Archive for the ‘Gospel of Matthew’ Category



January 4, 2014

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.   Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  Matthew 6:34

Tri-Bike TrainerThe mental weakness that has been exposed by my indoor cycling trainer has gotten me to thinking about endurance and some of the common principles between physical and spiritual endurance.  However, I came up with six principles that help me practice mental toughness in times of endurance both physical and spiritual.

1.      Control Your Emotions.

2.      Small Tasks


How do you eat an elephant?… One mouthful at a time.

Endurance requires that we do not waste energy on those things outside of our control.


When running, I have found that it is not good to think about what mile 10 is going to feel like when mile 3 is not feeling so good.  I can usually make it to the next intersection or up the next rise or around the coming corner.  I don’t have control of much of what is down the road.  It might be pretty ugly but then again it might not.  I never really know.  Therefore, I try to run the road immediately in front of me.  I have confidence in my hydration and fueling strategy.  I know what heart rate will keep me in an aerobic zone.  All I have to do it keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually the finish line will appear.

Endurance is much easier to bear when you have companions working with you.


Riding 100 miles on a bicycle is daunting.  However, it is not too bad when all you have to do is stick to the wheel of the rider right in front of you.  I have been amazed at the difference between riding in a group and going solo.  There are clear drafting advantages that make riding in a group easier but I think the mental assistance is just as important.  The preoccupation of the brain with the dynamics of a group ride makes the miles slip by largely unnoticed in comparison to the mental battle of a solo ride.

Always count your own laps. Counting might seem trivial but keeping track of where you are and where you are going is critical for endurance.

20131001-235329My stomach always turns when I think about swimming over 40 laps.  I have tried counting down; I have tried counting up; neither has worked very well for me.  Therefore, I count laps in groups of five; I can’t count much beyond that anyways but my brain accepts 8 sets easier than it does 40 laps.  However, I always know how far I have to go.  I have a counter that straps to my index finger.  Although I play games with counting to keep my mind occupied, there is always the sure lap count on my index finger.  I am reminded of a swim story that I read:

At one California high school meet where there were no lap counters, nearly an entire heat of the girls’ 500 freestyle lost track of how many laps they had raced. Everyone in the heat except for the girl in last place assumed the girl in first place was keeping the right count. While everyone else was hanging on the wall thinking they were done with the race, the girl in last place—who knew exactly how many lengths of the pool she still needed to race—flip-turned. By the time the others in the heat figured out what was going on, the girl who had been in last place was nearly 25-yards ahead of everyone else. She finished the race in first place.  How to Count Swimming Laps


Why do we worry about tomorrow?  Anxiety and worry makes spiritual endurance so much harder – it makes me want to give up.

For me, the sinful tendency of my worrying heart overflows during those sleepless, semi-conscious, nights with insomnia.  Just the other night, I overcame the temptation of anxiety by following the principles of endurance.  I awoke, a quick glance at the clock on my night stand told my brain that it should be asleep yet the cogs of worry had already started to turn.

1:30 AM and I worried about work – how to retain clients, why didn’t we get that last job, will we get the next one and how, how will a lawsuit play out, how should we respond, how do we respond to all the changes in our market, how can we keep everyone working, …what if , what if,…I have got to go to sleep.

2:30 AM and I worried about my kids – an upcoming NCFCA tournament, will my son be ready, will he make friends, what about my daughter’s friends, what about their hearts, do they love Jesus, are they saved, how to pay for college, will they have a happy life,…what if, what if,…I have got to go to sleep.

3:00 AM and I worried about my family – declining health, the lifestyle of extended family, their salvation, what about my retirement, where will we live if the wheels fall off, can I take care of all my responsibilities, how will I provide for my wife and kids, what will people say, surely they will gloat over my failures,… what if, what if,… I have got to go to sleep.

3:30 AM and I bemoaned my existence – the hours of fretting and worrying had successfully found the combination to a dark and brooding mental file that contains all the necessary supporting evidence of my failures and defeats.  The full force of a pessimistic mind had turned in on itself and shattered my will to endure in those dark hours before the sun rose.

By 3:45 AM, my anxious mind had swirled my desire to endure around a drain of defeat; whispering the glories of a hermit and a retreat to a protected life in a secluded warehouse,… I had had enough.  I roused myself from its semi-conscious state that was allowing my sinful heart of worrying to prey upon my undefended mind.

I prayed to regain the control of my mind.

I prayed the promises of God –He is in control of the future; I recalled how He took David from a cave to the throne; He was the one who blessed Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; He is the one who brings rain and drought.  He knows what I need.  He is my Father and He knows how to give good gifts.  I am so much more valuable to Him than the birds of the air.  My fretting about all that is beyond me showed me how little faith I have.  I cried out into the dark, “Lord, help me in my unbelief.  Take my worries and concerns.  I trust you with them.”

I prayed God’s presence.  I thanked Him for never leaving me or forsaking me.  He is my constant companion.  He is in me and I in Him.  I recalled that all that He calls me to do is to take up my cross and follow Him.  Even when I feel friendless, I am never alone.  I just have to set my mind on the things of His Spirit.  The joy of the Lord is the wheel set before me.  I just need to set my eyes upon it and follow.  I can do that.  He has promised to give me the strength to do that.  I know if I do that then these times of worry are going to slip by largely unnoticed if I will trust in Him alone.

