Apathy vs. Patriotism

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With July 4th fast approaching, I want to challenge all of my readers with a serious post. In the coming days, many of you will be celebrating July 4th. There will be fireworks and parades and barbeques and more than one chance to hear the national anthem.

The national anthem has always been special to me. Those words, those notes, those trumpets—they evoke images of battles long past. Behind that Star-Spangled Banner, I envision flashing muskets and thundering cannons swallowed in billowing clouds of smoke and powder. But for some, the national anthem has become a vain repitition, just like Memorial Day, July 4th, and September 11th. How many people actually pause to think about what these memorials represent? I asked myself this question recently—specifically on the eleventh year anniversary of September 11th.

1812When I was still in college, our student body participated in a moment of silence before singing the national anthem. One of the faculty members instructed the students to stand at attention and cover their hearts during the song. Following this instruction, I clicked my heels together, pinched my shoulders back, put my left hand to my side and my right hand over my heart. As the music built and the verses swelled to that glorious climax, my chest puffed and something thick formed in my throat. Tears welled as I felt something warm bubble from my heart. The visions I normally have—of wooden ships and fleeing redcoats—gave way to exploding planes and tumbling towers.

The memory panged my being.  But looking around that college chapel, I noticed students talking and slouching, heeding no respect to the song or the flag or the memory of that fateful day. I had expected to see them struggling with emotions as well, but my expectations were met, instead, with disrespet and apathy. It seemed that my colleagues—especially the new, young freshman—did not hold the importance of September 11th in the same awe as I did. There and then it dawned on me: this generation does not remember September 11th the way I do; therefore, they do not respect something they cannot connect with. For me, September 11, 2001 stands as a day that I will always remember for the lesson it taught me about apathy. That display of apathy by my fellow college students reminded me of the same lack of concern that immediately preceded the events of September 11th, 2001; but, more importantly, it reminded me of the harrowing lesson that day taught to so many of us. Apathy results in tragedy.

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            When I was ten years old, I did not understand what hate really was—much less apathy.  My days were spent going to elementary school and my life revolved around recess, lunchtime, and kickball. So when my mother pulled me out of school early on the morning of September 11th, 2001, I had no idea how much my view of the world would change in the coming hours. I am reminded of that ill-famed day: a gorgeous fall morning in the suburbs of Connecticut, the crisp autumn air that made your breath a little deeper and your mind a little clearer. Life was good until the phone rang and my teacher told me that my mom was waiting for me at the principal’s office. Carrying my lunch bag and backpack down the hall, I distinctly remember one of my friends coming alongside me. He was headed to the same place.

            “Did your mom come to get you too?” I asked.

            “Yeah,” he said, “It must be something bad, my mom never gets me out of school.”

Something about those words struck a dark, hollow chord deep inside me. For as long as I live, I will never forget his face, his words, and the uncertainty in his voice. That feeling that something was wrong stirred my intuition, as if my guts had been stirred with a spoon. That black premonition has loomed in my memory ever since.

            Few things will frighten an adolescent worse than the sight of their crying mother. When I met her in the principal’s office, she smiled and pulled me close for one of those hugs that communicate a certain sense of urgent love, as if it might be the last. I remember her holding my cheeks and kissing my forehead again and again before scooting me out of the office and through the front door of the school. As we walked toward the car, I noticed that her green eyes gleamed from recent bouts of crying.

            “Mom,” I asked. “Is something wrong?” She turned and smiled at me—but the smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.

            With a quivering voice, she explained to me the tragedy of that day: how hijackers took control of the planes, how they crashed them into buildings, how there might be more of them.911

She fumbled with her keys as she added something under her breath, “Dad said there might be a war.”

            That day unfolded like a harrowing dream, as if I now found myself in a parallel universe. The world that I knew seemed cracked at its very core and the realization sunk in: bad things could happen. My family did what they always did when bad things happened, they convened at Granny’s house—the family matriarch—to weather the storm together. Crammed into that house, we huddled around the archaic tube television and listened to the news anchors. The images of the twin towers shrouded in smoke and flame prompted me to keep asking one pleading question: Why?

