Prayer for the Week

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Danville Half Marathon

The day has finally arrived and just as quickly is gone. ¬†It is amazing how fast 13 miles flies by ūüôā ¬†I was up by 5:00 this morning – for one I couldn’t sleep – ¬†and two, we had to be in Danville, VA this morning to pick-up my racing packet. ¬†The nice thing is the race didn’t start until 10, so we weren’t up and at’em as early as we could have been.

The trip down was uneventful, except for the fog on Afton Mountain. ¬†If you live in the area, you know exactly what I’m talking about. ¬†There is always fog on the mountain. ¬†In fact, they have installed special lights in the roadway, when the fog gets dense. ¬†The crazy thing about this morning, is there was nothing, and then, all of a sudden, a very thick, dense fog. ¬†It so happens that the top of the mountain is our exit and going back down the mountain, we didn’t have the special fog lights leading the way. ¬†As quickly as the fog enveloped us, it went away. ¬†It still is amazing how long it stays dark in the morning. ¬†We were almost into Lynchburg, before we had any significant amount of daylight.

We got to the race area – had some trouble finding the registration area and then had to wait for about an hour until the race started. ¬†This was a little un-nerving for me and I had to keep telling myself “trust your training” and “trust your instincts.” ¬†To add to the uneasiness was the fact that my ankle injury was really acting up this morning. ¬†Several doses of ibuprofen helped and then running and working away the stiffness helped some, but the stiffness never really went away, so I ended up running with it.

Finally it was time to start the race. ¬†I jumped out to a quick start – almost too quick. Although my breathing really didn’t indicate that. ¬†When I reached the first mile post, I looked at my watch and almost fainted. ¬†An 8:00 minute mile – that was not a sustainable pace, I pulled back a little and the next mile registered at 8:16 – still a little fast. ¬†After that, I settled into a nice pace that didn’t waiver more than 10 seconds either way off my final pace.

So how did I do?  I am excited to report that I finished the half-marathon (13.1 miles) in 1:50:30.  Which gave me an overall pace of 8:25/mile.  Like I said, except for the first mile, my pace was 10 seconds + or Рof that pace, which means I really nailed that pace.  Why am I so excited?  Not only did I set a new personal record (PR), I crushed the old PR of 2:01:04.  I was over ten minutes faster.  We stayed for the awards ceremony and I narrowly missed getting an award for placing in my age division.  The third place finisher, finished in 1:47 something.  Not bad for a guy who only took up running three years ago.

One other cool factoid comes from comparing my performance in the Staunton 10 Miler two years ago (which was two weeks earlier.) That day I completed 10 miles (on a much hillier course) in 1:55.  Today my 10 mile split was 1:24:17 Рtaking a full 30 minutes off that time.

My goal(s) for next Saturday:

1.) Finish in less than 2 hours (this is a 9:06/mile pace) and would also give me a PR (Personal Record for the distance of 13.1 miles.) – The way my training runs have gone, I have a fairly reasonable chance of making this goal. Still, there’s any number of things that can go wrong, so there are no guarantees.
2.) Finish in less than 1:55:00. I have been running in the 1:55 type pace over the last few weeks.
3.) Finish in less than 1:50:00. If everything is perfect, I may be able to get this, but that’s why you set multiple goals
So I was able to complete goals one and two and almost completed goal three. ¬†I had some serious cramping going on by 10 miles and really had to push through the last 3 miles. ¬†In other words, I had to persevere – I had to press on! ¬†As I look back – I was passed by several runners early in the race (upto about 4 miles in.) ¬†At that point, we were all running at about the same pace, but it wasn’t long, because of my training that – one by one – I started reeling in the runners and picking them off and passing them. ¬†That is why you run at a steady pace. ¬†It was a great morning and just below are some pictures of today.

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Now for the runner geek in me and for my journaling, here are my splits.

Mile 1 – 8:00
Mile 2 – 8:16
Mile 3 – 8:26
Mile 4 – 8:23
Mile 5 – 8:30
Mile 6 – 8:31
Mile 7 – 8:31
Mile 8 – 8:25
Mile 9 – 8:34
Mile 10 – 8:36
Mile 11 – 8:38
Mile 12 – 8:23
Mile 13 (plus the .1 mile) – 9:28

Pressing On!

Edit: (Added 10/30/2012) Here are the overall results РI finished 38th overall out of 172 runners and finished 5th out of 11th for my age group.  My official time is the same as what I clocked on Saturday.

