Turn My Cheek?

turn-the-other-cheekThis is one of those “thinking on paper” posts, as I call them. I have been tearing apart nine verses in Luke 6, particularly this one, “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Do what?

I cracked open commentaries, different translations, Google, etc., to see what Jesus meant when he said it. I did not like it at all. Was this teaching pacifism, weakness, even heard it was a method of quiet rebellion? The martyred Christians are examples of pacifism, right? What about self-defense? So I dealt with the pacifist part first.

First, I looked at it in the parallel account in Matthew 5:39. It reads ‘Don’t resist an evil person.’ The cross-reference took me to Exodus 21:24, which is the Jewish guidelines for maximum levels of punishment for judges, as evidenced in Deuteronomy 19:15-21. Lamentations 3:30 even has the phrase ‘give his cheek’, though further reading looks like Jeremiah was calling for Israel to repent.

So is it pacifism? I do not think so; it is something that has to be taken in the context of the surrounding verses. ‘Love your enemy’, which reminded me of Proverbs 25:21-22; in Luke 6:27 is the overview verse. In fact, Leviticus 19:18 reads not to bear a grudge against the sons of your people. Instead of retaliation or personal vengeance, it calls for us to pray for them. Martyrdom? Cannot deny it happens even to this day. First century Christians faced a lot, from persecution to every day dangers (2 Corinthians 11:26), so Jesus did tell them to arm themselves in Luke 22:36; but not to lead a rebellion or spread the Gospel by the sword (Luke 22: 49-53). Exodus 22 even has guidelines for self-defense surprisingly enough.

Self-defense is fine as far as my understanding goes. The key to understanding the verse is in the context of Luke 6:27-36. Loving others, not romantic love or even friendly insomuch, as acting in their self-interests; it is speaking of principles to use in dealing with those who treat you badly, not trying to kill you. It is about not retaliating or seeking vengeance for your wounded ego, to be generous if asked to meet a need, and if they cannot pay it back, then forgive the debt. That made sense to me in the context, rather than by theft. Lawsuits, being willing to pay all that is asked of you, I think.

Then the passage goes further with the reasoning behind it, treating others as you want to be treated, fairly without hypocritical standards, being empathetic. It is easy to do with our friends, good people, and if you know you will be paid back. Anyone can do that, the hard part is to do good for your enemies (not participating or enabling, you are helping a need), to lend without expecting it back. As if he anticipated the question (probably did) “Why should we do that?” since it goes completely against our natural tendencies. Because the reward will be great, and being like Jesus, you will a child of God who sends life-giving needs to everyone. It closes with Jesus calling for us to be forgiving, as God is forgiving. That is a hard bar to reach up to, but it is possible.

Filling The Gap

Cover PicI believe I have found my niche. Last year, you may recall I had been trying to find more to do, looking at helping homeless people, and other outreaches. While I did not hear anything for a long time due to technical difficulties along with medical issues, I had two others fall into my lap. Saturdays find me setting up and/or tearing down the rooms for deaf church’s Deaf Den, and the 13-week GriefShare program. Then I got an email about the Homeless Ministry that brings complete meals to homeless people along with various other needs. Around the same time, I got an email about the LinkUp Prayer ministry, putting me up to five ministries minus special events.

Leaving after my first day with the Homeless Ministry, I ran into our deaf church pastor. She asked what brought me there that early in the morning; after I filled her in about my morning, I remarked off the cuff that I seemed to be a ‘gap-filler’ that does whatever. She said everyone needs a gap-filler.

After one special event, the Pack Shack party, where we had more than 1300 people packing meals for hungry kids (news story here), I started thinking and remembering the last five years. TimeHop is a good reminder for then and now. 2010-11, starting a little before this blog went up, the sum total of my years was preaching about the wolf mentality, primal blueprint, and ranting about this and that. 2012-13, I spent an inordinate time pounding out political rants fueled by self-righteousness and narcissism on the keyboard. Everyone was wrong; fortunately, I was there to enlighten you. In addition, I was a *cough* warrior…right…until late 2013, that is. Then I spent that time and 2014 trying to find a new normal and piece together the shards.

