Monday, January 25, 2010

Running in the Rain

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I am starting to run. It's proven to be quite the challenge. My shins burn nearly constantly now. And every morning that I'm supposed to run, my bed is that much more comfortable. This morning was that morning. I slept an hour later than I was supposed to and therefore ran an hour later than I should have. It seems innocent enough, but today it was absolutely crucial...let me explain.

I run with my training team on Saturdays. This is where I push for distance and time. This past Saturday I ran 2 miles. I've never run two miles in my life. It was ridiculously hard for me, but there were at least 75 people with me so I made it in decent time.

Mondays are my re-coup run day. I run the same distance that I did on Saturday but I take an easier pace and walk if I need to. So today I was running another 2 miles. 2 Miles for the second time in my life. And it kicked my tail. I ran, then walked, then ran, then walked, then walked, then staggered, then get the picture. I was on my way back to my house after having been roughly 1.6 miles. I had walked for about 2 minutes and worked up some energy to run for a bit.

I told myself. "You have to make it to this street. You have to run until you get to this street." So I started to run. Every part of my body hurt. I was having a hard time catching my breath. I was sweating and hot and sweaty. Every piece of me wanted to quit. And then something interesting happened....

It started to rain. A sprinkle at first. Then some bigger drops. And then an all out rain. A heavy cooling and refreshing rain. It was exactly what I needed. I cooled me off and gave me an extra bit of energy to run. At the same time the song "We Win" by David Crowder Band came on my ipod. The music built up, the rain fell down. And I ran. I ran past my goal and kept going. I ran past the next street and ran all the way back to my street. It was amazing....

Sometimes I feel like my life is that way. I feel like every part of me wants to quit. Whether it's tough times with work or maybe I feel far away from God. Maybe I just can't figure out what God wants me to do next. These are the times that we face and we just want to give up on following God. These are the times where we just crave for God to rain down on us....

The amazing thing about God is that He always will rain down on us. It might not be on our time table. We might even have to run on despite everything in us telling us to quite. But God is faithful. God will rain His comfort, peace, wisdom, .etc down on you when you need it most. You just have to keep running.

Until Next Time,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dying to Self only to Live

When I was a kid, I was what you would call, political. Perhaps that is the wrong word for it. But pretty much I would use my blue eyes, chubby cheeks, and shy charm in an attempt to get what I wanted. I remember a woman looking at me one time and saying, "You're going to be president someday."  I always took it as a compliment and continued on in life.

But the weird thing is that I've always felt like I was meant for something bigger than myself. I always thought that I was going to be big one day. I have that feeling right now actually. It's weird. Perhaps you have felt the feeling as well. Maybe you have felt the feeling that you were meant for more than whatever it is that you are doing. Maybe you feel it right now.

 Last spring I picked up a devotional book that was about "dying to self".  That phrase is used regularly in Christian circles. When I first learned it, it was about being disciplined and not indulging in things that weren't Godly. It was like a chore.When I thought of "dying to self" I felt it was like keeping my room clean or washing the dishes. It was a task I had to do in order to be holy.

Fast forward to last year. I attended a conference called DC/LA with a number of students. There they taught that God created for a specific purpose. In their words, "The way God created me, is the greatest way to live". In other words, God created me to do something. Maybe it's something big. Maybe it's not. But when I live my life doing what God created me to do, I will live life to it's fullest.

If God created me to impact the life of 1000 kids and I do that, I will have lived life to it's fullest. On the other end, if God created me to impact just 1 life and I do that, I will have lived life to it's fullest.

There is a line in a song by John Reuben. It says: "It's just not that simple, I'm not trying to save it all,  I just want to create a ripple. And even if one individual is affected, it's monumental with an unusual perspective that is beautiful in essence. Traditional thinking won't suggest this. Is life that precious? Well Yes it is."

I guess the point of this post is this: When we are "dying to self", we are putting away our desires and dreams and looking to God for what He created us for. When we do that, then we truly can start to live.


Monday, January 18, 2010

A Little Exercise

In December I joined a weight loss challenge with about 100 other youth pastors from around the country. It seemed like a pretty dumb idea to start weight loss right before Christmas. And it was, I gained everything back that I had lost before Christmas! Right now I've lost about 5 pounds and I'm hovering there. (I blame Chick Fil A). But that's not what I'm here to talk about exactly.

You see a couple weeks ago my wife who is encouraging me in my weight loss made a challenge to me. She said it like this: "I have a crazy idea. I think that you should train for the 10k" Yup, she was crazy. The 10k trainers were the people who ran through our neighborhood at 8 am in Saturdays. I would try not to hit them while on my way to Chick Fil A. Yet, she was insisting that I could do it. So I signed up.

I was excited but there were obstacles. When I started telling people that I was training for the 10k, most people laughed at me and included a "yeah right" to top it all off. My wife still encouraged me at home. She encouraged me to go get some running clothes and shoes. Before my first training day, I did some self training so that I wouldn't embarrass myself in front of others. It was tough. I had to stop frequently to walk and catch my breath. I thought that I would never make it a full mile running (how sad is that?)

This past Saturday was my first training day. I reported to where we were running from at 8 am. After some rules and what not we started running. By some weird luck I was at the front of the pack....I knew embarrassment was coming because I would have to stop and everyone would pass me. Then a funny thing happened. It took longer for muscle fatigue to set in. I didn't have as hard of a time catching my breath. I kept running. When muscle fatigue started to set in, I noticed that everyone around me was experiencing the same thing. It was encouraging to have someone next to me experiencing the same thing. We didn't stop. We kept running. The pain in my legs kept coming but after a while I could see the finish line. I kept running in order to cross the finish line. FINALLY we made it to the finish. We were all tired but proud of ourselves. We had made it through the first step of our new journey. Next week we're going for 2. We're going to keep running.

I think that we experience this in our lives when it comes to our relationship with God. We sit around and don't spend anytime with Him. We grow fat and lazy in our spiritual lives. One day we look at our lives and think...."wow, I feel really far from God" So we make a challenge to ourselves, we are going to spend time with God. But it usually falters after that.

I want to encourage you to take the steps to seek after God. Buy some new shoes (get a new Bible or a devotional book), mark a time to run (Set a time to spend time talking to God), ignore the laughter and start to train (ignore those who say you can't do it and start off slowly in the Bible and praying), run (read, think, pray), realize you aren't alone (do a study with someone else to help motivate you), when the pain sets in, aim for the finish line (when it's hard to pray or read, press on knowing that the finish line is a closer relationship with your God), cross the finish line and look forward to the next milestone (finish a study, series, specific prayer time and set your sights for the next level)

If we do these things, we will exercise our relationship with God and we will see the fruit in no time!

Until Next Time,