Feeds:
Posts
Comments

It is Finished

I feel more and more like a stranger in this world

A traveler in a foreign land

While everything seems familiar and people speak my language

The buildings are crumbling into sand

Darkness and light fight deep within my soul

While I know that the victor has already been decided

The war rages on in the network of my mind

The eclectic emotions of life have all beautifully collided

I walk down the streets and wish I was in the mountains

Hitting the dirt I long for the familiar footing of home

Am I breathing toxic air through the network of society?

Can unplug from the mania that lights up the screen on my phone?

Like looking through the wrong side of the telescope

The things I thought were so far off are now blinding me

Wrinkles are no longer a stranger in the mirror

But, yet I know deep down that I am free

It is finished. Time to step out and live in that reality

It is finished. Balance love and justice in my soul

It is finished. Take my doubts and spread their ashes

It is finished. Through grace I’ve been made whole

Last week I posted about the identity we have as people and as Christians. The identity we embrace drives everything from the clothes we wear to the things we think about daily.

Sticking with the same theme I had from last week about being an athlete, I wanted to draw 10 parallels from being an athlete that help describe a successful Christian walk as I see it. I know this stuff sounds pretty basic, but I feel like I always have to go back to the basics.

  1. Know the goal. If you don’t know what you are training for, you are lost. You can’t have a plan. You won’t be able to define success. Do you have written/specified goals in your Christian walk? How do you know you are achieving them?
    [Philippians 3:14: I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.]
  2. Be disciplined about training. I know this is a hard one at times. There are days when I don’t feel like going on a run. Sometimes these days bleed into weeks of inactivity and complacent activity. I always tell myself that even a little bit of exercise beats nothing at all. Best cut the time short but still go out. This applies to devotional time, prayer and bible reading. What training have you done today?
    [1 Corinthians 9:25; Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.]
  3. Help others succeed. Even as competitive people, the sooner we realize that this life is not about us, the fuller our lives will become. There is nothing I enjoy more than watching a friend get hooked on a sport and succeed due to a seed I planted and nurtured.
    [1 Thessalonians 5:11; Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing]
  4. Eat. Nutrition is often considered the 4th leg of triathlon. The body needs food and water to keep going. What food and water are you taking in? If it’s been weeks since your last visit to church or in the fellowship of other Christians you are probably dehydrated and will likely bonk.
    [John 6:35; Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.]
  5. Sleep. When my sleep starts suffering, everything suffers. My work performance all the way down to my ability to run. It is great to keep pushing, but there are times we need to rest in Christ and recover. This may be as simple as waiting on the Lord.
    [Psalm 127:2; It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.]
  6. Celebrate the victories. Nothing is more awesome than a success at a race or a new milestone hit in training! Throw a party and testify about the great things God is doing in your life.
    [Psalm 150:1-6; Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!]
  7. Learn from the failures. We all stumble. It’s failure to learn from those mistakes that will destroy our strength. When we fall down and get back up, we will be stronger than we thought possible.
    [2 Corinthians 12:9-10; My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.]
  8. Read. By reading about others successes and failures, we can be stronger athletes and shortcut an otherwise long learning curve. The Bible is full of these stories and guidance for living. How much are you reading?
    [2 Peter 3:18; But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…]
  9. Be humble. I find that the longer I participate in a sport, the more prideful I can become about my knowledge and experience. This can lead to being a person that can’t learn new things. The best athletes admit and work on their weaknesses and understand that they can  learn things– even from new athletes.
    [Psalm 25:9;l He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.]
  10. Don’t quit. Keep moving when the race gets so hard you want to quit. This is the hardest thing to do. There is rarely a race when I don’t feel like throwing up or quitting in the middle. There are highs and lows. This is so much like life. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and focus on the goal line. You will finish, but you must keep moving.  [Hebrews 12:1-2; Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.]

Hoping this brings some good things to your week. Thanks for being my fellow athletes.

Be an Athlete

This past weekend I traveled back up to Leadville for another race. The trail marathon at Leadville takes runners over 26 miles of some of the most beautiful and challenging terrain one can imagine. The old mining town based at 10,000 feet above sea level hosts some of the world’s best athletes each summer for their race series.

One thing I love about trail racing is the eclectic cast of runners at the races. You will see everything from the Boston-marathon looking runners in short shorts to the bearded Forest Gump-looking barefoot runners. It’s a great mix of people all there for one goal, and that is to hopefully cross the finish line. Close to 6,000 feet of vertical climbing and a trip up the 13,000 foot summit of Mosquito Pass makes it a daunting challenge.

AthletesAs I was lined up at the start line looking at all the other athletes, I kept coming back to the idea of ‘identity’. All the runners were unique, yet we were all runners.

I had the pleasure of attending a small group bible study last week that a friend of mine hosts at his office. The topic of the week was ‘identity’ and the identity we have in Christ. While we are all unique as believers, we have a new identity in Christ that binds us all together. The key is for us to start living out that identity and believing it.