I prayed my Ebenezer’s (1 Samuel 7:12).  I contentiously went to that gloriously bright mental file of all the victories that the Lord has given me.  I counted them and recalled how God has been faithful to me particularly in my defeats and failures.  I considered how far he has taken me.  His grace has carried me through so many laps.  His grace has always been sufficient.  I praised Him for is love and mercy.  I praised Him for how He has used me in all my weakness and unfaithfulness.  While Istill long for heaven, I thanked Him for the work that He has given be to yet accomplish through the power of His Spirit; I thanked Him that my hope is not in this world; I praised Him for the life in His presence that He has promised.  I run this race to that finish line and I am not done yet.

…and sometime during those prayers of praise… I slept, my will to endure restored through the power of the Spirit.

(I hope to post the other 3 principles in the coming days.)

PRAYER: O Lord, come, my fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing the praises of your grace and mercy; Father, I raise my Ebenezer; here by your great help I’ve come; and I hope, by your good pleasure to safely to arrive at home.  I am constrained daily as a debtor to your grace.  Let your goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.   Hear my praise O Lord (Come Thou Fount)   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Extravagant Grace, Barbara R. Duguid
6 Navy SEAL Tips to Achieve Mental Strength


“PRINCIPLES OF ENDURANCE – Control Your Emotions” – Jan 1

January 1, 2014

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Tri-Bike TrainerRiding an indoor trainer is hard.  The physical endurance required for a trainer is no harder than riding along a rolling countryside road.  My legs cannot tell the difference between an interval in my basement or one on a road separating vast crops of mint and sugar beets.

However, my brain can tell the difference.

My brain is the nemesis that often defeats me.  My legs rarely demand that I dismount the trainer.  Physically, I know that I could go longer but it is my will that cracks when I am laboring.  I hate that.  I hate it when my brain quits while my body still has more left in the tank.  My mental weakness is fully exposed on the trainer.

Mental toughness in physical activities naturally leads me to contemplate mental toughness in spiritual realms.  Perseverance is the Christian word for those who are spiritually tough.  I have yielded to temptations when I knew that I did not need to.  I have seen some yokes of the Lord and cringed at the anticipated burden.  I felt heavily laden and sought out my rest.  I know that all my failures and weaknesses come from a sinful heart that exposes itself through mental weakness.

BonkI hate that my brain quits while the Spirit has unfathomable strength to offer.  I do not want to be the guy who does not endure well.  I want to be the one who perseveres to the end.  I have found that mental toughness does not just happen.  It has to be practiced.

Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like the muscles of the body.
~ Lynn Jennings

I realize that analogy between physical and spiritual mental toughness is not perfect.  It falls apart because we have an all-sufficient God who supports our faith.  However, I came up with six principles that help me practice mental toughness in times of endurance both physical and spiritual.

1.     Control Your Emotions

Physical (Negative Thoughts):
There is nothing that will get me to quit quicker than negative thoughts.  I fight negative thoughts.  I keep speaking the positive to myself – “You’ve got this”, “easy-peasy”, “Shut-up legs; you will obey me”, “I can go for miles”, “this is too much fun”.  I try to grimace with a smile.  I try to keep good posture and form; my emotions follow my posture.

Spiritual (Negative Thoughts):
Doug Wilson wrote “Sins are like grapes; they come in bunches.”  The truth of that statement resides in the negative thoughts that we wallow in after a spiritual failure. I try to fight those negative thoughts by practicing the following: (1) Immediately repent; (2) Acknowledge that I am weak and sinful; (3) Preach the wonder of the gospel to myself; (4) Praise God for my redemption through Christ Jesus; (5) Allow my weakness to drive me in greater joy in Christ rather than self-deprecation.

We must fight to keep the negative thoughts of defeat from stealing our joy. We are weak and sinful. Our joy does not come from our own strength and self-discipline. It comes from the fact that we are forgiven. Our perseverance comes from learning to quickly run head long into the arms of our forgiving Father when we stumble and fall. It is always bad for our souls when we linger in the negative thoughts away from the presence of our Lord.

Physical (Racing Someone Else’s Race):
Nothing gets me to implode quicker than racing someone else’s race.  I have to fight the over exuberance of chasing after other competitors.  It is easy to start chasing someone else beyond your ability and find yourself exhausted along the edge of the road.  When someone passes me, I work to trust my strategy.  I control the discouraging emotions of being passed and look for encouragement of being in the same race as that exceptional person.

Spiritual (Living Someone Else’s Faith):
The other area where I have imploded spiritually is through an unhealthy desire for the faith of others.  I have chased after the faith of others and wondered why I was unable to do what they had done.  I have ladened myself with the latest spiritual self-help methods.  I have thought that if I just followed prescribed spiritual disciplines than I would be able to live a life of personal holiness. It is easy to allow a healthy appreciation of the faith that God has blessed other brothers and sister in Christ with to transform into an unhealthy concept that our sanctification is wholly based upon our efforts.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

We need to trust that our faith is in the capable hands of its founder and perfecter – Jesus Christ.  We are to be encouraged by fellow followers of our age and those who have gone before us.  Their examples are given as an encouragement for us to strive with endurance in our own personal journeys of faith – setting aside the weight and sin that clings to us.  However, our personal paths are not found by chasing others.

