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Weekly Thoughts

The intersection of work, life, sport and spirituality.

It is good…

I’m currently going through a nine month fellowship program run by an organization that studies the intersection of work and faith. I think a lot of people, including myself, struggle with the question of what intrinsic value our work brings to the world. As a sales professional, how I can be of value outside of just strictly driving profits to the bottom line? Is our work goal simply to make a bunch of money so we can retire and travel the globe?

The beginning of the program has been thought-provoking in many ways but nothing quite as impactful as studying the creation story in the first part of Genesis. Setting aside the literal scientific questions we all have when we read a seven-day creation story, there are many parallels behind God’s work ethic and things we can model in our own work.

There were four key things that stood out to me when reading Genesis Chapter 1 that I had not considered before. These key elements apply to our work as people and our approach to business.

  1. A planned and staged approach to work. If you were God and all powerful, wouldn’t you just create planet Earth and every single thing in it in one day? I think about it related to my own work and how I try to wrap up as much as I possibly can in the shortest amount of time. If we have a proposal due, the faster we can get the thing done and out the door the better. Yet God himself took six full days to build creation. In business I’m always talking about the importance of a plan and strategic approach to everything that we do. Even my own athletic goals have a very strategic and staged approach to training. If we look at how God spaced out his creation efforts, we can learn that this is also how we need to approach projects in our every day lives.
  2. Pause to evaluate work at each stage. The next observation really struck me. You know how I mentioned trying to get through projects as quickly as we can and get them out the door? Well, In Genesis, God paused each day paused to evaluate His work. He doesn’t wait until the end of the project but he evaluates his work at every step of the way. To take time to reflect on work product and evaluate its goodness is something that’s in God’s nature. It’s something that I need to take more time to do.
  3. Celebrate a job well done, even when it’s not finished. In addition to evaluating work product at every step of the way, God also takes the time to celebrate his work. “It is good”. He blesses each day’s work and moves to the next step. This is something I find extremely hard to do when drafts of proposals and deliverables aren’t complete. To pause and celebrate work when it’s not yet completed is something that I plan to work on over the next year.
  4. Rest and recover. Last but certainly and certainly not least is taking the time to rest. How often do we rest after we complete a task? I definitely don’t have that gift! I finish one thing and move to the next as quick as I can. Rarely do I take the time to rest after a project is done. With rest built into the seventh day of the creation story, it is apparent that God built into us the need to recuperate and recover after goals have been met. Whether it’s a race that I have just completed or a project that I just got out the door, I need to take the personal time to rest and hit the “reset button” and recover for the next job.

I’m excited for the revelations that I received so far. Looking forward to this next nine month journey through the fellowship program and how I can improve me as a professional and help me reflect more of him in everything I do.


Genesis 1:3
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day”

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Comparison and ‘Value’

Comparison.

It drives every aspect of our lives. How do we stack up in the rankings?

In work, do you get your self-worth from the number of sales you have brought in or the initiatives you’ve been able to bring to your business? Do you correlate the amount of your paycheck with your personal and professional value? Do you measure yourself by the house you own or the car you drive?

Often times, we spend our lives comparing ourselves to others in a desperate attempt to derive more self-worth or somehow feel valued.

I spent this past weekend in Leadville pacing at one of the biggest ultrarunning races on the planet, the Leadville 100 Trail Run. Profiled in countless books and media, the Leadville 100 typically boasts a 40-50% finisher rate OR a 50%-60% failure rate depending on how you look at it. Within that finisher pool, if you finish in less than 25 hours you get a big belt buckle. If you finish in less than 30 hours you get a smaller belt buckle. There are awards for top three athletes overall and the top three in each age group category. Walk around the finish of Leadville, and you hear athletes boasting about their accomplishments:

“I got a big buckle.” “I finished before the cutoff.” “I got on the podium.” “I didn’t finish because of….fill in the blank.”

I even stood next to a guy at the finish line that had a 200-mile ultrarunning race finishers t-shirt on (from another race) and it was tucked into the front of his shorts to show off his 200-mile finishers belt buckle as if to say, “Yeah, I’m proud of all you finishers, but I’m way more bad ass than you. I ran TWICE as far

I do think we should be proud of our accomplishments and set goals to pull out our best potential. The danger I find however, is when we derive our importance and self-worth from comparing ourselves to others and placing value on these goals outside the goal itself. Placing improper importance on the goal itself damages the life experience.

What if you still strive to achieve excellence, but you knew your value was not based in how much or how little you have or are able to do? What if your DNF (did not finish) in the last race didn’t matter to you anymore than taking first place in terms of how you see yourself?

