Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hmmm...seems I have been a tad slack of late.


Ok, it has been about 6 weeks since I have graced this blog with a new entry. Not to make excuses, but I have been a combination of very busy and very lazy at the same time. A bit contraindicative, I know.

But to give you a run down, here is what has been going on:

I have transitioned to my former position (temporarily). I am teaching again and have picked up on my former projects there and a few new ones too. I have been here since February 23 and averaging about (with commute time to/from work) 70-75 hours a week. This leaves me a bit drained by the time I get home and there I just want family time.

I have also attempted to transition to a local oncologist on the hopes it would free up some time that has historically been spent in commute to Midland. This turned out to be a nightmare since the local office is not able to provide same day lab/dr visit/chemo nor are they available on weekends to remove the chemo pump. My former treatment schedule allowed for labs, visit, chemo on Friday and disconnect on Sunday limiting time required away from work. Here would be several appointments a week with 45 minute drives to each, in total, it would be more time than the former model so I am back in Midland where I will deal with the lack of a life plan just for the least interfering with work option so I can still get paid.

That last statement said, thanks to the "sequestration" and swatting flies with an ax/lack of nonpartisan cooperation in the interest of the country/malfeasance by our elected officials contrary to budget laws/knee-jerk reactions and instructions to make the "sequestration hurt", I am facing a 25-40% pay decrease due to furlough and loss of standardized overtime which has historically been required in the job. Aside from the lack of overtime, this will also reduce the effectiveness of all operations unless a massive number of employees are added to cover the loss of work hours (but that won't happen since it would cost money too). So I hope you can all sleep well (especially if you live/work in a border community where the overall security will be primarily affected). And for the rest of you, this will be a trickle through effect where you will start noticing things soon as well, so thank Congress and the President for this joyful time.

Anyway, sorry to get on my soap box, but it does tie in a bit with where I am going in today's post.

It was very easy to start talking about what is going on with me right now. Sure, I try to be pretty transparent in general, but sometimes things just start flowing out.

The question comes: why are some topics easy to speak on and others not so much? When was the last time (if you are a Christian) you have shared your testimony, faith, or what God is doing in your life?

Sure, I hear you, 'but I do not have the gift of Evangelism' or 'I do not feel lead to share with people.' I understand your arguments, and have been know to self-justify in this manner, too. But I encountered something while I was read in the Bible the other day that hurt my feelings...

"for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." Acts 4:20 {ESV}

A little background on the passage. Flipping back to chapter 3, where this story starts (a bit further for more context if you need to), Peter and John were still going to Temple during the hour of prayer. They heal a beggar and the people are astonished. Peter and John begin teaching about Jesus and presenting the Gospel. The priests, captain of the temple and Sadducee were less than thrilled (ESV states they were greatly annoyed) with this teaching. After a bit of self counsel they decide not to martyr them in hopes of letting the story just die down and ward Peter and John not to speak of it again among the people. Peter and John school them “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)

It is the last part that really hits me. They have seen and heard things they cannot keep in. They are sharing it regardless of the offense it causes. The story of Jesus is VERY offensive because it tells people they are wrong, they are broken, they are sinners. But it also offers hope and a way out of the pit. It is just hard to get to that part before people will tune you out, walk away, or start an argument where they will not let you finish.

We are afraid to offend in these "politically correct" days. We are called closed-minded, simple-minded, intolerant, bigots, or hateful for identifying sin based on Biblical principles. The liberal/libertarian (sorry folks) concepts of "live and let live" or "if it doesn't hurt anyone else let it be" has taken firm root in this country. It is contrary to the Gospel. We cannot "Coexist" with sin. We are to flee from it and call it out when we see it.
Going back to an old-school CCM song from Petra, I don't want to be a man-pleaser, I want to be a God-pleaser. We need to firmly grasp that which we know to be true and never back down. We need to share our faith and testimony (and there are tactful ways to do so without standing on a street corner and screaming). Read the New Testament again, rarely was this the approach used by the Apostles or Jesus himself. Generally, it was on a personal basis. Getting to know someone and building a relationship, or finding someone who was hurting and reaching out.
Segue...in the 3rd Chapter, it mentions the location where Peter and John were preaching as Solomon's Porch (or portico, depending on your translation). I have loved that name for a very long time and have greatly desired to one day be the proprietor of a coffee shop by that name. It has lately returned to me and several other concepts have been revealed to me which would be interesting additions/features of such an enterprise: Christian lending library, offering on-site office space to volunteer counselors/pastors to have them available, a space for music groups to perform, meeting room (ideally upstairs "the upper room"). 


Of course, for a long time I have also wanted to train people in computer software use to help increase skills of youth/adults and aid them in their career pursuits. I have been blessed with skills that have helped me and I know the value it can add to marketability. I think it would be a decent offering to do on site as well.

So, if you are independently wealthy and feel like dropping a huge chuck of change my way to get this going, you can contact me for more details. :)

Another topic...my musical taste is VERY eclectic. I appreciate music and enjoy many flavors/styles. Historically, I am a horn player, so if it has horns it will get my attention. I missed the American Ska phase and the Christian Ska revival in its prime, but have been reliving it through Pandora. One of my preferred groups, Five Iron Frenzy, is releasing a new album soon so I have been listening to them a lot lately. It makes me want to start playing again.

If (God-willing), I am selected to return her on a more permanent basis in the near future, I want to assemble a 4-5 piece brass section and, aside from wanting to play with a praise band/orchestra, I want to put together a repertoire of Christmas Carols and do some seasonal performances locally. Every year there is a Christmas light display/boat ride "Christmas on the Pecos" down in Carlsbad and I think that would be a good location/opportunity. So, again, if you are in the Roswell/Artesia/Carlsbad area and are a brass player (trumpet/cornet, baritone, french horn, trombone, tuba) or know someone who is, let's talk.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Blog Redirect

Hey everyone, I am blogging over at Middle Places today.  My wife and the fine ladies there have asked their other halves to do guest posts this week in honor of Valentine's Day.  I am obviously the favored one since I get the Day itself.

Just kidding, my dearest usually does the Thursday so it was just the luck of the draw.

Anyway, head on over there and give my post a ponder (and stick around to read other great posts from the great ladies there).

Thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Too Young to Die


I get a bit thinkerly sometimes and a word or phrase will stick in my head.  If it were song lyrics, it would be considered an "ear worm," that song or portion of a song that stalks your subconscious and you swear you hear it everywhere or that just never fades out and provides a distraction, usually at an inopportune time.  But I tend to just get bits and pieces of a phrase and it causes me to think about it in depth; sometimes, much more than needed.

Today, the phrase "too young to die" has been on my mind.

Sure, the implications and depth of the phrase are troubling (from personal application especially), but I disagree with he complete concept.  Having a Judeo-Christian world view, I have to disagree with it.

I am NOT a five-point Calvinist in my theology, but I do believe things are preordained to happen.

If, God has numbered our days, how can we die too young? Sure, I understand the sentiment: very young and there was the potential for way more life had s/he lived.  And it always seems like a tragedy when a child passes.  But there is always a plan behind it.  We may never know what that is, but we are called to have faith and believe it to be true.

Newtown, Columbine, Aurora, and so many other things are truly tragedies, but they were ordered long ago.  Could something have been done to prevent these? Depends on your world view.  I think not.  Does that make me a cynic? Again, I think not.  I feel it makes me someone who has faith in My God that His ways are not my ways and His plans are bigger than mine.