For the longest time, I didn’t consider myself a true athlete even with all the races I did. Even though I trained, studied and put in the work, I didn’t think I was qualified to be called an ‘athlete’ because I was finishing races outside of the top 10, or because I didn’t train as hard as the pros. I was in the car several weeks ago, and I was talking to my wife about how I was more of a ‘hobbiest’ than an ‘athlete’ and she called me out. “You are one heck of an athlete, babe. You are pretty amazing at your sports. Don’t sell yourself short.”

Lining up at the start line in Leadville, I had the realization that I was indeed an athlete.  I also started to think about my identity as a Christian. I am hardly qualified half of the time to take on that identity, and I feel pretty imperfect most of the time. I don’t train as hard as I should, there are others faster and more knowledgeable than me, and I go through seasons of doubt. This is the amazing news though- Grace. It’s not about how hard I work, or how perfect or imperfect I am. All I have to do is just admit the fact that I can’t do it on my own and I need Him.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.“- Ephesians 2:8-9

As believers, we are all athletes in this race together. We all have all prepared for the race a little differently, but we are here to encourage each other, share some training tips and pick each other up when we fall down. Hopefully, we can all finish the race strong. It is time to embrace our identity and start living it.

IMG_0942

————————————————

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24

Mountain Waves

God is good. Even when things feel bad. It never ceases to amaze me what an ocean this life is. The rising tide feels like it is going to drown us at times and then the season changes and the sunset turns the water into liquid gold, showering us with warmth. My life has felt like a boat on the sea these past two years. I find myself internalizing things a bit more. Falling deep into my meditative void that stops making sense after a while.

The past couple of years have had me questioning God’s plan for us here in Colorado. I miss our life in San Diego. We had tons of friends. Between Julie and I, we made enough money to live comfortably and enjoy life. While God continues to provide for us here, it feels like we are barely scraping together enough to pay the bills at times. Our network of friends is gone and I feel like there are days when I pretend to be happy when inside I am growing increasingly bitter about our situation.

Then the tide changes. I wake up in the morning and see a sky full of fire lit clouds reflect their glory on the expansive mountains. I take a sip of my coffee, breathe in the clean crisp air, and stretch out my arms towards the sky. I look back on my house with 1,000 bikes in the garage and see my son waving goodbye to me so I can head into the office. My wife smiles. At lunch I put on my running shoes and head up into the unpopulated mountain trails for a run. I see a few deer eating grass as a cruise by. I am at peace and blessed.

Why is it so difficult to be happy at times and then wake up the next day totally at rest? God, why is it so hard to trust that You have a plan in all of this?

We recently found a church to attend that is helping me hit the reset button. Another group of messy people just like me. Doubts, imperfection and brokenness all made whole by the grace of Jesus. “We are a church that welcomes home prodigals,” the pastor says. “You are welcome here, and we are a place of love.”

This experience in Colorado has me believing that God does not wants his people to be comfortable. Being comfortable leads to being complacent. I see it in my past life in San Diego. When the weather is always perfect, the days run into months and run into years and it is harder to see the big picture in front of us. Seasons create a state of constant change, and force you to adapt—and move….

Faith.

God is working on me there. Looking back on my life, there is no reason to believe that God doesn’t know what He is doing in my life. I need to roll with it like a surfer sitting out past the breaks. I know my divine wave will come and I will paddle hard. I’ll connect with it, stand up and experience pure ecstasy as I ride towards shore –or- I’ll fall down and swallow some water and paddle back out. One thing I do know is that there is a plan, but for now I need to connect with this moment and KNOW that God is with me and have faith that right here and now is where He wants me to be.

God is good.

——-

James 1:6 ; But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

Drivers

What are your divers?

Since I work in marketing, I am always working in a strategic mindset trying to determine ways for my firm to position to win more work. My job is to dig pass the issues or the surface level project at hand to uncover the real reason the client wants or needs to move their project forward. In other words, “what are the project drivers?” “Why are they doing what they are doing? The answer could be anything from aging infrastructure they are worried about; to new regulations they have to meet. 100% of the time, there is a REASON they are looking for a consultant to assist them with the project. My job is to find that reason, and help position my firm to be the best team to address that driver.

As I headed into the office this past week, I was thinking about one of these project pursuits and my brain shifted gears to think about my own personal drivers. Why do I do what I do? What drives me to want to work out all the time? What drives me to work long hours at times and sacrifice personal time? What drives me to buy a cup of coffee for the guy behind me in line at Starbucks? What drives me to want to spend quality time with my family?

It is not an easy answer or even a uniform answer for all of my actions, but there is always a driver. Sometimes it is a driver of selfish ambition or a competitive desire to just win, get ahead or climb on top. Other times, I am driven by love and just a pure selfless desire to help, serve and bless those around me. The one thing I recognize is the pure conflict within my soul to want to do good and to fulfill my own desires.

One of my Facebook friends posted this on her page this week:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life: “A fight is going on inside me.” he said. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, and superiority. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, generosity, and truth. The same fight is going on inside you – and every other person. ”The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old chief replied, “The one you feed, Son.”

The apostle Paul in Romans talks of the same struggle: (Romans 7:24)

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

What are your drivers?

