Today I went for a run on the treadmill at the YMCA. Usually I try to keep the incline set at least at level 2.0 and keep the speed somewhere between 7.5 and 8.0 mph and run for 30 to 40 minutes depending on the day and my level of energy. Every now and then I will keep the incline low and pick up the speed and really try to push myself. Sometimes I will decide to run 5 or 6 miles with a certain time that I want to achieve. Tonight I had been running for about 25 minutes and I felt pretty strong. I decided I wanted to see if I could run 5 miles in 35 minutes – without holding on to the arms of the treadmill and gasping for breath. As I huffed and puffed, I did the math and realized that there was no way that I was going to be able to make that goal. It was mathematically possible…but even if the treadmill could go that fast it was going to do it without me.
I was not going to finish where I wanted to, I had not set a sufficient pace in the first part of my run. For a minute my perspective almost changed. I almost became discouraged because this goal was out of my grasp and I had not worked harder sooner. Then I realized how blessed I was even to have the opportunity to work out. There have been times in the past when my back has ached and I have not even been able to walk upright, shuffling around like I was 180 years old, much less push myself to try and run faster. I have friends who have physical limitations and they would love to be able to get up and walk or jog on any incline or at any pace. It is so easy to take things for granted and not be grateful for the things that we have or that we can do.
Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “ in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
David said in Psalm 95:2 “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
The Lord is good and He is worthy to receive our praise and our gratitude no matter what our situation or progress toward personal goals. As we enter in to the week of Thanksgiving consider all of the things that the Lord has blessed you with. Thank the Lord for those things. Now, think about things you may have forgotten or that you may be taking for granted. Have you been discouraged because you are not in the job you wished you were in? At least you have a job. Are you upset that your car needs new tires? At least your car starts. You get the picture. Ask the Lord to help you have the right perspective. Ask Him to help you have an attitude of gratitude. You do not have to be thankful for each situation but you can be thankful in each situation.
Maybe you are not where you want to be right now. Maybe you did not start running your race at the pace that you wish you would have. Maybe you wish you were further down the road now. Don’t be discouraged. Wherever you are in this race called life, you can have Christ with you. Those who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior can always cling to the promise that He will never leave them nor forsake them. They can cling to the promise that He will give them strength and help them finish the course. That is reason enough to be thankful. Don’t worry about the race behind you, don’t worry about where you are now; run well, run strong from this day forward in Christ.
Until next time, stay strong in the faith.
Posted in back surgery, can't go on, Christianity, faith, God
Tagged Christianity, diligence, faith, God, inspirational, religion, running the race well
It has been a busy week for a lot of people. I have many friends with a whole lot on their plates right now. I have some who are looking for new jobs, some who are battling against cancer and other ailments and there are some who are trying to cope and move forward through the recent loss of a loved one. “Busy week” just doesn’t seem to sum it up very well. I have some friends who need your prayers.
As I have been praying for them I have been mindful of a certain verse. Jesus says to His disciples in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” I know that often times when we have heavy loads to bear or when there is much to do we often try to take those things on in our own power. We need to remember that we have a Savior who not only bore our sins for us but who is also is willing to bear every care and anxiety we have. I have some friends that have a lot going on right now. I have some friends who have some things to do that they cannot do on their own. Please pray that they will allow the Lord to strengthen them. If you have some things that need to get done, give them to the Lord. Apart from Him you can do nothing.
It’s been a busy week Lord
With so many things to do,
There is still plenty on the list
Before the tasks are through.
So help me do my best Lord
As I go and make my plans
To take that list of mine
And place it in Your Hands.
I had the opportunity to spend some time out in San Diego this week and I have to say that it is a lovely city. While most of my time was spent in a business conference I did find some time to go for a run by the bay. I saw boats and yachts of all sizes but the ones that really captured my attention were the sail boats. I love the grace and beauty with which they move. It is captivating to see the full sail steadily guiding the ship to its destination. At one point I saw two sail boats moving in opposite directions and I was reminded of poem written by Ella Wheeler:
“One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.”
