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Weekly Thoughts

The intersection of work, life, sport and spirituality.

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Christianity

Seconds…

The second-hand on the clock ticks by moment by moment. Sometimes those seconds seem to slowly count down my earthly existence. Other times I find myself wishing that the second-hand would move faster and bring that amazing moment to my door that I have so eagerly been anticipating. And yet other times the second-hand seems to sit still. Frozen in time like a polar bear gazing through a thick block of ice.

Tick…tick…tick….

I know the time is near and the hours are getting short. Life is about to change. The world is about to open its arms to show us what is behind the veil. Am I ready?

I feel ready. I am ready for the unknown future that awaits. I am ready for the new memories that will be etched upon my brain. I’m ready for the sleepless nights and the riches that come through seeing the world through a new set of eyes. I am ready Lord.

I pray that You bring me strength and continue to bless each second. Bless the fast ones, the slow ones and all the ones in between. And most of all, bless the time that we have all been gifted with, so we can show the love You give to others and not waste it all on ourselves. This is my prayer.

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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.

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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

Scar Tissue

“Don’t pick that scab!” my mother yelled at me for the umpteenth time. Like any young boy I slowly lowered my hand until she looked away and then scratched at the scab above my eye once again. “Timothy! Don’t scratch that, it will scar!”

Yep, 30 years later I still have a small scar above my eye. Although hardly noticeable to the untrained eye, the scar serves as a reminder that my mom knew what she was talking about. She predicted this very fate and I will have this blemish for the rest of my life.

The older I get, the more signs of imperfection show up. I still have gravel in my hand from a bike crash six years ago. I have scars on my elbows from sledding accidents gone wrong. I have a white line in my finger where the knife sunk into the flesh as I played Iron Chef in the kitchen.

Scars.

The reminders of pain and recovery. A tattoo of life’s lessons and experiences that prove that we are mortal.

While the scars on my flesh all have a story, the internal scars are more difficult to recognize. The hurtful words that someone said in a moment of passion. The rejection from the world or stories of regret plagues our minds. Each situation leaves it mark on us, and how we bounce back develops our character as people.

While I have faced a few challenges recently, I have determined that my reaction to these situations will drive my recovery. Will my internal scar be a story I can look back on with strength or will it be an injury that causes my demise?

I was at the market this last week and I started chatting with the clerk about an upset customer that just stormed out of the store in a rush.

“More people should slow it down and count their blessings” I told him

“For every bad thing that happens to me, I sit down and verbally say three good things that have happened to me today. It helps me keep it in perspective.” He said.

How true.

I don’t want to be the sort of person that lets the scar tissue develop into bitterness. I want to be the sort of person that remembers my scars and grows from the experience. God wants to heal us, but we need to let him. In order to do that we must stay focused on what matters and what is good. Let the scabs heal.

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Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

The Tebow Affect

There is a saying in Colorado when you are born there that ‘you bleed orange and blue’. Denver Broncos football is in your blood from day one. Holding close to the top consecutive sell-out records in the NFL, The Denver Broncos have packed in the fans through the good times and the bad. From Barrel man to the painted faces at Mile-High, Orange Crush ‘Broncomania’ makes Colorado one of the best football states in the country.

Despite all the loyal fans, it has been a while since they had something to cheer about in Denver. Since Elway took the team to back to back Super Bowl victories in the late 90’s, the team has struggled to find their way. Changes at quarterback, coaching, and the lack of ability to stay competitive has cursed the team for the last decade.

Then along came Tim Tebow.

The young quarterback and first-round draft pick out of Florida was the talk of the nation. I have to say that the mania that surrounds this guy is unlike anything I have ever seen in professional sports. For a guy with no tabloid stories about drunken rage, wife-beating, dog fighting or hookers, Tim Tebow has more press surrounding him than OJ Simpson. People can’t wait to blast his talent, his faith, and his existence in the NFL. The media and others have been relentless in their want to see him fail. For Colorado fans, it was a window of hope, that the team would once again be a force to contend with in the NFL. We had tried the traditional approaches to the game, and it was time to think outside the box.