            Then, it happened. With all of us hypnotized by the television, we watched—in horror—as a second plane flew into view and exploded against the other tower. My mother screamed; my uncle punched the wall; my father stared in tear-filled silence. For a ten-year-old, that moment felt like the end of the world. My father and my uncle sprang to action and paced the house, boisterously shouting that they would join the military. The prospect of my dad fighting—maybe even dying—sent tremors through my soul. 

            I cannot describe the feelings I felt toward what was happening and what it meant: I just know that I felt numb. Confusion met with anger, I did not know which to feel. Watching people dive out of burning buildings to tumble to their death; seeing the World Trade Center collapse; hearing the sound of distant town sirens wail their warning of impending doom—they made my heart break for my country. But it did not feel like any other heartbreak—not the heartbreak I felt when my dog ran away or my grandmother died—it felt as if my heart had collapsed with those burning towers, replaced with nothing more than an empty hole. Freedom felt dead.

            And that feeling has haunted me ever since.

            Now you can understand why the national anthem stirs my heart; why remembering September 11th matters; why memorial should never be a vain repetition, but a heartfelt embrace.

That day taught me the reality of hate—the reality that hate exists and that my world is not an impervious glass shell. Our country was attacked: our people, our buildings, our way of life were destroyed or assaulted in such a way that they will never be the same again. The question I kept asking myself—why did this happen—gave way to “How could this happen?” And then I learned about apathy. Instead of discussing every reason why September 11th happened, the reason for answering the how question can be answered quite simply: apathy. America had grown apathetic in its demeanor. Complacency replaced vigilance. This troubling truth correlates directly to what I saw displayed in my fellow college students: apathy toward what September 11th meant. Instead of being vigilant in their patriotic duty to honor their country, I saw students who would rather text or talk or do anything else rather than pausing to stop and actually remember—remember—what happened on that day.

  Don’t use this July 4th as an occassion to engorge yourself on steak and bratwurst. Don’t use this July 4th as an excuse to blow stuff up in the name of patriotism.  But rather use this July 4th to remember and celebrate what your indepedence really means. Remember those wooden ships and fleeing redcoats. Remember those burning towers and exploding planes. Remember those soldiers all around the world. Don’t dishonor  them. Don’t go through the motions.

When you hear the national anthem, pay attention.  Think. Remember. It’s okay to get emotional.  But we should not succumb to vain repetition. Whether it’s July 4th, a moment of silence, or a singing of the national anthem, we should pause and remember the danger of indifference–the danger of apathy. Our world is not an impervious glass shell.

This July 4th, do not fall to apathy.  The result is tragedy.

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Gyms: The Gold Standard

 

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            I’ve spent a lot of time in gyms. I’m talking about the gyms with the weights and the machines and the grunting men, not those typical athletic gymnasiums with the overweight dads playing overzealous church-league basketball. Gyms are where boys become men—gymnasiums are where men become boys. My quest to find a good gym has been a long (and sometimes painful) exercise of futility. My journey started back in high school when I first started lifting at the football weight room. Since then, I’ve been to gyms of all shapes and sizes, some good and some not so good. In my quest to find the perfect gym, I’ve learned many things about them—and the people in them—that annoy me.

Worst gym ever?

Worst gym ever?

 Let me tell you, not all gyms are created equal. Some gyms are nice—they have all the updated equipment, they smell nice, they feel clean. Other gyms, not so much. The worst one I’ve been to was built in a rusty aircraft hangar. Everything smelled like sweat and dead skin, and the place had a bad infestation of winged termites. Imagine doing a heavy set of squats and having one of those buggers fly into your mouth. I know what you’re thinking; why on earth would you go there? Well, as a poor high school graduate, it only cost me five bucks a month, which is probably why I have a nagging suspicion that one of those rusted iron barbells gave me tetanus.

Fitness Centers

Fitness Centers

I’ve also been to a few places called fitness centers. You know, the places where the moms can drop their kids off for daycare and partake in one of the fifty-thousand offered “classes.” For just $100 a day, you can take yoga, boxing, martial arts, self-defense, cross-fit, water aerobics, plyometric, zumba, bike class, gymnastics, pole-dancing, and the ridiculous list goes on. I think they even have a class for expectant mothers. Fitness centers weren’t really my thing. Turns out, the feeling was mutual. My last visit to a fitness center (I think it was Planet Fitness), a worker stopped me while I powered through a set of skin-ripping deadlifts. He asked my name, where I was from, how I liked the gym—then he told me I had to stop doing deadlifts because it made too much noise. Understanding his concern, I moved over to the powerclean rack and proceeded to throw rubber weights into the air. A few minutes later, the same worker returned and told me that I could not do powercleans either.