One of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, wrote a book called “Searching for God Knows What” where he profiles the broken human condition and points out that we are all trying to achieve success based on how we stack up against other people. In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul clarifies that our inherent value has nothing to do with what we do or don’t do. (Romans 3:21-30) It has nothing to do with our accomplishments or feats in life. We are all valued as humans in the full and overflowing love that comes from God (whether you believe in Him or not).

What if we all lived our lives knowing that we already had all the intrinsic value we need by just being us? What if we no longer compared ourselves against others because we were all at peace with who we are already?

How would you live your life differently?

The intersection of work, life, sport and spirituality.

If you know me, you know that one thing that makes me tic is my pure desire to help people succeed. Whether it is at work, at school, at church or on the trail, nothing really excites me more than watching people achieve what they previously thought impossible.

I’ve been working through an idea to start up another blog that focuses in on business skills, goal setting and marketing topics. I have brainstormed a bunch of content and even put together some outlines. Thinking through the implementation of this idea, I have been drawn back to this Weekly Thoughts blog and how I’ve let it go dormant over the last few years. What started as a weekly devotional for me, has turned into something that I don’t invest time into anymore. In it’s place, I have invested time into my running blog and race reports as a way to capture memories of physical accomplishments. I’ve failed to keep up with a forum that challenges me to think deeper spiritually and grow closer to God.

And here I am ready to start yet ANOTHER blog.

I went for a run this morning, and a stark reality hit me square in the face. Without realizing it, I have divided my life into quadrants resembling stacks of quarters, pennies and dimes. “Work life” Spiritual Life” “Athletic Life” Family Life” have all staked claim to my heart and I have fought to keep them all separate. I’ve resisted bringing all but a few work and industry colleagues into my personal circle of friends. My church-going believer friends are separate from my running and college buddies.

I had a realization today that my work life, personal life, spiritual life and epic running adventures all intersect in the reality that makes me who I am. By placing everything into silos and stacks, I am in turn only offering a piece of each truth and revelation.

No more.

I’m taking a different direction with Weekly Thoughts where I will seek to highlight the intersection of sport, life, spirituality and work. I appreciate all the massive support I’ve had over the years and look forward to see how God will use this blog moving forward.

Hopefully, in the end, this reaches and inspires someone out there to break down their own silos. I hope it helps someone set some goals that make the impossible come into view. I hope that someone realizes that the spiritual strength that God brings will fill in some of the gaps. It all works together to make us who we are.

Please continue to comment on my posts and interact. Without conversation, this blog is flat.

Killing the Cardboard Jacket

Do you ever sit back and wonder when life became so complicated? Like when you start to analyze the web that has become our lives and start to pull apart the strands only to realize that there are knots you can’t untie? Our jobs, our time, our spirituality, physical activity and our diets feel like a complicated mess that roll us up and weigh us down.

Life was so much simpler when we were younger. My 4 ½ year old can easily find “solutions” to the biggest messes. It was cold out, and he told my wife that they should just cut up some cardboard boxes and wear them as jackets to stay warm. “We have coats,” she replied. “I know mommy, but it would just be WAY easier for us to cut up some boxes.

The simplicity of streamlining ideas migrates into our early careers. Solving problems is as easy as taking that textbook answer on process we learned in college and applying it overnight in the company we just started working for. “What do you mean there are 5 decision makers I need to sell this idea on to change the current process? Can’t you see how good my idea is?!

2016 was another hard year on me. God spent a lot of time showing me how my simple ideas and youthful thinking didn’t always translate into reality. This applied to my relationships, my work, and my overall thoughts on life. My pride was put in check on a continuous basis as I tried things that had always worked in the past and I was greeted with failure.

Reflecting on things at the beginning of this new-year, I keep coming back to a moment in time two years ago that I am convinced God is still showing me how to live out.

Two years ago while working at another firm, I had a co-worker undermine my role and position within that firm and cause a lot of pain, bitterness and anger. While I do not have an enormous ego, my pride was absolutely crushed through it all and I didn’t know what to do. We drove to church that weekend and I told Julie how mad and bitter I was and how much it hurt inside.

Steaming about the situation, I sat down in the auditorium while Julie went to drop Micah off in Children’s church and I heard an audible voice.

“It’s time to die to yourself Tim”

I immediately turned around to see who spoke to me but no one was there. I heard the voice again.

“It’s time to die to yourself Tim”

Realizing that God had just literally spoke to me, tears started to flow down my face as something amazing happened. It all went away. The bitterness, the deep pain, all of it.