I don’t know many people on the face of this planet that could endure such criticism from the outside world and pull through it. What if tomorrow, every media outlet told you that you sucked at your job? The work you have done well was now not good enough– in fact, you were horrible at it. People took it one step further and blasted your character even though you are a loving and giving person. They blasted your faith, the same faith that causes you to reach out and help the homeless, give money to charity, and do good works. In fact they told you that you are a phony in all you do and you may as well jump off a bridge. Multiply that by 1,000,000 and we may have a clue what Tebow has endured from his critics.

Here is what gets me about it all: Tim Tebow does not care what his critics think. He does not get his validation from his critics, coaches or anyone with a voice. He knows he is valued by God, and that God gave him a gift to be a competitor- a gift that he is using to the very best of his human ability. This gift he continues to work at each day and develop. His passion and drive to succeed comes from a want to connect his passion in a way that gives glory to something way more pure than this world could ever offer. He knows that he is not perfect. He says it all the time, but that is reality for any person, quarterback or professional on this planet.

The lack of concern for the criticism of others and his strong faith make Tim a competitor. He has statistics in his first year as starting quarterback that rival the best in the NFL. His passion, drive, focus and will to succeed have led the Broncos to some of the most exciting victories the Broncos have ever won. It’s more than football.

I have watched Tim this season, and I have learned from him tremendously. Tim is changing the world, I am convinced of that. Tim Tebow has inspired me to live a life every day where I am giving 110% to my job, my family and the gifts God has blessed me with. Instead of looking for validation from others, I am finding myself working to just focus on my own gifts and use those to glorify God. I am working harder than ever before. I have not been complaining so much about circumstance, and I am more fulfilled than ever before. As crazy as it sounds, I owe this inspiration to Tim Tebow.

Crazy things happen when you live your life this way. You start winning games in the fourth quarter. When you think your life is over, God opens a door to give you a shot at victory. He helps guide you and direct your steps. It definitely makes life a little more exciting. It’s always going to be a battle, but in the end, wouldn’t you want something really awesome to cheer about?

Thanks to Tim, not only for giving us Broncos fans something to cheer about, but for inspiring a bunch of us to live a better life that glorifies God.

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EPHESIANS 6:7-8
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”

iFaith

The moment finally arrived. I scraped together my hard-earned pennies and headed to the Apple Store last week to buy my latest technological gadget –the iPad 2. I’ve been drooling over the little tablet for a little over a year now, and figured next to having my own little R2D2, the iPad would be my personal assistant to solve all my A-D-D organizational flaws.

I’ve always been a tech geek. About a decade ago I remember sitting in my living room with a buddy of mine as we sent computer files between our laptops with the latest invention of infrared transmitters. We put our laptops within the required six inches of each other and hit the ‘send’ button and watched in wonder as the invisible airwaves carried electronic documents from one computer to the other.

“Dude, information is flying through the air right now,” my buddy said. “Crazy man.”

No we were not on drugs. Just a high dose of computergeekism.

Fast forward 10 years and I am now staring at my iPad download information from outerspace at an alarming rate. We are in the age of wifi, 3G, 4G, 5G, somethingG, I need it nowG, give me more bandwith consumerism. Everyone has a smart phone iSomething to make life more convenient and require less human interaction. Text data, phone data, little particles of meaningless chatter data are now filling the air in front of us every second of the day.

Staring down at my new iPad I started wondering if Google Earth was actually populating my head as it flew into my device across the space-time continuum. I guess I’m still in awe of this little tablet device and the interworking of technological advancement.

Somehow all of this works. Somehow we are all connected. America, Europe, China, and a little island or two I’ve never heard of are bound together by the threads of wifi and Google. We are all connected by 3 and 4G speeds, Skype and little handheld devices. It’s the invisible glue.