Jesus is perfecting our faith uniquely in each of us.  He has us exactly where He wants us for His glory.  We should be encouraged by fellow followers of Christ, but still trust the one who created the new life within us.  We will do what we love to do – we were created that way.  We need to follow the joy that has been set before us.  New desires come with the new life that we have in Christ Jesus.  Therefore, follow the bread crumbs of joy that the Spirit has laid before you.

The Spirit has taken us on a wonderfully rewarding journey of endurance to the very end.  We need to trust Him and not make our sanctification a slave to someone else’s faith.

(In my not so successful attempt at keeping my posts shorter, I will post the other 5 principles in the coming days.)

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for being the founder and perfecter of my faith.  Thank you for giving me a joy unspeakable.  Father, help be to focus on You in all that I do.  Help me to look to You as my example; make me gentle and lowly in heart.  Show me the rest that I can find only in You.  Teach me to endure.  Train me so that I will learn to rely upon you in everything and thereby become mentally tough in you.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Extravagant Grace, Barbara R. Duguid
6 Navy SEAL Tips to Achieve Mental Strength



December 27, 2013

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”  Matthew 7:21-23

Cover of "Elf (Infinifilm Edition)"

My family and I fulfilled what has become one of our Christmas traditions.  We watched “Elf”.  One of our favorite scenes is when Buddy learns that Santa will be coming to the Gimbel’s department store.  Buddy’s pure enthusiasm upon hearing of Santa’s pending arrive is contagious.

Elf the movie:  Santa Announcement

The divergent realms of religion and spirituality all proclaim to know God with as much enthusiasm and confidence as Buddy the Elf.  They shout out with certainty that they know God.  Their great works are provided as proof that they really do know and have experienced God.  However, Jesus tells us that they will be proven as false as a Santa that smells like meat and cheese.

Jesus teaches us that we must know Him and also be known by Him.

There are many voices who encourage us to explore the spiritual.  Some deem all spiritual experiences equal.  Others preach a religion devoid of Christ.  Others have cast Christ as a good teacher, a prophet, the brother of Satan, or a mere created mortal.  Yet, they all claim to know God.

Enthusiasm does not make us known by God.
Extreme devotion to a belief does not merit recognition by God.
Even an intellectual knowledge of Jesus does not obligate acknowledgement by God.

There are few things more tragic than a life led in devotion to a false belief.  We are told that there will be many devoutly spiritual people, even professing Christians, who will be rejected because they are not known by Christ.  They were never one of His.

Jesus knows who are His own.  He is the good shepherd – He knows His sheep.

I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.  (John 10:14-15)

Reza Vaziri / / CC BY-NC

Jesus calls out to His sheep.  His sheep are the ones who know His voice and follow Him.  They are the ones who believe that He is the one Shepherd who laid down His life for them.  They are the individuals who trust His leading as the Shepherd of the one true flock.

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  (John 10:3-4)

The ones, who change the gospel of Jesus Christ, proves that they are not one of His sheep because they don’t know His voice.  They don’t believe that He is the one shepherd.  They don’t believe in the one flock of God as revealed in the Bible.

We must be very careful of the voices that we listen to in this confused and deceitful world.  There are many voices shouting, with great enthusiasm, a false spirituality that will only lead to rejection by the one true God.

We can easily recognize these false voices because they lie about who the one Shepherd is and what He did for us.  Don’t be led astray by enthusiasm or miraculous works.  We all need to listen to the voice of the one Shepherd and follow Him alone regardless of all the noise going on around us.

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for calling out to me.  Thank you for drawing me to yourself.  Thank you for being a shepherd to me.  Father, attune my ears to your voice.  Help me to discern your leading from all the false teachings vying for my attention.  Teach me to set my eyes upon You, my one Shepherd.  Enable me to trust your leading and create in me a desire to follow You wherever You may lead.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



December 26, 2013

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:46


I saw this message emblazoned across a young man’s shirt.  The t-shirt should be a statement of personal self-loathing but I know it to actually be a statement of arrogance.  Unfortunately, there are many who live by this personal mantra – “the world is full of idiots”.

However, they will never include themselves in that category.  When they are an expert in some area, they are quick to judge the  actions of people who do something foolish in that area of expertise and thereby demonstrate that idiots abound.  “Did you see that idiot trying to ______________.”

The reality is that they are more correct than they realize.  The world is full of idiots.  Actually, everyone is an idiot in more categories than they are not.

Can you explain the purpose of the camshaft in an internal combustion engine?
– No? You’re an idiot in mechanics.

Can you list the three components of a framed wall?
– No? You’re an idiot in construction.

Can you define a measure in music?
– No? You’re an idiot in music.

Can you calculate the future worth of an annuity?
– No? You’re an idiot in finance.

Can you list the primary colors?
– No? You’re an idiot in art.

Can you explain the difference between the cerebrum and  the cerebellum?
– No? You’re an idiot in medicine.