I think, by way of analogy, the story of Lazarus from John 11:20-22 {ESV}:
So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
Yes, there is more to it, Jesus weeps, Lazarus comes forth, and all that, but I think the message is in these verses since it is OUR reaction to death: Why did God allow this to happen?

Why do we question God?  We need to just believe that there was a purpose and a plan for the event.  It is a hard sell, I admit.

When my time comes, I really don't want anyone to question why or think I was too young to die.  I want to have lived in such a way that there can be a celebration of what was and all to be assured that I have finally found rest.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Remiss and Remission

Just a thought.  The words remiss and remission came to mind today.  don't really know why, but it happens sometimes.  For similar root words, the definitions are very different.

To be remiss is to be negligent in a duty; while, remission is the cancellation of a debt or the temporary alleviation of pain or disease.

Two simple words, three letters added to the first to create the second.  Polar opposites. 

I have been remiss in my attention to this blog.  I have not been very consistent in my writing the past week or so.  I have also been remiss in the pursuit of my goals.  I have not run yet this month and the last several days of January have also been silent for me.  Not much I can offer by way of excuse other than I just have not been feeling it.

I have plans to get back on track and do not feel I am in an irrecoverable position yet.  It will be a bit of work, but highly possible.

Remission is something I am both thankful and hopeful for, based on the two potential definitions of the word.

I am thankful for the remission of sin through the sacrifice and subsequent ressurrection of Jesus.  He paid my sin debt and I am ever thankful for that.  I also am hopeful and praying for remission (and complete recovery) of/from my cancer.  I know God has the power.

Do NOT misunderstand, I am not laying out fleeces to test God nor am I claiming it as the only outcome I will accept and lose faith if things do not work out my way.  As it stands, I want and am actively seeking remission through prayer, lifestyle change, and diligently following medical advice.  I am, however, resigned to the fact that either way, I am good with the end result.  I have made peace with my frailty and humanity and know that no matter how this plays out it is God's design.

Sure, I want to see my 90th birthday, walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding, hold my grandchildren and great grandchildren, see all my children well into their adulthood, love and hold my wife for a VERY VERY long time.  But if not, I know they will be well provided for through the steps I have taken financially and through the wonderful network of family and friends who will be there for them.

Just my thoughts today...aimless ramblings perhaps, but still part of the process of how my mind works.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Things I Would Like To See

I sit here thinking.

Not an unusual event for me, I think A LOT.

Sometimes, I am overwhelmed by thoughts and other times they are organized and perfectly in order.

Today, I am thinking about things I would like to see in my lifetime (in no particular order).

So, here goes...
  1. Obviously, my 90th birthday would be great.
  2. A book written by my wife (or in combination with her cyber sisters at Middle Places; the writing there is top notch)
  3. My grandchildren, so I can spoil them to pay my children back. 
  4. An earned (by me) finishers medal for a marathon in all 50 states (or at least 25 states).
  5. Denmark, to get an idea of my heritage.
  6. Italy, same reason.
  7. Mt. Rushmore and Devil's Tower.  Different reasons, but both involve movies.
  8. The "Blue Hole" in Belize from my scuba mask.
  9. A cure for cancer, or at least less damaging treatments.
  10. The smile in my beautiful wife's eyes (ok, what I want to see EVERYDAY not just once in my lifetime)
Simple man, simple pleasures.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lost

This past weekend was a treatment weekend for me.  While, yes, chemo does in fact suck, I generally have little to complain about, as I am "cruising through it" (in the words of my Dr., and the chemo techs).  One thing I do not enjoy is the lost time. 

This past weekend, thanks to my new work schedule, on Thursday, I worked a 6 pm- 4:30 am shift and after work, and then drove the 170 miles into my treatment appointment (at 8:30 am Friday).  After the roughly 5 hour appointment which involves blood work then poisoning (and which I pulled a 3 hour nap during the poisoning since I am just sitting in a chair), I went to the Hope House (local hospice offering free temporary residence during treatment), and went back to sleep for the evening about 5:30 pm.  I woke up at 11 pm and was awake until about 6 am.  I pulled another short nap and woke about 10 am so I could drive home and be with the family.

This new schedule is not fun, as I feel lost on the weekends trying to get things accomplished.  I do not like the idea of losing complete days when I have things I would like to accomplish.

As you may know (if you are a frequent visitor here), I have chosen to attempt to cover a total of 2,013 miles this year for the Hope House and donate $1 for every mile I cover.  Part of that goal is to run 1,000 miles, with the rest made up bicycling throughout the year.  I am falling short of the running goal average so far, having covered a little over 50 miles so far.  I could choose to get angry or worked up about it, but I am choosing to relax and let it go, knowing that there are still 11 months to go and I have time.

As I was reading over at Middle Places (a blog written by my wife and several of her people) Monday, Dana wrote about mountains and mole hills.  She too is undergoing the 1,000 mile challenge and understands the idea.  Several quotes for you, "Little by Little, one travels far." JRR Tolkien and chinese proverb attributed to Lao Tzu "The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step."

I know I am falling short, but I know every day I get out there I am traveling further towards that goal.  I need to set aside the issues I am facing (particularly the peripheral neuropathy which is my main side effect of the chemo).  I just need to lace up the shoes and hit the door.  Get out and do something! Positive steps in the right direction will add up towards completion of this goal.

I have a 10K I hope to complete on February 23rd.  I have several 5K runs on back to back weekends the end of March.  I am hoping to be moving in the near future back to a teaching position at my component's basic academy.  I have a sprint triathlon scheduled for June 1, and a half and a full marathon towards the end of the year.  I just need God's go ahead on all these items and for Him to clear the path of resistance.  That is the ONLY way I will accomplish these goals.

The mileage goals, I do not consider a celebration of MY abilities.  I know I can only complete these successfully if God is assisting me.  I have a weakness, I do not see limitations as to what I can do and usually will go overboard and end up injured or burned out in trying to reach a goal.  I need God's guiding hand helping me to get where I want to be.  And having taken pretty much the entire last year off any type of training endeavor, I know I have a very long way to go to even come close to being physically fit enough to meet these goals.

That is, in part, where my desire to relocate comes in.  While I was working at my academy, I was part of a running group.  Participating in runs with them kept me motivated and on a schedule that allowed for rest and recovery.  In my head, I am thinking that I can get close to 70 miles for this moth with only 3 days left and about 18 miles down from that point.  I ran a spur of the moment 13.1 miles a little over 2 weeks ago, so what is 6-10 miles a day for the next three days? Probably too much.  I do not know if my PN battered feet could handle the pounding.  I do not know if my body needs that kind of stress.

I know I COULD do it, but it would be at a high price.   And that price might cause me to sacrifice the big picture.  I must remember the little by little.  I must work towards the goal with knowledge and common sense.  I must be careful and remember my weaknesses are there, not to limit me, but to help me make wiser choices.  God can use my weaknesses paired with His timing to make this happen.  I just need to slowly build up to where I need to be to make the longer runs more productive and less punishing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Good Enough...

I have a pet peeve.

Sure, I know I have listed several throughout the months I have been writing here, but this one is pretty much the top of my list.  The phrase, "it's good enough for government work" drives me crazy.  Perhaps it is because I am a government employee.  Perhaps it is just how I was raised to not settle for "good enough."  Perhaps I just do not accept mediocrity.

In any case, I can not accept that statement.

As a young Christian, I was impressed by Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."  That means a lot to me. 

When we love someone, should we not do our best in everything we do for them? Should we not strive to excell in our actions? I want to live awesome.  I want to be awesome.  I want everything I do to have the stamp of approval that this was the VERY best I could come up with.

