Training for the Race of Life……Days 90 and 91

Training for the Race of Life……Days 90 and 91 (A Common Goal)
Yesterday morning (Saturday, February 12) we had the monthly community breakfast at our church and were able to serve over 200 people eggs, sausage, bacon, gravy, sweet rolls, coffee, orange juice, and fruit. Wonderfully tasting but not exactly good food to fuel a run. Which is ok because sometimes we need something different. I was still trying to recover from my Thursday night mistake so I didn’t get any real long or hard running in today but I was able to log a few miles and a few miles walking.
I was extremely tired this morning but still enjoyed breakfast immensely, there is something special about seeing God’s people come together and work and serve. Just about every one of the 200 people who ate today left with a smile on their face. Why was that possible? Because we worked together and completed the task at hand (which in this case was cooking and serving, and then cleaning up after breakfast).
Every month that I work it reminds me that great things can happen when God’s people serve together. Could one person have done it all? No way. Could 5 or 6? Possibly, but it would have been difficult. We probably had 20 or more people working together to accomplish the task, and because of that it was completed.
Every day we have a calling from God on our lives and that is to use our gifts, talents and abilities to serve Him and to serve other people. When we do that great things happen and when we do that together within the church amazing things can happen. Why? Because God Himself is working through us. In fact the Bible says that “we are His co-laborers”. We work together with Him and through His strength and His grace to make a difference.
Today we focused on that at church, God’s call to us to serve and to serve together. I’m told that in a marathon people actually find it easier to run because they are running with people around them. A group of people moving toward the same goal, empowered by the common goal and empowered by one another. That should be a picture of us as Christians, moving together (serving) toward a common goal (glorifying God), and as we do that we draw strength from one another and we draw strength from God.
So keep running and keep serving, and keep doing it together.

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Training for the Race of Life…….Day 89 (Lessons Learned)

Training for the Race of Life…….Day 89 (Lessons Learned)
I learned a very important lesson last night while laying in bed at 2 o clock in the morning, still wide awake, probably the best time for me to have a long run is not between 6:30 and 9:30 at night. It was something that had to be done, and when I was finished I was absolutely exhausted but because my adrenaline was flowing I was unable to go to sleep. Of course I imagine that the energy gel with caffeine in it didn’t help either. So for what seemed like hours and hours I tossed and I turned…….finally getting just a little bit of sleep.
I have been told that one of the most important things that you can do the day (and night) of your long runs is take time to learn from them. What (if anything ) can you eat along the way? How much water do you need? Can you drink PowerAde or Gatorade or is it pretty much limited to water. Also do you run better with music or without and on down the list. Make notes of things that you find out and learn from them, is how I heard it put. Well Thursday night into Friday morning I definitely learned a lesson and its one that I won’t have to make a note of because I doubt I will ever forget it – don’t run late at night, if you can avoid it, and certainly don’t use caffeine in the energy gel late at night.
Lessons have been learned. Been there, done that, and as the saying goes I now have the T-shirt, even though I don’t think it was a T-shirt but bloodshot eyes the next day. Needless to say I learned a lesson.
But that is part of what life is about isn’t it? Learning lessons. We learn things as we go throughout life. When we are young we learn our ABCs, and our numbers. Then we progress to tying our shoes and putting on our clothes, and then as we get older we learn a plethora of other things. Things that are very important.
We also have an opportunity to learn things spiritually don’t we? The Bible says, “the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” In other words as you go through hard time you learn how to persevere and you learn patience. Life is a learning experience. And everyday as followers of Jesus we should be learning something new. Perhaps we are learning something about ourselves, or something about Him, or something about the life that He wants us to live, but everyday we should be learning. That is why we are called disciples. Learning everyday to be more like Jesus.
This training experience has taught me a lot and everyday I feel like I learn something and for that I am thankful. So regardless of what you are doing, keep learning, keep growing, keep following, and keep running with Jesus. Who knows what He will teach you along the way.

