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Weekly Thoughts

The intersection of work, life, sport and spirituality.

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Cycling

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.

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2 Corinthians 5:17

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

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.

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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.”

Baking up Some Competition

I think sometime in history a group of men got together and created a plan to celebrate their élite status in society. They figured out a way to keep the plan secret to outsiders but still appoint a date on the calendar where everyone knew about their plan. Their plan was to create a day called “Father’s Day” where all the men with children would be treated like royalty and have free reign of the planet.

As a new father welcomed to the secret order this year, cards started arriving in the mail early in the week. On Sunday I woke up to gifts, text messages, and phone calls, as the other daddies welcomed me to the club. It was like waking up one morning to another birthday.

“What would you like to do today honey?” my wife asks me. “Where would you like to go to dinner and celebrate?” Brilliant!

With the blessing of being a father and the showering of awesomeness comes the next best reason for me to celebrate Father’s Day. The annual Newbreak Community Church Father’s Day Cake Contest. This annual cook-off between the men of our church, brings out the serious battle axes as there is no greater honor than taking home the Golden Spatula for Best-in-Show.

I inherited some good creative cake skills from my mother, and I work in the design/construction industry so the combination is lethal. Every year the bar gets raised as we try to think of bigger and better things to create.

There is some strategy that goes into winning this competition. Do you try to cater to the kids and get their votes or do you go for the adult votes? Do you bake for taste or for shock value? How far can you push the boundaries of what is edible? (Sorry Mike, you can’t eat an aluminum boat, better luck next year)

Watching the winners each year, there is a combination of both shock value and craftsmanship that wins the day. Trying to come up with ideas to tie these together can take the next 11 months to figure out.

While I was teamed up with another guy from our church putting together this year’s cake, I started really wondering why God wired me the way he did. I am almost overly competitive when it comes to things. I was the top male student in my high school class in academics. I want to be successful at work and win every project that hits the streets. I want to win the bike races I enter, and if I don’t feel fast enough, I don’t even want to show up and race. I race people on the freeway, just to find out we’re heading to different locations.

I went over and over in my mind about the healthiness of being this competitive. God showed me how, although I am competitive, I get just as much joy out of helping others be successful. I can usually see a path to success in most situations, and this gift is one that I can use for my own benefit as well as others. I need to be careful not to let pride get in the way of being humble enough to help other people.

As I work through my own competitive issues, I will do it yet again with the Golden Spatula hanging up in my kitchen. I can crack a smile and know that God also has a Golden Spatula hanging in his house for creating each one of us in His own image. Our Father.

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Philippians 2:2-4
“Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

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.

SUV Environmentalism

I went to a business conference this past week at one of the local military bases to hear more about the future trends in Military construction opportunities. Everyone in my industry knows that military construction spending is at an all time high, and just about everyone is trying to figure out how to get a piece of the action.

I showed up early and shook some hands, exchanged some business cards, and eventually took my seat at a table close to the front of the banquet hall. They had a Military General that would be delivering the keynote speech that morning, and I was excited to hear his perspective on energy use and our government’s role in decreasing dependence on foreign oil. OK so I know I’m a geek about this stuff, but as a former Boulder resident, public transportation, bicycles, and ‘green’ initiatives are important to me. I’m the only guy at my office that tries to ride my bike to work and takes the trolley around town to meetings. It’s just how I roll (pun intended).

Major General Anthony Jackson went on to give a speech that was beyond compelling. He talked about the wars our country is fighting around the world, the blood that has been shed, and the direct and indirect links to natural resource control. While we are combating terrorism, we are also working to preserve our appetite and hunger for oil and the countries that control those resources. I was struck that this was not a ‘PR’ pitch. Rather this was a high level General that worked in the pentagon talking about the closed-door discussions on military strategy.

Without getting too political, General Jackson went on to inspire people that we can all do things to make a difference in our dependence on foreign resources. He bought a hybrid car, put solar panels on his house and telecommutes when he can. He is not looking to save money, but rather to decrease his personal footprint. He may never see the payback on his investment, but he knows that if everyone made a few changes, we can stop some of the unnecessary global conflict.

