Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jogger Blogger Pt.1

  Today, I realized something.  On this day in the middle of April, the sports world is pure madness!  We have the NHL playoffs going strong.  Which by the way, one of the best postseason sports to watch period (This is coming from a spectator and not a fan).  The NBA playoffs have begun, if you missed the Spurs/Clippers game last night I'm sorry.  Tim Duncan is still very, very good in case you were wondering.  Plus, the reds are off to a descent start in the Major League Baseball season with Joey Votto back in MVP form. Last but not least, the NFL draft is in full discussion on every sports channel and I mean every sports channel.  It's hard to keep up with all the madness at this time of the year.  None the less, It's a major motivator to get through my work day and back in front of the TV.  To an avid sports fan like myself, it doesn't get any better than this.

  On that note, I have recently started training for a half marathon.  Not being the biggest fan of running, I still understand the importance of remaining healthy.  Personally, I like setting the bar high for myself.  I have Mr. Salyers, my high school track coach to thank for this.  All those miles in that summer heat have shown me how far I can push myself.  I can literally remember him spraying us with a water hose when we went by because the temperature was in the high 90s.  Getting back to my car and not being able to press the gas pedal because my legs were so finished after practice.  A half marathon is a long ways though (13.1 mi to be exact). I don't think I've ever ran that far in one setting.  I chose the coach setting on the Nike Running Ap and picked the BEGINNER half marathon training.  It is always hard for me to choose anything with the word "beginner" in it.  After getting over my little big man syndrome, I took a step back and thought about all the choices I've made and not followed through with.  I still struggle with being dedicated to my Creator much less a running program.  Dedication is tough.  My biggest struggle with dedication is always: Getting started and remaining consistent.

 First, let's talk about getting started.  How many times have you told yourself or others that you're going to do something?  How many times have you actually done that something?  For me, I talk a big game and hardly ever follow through.  It's actually sad how many times I haven't followed through.  My biggest example would be drinking pop.  I always say I'm going to stop drinking pop and never do. I really didn't want to fall into the same pattern again with my running schedule.

Getting Started.  At the church I attend here in Indianapolis (Grace Church), we have been doing a study on the prophets.  I love learning about the prophets and some of their crazy stories.  When I think about getting started, Jonah seems like the perfect prophet to study.  God asked a lot out of Jonah when he told him to go to Nineveh and preach to them their own destruction.  This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, "Hit them when their down."  What does Jonah do?  He flees in the opposite direction!  How many times have you tried to run from a new beginning with God?  Maybe, you don't run but you walk only because God didn't give you the order, or maybe you're a back peddler only delaying the commitment or new beginning.  The hardest part of any commitment is taking the initial step in the right direction.  For me, it was taking the first 3 mile run.  In no way does that compare to God's calling on Jonah's life but that's not the point.  The point is the first and most important part of commitment is taking the initial step in the right direction.  Some of us want to make commitments and experience new beginnings but we want to skip over the most important step.  We make excuse after excuse (guilty as charged) until we psych ourselves out of the commitment.  Personally, I find myself constantly humbled in a much smaller fashion than Jonah of course, but still humbled.  Still questioning why I chose to run in the opposite direction. While it's not easy, it feels good to take that first step.  Whether you're stepping into a new relationship with Christ or your first 3 mile run.  Let's step forward!

Consistency.  In order to be consistent, one must plan ahead.  This is the part where I struggle the most.  I despise planning.  I love that life brings about spontaneity.  I thrive in spontaneity.  Those unplanned, glorious moments in life.  That's what I live for!  While that is all that and a hot fudge brownie, it doesn't help me with remaining consistent.  It hurts my consistency.  Part of making a commitment or having a new beginning is being able to plan or see what's ahead of you.  Once again, it takes time and it's not always easy.  Is it worth it? Absolutely! It would most definitely be worth it when you feel the weight of God's love on your heart for the first time or cross the finish line of your first half marathon.  The problem is that we have to look ahead to even consider that.  I tried really hard to come up with some rare bible character to exemplify consistency.  Instead, I always ended up coming back to Jesus.  Have you ever considered what he had to look forward to?  Jesus knew his Father's plan for him.  Jesus could have made some really good, plausible excuses to not be consistent with His plan.  Instead, he chose to have an eternal perspective.  When I say eternal, I mean literally giving every single person a chance at eternity in heaven.  Sometimes, I think it's important to have the same perspective when making a commitment or accepting a new beginning.  Looking at possible obstacles but seeing the finish line will help you remain consistent.  It will motivate you to not only finish but finish strong.  Here's to new beginnings and commitments!