This same truth brought out in this poem about sailing is true in other aspects of life as well. You can see different people react to the very same circumstance in life in very different ways. The same difficult circumstance in life can cause some to react negatively and some to react positively. Some will become bitter and some will become better. Paul spoke of such things in his letter to the Philippians. In Philippians 4:11 Paul said,
“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Phil 4:11
Paul was someone who knew the highs and lows that this life had to offer. Paul who was received in some places with great love and appreciation and was met with great scorn and disdain in other places. He had been beaten and persecuted and at the time that he wrote this particular letter Paul was in jail for preaching the gospel. The winds of popularity blew hot and cold for Paul. But because of his relationship with Christ Paul was not adversely affected by the shifting and changing of the winds. In good times and bad times, in times of popularity and in times of persecution, in times of prosperity and in times of need, Paul was always able to stay positive and keep moving forward in faith. Paul could do this because as he went on to say in his letter, he could do “all things through Christ who strengthened him.”
You cannot choose or change the winds that blow or the storms that come in this life. You can however choose your response to the winds and storms you face. You can choose to let Christ strengthen you. He will be your Lord and Savior and He will sustain you, He will comfort you. He will help you to move forward in beauty and grace no matter what circumstances you face. Until next time, stay strong in the faith.
Every week I write letters to some men who are incarcerated. I send them a general letter about stuff that is going on in my life and I include a copy of the sermon for that week. Every week as I write and mail these letters it reminds me to pray for these men. Recently, I had a letter returned to me as “undeliverable.” In my haste to get the letter in the mail I had put the wrong address on the envelope. As a result the letter came back and I had to put it in a new envelope and resend it with the correct address. My mistake caused my letter to my friend to be delayed by several weeks and there was one week where he may have been wondering if I had forgotten to write. I am glad that the Lord does not make such mistakes. The Lord speaks of His word, His letters, His messages in Isaiah 55:10-11 and says,
Isa 55:10 “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
The word of the Lord accomplishes His good will just as the rain waters the earth and brings forth produce and provision. The Lord’s word makes it to the destination He intends and it prospers. He does not get in a hurry and make mistakes. He does not mismark envelopes or forget addresses. His word goes forth and accomplishes His will. It is never returned as undeliverable.
My granddaughter Avery came to visit me the other evening. She just lives down the street so it is really convenient for her Mom to bring her over. Avery came by because she wanted to play with Pawpaw for “just 10 minutes.” Though she didn’t stay too long, she did stay more than 10 minutes. She is still only 3 so she doesn’t have a real great grasp on the concept of time. She knows that 10 minutes is not a long time but it is long enough for her and Pawpaw to play catch, get in a quick game of hide and seek and sneak some fruit snacks from the pantry. Ten minutes to a three year old is about as hard and fast a boundary as 90 minutes is to the plumber or a cable guy that you are waiting on. I was reminded again about Avery’s different view on time because when she left 40 minutes later, she gave me a thumbs up and said, “See ya next year Pawpaw.”
I love that girl. As I laughed about her different perspective on time, I was reminded of the fact that my own perspective on time is just as different from God’s. There are times when I pray and pray and though I know God is listening it just seems like forever to me before He answers or intervenes in the situation. It is difficult occasionally for us to truly grasp and appreciate the same concept of time as that held by our Heavenly Father. God is from everlasting to everlasting. The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:8 “…with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” Peter does not want us to do literal calculations to figure out how long certain events are going to take, he just wants us to understand that we don’t think of, relate to or experience time in the same manner that God does. Peter wants us to trust that God works things out in His time and in His way.