Job Repents and Is Restored

Proper 25 (30) (October 28, 2012)

Job 42:1-6, 10-17; Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 10:46-52

42 Then Job replied to the Lord:

2 “I know that you can do anything,
    and no one can stop you.
3¬†You asked, ‚ÄėWho is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?‚Äô
¬†¬†¬†¬†It is I‚ÄĒand I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
    things far too wonderful for me.
4¬†You said, ‚ÄėListen and I will speak!
    I have some questions for you,
    and you must answer them.’
5 I had only heard about you before,
    but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said,
¬†¬†¬†¬†and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.‚ÄĚ

10 When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! 11 Then all his brothers, sisters, and former friends came and feasted with him in his home. And they consoled him and comforted him because of all the trials the Lord had brought against him. And each of them brought him a gift of money and a gold ring.

12 So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. 13 He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters. 14 He named his first daughter Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15 In all the land no women were as lovely as the daughters of Job. And their father put them into his will along with their brothers.

16 Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren.17 Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life.

Isn’t is amazing when we realize that God is God and we are not? ¬†This is the point that Job has finally reached. ¬†Job realizes that he has no answers for God’s questions. ¬†Job repents of his attitude – Job realizes who God really is.

It’s even more amazing that after all the trials that Job goes through, God not only restores him – restoring everything Job lost, but doubled up on what Job had lost.

About a week ago, I wrote about negative splits as it is related to running, which means that you run the second half of a race faster than the first. ¬†In Job’s life, he ran the second half of his life better than the first half of his life. ¬†I encourage you to press on – even when the going gets tough.

Job died an old man with many children and grandchildren – living a full life. Pressing On!

50 Women You Should Know

The following article appeared in the October 2012 issue of¬†Christianity Today. ¬†It is a list of today’s most influential Christian women leaders. ¬†Two Wesleyans are among the women – our General Superintendent, Dr. Jo Anne Lyon and President of Houghton College, Dr. Shirley Mullen.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/october/50-women-you-should-know.html

Yes, there are always dangers in these kinds of lists. ¬†Just looking through the few comments that were posted – there were several “why wasn’t so and so listed” and so on. ¬†I think it’s pretty cool that out of 50 leading women, two are Wesleyans. ¬†The Wesleyan Church is a small denomination compared to many others and yet, here are two of our great leaders profiled in this article. ¬†Check it out.

Forgiveness

This is a two video post…It’s been something that God has been working on me for some time now. ¬†There are several songs on the radio right now will similar themes – “Losing” by Tenth Avenue North, “Proof of Your Love” by For King and Country, and most recently a very powerful song called “Forgiveness” by Matthew West. ¬†I’ve included the acoustic version video and then the story behind the song. ¬†It’s really important to know how these songs came to being and I love hearing the story behind “Forgiveness.”

Who is God asking you to forgive?

The Four-Fold Worship Structure

From its earliest days, the church observed a specific pattern of worship, which many churches still follow today. ¬†Although much of its form was borrowed from Jewish liturgical traditions, it took on new meaning because of Christ’s atoning work.

Christians gather to¬†celebrate¬†the¬†fulfillment¬†of God’s plan of redemption. ¬†This worship is not a program, but a movement of God’s people, who enter to hear the Word, respond in thanksgiving, and go fort to love and serve the Lord.

Bruce Barton, gen. ed., Praise and Worship Study Bible (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1997) 1351

Not A Fan – A Choice

Everything in Moderation…or…Giving It All?

As we have mentioned before, our church is in a series based on the Kyle Idleman book, “Not a Fan.” This has been a powerful and convicting series, even for the pastoral staff. ¬†We have been seeking God’s will each week, planning the songs, planning the message, watching the videos and (for me) helping to teach the teen’s small group.

At the end of last Wednesday’s youth group, a question came up – we were studying Luke 9:23 and the end of Luke 9:

57¬†As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, ‚ÄúI will follow you wherever you go.‚ÄĚ

58¬†But Jesus replied,¬†‚ÄúFoxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.‚ÄĚ

59¬†He said to another person,¬†‚ÄúCome, follow me.‚ÄĚ

The man agreed, but he said, ‚ÄúLord, first let me return home and bury my father.‚ÄĚ

60¬†But Jesus told him,¬†‚ÄúLet the spiritually dead bury their own dead!¬†Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.‚ÄĚ

61¬†Another said, ‚ÄúYes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.‚ÄĚ

62¬†But Jesus told him,¬†‚ÄúAnyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.‚ÄĚ

These are strong words from the mouth of Jesus. ¬†Our pastor will be dealing with this passage on Sunday. ¬†I haven’t seen the notes, so I may or may not cover the same territory – but God has really been speaking to me about these verses. In today’s culture these verses seem harsh.