What if you just decided that you didn’t believe in wifi? You decided that these electronic carrying particles of space are a myth. You decide that you only believe in the things you can see. You passionately live your live ignoring the possibility that there is ‘electronic’ glue in the universe. Does your belief change the reality of its existence?

I believe in an absolute truth. Just like I don’t know all the interworking details of how the heck my iPad works, I know that there are waves flying through space that make it happen. I don’t need to know much more than that, but when I see it work, I know there is something there.

Look at the world around us. A lone sperm turns an egg into a human with lungs, feet, eyes, a brain, and a full circulatory system that just so happens to survive off of the air that fills this rock that we walk around on. The air we breathe is purified by a little seed that grows into a tree that sheds its weight every winter. The sun rises and sets on a planet full of life and an organized system of creation.

Yes, this was designed for a purpose. That’s the faith I have inside. Like the invisible waves that make their way into my iPad, God fills my heart with wonder of the interworking of the universe we live in.   iFaith.

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Psalm 19:1-6
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words;  no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,  their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.  It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.  It rises at one end of the heavens  and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.

Technicolor Shadows

I am not much of a morning person. I’m one of those people who doesn’t really come to life or respond to questions until I have had my morning cup of coffee and at least a couple of hours to get my head in the game. My wife laughs at me as I stumble around the house with my eyes closed at 6AM looking for my workout gear. I think she should be a little more scared that I am actually sleep walking to my bicycle to go for an early ride on the streets of San Diego.

Despite my distaste for mornings, some of my best experiences and memories have come from those early morning rides. As my senses awake to the smell of the crisp morning marine layer, my mind comes alive with imagery that is only outmatched by the beauty of the place in which I live.

I went on a morning ride this week and left the house a bit earlier than usual. I walked out into the blackness, armed with my reflective sexy spandex clothing, and some flashing lights that would make my cop friends jealous. Occasionally I see some homeless person diving for cover as I ride up on them like Rosco P. Coltrane.

I rode down the local bike path in silence, watching the fog paint the road in front of me in living brush strokes of omniscient white. The birds were not awake to greet me with their song. “Yep, those birds are the smart ones still in bed,” I thought to myself.

As I rode along in the mist, the colors around me slowly turned from grey to shades of green and blue. My sleepy eyes watched the Technicolor landscape get painted in beside me as my legs pedaled along to the rhythm of my breath. The world was coming to life.

I watched as the clouds parted and the first glimpse of morning sun made its way to the road in front of me. I could see Mission Bay to my left, and the water lit up like a shimmering blue prom dress.

I thought about how all of this splendor was masked in the darkness of the night just an hour earlier. I thought about the darkness that we all face every day in this world. The situations and people that try to paint over the color with a black brush. I thought about all the black brush strokes I have personally painted as well. Why is so hard sometimes to see the good in things? Why do I live in the dark spaces so often?

I know that God wants to paint the world with color despite the shadows but sometimes it is easier to hide in the dark. The light however, is inevitable….

I wonder if Christ was a morning person. I read that He often got up early to pray and meditate. I wonder if He hated mornings as much as I do, but also had the most meaningful fellowship before the rays of sun hit the ground. One thing I do know is that His whole life was about fighting back the shadows. Something I need to do more often. Sometimes you just need to wake up early and see those colorful miracles take place to keep it all in perspective.

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Mark 1:35
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

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.
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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.

The Wonder Years

I got an email recently that compared these posts to an episode of The Wonder Years. In this classic show with Fred Savage, the character Kevin was a teenager going through life. Typically at the end of each show, Kevin would break down the lessons he learned from the situations he lived through. Just like life, it was complicated. Situations were born out of decisions, personalities, conflict and life challenges. It was a pretty honest show about life that always drew some sort of conclusion out of circumstance. Not unlike this blog.

Many people know that I started writing this blog as a sort of devotional each week. I am not a uber religious guy (despite the content here), but I do believe that God speaks to us and works through our lives in daily circumstances. Before I started writing, I kept thinking that it shouldn’t take some major life altering event for God to get our attention. So I set out on a quest. What was God telling me each week through different situations in my life? What normal every-day thing was God using to talk to me?