Jackson got a standing ovation at the end of his speech. People were buzzing with excitement.

I left the meeting and walked past a parking lot of SUV’s on the way to my own car to drive back to the office. I wondered how many of the people in that room would be trading their SUV’s for electric or hybrid vehicles over the next year because of the General’s speech. Unfortunately, I may be a cynic, but I think changing behavior is a lot more difficult than inspiring people with a 45 minute keynote speech. Behavioral change takes work.

It’s not unlike sitting through a feel-good sermon on a Sunday morning to get you ready for the week. The “hoo-rah, I’m gonna be a good person this week” inspiration melts down when your boss makes you mad on a Monday morning.

The problem I believe is not the desire to be a good Christian; it is the lack of commitment to the lifestyle. It starts with the little things like volunteering your time, and continues to things like being disciplined about where you feed your mind and what you are saying about others. Does your world focus around you? How do we expect to love the world around us when we don’t step outside our comfort zone and consciously decide to change and move our focus externally? While 80% of American’s claim to be Christians, we live in country full of divorce, gossip, greed and selfishness. It’s like we are a bunch of SUV driving business people giving a standing ovation at a speech about environmentalism.

What makes you different?
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Matthew 7:5
“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

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.

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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.

8 Mile

This weekend was another dose of the usual. Another bike ride covering way too long of a distance, way too many hills, and way too much work for a Saturday. Another typical ride that left me useless for the rest of the day and unable to get off the couch.

We took the opportunity to do a ride this weekend that covered the unpopulated roads of Southeast San Diego County. The terrain is challenging, but it feels great to get away from the busy city streets and be out in the middle of nature. Rolling hillsides, vast expanses of wilderness, running streambeds, and scenic vistas make the difficult terrain more bearable and enjoyable. The route somewhat resembles the Colorado countryside I grew up in.

On the homestretch of the ride there is an 8-mile decent from a mountain top that is a nice reward for the efforts of the day. Julie and I were descending down the road when a van passed us, an overweight lady leaned half out her window and yelled obscenities at Julie and I for riding in ‘her’ roadway. Julie almost crashed from the scare. We are used to being honked at from time to time, but leaning out of a window and yelling took it to a new level and my male instincts kicked in.

I was justified.

I grew madder and madder the more I descended down the pass. I wished I would have taken down the license plate number of the van or something. Of course I don’t know what that would have done for me, but at least I could have hunted them down later. They were long gone.

We approached the bottom of the hill where there was a dirt parking lot next to a nature preserve and low and behold…there was the van, and the fat chick that leaned out her window was walking across the parking lot.

I was justified.

I rode slower, gave her the one finger salute, called her some names at the top of my lungs and made sure she and the rest of the parking lot residents knew what I thought about her. It was all I could do to just keep riding slow with my finger in the air and not go over and let her know first-hand what a skinny spandex-clad 35-year-old was capable of.

I was justified.

I rode away, somehow feeling better about myself that I had insulted her properly. She would think twice before messing with cyclists again. And then God spoke.

“I was also justified.”

Sometimes it sucks being a Christian, just for the fact that I feel guilty for not taking the high road when I should have. My actions did not accomplish anything more than making me look like another religious hypocrite to the non-believers I was riding with. I had to ask for forgiveness.

I know that this world is never fair. God has instilled in us the power to take the high road and forgive the people that don’t deserve forgiveness. Perhaps the lady in the van will ride a bike herself someday and understand. Perhaps she will never understand. It does not matter really in the end. My wife and I were safe and the incident was over.

Next time I chew on my anger, I will have to pray and give it to the Lord. He had more reason than any of us to bring His wrath on humanity, but He gave grace in its place. That took a pretty amazing man to make that happen.

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Psalm 37:8-9
Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

 

Paper thin walls of laughter…

This past weekend, my wife and I went up to the mountains outside of San Diego to spend some time with friends away from the city. We pulled up to our cabin at the summit of Mount Laguna and unloaded our food, bikes, and gear into the wood-paneled living room. Our bedroom was barely big enough to fit our double bed, and the walls were thinner than rice paper, but none of it mattered. We were excited to get away from the hustle.