Sure, even when we do our best, sometimes we still fall short.  That is not the issue.  The issue is did I give it all I had?

When you read that verse, please notice that it ends in a comma.  It is not a complete statement.  Read the next verse to learn the Why?  "knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."

Did you see it?  It is the knowledge that what we do will be rewarded.  In this social miasma of "everybody wins," it is taking away the true meaning of the prizes we EARN.  Our children are being poisoned with the idea that we do not have to work to be rewarded.  They are seeing examples of people (and I am not slamming Lance Armstrong and all the good he did/does with LIVESTRONG) who cheat to get ahead and are rewarded.  It is hard to try to teach personal responsibility in this culture of self-esteem.

I have never really been the guy at work who does things in hopes of being noticed or recognized.  I truly do not care about that at all.  When I am recognized for a job well done, I am usually surprised since I am just doing my job.  I am grateful and appreciative, but it does not drive my performance.  I do what I do how I do it because it is how I would want others to do it if I was in charge.

While writing this post, I was reminded of an OLD song from the early days of Contemporary Christian Music by the group Petra, "Godpleaser."  Part of the lyrics follow:
I just want my life to glorify His Son

To make my Father proud that I'm His child before I'm done
No need to pat me on the back or stop to shake my hand
I just want to hear my Father say "Well done, well done"
I just want to hear my Father say "Well done"
To me, that is the ultimate reward and why I strive to perform at my highest level.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shiny...

As I may have mentioned a time or three in the past, I am a Sci-fi fan.  In particular, I am a fan (but by no means ready to attend ComiCon or DragonCon) of the outer space western "FireFly".   Created and written by Joss Whedon and Tim Minear, this show was excellent, though it only enjoyed one season on-air and a follow-up theatrical presentation to tie up loose ends.  Aside from the great writing (witty, funny, and exciting) and fabulous cast, it had its own vocabulary.  In the 'Verse of Firefly, Chinese is widely spoken and often used by non-Asian characters as slang and profanity.  Other terms make frequent appearances, such as "Shiny" which is used to describe something as good, cool, nifty, and the like.

As I was reading through Exodus 34 (when Moses returns the second time from Mt. Sinai with the second set of tablets, his face is all aglow from prolonged time spent in the presence of God.  He was shiny, in the actual sense of the word where he radiated to the extent that Aaron and the people of Israel we frightened at first, and Moses took to wearing a veil when he was in their presence.

The analogy is there for us: when we stay present in our communion with God, we should radiate His presence to others.  While I am not saying that we will begin to physically glow, we all know at least one person whose Christian walk causes them to be "that" person who always seems radiant with the presence of God.

I want to be that person. 

2013 Goals Check:
Read Chronologically through the ESV.
I have completed Genesis and Exodus thus far.  Starting on Leviticus today.

2,013 miles in 2013 for Hope House Challenge:
Heading out for a run soon.  Today will bump my total over 50 for the year.  Yes, I am down on my numbers from the needed average to make it to 1000, but I know I will soon catch up, especially when I change work shifts to one more convenient to running.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I AM the Law.

If you were a comic book person or even a cheesy movie fan, the title of this posting you may recognize.  It is a quote from the comic books/ movie Judge Dredd.  I can't help but read it and hear the line spoken in full on Sly Stallone voice.

I am a BIG fan of the law.  I have been involved in law enforcement for nearly 20 years in one manner or another and have spent several years teaching various types of law in my component's academy (a job I hope to be returning to soon).  Biblically, I an a fan of the Old Testament for its rich history and the law.  Make no mistake, I do not "keep kosher" nor do I believe that the law can save anyone.  I just think that the law points people to their own failings and highlights the need for salvation.

In the Torah (the first five books of the Christian Bible) from a Jewish perspective, there are 613 mitzvot (commandments) given to Israel.  Many are a reiteration of natural law (basic right and wrong), some delineate temple law (and rules of worship), yet others cover relationships between master and slave, family, and a general mish mash of other topics.  Having recently read through this list of mitzvot, I came to the comclusion that there is no way on earth ANYONE could ever stay 100% compliant with this requirement.  And that doesn't even address the legalistic Pharisaical teachings which developed in Judaism (some additional 3,000 laws and "traditions" added dealing with things as minute as proper hand washing).

When we shift gears to the New Testament, we find several verses which still support the Law (just not as a means to salvation), such as the entirety of Galatians 3.  However, a fine point to make is that of James 2:10 "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it."   Just a little side note to remind us if we strive for "perfection" under the law, we need to be faithful to it all and not just the easy parts, though in the end we will still lack the essential saving grace of Christ.

But what does Jesus say about the Law?

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 {ESV}
  So everything that was commanded boils down to these two.  Love God and Love others.  And remember, this is coming from the One who came to save us.  His stated purpose was:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. Matthew 5:17 {ESV}
When you try to compare the Old Testament and the New Testament  the greatest difference is Jesus.  The availability of GRACE and the justification under FAITH in lieu of blood sacrifice.  The two greatest commandments instead of the 3,600 laws and traditions.  The Law was not abolished, but fulfilled (definition of fulfill: to bring to completion or reality; achieve or realize (something desired, promised, or predicted)).
So, in other words, Jesus could easily have quoted Judge Dredd and said "I AM the Law," since He IS the completion, reality, achievement, and realization of ALL the Law promised.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

FIL in the Blanks...

I know, NOT this Jethro.
Reading through Exodus recently I came across a passage I have read many times in the past, yet only now does it really hit home.  In Exodus 18, Jethro (Moses's father-in-law) comes to visit Moses and Israel in the wilderness and returns Moses's wife and children.  While hanging out with the gang, he watches Moses as he goes out to judge Israel and is bogged down in the activity from morning until evening.  Jethro offers Moses some advice. Don't do everything alone, appoint able bodied, God-fearing men to assist you in this.

Good advice.

I could now ramble on about how the "captains of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, of tens" are a precursor to a more modern concept of small groups/cell groups in today's churches.  It would be truth.  But that is not what I take out of this passage...by a long shot.

To me it is more about the advice from the father-in-law (FIL). 

My FIL is a preacher.  Yes, I know the more correct term would be pastor, as he does shepherd a small church in Georgia, but deep down, a preacher is what he is.  I would liken him to a good ole SBC preacher from the olden days.  He is no frills, to the point, and not ashamed of the Gospel.  He tells it like he sees it, and that is not always the "PC" way.  I believe he would be just as happy riding from church to church on horse back sharing the Word of God to the masses.

Before I get too off track, let me state for the record that we are VERY different people.  He is country (sort of like Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty), while I am not so much.  He is not technically savvy, I am a geek.  We have a different perspective on many things, and do not often agree.  To clarify, I do not mean there is conflict or anything like that, just he is going to do things his way (potentially involving duct tape and bailing wire), and I am going to do things my way (usually involves seeking a professional).

Like Jethro to Moses though, he has often stood in the gap and offered me advice (sound advice).  I am very thankful for it when I receive it since I know it comes from his love and acceptance of me and for his daughter.  I know I haven't always followed his advice (and more often than not regretted it), but I always appreciated his views and perspective.

When things fell apart in my life and my relationship with my wife, I harbored anger towards him for (in my opinion) facilitating her departure from me.  I know he was seeking her best interest at the time and still prayed that one day things would correct and we would be reunited.  It took me a long time to get over my anger, but I did talk to him and apologize for what I held in my heart. 

When we spoke and I apologized (tearfully as I repented), he told me he knew my wife still loved me and needed to walk through the hurt I caused her.  And that I needed to give it time, pray about it, and pursue her cautiously and carefully.  In time, God has a plan that we just don't see right now.

