Here are five things that I learned or was reminded of this week:
1. The first warm day of the year is amazing.
2. The first day after a time change is NOT amazing.
3. I love the feel of asphalt under my feet.
4. Patience is a virtue.
5. I’m glad The Bible is so popular on TV.
What did you learn this week?
Here are five things that I learned or was reminded of this week:
1. We all have mats. (Mark 2)
2. I’m not super excited about this years Super Bowl.
3. The Vine app has promise.
4. Hospitals still make me dizzy.
5. I’m still sad that my Falcons are not in the Super Bowl.
What did you learn this week?
After just having been cut off by a man wearing a suit and driving a luxury sedan, a mom in a faded green mini van pulls up beside me and turns on her blinker. I realize her intentions are to get in front of me so that she can make the next light.
She’s too busy talking on her bluetooth and managing a handful of kids to acknowledge that I exist. In the back of my mind I wonder if she’ll be grateful if I let her in.
There used to be a time when drivers would give you the courtesy wave when you let them into the lane in front of you. It was always expected that they would genuinely appreciate the fact that you have freely given them that space and that they would be grateful for your sacrifice.
But for whatever the reason, those days of the friendly wave are gone.
I have to shamefully admit one of my many flaws. I suffer from mild road rage. It upsets me when I let someone in front of me and the don’t acknowledge my friendliness. Something flips in my mind and I become less like Stewart and more like Mad Max.
For a short time, I decided that I wouldn’t let people in front of me anymore. I had to protect that space in front of me like it was the last of a precious commodity. Everybody wanted it and they would do anything to get it.
In my mind the road to work became a post-apocalyptic, desert highway and the others on this road were bandits trying to steal my space. No longer were they moms driving mini vans or business men driving luxury sedans. They were wild renegades with feathery mohawks and face paint who would stop at nothing to get my space.
My little, silver Mitsubishi became a 1973 GT Ford Falcon with all the bells and whistles. It has thick tires and a big engine that pops out of the hood. It has secret compartments that hide weapons like crossbows and sawed off shotguns. I sit in the drivers seat with a black leather jacket and a scowl.
The bandits try to shoot my tires out but I swerve and weave and narrowly avoid drifting off into a ravine but my Ford Falcon is swift and powerful. The bandits growl at me and wonder who I am and where I’m from. I glare back at them over my dark sunglasses and they see it in my eyes.
Me Max and this space in front of me is mine mate.
But then something hits me. I come out of this fantasy and realize how foolish I’m being. This isn’t my road. That space in front of me isn’t mine either. It never belonged to me.
The thing that hit me was grace. Grace is love and mercy. I don’t deserve it and I can’t earn it but God gives it freely. Grace is the thing that sets us apart from the rest of the world.
Max does not show grace but God does. Max is not merciful but God is. And if God shows grace and mercy then so should Stewart.
I realized that even in the smallest things we can show grace. At home, at work and even in traffic.
So the mom in the mini van keeps her blinker on and chats away on her bluetooth while handing out fruit roll ups. I let off the gas to give her space. She moves in front of me and I wait for the wave but it never comes.
But that’s ok. Remembering all the times that God has shown me grace, I glare at her through my sunglasses and let it go. And then I think to myself:
I’m Stewart and this space in front of me is yours.
Mixed martial arts, like the UFC, is one of the truest forms of competition out there. It’s a one on one battle. Man versus man (or woman versus woman). There are limited rules. It’s just you against your opponent in a test of work ethic, pain management and who has the better right hand.
I’ve always wondered if could make it in a steel cage against a highly trained fighter. I daydream that I’m scrappy and quick enough and that I might be able to outwit my opponent. Maybe I could confuse him by telling him jokes. Maybe I could say flattering things about his mom instead of saying bad things about her. Kindness is a deadly weapon.
I quickly come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t last long. It’s an exciting but bloody sport and blood is my achilles heel. Ironically, when I see blood, the blood in my body ceases to flow to my brain.
I’m a wimp. I’m more likely to be KO’d by a paper cut than a superman punch.
