Boredom

Boredom. The people of our age suffer from boredom like no other culture in history. Being bored means that we get used to the people, places and things around us and we lose interest…and perspective.

We are bombarded with the latest technological gizmo that keeps our attention divided in a million directions, 24 hour news cycles and caffeine infused binges to ensure we don’t miss the next best show or post.

The results of our hyper consumption is pretty telling. Plenty of affluence, money and education paired with division, divorce and suicide. We seemingly have it all, but enjoy nothing.

When was the last time you remember an experience of awe? That profound sense that greatness is before you, an awareness that there are levels of depth to be discovered, a deep desire to rest in a place of reverence. For me I remember one of my first experiences of being in awe was watching my favorite sports star…Michael Jordan. His mastery of the game I loved was art to me. For many, it may have been the music you listened to growing up.

Many of us experience this amazement and awe when we find the “one” and fall in love. We often bump into a moment of awe when we encounter something amazing in nature.

The problem is that our wonder dissipates at such a high rate these days that we rarely recognize it when we see it. This happens with the amazing technological feats that we carry with us, the gorgeous canvasses that are just outside of our doorsteps and sadly our marriages and families.

This inhibited capacity to be amazed spills over to our reverence for God. We have become too used to Jesus. It is easy to reduce the Son of God to a plastic statue or air brushed figure with perfectly parted hair and soft hands. We are comfortable with Jesus but want to keep Him as our advisor not Our Lord.

When do we take a moment to consider the star breathing God who loves us so much that he sent his only son to rescue us? It’s time that we take the opportunity to be amazed.

“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)

What I Learned From My Grandfather’s Passing

By Ron PereiraMy Grandpa, Willard J. Price, recently passed away.  He was 99-years-old.  From what I’ve heard Grandpa enjoyed his dinner, went back to his room, took a few breaths and closed his eyes for the final time.

The funeral was held in Indiana.  Once we knew the specifics my wife and I decided to load the van up with our 7 kids and make the drive from Texas.  This afforded me a lot of time to reflect on my Grandpa’s life and the legacy he left behind.

I was blessed to be able to speak during the funeral service.  I, and two of my dear cousins, shared our favorite memories of Grandpa.  My “opening statement” was that my Grandpa lived a full, outstanding, life and that this gathering was a celebration of his life.

I then shared some of my favorite Grandpa stories that included the time my sister and I decided to take Grandpa’s lawn mower for an “unapproved spin.”  We were doing OK until we slammed into a brick wall, panicked, and ran for cover.  We may have also left the mower in gear which caused it to repeatably slam against said wall.

The best part of this story is neither my sister or I can remember what sort of trouble we got in.  We’re sure we did.  But, what we vividly remember is that our Grandpa never fixed the broken headlights on that mower.  Classic!

There are so many other stories that revolved around fishing, lots of laughing, and my Grandpa’s HEAVY, and I do stress HEAVY, foot as he drove his van around town!  Oh my… my Grandpa loved to drive fast.  He also loved to look at the person he was talking to while driving which could prove to be interesting!

But, as fun as my Grandpa was – and man was he a fun man – the biggest thing I’ve taken away from his life is the legacy he left with friends and, especially, his family.  He loved us deeply.  He cared for us deeply.  And when you were with Grandpa you were almost guaranteed to leave his presence a happier person.

It’s also reinforced how important my family is and how I want to maximize every second of every day with my wife and my children.  Sure, things like my professional career (and even projects like Intentional Encounter) are important… but nothing is more valuable than the time and love I can give to my wife and kids.  Nothing.

So the challenge I have for myself (perhaps you can take the same challenge?) is to seek out ways to love my family more deeply, to care for my family more deeply, and to ensure the people I come in contact with on a day-to-day basis leave my presence in a happier, more fulfilled, state.  Thankfully my Grandpa showed me what this looks like.

Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!

Functional

The term functional is commonly used these days in fitness circles and even nutrition programs. The idea behind the movement is getting back to “normal” human movement patterns that we were made to do or eating foods that our bodies were created to handle. I appreciate this approach because of its common sense look at reality and the ease in which we can see where human performance has gone off the rails in light of this framework of functionality.

Those who propose this approach rely heavily on science and anthropology to try and re-discover how our bodies were meant to move or the caloric and macronutrient makeup that our diets were “programmed” to handle.

In the fitness industry, practitioners of functional fitness tout that they have found the “holy grail” of how to become truly fit and cast off the oppressive old fitness axioms that were centered on concentration movements like curls. The functional fitness world tries to use science to describe how our joints and muscles work in concert to exert force on objects or create power. They use anthropology to extrapolate how humans who lived long before mass transit and the internet used the joint and muscle structures in our bodies to live and thrive together.

For example, “ancestral health” proponents point out that we are bi-pedal so we were created to walk, run and squat. Based on these simple and logical inferences we can easily see that sitting for 8-10 hours necessarily inhibits our natural ability to move. Proper mechanics and exercises have been developed, packaged and sold as functional because they logically seem to be derived from our lineage of ancestors who ran to hunt for food, climbed things to get to safety and picked large objects off of the ground to build shelter for their tribe.