When God promises us in Psalm 30 that “sorrow may last for the night but joy comes in the morning” He is not telling us that all of our heartaches will only last 24 hours. It is a promise that nothing lasts forever and that God will bring an end to every season of pain and heartache we endure if we place our faith and trust in Him. The sun will rise on a new day and God will bring us through our trial. Joy does come in the morning! No beloved, our grasp of time is not the same that of our Heavenly Father. But we can trust that He will always make time for us. I hope that you make time to spend time with Him today…even if it is only 10 minutes. Until next time, stay strong in the faith.
Our youngest granddaughter Haley is two and we celebrated her second birthday last weekend. She is growing up fast. She is a little more shy and reserved than her older sister Avery. Avery who will be 4 next month runs right up to everybody and introduces herself and Haley just sits back and watches and then joins in and starts playing after Avery has organized some group event. Avery does not like to be held and hugged too much but Haley likes to sit on the couch and snuggle up next to you and just watch whatever is on the TV. Avery is short for her age and Haley is tall for her age. Avery is a picky eater – “just macaroni and cheese please” and Haley will try anything. They are opposites in many ways and yet I love them both the same with all my heart. When I think about all of their differences it reminds me of a verse written by David in Psalm 139:14
“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14
In this marvelous psalm David gives praise to His Creator who knows him so perfectly and even knows his imperfect ways. Despite those imperfect ways, the Creator loves David with a perfect and wonderful love. Each and every individual is fearfully and wonderfully made; some are short, some are tall, some are outgoing, and some are shy. Some only like macaroni and cheese. No matter how you describe them, they are all knit together by the Hands of God with special characteristics and qualities of their own. Wonderful are His works. It is right to give thanks to the Lord.
It has been a blessing to continue to have some rain in our area and everyone has been raving about the cooler temperatures we have had this week. I think that one morning we even had a low of 48 degrees. While the temperature changes have been nice, the changes in the weather and the cooler temperatures have not gone unnoticed by my bones and my joints.
I have some aches and pains that appear in my shoulders, knees and my feet at this time of year. Sometimes when I go through the list of all that is hurting it is like I am singing that kid song, “Shoulders, knees and toes.” I like to claim that most of the aches and pains are due to old sports related injuries. Although it is true that I have always played hard when I was playing, the truth is not all of the bumps and bruises I have received have come from noble pursuits of competition. There are some stunts I have tried that should have been left on the drawing board. There are some battles I have picked which simply were not worthy of fighting. And there have also been some injuries I have sustained which fall into the “Hey guys watch this!” category. The aches and pains are not that bad; they don’t slow me down too much but they do serve to remind me that I can slip, stumble and fall. I can get banged up and bruised. Most of the bumps and bruises I experience happen when I do things that I shouldn’t be doing. In 1 Corinthians 10:12 Paul writes
1Cor 10:12 “Let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
In that portion of his letter to the church Paul describes for his readers the fact that despite their spiritual blessings and recent deliverance from Egypt, the people of Israel stumbled and fell while they were in the wilderness. They forgot whose they were and how they were supposed to act. Paul encouraged his readers to learn from Israel’s failures in the wilderness. Just as we should learn from the past mistakes of those referenced in the Holy Scriptures, we should learn from our own past mistakes as well. The bumps and bruises that we picked up in the past should serve to remind us of how easily we too can fall. Our little aches and pains should inspire us not to be overtaken by pride and not to tread on slippery slopes. We are to always remember whose we are and how we should act and how easily we can fall when left to our own devices. We must not wallow in despair over those self-inflicted injuries of the past, but having confessed our sins we must resolve that we will learn from the past, stand firm on the word of God and lean on Christ our Savior so that we do not fall again!
Gotta go, been sitting in this chair too long. I just checked the weather, it is supposed to rain later this week. I have received confirmation from my shoulders, knees and toes. Until next time, stay strong in the faith.
Posted in Christianity, faith, God, inspirational, Past mistakes
Tagged Bumps and Bruises, Christianity, faith, God, inspirational, Past Mistakes, religion