Ever ran an official race? I did twice. I did a 5K in Marietta, GA once. Got second place in my division. There were two of us, for what it's worth, I was pushing a jogging stroller. The second race I ran was the Little Rock Half Marathon in 2014. As I trained people kept asking me, what is your pace? I had no clue what they were talking about. That is until race day. My goal was to finish and not walk! Which I did.
As the race began I was in my 'pace corral' (which I later learned was way to fast for me to keep) surrounded by people who appeared to be seasoned and prepared runners. About two miles in reality hit me like a ton of bricks...I was not going to be able to continue this pace. With each pace runner that passed me I would try to keep up, but just couldn't do it. I had exhausted myself too much on the front end.
As I was reflecting on a couple of goals today, the idea of pacing myself came to mind. April 22nd was my previous blog post...two and a half weeks behind my goal. Just as in a race you have to make sure you are keeping up or going at a speed that is sustainable, such is life and the goals we set.
Often times though. We take off at life with similar mindset as I did with my half marathon (i just want to finish and not walk). When we do this, our actions become erratic and unfocused. Pacing ourselves, requires meditation and reflection. Self examination and perspective. Lord help me. Lord lead me. I want you to be my pace leader. May I be able to keep up.
I listened to a fantastic blog post from Desiring God Ministries yesterday (link below). In this short seven minute post, Bruce Hindmarsh shares a lot of incites, reminders and importances of why unplugging, shutting down, and disconnecting is important and healthy for a productive spiritual life, family life and important to relationships in general.
In my personal life, several weeks ago, I started a form of discipline from the influences of social media. I decided that I was allowing ridiculous fB posts, Instagram pics, and tweets to distract me from REAL LIFE (this is another post that I'm working on). I have resolved to not look at any form of social media before noon, which usually even delays this medias influence in my life even longer into the day...sometimes into all day. This personal resolution has been going quite well. When my fingers make those automatic key swipes, I've noticed that I check the time and shut them down if they are not within my parameters.
Be honest with yourself and reflect on the time that you too have been guilty of throwing to the gnomes of social media, never to be reclaimed. When talking with a youth pastor friend about this subject weeks ago, he showed me the file on his iPhone where he stores all his social media app tabs, it's titled "Time Wasters". I too considered renaming my 'social media' folder to 'time wasters' however that's the one thing I want to stay away from...wasting the one of the greatest blessings that God grants, TIME. I have chosen to become much more controlling in my distribution of the 1,440 minutes that I have each day.
iPhone Fasting Podcast
When my oldest son Fisher was born my mother came to Guatemala with a bible for him. It has sat in my study closet, in a box for several years, waiting a good time for us to give it to him. As I was setting goals for the 2015 year and wanting to go through the bible again, I considered how I was going to do this (electronic version, which version, or my favorite go to calf skin and paper) I then remembered his bible. I though, "How great would it be to read through this particular bible and present it to him as a Christmas present this year?" So that's what I am doing. Thus, if you are friends with me on the Bible App and notice huge chunks of scripture being checked off with only minutes in between, it's because I'm using the app as my guide. I am no speed reader.
As I was reading recently in Joshua I was face to face with an example of a man who did not ever quit. A man who pushed through. A man who was faithful. A man who remained healthy and strong. A man who lived relying on the promises of God's faithfulness. Caleb. Joshua 14:10-12, "...And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said." Incase you are not aware, Caleb was one of the twelve spies that Moses sent in to the Promise Land to scout out the land that the Lord had given. Joshua and Caleb were the only two that returned trusting that God would come through on His promise.
Reading Caleb's words makes me excited about growing old as a man who continues faithful living in the shadow and confidence that God will come through on his promise. Caleb had not allowed his confidence to be quenched. Was Caleb like the crazy uncle who thought he could take on anyone in a fight as an 85 year old -just because OR did if he really did retain his physical strength? Either, I don't feel is important to my thought. The Lord had never failed to come through on His promises and Caleb never failed to trust. Caleb never quit. Never quit believing, never quit waiting, never quit trusting, he never quit. He was as ready to keep fighting battles as an old man just as he had in his prime.
