Training for the Race of Life ……Day 16 (Contentment)

Training for the Race of Life…….Day 16 (Contentment)
Contentment – Rain, rain, rain. It came down fast and furious today, which could have severely limited my training. Yet I decided to go and do something that I don’t like to do, run on the treadmill. I used to love it, but now since I’ve been running outside that love has quickly faded away.
I enjoy the outside runs so much better, if they are at a park, at a track, or even in my own neighborhood. There is just something about running outside that I enjoy. But today unless I wanted to get absolutely soaked (and I know some folks who run in the pouring rain), that just simply wasn’t an option. So I hit the treadmill. I should enjoy the treadmill after all I can control things while I am on it. I can control the speed, the incline, and the TV remote while I’m running. But I’m still not a huge fan of it. With winter coming on quickly according to the weekly forecast however I may have to get used to it. Because even though I can control things on the treadmill, the weather is way beyond my control.
There are a lot of things in life just like that isn’t there? Circumstances beyond our control, people beyond our control, issues beyond our control. I talked to a close friend today whose family is experiencing some health problems and his words to me were, “you’ve just got to make the best of whatever comes and be thankful for all that you have.” Wow! What perspective.
The Apostle Paul had that same perspective in the New Testament didn’t he? In fact in the book of Philippians he said, “I have learned how to be content in ALL things.”(Philippians 4:12). All things/ What does all things mean? Well he is talking about when he has had a lot and when he has had nothing, When he was rich he was content, and when he had absolutely nothing he was content as well. Amazing. Where did his contentment come from? Not the things of this world but knowing that he was forgiven of his sins and that he was a child of God. That he had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Paul would have been content running in the rain, in the sunshine, in the snow or even on the treadmill. We should be as well, but even more than that we ought to be content in all the situations and circumstances of life, the ones that we can control and the ones that we can’t. Why? Because God is in control and we are His children. Keep running with Jesus today and whatever comes your way, be content and have peace in the midst of it. After all the Christmas announcement was: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE…..”

Training Day 15………(Closer)

Training for the Race of Life…..Day 15 (Closer)
Closer – Everyday that I go for a run and type a blog I have the realization that I am that much closer to the April 3rd, 2011 Marathon in Knoxville, and to be honest it scares me. Sometimes just a little and sometimes a lot. I accidentally saved Blog #14 in my computer as Blog 143, when I did I thought on day 143 it’ll be almost race day, but then I realized that on day 143, it will be 3 days past race day, and that thought scares me.
I ran over 6 miles today but 6 is a long way from 26.2. 26.2 is a big number and just to be transparently honest it is a frightening number. Frightening because to get to 26.2 a lot of things will have to happen. A lot of changes will have to take place. It is a scary thought.
Life is like that sometimes isn’t it? Scary and scary in a more serious sense than running 26.2 miles (I hoping to get in 10 on Friday so maybe 26.2 won’t scare me as bad anymore) Life however can be scary. Almost constantly so if we aren’t careful. Because if we are honest with ourselves we find a lot of things to worry about don’t we. We worry about what is going to happen to us, what is going to happen to the ones we love, what is going to happen in our country, and what is going to happen in our world. We worry about health, about finances, about relationships, and just in general we worry about what the future holds.
One group of statisticians has surmised that only about 1 out of every 8 things that we worry about ever comes true. In other words over 87% of the things that we worry about don’t happen. Or another way to phrase that would be to say most of the things that we worry about don’t come true so when we worry we are just wasting our energy. Because even with the ones that do come true worrying about them doesn’t change them at all. Or as Jesus put it, “who of you by worrying can add one year to your life?” Worry wastes a lot of energy.
And in our world today especially during the Christmas season we need all of the energy we can get don’t we? I know I do, especially if I’m going to run those 26.2 miles. So lets quit worrying, lets stop being fearful, lets start trusting, and lets keep running with Jesus.

Training Day 14 (Make Up Runs)