I’m not saying it is bad to be competitive or want to get ahead. I am saying however that it is bad if it is ‘driven’ from the wrong place. Are we using those passions to bless others? Are we humble in our ambitions?

As the holiday season is upon us and we reflect on the blessings we have been given, let’s take the time to examine our hearts. What drivers will you feed this season? Why are you doing what you are doing? Step outside yourself for a moment and feed the good wolf. The world will be a better place for it, and God’s love will shine through.

Like little children

The past few months have been some of the best months so far as a father. Watching my son discover the world one item at a time has been entertaining and I probably cry laughing at least once a day. Obviously, we cannot remember what it was like as an almost two-year-old, but nothing can compare to the but the innocent unveiling of the world and its creation to a toddler.

Imagine a world where everything is new. You open the door to a windy day and see a piece of paper carried along by the current and you stop to watch in wonder. The birds in the trees are singing their songs and you listen intently and marvel at their playfulness. The clouds in the sky form little shapes and you imagine the story being written in the heavens. Your interactions with others are sparked out of mystery, trust and joy.

I know God connects to each of us in different ways. He most often connects to me through nature, and I still get giddy inside every time I look up at the mountains or see a sunset. I will never grow tired of the outdoors and the sense of adventure that awaits in God’s creation. For others, it may be personal relationships that God uses the most to connect.  I think He looks down on us like we are toddlers in a new world, and gets just as much joy when we recognize the little things as I do as a father.

The hard part for us adults is slowing down and being aware enough to recognize His blessings. Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” I know many preachers and Christians will interpret this to say “don’t sin” or “don’t conform”, but what if the ‘pattern of this world’ is floating through life and not appreciating the blessings God gives? ‘Renewing your mind’ is critical to seeing the world anew every single second- just like my son.

Matthew 18:3 says “And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Like little children dependent on their parents, loving and trusting of strangers, immersed in the beautiful awe of creation- yet unique? Like little children too innocent to be overcome by fear, failure, rejection and hate? Like little children smiling up at the sky when a bird flies by and sings a song?

Watching my son grow up is such a wonderful thing. It is amazing how such a little person can challenge my own faith so deeply and hopefully help me live more purposeful and committed. I can only hope to become more thankful and see those blessings that I may have overlooked in the past.

Keep it new.  

This is life

I’ve had three months to reflect since my last Ironman. This one was particularly special to me. Training was super difficult due to my full-time job, Micah at home and the need to fit eating and sleeping in the mix. We moved to Colorado, so I really did not have anyone to train with. When I wanted to go for a ride or run with a new acquaintance the conversation would stop short when I mentioned the distance of the workout. Finding running partners for 16-18 mile Sunday runs was impossible, so I spent long hours each week training alone.

When you are alone for 15-20 hours a week, you have a lot of time to think. While I love the terrain in Colorado and being close to family, I miss my friends in San Diego tremendously. I spend time flipping back and forth between thoughts about how much I love my new home, and how much I miss my old one. In some ways, the chaos of training for my Ironman took my mind off the emotion that comes with trying to rebuild your life somewhere new.

After the race, I went into a small depressive state. In some ways, I am still there. After you cross a finish line that big and experience the release of hearing your name called on the PA system, it is easy to get lost. There is no point to your workouts any more. You step on the scale to a bigger number each morning. You have an extra beer at night to escape but the reality of finding purpose is hard to come to terms with.

I have spent time asking what is next. Is another big event the answer? Is this all there is to life? Go to a job during the day, watch my son play around for a couple of hours at night put him to bed and then fall asleep watching The Voice just to repeat it all the next day? I felt so alive when I was training and now I feel so numb.

I understand what it means to fight depression. It runs in my family and unless you have battled it personally, it is tough to comprehend. Even talking to family about it is tough. “Why would you ever be depressed? You have a wonderful job, an even more amazing family, and a son that fills your heart with so much joy you want to explode.” And yet some days I don’t feel like getting out of bed. I have just recently come to terms with the fact that I have fought this disease most of my life. I can remember times in High School when I did not feel like getting out of bed and facing the day. Even thinking back further in my past, I have struggled to stay happy and connected to every moment.

Two things have been tremendous in fighting the battle. My faith gives me confidence that there is a greater purpose here. I look at each day as an opportunity to serve, and love others. I try to die to myself and let God lead. The second thing that helps me is sport. While I’m not the best athlete in the world, cycling and running provide me an outlet to fight my demons head on. The longer and more challenging the workout, the better. Make it hurt. I have never felt so alive as I do after a workout so long and hard all I can do is lay on the floor in exhaustion. The drug of crossing the finish line at Ironman is one that will keep me coming back for more. However, sometimes I wonder if this is really an outlet, or if I am simply running away from my fears and reality.

I’m writing about my battle for the first time in hopes that this will be my first step in overcoming the disease. If I am ever left without sport as an option, I need to face the reality of life and quit running from it. I need to look at my beautiful family, thank God for the air He gives me to breathe and know that is enough. As we rebuild our lives here in Colorado, I know there will be the usual ups and downs. We will meet new friends, build new memories, run new races, and see the sun rise many times. This is life.

———————-

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers