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Weekly Thoughts

The intersection of work, life, sport and spirituality.

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Apologetics

Weep Holes

I recently started a remodel project in our master bathroom. Whom ever decided that it was a good idea to lay down carpet in bathrooms should be put on trial. Sure, carpet feels nice on your feet in the morning, but think for a minute about the combination of carpet, water and other bodily discharges that find their way onto a bathroom floor. Like I said…bad idea..

My wife and I moved into our house four years ago and it was an exciting day when I was finally able to rip out the carpet in our bathrooms and replace it with flooring. Tearing out the carpet, I came to the area in front of the shower and low and behold, underneath that comfy carpet, was a mold covered sub-floor. Ugh.

My planned weekend-long project took on a life of its own as I wound up replacing sub-floor and drying out the walls that were affected by years of water moisture buried by carpet.

Finally, with the flooring project complete, I resealed the shower and added the final trim along the baseboard. But we still had a moisture problem!

Water was leaking next to the wall and no matter how much silicone I added inside and out of the shower, water was still finding its way out and onto my new floor. Looking for answers, I consulted the ultimate resource for any problem- Google.

After several hours of researching the problem on-line, I learned of these little things called ‘weep-holes’ that they add to the bottom shower rail and in the shower pan to essentially keep water from building up inside the rail and wall. Attacking the problem with my utility knife, I found five weep-holes in the shower rail buried behind a goop of silicone. Cutting them out one at a time, the water that was previously making its way out of the shower onto my floor drained right back into my shower pan. Problem solved.

All this amateur hour construction work got me thinking a lot about my own life. How much gunk do I cover up with nice carpet without addressing the core issue? Bitterness, pain, addiction and unaddressed personal issues that I literally sweep under the rug and pretend it’s okay. The answer to expressing my deep emotions involve just adding more silicone sealant to keep them in.

The real problem with this approach is that the emotion will make its way out into the world around you. In the end, this will cause more damage than allowing the ‘weep-holes’ of genuine and vulnerable emotion to work every day. Forcing out a good cry every now and then isn’t such a bad thing.

I’m working hard lately on being less prideful and reaching out for help when it makes sense. Pulling back the carpet and replacing the subfloor of my heart is something that I will have to continually work on and be aware of. If I don’t, it’ll turn black with mold and damage the rest of the house.

What are you covering up in your life? Perhaps it’s time to let it breathe.

———-

1 Corinthians 4:5 // Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and reveal the counsels of the hearts

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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.

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

The Physics of a Running Coach

As I clocked past mile five on my early morning run this past week, I was thinking about how much I actually enjoy running. While cycling is my first passion, there is nothing like the feeling after a long run to boost the mood. The runners high we so desperately seek comes like a wave of pure joy. The sore muscles are already asking for more.

I wasn’t always a runner. While I played soccer in high school, I typically gravitated to skateboarding and snowboarding as my physical outlets. I never really saw running as something that I would enjoy. It was not until college when I stepped on a track for the first time that I saw the potential. My one-mile-3-times-a-week program was the brunt of jokes from my running friends, but I didn’t really care. At that time I didn’t understand how someone could even survive running 3 or more miles at a time.

While I was skateboarding down the halls of my high school, there was one teacher there who was always pushing me to go out for the cross-country running team. Mr. Hugill was my High School physics teacher and the coach of my High School’s cross-country running team.  I looked up to him more than any teacher I have had before or since. In addition to being a very popular teacher, he was also a devout Christian man who was never ashamed of his faith. He explained the world around me in a way that made sense. He spoke of faith as an endurance race to the finish. He spoke of physics as creation. He was the first person in my life that inspired me to live up to something greater, and to be genuine in the process.

As a runner now, I think of Mr. Hugill. There are those people in our lives that we look up to and seek to emulate. I always thought of Mr. Hugill as the sort of guy Christ would be like if he physically walked the earth today. Caring for people, reaching out to those in need, strong enough to stand up for what’s right and a competitive guy that people looked up to.

As I am now in my mid-thirties, I hope that somehow I can pay it forward. I hope I can have a positive impact on others and be a quality example of what is like to be seeking out something greater through Christ. I wonder if I can present a reality of what it is like to embrace spirituality without passing out judgment and bitterness.  I wonder if somehow I can inspire someone else to live a more full life in Christ despite their own imperfections. Mr. Hugill seemed to do that pretty well.

As I finish up another run, I am yet again inspired to do greater things. I thank those role models for being the catalyst to spark the fire inside that I never knew existed. I hope that we can all take a look at our own lives and work to live an example of goodness for others to follow.

————

Philippians 2:1-4
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others

Short Sighted

“Schedules slip one day at a time, not a month at a time”

Our operations manager has this written on his whiteboard in his office right above our list of current projects and their respective scheduled completion dates. It is a simple reminder to our staff that each decision we make ultimately affects the project outcome somewhere down the road.

It goes without saying that the decisions we make each day define us as people and set our direction. This is true for both good and bad decisions. When I look back on my life so far, I can easily see how choices I have made through my past have shaped my career, my place of residence, my health, and my spiritual growth. While hindsight is 20-20, I also find myself questioning my future direction and wondering how decisions I make today will shape that future. I try hard not to get so buried in the details that I fail to see the goal which lies ahead…and the schedule slips yet another day.

There are people in the world right now that look at their lives and wonder how they ended up there. While not everything is in our control, I would wager to say that decisions made, both good and bad, have shaped their own current situations.

I think the next step in this equation of thought is the realization that the decisions we make each day shape OTHER people’s direction as well. Are we building people up or tearing them down? Are we breathing light into the dark worked around us, or are we so bitter that we can’t see the light ourselves?

Sometimes it is a word of encouragement or just saying ‘good morning’. Sometimes a random act of kindness is all it will take to change someone else’s future course for eternity.

Taking it back to my operations manager’s whiteboard, I wonder what I can do one day at a time to help shape the World around me into something more beautiful. I’d love to look back at it all someday and see something amazing. I do know that it will take one day and one decision at a time to make that happen.
———————

Titus 3:14
Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.

Playing it Safe

Bike racing season is finally in full swing. I am finally healthy. Not up to racing form yet, but healthy which is a start. I spent the past few weeks recovering from my second cold of the season and instead of pushing it really hard on the weekends, I just made sure to keep my mileage up without taxing my system.

There is a fine balance in getting ready for race season. Push it too hard, and you get injured or sick. Take it too easy, and you get popped out the back of the peloton like exhaust from a tailpipe. You have to find a happy medium that allows your body to get strong, but also builds in recovery periods.

This past weekend, my team was in Tucson for a three-day stage race. Three days of racing is always a challenge. Especially when you have had to hit the ‘reset’ button a couple of times in training due to illness and colds. It’s like starting all over with your training, and being put to the test about a month too soon. I knew the races were going to hurt, and after the challenges I have hit the first part of this season, I was worried I would not be able to finish strong on my limited training base.

I pushed it on the first day time trial (TT). This is an individual race against the clock which sets the rankings for the next two days of racing. Do well in the TT, and you have a chance at winning the overall. Don’t do well, and you will be working to make up time the next two days. I wound up doing OK at the end of the day placing in the top third of my category.

The next day was a 60 mile road race. There were a ton of people in my division and the road was packed shoulder to shoulder. Our team captain made a point at the beginning of the race to tell all of our team members to push it and get up to the front where it would be safer and where we would have a chance of winning. “You may have to push it into the wind, but at least there are only a few guys in front of you to contend with, instead of 100.” He said.

Here is the thing with riding up front, you not only have to be aggressive to get up there, you have to ride just a little harder than everyone else in the pack to stay there. You don’t always have a draft, and you run the risk of burning yourself out before the race is over. Given the 60 mile distance of the race, I was a little hesitant to get up to the front in fear that I would not make it to the finish. Combine that with the fact that I am a fairly defensive (not aggressive) rider, I found myself riding about a third of the way back in the pack the majority of the race. My team mates were a few wheels in front of me, and I lacked the courage and faith to get up there with them and work a little harder.

I was OK with my decision to play it safe. Afterall, I was just coming around on my fitness, and I was not at the level yet of my other team members. I would never have survived out there alone.

After the race, we were all talking about the experience, and my team captain called me out on playing it safe. “You need to get up front Tim. You are strong enough to not play the safe card. It is easier up there and you are never going to get stronger riding in the pack”

I was upset for getting called-out on the carpet. I was just coming around fitness wise, I knew what I was doing, and to get called-out for riding what I thought was a good race really pissed me off.

“We don’t all ride the same” I told my wife. “I didn’t have it in me to ride in front today. I needed to just finish the race for my own mental state.”

I took a few breaths, laid on the couch in my hotel room and thought about the whole thing.

Perhaps he knows my potential more than I do.

I talked things over with my team captain a little bit later, and told him that I realize I am not super aggressive in the pack. I was not confident in my fitness yet. I had some things to work on. I apologized for not being a good team-mate.

“It has nothing to do with that Tim” he said, “You are a strong rider. Strong enough to be up front. We all need to push ourselves to be better, to get stronger, and to not play it safe. Anyone can play it safe, but if we are going to win these races, we need to be strong and aggressive. You are a great cyclist, and you need to be confident and ride like you are strong, even if that means getting outside your comfort zone.”

I realized that my friend had just spoken truth into my life. He held me accountable.

I think about things like this from a spiritual perspective. It is really easy for me to play it safe in this world. Most of my friends don’t really buy into the whole ‘Christian’ thing. It is easy for me to just float through life and not really pay much mind. I try to live pure, share my faith and show love to the people I am around, but that is not always enough. I have done an insane amount of research on the legitimacy of what I believe and why I believe it, but is that enough?

Sometimes we need to push outside our comfort zone to grow and get strong. Sometimes we need people to hold us accountable to do so. Just like my captain did in my road race last weekend. It may be hard to swallow, but in the end we can grow from the experience. I have spent a lot of time this year thinking about accountability. My wife does a great job of keeping me focused spiritually, but I also know I need to reach out to other Christian men to speak truth into my life. Otherwise I think I will just be playing it safe in the pack.

The third day of my race, I really put myself out there. I rode aggressively and stayed in the front. I launched attacks and successfully recovered when the group caught me. I showed myself and my teammates that I had it in me to do well. I grew from the experience. Being accountable is not the safe route, but it will make us strong. And I want to be strong. Especially when it comes to my faith.

———————————-

Ephesians 4:14-16
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Something Spiritual

A good friend of mine and his fiancé called me a month ago and asked me if I would be willing to officiate their wedding ceremony. This is only the second request I have had to do a wedding, but I was honored they would ask me to be a part of such a huge day in their lives.

This is not a role I take lightly as I realize the importance of marriage, and what the act means in terms of commitment. The act of marriage reflects something very beautiful when it is blessed by God.

When I asked my friends why they requested that I do the ceremony they answered me, “We want a spiritual tone at our wedding Tim, and you are one of the most spiritual people we know. We want a good mix of God & spirituality, but something not overly religious.”

Something spiritual.

Does this allude to an inherent need for God in our lives, but a fear of committing to organized religion? While it is OK to be ‘spiritual’ [or in my definition recognize that there is something outside our humanity that is making all this work], it is not necessarily socially ‘OK’ to be religious or identify with organized religious institutions.

You may be surprised to know that I embrace the idea of spiritual relationship over organized religion.  I think Jesus preached this message while he was on Earth. When I think about the relational experience I have had with Christ in my life, I think of everything but stale religious gospel. Similar to when I think about my relationship with my wife, I think about something beautiful, growing and changing. I don’t think of a laundry list of do’s and don’ts or a contract where I just have to uphold my end of the bargain to stay married. I believe that Christ is the Truth, but I don’t think that religion always brings you closer to that Truth anymore that signing a piece of paper leads to a healthy marriage.

We serve a God that wants to commune with us on a spiritual level. He wants our hearts and our souls, not necessarily our pocketbooks and hail mary’s. A recent article headline I read this week said:  Survey: 72% of Millennials ‘more spiritual than religious’ . If 72% of Millennials truly searched for spiritual truth, they would find it.  God promises this. [Jeremiah 29:13 ] Unfortunately for many, I think the wish to be labeled as ‘spiritual’ is a cop-out to try to fill an empty hole without commitment to believe in Christ.

As I prepare ‘something spiritual’ for my friend’s wedding ceremony, I pray that they will see the hand of God through their special day, and that His blessings will be evident. It will be more than a religious ceremony called marriage, it will be a reflection of Christ’s love and desire for relationship with us. Something spiritual.

————————————

Jeremiah 29:13
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Absolutely Relative

“The Truth is Relative.”

This is a cornerstone of the post modern era that we live in. There are no absolutes, no real definition of right or wrong, and an idea that all ideas and philosophies are true in one way or another.

I started a new small group with my church a couple of weeks ago on the topic of apologetics. In a format of interesting and thought provoking dialogue, we are examining many of the logical fallacies that people put together to establish certain arguments and trains of thought. These fallacies can be organized in an effort to prove or disprove certain theories, philosophies or scientific hypotheses. In a world of post modernism thought where the truth is relative, how do we as believers in the Christian Faith establish a firm foundation on what we believe, and be confident in the understanding of who it is that we believe in?

This past weekend I was on a group bike ride with about 100 other riders. Riding inches away from each other these group rides are a great way for us to practice bike handling, and challenge one another as we prepare for a full season of bike racing. This particular Saturday, we were riding along at over 30 miles per hour and we came to a sweeping right turn. About 20 yards in front of me, two riders hit wheels and bicycles started falling down like dominos. The sound of explicatives, crunching carbon, metal and asphalt was all I heard as I hit my own break levers and moved to the right of the road as quickly as possible. Once I came to a stop, I attempted to slow down my breathing, to make sure my heart would not jump out of my chest.

The carnage of a few riders on the roadway made me think about how some things are not at all relative. On planet Earth, Gravity is an absolute truth. Even though it is not visible, we are all at the mercy of the force of gravity. When the laws of physics are in play, forward motion can come to an abrupt halt due to the force of gravity.

Is our faith so different? In John 18:37 Jesus says to Pilate: , “You say that I am a king. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.”

Jesus speaks here of an absolute truth.

On my bike ride Saturday, whether or not I believed in gravity was irrelevant. If I would have crossed wheels with the riders in front of me, I would have fallen.

I write this week to challenge people on their view of truth. How does your view of the world and Christianity shift according to waves of human thought and influence? What does Jesus elude to as he represents ‘truth’? What are the absolute spiritual truths on which we base our existence? In John 14:6 when Jesus says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” is there another way into heaven?

I praise God that he still has the ability and power to challenge my belief in all He is.

 

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