Training for the Race of Life…….Day 14
Make up run – Usually Sundays are my run recovery days because of all of the busyness that Sundays normally hold for me being a pastor. Today however was different I was determined to get a short run in if at all possible. As the old saying goes, “if the Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise”. Well there was no rain in sight and God provided me with the time to go so out the door I went, to the track to get in 3 miles or so.
Why was I so determined to run today, on the day that I normally use to recover from the week? I was determined because I had missed a run on Tuesday and I felt like I needed to make it up. So out the door I went for the “make up run”. When I got home I felt better, I was glad that I had went, and hadn’t missed 2 days this week.
But as I thought about it I realized that sometimes we do the same thing in life don’t we? We try to make up for stuff. If we’ve done something wrong we “try to make it up to God.” We go to church a little more often, we try to be nicer to the people around us, we may even study the Bible more or pray more. Thinking well since I’ve done whatever I’ve done I need to make it up to God. Now don’t get me wrong there is certainly nothing wrong with going to church more, or reading your Bible more or praying more, and the people around you would probably like it if you were a little nicer to them, but in reality we can’t make things up to God.
Yes we repent of our sins, and yes we try through the help of God to not commit those same sins again, but we can’t make it up to Him. Why? Because the Bible lets us know that He has already forgiven us of our sins: past, present, and future. That He casts our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. That we are forgiven without having to do any type of “penance”, if you will. God is good and He loves us as His children. And the Bible affirms for us that if we truly are Christians that when God looks at us He sees Jesus, we stand forgiven, we are declared righteous. We don’t have to make things up to God or do any certain type of acts to be forgiven. We are forgiven just by simply confession and repentance. Why? Because the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.
Its ok to do make up runs (even though in the long run it probably wouldn’t have hurt me to take another day off), its ok to make things up to the people that we hurt, but aren’t you glad today that you don’t have to make things up to God? After all we never could but God in His marvelous, amazing grace doesn’t expect us too. Keep running with Jesus and spend some time today being thankful for His grace.

Training Day for the Race of Life…..Day 13 (Procrastination)

Training for the Race of Life…….(Day 13)
Procrastination or waiting – “In the morning I probably will get back on my routine and run in the morning, instead of the afternoon or evening,” I said to my wife as Friday night drew to a close. And when I went to bed that night that was definitely my plan. Saturday morning came around however and since I had nothing pressing to do, I decided to stay in bed for an extra few minutes. After all in my mind I told myself I deserved it.
I got up, I did some things around the house, I went to the trash dump, I visited with a friend in the Hospital, I came home and it was around 12:30. No use running now I rationalized, football is on. So for the next hour or so I told myself I will run at halftime into part of the third quarter and I really won’t miss anything. Halftime came and went, and I sat still. I needed to catch up on the “other scores around the country I said.” I’ll just hit the streets when my wife comes home from Christmas shopping.
Around 5:30 in she came carrying not “good tidings of great joy,” but supper for the night. I don’t want it to get cold so I’ll eat and then run in an hour or so once my food somewhat digests. Finally the clock hit 6:45 pm and out the door I went to get in a few miles. It was a short day mileage wise and for that I was thankful. After all I had turned a 6:45 am run into a 6:45 pm run, I certainly didn’t want to be running at 8 o’clock at night.
Needless to say I procrastinated didn’t I? Instead of running when the sun was out and I could see well. I headed out the door when it was dark, windy, and 36 degrees. I came in and was amazed that even though I had ran a few miles I was cold. Cold, sweaty, and tired. All because I procrastinated. When you run during the day you can see things, when you run at night you can’t. When a cat ran at me from a few feet away, I didn’t know what was chasing me. A few minutes later I met a nice neighborhood dog. I wasn’t sure about him and I think he was less sure about me. I got nervous a few times all because I wasn’t sure if the cars that were driving through the neighborhood would notice me or not. In short waiting was a bad idea. Procrastination is never a good thing.
In running or in life. But many times we do it don’t we? We put off doing the things that we know we need to do. And that isn’t a good thing. One of the things that we procrastinate in is following God. Sometimes we just simply put it off. I did for a long time because I thought I wanted to do life my way, have my fun, do whatever I wanted to do. I procrastinated in following Jesus and I made a mess of my life. Fortunately God is a good of grace and “His mercy and love endures forever,” and even when I procrastinated “His steadfast love continued to pursue me.” His grace triumphed over my procrastination, and for that I will be eternally thankful.
How about you? Are you putting off something you know you need to do? Are you putting off following Jesus? Are you putting off repenting of your sins and giving Him your life? If so be assured of this, as you run the race of life God is chasing you. He is passionate about you, He wants you to be His child. Stop putting it off, stop waiting, stop procrastinating. You will be glad you did.
Keep running, and make sure you are running with Jesus.