Can you solve this calculus equation?

– No? You’re an idiot in mathematics.

It takes very little introspection to realize that there are more things that I know less about than those that I know more of.  It takes even less introspection to acknowledge that there are many people who know more about every subject that I have the most knowledge of.

Therefore, I am a genius to a few and an idiot to a lot.

Any brilliance that I may have is dwarfed by the extent of my foolishness.  If I can’t stand idiots, then I can’t stand the majority of who I am.  So, why are we impatient with those who know less about the subjects in which we are most confident?


Those who are quick to point out the foolishness of other people usually do in order to make much of themselves.  They excel at degrading other people’s inadequacies because it makes them feel superior.  A humble view of the world as a whole should interpret “the world is full of idiots” as a statement of unity.  The world is full of idiots and I am chief of the idiots in many areas.

This arrogance of overconfidence has a way of infiltrating our spiritual lives.  We can arrogantly give simple solutions to complex problems that will be as helpful as pointing out how foolish someone may be.  It may make us feel better about ourselves but does nothing to help the other person.

We can judge a struggling brother or sister for their spiritual failures.

If they only read their Bible as much as I do, then they would mature more in their faith.
If they would only step out in faith like I have, then God would bless them.
If they would only trust God like I do, then they could resist temptations.

We should have compassion for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  They may be making very foolish decisions – we need to pray for them, encourage, and support them to make better decisions.  We should not arrogantly point out how idiotic they are.  I may not be struggling in the same area as they do but the reality is that I am struggling in other areas that might not be as visible.

Every follower of Christ is maturing in their faith.  Since our spiritual maturity is a work of the Spirit from the beginning to the end, there is no place in the body of Christ for spiritual arrogance.  The church is full of idiotic people.  That is a statement of unity.  I am chief in many areas among a foolish and imperfect people.

We foolishly fall short of the perfection that we are called to every single day.  Jesus told us that our righteousness has to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees or we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:20)

Do you retaliate when someone does something mean to you?
Do you love and pray for those who are causing you harm?
Do you go above and beyond your obligations?
Do you get angry and irritated?
Do your eyes linger lustfully?
Do you relish your wealth?
Do you want to be seen and made much of?

You are a moral idiot.
I am a moral idiot.

I am incapable of being perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect.  I have made so many bad decisions.  I continue to make idiotic choices.

That is why I am so thankful that God is patient with idiots like me.  I am so thankful that He has provided a perfection that I could not achieve on my own.  I am grateful for Christ giving me His righteousness to cover all of my foolishness.

If God is so patient with an idiot like me, should I not be just as patient and gracious with His other children.  We need to humble ourselves and patiently endure the foolish, in ourselves and other people, because God can stand idiots – He is doing it right now.

Therefore, let us declare as God does,

Can Stand Idiots

PRAYER: O Lord, forgive me for being impatient with those whom you are sanctifying.  Forgive me for being critical of those who struggle in areas where you have made me strong.  Father, thank you for being patient with me and all of the foolishness that I continue to return to.  Lord, continue your work in me.  Continue your work in the Church.  May we glorify You as we are transformed from our idiotic ways.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.


“GET LOW” – Dec 19

December 19, 2013

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Matthew 6:6

Winter cycling has no allure for me.  I don’t get that anxious feeling of excitement when the allotted training time begins to approach.  It is easy to find an excuse not to do what feels like an obligation.

My excuses come easily because I am cycling on a trainer in my basement.  Spinning on a trainer is cycling at its worst.  I start in my basement and stop in my basement with only the sensation of the increasing burning fatigue in legs that are pedaling to nowhere.


I cycle in my basement for the sole purpose of preventing the loss of last season’s gains.  I want to emerge from my basement in the spring at the same level of fitness that I entered it in the fall.  The only way I know how to do that is to keep pedaling to nowhere.

I have added another goal to my winter cycling to try to increase my motivation.  I am working on my aero-position.  My hope is to build the endurance and flexibility to stay as low as possible on my aero-bars for an entire 24 mile ride.  However, this goal has made an already unpleasant training time even more unpleasant.  My tired legs now have company in their protestations.  The combination of legs and shoulders questioning what I am doing has caused serious motivation problems.

I was beginning to question the value of my goal when I am down on my miserable aero-bars with the only wind coming from a fan.

I was reminded of the importance of my goal when I listened to a fascinating podcast  the other day.  It was an interview by Richard Diaz at Diaz Human Performance and John Cobb.  John Cobb is renowned for his expertise in fitting cyclists, particularly triathletes and time-trialers, into the most optimum aerodynamic position on the bike.  I have posted links to several of his fitting videos at the end of this post.  I was reminded in this podcast that you don’t ride on aero-bars for a leisurely cycling experience.

You ride in an aero-position to go fast. 

It takes 746 Watts to produce one horsepower (Hp).  A puny car can produce 100 Hp or 74,600 Watts.  According to John Cobb, “a good performing human for an Ironman distance can average only about 200 Watts”.  I know that I am not what he would consider a good performing human so I am sure that my average watt production over a 100-mile course will be probably be in the 150-160 Watt range.