I have to face the facts that I am not, nor will I ever be, a cage fighter. I’m five foot nothing. I’m a hundred and nothing. Even on my best day I probably couldn’t fight my way out of a wet paper bag. There are no ninja moves in my repertoire that would allow me to be a successful fighter. In a one on one fight, I’d never make it on my own.
I am equally incapable in the cage fight that is life. There are circumstances in life that I could never get through by myself. As strong as I think I am, when the cage door shuts and the bell goes off, I am undeniably out of my league
But that’s ok. I have a tag team partner. Someone who will intercede and fight on my behalf. He is stronger than me, stronger than anyone. His right hook is accurate and powerful. He invented ju-jitsu and karate.
He is the master of disaster, the king of sting, the ayatollah of rock n’ rolla. He floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee because he created butterflies and bees.
“They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you.” declares the Lord. - Jeremiah 1:19
We often face challenges and circumstances in life that are too much for us to handle on our own. Despite our best efforts and fearlessness, there are times when our opponents are too much for us. And this is where God intercedes, He tags Himself in. Because He knows when we are in over our heads and when we need to tag out.
This is when god shows us the champion that He is. This is when God delivers.
Here I am. Stuck behind this behemoth truck at a traffic light. It has to be sitting five feet off the ground. It’s wheels are the size of a VW Beetle. It has two exhaust pipes that extended vertically behind the cab. The kind of exhaust pipes you would see on a semi. Every time the truck lurches forward, they spew grayish black smoke into the air and give off a deep, menacing growl. A growl that demands it be noticed.
It’s windows are tinted all the way around. On the back window are several stickers. Stickers that are shaped like deer heads, race car numbers and one that reads something about guns. I can’t see the driver but at one point I notice an arm slide out the drivers side window and with pin point accuracy, flicks a cigarette butt across the road and onto the median on the other side.
This leads me to believe that this is no ordinary human. This is a true redneck. A real salt of the earth kind of guy. A man who loves his country and fears God. A man who spends his free time hunting and fishing and maybe driving that truck through the mud.
This man probably voted republican all the way. He shops at Walmart for everything. He probably has three or four dogs. Big dogs. He wouldn’t be caught dead with one of those dogs that you can fit in a bag.
I’m judging this book by it’s cover. And this mans cover is screaming trailer park, Beechnut and tribal tattoo’s.
But I’m jumping to conclusions. He may be a family man. He could have a wife and three kids at home. He may live in a nice neighborhood with security gates and an olympic size swimming pool. He may be an executive at a company and thats how he affords this toy that he is driving around in.
Maybe he is a deacon at his church and goes on mission trips every year to third world countries and spreads the love of God to people who have never heard it. Maybe he teaches Sunday school at his church and is actively involved in bettering his community.
I feel guilty now, convicted. It’s easy to judge with the eyes. But until you know someone, their story, you really don’t know them at all.
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement.” – John 7:24
That says it all. Guilty as charged.
Do you make snap judgements? Do you judge the book by it’s cover?
Last month I wrote about ten things that I think about while running. In case you missed it, I explained that while running, I often have these deep thought moments. Those moments when everything becomes clear and your mind wanders. Here are ten things that I thought about while running recently:
1. It’s hot.
2. I’d like to vote the cyclists off the trail.
3. I should do a video blog.
5. What would my native american name be?
6. Runs with horses.
7. I don’t like movies with talking animals.
8. I’m incredibly lucky that I haven’t been hit by a car or a bike.
9. Are angels running with me?
10. It’s really hot.
Had any random thoughts lately?
During the last mile of my Saturday training run, I experienced a very rare occurrence. My legs stopped pushing. They were rebelling against me. I had nothing left in my tank. I hit the wall, that mythical and invisible force that sneaks in out of nowhere and drains you of all energy.
During that final mile, I came upon a little old lady who was power walking. Her arms were swaying back and forth wildly. Her short little legs were making short little strides. There was purpose in her every step.
My intentions were to pass her but the wall had done its job well and my legs were unresponsive.