Training Day 12 (Change)

Training for the Day of Life ……Day 12
Change – On Thanksgiving Day I headed out to run the 1st annual “Chase the Turkey” 5k in Kingsport. When I arrived at the race site around 7:30 am the temperature was almost 55 degrees. Needless to say it was extremely warm for a late November morning. I enjoyed the run tremendously but by the end of it I was sweating pretty good and was quite warm.
The day after Thanksgiving I headed out to run and was greeted with another reality, cold. The temperature had fallen tremendously and the wind was blowing hard. It wasn’t the kind of wind the cools you off however it was the kind that chills you to the bone. I think the temperature was around 42 then and that was around noon. A drastic change had definitely taken place. But such is November running in the mountains, one day its hot, one day perfect, one day cold. You can also throw windy, rainy, and snowy into that mix. In the mountains weather changes are inevitable and in life change is inevitable as well.
We set on Thanksgiving at two wonderful meals, one with each side of the family. And yet as I looked around I couldn’t help but notice how many changes have taken place in the families. Even in my own life change happens. Last Sunday I left church on cloud 9 because we had had an awesome day of worship. While I was in the church parking lot my phone rang and my wife told me that my youngest son had had a seizure caused by a quick spike in his fever. I came back to earth very quickly, change happens. The world changes, life changes, people change, circumstances change, days change.
Change is a part of life. And yet there is something that is unchanging and that is Jesus. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So in the midst of a changing world and changing whatever, He is our anchor, our stability, our rock.
So let us keep running this changing race of life, but as we run, let us anchor ourselves. Let us run holding on to the unchanging hand of God. For as the psalmist says, “God is our refuge and our strength and ever present help in times of trouble.”

Training for the Race of Life……Day 11 (Thanksgiving)

Training for the Race of Life……Day 11
Thanksgiving – What a wonderful day Thanksgiving is. God truly blessed us with a great day today and for that I am thankful. I began today by going to the Chase the Turkey 5k run in Kingsport, TN. The folks at Fleetfeet Sports put on a great event today, an event that was started off with prayer and a devotional reading from Psalm 100, that talked about giving thanks to the Lord. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to the Lord and bless His name! For the Lord is good, His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.” What an amazing thought to begin Thanksgiving day. God’s mercy is real, it is true, it endures forever and His faithfulness endures to all generations.
As I read those words I couldn’t help but think about some of the great songs of the faith, “How Great Thou Art”, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, “How Great is Our God”. God is amazing. We’ve have been doing a study at our church on Sunday nights on the attributes of God. God is all knowing, ever present, and all powerful. God has a plan and God is unchanging. And in the midst of our changing time and our changing world, we would do well as we run the race of life to remind ourselves of that from time to time.
As I ran today I ran alone, but what an awesome time it was to reflect upon God. Who He is, His power, His creation, His mercy and His grace. I had planned on taking my mp3 player with me, but I felt God’s nudging: “Just be still and know that I am God.” For that is what the Bible says, isn’t it? That we need to find time each week to just be still before Him, and reflect on Him and on His greatness. When we do that we can’t help but praise Him, for He is worthy to be praised. But as we praise Him it helps us too doesn’t it? In the midst of all of the problems that the world and just life in general throws our way we need to be reminded of the greatness of God, we need to find time to just be still and listen to Him.
I love running with other people and the fellowship that comes with that, but I think from time to time its good to be alone, just to reflect, and think about God, and be energized by Him. Christmas is right around the corner but as we run the aisles looking for that special gift, as we run to all of the Holiday festivities, as we take in everything that the season has to offer my prayer is that we can make time to get alone with God and reflect on Him. For as we get by ourselves, what we find is that we are never alone, but that an all present, ever knowing God is right there with us. And that as we run the “race set before us” He is with us and His mercy, His grace, His steadfast love endures forever.

Training for the Race of Life…..Day 10 (Fellowship)

Training for the Race of Life……Day 10
Fellowship – As we were running today the guy I was running with said, “how far have we gone?” My reply was “almost 6 miles.” “Really?”, he said, “it sure doesn’t feel like it.” And it really didn’t. The reason for that wasn’t because we were running so fast that the miles were just zooming by. (He could have but we were going at my tempo). The reason that it didn’t seem like 6 miles was the fellowship that was taking place as we ran.
We talked almost the entire time. (That is when I could talk because I was out of breath). And the more we talked the quicker the run went by. The journey is always better when you have someone with you isn’t it?
That is true in running and it is certainly true in life. The Bible gives us numerous examples of that: In Genesis, God saw that man was alone and because of that He created woman to be with him. When Noah boarded the ark, he didn’t do it alone, he took his family with him. The psalmist says, “how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity” . In the book of Proverbs we are told, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” In the New Testament, Jesus spent time with his closest friends that we call His disciples today. Later on in the book of Hebrews we are told, “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.” Why? Because we weren’t created to be alone. Companionship is important, we were meant to live in community. That is why the Bible stresses the “one anothers” – bear with one another, love one another, be kind to one another, forgive one another, encourage one another, pray for one another…..
So as I thought about his words I became thankful for many things on this day before Thanksgiving, I am thankful primarily for my RELATIONSHIP with Jesus (He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother). Thankful for my wife, my children, my parents, my other family members, my friends, my church family. How blessed I really am. Keep running the race of life, and run it thankfully. If you do run find someone to run with and the miles will just fly by.