On Sunday we were learning about how the early disciples translated the concept of Elijah to a Greek world that knew nothing of Elijah. ¬†The prophet Elijah was a man of God – a man of passion. ¬†Yes, it also seems he was prone to large mood swings, but he was a man who believed in God and God in return used Elijah in a powerful way. ¬†James records “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” ¬†(5:16b) He then goes on to mention Elijah specifically as a man of prayer.

Like I said, Elijah was a man of great passion. ¬†He was willing to stand up to Israel’s wicked king Ahab and against the 450 prophets of Baal and the 450 prophets of Asherah. Elijah challenged these prophets to a battle of the gods. ¬†The god who answered with fire, was the true God. ¬†Baal’s prophets went on and on and on and yet no fire fell. ¬†Then Elijah rebuilt the altar – dug a trench around it – poured water on the altar and the trench – drenching it completely. ¬†Elijah starts playing and before he even says “Amen,” God sends the fire down – it consumes everything – the wood, the sacrifice, the water and the altar. ¬†The people bow down and declare “The Lord is God.” Elijah kills the prophets of Baal and then goes to pray. ¬†He prays seven times – SEVEN times – the seventh time his servant tells him, “I see the cloud the size of a human hand.” At that Elijah tells Ahab, “Get going the Lord is sending a mighty rain.” Elijah runs ahead of the chariots and according to the video Sunday – ran 20 miles to Jezreel. ¬†That’s pretty amazing.

So how do you describe this passion? ¬†The early disciples described it in what are now to me some very familiar ways – running. ¬†As many of you know, I am getting ready to run my second half-marathon this coming Saturday. ¬†I have been training since early August for this race. ¬†This Saturday, I will race. ¬†Racing is different than training. ¬†Racing requires giving it all you got. ¬†When I get to the end of the race on Saturday, I don’t want to have anything left. ¬†I want to give it all — everything.

So many times as Christians, it seems like we don’t operate in that vein. ¬†Listen to the words of the writer of Hebrews: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”¬†

The Greeks and the Romans would have been very familiar with this concept of running. ¬†They were, afterall, the founders of the Olympic games. ¬†This is how they translated the passion of Elijah to the Greco/Roman culture. ¬†The write of Hebrews talks about the great cloud of witnesses and we are to run. ¬†Paul says we run to obtain an eternal prize. ¬†He says that we need to run to win! ¬†It’s worth every effort you make.

Let’s see if I can try to pull this all together and make some sense of all of this. ¬†You can tell this has been on my heart, because this is one of my longer posts.

Some people look at Jesus’ words in Luke 9 – especially verse 23 and say that these are radical words. ¬†I would agree, especially in our American culture. ¬†In our culture, we are all about comfort and it seems – to me at least — that American Christianity is all about comfort – it’s all about convenience – it’s all about “what’s in it for me.”

Jesus speaks to these three men – and the gist of his words is this: “You need to be ready to be a follower of Jesus – whoever He calls – whenever He calls – whatever he calls us to do.

In the “Not a Fan” videos, several times the words “everything in moderation” are used – as if that’s how we are supposed to operate in God’s economy – in God’s culture. ¬†I don’t know that I can find that in scripture. ¬†In fact, the gist of “everything in moderation” can actually be found on the temple of Apollo at Delphi – a pagan/Greek temple. ¬†So it really is the opposite of what Christ calls His followers to do.

In Philippians 2, Paul records the words to one of the earliest church hymns:

6 Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8     he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

In verses 6-8, I don’t see anything that looks like everything in moderation. ¬†Jesus Christ came to earth and gave everything He had to save us. ¬†He took on the position of a slave – He gave up his divine privileges – He died a criminal’s death — to save us. ¬†He didn’t just save us to give us a ticket to heaven. ¬†It’s more than fire insurance. ¬†He calls us to be his disciples – he calls us to be his followers — he calls us to go and make disciples – he calls us to go and make more Jesus followers. ¬†That’s the Great Commission – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teach these new disciples everything that I have taught you.

This is not easy believism Рthis is not a life of works Рthis is a life of following Jesus and doing what He has called us to do.  Let me finish with this powerful verse from James 1:27:

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

So are you an everything in moderation believer or are you giving Jesus all?  Are you a Fully.Committed.Follower?