As time went on and I fought against it, he was right.  While the plan was nothing I could have ever imagined, the results are nothing less than miraculous.  Things are not all happy-shiny-perfect all the time (this is reality, NOT Hollywood), but they are better than I would have ever imagined.

I am glad he was willing to continue to care for me, pray for me, and love me, and mostly that he was willing to FIL in the Blanks for me (see, there is the pun of the title).  Thank you David.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Exodus 20:3

"You shall have no other gods before me." Exodus 20:3 {ESV}

When Moses was first summoned up Mt. Sinai, God issues His commandments to Moses. The Ten Commandments are all common knowledge from early Sunday School lessons, but do we ever "really" read them and understand them?

I claim no divine interpretations, no special "word" for this time. I just see them for what they are and try to interpret them to my life the best I can.

As I am reading through the English Standard Version of the Bible chronologically this year, I am current in Exodus, specifically beginning chapter 20. And as I read this first several verses, I have to stop because it hits me. I fail in keeping these from the very first.

I am not saying I worship another diety along side the Judeo-Christian God. I am saying that I may have several other "things" in my life I have made "gods."

Before I get too deep in this topic, let's defin the term "god" from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
1: capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: as
a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe
b Christian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind

2: a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality

3: a person or thing of supreme value

4: a powerful ruler
From this set of definitions, several could apply to persons, places, ot things in our life (specifically number 3). Is there something in your life that holds a supreme value to you? Does it concern you when you can't find it? Do you need to reference it frequently through out the day to feel connected? Do you spend countless hours with it?

I am not pointing fingers. I know I am very guilty as well. For me, my phone/internet can be described as a god in my life. I know I give it more time in my day than I give to the one, true God, even if I justify it and say that it is just a tool I am using for His glory.

I am an addict. Addicts do not think straight when they are trying to remove the addiction. I can justify why I need it frmo many directions and feel zero guilt for the justifications. Let's face it, it would be SO difficult to get through life these days with out it.

But, ultimately, that is just the point. God doesn;t want us including ANYTHING in out life which takes our attention away from Him. If I think it would be difficult getting through life without a phone or the internet, how difficult would it be for me to do so without Him?

I want to rely completely on His guiding (not the input from my cyber people, though I value their opinions as well). I need Him to lead me (not the GPS app on my phone which only helps me find an address and not true direction). I need to listen intently for His voice (not a specific ring tone for a close friend).

Oh, and by the way.  While I am not really concerned about the numbers game with statistics, I am surprised that I have surpassed 15,000 page views of my blog.  Thanks for reading.  I appreciate it.

2013 Goals Checks
Read Chronologically through the ESV:
We are journeying with Israel through the wilderness.  Moses is recieving the Ten Commandments, and sharing the first Laws of God.  The people are still gung-ho from the defeat of the Egyptians and ready to follow Moses and God anywhere!  Funny, how this is very allegorical to us.  We have a great victory that can only be attributed to the Lord in our life and we are very motivated to seerve and follow.  But sooner or later we get wrapped up in another issue that needs help and we slowly fade away and seek answers elsewhere.

2,013 in 2013 for Hope House Challenge:
Did not run on Sunday.  As I got in to work, I found out about a half marathon down at Big Bend National Park.  I wish I would have known about it, as I would have liked to run it.  Races (even if I know I am ill prepared) motivate me to get out and run.  Plus, 13.1 miles would go a long way towards getting me situated in a better place for this challenge.  I guess I need to keep my ears open for other local opportunities.  The next race I have on my schedule is a 10K in Roswell, NM on February 23.  The Pecos Valley Round Up.  This will be somewhat of an anniversary for me, as this is the race I ran in 2009 on the spur of the moment which sort of got me hooked on races.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Silence Is Golden...Except When It Isn't.

I tend to lack an inner filter.  I am hasty with my words and usually blurt them out before I reconcile the potential damage they can inflict.  I was painfully reminded of that fact today, but I will not go in to that other than to say I failed.  The realization of the failure and the affect broke my heart.

As I pointed out in my last posting, Exodus 14:14 speaks volumes to me for its message: "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." {ESV}

This verse and today's failure to tame my tongue has me thinking about silence.  Conducting a word search in the ESV, I see several different Dos and Don'ts with silence.

From Job, a fool or one of poor counsel:
"Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!" Job 13:5 {ESV}
From Proverbs and Psalms, silence is golden:
"Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent." Proverbs 17:28 {ESV}

"Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent." Proverbs 11:12 {ESV}

"Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah" Psalm 4:4 {ESV}
When we have a lesson to learn:

“Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray." Job 6:24 {ESV}

"Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; be silent, and I will speak" Job 33:31 {ESV}

"If not, listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.” Job 33:33 {ESV}
When we have a lesson to impart:
"For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14 {ESV}
To praise the Lord!
"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
     you have loosed my sackcloth
     and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
     O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!" Psalm 30:11-12 {ESV}
And when we need to understand the obvious:
"But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” " Matthew 26:63 {ESV}
Not sure if this is helpful to anyone else, but I needed this lesson and hopefully can learn and apply it my life. It sure beats the other contemplated option: Duct Tape!

Goals Check
2,013 in 2013 for Hope House Challenge:
While I did not run yesterday like I had considered, I did go for an approximately 3 mile walk with my wife.  I enjoyed the conversation and the opportunity to spend some quality time with her.  Current total is approximately 38.5 of 1,000 miles complete.  Only 961.5 left to meet my goal. (That is 2.78 miles a day average over the remaining 346 days this year.  I got this!)

Read chronologically through the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible:
Today takes me through Exodus 15-19.  Still a bit ahead of my reading plan, but it is a safer approach since I know I will get bogged down in life at some point in this journey.

Friday, January 18, 2013

And Moses...complained!?

I am back.  I seem to have gotten slightly lost in the the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life.  I have recently transitioned to a new work schedule which has me starting work at 6 pm and getting off work around 4 am.  I will admit it is a very inconvenient shift as far as having quality time with the family.  Since this is the first week of it after about 5 years working the 6 am to 2 pm or a similar variant schedule, it has been pretty difficult to coax my body into a sleep pattern which results in a feeling of being rested.

I was trying to word that paragraph carefully, as to not come off as complaining.  I am trying my best to not be a grumbler or complainer.  I do not believe the old adage that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" and tend to lean towards believing that "the squeaky wheel gets replaced."  I value my job and understand the power of words to even subconsciously set the tone for others.  As a supervisor, I must maintain a positive attitude in hopes of positively influencing those entrusted to my leadership.

Today as I was loading up my daily reading in the Bible (yes, I tend to read online since it is convenient to me) at Bible Gateway, there is a feature on the home page which has a verse for the day.  Today's verse was Philippians 2:14-16:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. {ESV}
This stood out to me since, as I have stated, I am working on my attitude.  My daily reading cycle in the plan I am using (chronologically through the ESV) currently has me in Exodus, particularly the initial calling of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt.  With the verse of the day still on my mind, I was re-reading a couple days back to refocus on the grand scheme before moving into today's reading.  I came to an interesting conclusion:  During Moses's initial call and stuttering steps to obey God's commands, he complained to God about what God wanted him to do.  A LOT.