“Why?” I asked. He told me that the women on the treadmills had complained to him that it was making too much noise. They couldn’t hear the TV. I shrugged and asked him why Planet Fitness even bothered putting a deadlift rack and a power clean station in their gym if they didn’t want to let their customers use them. He said he was just following orders, so I left and never went back.

This past summer, I finally found the gym I had been waiting for. One of the iconic American powerhouses opened a brand new location in my town: Gold’s Gym. Gold’s Gym is the gym that Arnold Schwarzenegger made famous. It’s the gym Jay Cutler represented when he won Mr. Olympia again and again and again and again. And it opened right near my house, so I was pretty pumped. When I went to check it out, the state-of-the-art equipment blew me away. Every machine imaginable lined the walls. They even sectionalized the weight area from the fitness area—a brilliant idea. That way, the ladies could run on their treadmills and ride their little bikes by the TVs while the men could be out of sight and go to work without complaints from the peanut gallery.

Gold's Gym, Manassas VA

Gold’s Gym, Manassas VA

The gym even had an indoor exercise cinema. Located in a dark room, the cinema boasted a large, theatre-style movie-projector, complete with surround sound and DVD-Blu-Ray player. But instead of sitting down, you had to use a treadmill, a bike, or an elliptical. Now I’ve never been a big fan of the aerobic exercise machines, but I must admit that I did use the cinema bike a few times. Can you blame me? Nothing beats working out and watching Star Wars at the same time. Two birds, one stone. Actually, more like: two of my favorite things in the history of time, at once. All I would have needed to complete the experience? A heaping cone of black raspberry ice cream, but unfortunately that trifecta of goodness would not be allowed in a gym. If I wanted something sweet, I would have to spend about eight dollars on a less-than-manly fruit smoothie.

So I signed up. The price of Gold’s was reasonable (fruit smoothies aside) as it had everything I needed. Even better, a kid’s dad asked me to train his son in preparation for a football tryout at a nearby college. Because of this, I got paid to workout all summer. Awesome, I thought. It doesn’t get any better than that.

During that summer, I met some incredibly knowledgeable people. I met a man that resembled a Rambo version of Santa Claus, who just so happened to be the world champion bench-presser for the over-sixty age group. Don’t let the fuzzy white beard and the matching jogging suit fool you, he could benchpress over six hundred pounds. I also met a few IFBB professional bodybuilders, including a former Mr. Virginia and several world champion power lifters. Yeah, I was a little fish in a very big pond.

 I also met some less-than-knowledgeable people, however. Have you ever gone to a gym and just observed certain individuals as they go about their “workout?” I’ve broken down the gym-goers into several different categories.

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meathead

Meatheads: Obsessed with biceps

First, you have the meatheads. These are the guys that go in there every day and do chest and bicep exercises for hours on end. You’ll frequently hear them talking about protein, weightlifting articles, and their favorite bodybuilders. While they might not make much noise (aside from the big weights they throw around), you might hear them breathing like a leaky balloon—or you might hear the overused power-up saying they use to psych themselves up: “Lightweight!” (Hey, it’s fun to yell the words “lightweight” when you’re about to move a half a car—but you have to do it right. The phrase was made famous by former Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman. If you’re going to say his phrase, you have to do it in high-pitched manner by which it was made famous!)

fattrainerNext, you have the fitness coaches. These are the guys that consistently go up to other people to inform them that they are “doing it wrong.” Usually this category of people is bothersome, unwanted, and they don’t resemble anybody who should be giving another human any type of fitness advice. They usually back up their claims by “something they read” or a clip they watched online. If you ask them if they are a personal trainer, they will come up with a strange excuse, such as “I was going to get my PT license, but I decided to become a dog-whisperer instead.” That’s usually when I stare at them, blink a few times, and walk away.

