Training for the Race of Life……Day 38 (Uphill)

Training for the Race of Life……Day 38 (Uphill)
Today’s run featured some uphill running on the treadmill. I ran for an hour or so and about 4 minutes had to be uphill time according to my training manual, so I did just that. I didn’t set the treadmill on an extreme incline, yet its amazing just how much difference a little bit of an incline makes. When I run through my neighborhood there are a few small slopes and these tend to slow me down just a little bit. In short it’s harder to run uphill.
Since its Christmas week I’ve been thinking about a lot of the people in the Christmas story and the wise men have been on my mind a lot lately. I wonder as they made their journey from “the east” to Jerusalem and then ultimately to Bethlehem, if they had to go up any hills? I am sure that they did. I am sure that sometimes their journey was physically tough. Some scholars suggest that it may have taken them up to 2 years to make the trek. So I am sure that sometimes their journey was hard. It was demanding. It was tiring. It was probably even dangerous from time to time as they journeyed through bad areas with robbers and wild animals.
It was also mentally demanding as well. Day after day following a star, looking for a child. There had to be times when they wanted to quit. Whether from the physical strain or the mental toil or both. At times they had to contemplate giving up, but they never did.
As they journey in dangerous territory they kept on. When faced with difficult characters on the way…..they kept on. When their legs felt like they couldn’t go on….they kept on. When they had no idea where they were going….they kept on. When the met Herod, they kept on. They stayed faithful to the journey no matter what.
They kept their eyes on the prize. And we must do the same. As we are running we must keep our eyes on the goal. As we are journeying through life we must also keep our eyes on the goal. What is the goal? We have the same goal that the wise men had 2000 years ago, and that goal is Jesus. We must keep our eyes on Him, the author and finisher of our faith. He must be our focus. Yes sometimes the journey will seem long, sometimes it will feel like we are traveling uphill, sometimes we will be fearful or anxious, or confused (I’m sure the wise men felt all of these emotions), yet we must always be faithful to the task.
So keep running with Jesus and be faithful to the task.

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Training for the Race of Life….Day 37 (Amazing)

Training for the Race of Life……Day 37 (Amazing)
Today was a very busy day so I didn’t get a chance to run, but I did cross train last night by playing basketball for a couple of hours at church. It was a lot of fun and I have definitely missed the spirit of competition and camaraderie with the guys who play. As we gathered together to pray before we started playing I was just simply amazed by the God that we serve.
Having the opportunity to pray with 10 other men under a basketball goal was amazing to me, and when I got home last night I really got a chance to reflect on it and see what God is doing in the lives of those men. He continually amazes me. I was amazed by Him last night as a lot of our church family came together to help with the 3rd annual Community Chest Christmas celebration. It was a great night. Many families came and were given a wonderful meal, a Santa present, and some presents to take home for Christmas. Many of these families wouldn’t have had a lot of things for Christmas if it were not for this event. And yet when God’s people came together and worked together for the glory of God, something amazing happened.
Over 100 people were fed at the church, not to mention a lot of take out meals were provided and delivered. Children left with smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts. Many of the adults saw hope for the first time in a long time and went away smiling as well. All who came left filled to the rim with food. It was an unforgettable experience. One that again was only possible through the power of God and Him directing His people to come together and share His love and His hope and His joy with the community. I was amazed by Him.
I was amazed by Him as well yesterday when I received word from a very close friend of mine that his son (who had been on a ventilator fighting for his life for a week) was off the ventilator and talking and even laughing. Then I got a picture on my phone of the boy being held by his mother, and the smile on her face. I was amazed by God. God teaches us to pray for those who are sick and that He will hear those prayers. He did, He healed and I am amazed.
I was up at the hospital on Sunday visiting with this family when the boy’s grandmother gave me a case of M & M’s to take to church for the community Christmas celebration. I think there were probably 20 or 30 packs of M&M’s in the box. I took them in Monday night and you would not believe the joy that those M&M’s gave to every child that received them. They were all smiling and sticking out their hands and wanting the M&M’s – amazing! I was amazed by this wonderful lady who took the time to get the candy, even though her grandson was so sick. And then I was amazed by the response as I handed the candy out. It seemed to be the icing on the cake so to speak for the night. I was amazed. God had provided for each and every need. He is amazing.
Sometimes when I run I am amazed by the scenery or by something I see, or even by a song that my mp3 player puts on at just the right time. But I think that we need to live amazed everyday. Amazed by the love of God, the power of God, and the personal nature of God. A God who loves us so much that we can call Him, “Abba, Father”.
Keep running in amazement with Jesus !