Here are some early examples (and I can't help but hear it in a whining voice like a child unhappy with his task, all it lacks is a "but I don't wanna..."):

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” Exodus 4:1 ESV


But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Exodus 4:10 ESV

But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Exodus 4:13 ESV

Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” Exodus 5:22-23 ESV

But Moses said to the Lord, “Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?” Exodus 6:12 ESV

But Moses said to the Lord, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips. How will Pharaoh listen to me?” Exodus 6:30 ESV
This is a picture of many of us.  We come to a crucial point in our lives where we need to see God as big enough to take care of what He is requiring from us.  Ours is not to reason why, or to grumble, or to complain, or to doubt.  Ours is to trust.  Completely.  That He IS ABLE.   As I was closing out the last bits of my reading for the day, I found the key verse for this time in Moses's life and for those of us in a turmoil of faith or doubt.  Those of us besieged with worry about the How.  Get ready for it, for it is powerful.
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. Exodus 14:14 ESV
We need to stop asking questions, or complaining about the answers we have been given.  We just need to be quiet and trust that the Lord is fighting for us.  Do what He tells you to do.  The battle IS His.

2013 Goals Check
Read chronologically through the ESV
I am on track based on the plan I am using.  I have read through the Bible from Gen 1:1 to Exodus 14 so far.  I am trying to stay consistent and not get ahead and definitely not to get behind.

2,013 miles in 2013 for Hope House challenge
Since I ran the 13.1 last Saturday, I have not run.  (Here come the excuses) I have been tired from the transition to this new shift, and have been dealing with a flair up of the Peripheral Neuropathy side effcts from my recent chemo poisoning.  Neither is a valid excuse, and tomorrow I plan to get out and hit at least 3 miles.  Without counting what I plan on tomorrow, I am about 14 miles down from the pace I need to hit the 1,000 miles running portion of the challenge.  Still awaiting warmer weather and hopefully a change of venue before beginning to tackle the bicycling portion of the remainder, but if things go according to (MY) plan, I will be back to teaching and would like to bike commute daily when the weather appears to be supportive of it (which is most every day).

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Move the Log.

Tonight, I read an interesting analogy.  It is a metaphor in the life of many people.

If you have a yard, and there is a piece of wood that just lays in the grass for several weeks, months, or years, when you finally get around to removing the piece of wood, underneath it is full of "critters": all sorts of bugs and insects.

The analogy is after years of wearing a mask of "everything is ok" or denying those issues in our life we know are wrong/contrary to God's Word, the critters under our mask build up.  When we finally get around to doing the yard work in our life, and remove the log, the critters scramble everywhere.

These critters represent the past.  Times in our life where we have failed.  Times where we have willfully disobeyed.  Times where we thought we might have gotten away with something.  Without addressing these issues, they will just build up.

Move the log.  Deal with the past.  Let it go and move forward.  Remember:
But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:20-24
Deal with your past.  Give it to God.  He will help you with you future.  He will provide you your new self, and help you wear it, if you listen to His Word.

2013 Goals Check
Read chronologically through the ESV
Today's Reading: Gen 46-50:
Joseph Brings His Family to Egypt
Jacob and Joseph Reunited
Jacob's Family Settles in Goshen
Joseph and the Famine
Jacob Blesses Ephraim and Manasseh
Jacob Blesses His Sons
Jacob's Death and Burial
God's Good Purposes
The Death of Joseph

2,013 in 2013 for Hope House Challenge
I know yesterday I mentioned running the virtual half-marathon in support of my high school class mate running the Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge with a half marathon today and a full marathon tomorrow.  I was over zealous in reporting it completed yesterday, I actually ran it this morning.  I did forget my Garmin data transfer device at home, so I will post the details tomorrow when I return.  I am at approximately 35 miles for the year which is slightly above the average needed to maintain the 1,000 running miles in a year.  Once the weather starts becoming more cooperative (and especially if I return to Artesia, New Mexico for work) I will be getting the bicycles out and logging some serious miles there to train for my sprint triathlon in June and potentially the Wichita Falls, Texas Hotter'n Hell 100 mile ride in August.  Who knows?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Stay in the Current


cur·rent  /ˈkərənt/
Adjective
Belonging to the present time; happening or being used or done now.
Noun
A body of water or air moving in a definite direction, esp. through a surrounding body of water or air in which there is less movement.

One simple word.  Two distinct usages.  One means the "now." And one  is about movement.  They can be connected.

The other day, I wrote a bit about the "now"  and how to get through it relying on Faith in the present.  It has sort of been on my mind a lot lately.  I have come to the realization that I plan too much.  I am not talking about the simple updating of my appointment book to stay on task.  I am referring to my hugely complex and grandiose plans for the future.

There was a sitcom ( I can't remember exactly which one) but one of the characters was extremely retentive when it came to planning.  She would refer to her planner as her "life at a glance".  Several episode plots involve her having to readjust the story of her life. Somewhat cheesy, but VERY similar to me.

Five years ago, I would never have imagined the path my life has take.  In the ensuing years, I would be such a selfish jerk that my family left me, get divorced, fall into a HUGE depression (cleverly masked at work by throwing myself into work), start running to not have to think, make MANY mistakes, get diagnosed with cancer, realize there is only one way through this all, remarry my wife, and genuinely be happy in most aspects of my life for the first time.  A very winding road indeed, and one I could have never scripted or planned for.

My point being, instead of spending so much time planning our future, we need to remain in the now (stay in the current).  Doing this will leave us open to the workings of God.  By staying in the now, we are more susceptible to be moved by the Spirit and fall into God's plans and not our own and flow with them in the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God (stay in the current).  You have two options, go with the flow and let it carry you, or fight it and let it drag you down (but that is how people drown).

Stay relaxed and open to its flow.  You never know where it will take you.  There may be some bumps along the way and a few waves may seem like too much to bear, but it is worth it.  Trust me!

2013 Goals Check
Read chronologically through the ESV
Today's Reading: Gen 41-45
Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dream
Joseph Rises to Power
Joseph's Brothers Go to Egypt
Joseph's Brothers Return to Egypt
Joseph Tests His Brothers
Joseph Provides for His Brothers and Family

2,013 in 2013 for Hope House Challenge
I find it fitting that I write this today from the Hope House in Midland, Texas, as I am staying during a chemotherapy session this weekend.  This place is such a godsend. It relieves the burdens on individuals from having to travel round trips on short times between appointments and provides long term stays if needed.  Currently, in the Midland/Odessa area, with the fracking oil boom happening, hotel rooms are few and far between and if found have been increased in prices to match the extravagant per diem rates being paid for housing by oil companies to its employees temporarily in the area.

I honor of a high school classmate who several years ago was inspired to start running and complete a marathon when he saw I was working towards one, I will complete an impromptu  virtual half-marathon today.  I covered 13.1 miles.  He is currently in Orlando preparing for tomorrows first leg of the Goofy Challenge (a Saturday half marathon followed by a Sunday marathon).  Huge props to him, espeially in the heat warning the Orlando area is under.  Solidarity!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Interruptions

I am a planner.  I am also a fan of spreadsheets.  If you were to scour my computer's hard drive you would find countless spreadsheet upon which I have laid out my life, or at least portions thereof.  Many are in a state of imperfection and/or incompleteness.  I begin them by outlining the "Big Picture" or goal of the moment and begin laying out the steps necessary to achieve.  The point is to lay out the road map for MY interpretation of what I believe God wants for me.

The problem is I tend to get interrupted.  I hate distractions and interruptions.  Can't the world understand that I am doing something important!

Oh, wait a minute...
{flips through the Gospels and reads a bit}

Hmm...have you ever noticed that Jesus's life was FULL of interruptions?

