In the Blink of an Eye

USP OLYMPICS: SWIMMING-EVENING SESSION S OLY BRAI used to wonder why I wondered about certain things, but I’ve decided that somewhere in my DNA I must have an inquisitive gene that is alive and well.

So, I wasn’t surprised when I noticed my curious nature thinking about the speed of a blinking eye. After a quick Google search, I learned:

  • If you are an average blinker, you will blink about every 4 seconds.
  • Each minute of the day you will blink about 15 times or roughly 20,000 times a day.
  • The surface of your eye is cleaned and lubricated,  in the 10th of a second it takes you to blink.

A 10th of a second is fast, and this fact jogged my memory: I remembered the 2016 Olympics and Anthony Ervin. At the age of 35, Ervin set a record for being the oldest individual competitor to win a gold medal in the Olympics. Ervin swam the 50M Men’s Freestyle, and he won the gold medal; France’s Florent Manaudou finished second and won the silver.

The difference that separated these two men wasn’t the 10th of a second it takes you to blink, but the hairbreadth of just 100th of a second. Ervin finished the race in 21.40 seconds and Manaudou finished it in 21.41.

Even though the critical factor that separates the winner from the runner-up can be as minuscule as 100th of a second, the minuscule can be mighty powerful.

Had Anthony Ervin succumbed to the power of a negative thought for just 100th of a second, he may have returned home with the silver medal and not the gold.

Ervin achieved his dream because he trained hard in preparation for the Olympics.  To have success in life we should do the same. This is why the Scriptures encourage us to discipline the body and to focus the mind.

Another Olympian who attained great success is Jesse Owens. At the 1936 Olympics, he won four gold medals, turning his dreams into reality. Later in life, Owens said: “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.”

I encourage to keep your eyes on the prize and run life’s race with determination, dedication, and self-discipline.

The Passing of Time

90DC0B4CC6A44E2CA0F4CAE457EE06A3It will usually happen at least once a year, and if you’re fortunate to have several friends, it most likely will appear in the form of a two-word greeting that you hear several times on a single day: “Happy Birthday!”

Frank W. Boreham, an Aussie who died in 1959, had an interesting view on the significance of birthdays. He said, “Birthdays are mere records of time, not registers of distance. They tell me how long I have been on the road, not how far I have traveled.”

Boreham’s words are a challenge to live a life of dedication and discipline like the one Paul spoke of in I Corinthians 9:23-27:

Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.  Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away.  Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air.  Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

How much time has passed since you first met Jesus, and how far have you traveled in your Christian walk?  If you’re still at the starting blocks, it’s time to start running.  If you’ve stumbled along the way, it’s time to get up and go again.

I encourage you to make the most of your time as you “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).”

 

 

What Am I Missing?

life-of-faithWhen I hear a puzzling story or a comment about someone or some event, I wonder about the specifics of the situation and ask:

  • What happened?
  • What are the facts?
  • What details am I missing?

The mention of the name Demas stokes the fire of my curiosity.  Of the three passages that refer to Demas, two are positive and one is negative:

  • Philemon 23-25: “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
  • Colossians 4:14: “Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.”
  • 2 Timothy 4:10: “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”

What happened to Demas?  How could he go from being a co-laborer with the Apostle Paul to being classified as a Christian who went AWOL?  Had his Christian experience been a mere dalliance with no true alliance to Christ?

Was Demas like the sunshine soldier that Thomas Paine spoke of when he addressed the difficult times in which he lived?

 “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country.” 

Contrary to what many people believe, living a life of faith is not for the frail of heart.  Paul suggests that it takes guts, courage and backbone:

  • I Timothy 6:11-12: Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.
  • 2 Timothy 2:3 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
  • I Corinthians 9:24-25: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
  • Hebrews 12:1-2: “we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”

Demas dismissed the principled and dedicated life that Paul modeled, but a man named Jim Elliot embraced it.  Sixty years ago, Elliot was martyred on the mission fields of Ecuador. A daily practice of his was to write in his journal, and his notes give a glimpse of his dedication to Christ:

  • “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
  • “Rest in this: it is His business to lead, command, impel, send, call or whatever you want to call it. It is your business to obey, follow, move, respond, or what have you.”
  • “God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life that I may burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life but a full one like You, Lord Jesus.”