This is what I want to be like. I don't have to be the 90 year old, who can still crank out pull ups, step into the octagon, or run a marathon. (Don't get me wrong, it would be pretty sweet to be able to give grandkids and great grandkids a run for their money.) I want to be the 90 year old who never loses sight of God's faithfulness and my part in obedience. I want to run and not grow weary. I want to run the race in a manner as to obtain the prize. I don't want to ever quit. I will never quit.
Every summer from when I turned six until after my 17th birthday, playing baseball consumed my Spring. The pressure and competition that existed then is so different from today with the travel teams, amount of practices, there are so many all star teams, and world series'. The quality and science behind the equipment and safety precautions that have been taken will continue to elevate the development of players and level of competition.
Though there are many changes one thing in baseball has never changed. The fundamentals: Throwing, Catching, and Hitting. As with most sports, fundamentals matter. Baseball is unique in that it is slow enough to think through play-by-play before the next pitch. One fundamental in baseball that I was always reminded of each season is, "Pete! What are you going to do if the ball is hit to you?" Depending on where the base runners were located, their speed, who running behind them, where the ball was hit (to my right or left), and many more were all factors I had to be considering the moment the pitcher released the ball. Thus, the reason, coaches are notorious for yelling, "GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME!" I heard that many times. There are individual aspects to baseball but it is a team sport. So, players are also responsible to know what to do when a ball is thrown or hit to someone who is playing next to or in front of them. Baseball is a game of mental toughness, physical strength and precision & skill.
I'm probably the only weird one but I have considered how real life and baseball play by play fundamentals are similar in their use, in order to see success. As a Christian, I am taught to "take every thought captive to the obedience in Christ Jesus" to "flee from sexual immorality" to "love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and to love my neighbor as my self." There are so many verses that I would call fundamental to me living a life that follows after Christ.
All of us want to see success in life...in what we do...in who we are...in our goals. Sometimes we are wanting to become more aware of others around us, hold our tongue (make sure your hands are clean before you do), avoid lust and temptations, and more. I have found success in applying a similar technique that I learned in baseball that keeps me on my toes. There are many areas in my life where I have adopted a cause and effect policy. That is, situations where I have already made my mind up, as to what I will do, if __________ happens. This is all for the purpose of living a life above reproach, steering myself away from temptation, and living with purpose and vision. For me constantly "keeping my head in the game" is key to living the life just described. I do this by meditation, meditation on God's word. Keeping my mind trained and focused to a life following after Christ is crucial. Two verses I hold close as reminders to live this life are Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1.
Joshua 1:8 "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." and Psalm 1:1-2 "Blessed is the man who walks not the in counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of sinners, but his delight is in the delight of the Law and on it he mediates day and night."
May you too be challenged to let the word of God lead and guide you in your life decisions. Meditate. Keep your head in the game.
This past week was Spring Break for my family. It was a great to have the opportunity to spend the week in the Great Smoky Mountains with my family (wife and sons). We took the opportunity to enjoy God's creation in miles of hiking and biking trails.
While headed up a trail called The Chimney Tops I noticed writing on the back of a t-shirt. The quote was simple, "Tomorrow, today." It reminded me of the importance of not procrastinating. Many of us are familiar with Benjamin Franklin saying, "Don't put off until tomorrow, what can be done today." and "You may delay, but time will not." These quotes are not to be confused with Mark Twain, "Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well."
There are times in all of our lives when we have jobs and tasks we face that we do not want to tackle. We avoid, we make excuses, and we find other jobs to start in hopes of delaying the inevitable. A mentor I had while living in Las Vegas, NV would tell me, "make a list of everything you need to do each day, and start with the one you are least looking forward, then your day will become more and more enjoyable." I have been guilty of not taking Tommy's advice, but on those days when I do, it's amazing how well things go.
