Posts Tagged ‘Lance Armstrong’



July 31, 2013

“O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved.  How long shall your wicked thoughts lodge within you.”  Jeremiah 4:14

Anthony Weiner

Anthony Weiner (Photo credit: maxintosh)

It seems that news stories continue to materialize that are themed upon character and character seems to be scarce.  The character of Anthony Weiner has overshadowed his New York City Mayoral candidacy.  San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has had to answer the questions that revolve around his character.  The main character of Lance Armstrong’s saga is his character.  The bankruptcy of the City of Detroit has been attributed by some to past leaders’ character.

Új fejezetek Oprah-tól: Lance Armtrong - exklu...

The news seems to be a perpetual drip of politicians, entertainers, and athletes who have been caught doing what they should not have been doing.  We have all witnessed the great effusion of apologies and explanations of the famous whose character was tested and found lacking.

John Wooden at a ceremony on Oct. 14, the coac...

I have heard character defined as who you are when no one is looking.  However, I don’t know if that definition goes far enough.

When are we truly alone?  When are we really free from the accountability?  The famous UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, defined character a little better.

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. ~ John Wooden

Who I really am is my character. 

My true character is what no one can see. My character resides in a place of solitude beyond the perception of others.  No one can know my true character because no one can know my thoughts.  Occasionally, an unfiltered thought may slip out, but for most of us our self-control plays an effective guardian over what we really are.

However, our true character is:

That curse word that comes out of nowhere.
That appetite for knowing the latest gossip.
That snicker when the proud fall.
That precise accounting of personal sacrifice.
That want for what others have.
That necessity to avoid the indecent.
That falsehood charmed to escape a trap.
That flash of anger from a slight.
That snarky come-back that forms a day late.
That pride in being humbled.
That competition to be better than others.
That warm feeling of praise.
That desire to be made much of.

The fact that these traits rarely materialize into actions does not negate the reality of their existence.  Character is what you really are.  The thoughts of our mind are our true character traits.

Based on this definition, who has character?  There are no people of character when judged upon our thoughts.  Just because you do the right things, even when there is no one around to see, does not mean you are a person of character.  A person of true character will be a righteous person in deeds and thoughts.  We know that there is none righteous, not even one. (Romans 3:10)  Therefore, we know that there is no person of character, not even one.

We need to honestly examine our thoughts to know are character.

I would be embarrassed for my thoughts to be known.  The war of my mind betrays who I really am.  The battle to set my mind on the things of the Spirit is a continual reminder of my need for a Savior.  I am not righteous.  Any righteousness that is within me comes from the grace and mercy of my Lord.  Any traits that might be called character are a result of the work of the Spirit.  There is no place for pride of character.  I am a man in need of grace from a merciful God.

My thoughts have convinced me of that.

PRAYER: Lord, I am a sinner.   Thank you for removing the condemnation of my sin.  Thank you for forgiving me and cleansing  me.  Forgive me for being proud of my  character.  Forgive me for taking credit for your work within me.  Lord, please continue that work.  I know that there is a lot of work that remains to be done.  Father, I want all that I do and think to glorify and please you.  Help me to set my mind on the things of the Spirit.  Help me to think upon that which is true, honorable, just, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.  Help me to think about these things.  Change my thoughts.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



January 6, 2013

“But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the Prosperity of the wicked…But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” Psalm 73:3, 16-17

I was doing interval training on my bicycle trainer last night.

That is not entirely true.  I intended to do interval training on my bicycle.  For those who don’t know, interval training is doing an activity, biking in my case, at an intensity that is near your anaerobic level for a short period, followed by a recovery period.  The reason you do intervals is to build up your cardiovascular capacity and lactate threshold.   The problem with intervals is that they hurt.

My plan was to push my biggest bike gear for 1 minute, followed by 2 minutes of easy spinning for recovery.  That was the plan.  However, implementing the plan did not go very well.  My head was not in the game.  I only did three intervals.  Three intervals during 40 minutes of spinning is pretty pathetic.  My problem – those things hurt.  I completely and totally wimped out – I am so disappointed in myself.   I could have gone harder but I wussed out.  I hate that.

pain-suffering-cyclingThis last summer I read an article in Bicycle Magazine that just confirmed what I had already known.  I am weak. I don’t endure pain well.  I don’t suffer well.

Why is it that some athletes have the ability to just keep going; to push just a little harder; to dig a little deeper?  I have always convinced myself that the reason that I would stop was because I had reached my physical limit.  Those guys that pushed past me were in better shape; had a higher lactate threshold; had a higher max VO2 level; were simply a better athlete.  My comfort in my mediocrity was that my body was my governor.  You can’t fight genetics.