After the meatheads and the fitness coaches, you have the crazies. These are the guys that do way more weight than they should. They don’t use safety clips on the barbells and they don’t take spotters, because that’s cheating— they want the full “life-and-death struggle of the weight room warfare,” whatever that means. They frequently drop weights, spit, scream at the top of their lungs, and they usually smell bad. If you ever see a forty-five pound plate rolling across the gym floor, it’s probably safe to bet that one of the crazies got a little carried away with his barbell rows, or maybe it’s a new core exercise he invented. Either way, it’s probably safer for you to steer clear of these ones lest you get knocked over, spit on, or lose your hearing. If you accidentally get involved in a conversation with a crazy, just smile, nod politely, and carefully edge away.

Cardio Bunnies: they just keep on going...

Cardio Bunnies

Last, there are the cardio bunnies. Cardio bunnies resemble the Energizer Bunny—meaning they hop on an aerobic machine, such as the treadmill, and they keep going and going and going and going. Most of the cardio bunny population is composed of girls, but some men are guilty of belonging to this club. What they probably don’t understand is they would burn more calories lifting a few weights or doing a few sprints, but they would rather powerwalk on the treadmill until their shoe soles start smoking. More power to them. I’d rather them stay over there than hog up a weight machine for hours on end.

Unfortunately, I had to leave Gold’s Gym and return to college this past fall. It’s kind of like going from an exclusive retail store at some fancy mall to an overcrowded, stinky Wal-Mart. That’s the best way I can put it. True, the college gym has most of the amenities I need to get a good workout, it’s just that most of the equipment is breaking, broken, or in the process of being repaired. And if that’s not the case, it’s probably currently occupied by a gym rat. Gym rats are the packs of kids that workout together and move around like weight-eating locusts. They often use a plethora of weights at a single time, leaving no more dumbbells for the rest of the guys in there. They’re often loud, annoying, and they always come up to me asking me for advice. Here is how a typical gym rat conversation goes.

“Hey man, so like, do you have any tips for me? I’m trying to get bigger, but like, I don’t wanna get too big, ya know? I wanna get like, lean muscle.” This is usually when I stare at the person and count to five. Don’t get me wrong, I love helping people, and giving advice about physical fitness is one of my favorite things to do. But with that said, I’m a busy guy. And I don’t like stupid questions.  What does “lean muscle” even mean? As opposed to what, fat muscle? But instead of being mean and sarcastic, I try to give them a few good tips before continuing my workout.

I have this gym fantasy where I would like to channel my inner Mark Twain whenever someone asks me what my secret is. (As a side note, I hate this question. My secret is I have been lifting weights for ten years and I eat like a starving cave troll.) But instead, I would like to tell them something absolutely ridiculous.

gumWith as straight a face as possible, I would like to stare them in the eye and say something like: “The secret is—you gotta chew sugarless gum.” Then give them a slow nod and a sly wink. Or maybe I could say, “Every night in before you sleep, you just gotta find a teddy bear and squeeze it for a good fifteen minutes. This activates hidden muscle fibers and stimulates growth.” The sad thing is, some of them might take me seriously, so I haven’t tried this.

The moral of the story? Not all gyms are created equal. Not all people in gyms are going to be your favorite people. But with that said, they can still be enjoyed if you find the right one, find a workout program that works for you, and stick to it. There are no secrets when it comes to getting in shape. That just comes down to good ‘ole hard work—and you don’t need a gym for that.

Related posts:

605lb Squat

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to train with some friends of mine. After performing 7 sets of 3 with over 500lbs, I decided to go for a new personal record at 605lbs.

In this video, I only weigh about 200lbs. I did not use knee wraps or a lifting belt. I don’t consider myself a powerlifter or a bodybuilder, but rather both: a powerbodybuilder.

Next stop, 605lb deadlift!

I’ll be periodically uploading blogs and videos that will document my powerbodybuilding journey. Stay tuned!

Related posts:

What should I do with my life? Part 2

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If you haven’t read What should I do with my life? Part 1, go read it now.

As a history and English double major, I enjoy learning by hearing stories. The stories of the past teach us about incredible events. What are some of the famous stories you recall from history? Perhaps it’s the tale of the Achilles and the Trojan War. Perhaps it’s the story of George Washington and the American Revolution. Perhaps it is the story of your childhood and how you grew up.

Think about it: your life is a story. You write your story every day. Everything you do is a page in the story—the story of you.