Training for the Race of Life….Day 36 (Goal Pace and Tempo Run)

Training for the Race of Life……Day 36 (Goal Pace and Tempo Runs)
Today was an extremely busy day but I managed to squeeze in around 6 miles on the treadmill in the afternoon. I ran 4 of them at my marathon goal pace and the other two I ran about a half a mile per hour faster than that. It was a very big difference in the speed but it made a big difference in my exertion. I ran the first 2 miles at goal pace, which was very easy, then the next two at tempo pace, followed by the final 2 at goal pace. The last 2 were definitely significantly harder than the first 2 even though they were run at the exact same speed.
In short I was wore down. Do you ever feel that way? Maybe during a run, but how about in life? Do you ever feel wore down? Job pressures, bills, problems within your family, friends who are struggling, sickness,…… all of those things can wear you down can’t they? In fact just simply the pace of life during the Christmas season can wear you down. So what do you do when you get wore down?
Today after I got off the treadmill I jumped into a hot shower and went to church to be a part of our Community Christmas Celebration that was sponsored by the Community Chest, then I came home and crashed into the bed. But what do you do when you are wore down in life? Well the shower refreshed me, so maybe we should jump into the arms of Jesus. Remember He is Living Water, and “He Leads us beside the still waters and restores our soul.” And maybe the same way that I threw my body into the bed we ought to throw all of our problems and concerns to Him. Isn’t that what the Bible teaches, “cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for you.”
Running can wear you down, but no where near as bad a life can wear you down. But the good news is that you can be refreshed – refreshed and renewed by the love of God. A love that left heaven and was born in a manger in Bethlehem just for you. And your anxieties and fears (which wear you down) can be taken away as you give them all to Him, trusting Him in each and every situation.
So run refreshed and live with Jesus as you are renewed by His great love each and everyday.

Training for the Race of Life….Day 35 (Your Foundation)

Training for the Race of Life…..Day 35
Today is of course Sunday and what a wonderful Sunday it was filled up with great worship at our church, time with family and friends, and a moving Christmas play by our children at church. It was more than a day of rest, it was a day of rejuvenation and for that I am thankful. The Bible says, “those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.” In other words they will be rejuvenated, and I was today. It had been a difficult week, seeing many people who were struggling and missing people whom I love during the Christmas season, but God renewed me today.
I also was worn down physically as well from 5 weeks of training and because of that I wasn’t able to run this past week like I normally do, but I feel immensely refreshed now and am looking forward to getting back at it this week very quickly. My wife also went a head and gave me one of my Christmas presents, a new pair of Brooks running shoes. My old ones had taken a pretty severe beating over the last few months and they were breaking down which was leading to some of my foot and leg pain. When you run, you have to run with a good foundation.
And when you live you need to live with a good foundation as well don’t you. In Acts, the Bible talks about an impending shipwreck that Paul and some of his companions were getting ready to go through and it says, “they cast out four anchors” to help the ship stand strong against the storm. In other words they gave it a firm foundation. We need a firm foundation in life everyday. We become especially aware of that during the “storms of life”, but we need a firm foundation everyday. And what is that foundation? It is Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. He is the “chief cornerstone”, our firm foundation, the anchor that holds.
So as you run, run with Jesus and as you live make sure that you are anchored to Him and that your “life is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

Training for the Race of Life…..Day 34 (Christmas Shopping)

Training for the Race of Life…..Day 34 (Christmas Shopping)
Today was a day of no running but I did some brisk walking through a local department store as the men of our Sunday School class went out and did some Christmas shopping for some of the folks in the community who are having a hard time. As I expected the stores were jam packed and the lines at the check out counter were fairly long but it was good to be able to do something to help other people.
As I thought about the people that we were helping my mind drifted to the people that filled the store and even beyond to people that I know and that I love and care about. It seems like many of those people are struggling with something. Many who hurried to and fro buying Christmas presents yesterday were hurting inside as the struggled with all sorts of stuff. We were helping a family but all around us were families and people that were hurting as well. Everyday we run into people who are hurting and in fact we may be hurting ourselves.
So what do we do when people are hurting? We can either turn away or we can come along beside them and help. How do we help? Through love, through listening, through spending time with them, through praying. The Bible says that we are to “weep when one another weeps and rejoice when one another rejoices.” Life is meant to be lived in community, one with another. We are to encourage one another and help one another on the race of life.
I love the story of a women’s college softball game that took place a few years ago, one of the ladies hit a home run in a tightly contested game, but as she rounded first base she tore something in her leg and was literally unable to walk. She had to stop. The coach wanted to put in a pinch runner for her, which he could do but in doing so the pinch runner would have to stop on first. So the home run would in effect become a single. He had another idea, some of his players could help carry this one girl from base to base, and yet the rule book prohibits one player from helping a teammate around the bases.
The girl tried to go on but was unable to do so. So the other team had an impromptu conference and after talking to the umpire about the rules, they decided to carry the girl from first base all the way to home plate. What an action! They scooped her up, they carried her from first to second stopping for just a second and putting her down so she could touch the base. And then they repeated that scene at third base and at home plate. An amazing act of selfless devotion. They helped another person even in the midst of a heated competition. And we should do the same shouldn’t we? As we run the race of life, we ought to take time to help one another, love one another, encourage one another, and pray for one another.
Keep running with Jesus and remember the race isn’t easy sometimes so take time to help those who are hurting and who are struggling.