When you consider your life and the faith factor, what do you see.  Is your Christian walk little more than a dalliance of dedication, or does it reflect a true alliance with Jesus Christ?

Pressing On

Pressing-OnLeeAdianez Rodriguez is a 12-year-old girl from New York, and her actions in a recent race are the epitome of “pressing on and going the extra mile.”  LeeAdianez was registered for a 5K race, but ended up running a half marathon.  About halfway through the course, she realized she was running with the wrong group. Instead of quitting, she decided to run the 10 extra miles and finish the race.

When I read this story, I wondered why this was the first time LeeAdianez had competed at this level:

  • Had her parents denied her permission?
  • Was it because her coach told her she was unprepared?
  • Did she doubt her ability?

A person can limit himself by doubting his ability and sometimes we limit God because of a lack of faith.  A little mind-shift in your cognitive approach to life is a step in the right direction, and it will help if you will:

 Recognize that doubting is normal:

  • There were times in the life of Abraham when this man of incredible faith doubted.  In each of these instances, he was focused more on his personal strength and ability than he was on the powerful promises of God.
  • When in doubt, zoom out.  Make God your point of focus:  “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble in dread before them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you (Deuteronomy 31:6).”

Recognize the value of good friends and good principles:

  • Instead of doubting your faith, try doubting your doubts.
  • Assess your recent resources for news and information. Have you surrounded yourself with doubters and skeptics or people of faith?  “In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend (Proverbs 27:17).”
  • Are you propping yourself up with false reasoning or trusting God?  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil ( Proverbs 3:5-7).”

Recognize that absolute certainty is an unreasonable expectation:

  • You will never have full and complete knowledge about everything. The quest to know more is the fuel that energizes honest research.
  • Just because you cannot know everything there is to know about God, doesn’t mean that you should limit yourself in seeking to know more about Him.

Recognize that not understanding is different than not believing.

  • While you may limit yourself because you don’t believe in your potential, don’t limit God by trying to constrain Him with a finite mind of rigid boundaries.
  • When the Israelites left Egypt, they thought the trip to the Promised Land was going to be an easy sprint; but, their doubt turned it into a 40 year marathon.

Doubt is to perseverance what krypton is to Superman.  Like LeeAdianez Rodriguez, you can press on when you recognize the correct message and listen to right voice—the voice of faith.

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Are You a Putter or a Put-er?

Putting-the-ballYou probably know what a putter is, but you might have some doubts about a put-er. A putter can be thought of as a person who is putting a golf ball, and it’s also the club that’s used to putt the ball into the hole.

A put-er is some one who “puts on” or “puts off” specific characteristics specified by the Apostle Paul:

  • Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:23-24)
  • Put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth . . . and put on the new man of tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering (Colossians 3:8-12)

The Putter loves golf; tries to get the ball in the hole; and, thinks being under par is good.  The Put-er loves the Gospel; tries to stay out of ruts; and, thinks being less than par is bad.

Both have an eagle-like focus.  The Putter scores an eagle when he’s two strokes under par.  When the Put-er puts on the new man, his strength is renewed; he mounts up with wings like an eagle; and, he runs without growing weary.

Putter or Put-er:  Are you one or the other, neither, or both?

Get Buff and Boogie

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Tom Tom has started selling a fitness watch, so you can get buff and boogie at the same time.  When I read the article describing this newer addition to the fitness craze, I wondered if the Apostle Paul would have worn one.

Which one of the following songs do you think Paul would have had on his playlist?