Training for the Race of LIfe…..Days 86 through 88 (Guilt)

Training for the Race of Life……Days 86 through 88
Tuesday and Wednesday – Trying to keep up a marathon running schedule and get everything else done can be extremely difficult. So I just simply resigned myself that these 2 days were probably not going to be running days because life had just gotten too busy to get any runs in. Which is ok with me because to be honest I knew that my body needed some recovery time, especially as the big day draws near.
I spoke with a man at our church who ran a marathon several years ago and his words surprised me, “if I had it to do over again, I would probably run less in training.” Run less? My mind thought how can you run less and be prepared for a 26.2 mile race? It seemed impossible to me. I was of the opinion that to get ready to run a marathon you had to run almost everyday and that there was no way you could skip one of your long runs. No chance, no how, no way. And yet here is a man who ran one, and who ran one in just over 4 hours, saying “in preparation I would run less.” I told myself this as I had to skip those 2 days and I even read a lot of other people’s opinions on training for a marathon and many of them said the exact same thing. As a friend of mine who was a personal trainer used to say, “less sometimes is more.” Meaning doing less in the gym (or in my case on the roads) actually yields more results because it gives us time to recover. And if we don’t recover we can’t get better.
I knew all of this and I believe all of this, yet when you miss 2 days of running in a row in the middle of the week, a tinge of guilt creeps in. At least it does for me. I didn’t run for 2 days and I felt guilty about it. I tried to tell myself that I was okay that I had already logged a tremendous amount of miles getting ready for this race, that I would do my long run tomorrow, and all of that but I still felt a little guilty.
Do you ever feel that way? Maybe not about missing a run or a workout, but in life? Guilt in life can actually be a good thing because if you are a follower of Jesus and you are feeling guilty about something perhaps it is God’s way of saying, “you need to allow me to change that situation and to change you.” If you don’t have that relationship with Jesus, then guilt may be God’s way of convicting you and your heart for that relationship.
Guilt can also be a bad thing. As a Christian if you have repented of a sin and have allowed God to change your life and you still struggle with guilt, it may be the devil’s way of pulling you down. Jesus said, “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come so that you might have life to the fullest.” Unnecessary guilt certainly steals our joy away so as Christians if we are repentant and changed we don’t need to continue to feel guilty. In fact God’s word puts it this way, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In other words God doesn’t remember our sins, so why should we. If you are feeling guilty, evaluate you guilt and if it is unnecessary then claim God’s promise and be free of it. Free so that you can live life unhindered, so that you can live life as Jesus said “to the fullest”.
So run free and run with Jesus. By the way I did get in a long run on Thursday and I’m feeling good and getting prepared.

Training for the Race of Life…..Days 84 and 85 (Grateful)

Training for the Race of Life…..Day 84 and 85
Yesterday was yet another rest day but after 2 long runs this week, it is something that I definitely needed. Scripturally we are told to take a day of rest and yet in the Bible those days of rest were supposed to be more than just rest days, they were to be holy days (where we get our word holiday), and since they were to be holy days we were to spend them focusing on the Lord and worshipping Him. Sunday was a day that I was able to do just that.
Not only was it a great day to rest and recover but it was also a wonderful day of worship. The psalmist says, ‘it was good when they said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord,” and truly I can echo his words it was good to be in God’s house, to gather together with other Christians and to worship. We are called to be thankful and today I was thankful for all that God has done for me, thankful especially for Jesus, thankful for my family and my friends, thankful for my church, and thankful for the encouragement that I found last week. God is good, and being able to gather and actively rest and worship was a wonderful way to start the week for me.
Which leads me to today, another day of running. Which to me means that it is a good day. Even though the temperatures are getting warmer I still found myself inside on the treadmill, because it was rainy outside and because it was late when I finally got to run. With the running and some walking I was able to get in around 7 miles and I am beginning to feel more prepared for the marathon. It is hard to believe that it is drawing close but as of today it is only 55 days away. Because of that every day becomes very essential, every mile important, every long run needed, and every rest day required. In other words the level of dedication has to be turned up just a little bit.
In reality though we should be dedicated everyday shouldn’t we? Dedicated to the task before us, dedicated to our Lord, dedicated to those that we love, and even as I mentioned dedicated to living thankful lives. Taking time everyday to worship and be grateful for all that God has given to us, and taking time to say thank you to those around us as well.
So keep running with Jesus, dedicated and grateful as you live for Him each day.