So there we were, cruising at the same pace. Side by side. I in my black running shorts and she in her big pink visor, awkwardly staring at one another. The only other difference between us at that moment was that she was living… and I was dying. She was on a mountain top and I was in the valley of death.
During those long runs, you are literally killing yourself. Your heart is being pushed to the limit. The muscles in your legs are being torn apart, one microscopic piece at a time. Your body is being broken down.
But you survive and enter the recovery process. The muscles rebuild. Your heart and lungs adapt and become stronger. The next run is easier and each one after that takes less and less effort.
All because what hasn’t killed you, has made you stronger.
Such as life.
+ + + + + + + + +
Running mirrors life in many ways. There are peaks and valleys. Some days you have it and some days you don’t. There are days that you have energy to spare and then there are those days that you want to stop where you are and sit down and pout.
We enter these killer valleys in life unwillingly. If we had a choice we would stay on those mountain tops and enjoy the view, breathing in the fresh air.
But its in the valley where our strength is really built. It’s here that we learn and adapt. We grow in these valleys so that we can shine on the peaks.
“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” - 1 Peter 5:10
The next time you are in one of those killer valleys, remember that it is here that you are being perfected and strengthened. There is a means and a purpose to it all. God has a plan for you.
And while you are in this valley, always remember that the road to the top is just around the corner.
As humans, we have become so gullible. It seems we will fall for anything. We are like the weak minded in the Star Wars films, easily susceptible to the old jedi mind trick.
Television shows that trick people have huge ratings. Ask Ashton Kutcher. We can’t tell truth from fiction anymore. We are being suckered before a live studio audience. Intelligent lifeforms that monitor us from far far away must be asking themselves: “Why are we not invading this planet?”
Late night infomercials are jedi masters. They trick us into desiring things that we don’t need:
“I really want a Sham-Wow. Vince has such a sparkling personality.”
“Yes. I do want a boat with a screen door bottom.”
“That chia pet would look great on my mantle.”
We are suckers for new and improved, sparkly things.
It’s the same way in our spiritual lives. The enemy tempts us into wanting things outside of our beliefs. He shows us a clump of grass and convinces us that it’s greener on his side of the fence.
We allow ourselves to be duped.
Paul writes this:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” - 2 Timothy 4:3-4
It’s in our nature. We desire things because we are human. We want to have our ears tickled.
So we turn to myths. We drink the Kool-aid and hop the fence, all the while forgetting the truth.
So where does the truth lie? The truth is in God’s word.
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” - John 8: 31-32
That’s such a simple statement. Know the truth and be free.
We sometimes get locked into what the world see’s as right but it is never enough to make us happy or content. There is always more, something better, something shinier.
But the truth will set us free. Bury yourself in His word and remember that God is enough.
In 1621, the new king of Spain, Phillip IV found himself deeply in debt. In order to pay his creditors, he commissioned a fleet of ships to bring millions of dollars worth of gold, silver and other priceless items back to Spain from provinces that Spain owned in the Indies. One of those ships, the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, housed over $400 million worth of goods.
King Phillips treasure lie in her hull.
On September 5, 1622, a furious storm hit the fleet as it passed close to the Marquesas islands. Most of the ships were lost, including the Atocha.
350 years later, scuba instructor and treasure hunter, Mel Fisher began a long and tedious expedition to find the Atocha and its treasure.
Mel’s search consumed him. He put his whole heart into finding it and keeping it. There were many legal battles over whether he could claim it as his. During the expedition he lost his wife and son when one of his boats capsized during the night.
But he kept searching.
On July 25, 1985, after searching for 16 years, through tragedy and setbacks, Mel finally found the remains of the Atocha and her mother load of treasure just off the coast of Key West.
Mel’s treasure lie on the sandy bottom of the ocean.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” - Luke 12:34
Where does your treasure lie? Do you find it in material things, cars, homes, money? Do you find it in success or power?
Or do you find your treasure in relationships? Friends, Family? Do you find treasure in furthering your faith or the faith of others.
True treasure is something that cannot be taken away. It doesn’t erode over time. It can’t be washed away or buried in the sand or lost in the deep. True treasure is unfailing.
Where does your treasure lie?