If you read my first post on this subject, you know that I told you to “find your joy” and then to “Do it. Be it. Live it.”

Easier said than done, right? Our generation faces so many questions, especially those of us who just recently graduated high school. They’re asking questions like, “Where should I go to college?” and “What should I study?” and “Will I be able to get a job when I graduate?” These are good questions to ask, but if you’re not careful, you can fall into the trap so many college students are making these days.

Don’t pick a college because someone else told you to go study a particular field of study. Don’t pick a particular field of study because you think you can make a lot of money doing that. If your heart isn’t in it, you’re not going to enjoy either college or your field of study. I didn’t know what I wanted to study when I went to college, so I took my dad’s advice: study what you love.

While it is not my goal to write an autobiography, I would like to share a few of my life stories throughout this blog. I think it is fitting to begin with the story of how I chose a college.

Growing up seems to be a process for some people. For other people, it seems to happen overnight. I remember sitting in one of my classes during my senior year of high school daydreaming about my future when the realization suddenly hit me: I’m a senior. I thought to myself, “What am I going to do with my life?”

And I honestly didn’t know. I had ideas and plans, but none of them seemed very concrete. I began to apply to colleges—but I did not have a clear direction or goal in mind. Fortunately, my senior English teacher assigned me a project that required me to list out my goals. She also asked us to list which colleges we would wish to attend and why we would wish to do so. (I highly suggest writing out your goals. But next to each goal, answer the question: “Why?”)

What was the result for me? Although I had always wanted to attend a military academy, I felt a growing conviction to attend a Christian college. My reasons were various, so I began applying. I was shocked to learn that I had been accepted for candidacy at a U.S. military academy—including a full scholarship and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant post-graduation.

West Point Graduation

The same week, I also received a letter of acceptance from Pensacola Christian College. As you can guess, I had a serious decision to make. I sought help from my parents, pastor, teachers, and friends, but ultimately the best advice came from above.

When I was nearing the deadline to decide where I was going to attend college, I heard a powerful sermon by Dr. Kenny Baldwin. I realized that I had been trying so hard to figure out my future on my own–so much so that I had forgot to pray about it. Through a variety of conversations, realizations, and answered prayers, God stirred me to a final conclusion: I decided to attend Pensacola Christian College. The moral of the story: don’t neglect the spiritual aspect of your college decision-making process.

At the time of the decision I was scared and uncertain. After all, turning down an acceptance to West Point was contrary to all of my life plans. But notice that word: “my.” They were my plans, not God’s.

To make a long story short, the decision was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Uncertainty can be frightening, especially if you are forfeiting your own plans—but remember: God’s plans are always bigger than our own. He wants to help you write your story . . . you just have to trust Him and hand over the pen.

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3 Ways to Maximize your Day

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Getting out of bed in the morning stinks. A lucky few  have the ability to pop off the pillow and hit the ground running, but for the rest of us, waking up in the morning might take a little coercing by the alarm clock. The truth is, we all have to get up and get moving, whether it’s for work or school or anything else. People have been getting up to “face the day” for centuries, so we have no excuse–especially since most of us don’t have to wake up to milk a cow. So how can we get up, get moving, and get the most out of  the day?

I heard a saying once, “Today only comes once in a lifetime.” And it’s true.

Today is unique–you will never have it again.  I tried to keep this in mind when I was at college trying to cram a double-major into four years. If I didn’t learn effective time-management, I would have flunked.

Below, I’ve shared some of my favorite tips to help you maximize your time:

1. Day Planning

This is one of the most effective self-discipline tools you could ever use. Before you go to bed each night, keep a pen and paper by your nightstand and use it to plan out your day tomorrow. Write out your daily schedule and try to fit in the various tasks you need/want to get done. Prioritize your tasks with the ABCD formula: an “A” is extremely important and must be accomplished (ie: an important business call). Then a “B” task would be a bit less important, but still worth your time (ie: responding to emails, working on the garden).Moleskine-Mini-Daily-Planner-Inside

Keep categorizing with the thought in mind that you probably won’t be able to get to all of your tasks the next day (C “and “D” tasks), but that’s okay. Get the important stuff done within the time paremeters, and you might be surprised how much time you have left over to perform a “D” task (ie: watch a tv show/movie; read a book; go to the park).