Training for the Race of Life…..Days 82 and 83 (Encouraging Words)

Training for the Race of Life…..Days 82 and 83
Yesterday was simply a rest day after the long run of Thursday. I felt surprisingly well after putting in all the miles on Thursday but I felt that I still needed to rest today to allow my body a chance to recover. People who have run marathons tell me that this is vital in your preparation for the big day. So I rested and I thought and I read a lot of things on running marathons to try to gauge where I am at, not physically but mentally.
Yogi Berra once said, “baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half physical.” Certainly running a marathon falls into that category as well. So my question is am I going to be mentally ready come April 3, 2011? As I said yesterday I am struggling with doubt and I’m just not sure.
In the midst of my reading however I came across an article by a man who ran the Disney World Marathon this past year and I will have to say it was extremely inspiring. He talks about just simply enjoying the journey, taking in the sights and the sounds of the run, and just enjoying the day. He describes his run through Disney World and how he was feeling at each mile marker and I will have to say after I read his words I had a no found enthusiasm to run. He had encouraged me and I was thankful.
Because of that I went to bed resolved that I could run this race, I could complete the course and that I was going to enjoy the journey along the way. Then this morning when I got up I decided to just simply go run. And run I did, putting in around 9 miles before I finally stopped, so I could spend some time with the family and get ready for worship tomorrow.
I’ll have to say though that this was one of the most enjoyable runs that I’ve had in a long time. It felt new, fresh, and exciting. I was tired after it was finished but I was also rejuvenated and focused. I will probably never meet the man who wrote that article but I can tell you this I would love to just simply tell him thank you. Thank you for encouraging me.
I wonder as we run this race of life, who in your life, who along your journey do you need to encourage? Perhaps its someone who is down, who is struggling, who has received bad news from the doctor. Perhaps it is someone who is lonely, or just an old friend. Perhaps its someone who appears to have it all together but has been on your mind a lot lately (we never really know what is going on inside of another person). Perhaps its your spouse, your children, or your parents. Who do you need to encourage? If I wouldn’t have read that man’s words would I have ran the marathon? I’m not sure, but I know this because I read his words I am resolved to not only run but also to enjoy the journey along the way. His words gave me the encouragement that I needed at just the right time. Again who do you need to encourage today?
Keep running with Jesus and remember with Him you will never run alone. Be encouraged by that.

Training for the Race of Life……Day 81 (Doubt)