Leadership master, John Maxwell teaches a leadership law titled, The Law of Diminishing Intent. Here is Maxwell’s explanation in an excerpt from his book:
“When I was a kid, one of my father’s favorite riddles to us went like this: Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left?
“The first time he asked me, I answered, “One.”
“No,” he responded, “Five. Why? Because there’s a difference between deciding and doing!”
Ouch. How many times have we said, “I should take them a meal, we should hang out again, I need to talk to him/her about…?” And so often what happens is that eventually the thought is gone and when we think about it again…later, much later, we rationalize to ourselves that too much time has passed and it would be awkward.
For the Christian…what is it you are putting off? Is there something in your life that you need to act on…yesterday? A conversation with a person, a reprioritizing of time, a commitment to flee from sin…etc. As I work with students and teach them the truths of the scripture, I remind them that time is NOW. Just as in many evangelistic methods, the evangelizer tries to draw the hearer with "you know none of us know the day or hour we might die…” Indeed, they are correct. I too don’t know the day or hour of my death or what will happen from moment to moment. I too must stand in conviction knowing that I may draw my last breath, saying, tomorrow I will tell _____________ about my relationship with Christ.
Tomorrow. Would you consider making tomorrow today? To take each moment captive. Is there a neighbor you need to show the love of Christ to? A co-worker you need to take to lunch and talk with about your spiritual journey? A class mate who needs to know you care? That past friendship / family relationship that needs to be reconciled? Would you make tomorrow…or next week…or later…or some time soon…TODAY?
On my commute to the gym this past week, I decided to not to zip through a yellow light, but stoped. This apparently hit the wrong nerve in the person who was following me. Hands flying up over her steering wheel, I could easily read her lips..."OH COMEON! YOU COULD HAVE MADE THAT..." Not making a judgment here, as I think all of us have been in the rush drive mode at some point or another and have done the exact same thing or worse. This is funny because separating our faces was my tinted windows. A barrier that separated her knowing my true identity...not Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider Man) but Peter Cunningham...one of her husband's good friend. Ugh oh.
I'm lying in a tent in the middle of a forest above the bank of a rushing creek (writing this post only for commitment purposes). It has been raining for days and the ground is soaked. Miles away from civilization, we are Survivor Men. 15 other guys spread out over 5 tents, tomorrow we hike two miles south to the banks of the Little Missouri River.
I am sharing my tent with my son (9 years ole) and an 8th grader. "Hey Peter, it's Friday the 13th ya know!" "What do we do if we hear chainsaws?" "Run bro, go for the van," I tell him. Funny thing is now I'm reliving in my mind all of those horrible Friday the 13th flicks I saw when I was in fifth grade! The rushing river, rustling leaves, sounds from other tents, an occasional water drop from an above tree limb.
Well as the weekend progressed, the weather did as well. Our group was able to hike a little over five miles and forge a couple of raging creeks, we didn't however attempt to cross the Little Mo. Concerned for safety and wanting to stay dry we hiked (bushwhacked) to the back side of winding stairs.
Arriving back at camp the weather had worsened. After eating dinner and realizing that 4 out of the 5 tents was holding water, the call was made to pack up in the rain and roll out. We arrived back at Bryant close to 9:00PM, about 15 hrs ahead of schedule.
Not a single person complained that we decided to have a change of plans. I was happy and looking forward to Sunday AM services with our church family. Coming home early proved to be a good decision.
I was amazed by the ability and adaptability of several of our guys and especially of my 9 year old son. He loves the outdoors, but this trip pushed his physicality. There's not many places I would choose to spend my time above the wilderness, the peacefulness and sense of adventure that comes with being among untouched environments, envigorates me. Matched with being with a bunch of dudes I care deeply about...makes for a GREAT WEEKEND.
"What?", you may be asking. "Why would you leave your stuff outside over night?" And you know what? I'm not worried about anyone taking it.
I'm speaking specifically about that big green rolling container, that when something goes in it...no one wants to dig it back out. I'm sure we've all be there at some point. Elbow deep in coffee grounds searching for that bill, or letter that should have been filed or the check we accidentally threw away.
