Thursday, July 26, 2012
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Finding Your Way Back
"...Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc. 12:13)
On a recent trip to Johannesburg, I went out for a 12 mile run, leaving from the home of the friends I was staying with. I wasn’t familiar with the area, but I also wasn’t going to run in circles for 12 miles, so off I went. What I did know was that Pretoria Road was my landmark and would lead me home. After a few miles I turned to the right and began to explore new territories. I enjoyed seeing beautifully manicured lawns, the scents of blooming flowers, and generally just soaking in the beautiful day. At times I was lost in the music of my trusty running companion and at other times I was simply lost in thought.
After several miles I decided that I should begin heading back toward Pretoria Road and so I began to go in what I believed to be that direction. The only problem was I kept running, but without finding my landmark. I am normally good with a sense of direction so I reasoned that if I kept going I would eventually find my way. (I definitely didn’t want to stop and ask for directions because, after all, I am a man!) So I kept going.
After running for several more minutes I began to lose confidence that I would find my way back without some help, so I swallowed my pride, and asked directions of a young man who was tending a yard. I took off in the direction he told me, only to need to ask another person a while later. After following his directions I asked a third person and, with his help, I finally made back to Pretoria Road. Each of the 3 men helped me get back, but I was much more lost than I had realized.
The same thing happens sometimes in life too. We’re “running” along doing our own thing, completely lost in the matters of life, when suddenly we realize that we don’t know where we are going or maybe even why we’re “running” in the first place. King Solomon spent a lot of his “run” lost. He finally found his way and concluded, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc. 12:13) When we lose our way, that’s the landmark that will take us home.
I didn’t mean to be lost and it happened so gradually that I cannot even tell you when it happened, but I was lost nevertheless. It was so comforting to finally make it back to the safety of home and to have a glass (or six!) of refreshing ice water. It is also comforting and refreshing to find your way in life. If you’ve lost your way, don’t be afraid to ask for help – it’s worth it to be able to find your way back! Think about it.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
“Don’t grow weary in well doing, for we will reap if we do not faint.” (Gal. 6:9)
As a distance runner, I have often been asked by non-runners how I can possibly run for such long distances. I cannot count the number of times someone has asked how I could possibly run 26 miles. I understand because I used to wonder the same. I have a friend who was in the habit of running 10 miles every Sunday morning before church, and I was in disbelief that anyone could run that far and live to tell about it!
So, after I tell them it is actually 26.2, I simply say, “Just don’t stop!” I know it sounds too simplistic, but it really is the key. You just have to find the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other. You definitely do get tired, but if you can just keep going, you’ll never stop! The mind will try to convince you that you cannot go on and that you must stop, but if you can ignore that voice long enough, you’ll soon finish. And if you do stop, you’re not sure if you’re going to get started again. Perhaps you have seen runners jogging in place at a red light. They aren’t exercising; they’re just afraid to stop!
The same principle is true of so many other areas of life. If you’re doing the right thing, don’t stop! But, just like on a long run, the temptation to stop can often be so strong. This is precisely why Paul wrote, “Don’t grow weary in well doing, for we will reap if we do not faint.” (Gal. 6:9) If is possible to get tired, even when, and maybe especially when, we are doing the right thing. But don’t stop!
Maybe you’re tired of doing the right thing…but don’t stop!
Maybe you’re tired in your marriage…but don’t stop!
Maybe you’re tired of being nice… but don’t stop!
Maybe you’re tired of being tired…but don’t stop!
We do get tired, but when we do, just determine to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Remember, if you don’t stop, you’ll finish!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Self-Talk Makes All the Difference!
In a graduate course, I was assigned the reading of a book entitled, “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter. I will admit that when I first read the title my thoughts were something like, “oh great, gotta read some psycho-babble!”, but I was wrong! The thesis of the book is that we are so greatly affected by what we tell ourselves, that we actually become exactly what we think. And since we ultimately become what we think, we need to closely watch our thoughts and ensure that they are what they should be.
In my running I have discovered this truth over and over again. I recall once, while training for a half marathon, that there were only two days in the entire training program when I thought, “I can’t do this today” and those were the only two days that I didn’t finish the run. On the other hand, there have been many times that I willed my way through difficult stretches by reassuring myself that I could do it and, without exception, I succeeded. Many of you have experienced the same.
We should not be surprised though, as this is a biblical principle from long ago. Solomon wrote, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so he is…” (Prov. 23:7). We eventually become what we think. This powerful principle cuts both ways and we need to be on the right side of it, thinking what is right and best to fully reach our potential.