Thanks for taking the time to read that long blog.  Feel free to encourage me as I post my training runs on facebook leading up to my first half marathon.  I'm sure I'll need reminded to remain consistent and finish strong. Peace!

Deuteronomy 31:6
6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"fishers of men" and fishermen

I always wondered why I loved fishing so much.  Reading through the gospel of Matthew earlier I very well may have found my answer.  One that would give me an answer to the simple question, "Why do I love to fish."  Before, I would have determined it's because I'm a country boy who loves the outdoors.  Yes, this is true.  I am a backwoods country boy who enjoys being outdoors.  This logic seems to simple and obvious.  There has to be something deeper.  Why would God want me to spend a lot of time fishing?  Many portray fishing as a waste of time.  I agree to some extent.  When you think about waiting all day only to be rewarded with a small amount of food, a mere moment of excitement, or a simple release back into the water.
Fishing is much more too me.  It is something I grew up doing.  It defines not only where I came from but who I am.  Considering God made me who I am that is of great importance.  I always wondered why I would get so giddy the night before and the morning of.  You would have thought I just received my first red rider BB gun each and everytime I took a fishing trip.  I thought it might be a "childish" feeling towards fishing.  That theory became "water under the bridge" when I went nearly every day two summers ago.  Hardly sleeping the night before each trip.  Putting forth great effort towards catching bait and making sure I was prepared.  I hardly caught any fish at all two summers ago (I don't fish for bluegill).  Yet, each and every time I found myself prepared and just as excited as the time before.  Spending countless hours only to leave the river in disappointment.
What makes me want to fish?  Why do I choose to put forth so much effort knowing the possibilities of actually catching a keeper?  These questions can be parallel to the ones we ask ourselves when deciding to follow Christ?  Obviously, their not of the same significance.  Regardless,  What makes you want to follow God?  Why would one put forth so much effort in serving a God you have no control over?  The clear answer to these questions is faith.  I have faith that I will catch a keeper.  I have faith that there is a God who I am more than glad to give complete control of my life too (Considering, he controls everything).  Is it a coincidence that the mystery of God relates to the mystery of fishing?  I don't think so.
The scripture I came across while reading Matthew was one that will be familiar to many of you in chapter 17 (NIV).

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
 25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

   When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

 26 “From others,” Peter answered.

   “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

      Before I explain to you why this gave me the answer to my question.  Do not take what I am saying as biblical truth.  To determine my answer I actually took this scripture completely out of context.  First, I want to imagine what it felt like to be Peter.  God just told this "fishermen" made disciple to throw out his line and he will catch a fish.  Can you imagine?  The mystery of fishing completely being thrown down the gutter due to the faith and power he had in Jesus.  I imagine him still being extremely giddy and running outside anxious to cast out his pole even though Jesus had already miraculously filled his nets a time before (Matt. 4:19).  Thoughts running rampant through his head:
"Do I have to put any bait on?"
"How far do I have to throw it out there?"
"What kind of fish am I going to catch?"
"Will more than one fish have coins in it's mouth?"

      All this excitement and doubt ultimately appearing as a lack of faith and understanding.  Have you figured out why God wants me to love fishing?  It is because I want to prove myself wrong.  The mystery and the lack of faith reels (see what I did there) up inside of me until I can't resist it.  It motivates me to always be prepared and ready for that one moment in time when my bobber could disappear.  The mystery of what bait I should use, how far I should throw it, and what in the world is out there keeps me going.  Imagine a man who had witnessed miracle after miracle still doubting that God would allow him to catch a fish in any possible way.  That is me minus the presence and observed miracles of Jesus.  In the sense that I haven't literally seen Jesus walk this earth and do miracles  (I know what you were thinking).  Conclusively, I fish because I don't think I'll catch anything.  Still yet, this mysterious faith abides inside of me waiting for it's opportunity to jerk!