Blaine Smith puts it this way:

Much of Jesus’ ministry was a sanctified response to interruptions. Take a typical day: After teaching a large crowd for a long time, he breaks for time alone, only to have his disciples ask him to explain his parables (Mk 4:10). That evening, while traveling in a boat, they awake him to deal with an unruly storm (Mk 4:38), and when they arrive at the other side of the lake, Jesus is confronted by a man with multiple demons (Mk 5:1-13). In each of these cases, Jesus responds immediately to those who need his help.
Many opportunities, both for serving Christ and for experiencing his provision for our own needs, come packaged in unwelcome interruptions. We need to pray constantly for alertness to these openings when they confront us. Without such awareness, we’re likely to lag behind God’s timing.
That is a truly humbling statement.   How often is our reaction to interruption of OUR plans not the best way to respond to an opportunity God has sent our way.  After all, our plans and God's often conflict unless we are alert and aware of His will.

We need to shelf our disappointment when we are interrupted by God's appointments.

On another note:

I had a thought this evening when I was in a moment of self-loathing:

On a diamond, flaws are called "imperfections" and reduce value.
In a person, flaws add character and can increase value.
Life isn't perfect so you don't have to be either.
Not trying to be a self-help, psychobabble guru.  Just sharing a thought.

Goals Check:
Read chronologically through the ESV:
Today's Reading: Gen 37-40
Joseph's Dream
Joseph Sold By His Brothers
Judah and Tamar
Joseph and Potiphar's wife
Joseph Interprets Two Prisoners' Dreams

2,013 in 2013 for Hope House Challenge:
Today, I am taking a rest day.  I have generally scheduled Fridays for this event; however, though the roads have cleared, this town has no drainage.  All road intersections on my normal route are flooded.  I will therefore run tomorrow instead.  I am planning on 4 tomorrow and up to 5 on Saturday.  We shall see.




Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Guilty Pleasure

I have a guilty pleasure.  No, it is not watching cheesy Zombie films or the grilled PB and 'nana sandwiches, I have NO guilt in those.  My guilty pleasure is: I look forward to Thursdays.

A LOT

Why a weekday that is more or less still in the middle of the week? Not quite the end, but much more than the beginnings?  I could wax philosophically and say that this is the stage I find myself currently in life, but that would be not quite the truth.

I like Thursdays because...

...I LOVE MY WIFE!

Odd, you say, that the manifestation of my love is strongest on a Thursday? Oh, no.  I love my wife and her perspectives on things.  I fell in love with her when we were attending a Bible Study together 19 years ago while I was in the military stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Occassionally, she would lead and we would have "Cheri's 30 seconds with God."  (Simple reminders such as like a tube of tooth paste, we need to be squeezed to get the good stuff out).

Anyway, on Thursdays, she is the featured blogger at Middle Places, and I look forward to reading her posts and gaining insight to life through her eyes.  I find myself on many occasions weeping like a child at her words.  She truly amazes me.

CONTINUALLY

So there you have it, why Thursday is my guilty pleasure.

2013 Goals Check
Read chronologically through the ESV
Today's Reading: Gen 32-36
Jacob Fears Esau
Jacob Wrestles God
Jacob Meets Esau
The Defiling of Dinah
God Blesses and Renames Jacom
The Deaths of Rebekah and Isaac
Esau's Descendants

2,013 in 2013 for Hope House
It was a dark and stormy night... A Little homage to Snoopy there, but it truly is a dark and stormy morning: cold, rainy, and dreary all the way.  But maintaining a positive attitude and quoting a little sign I read yesterday "There is no bad weather, just different types of good weather." And another that read: : "I run because... ...I get to be the weirdo running in the rain and snow".  I liked that one best.  Bring on the weirdness!!  So it was a good day for a run.

Only a half mile today due to conditions. Not for me, for the drivers sliding around the roads and sidewalks.  My safety took precedence.




Tuesday, January 8, 2013

NOW Faith

As you might preen from some of my ramblings, I sometimes take a less than conventional view of the Bible.  I have a slightly off-kilter perspective on what a particular verse or passage is saying.  I have that right.  First, I am no Biblical scholar with alphabet soup behind my name, nor am I conversant in the Biblical languages.  Also, I FIRMLY hold that Scripture talks to the individual.  It will meet you where you are and give you a morsel of bread to sustain you in your trials.

I guess I may not quite be alone in looking at things a bit off.  I have heard an explanation of a fairly popular verse which took a view that I would have likely come to if my situation at the time warranted it.

The verse:

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Generally, when it is read and studied, the word "Now" is seen as a conjunction of sorts to tie it to the previous passages in Chapter 10.  Herews 10:19-39 is giving the recipient of the author's letter the Full Assurance of Faith in Christ.  So, logically, a definition of faith in verse 11:1 and further expounding on the history of faith in later verses brings it all together.

When studying Scripture, we need to look at context of the complete passage or else anyone could randomly pull two verses or parts of verses and put them together, such as Matthew 27:5[b] and Luke 10:37[b] being strung together out of context results in:
"[H]e departed, and he went and hanged himself." "And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise.""
Not a particularly wonderful idea...but I digress.

Back on topic, the explanation of Hebrews 11:1 that I heard (without the accompanying context) has sat with me a long time.

Instead of the word "now" being used in the conjunctive manner, it was taken as an adjective to describe the type of faith: NOW Faith.  Faith for this immediate moment.  And looking at it from that perspective, I can see it fitting.  NOW Faith (faith to get me through this second in my existance) is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  I have a hope for the future, because I know how it all ends.  Maybe not for me in particular, at least the precise manner and time of my passing, but I know the end result of my belief: To be praising God in Heaven.

Therefore (and remember, when you read therefore in the Bible, look previous to it to see what it is there for...), when life gets rough and the appointments and disappointments are weighing on you, remember: NOW Faith.  It will get you through it all. 

A couple other Now Faith verses for you:

Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Galatians 3:11 (ESV)
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.
Galatians 3:23 (ESV)
I hope these will assist you in your struggles and allow you to overcome and live more freely.

2013 Goals Check
Read Chronologically through the ESV.
Today's Reading: Gen 28-31
Jacob Sent to Laban
Esau Marries and Ishmaelite
Jacob's Dream
Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel
Jacob's Children
Jacob's Prosperity
Jacob Flees from Laban

2,013 in 2013 for Hope House Challenge
It is rumored I can possibly expect more Wintery weather here to the tune of 5-6 more inches of snow today or tomorrow.  I hope not, but even so, I WILL RUN. (And I did.)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Overnight Success

Being an overnight success is a myth.

It does not happen in the real world.  There are years of preparatory work that happens behind the scenes to make one ready for the day they shine.  No one has ever decided to compete in a sport on Thursday, and was World Champion in that sport the next day.  They trained diligently for weeks, months, or years to get to the top.

So, you can forget the idea that now that you have made a decision to be a healthier (in all aspects of wellness) you that tomorrow you will wake up and get on the scale or lace up the shoes or open the refrigerator and suddenly it will all fall open for you and you will be perfect.  There will be struggles and pitfalls along the way.  The key is to let go of the mistakes and refocus.

Once you start having little successes, remember how they happened and remain consistent.  If something works for you, stick with it until it no longer does.  This may last a couple days, weeks, or months, but sooner or later you will need to reevaluate what you are doing and change it up a bit to experience new gains (or losses).