So, we don’t have very good motors.  If that is the case, you have a limited motor, limited horsepower, but if you are trying to go “X” distance, pretty fast, then the only thing you can do is get through the air easier…The power to get through the air doubles the faster you go so it is incredibly important to pay attention to all kinds of little things to reduce the drag…your basic position is a huge thing.
~ John Cobb (not a direct quote)

Anyone who has spent time cycling knows this to be true.  We don’t have very powerful motors.  The best of cyclists are humbled by a head wind.  Steep climbs cripple our speed.  Our fastest times come on the downhills only with the aid of gravity.  We don’t have good motors so we must be as efficient as possible with converting that power into forward motion.  The most efficient position is staying low on the aero-bars.

You have a choice, you can suck it up and stay low, it is five more minutes, or you can take a turn and go to the donut shop and relax.  You can go either way.  ~ John Cobb

Richard Diaz asked a question that crystallized why my winter goal is worth it.

Richard Diaz:  When dealing with a really big wind, I get out of the saddle and try to muscle my way through it, in interval fashion.  Do you gain a mechanical advantage by doing intervals through a big wind?

John Cobb:  You cannot build enough power to offset the aerodynamic gain by being lower… if you are willing to suck it up into a head wind position, you need to choke up on your aero-bars so you can build more leverage, get into a harder gear…and concentrate on your on your pedal stroke, pull on your bars hard, stay in your aero position concentrate on really pushing down on those pedals hard and the lower cadence will help you with that…and you can concentrate harder on your technique and then you will get through that wind pretty fast.

This coming spring, I want to go fast.  I don’t have a good motor, even at my fittest, but I can get lower.  I can work on my endurance at staying low.  My limited power will be most efficiently converted into forward motion this coming spring because of what I am doing this winter.

When I got done listening to this podcast, I went to my basement and lowered the handlebars on my tri-bike as far down as they would go, mounted up and spun to spring speed.


As I spun away in my prayer like aero-position, I could not help but think about prayer.  Humans are spiritually powerless.  Yet, I don’t see very many people living in a way that demonstrates that they have pitiful spiritual motors.  The cyclist who rides upright with his jacket open usually does not understand how much his position is holding him back.  In a similar matter, many Christian fail to appreciate how their spiritual position is holding them back.

All of a Christian’s spiritual power comes from the Spirit of God.
We are powerless in ourselves.
All of our spiritual power is a gift from God.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  Acts 1:8

We receive power through the Holy Spirit to follow Christ, to bear His fruit, to do His will and to persevere through this life.  We might try to muscle our way through difficult times but we will never be able to build true enduring power.  We might try to muscle obedience but we will never be able to build enough power from within ourselves to overcome our sinful flesh.

We have to be willing to suck it up and stay spiritually low.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God you will not despise.  Psalm 51:17

I know of no better example of staying spiritually low than prayer.  Why don’t we pray?  Is it because we think we have the power to accomplish what is necessary?  Is it because we think that we are powerless against fate?  Is it because it is uncomfortable?  Is it because it is boring or feels like a waste of time?

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Matthew 7:7-8

Lel4nd / / CC BY

I don’t drop to my knees for a good time.  I don’t come before my God with a broken and contrite heart for a leisurely experience.  I come to my Father because I have a pitiful spiritual motor.  I come to my Lord because I need His strength.  I want all that holds me back from this world to flow across me as smoothly as possible.  Therefore, I need to get low.

I need to get low and I need to stay low.  I want to go fast spiritually.  I do not have the spiritual motor to be the person I want to be.  I am powerless to give God the glory He deserves.

I need to get lower and stay down there because that is where my power comes – God has promised to give the power that I need, when I need it.

“If I should neglect prayer but a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith.” ~ Martin Luther

PRAYER: O Lord, I need you.  I am powerless without.  I can do all things through You but I can do nothing without You.  Father, fill me with your Spirit.  Help me to get low.  Help me to come to You with a broken and contrite heart.  Father, I know that I let too much of this world hold me back.  Create in me a position that will speed me towards the person I desire to be – glorifying you in all that I am.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Aero positioning for road bikes
Differences between a road bike and triathlon bike  
Setting your seat height – Sam Warriner and John Cobb



November 13, 2013

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  Matthew 4:1

Tambako the Jaguar / / CC BY-ND

“You’re not going to like it”, were the words we heard upon stepping into the unique blend of humidity and chlorine that greets visitors at the City pool.  The petite, teenage, lifeguard was standing behind the front counter with a look of someone who has a secret.  She quickly divulged the inspiration behind her prophecy of my pending dissatisfaction.  The thermostat that controls the boiler for the pool had malfunctioned and over-heated the water.  The pool water was at a steamy 94 degrees.  I have never swum in a hot tub so I figured I would give it a try.

All it took was a warm up lap to realize that I was not going to like this.

Swimming in hot water is a strange sensation.  You cannot cool down.  Normally, swimming provides the delightful experience of vigorous exercise without overheating and sweating.  I can reach the pool’s edge after a strenuous set, with my heart pounding and gasping for air, yet I am perfectly cool.  Water is an amazing heat sink.  All the heat created by my body from swimming can easily be removed by the water.  You can work incredibly hard but you only break into a flop sweat after you get out of the pool.