For the sake of keeping this short, it's late, I'm tired, and I just made the midnight run to the end of the driveway in my pjs with the rolling trash can in tow, I know that I n about nine hours that can will be empty ready to start a new week.
I'll stop here. Either let you insert the potential spiritual metaphors (you don't see any?) or let you dismiss this post placing it in the same category as what's currently sitting out at the end of my driveway. I'm sure I'll revisit this some day.
Did you remember to roll out the trash can?
I've been doing more intentional reading this year than ever before. Two of the books I've read this year so far have been centered around stories that come from the battle field (Unbroken & You, The Warrior Leader). From these two books there are numerous examples of integrity, grit, commitment, self will, focus, leadership, friendship, team work, and so much more!
Recently, in my reading, I came to Proverbs 4:23 "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." Just as on the battlefield soldiers are living in the threat of constant attack, King Soloman reminds us that our heart is under a similar attack...constantly. Your enemy (Satan) wants to defeat you, to destroy you, and to distract you. "Keep" your heart. This is an intentional action on our part. No other person will keep your heart in the same manner as you. From the wise words of Soloman, the reason we are to keep our heart with ALL vigilance is because from our heart flows LIFE (The way I follow God, how I treat my spouse, how I respond to my parents, the way I do my work).
I am going wilderness camping in a couple days with 16 other guys. There are a couple of places on our route where we will have to cross streams. These streams start from springs. We will drink water from these springs. These springs will provide life to us (water) they provide life to all of the nearby vegetation as well. What would happen if a person chose to contaminate any of these little streams that we will be crossing? The contamination doesn't stay does it? It starts flowing down stream contaminating as it flows. Then other people that come in contact with the stream see how it has been polluted, so they may be more likely to pollute the stream as well. You see the cycle starting don't you?
Our lives are similar. When we fail to guard our hearts the potential for contaminates are inserted and it affects our entire life..."for from it flow the springs of life." When we don't keep our heart from jealousy, anger, & lust, our life becomes contaminated...flowing through all areas of my life, affecting the way I interact with family, strangers, & people I see every day. Others then see how contaminated I have allowed my life to become, so they intern become eager to insert their contaminates into my life as well.
Is your heart being guarded? Are you vigilant, guarding what you allow inside? Consider the more complete statement of encouragement that Solomon gives in Proverbs 4:20-27 -
"My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. for they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the sprigs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil."
KEEP YOUR HEART WITH ALL VIGILANCE! FOR YOU ARE UNDER ATTACK!
Romans 6:11 "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."
I did not become a student of English until I became a student of Spanish. Speaking a language and understanding how grammer works are different. As I was learning Spanish I was forced (by a very small in stature yet extremely assertive Guatemalan lady) to learn about parts of speech and other points of grammer.
At some point in all of our lives we been on the receiving end of an imperative statement. You know what I'm talking about. Take out the trash. Don't do, Go there, come here, eat this...etc. In the verse above (Romans 6:11) Paul uses the first imperative in his letter. It takes him five complete chapters until he finally gives a demand. For clarification an imperative is "extremely important; urgent; unavoidable."
As I was reading this passage last week this statement came across to me from Paul as in a manner that a loving father would instruct his child. "You also, MUST CONSIDER..." Must consider is an action of the will. We consider a lot during our day to day; what we will eat, wear, read, to be lazy, just to touch a couple. Here we are told to consider ourselves dead to sin. So often we blindly walk into sins; habitual, without consideration, some we don't see any possible way to over come - so there is no attempt to conquer. Must consider...requires a conscience effort, sometimes to stop, slowdown, and make a choice. Sometime the consideration is already determined...like my consideration to eat tuna fish. It's already been determined, the consideration was given and I said no!
What would your life look like today if you took Paul's imperative to heart? What would our thought life, the words we say, the way we treat parents or spouses, or our secret life look like if we "considered yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus."? Will you? WIll you heed Paul's words? You Must Consider...
Christ Follower, Husband, Father, Student Pastor, and Lover of all things Garlic and Bacon.