The Bicycle Magazine article pretty much shatters my excuse with the research that has been done.  The research shows that for the majority of us our governor is our brains – we stop a long ways before we have to physically stop – we all can go harder and longer.

English: Cyclist Lance Armstrong at the 2008 T...

English: Cyclist Lance Armstrong at the 2008 Tour de Gruene Individual Time Trial, 1 November 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, why is it that some athletes can will themselves to endure what others cannot?  I believe it has to do with maintaining a vision of the end.  Why was Lance Armstrong able to win seven Tour de France races?  Putting aside all the steroid discussions, I think that Lance Armstrong was successful primarily because of this attitude:

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with?”  (Lance Armstrong. It’s Not about the Bike: My Journey Back to Life)

He had a vision of the end.  That is what drove him to endure temporary pain because he would rather live with temporary pain than quitting – the only thing worse than suffering is quitting.

We are all going to have to live with something.  At the end of it all, we all will have to live with the decisions that we have made.

Endurance, perseverance, and suffering are all common themes of the Bible.  I think that we can ask the same endurance questions of our spiritual lives that we do of athletes.

Why is it that some believers can endure extreme suffering, while other give up under much lesser circumstances?

Why is it that some believers can lose family members, be criticized, be challenged, see no results of their labors and yet, still keep going?

Why is it that some believers give up on serving when they fail to receive a thank you?

Allow me to be a bold enough to suggest something that none of us will care to admit.  The difference between these Christians is not God.  God does not give different pain thresholds to various believers.  We are all filled with the same Spirit.

There is a common Christian saying, “God will not give me more then I can endure.”  There even is a popular song on Christian radio with that theme.  I cringe every time I hear it because God will absolutely give you more that you can endure.  Joni Erickson Tada has written a wonderful book on suffering, A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty.  She will attest to the fact that she has been given more than she can endure on her own.  I think that she puts this misconception of our human suffering capacity into perspective.  He will not give you a temptation greater than what you can resist but we will be called to endure more than we can take because that is when we rely upon him.  Our suffering is not about our capacity.  It is about His capacity and our reliance upon Him.  God will give me whatever is in His will to give me – He is sovereign.  It is not about what I can take but about what God is doing in his greater plan and in His on-going work of healing my heart.

This is where the rub comes in.  The governor of my spiritual suffering capacity (what I can take) is not God.  It is me.  Typically, we punch out long before we have to.  The reason I think that many of us “wimp out” when the going gets uncomfortable is because we don’t have a good vision of the end.  It is the same reason that I stop on my bike.  This is uncomfortable – I don’t care that much about my upcoming race – I am going to stop.  Many Christians don’t think about the end – times get uncomfortable and they seek the comfortable.

The Psalmist had this issue.  He was losing heart because the wicked were prospering.  He was wondering if all of this God stuff was really worth it.  He wanted what they had.  That was until he discerned their end. He understood that all the prosperity of the wicked was not worth it because of the judgment that they would face.

We all need a similar focus on the end – that is our goal.  There will be a day when we all will stand before our Savior – when we will fully see the glory of our Lord.  How do you think your suffering and discomfort will be compared to that?

“For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

On that day, I think that we will go, “I could have gone harder; I could have given more.”  My suffering was so worth this – my suffering does not even compare to this glory – I could have gone harder.

We need to adopt the attitude that the only thing worse than suffering is quitting.

On that day, I don’t want to be a quitter.

The Church is full of quitters.  People quit for all sorts of petty reasons.  People typically will punch out as soon as it gets a little hard, inconvenient, discouraging, confrontational, uncomfortable.  It doesn’t take much from our enemy to get most in the Church to give up on suffering the uncomfortable; it most often doesn’t even take the painful.

We all will endure the uncomfortable and the painful but enduring through it without quitting is optional.  Think about – we are encouraged to endure exactly because it is optional.  It is all in our heads; we have the same Spirit within us as those pillars of the faith that have gone before us. God will take us farther and longer than we can even imagine – we just need to be resolved not to punch out.

Go harder – we all can good harder – let’s endure to the end because it is going to be so worth it.

PRAYER: Father, I am such a wimp.  I have punched out way too many times.  I am weak.  I hate that.  Lord, give me the strength to endure well until the end.  Thank you for showing me glimpses of your glory.  Lord, I long to see the glory that you will reveal to us.  Forgive me for losing sight of that and focusing too much on this world.  Lift my eyes Lord; help be to keep the end continually in focus so that I will alway go harder after you and your kingdom.  Amen

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