Training for the Race of Life…..Day 81 (Doubt)
Today was my long run day, and I was able to complete most of the miles that I set out to complete, about 15 in all. Up until this point I have been extremely enthusiastic about the upcoming Marathon, thinking of how I can’t wait for it to get here and how much I love to train and all of that. Today however some doubt began to creep in.
I’ve logged a lot of miles getting ready for that day (which is quickly approaching, its less than 60 days away now). In fact I’ve probably ran almost 350 miles already as the time draws near and I know that I have many more miles to log, but I couldn’t help but wonder are these miles getting me ready for the race. Are they preparing me to run 26.2 miles? I mean some of them (in fact a lot of them lately) have been on a treadmill. A few of them have even been on an elliptical machine, and some of them I haven’t ran but I’ve walked (by design). So in my mind I said “am I really going to be ready in a little over 50 days to run 26. 2 miles?”
Not only that but I’ve experienced a lot of foot pain. At times I’ve had to push through and at times I haven’t wanted to. Then to top it off I won’t get to run any of the course before the race (even though that has never bothered me with the 5ks and 10k that I’ve ran), plus who knows what the weather would be. My mind was throwing all kinds of reasons at me why I shouldn’t do it. But in the end it boils down to doubt – I was doubting in myself that I had it in me to run 26.2 miles (which is probably going to take me a little over or a little under 5 hours).
I was doubting, even during and after today’s long run I was doubting. People told me it would happen and I’ve been assured that most people who undertake the rigors of training for and running a marathon go through a time of doubt as they prepare for their first one. Yet as excited and as enthusiastic as I’ve been I thought, “it’ll never happen to me.” (People assure me that this too is normal, but I’m not sure. I guess that is normal too).
Doubt can be normal can’t it? We may not want to admit it but we have all doubted in ourselves. And from time to time we have even doubted God. That is not an easy thing to admit is it? But most people, even those with great faith, go through times of doubt. In the New Testament there is a great story of a man who comes to Jesus to ask for healing for his child, and yet the man admits “I want to believe but I doubt. Lord help my unbelief.” And God in His grace and mercy and power steps in and heals the child anyway. Heals him even in the midst of doubt! But such is the amazing grace of God. That man’s prayer was “help my unbelief”, and I guarantee you this, God answered that prayer, and his unbelief became faith. Even though he doubted God continued to love him and then in a great act of grace, God transformed his doubt into something beautiful.
We doubt from time to time, whether we want to admit it or not. And yet in the midst of our doubt and questions God still loves us and He wants us to grow closer to Him even in those moments and if we cry out to Him, He will transform our doubt and us as well. What a mighty God we serve! So keep running with Him and keep trusting Him even when doubt tries to creep in.

Training for the Race of Life…..Days 79 and 80 (Being Prepared)

Training for the Race of Life…..Days 79 and 80
Yesterday I rested and didn’t run at all because I had so many things to get done and because I knew what was coming later in the week, so I decided that I needed to try to get my strength up to face that challenge. What was coming later in the week? A long run, longer than I had ever ran before, 15 miles. I knew that if I could get a 15 mile run in this week and an 18 mile run in next week I would be well on my way to being ready for the marathon.
Of course most of my runs lately have been on a treadmill because of the weather conditions and also because I haven’t been able to run until the evening most of the time. But I still felt if I could get these 2 runs in over the next 2 weeks that I would be on schedule.
So Tuesday I didn’t run at all, but Wednesday before church I was able to get in some miles just to loosen up and get ready for tomorrow. It pays to be ready doesn’t it? To be ready for your runs, to be ready for whatever happens in life, to be ready for the next life. So how do we get ready?
When it comes to running I do a lot of planning and a lot of thinking. When can I run, where can I run, how fast am I going to try to go and all of that. When it comes to life though how do we get ready for whatever comes in life? The Bible gives us the answers to that. We wait upon the Lord (as Isaiah says in Isaiah 40), and we trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6). And we do as Jesus said in Matthew 6, “we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…”, and then everything else takes care of itself. There are some out there who will tell us that if we just follow Jesus and have enough faith that life will be smooth sailing. That is extremely misleading and unBiblical. Jesus faced trouble, the disciples faced trouble, the saints of God throughout the ages have faced trouble and Jesus even told us that we would face trouble (John 16). Life is not always going to be a bed of roses, so how can we make sure that we are prepared for whatever happens? We seek the Lord, we wait on the Lord and we trust the Lord. It’s as simple as that. Preparation is key.
So how can we make sure we are prepared for the end of this life and the next life? Again it goes back to trusting in God and having a relationship with Him. The Bible says that “without holiness no one can see the Lord.” But it also reminds us that none of us are holy, we cannot be righteous on our own. So how do we become righteous or holy and thus prepared for the next life? Through repenting of our sins and trusting Jesus to cleanse us from those sins. Then we are clean, then we are prepared, then we are ready. It is a trust, a repentance, a cleansing, a relationship. But again preparation is key.
So be prepared. Prepared to run, prepared for life, and prepared for the life to come. Keep running with Jesus everyday.