However, this phenomenon only occurs in a pool with a temperature in the eighties or below. When I tried to swim in 90 degree water, I could feel an accumulation of heat with ever lap.  By the fifth lap, I had to stop.  It almost became claustrophobic.  As I struggled to keep my eyes on the black line below me, I could feel this oppressive heat building around me and sapping all the strength from body.  By the time I got to the pool’s edge on my fifth lap, I had to get out.  I had to stand up and allow the air to cool me off.  I did not like that at all.  I ended up doing only three set of five laps before I had had enough.  My endurance succumbed to the hot water of the pool.

The Christian life takes us through a lot of different kinds of water.  There are some waters so hot with temptation that all we can focus on is the temperature on our flesh.  The temptations of other waters can be so minor that setting our minds on the things of the Spirit can be done without consideration to the heat on our flesh.

The temperature of the water is unique to each Christian. 

hidden side / / CC BY-NC-SA

I have struggled with lust since my teenage years.  I cannot swim in those waters for any length of time.  I know that even a single lap of an extended ogle of cleavage, a click on the seductive, or the relishing of the sexual will not go well for me.  (THE PETRAEUS IN ALL OF US)  I have to get out of those waters.  I know many people for whom those waters are not hot.  They can swim for miles and miles in those waters and their minds easily stay fixed on the things of the Spirit.

It is not that way for me.  I am embarrassed by my continued weakness in this area; I hate it.  When I was in my teens, I never thought that lust would still be a temptation in my forties.  I have prayed many times for God to take this weakness away.  He can but He has not.  Therefore, I strive to live in a manner that God may be glorified in my weakness and I am careful of the waters that I swim in because I know myself.

Jimmy Morris / / CC BY-NC

I don’t have a huge problem with gossip.  However, I can get caught up in the web of gossipers after a few laps through those waters.  For me, swimming through the waters of gossip is an accumulation of heat.  The gossip’s entire conversational playlist often contains a relentless bombardment of opinions about other people.  Gossips normally find that I am not a very sympathetic ear.  I don’t suffer their negativism very well.  However, I do have to be careful because I can succumb to a bombardment of gossip if I am around it too much.  I need to punch out after a couple laps if a gossip will not be redirected.

I know some folks who have very sympathetic ears and seem to be honey in the attraction of gossips.  They cannot endure the hot water of gossips.  They don’t have the personality to shut a gossip down so they are immediately sucked into the conversation and succumb to the temptation.  The waters are too hot for them.  They have to get out of those waters.  They should not be around some of their “friends” due to the increased temperature of temptation that they bring.

SanforaQ8 / / CC BY-NC-SA

I don’t struggle with contentment.  I know that there are many who ride the spiritual roller coaster.  They are exuberant on the highs but fight the temptations of discontentment and discouragement on the lows.  For them, a spiritually dry season is a difficult swim through hot water that causes their faith to feel claustrophobic.  They have to seek respites from the temptations to discouragement and discontentment through the faith of others.

I am in a dry season that has lasted about 1-1/2 years.  I am not particularly excited about what is going on in my faith.  Most mornings, I don’t feel like getting out of bed to do my devotions of Bible reading and prayer.  However by God’s grace, I always get up, pour myself a cup of coffee and settle down for a time with my Lord … I am rarely disappointed.  My Lord always seems to give just the right amount of nourishment to cool my soul and prepare me for another day of swimming through this world.  Even though I am in a frustratingly dry season that I don’t like, I feel very content and satisfied.  I can eagerly join my voice to the chorus of “It is well with my soul”.  By God’s grace, He has enabled me to swim comfortably through waters that others might find too hot.

Every follower of Christ must know their soul and be able to gauge the temptation temperature of the water.  We all face temptations of various kinds and forms.  It is the work of the Spirit through our sanctification that enables us to find the way out in all circumstances.

We know that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13).  However, we also know that the waters we swim in have temptations that are included in His sovereign plan.  His plan is for our good and that includes temptations.  When we overcome temptation, we are strengthened; if we succumb, we are humbled and see our continued need of a Savior and the works of the Spirit for further sanctification and grace.  Our sanctification is a divine work of the Spirit in our lives.  He is living and active and is working all things for our good.  He loves us

We just need to learn how to cooperate with the Spirit to still our souls and glorify God in all circumstances.

PRAYER: O Father, you know me better than I know myself.  I know that I am in your hands.  Help me endure the temptations of this world.  Sanctify my heart.  Help me in my weaknesses.  May others be lifted up through my strengths.  May you be glorified in both.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



October 10, 2013

“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  Matthew 7:14

Payette-20131008-00168 (3)My eyes have been squinting in study of the progression of the lines on this topographic map.  The serpentine lines represent the topography of various trails on the south side of Mount Rainer National Park.  The close proximity of these lines on paper explain why I felt my heart pound, my calves tighten, and my breathing hasten, as I hiked the various routes.  These trails are steep.  After all, they are on a volcano.

As you might suspect, no trail to the summit of Mount Rainer adheres to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Americans with Disabilities Act legislated to every individual within the United States the entitlement of full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any public place.  This act has been the governing legislation behind the appurtenances, accoutrements, and other eliminated impediments constructed to make the public square universally accessible over the last twenty-three years.