I have tried over the past four years to take the time each week to write about where I am at. What things around me are reflecting God’s goodness? How am I tracking and sharing my own spiritual journey? Does a conversation at Starbucks spur on a thought that will help me grow in my relationship with God and others? Is God speaking to me through the beauty of a sunset? I try to write about it all and apply it to life.

I was writing regularly for about six months and the text on paper became contagious. No longer was it just about ‘me’. Through the beauty of the internet I received several e-mails from people asking me to share my writings publicly and Weekly Thoughts was born. My observations on things were spurring on thoughts and convictions in others and it was a pretty cool thing to see happen.

In many ways it is like The Wonder Years, and I literally search for life lessons each week in my life. I feel like I am growing spiritually, but I know that I still have doubts and that I am far from being perfect. Sometimes I hate the lessons I learn each week and sometimes I look back on past lessons and it brings me right back in time.

As I write this blog each week, I am also curious as to what my reader’s ‘Wonder Year’ lessons are each week. To try something new, I would encourage those of you that read this week’s post to keep a journal this next week. What is God trying to tell you over the next 7 days? How can we all be better people and bless others? Is it a sunset, a conflict, a memory or a blessing that speaks to you? Sometimes you have to listen closely…

Please post your observations in the comments thread of the on-line blog and see how we can pay it forward. Thank you for reading….Let God use your own Wonder Years.

~~Tim

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PSALM 19:1-4
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

Brotherly Love

Many people don’t know that I have a brother. Living out in California, I am a long way from Colorado where I grew up and I am not surrounded with family. I feel that Julie and I live on our own little island at times full of palm trees, sand and surf. Our semi-annual trips back to the homeland are our only chances to interact in person with some of the people we love the most. The rest of the time, we send an occasional e-mail, talk on the phone, or use social media as our platform for feeling more connected to each other.

My brother falls in the category of immediate but distant family. He is younger than I am and lives back in Colorado where we grew up. We typically got along as children although we were very different as people. Our interests outside of watching the Star Wars Trilogy over and over again were almost never the same. Although we never really connected on the same level, I rarely remember fighting as children. I think in some ways, we distanced ourselves in an effort to define our own unique identities as brothers often do.

Time has passed and now that we have grown older, I feel a deep regret for not strengthening that relationship with by brother. We had a disagreement over e-mail recently that made me realize that the divide was much bigger than I ever knew. I realized for the first time that he did not respect me as an older brother. He had been hurt by things I had said in the past that I had long forgotten. He was bitter for a number of justified reasons and none of them were reasons I could reconcile. Here I was upset at a current situation, and I was in no position to give advice no matter how valid the concern.

Could I be so surprised? In 32 years of his life, I had not invested the time that it takes to build a true relationship. I had been a pacifist in both friendship and in accountability.

How many times to we do the same thing in our spiritual lives? We go through the motions but never really connect. We go to church on Sunday, and then expect God to be our best friend when we get in some sort of situation. We never really took the time to build the relationship, but we assumed that we were still pals with God.

I’ve been thinking this past week about my host of regret. What I should and should not have done growing up. I realize that every seed we plant in life eventually grows into something. Even sometimes the lack of seeds we plant. Words of encouragement grow into strength, while neglect and insult lead to death. This applies to every relationship on Earth as well as heaven.

While I can’t go back and change the past, I can look towards the future with this perspective. While I know I’m not going to get along with everyone, I do know that I can offer a word of encouragement to each person I come in contact with. It doesn’t always just ‘start’ with the little things, sometimes it ‘is’ the little things.

As I continue to grow older, my family and friends are all I have, and I need to make sure the people around me know this is what I value the most. I hope that someday, I will earn the respect of my brother, but for now I will settle knowing that I have learned a valuable lesson in life about planting the right seeds. Planting those seeds takes effort.

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1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

 

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