The nutrition industry has also popularized this framework for understanding what to eat. The ancestral health movement is based on helping us unpack what the cave man’s body needed were to survive and then extrapolates that image to show us how far off of the map we have found ourselves by consuming super-sized meals from fast food joints.

As I mentioned, I appreciate this approach in many respects because it is simple to understand and shows us where we are no longer living as we were created with regard to our physical bodies. However, I look at the functional health movement a little differently and appreciate it because I think it is a step in the right direction in discovering who God is. If through science and anthropology we can find out how our human bodies were designed to move and digest food, it begs the question who designed it?

If we are seeking truth in all honesty then we can begin to see the integral link between theology, or the study of God, and science. Together they help to shed light on how we were created and how far we have fallen from the Creator’s original design. It is amusing that the majority of scientists in the field of ancestral health completely and adamantly deny such a link and ascribe to an atheist world view, but in turn have made science their religion.

This approach is not new but can be dangerous. When you leave God out of the equation for understanding why we were created and how we are supposed to work, you always end up frustrated in trying to understand suffering and will eventually diminish the human person to merely an object made solely of molecules and unchecked chemical reactions.

There is another way

By using the functional fitness model and the ancestral health framework to show us how our bodies were created to move and what we were meant to eat, science can add value in helping us to understand who created us in the first place. Although modern science would have you believe that theology is opposed to scientific discovery, it was Christians who propelled science to where it is today and the creation of the University where study and deeper thinking about the created world were meant to help us explain God’s creation and encounter Him.

When taking into account the whole person we can look to God for how we were originally designed, which is to be loved by Him and in turn become a total gift of self to others. By pressing into this original design to see how He created proper human function, it becomes easy to see how sin like pride, lust or greed have de-railed us from living as He intended. We are not only broken physically through the effects of sin, but interiorly as well.

God, in His great love for us, gave us the solution to this function problem. He sent Jesus Christ to redeem us and show us why we were made and fully reveal the greatness which we are all capable of. In order to discover true functional health, it requires a decision…we must recognize that we are broken and in need of the True Physician.

“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)

No Bad Teams

Two of my favorite authors on the subject of leadership, Simon Sinek and Jocko Willink, share a key principle in leading a team…whether it is your family, at church or at work. The principle is that there is no such thing as a bad team…only bad leaders.

For those of us who lead others, this principle can be a hard lesson to learn. It is far easier to blame the subpar performers on your team or to shuck the blame onto a badly dealt hand. However, both Sinek and Willink have found through their vast experience in leading others that if a team is to be successful it is not dependent on the members of the team, but rather it’s leader.

In Willink’s book, Extreme Ownership, he paints a picture of how this principle played out as an instructor of the infamous Navy SEAL BUDS school. BUDS is one of the world’s toughest selection processes in the military where applicants who inspire to be SEALS must endure grueling mental and physical tasks under very harsh conditions.

In the book, Willink describes how the SEAL candidates are separated into teams and the teams compete against each other in…well…everything. Each team has an appointed team leader who is given instructions for each event and is tasked with relaying that information to their teams and leading them to execute the plan.

In the book, there was a particular boat crew that was consistently losing, and not just by a little…they were getting smoked. The SEAL instructors recognized that the leader and members of this losing boat crew were quick to blame each other and focused on their individual suffering. The instructors conducted an experiment and switched the leader of that boat crew with the team leader who had won virtually every event, while the leader of the losing team would be in charge of the most winning crew. Much to everyone’s surprise, the boat crew that had lost every event that day suddenly made a huge turn around and not only competed better, but won the remainder of the events that day.

The valuable lesson that was taken from that example was that it was not the members of the team that made the difference between meeting their objective and not…it was clearly the leader. The leader that took over the underperforming team took responsibility for the outcome of each mission so he had a personal stake in each of its member’s success. This extreme ownership trickled down to each member of the boat crew and they began to give all they had for each other which resulted in the dramatic change and almost instant success.

Sinek added to this point in his book, Leaders Eat Last, that when leaders aren’t empathetic or concerned with the success of the members of their team, then their natural response is to watch out for themselves, stay under the radar so as not to be noticed and blame others if they are noticed. Teams don’t work well this way. People don’t thrive in these environments…period.

This principle can relate to you as the leader of your marriage, family, church, and at work. Men are given authority to lead at various points in their lives and the responsibility and breadth of that leadership expands as we gain experience. We start as boys. My 11 year old son has the responsibility to take charge for his room, his hygiene and has the opportunity to mentor and lead his younger siblings.

By God’s design, these leadership opportunities grow as we age. If we are aware of the principle that there are no bad teams, only bad leaders, then it can free us from the tendency to blame others for the teams failures, but instead find ways to inspire those in our charge. We can ensure success through courageous leadership and ensuring that those that we are responsible for, know that we have their best interest at heart.

“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)