225I am evaluating one Mount Rainer trail to determine if grading improvements are feasible to make the route more accessible to those who are unable to hike the steeper trails of Mount Rainer.  However, this route will not lead to the summit of Mount Rainer.  This trail will skirt the base of the mountain, leading its travelers to a delightful waterfall but not the summit.

This destination will suffice for most hikers since few actually intend to summit Mount Rainer.  The vast majority of hikers are in search of a pleasant day hike.  There are some who desire the challenge of rising over ridges and recovering through valleys but they don’t intend to summit.  A goal of an invigorating day on the mountain suffices as sufficient inspiration.

Other hikers don’t want a challenge and will seek out the easiest trail available.  Often, they are physically incapable of defeating the escalating elevation of a real mountain.  Therefore, they are appeased by beholding waterfalls, towering snow caps and vast forests of the mountain landscape from a distance.

papalars / Foter / CC BY-ND

Every child of God entered the trail head of the eternal upon their salvation.  We are told that this spiritual path of faith is narrow and difficult.  I have always envisioned this path like a trail to the summit of the tallest peak.  The path to the Father has never been ADA compliant.  Sinful people have never been entitled to full and equal enjoyment of the blessings of God’s presence .  In fact, no man ever has been capable of climbing the narrow path of faith into the presence of God.

None is righteous, no, not one; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. (Romans 3:10-12)

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

God sent His own son into this world, in the likeness of sinful flesh to address this accessibility issue once and for all.  However, Jesus did not come into this world to make the path to the Father ADA compliant.

He did not come to remove the difficulty of the route.
He did not come to eliminate the hurdles.
He did not come to chisel an escalator into impenetrable holiness.
He did not come to lower the glory of God down to the realm of man.
He did not come to diminish the elevation of righteousness for the unrighteous.

Chad Podoski / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Jesus came to create supernatural climbers.  We are new creatures in Christ.  IN Christ, we are supernatural climbing freaks.  Our sinful flesh is no longer a barrier to the escalating elevation of the Most High.

The narrow way that was unassailable in our flesh has been made accessible because we are changed.  The spiritual path of faith has remained unchanged; it is still narrow and hard.  We are the ones who have been granted a new characteristic.  We have been made righteous through the blood of Christ.  Only the righteous can ascend through the narrow gate, on the hard way that leads to life.

We have been made to climb.
We have been acclimatized for the ascent. 

Many approach their faith as if they are in search of a pleasant day of hiking.  They may desire some spiritual challenges to round out their life but they are not really interested in the radical dedication of summiting.

The children of God were not created for pleasant day hiking.
We were made to climb. 

There are those who poke around with religion in search of the most comfortable version available.  Often, their desire for the spiritual is appeased by beholding a glimpse of the divine from a distance.

The children of God were not created to behold their Father from afar.
We were made to climb.

We are prepared by the blood of Christ and empowered by the Spirit to overcome all hardships, difficulties, and suffering.  There is nothing too difficult for our Lord.  Therefore, there is nothing too difficult for His children.  There is no trail too steep.  There is no impediment that cannot be surmounted.  There are no barriers that cannot be tossed aside.

We were made to climb!

Let’s gear-up and ascend in earnest.
Let’s breathe the rarefied air of the Almighty.
Let’s climb for the glory of our God.

See you at the top!

PRAYER: Lord, you know that I have often been content with a pleasant day hike.  Father, I want to climb.  I want to draw close to You.  I want to breathe in your presence and all of you blessings.  Thank you for giving me all that I need to travel this narrow and difficult path that You have laid before me.  Thank you for showing me the way.  Help me to continue to climb in earnest today and every day that you have me on this earth.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.



May 20, 2013

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.  For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  Matthew 5:44

I pray while I run.  I pray that I will finish the loop and won’t die but I pray about everything else also.  Running is very meditative for me.  I have found that I pray in rhythm with the cadence of my foot strikes.  It is nothing that I try to do, it just happens.  My prayers come out in measure with my breathing.  It is rather meditative.

I do not know exactly why it is such a sweet time for my soul.  It might be the lack of distractions.  It might be due to just being alone and fully awake.  It might be that the physical excursion allows my mind to just flow.  I don’t know why it feels natural for me to talk with God while I run.  It just does.

I don’t come to these times with a prayer list.  My running-prayer time is more of a conversation.  As things and people come to my mind, I pray about them.  I usually spend some time mulling and praying through the passages that were in my Bible reading.  I spend most of my time praying for my wife and kids.  I pray for my extended family.  I pray about all the issues we are facing.  I pray about work.  I pray for people I have met and my friends.  I pray for our world leaders.  I pray for my… enemies.

This one got me stumped the other day.  I was in the back stretch of my run.  I was tired and the fog of fatigue was clouding my mind a bit.  I was praying through the lawsuit that my company has been threatened with.  I have written about this before in But I Don’t Wanna Be Slapped and Dealing with Troubles.  As you can see, it is an ongoing and reoccurring theme.

