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  • Writer's pictureJohn Kim

Over a dozen people recommended that I listen to a podcast by Stanford Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman before I finally got around to it. Now I’m hooked.

Dr. Huberman explores the latest research, which often confounds traditional wisdom on everything from fitness to food and from improving focus to eliminating fear. I’m sleeping better, enjoying a more fun lifestyle, and probably added a decade to my lifespan with the habits I’ve implemented from his wisdom.

There are so many great nuggets in there, but the one that Huberman probably espouses most frequently is that “I focus on mechanism over protocol.”

[I paraphrase]

“See so often I find people just want me to tell them what to do. ‘What supplements should I buy? What time should I sleep? Should I lift weights or do crossfit? How many times per week?’ The reality is that everyone is different, and even if there is an ideal protocol for you to follow, life happens and you’re never going to be able to keep it up perfectly into perpetuity.

What I find much more effective than sticking to one protocol is to dig into the mechanism. If you understand how things work, based on peer-reviewed research from reputable publications, then you can formulate a routine for yourself. But when you can’t follow that routine one day because life happens, you can adjust based on your knowledge of the mechanism instead of wallowing in a sea of guilt. I find this approach much more sustainable and frankly more enjoyable than following a bunch of rules.”

I feel like in so many ways this encapsulates the spiritual life. It’s easy to teach my kids a set of rules. “You shouldn’t lie, steal or hurt people.” Before we have the time to get into all the details, that might be a good place to start. But over time as we live life together they start to understand the heart behind these rules.

“We’re throwing a surprise party for Mama so we need to lie about where we’re going tonight. That’s the loving thing to do right?”

“Right. Ok got it Apa.”

Jesus often scolded religious leaders for placing too much emphasis on the rules. Rabbis in his day would follow a certain “yoke”, which essentially represented a list of do’s and don’ts, many of which were impossible for a normal person to follow. It gave the “spiritually mature” folks a measuring stick to prove their own superiority over others. But in describing his own views on mechanism vs protocol, Jesus said this.

“My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

It’s about mercy not sacrifice. It’s about relationship, not the rules. It’s about mechanism, not protocol.

God, may I not look at the speck in my brother’s eye, and ignore to plank in my own. Help me to love others as you’ve loved me.

  • Writer's pictureJohn Kim

On some recent panels I’ve been finding myself likening a relationship with God to a professional wrestling match.

“We’re all ringside watching this incredible battle ensue in our daily lives. There’s the good guy and the bad guy, and with each blow that’s dealt we inch closer to the edge of our seats. We get to watch as if the balance hangs in the air, but in reality each of our battles are scripted just like a WWE match. The reality is that God has already won the battle. We don’t need to fight, we just need to come into alignment with what he’s already done. The whole thing is scripted, just like professional wrestling.

As a kid, my favorite wrestler by far was Hulk Hogan. He got banged up in every encounter, and he even lost some matches here and there. But there was no doubt he would be back on top, because he was unquestionably the greatest. I just looked him up online to write this post, and found it interesting that he’s also a big believer in the big guy upstairs.

God allows setbacks because they’re a set up for the ultimate victory. If Hulk Hogan jumped into the ring without a fight, we wouldn’t have the pleasure of experiencing an incredible living drama. But life is just that… a scripted series where we know how it all ends. (Spoiler alert… the good guy wins!)

If you’re feeling down and out today, just remember… the battle is won. The war has been won. Because of what he’s already done. You might feel banged up, but victory is around the corner.

  • Writer's pictureJohn Kim

I had a pretty tough childhood. I looked different than the kids in my town. They made fun of me for being scrawny. I wasn’t as athletic as them. I wanted so desperately to be accepted, but instead I was othered. At age ten, I remember thinking “I should just go kill myself. Then they’d feel sorry for bullying me like this.”

Like many others, I started to rebel as a teenager. Funny thing is that my peers started to respect me for it, so I went all in on that strategy. I spent the next decade selling fake IDs, stealing cars and dealing drugs. I had multiple run ins with the police.

Looking back, I realize now that those efforts to earn acceptance were misplaced.

Yesterday we had some disciplinary issues with our oldest son Kyan. I won’t get into details, but at one point he screamed “I just want to kill myself!” He proceeded to jump into the pool with his clothes on and held his head underwater. It was more for dramatic effect than anything, but it had me thinking about my youth this morning, and it brought me to Matthew 3.

In this passage, Jesus emerges from his baptism and God speaks out “this is my son, whom I love. With him I am well pleased.” Whether you’re a Christian or not, it’s hard to deny that this dude called Jesus had a pretty significant impact on the world. And yet before he “did” one thing… before he preached one sermon, before he cast out one demon, before he healed one person… Before Jesus started his public ministry he was fully known and fully loved.

Another translation puts God’s words this way. “You are my dearly loved son, and you bring me great joy.”

The truth is that any effort to earn acceptance is misplaced. You’re not valued because of anything you’ve done. You’re not loved because you’ve been endowed with gifts or talents. God waited on me patiently for decades, smiling as I strived to earn the respect of my peers, my family and my heavenly father. But it wasn’t until I had my own son that I really understood how much I’m loved before I “do” anything.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed today like I am, God wants you to know that he loves you. You bring him incredible joy. Even before you lift a finger, he’s already so pleased with you.

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