The sermon started. The topic? Baptism. Dying to yourself. Letting the Lord truly take over.

I’m convinced there was a deep change in my heart that day, and the bitterness inside was gone. What I am realizing now is that dying to myself goes much deeper than dying to one situation or area of my life. Birth in Christ is death to my own flesh. Nothing is more evident than this past year where areas I surrendered to the Lord’s will brought success, and things I tried to do on my own failed miserably.

I am learning to trust his path but it’s not all that simple. While life is incredibly complex, this year I am choosing to make an effort to let God’s will be done, AND stay content in that plan. Hopefully every now and then He’ll just smile when I want to cut up a cardboard box and put it on as a jacket.


Romans 6:1-4
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life

Spin the Black Circle

It’s no secret that I am a music lover. There is not a single category you can pin me down to in terms of my musical tastes. I have an appreciation for it all. As I child, I remember listening to the radio and recording my favorite songs on to cassette tape so I could listen to them over and over. Over the years, I amassed a collection of cassette tapes, CD’s and MP3s.  I saved up each paycheck just to go blow it all at the music store.

We are in a new era of music. With Spotify streaming, the entire world of digital music is at our fingertips and on demand whenever we want it. There are podcasts, music TV channels, streaming radio and live feeds. We can turn it on and off with a click of a button.

While I enjoy being able to access whatever I music want at any time, several months ago, I hooked up my Techniques 1200 turntable and set out to build my vinyl record collection. The resurgence of record collecting is bringing many of us music lovers back to our youth and to a simpler time. There is something about dropping the needle down on a vinyl record and listening to the pure sound as it was originally recorded. Each song was carefully put in order as the artist intended, and after 20 minutes, you have to flip the record over to hear the closing tracks. Listening to vinyl involves all the senses besides taste. It’s a reconnection to pure sound.

As I build my vinyl record collection, I am discovering a new love for older records I have long forgotten or heard many times before. As I listen with intent, my appreciation for the artists, the lyrics and the music is at an all-time high. I close my eyes and picture the artist in the studio 40 years-ago recording that track just to connect with me so many years later.

I started thinking about my love for music as it relates to our spiritual journey. How often do we overcomplicate our faith or have it spoon fed to us as background noise? What if we took more of an effort to dust off that Bible, sit on the couch for 30 minutes and read the text as it was originally written. What new sounds would we hear? Would you see the transcript with new color? Would flipping the pages bring you closer to God?

In the world of Christian radio, energetic sermons, streaming podcasts, and religious TV, there is something to be said for putting all the noise aside, and spending some time reconnecting with God Himself. Like an old Vinyl record, the quality never fades.

———–
1 Peter 1:24-25

For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.

Identity

Micah, what do you want to be when you grow up?

My 4-year-old son looked at the tile floor deep in thought. Suddenly, he looked up with his eyes bright with anticipation. “A Jedi daddy. When I get bigger, I’m going to be a Jedi just like Luke Skywalker!”

I love the conversations I have with Micah. It is refreshing to see the world through his unjaded eyes and to get a glimpse into a soul where the whole world is ahead and dreams are alive with vivid color.

Thinking back to my own childhood, I answered that same question several times. A fireman, a doctor, a jet pilot, an architect, and a surfer were just a few of my dream professions. What child would have said ‘a director of business development and marketing’ anyway?

Outside of my lofty career goals, I strived through my youth to latch on to other activities to define who I was as a person. In junior high, most everyone is defined by some sort of activity. The jocks, the cheerleaders, the stoners, the nerds were just a few groups.  As we all looked to find our place, I locked on to what I thought the coolest people in school were…the skaters. I loved skateboarding from an early age. I was fascinated with surfing as a small kid, and living in Colorado, skateboarding was the next best thing. Skateboarders were counter-culture but still friends with all the other social groups. They did cool tricks and had cool hair. That’s what I wanted to be.

I was a skateboarder through junior high and transitioned to being a snowboarder in high school and college. I moved to California and became a surfer, and then became a triathlete. When being a triathlete wasn’t doing it for me anymore, I became a competitive cyclist, shaved my legs and started racing with 200 other shaved legged adult males. I moved to Colorado and became a runner, no… a trail runner, no…an ultra-runner…well…you get the idea.

Through all my various ‘identities’ I’ve had over the years, one place I have struggled is latching on to what it means to have an identity in Christ. What does it mean to be a ‘Christian’? It seems like such a small thing, but one area that I have struggled with is the stigma of some other Christian people and not wanting to be put in the same bucket as them. From the people holding up “You’re going to Hell” signs at football games to a few encounters with other Christians I have known over the years, I have struggled with embracing the identity.