Evidently, I need to continue to preach to myself about loving my enemies and praying for them.  In that moment, I had a complete blank of what to pray for them about.  It seems all that I could bring to my mind would give them stability and their stability appears to lead directly to my instability.  Praying for them felt like I was praying against myself and my colleagues.

What could I pray for them about?  I struggled with that question for a couple of miles as their faces flashed through my mind.  As the asphalt passed under my feet, I wondered if I really loved them.  We are told to love our enemies.  That is an easy command when you don’t have anyone really coming after you.  It is so much harder when you anticipate having to go into an unnecessary legal battle with them.

I don’t love what they are doing.  I hate it.  I hate everything that has come out of it.  I hate how it makes me feel.  I hate all the uncertainty and waste.  However, I was reminded what their actions are; sin.  Their actions against me are coming from a heart that needs to be redeemed.  Several of the players on the other side are not Christians.  I want them to be saved.  Just because they have been very active in tearing down my company’s reputation, does not mean that I want them to go to hell.  I don’t; I just want them to leave us alone.  As my legs moved in a mindless motion, I realized that I don’t hate them.  I don’t want a pound of flesh out of them.  I don’t want them to lose their jobs.  I don’t want them to be humiliated.  I want them to be saved.  I want them to come to Jesus and know my Savior…I want to spend eternity with them.

That is a lot more like love…I can love them by praying for their salvation.

There are a few in the other camp who are professing Christians.  It distresses me to think that fellow brothers in the Lord would act as these men have.  I don’t have a problem with Christians disagreeing.  However, it is how we disagree.  I truly believe that Christians can disagree in the secular environment with integrity and in a manner that is glorifying to God.  From my perspective these men have not done that.  I can pray about that.  I can pray that the Spirit would work in their hearts and motivate them to pursue a route that brings the most glory to God out of a bad situation.  They are my brothers in Christ.  I care more about the condition of their souls then I do about the money they are so passionately pursuing.  I know that they hold me in pretty low opinion.  That is fine; I know my heart and I am worse than they think.

If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him, for you are worse than he thinks you to be.
~ Charles Spurgeon

I just hope and pray that these men who profess the name of Jesus will use this conflict between us to glorify God.  I can ask no more.  If that happens then I will be satisfied.

I finally returned to my driveway.  My run had served its purpose.  It is so easy to pray for those who love us.  It is easy to pray for those who are indifferent to us.  It is easy to love those who love us.  However, is there any difference in that from what those who hate Jesus do?

The most loving thing I can do for my enemies, those who persecute and prosecute, is to pray for their salvation and sanctification.  God can do anything.  He can handle this little problem as well.  May HE be glorified, first and foremost and may my actions speak to a difference that does not come from this world.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for my attitudes towards these men.  Forgive me for confusing their actions with who they are.  Lord, I pray that they will stop doing what they are doing and act with integrity.  Father, examine my heart – I want to resolve this issue.  However, I want these enemies of mine to know You more than anything else.  Father, I pray for their salvation and sanctification.  Please use this messy situation to draw them closer to You.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.


“HE IS RISEN!” – Mar. 31

March 31, 2013

“But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” Matthew 28:5-6

Benjamin West's The Angel at the Tomb of Chris...HE IS RISEN!

This angelic pronouncement is the most astounding declaration that has ever been made on earth.  We can spend a thousand years studying the Gospel of Jesus Christ and never fully comprehend the full ramifications of what those words mean.  The far reaching extent to which, HE IS RISEN, changed our world and transformed man and the whole creation.

We are so comfortable in our bondage to sin that we merely pick at the threshold of the freedom in Christ that has been opened to us.  The decay wrought by the fall of man and the slavery to fear is all that we have ever known.  Our bondage to decay is so familiar to us that we consider it a physical law of our existence.  We call it the 2nd law of thermodynamics.  This so-called law, also called entropy, states that “in all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves the system, the

potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the initial state.”  This means that things decay.  All of creation is in bondage to entropy.  All we have ever known is that entropy will eventually win.

That world changed with HE IS RISEN!Empty Tomb

HE IS RISEN! – freed us from entropy and decay.

HE IS RISEN! – freed us from the law of sin and death.

HE IS RISEN! – freed us into Christ Jesus.

HE IS RISEN! – freed us to live in the Spirit.

HE IS RISEN! – freed the righteous requirement of the law to be fulfilled in us.

HE IS RISEN! – freed us to please God.

HE IS RISEN! – freed us to put to death the deeds of the body through the Spirit.

HE IS RISEN! – freed us to belong to God.

HE IS RISEN! – freed us to be adopted as children of God – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

HE IS RISEN! – freed us to eternal life and peace.

HE IS RISEN! – fundamentally changed the world.  The world was transformed at its basic levels when Christ came out of that tomb.  Nothing has been the same since Christ completed the work of redemption.  All that remains is the full manifestation of HE IS RISEN!

That is what we are eagerly awaiting.  The adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies; all possible because of HE IS RISEN.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for rising from the grave and defeating death once and for all.  Thank you for finishing the Father’s redemptive plan.  Thank you for saving me while I was still a sinner.  Thank you for changing every aspect of my world.  Thank you for freeing me from my slavery to sin and death.  Praise God for You have RISEN!  Amen

%d bloggers like this: