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Pastor’s viewpoint: Feb. 20, 2016

“I’m a fan of functional strength,” he said. “If you’re the strongest man on the planet, you ought to be able to pick up a stone or flip a tire. Those Olympic lifters — how can you call someone the strongest man if he can’t walk over to a car and pick it up?” His name is Brian Shaw and he’s the strongest man in the world, having picked up 985 pounds at the World’s Strongest Man contest earlier this year. His personal best lift of 1,155 pounds is also the world record for a deadlift. “I just think Brian has been blessed,” his mother said in an article for The New Yorker. “He has been blessed with size.” (July 23, 2012 Issue)
“Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful: wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues. All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)
Brian went to a strength and conditioning convention in Las Vegas in 2005, and walked by the Sorinex booth. He stopped to pick up a strange-looking 172-pound Thomas Inch dumbbell; it’s two cast iron cannon balls with a handle the size of a soda can… very hard to grip and impossible to pick up. It was created by Thomas Inch, an early 20th-century British strongman, who once offered $20,000, in today’s currency, to anyone who could lift it. Brian picked it up and stood there with a “what’s so hard about this” look on his face. Richard Sorin caught him as he walked away and told him about the strongman circuit. Three months later, he won his first event and a year later, he lifted over a 1,000 pounds!
One of his students, a banker named Tyler Stickle, has “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” tattooed around his bicep in Hebrew. It’s the favorite verse of Muscular Christianity, the mid-18th century group that gave us the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Maybe you’ve, like me, decided by now that lifting the Thomas Inch dumbbell is not your gift? Then what is your gift?

Charles ‘Buddy’ Whatley is a retired United Methodist pastor serving Woodland-Bold Springs UMC, a marketplace chaplain, and, with Mary Ella, a Navajo Mission Team leader.