But God is showing me something different. Hypocrisy and imperfection are results of the broken human condition. All of us have sinned, and part of my problem was putting too much stock in other people – specifically ‘Christians’- to do it right. I know full-well the extent of my own sin, and thank God for the grace He gives to cover it. Grace I should extend to others as well.

I’m beginning to realize three things:

  1. Having an identity in Christ means that I am a work in progress. I am an imperfect person pursuing a perfect God, and that’s okay.
  2. I have an opportunity to learn from my own past experiences and try and show the grace of Christ where I feel others have fallen short.
  3. Just because another person identifies with the title of ‘Christian’ and preaches hate does not mean I am like that person. It is like someone that calls themselves a runner but sits on the couch all day, eats junk food and does one 5K per year. That person can claim the title, but their actions don’t reflect the identity.

I’m starting to ‘own’ my identity and have more confidence in bearing the image of Christ, and that’s a good thing. I can be defined by what I do by being selfless, showing love, and embracing truth. I’m not perfect by the world’s standards, but thanks to grace, in God’s eyes I am. It’s pretty liberating and I’m humbled to be called a ‘Christian’. I’m an imperfect person pursuing a perfect God who loves us.

So next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up my answer is, “I’m a Christian, regardless of what I do professionally or recreationally, that’s all that matters most.” My prayer is that my son can say the same thing someday.

————————–

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here

Achieving More

I had a business lunch with a gentleman this week that has done multiple endurance races. For this post, I’ll call him “Joe.” Joe calls himself an ‘adventurer’ and is always searching for that next thing to stretch his own level of comfort. He recently started a company to take business executives out on adventures and to teach them about living life to the fullest and reaching new goals that may seem impossible.

Joe talked about very successful business leaders he knows that ‘have it all’. One guy he talked about makes $20M/year and has achieved the peak of his professional dreams. He went on to tell me, “But something is missing. Deep down inside of each of these guys, there is a hole they are trying to fill. Even though they ‘have it all’, they can’t figure out what’s missing. It’s my job to help them find that missing piece through adventures. After they have achieved it all, I help them achieve more.”

More”, I thought to myself. More.

What I found interesting in the conversation is that Joe is starting to associate fulfillment with ‘more’ accomplishments. These accomplishments are physical in nature rather than business related, but it is still in the vain of more accolades. I can’t keep from coming back to the root of his original statement, “Deep down inside of each of these guys, there is a hole they are trying to fill. Even though they ‘have it all’, they can’t figure out what’s missing.

I personally know people that achieved amazing physical feats of endurance. I know people that have completed dozens of Ironman races and ultra-races. What is interesting is that even a lot of these people are wondering what is next. There is a hole they are also trying to fill, and it’s never enough.

Stop for a second and think. What if there is truly a deep longing and desire in us that we are trying to fill? What if we are all trying to fill that desire with MORE? More work, more money, more athletic accomplishments, more charity work, more being better parents, spouses or whatever it is you pour yourself into?

What if that desire and longing was divinely placed in you to connect to God, the creator of the universe? A God who will give you purpose and acceptance no matter what job title you have or how many medals are on the wall? A God who hard wired you for relationship and a perspective that the things of this world don’t matter as much as we think they do?

In the mist of all the things I personally strive for at work and athletically, I am already complete. I love a good challenge, but I don’t need more. I personally don’t have a deep need or longing to find out what’s next in order to feel peace. Sure, I had to die to placing huge importance on the things most of the world values the most, but the freedom I have is unexplainable. God has stamped my heart with grace.

I think Joe is right in saying “Deep down inside of each of these guys, there is a hole they are trying to fill.” Where he has it wrong is in thinking more accomplishments will fill the gap. What fills the gap is feeding the spirit.

When I look at the sunrise, I have joy in my heart and amazement that I know the creator of this beauty.

When I finish a race, I praise God for crafting such an amazing matrix of nerves, blood, muscle and skin that is capable of amazing things.

When I look at the world and politics, I have a peace in knowing that no matter what happens in the world while I am here, I am still in God’s hands and I will live eternally in His presence.

When I look at my bank account, no matter the balance, I know it is enough.

I have a joy that surpasses circumstance and a peace that is indescribable.

I don’t have all the answers, but one thing I believe is true– the only path to true fulfillment is relationship with Christ. With that, you will never need anything more.

—————————————————–
Philippians 4:19
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

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

Be an Athlete- Part Two

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.

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