  • Onward Christian Soldiers
  • Victory in Jesus
  • On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand
  • I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

Paul didn’t have all the gadgets that are available today, but he did know the importance of training and being fit:

“We all know that when there’s a race, all the runners bolt for the finish line, but only one will take the prize. When you run, run for the prize!  Athletes in training are very strict with themselves, exercising self-control over desires, and for what? For a wreath that soon withers or is crushed or simply forgotten. That is not our race. We run for the crown that we will wear for eternity. So I don’t run aimlessly. I don’t let my eyes drift off the finish line.When I box, I don’t throw punches in the air. I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after all this, after I have brought the gospel to others, I will still be qualified to win the prize.”  ~I Cor.9:24-27

Like Paul, we need to live a disciplined life and “strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).”

Run Baby Run

cheetah-speed-2According to an African parable, when morning dawns in Africa the gazelle know that it must run faster than a cheetah or be killed.  The cheetah knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it is going to starve.  The moral of this story is that whether you are a gazelle or a cheetah, you had better be ready to run when the sun rises.

In Hebrews 12, Paul used the metaphor of a race, and he said that you should “lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.

How would your life be different if your life was characterized by the determination exhibited by the gazelle or a cheetah?  Keep your eyes on Jesus, and run the race He has set before you.

Paying and Staying Fit

Horizon_Fitness_T101-3_TreadmillAny town of any size in the USA has some type of a gym or health club for the benefit of its citizens.  Many Americans strive to develop or maintain a regimen that leads to and promotes good health.

According to information from Yahoo:

  • 58 million Americans have a gym membership, but 67% of them never use their memberships.
  • Health clubs have annual revenues of about $21.8 billion.
  • The average cost per person for a membership is $58.
  • 5% of gym-goers use a personal trainers at an average price per session of $65.
  • Americans spend around $30 billion a year on athletic apparel.

While we should try to stay reasonably fit, we should place at least equal or more emphasis on praying to stay fit.  How would your life be different if you started a match program?

  • For every minute you spend trying to stay physically fit, you will match it with a minute of spiritual exercise (praying, reading your Bible, or speaking to someone about Jesus).
  • For every penny you spend paying to stay physically fit, you will give an equal amount to the Lord.

When you consider eternity, which one is of the greater benefit to you?  Is it paying to stay fit or praying to stay fit?

Finish The Race

Turtle_Racing1There are times when the burdens of life are incredibly heavy.  When I experience these times in my personal life, I’m reminded of Hebrews 12:1-3: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

Heartache, sickness, and grief can present circumstances that are difficult to endure. While these hurdles may slow you down to the pace of the turtle, don’t let them sideline you:  Finish the race.

To finish the race:

  • Consistently engage in “cross” training by walking in step with Jesus.
  • Focus on your goal.
  • Keep your eyes focused on the next step and not the hurdle three steps in front of you.

When troubles and trials come into your life, do you see just the mountain, or do you also consider the Creator of the mountain? When the storms of life shake you at your core, do you see just the storm or do you also see the rainbow? When you feel trapped and think there is no escape, do you hear the roaring lions or do you feel the presence of Daniel’s angels?

When it comes to endurance, you don’t have to walk alone.  Jesus extends an invitation to walk with Him, and He offers to help carry the load:  Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30 ~The Message).

Run With A Purpose

runningAs I was driving to the coffee shop this morning, I noticed several joggers out for their morning run.  As I waved them through the intersection ahead of me, I thought of several places where Paul speaks of running.

In Philippians 2:14-18, Paul said:

Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.  Hold firmly to the message of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing.  But even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.  In the same way you should also be glad and rejoice with me

After I read the verses above, I was left with a few questions:

  • What am I running from?

I Timothy 6:10-11:  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. But you, man of God, run from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.

  • What is my goal in running?

I Corinthians 9: 24-25: Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.  Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away.

  • Why am I running?

Hebrews 12:1:  Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us.

The secret of life’s race is found in Isaiah 40:31:  Those who keep waiting for the Lord will renew their strength. Then they’ll soar on wings like eagles; they’ll run and not grow weary; they’ll walk and not grow tired (ISV).”