One day, you will be able to look in the mirror and see a different person (the new you) and know that all the trials, struggles, and hardships were worth it.  Press On!
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Philippians 3:12-14, 16 (ESV)

2013 Goals Check
Read chronologically through the ESV
Today's Reading: Gen 24-27
Isaac and Rebekah
Abraham's Death and His Descendants
The Birth of Esau and Jacob
Esau Sells His Birthright
God's Promise to Isaac
Isaac and Abimelech
Isaac Blesses Jacob

2,013 in 2013 for Hope House Challenge
I am thankful for my coworkers generosity; however, there is one thing I prefer them not to share.  Sicknesses.  I am dealing with several flu-like symptoms (everything but the fever and nausea).  I would prefer not to be feeling this way, but I am so I will deal with it.  I have no option but to drive on and overcome this yuckiness.  It scares me a bit to think that my already strained blood cells are fighting this and I hope that they can handle the extra burden well enough, and stay sufficiently populated, to allow me to receive my chemo treatment this weekend.  I hate rescheduling or getting otherwise off my established
patterns.



Sunday, January 6, 2013

That You May Walk Worthy of the Lord

I am a fraud, a "poser." 

Not so much in my everyday life as I am on the occassions I participate in a running event or a race.  I can dress the part with decent running gear and shoes.  I can talk the talk, having spent much time reading up on the topic and studying it for a better understanding of the processes for training and racing.  I will, at times, find myself offering suggestions to others to help them improve their game.

Then, when the race starts, I immediately fall to the back of the pack and find myself struggling.  You see, I have the head knowledge, but I fail to put it into place for my life.  I fail to adequately train for the endeavor, and I fail (or at least do not run the race as I had intended).

It is a lot like Christianity.  Many of us (note, I include myself in this statistic), have spent a long time "studying to show ourselves approved," reading the Bible cover to cover each year or several times a year, and devouring the latest Christian-based self-help books on the market.  But when all is said and done, there is little difference in our every day performance.  We are talking the talk, without walking the walk.

We can quote scripture to point out flaws in our brothers' and sisters' "training plan" but don't see the gaping omission in our own.  (The whole plank in the eye thing here...)

Running and this Christian walk are somewhat similar, both take daily training to be most effective.  But just reading about it and actually doing it are very different.  As Paul says in Ephesians 4:1 (ESV), "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called..."  We need to take what we know and apply it to ourselves and walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, put our feet on the pavement and do what we know to be right.

I know I am guilty of this.

Dear Lord, help me put action behind my faith.  Teach me to apply Your way to my life.  I have the knowledge, I NEED the application. 

2013 GOAL Check:
Read through the ESV chronologically.
Today's Reading: Gen 20-23
Abraham and Abimelech
The Birth of Isaac
God Protects Hagar and Ishmael
A Treaty With Abimelech
The Sacrifice of Isaac
Sarah's Death and Burial

2,013 in 2013 for Hope House
Yesterday, I ran a 5K race.  Today, I feel really good.  That run helped get some of the kinks out that have been holding me back.  I know I was a couple miles short of the average needed last week to remain on pace for this goal.  This week I look to maintaining an even pace and potentially moving up to the full pace by catching up a couple days.  I need to cover roughly 20 miles for this week to stay on the pace and a few extra on days I feel good to make up for the shortage of last week.

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I have chemo scheduled and I will be staying in the Hope House in Midland.  I have a plan for the carrying of my chemo while I run.  It won't be pretty, but trust me, when I run few things are.



Saturday, January 5, 2013

Move

Sometimes when I face a block to productivity (at least where writing is concerned) I lean on my ever faithful crutch: song lyrics.  This time, it is not so much about a block as a song fitting in so well with the theme or direction I feel things are heading.

This year, one of my goals is to run 1,00 miles (a total of 2,013 miles running/bicycling) and contribute $1 for each mile I cover to Hope House (a Midland, Texas charity which provided temporary housing to individuals and their families when seeking cancer treatment in the Midland, Texas area).  If you are so inclined, there is a Donate button on this web page to contribute as well towards my goal.

Based on this goal, much of my writing will focus on the idea of Moving, from getting started, to keeping it going, to finishing strong.  On that note, I will share the song lyrics to "Move" by Mercy Me, an upbeat song that inspires me to just move.  Because where we are is not where we need to finish, there is a destination for us.  We all need to move.

The hardest step of anything you want to accomplish is the first one.  It is surrounded by self-doubt, nay-sayers, and uncertainty.  But the only way to get from one place to the next is to put one foot in front of the other and just MOVE.  To quote J.R. R. Tolkien, "Little by little, one travels far."  Take the first step.

Move by Mercy Me
I'm not about to give up
Because I heard you say
There's gonna be brighter days
There's gonna be brighter days

I wont stop, Ill keep my head up
No, I'm not here to stay
There's gonna be brighter days
There's gonna be brighter days

I just might bend but wont break
As long as I can see your face

(Chorus)
When life wont play along
And right keeps going wrong
And I cant seem to find my way
I know where I am found
So I wont let it drag me down
Oh, I'll keep dancing anyway

I'm gonna move (move)
I'm gonna move (move)
I'm gonna move (I'm gonna move)

Ive got to hold 'er steady
Keep my head in the game
Everything is about to change
Everything is about to change

This hurt is getting heavy
But I'm not about to cave
Everything is about to change
There's gonna be brighter days

I just might bend but wont break
As long as I can see your face

(Chorus)

No matter what may come
Gotta move to a different drum
No matter what life brings
Gotta move gotta move to a different beat (x2)

I just might bend but wont break
As long as I can see your face

(Chorus) x2
Goals Update:
I know these may get old fast for those of you who happen by this blog, but it is a way for me to accomplish several things: stay accountable, track progress, and share struggles/disappointments.  It also gives me a reason to get myself behind the keyboard and pilot this ship a little further. 

Read through the ESV Bible chronologically.
Today's reading:
Genesis 16-19.
Sarai and Hagar
Abraham and the covenant of circumcision
Isaac's birth promised
Abraham intercedes for Sodom
God rescues Lot
God destroys Sodom
Lot and his daughters

2,013 in 2013 for Hope House.
Today, I ran a 5K in Monahans, TX.  I know I am still a bit short of where I should be for my daily averages, but I anticipate making up  miles soon.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hunting Season Is Open!!

I challenge you this year, as you go through your life and attempt to affect the changes you desire for yourself, to start hunting.  I am not encouraging any of you to suit up in RealTree camo and grab a shotgun to slay a beast (not that, IMHO, there is anything wrong with that choice), but I am encouraging you to start hunting "Yeah, Buts." 

Hunting "Yeah, Buts" involves careful preparation, attention to detail, and a killer instinct.  They are a very dangerous creature that will suddenly spring up and slay your dreams/desires/goals.  They MUST be eradicated!!

During this time of change, pay close attention to your conversations (both internal and external) when ever you find yourself saying or thinking "Yeah, but..." STOP!  Pull out your weapon of choice and kill it!

"Yeah, Buts..." have laid waste to the best intentions of many.  They are the excuses/justifications we make to ourselves about why we can't accomplish a goal.

Live the life you have always wanted.  Dream big and achieve bigger!  There is no other day than today to make a move in that direction.

"Yeah, Buts..." must die!

2013 Goal Checks

Read chronologically through the ESV Bible.
Today's Reading: Gen 12-15
The Call of Abram
Abram in Egypt
Abram and Lot Separate
Abram Rescues Lot
The Lord's Covenant with Abram

2,013 miles in 2013 for Hope house Challenge
Today I am taking an off day.  Due to the hazardous road conditions from the nearly 6" of snow here in west Texas.  Tomorrow I have a 5K race.  I am not concerned with the negative impact the off day wil lhave on the necessary 2.74 mile a day average to meet the 1,000 mile running goal.  I will make it up soon and actually be ahead. 

I am planning on cross training a bit with a casual ride on the stationary bike.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter (Exit) Here...