Altruism and intellectualization were my coping mechanisms; I took on the cleaning ministry primarily get me out of that house. Then I saw the need for it, so it became something I liked to do. It shifted my focus from myself onto others instead. Now in our new home, it is comfortable-a sanctuary without the heavy atmosphere of memories. Escape is not a reason anymore; now it is helping because there is a need, and I enjoy making a small difference at least. Looking back, as a published author, and part owner of Wicked Jester Clothing, I feel more enriched when I am serving others. I do not naturally have a heart for others; it was transplanted during that renovation process I wrote about in Renovating. Like the Grinch’s heart, it is small, but it is growing.

Ode To a Redhead

Last week, I wrote that my wife on her worst day is me on my best day. I am ever amazed at the ripples my wife makes wherever she goes. In fact, most know of me through her. She is a very lovable person, who hugs and cares about everyone despite the hardships she has faced.

I started helping another ministry in church, and on my first day, they asked me where she was and how she was doing. They wanted her there, too. A few months back, at church, Jennifer noted that I pick up the sanctuary faster than Casey does. Jaime said it is because she stops and hugs everyone. It is true, she does as much as I do and enriches more lives. Truly lives out the spirit of 1 Corinthians 16:4 every day.

Last example I will give: It was cold and drizzly, so I went to get the truck so I could pick her up at the front of the church. A deaf friend with a dead battery flagged me down; unfortunately, our cables were in the car at home. A woman from third service walked up, told them someone was on the way, and that she will wait with them. I interpreted it for them, telling her thanks, to her surprise. She did not know I could hear, since I am so quiet. She sure did know Casey, though.

Everyone should have a human ray of sunshine in his or her life, someone to show the good in everything. My wife is my ray of sunshine, and she blesses me every day, as well as those who come into contact with her.

 

Renovating

With the move, settling in, and in the middle of it all, a birthday/memorial, a few things were put on hold. A little physical atrophy from not training, though moving is a workout in itself, along with a bit more spiritual atrophy than I would’ve liked. I had not done any of my in-depth study in Luke; my quiet time was just casual reading in a Bible app’s reading plans.

The stress was getting to me surprisingly; it went smoother than many things before. Cracks began to appear in my day-to-day activities; I was getting snappy and mean. Fortunately, it stayed in my head…usually, though, body language does not lie very well. It really became evident one day when I had a scenario run by me while waiting to checkout at the grocery store. I snapped my answer to it in annoyance at a slight that had not even happened. That is when it sank in how important my quiet time in the Bible was. One of my many character flaws is my anger issues and they returned.

The thing with people like me who have many issues, the conversion or sanctification process of the Holy Spirit is evident. It is like a major attitude adjustment. I had been wondering why I was not seeing the major changes in my wife. Then I remembered an analogy by C.S Lewis about a widget factory under new management. I could not verify it, though; however, I found this one…

 “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Casey on her worst day is me on my best day; she is probably getting little renovations where I am getting walls torn down and junk tossed out of the window. I guess you could consider quiet time as the time you are consulting the blueprints for the palace. If you don’t you might wire it wrong, at least I have a trustworthy architect.

March 2015 Competition 

Dan John says keep the goal, the goal, and a way to do that is to have a date set that helps you focus. For me it’s the 1/2 bodyweight kettlebell military press and 100 snatches in 5 minutes. That’s how I mark progress athletically every three months. 

So after tying on a five pound girly weight to my 53lb Kettlebell I tested my one-rep max.

  • Right: 3 reps w/58.2lb (62lbs/39%BW)
  • Left: 4 reps w/58.2lb (63lbs/40%BW)

I maintained my max and relative strength compared to the 159 I weighed in at with my right, and gained strength on my left. Simple and Sinister kept the pressing strength up. 

My conditioning was a little lacking…

  • 50 snatches with the 53lb Kettlebell in 5 minutes (-4 reps)

It’s a half step back on conditioning but still much better than the sad numbers I started with last year. In a week I’ll be exactly 12 weeks from the next competition and I’ll begin a program with a heavy press focus to see what happens.