  Sure, we have figured out a way to artificially create them, but are these nearly as valuable as the real thing?  The name itself says it all: “Artificial”.  Good things are seldom found easily.  So don’t be surprised when you go through tough times or have to work hard at something.  All that means is that you are on the verge of discovering something worth the toil. 

Boy in the Striped Pajamas


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I had the opportunity to watch an incredible movie last night.  The name of it was “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”.  I got the crazy idea to watch this movie due to one of our lists on List25.com entitled “25 Movies That Will Make You Cry”.  Needless to say, it was indeed a sad movie (don’t worry I won’t spoil it for you if you have not watched it).  I mention this movie because of the impact it had on me.  Seeing the horrors of the holocaust through the eyes of an eight year old was a painful realization of what the human nature is capable of doing.  After watching the movie, I had to take a few moments to compose myself, and then I started to see my current world…the sad realization swept over me…were not that far from doing it all over again. 

You may disagree with my previous statement, and may even consider me a negative Nancy (or worse, a Debby downer), but the fact is that when the Holocaust happened through the hands of sane, highly intellectual, sincere, people.  They were not a third world country, or somehow impoverished.  They were a nation where the majority believed that a particular human race, denomination, sexual orientation, and culture was somehow inferior and not worthy of existence.  This sentiment is still present today except its disguise is intolerance.  It doesn’t matter what kind of intolerance.  It could be intolerance towards sexual orientation, race, religion, political beliefs…it doesn’t matter.  Intolerance is still intolerance. 

I have cruised through many blogs and sites and have seen with my very eyes the comments from people who desire the utter destruction of another group of people.  It’s sad for me to think that a highly evolved, intellectual, wealthy nation like ours still nurtures the notion of intolerance.  I know some believe that our nation doesn’t, but the truth is it does.  To be clear, when I say nation, I refer to the people, not the government.  In reality the government is just a reflection of the people. 

I honestly fear our future as I walk through this life and I experience blind hatred from all groups towards each other; the gay community’s hateful stand towards religion and religion’s hateful stand towards homosexuals; Blacks intolerant stand towards whites and white’s discriminatory stand against Blacks; liberals unreasonable intolerance of conservatives and vice versa.  When will we step back and learn from history?  When will we finally grow up and let go of things that does not matter and realize that the world is a place because of people… that is, other people, not you.  So what if someone believes differently than I.  That’s not reason to hate them, is it?  So what if you are an atheist and I am a Christian; must you hate me so?  Or must I hate you so?  So what if I’m colored, isn’t it just a skin color?  Are you so blind to not see the fact that is just pigment and that I am still another person, another human? 

The Jews were people like you and I who endured the hatred of a majority and were treated like dirt.  Many paid for this hatred with their lives and yet there were those who felt no remorse whatsoever.  They just could not see that they were burning, killing, hitting, raping, absolutely demoralizing another human being.  I really do hope that we have learned our lesson, though signs from this present age tell me we haven’t.  I pray for all our sakes I’m wrong.

Love song for a savior


I sit in a solitary moment and can’t help but to look as time flies by.  Caught in the momentary past; wooed to consider the love before me.  He is ever before me.  I stroll through the quiet stream that passes by and I can’t help but to caress its silent surface.  A melody rings forth as the breath of his presence fills my lungs.  Taking hold of His hand, I proceed to walk through the memories; the times He’s held me close.  I’m not lost.  We stroll through the moments of tears, we waltz through the chronos of joy and in His gaze I find myself.  He speaks tenderly as a lover to a bride and beckons me to know.  And in this moment; as I sit and stare at the screen of this present time, I am millions of miles away carried by a desire to know Him.  His tender patience is intoxicating. His guiding light; healing.  I thirst for His embrace.  I long for Him.  The conclusion arises within me as the lover of the ages pursues me.  Violently, He fights the walls built by my hands.  Tirelessly, He calls out my name and I know; with every fiber of my body I know.  He will never stop.  He will put eternity beside Him, and together they will reach me.  As my cell is battered down, my chains fall to the ground. I’ll do what I was meant to do.  What I have wanted to do all this time.  I sing and I dance for the Great King, the Ruler of All. The Omnipotent Father has come and in His arms, I will be home.  In His arms, I will be home.

When that which is tedious gets the best of you


What do you do when you have endured the most tedious thing possible and at the end of the job, you get all excited because you are finally free and done only to realize that your work has not been saving all this time?  You cry a little, you cry some more, than you get over it, and you go to sleep to tackle the beast once again bright and early.  Good night folks, wish me luck tomorrow.