Now as you can imagine, our idea of vacation included a grueling bike ride which took up most of Saturday followed by food and cold beer. The riding was some of the very best I have experienced with vistas that opened up to the ocean and the desert from 6,000 feet. On Sunday, we hiked down a huge canyon to a cluster of waterfalls where we splashed around in the cold mountain water. It was an amazing weekend.

I thought a lot over the weekend about the things that make our lives have meaning. Once again, I am drawn to the word ‘community’. Following up on last week’s post about staying connected, I started to think about how much fun the weekend was, and how that enjoyment came from spending that time with a group of friends. We had different perspectives painting an even more vivid picture of our surroundings. Laughter grew through the paper-thin walls of our cabin like a contagious virus. Community.

While this weekend was beautiful, the people I shared the weekend with didn’t know the source of this beauty. I often wonder why I struggle to connect with other believers. I think I am scared of being accountable or having them look at me strange if I have a beer or two.  Sometimes I think I just tend to gravitate towards people who make it easy to live life on my own terms.

We are called to be in community, not because it is a religious duty, but because God designed us that way. Last weekend was a great example of this. We were created to experience life with others, and to get through this life thing together. It is more beautiful that way. If secular relationships can bring that much joy, just think how much more joy Christian relationships can bring. Christian community is more than church. It is composed of small groups, fellowship with believers, and allowing those close to us to challenge us to grow stronger in our faith. I am seriously trying to work on this piece. I know it will make those mountain top views all the more special.

Focus…

This past weekend marked the sixth year in a row my wife and I have participated in the BikeMS Chairity bike ride. The benefit ride takes place over two days where participants cover 100-150 miles and help raise money to fund MS research.

This year, we elected to do the 150 mile option which consisted of a 107 mile ride on Saturday and a 43 mile ride on Sunday. This is the third time we have completed this particular course, so we somewhat knew what to expect going in to the event. Our training had not been as consistent as we would have liked, but we did feel that our riding base was sufficient enough to tackle the challenge.

Many people ask me what the most important aspects of training are before an event like this. I generally tell them, apart from spending time on your bicycle, the second most important aspect is nutrition/hydration. Without proper fueling at the beginning of the ride, you will most likely hit a wall and be unable to take in the calories you need to catch up later in the ride. Following up on last week’s post about consistency, the principles of eating and drinking regularly apply here as well.

Things were going pretty well for the majority of the ride on day one. Despite the inevitable muscle fatigue, I felt pretty well and was eating/drinking to stay fueled. We had made the turn onto the coast to finish the last several miles and I worked my way towards the front to take a pull and help the pack down the home stretch.

Into a head wind…

My legs started to die. I had no more strength after about 15 minutes on the front of the group and I dropped back in the pack to try and get a draft and recover. This is when I saw another one of our teammates struggling worse than I was. Tears were running out from underneath her sunglasses, a sign that she was in agony, just trying to finish.

My wife looked at me and we both took charge to help our teammate. Julie got in front of her to shelter the wind from the front, and I rode beside her to shelter her from the side wind. We made it our mission to help her finish.

A funny thing happens when you switch your focus from the pain you are feeling to help others that are in pain. While the aches are still there, you tend to not feel them as much. For the last five miles of the ride, I didn’t think about my own struggles but instead I worked hard to support my hurting teammate and help her reach the finish line.

Afterwards my wife and I talked about how much pain we were in before taking on the task of helping out our friend. We both agreed that perhaps the third most important aspect to finishing a ride like that is friendship. Without the support of those around you, the pain may just get the better of you.

What in your life hurts right now? Are you fueling up with God’s Word when the miles seem easy? Are you training your body and mind to be more Christlike? Are you connected to a body of believers that will get you to the finish line? Are you so focused on your own pain that you fail to see the pain in the people around you?

Where is your focus?

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1 Timothy 4:7-13
…train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.

Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

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