A good day planner might look like this:

  • 6:00-7:30AM – Breakfast, devotion, shower and get ready
  • 7:30-4:00PM – Work (Business call*A, Emails *B, design project *C)
  • 4:00-5:00PM – Workout*A
  • 5:00-10:00PM – Shower, dinner  (Practice piano *A, read a chapter of a book *B, pick up garden supplies *C, watch TV show *D)

2. Go to bed earlier or take a melatonnin (or both)

Scientific research has revealed that getting more sleep benefits the body in many ways. But lets be honest with ourselves, how many of us are actually getting the required 8 hours of sleep that doctors suggest? Not many. Going to bed earlier can be a tough task, especially if you have inadvertantly programmed your body to stay up way past 10 o’clock. One way to correct this? Turn off the lights and the television.

Here’s a brief history lesson for you: back in the old days, people worked from sunrise to sunset. They got sleepy because 1) they worked really hard, and 2) it got dark. When the lights go out, the body naturally produces melatonin, a naturally occurring chemical produced by humans to aid in the sleep-wake cycle. Research has shown that as humans age, the natural production of melatonnin decreases.mela

Melatonnin is suppressed by the presence of blue light (Check out this Harvard article on blue light.)  In the past, humans were only exposed to sunlight and the artificial (yellow) light of fires and incandescant lightbulbs. Today, humans in developed countries spend most of their time under the glow of blue light (new lightbulbs, LEDs, television screens, tablets, etc). Staying up to watch television or read a book on your tablet doesn’t help you fall asleep–it’s doing the opposite!

You can counteract the effects of blue light by doing the following:DSC_8081_-_Blue_light_special

  1. Buy a melatonin supplement (usually under $10 for a bottle) and take a capsule before getting ready for bed.
  2. Turn off the television, the computer, the phone, the tablet, the e-reader.
  3. Listen to music, an audiobook, or read a book by “yellow” light (low-watt incandescant lightbulb, firelight)

3. Be Consistent

Be consistent with your maximization plan. What’s the point of making a day planner if you aren’t going to use it tomorrow? What’s the point going to bed earlier if you aren’t going to bother carrying it over to the next day, and the day after that, and beyond? You won’t see results if you don’t stay consistent. Check my other blog post on “How to be Consistent.”

There are many more ways to maximize your day, but these three are king. Nothing beats a good plan, a good sleep, and a good knack for self-discipline. Now, go get the most out of your day!

Related posts:

The Political Christian vol. 1

faith-and-politics

When I went home the other day, I noticed someone had placed a pack of flower seeds by my front door. The seeds were sponsored by various companies, such as LEGO and Lowes. It said “Remember Newtown.” It got me thinking about that tragic day.

I remember it like yesterday. I was sitting in the airport waiting for my luggage, when a friend texted me. He said, “Did you hear about the shooting in Connecticut?” I had just flown into Connecticut to spend some time with family and friends. When I saw the television screen in the lobby, I couldn’t believe my eyes. How could this happen?

Since then, I’ve moved to Connecticut. I drive by the Newtown/Sandyhook exit on I-84 on a weekly basis. Every time I see that highway sign, I’m reminded of the shooting. I’m reminded of the faces of the children. I’m reminded of the tears and the sobs and the angry questions directed toward God. How could this happen?

But then I remember my reaction to that event. I remember President Obama addressing the nation. I remember his words and I remember the unsettled feeling I had in my heart. Here was a man who condemned the shooting–as we all did! Here was a man who valued the lives of those children–as we all did. Here was a man who cared about life. Or so his demeanor on television indicated.

The more I reflected on these events–especially the political response put forth by our media–I began to speak out. I took my mixture of feelings and expressed them, as best I could, in the form of a written status on Facebook. The status became the most-shared and most-liked status I have ever written, before or since.

It pretty much sums up my two cents on the Sandyhook tragedy and how we, as Christians, need to keep all events in perspective, no matter how tragic or devastating they may seem.

I have included the status below, which puts the shooting in perspective with abortion:

“Warning: dose of realism incoming…

The other day, President Obama said this: “They had their entire lives ahead of them –birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.” He was talking about the young kids shot and killed at an elementary school, many of them barely over the age of five. So many people are heartbroken over this tragedy, because how could someone possibly kill that many sm…all children? Wait.