Training for the Race of Life…..Day 33 (December 17, 2010)

Training for the Race of Life……Day 33 (Spinning Your Wheels)
Today because of the nagging yet not serious problem with my foot I decided to give it a little extra rest and instead of running I hit the elliptical machine. Part of my run training is running on hills, so I set the elliptical to the hill program and got in around 6 miles on it plus I walked a couple of miles or so. The elliptical machine at the gym is kind of isolated and by itself, there is really no one around it and there is not a TV or anything to watch while you are on it, so the hour or so that I spent on it felt like every bit of 2 hours. In fact just to be honest I felt like I was just spinning my wheels for a good while that I was on it. And in reality that is exactly what I was doing. The pedals were spinning around and around and around, while I went absolutely nowhere. I was a hamster on a wheel.
Do you ever feel that way? Maybe not while you are running or even on the elliptical machine but in life? That you are just spinning your wheels and going absolutely nowhere. It can be depressing can’t it. When you feel like you are putting forth effort but getting nowhere. It maybe in a relationship with someone, it may be at your job, it may be financially, or spiritually, or whatever. But sometimes we get stuck in a rut and we just feel like we are spinning our wheels don’t we?
And yet in reality we are not. Noah may have felt that way from time to time as he built the ark. Day in and day out the same thing. Abraham may have felt that way as he followed God to a place he didn’t know. Step after step day after day, am I really getting anywhere he might have thought. Paul might have even felt that way as he went on his missionary journeys planting churches and introducing people to Jesus, there were probably dry spells and yet he kept on. John most certainly had to feel that way as he was exiled by himself on the island of Patmos, and then it happened God gave him literally a Revelation. The Wise Men might have even felt that way, day after day after day chasing a star, are we ever going to get there, they must have wondered.
The ark finally got built, Abraham finally arrived, Paul made a drastic difference, as did John, and the wise men finally arrived at “the place where Jesus was.” They may have felt like they were spinning there wheels but they all finally got there. What made the difference? Well obviously the power of God working in them and through them, but they also had a choice. A choice whether to remain faithful or not. And they stayed faithful. We should as well. Faithful to follow God, faithful to trust Him, faithful to our task, faithful to be what He has called us to be.
O Come all ye FAITHFUL, joyful and triumphant, …….Keep being faithful and keep running with Jesus (even if sometimes you feel you are spinning your wheels)

Training for the Race of Life…..Day 32 (Disappointment)

Today was somewhat of a disappointing day for me because I wasn’t able to run at all. 2 things prevented me from it, the ice outside and the pain in my left heel/ankle. I injured it several months ago playing basketball and it still flares up on me from time to time (maybe when the weather is cold) and then I also have plantar facisities in that foot as well. So in all reality it was probably good that I didn’t run on it today to give it a chance to heal (or should I say heel).
And yet if I am supposed to run on a certain day I am somewhat disappointed if I don’t get to. But even in the midst of that disappointment I was reminded, “This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” And of course the Bible reassures us that the “Lord’s mercies are new every morning.” So even when I don’t get a chance to run I should still rejoice and be thankful.
And in reality that is a pretty good lesson for life isn’t it? We ought to rejoice everyday because simply put God has given us another day and because He loves us (so much more than we could ever imagine). In fact we ought to live joyfully everyday. In just a few days we will be celebrating Christmas and as the angels announced the birth of Jesus, they did so with these words, “behold I bring you good tidings of great JOY”.
So run (or don’t run) joyfully. Live everyday with great joy.