Many people - runners, Christians, and others - short-circuit themselves with false and negative self-talk. They convince themselves of falsehoods that in turn become self-fulfilling prophecies. Yes, there are many challenges, but the strength for the journey is available. Paul declared that he could do all things, not on his own, but because God strengthened him to do so. (Phil. 4:13).
Regardless of your goals, remember to think the best things and the right things, so you can fully reach your potential!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
YOU NEED FUEL
Every runner knows that without the right kind and amount of fuel, you won’t run very far. Fuel is so important to running that untold numbers of studies have been conducted to determine the way the body responds to various foods, and to determine how much is needed. The findings of the studies: you have to have fuel!
More specifically, your running body needs fuel on a periodic basis. To get ready for a race, runners will “carb up”, not just the night before, but all week leading up to the race. The strategy is to stockpile energy for the race so that they don’t grow weak.
But you can never stockpile enough fuel to last the entirety to the race; you need it periodically. Those of us who run long distances actually put food in our pockets for the journey, knowing we will have to have the calories along the way. And when a runner hits the dreaded “wall”, it is because his body has run out of energy to metabolize.
Every runner knows that they need fuel!
The spiritual parallel is obvious: we need spiritual food for the journey! The good news is that, as our Creator, God is aware of this need and has completely provided everything. Among the “foods” that energize us for the journey are bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other Christians. These supplements keep us strong in Christ and, in turn, a strength for others (Heb. 10:23-25).
Too often when one hits the spiritual “wall”, it is a direct result of neglecting the fuel that they need. Too many times we’ve seen Christians neglect assembling with the church or stop reading their bible or stop praying (or perhaps neglect all of these) and as a result, they grow weak. And like the runner that doesn't eat, this condition is completely preventable!
So take advantage of the spiritual food that is yours to enjoy! Read, pray, worship and grow stronger, because every Christian knows that they need fuel!
Think about it.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
It Is Better to Run With a Group!
Neither schedules, nor running paces have often allowed for me to run with a partner, but when I have, the miles have flown by! Not only does the time go faster, I go faster. I remember very well the early morning runs on the dirt roads in and around
The same dynamic happens on race day. There are so many like-minded people that the air is filled with excitement. You can feel it! The enthusiasm is so contagious that most runners actually have to make a conscious decision to not go out too fast when the gun sounds. Every runner loves race day!
Regardless the interest, there is always something special about sharing an activity with others who love it as much as you!
And this is why it is so important for Christians to “run with the group” as often as possible! Whether it is the regular assembly times or other specially scheduled events, we need to be with each other! It is there that we both receive and give encouragement (Heb. 10:24, 25). These are the times when we share our common interests and ambitions and enjoy the enthusiasm of our commonality.
On the other hand, when we choose to not come together, we are distancing ourselves from God and His people, which will ultimately lead to a cooling of our enthusiasm. This is precisely why God said to not do it. Anyone who stays away will eventually go away.
So let’s not miss out on any opportunity to run with the group!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
“Examine yourselves…” [2 Cor. 13:5]
It’s likely that we have all seen basketball players taking advantage of a break in the action to bend over and hold their shorts while someone else is shooting free throws. Perhaps we have even done the same thing. That’s because the natural tendency is to lean over when you’re tired.
The same is true in running. As we tire, we gradually begin to bend at the waist and the move is so subtle that we seldom realize it. The problem is that that is the worst thing to do! When you bend at the waist it constricts your diaphragm and limits your breathing, making it more difficult to get the air that you need. It feels like the natural thing to do, but it is actually the worst thing to do!
I’ve noticed a similar reaction in our spiritual lives. When we begin to tire we often lean in a way that actually hurts us. Maybe we’re tired from the stress of a particular issue or some hidden burden that no one knows about or just the cares of everyday living. It is at that point that many make the unconscious choice to lean by forsaking the church assemblies, by not being with other Christians, by not reading and praying and by not taking advantage of the strength around them. It feels like the natural thing to do, but it is actually the worst thing to do!
It is in those moments we need to check our posture. While running, I look for any reflective surface (windows, mirrors, etc.) to see if I need to straighten up, literally! Spiritually, God’s word provides the mirror (James 1:23, 24) and we are to examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5) and make positive changes in our life.
Have you been leaning lately? Look in the mirror to see if you need to straighten up.