How about a wake-up call for a moment here.

President Obama could have been talking about the 3000+ babies that were likely aborted that very same day. What is the difference between the 20 children killed by shooting and the thousands killed by abortion?
Recognizing the shooting tragedy of today does not excuse America for the abortion tragedy it committed yesterday, today, and will commit tomorrow. Children are dying every day.

Now maybe you can understand why so many Christians try to stand up for them, because for us, this kind of thing has become an inexcusable, every day event in America.

So next time you label a Christian for being an unloving, unfair, legalistic bigot because they stand against abortion, just remember all of those kids that were shot in Newtown.

Because to a Christian, those kindergarteners were just as innocent, just as important, and they had just as much of ‘their lives ahead of them’ as a conceived baby.”

How to be Consistent

CONSISTENT – reliable, steady.

American Heritage Dictionary

 

 I like workout analogies.

People like to ask me tips when it comes to working out. I’ve been doing it for nearly ten years, so I’ve learned a lot through trial and error.  If I can share information that benefits someone else, it makes me happy knowing that they’re getting good advice that I never heard.

But I think many people hold a common misconception about success in the gym. They’ll often ask for some sort of tip or trick to getting a certain result. They want me to give them a magic workout routine or a magic supplement to lead them down the path of success. But in reality, none of that matters. The most important single aspect of success in the gym–or anywhere else–is consistency. If you are not consistent, you will not succeed.

Working out requires consistency

Working out requires consistency

What’s the number one excuse people have when it comes to getting in shape? “I just don’t have the time.” I hate this statement. It’s as if this individual has fewer hours in the day than the average person. No, you have 24 hours just like everyone else. It’s not a matter of whether or not you have time to do something. It’s a matter of whether or not you are willing to make time.

Making time for things is something that we do every day. We make time to brush our teeth in the morning by setting our alarm and waking up a little earlier. We make time by leaving our house early to get to work. We make time by scheduling appointments with people and keeping them. If we skip an appointment with someone, there are consequences.

Are you skipping apointments with yourself? Maybe you’ve been setting aside a time to workout every night. Maybe you’ve been meaning to start writing that book. Maybe there is a garden you have to plant. A list you have to do. A job you have to finish.

If you’ve been skipping appointments with yourself, it means that there have been no consequences. It means you aren’t holding yourself accountable. So how do you do that? Simple.

Create consequences.

1. Carrot Restrictions:

No consistency? No carrot.

No consistency? No carrot.

These work well if you can be disciplined enough to enforce them. For example, if you don’t workout today, you’re not allowed to have that bowl of ice cream after dinner. Or, if you have not written a chapter of that book today, you are not allowed to watch TV. Simple, yet effective.

2. Lost Investment:

Money makes you move.

Money makes you move.

If you’re serious about getting something done, spend money on it. If you’re serious about getting in shape, get a gym membership. Don’t look at this as an expense, but as an investment in your health. If you don’t go to the gym this week, you’ve wasted X amount of dollars. This trick gives you incentive to get to the gym and get your money’s worth. This can be applied with anything, such as home improvement projects or artistic endeavors. Money makes you move.

They keep you accountable.

They keep you accountable.

3. Accountability Partner:

This is most effective way to create consequences. Having an accountability partner does exactly that. It keeps you accountable. You’re much more likely to go to the gym if you schedule a time to workout with another person, especially a friend. You don’t want to leave them hanging. They’re counting on you. Now, this may seem like it would only work with the gym, but there are more applications. If you want to read a certain book, get someone to read it with you–start a book club, set deadlines for each other, and then you’ll be more likely to read it. Maybe you want to write a book. Tell someone you want them to read your first draft 2 weeks from now. That gives you two weeks to get it done!  See how this works?

Maybe this all seems like common sense. Because it is. Consistency really requires self-discipline. But there are tricks to reaching consistency, and once you’ve done that, you’re well on your way to reaching success. In today’s society, many are looking for the “get-rich-quick” result. This lazy approach moves people from one false fad to another, but it never moves them forward.

Reaching your goals can be done. Do yourself a favor by making consistency one of your goals. You’ll never look back on your life and regret being consistent, I promise.

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