In the first part of Dante's epic poem Divine Comedy, titled Inferno, Dante draws a picture for us of Hell.  At the gates of Hell is a sign which reads, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." 

Analogically, it is befitting for those who have taken upon themselves a Resolution or Goal to become a runner (or engage in any other fitness related activity) during 2013.  Once you step through the door, reason needs to leave your mind.  You are embarking on the path of running just because you can.  Covering endless miles on varied surfaces for the sheer enjoyment and challenge of it.  You need to place a sign on the inside of your door stating "Abandon all hope, ye who EXIT here."  You will consider yourself insane once you see the cumulative miles add up, but you will also smile knowing that not too long ago you would have never considered it possible.

We are at the start of a long journey.  Becoming a runner doesn't happen over night (though even with your first run, you can start calling yourself a runner!!).  It takes time to develop your mind and body to the point where (the majority of) the pain is not so frequent or possibly debilitating.  It takes time to convince yourself that it is ok to be a little selfish and have some alone time with the open road. 

I fully understand this transition.  I am currently engaged in this transformation once again. 

As a younger man, I was in the military.  And, while I ran often and recorded some decent times and distances, I never considered myself a runner.  I engaged in the activity simply because I was compelled to participate.  After the Army, I stopped until I needed to condition my body to prepare for the rigors of the law enforcement academy I attended when I was selected for my current employment.

Again, after the forced aspect of participating in a regimented physical training program, I fell back to my old ways of nothingness.

In February 2009, with my life in pretty much  rubble around my feet, I made a spur of the moment decision to enter a 10K run with no training or preparation.  I did surprisingly well, all things considered, and suffered for my decision for weeks afterward.  I was unable to walk without pain for a long time due to going from 0-60 without the benefit of training or even stretching.

But it did something to me.  With the weight of my troubles on my mind, I started moving and everything clicked into auto-pilot.  I didn't have to think, I just had to put one foot in front of the other.  The body knew what needed to be done.  It gave me a sense of accomplishment and helped me see that I could enjoy running for the cathartic aspect of it.

Since that time, while I was still a pretty inconsistent runner and prone to minor injuries due to improper shoes for me, form, and a litany of other things, I have successfully completed several other 10K races and a half and full marathon.  I am still (as of December 31, 2012) inconsistent (changing that for 2013!!!), but I desire to be able to look at myself in the mirror and with a straight face, say, and mean, "I AM a runner!"

For more information on starting a running lifestyle, a great resource is the Beginners section of the Runners World web site.  It is chocked full of interesting articles and tips to help you make the transition.  Enjoy, and in the words of the wonderful former contributor to Runners World John Bingham (author of the Penguin Chronicles), "Waddle On!".

Goals Check:
Read through the ESV Bible chronologically.
Today's Reading: Gen 8-11
The Flood Subsides
God's Covenant with Noah
Noah's Descendants
Nations Descend from Noah
The Tower of Babel
Shem's Descendants
Terah's Descendants

2,013 in 2013 for Hope House
Third day of this challenge.  So far I have covered XX miles and have set aside $1 for each mile to my jar saving it up to contribute to the Hope House at the end of the year.  I am still working out the kinks of a prolonged departure from running and look forward to the day that it all falls into place again and I once again experience the dopamine-induced "euphoria" which comes with a run well-completed.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

If You Do Well...

Genesis 4:7 has a very poignant phrase spoken by God to Cain, "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it." The visualization of "sin crouching at the door" is striking to me. I see (if you ever watched "Dead Like Me") Gravelings huddled up at the door waiting to instill their mischievousness on me. We need to "rule over" this sin. The only way to do this is to keep our focus on God and the things He wants for us.

The story of Cain and Abel is tale which features jealousy and murder. Cain represents humanity when we get jealous of our peers who seem to have it all together. Their offerings are accepted while ours are not. It doesn't mean our offerings are not worthy to be offered, but that perhaps our motive of the offering was not worthy. Cain became angry when his offering was not regarded. Notice that there was never a command from God to provide these offerings, the brothers just did it. And Abel's was accepted (of course, this is also a foreshadowing of further OT doctrine of blood sacrifice, but I will not go into that here).

Another point of the story, at least from my reading perspective, is when God questions Cain. We know God to be omniscient (all-knowing). Why did He question Cain as to the location of Abel? (Verse 9). My take is that God always provides us an opportunity to admit our sins. Sadly, Cain takes the wrong path and fails to accept culpability. He denied knowledge of Abel's fate. And, just like Cain, we can not lie to God. God will punish us for our deceit.
Goal Update:

Reading chronologically through the ESV.
Today's Reading Genesis 4-7:
Cain and Abel
Adam's Descendants to Noah
Increasing Corruption of Earth
Noah and the Flood

2,013 in 2013 for Hope House
No major complaints or body aches from yesterday's run. Sure, I admit, it was a less than stellar performance, but I figure I did better than everyone who stayed on the couch. I know I have a long way to go to reach this goal (even the 1,000 miles running) and am looking forward to the point when my Garmin GPS acknowledges that my totals so far are even registering a percentage of total completion. Pretty depressing knowing that I made the effort and it still reads 0% complete.

I REALLY hope to get either a temporary assignment or full-time transfer back to Artesia. The standard Wal-Mart loop run was always a good run (and I miss running with the group). Being able to sign up for the training group for Marathon training will put a good dent in the total mileage needed to succeed in this endeavor. If not, I will have to muster A LOT of self-discipline to make it happen on my own (with the prodding/snarky comments of someone who has decided to do this as well--the 1,000 mile challenge--pushing me forward and getting me out the door, for which I am thankful).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In The Beginning, God...

"In the beginning, God..."

Even if you are not well-versed in your Bible, I am sure you recognize that line from Genesis 1:1.  It is the first four words of the English language Bible across nearly all available versions.

2013 has dawned and so far it is without mistake and pristine.  It is the perfect year, full of potential, of hope, and dreams.  One way to keep it that way is to ponder and apply those first four words daily.

In the beginning, God...  I need to seek him in the morning to clarify His path for me and guide my steps.  I need to give thanks for the ability to seek Him and all the blessings and mercies He renews every morning.  He never changes, He is always waiting for us to join Him.

I am working with the theme this year from Psalm 90:12 from the English Standard Bible [ESV], "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."  I need to treat every day as special and make it count.  I need to acquire a "heart of wisdom." Notice, the wisdom is assigned to the heart and not the head.  Seek wisdom; the Bible is full of references to doing so and names the source of it all: Proverbs 2:6, Colossians 2:2, Daniel 2:20, Romans 11:33, 36, Job 11:7, Jeremiah 33:3, Matthew 13:11, Ephesians 1:17, Amos 3:7, Daniel 2:28, John 8:31, and so many more.

Seek Him.  Number your days well.  And remember: In the beginning, God!

2013 Goals Check:

Reading chronologically through the Bible
Today's reading, Genesis 1-3.  The creation of the world, God rests, The creation of man and woman, The Fall.  Completed.

2,013 in 2013 Challenge for Hope House
Planned on getting up a little earlier and running into work (3-ish miles) and then running home after work for a total of just over 6 miles for the day.  Things did not work out so well.  I was very tired when the alarms started ringing and it was VERY dark and the route to work is pretty rural with limited lighting.  I did not desire to carry a flashlight and I had a backpack full of work gear.  I chose to salvage my already not quite so wonderful back and just drive in.  Looks like afternoon runs for the next 2 weeks until my shift changes.  I did complete an afternoon run.  2.55 miles down, 997.45 to go (for running goal, 2010.45 for overall goal).