All Airports Aren’t the Same 

I fly 3-5 times a year. I’m sitting in TPA right now. And here’s my observation: The suggestion to get to the airport at least an hour early doesn’t always apply.

If you have to return a car rental, are using long-term parking, are traveling with a large party, or have baggage to check, sure-give yourself enough time. That isn’t always the case. 

TPA has rarely presented a time challenge for me. Today, from walking in the door and exiting security, it took maybe 10 minutes. Yes, 10 minutes.

All Airports aren’t the same. Certainly all travelers aren’t either. Resist traveling hysteria. Know yourself and your airport. And remember, suggestions aren’t rules.

Happy flying!

Protecting Your Bones (Psalm 32)

There are definitely times when we need to be still and silent before God. None of those times are when there is known sin separating us from Him. David says when he didn’t acknowledge his sin to God it impacted his body-“my bones wasted away.” Not good.

In our efforts to be healthy, we usually address diet and exercise. That entails being honest with our doctors or trainers about our choices which may be leading us away from good health. When we come clean, we show we are serious about getting healthier. David’s response to realizing his silence was not good was to “make a clean breast of my failures to God.”(verse 5, the Message)

We can’t ignore the truth that silence about our sins creates self-inflicted pain. If we want to protect our bones, our first step is to not be stubborn mules but to be honest confessors.(verses 9-11)

Hope in Loss

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve witnessed two families say goodbye to a family member. Both were relatively young, 41 and 61. Both stories could be looked through the lens that life can be cruel. Yet, the witness I’ve observed revealed a different perspective. 

Both of these family members left behind adult children in their 30s and 20s, young adults. Through various means, these young adults, in the middle of their pain and grief, affirmed that even though life can be cruel it can also be hopeful.  In that light, here are a few pastoral thoughts for all family members.

To the older adults, interpreted as you have adult children and maybe even some grandchildren:

  • Spend time (intentional/fun/memorable/meaningful) with your family
  • Model for them what it means to pursue a relationship with God
  • Challenge them to live as much or more for others than themselves
  • Live with eternity in mind
  • Teach them the only source for hope when it comes time to leave this earth isn’t found in anything on this earth

To the young adults:

  • Guess what? Your parents know they aren’t perfect. Love them anyway, like God does you.
  • God has a purpose for you in your family. It may seem weird to step into a more leading role in the absence of your parent, but God is available to guide you just like he was available to guide your parent.
  • The strength that is holding you up right now is the strength you’ll need the rest of your life. Don’t let go. Relentlessly hold on. Better yet, just rest in it.
  • The maturity you’re experiencing right now through this event is just another step of life. There will be more maturing moments. Embrace them. Learn from them. Seek God through them.
  • Life is going to be cruel again; that’s what we’re in for until God returns. Keep your eyes on hope. Guard your hearts from bitterness through gripping to hope.

May these words encourage you:

“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.””‭‭ Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭

Wilderness Principles

“Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands.” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭8:2‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

  • God is there.
  • God has a purpose.
  • The journeyers will face significant choices.
  • Loyalty to God’s word is the goal.
  • What’s in the journeyers’ heart will be revealed.
  • Humbling is a good thing.
  • At the end of the journey, look back through the lens of what God did.

Running Tuesdays: Surviving>Reviving>Thriving 

January 2 I wrote about my 2016 reading and described it as resurrected. The word I would say describes my 2016 running is revived.

After my last marathon in November 2012, my running went into somewhat survival mode. I was a little burned out. Managed a decent half in March 2013 but had little motivation after that. And definitely after the Ultra Ragnar later that year, I went into a phase of not really enjoying running. Then health/surgery/recovery swallowed up 2014&2015.

So 2016 was the comeback year. Traveling with friends to run in Detroit in October definitely relit the flame. I ran over 100 miles the last two months of the year, something I hadn’t done in three years. That marker, “something I hadn’t done in three years,” became my drive. 

My drive is back. My word for 2017 in running is thrive. I’m not yet back to 2012 fitness when I ran my best marathon time. So one goal for this year is to get back to race condition where I don’t feel like I’m surviving the distance but thriving at it. My total mileage for 2016 was 800+-revival level. Thriving goal for 2017 is over 1,000, closer to 1,200.

One cool thing I determined last year was a new bucket item, which is to run a race (any distance) in all 50 states. The October half in Detroit put me at 9 states. I checked off another state New Year’s Day with an 11k in Morganton, NC(#10). I’m shooting to get to 13 by year’s end. My first half of the year race schedule includes:

Through Surviving. Completed Reviving. Pursuing Thriving.

Stage Reviews

As if Moses didn’t have enough to do, read these two first verses of Numbers 33 to see a rather dull command he followed:

“These were the stages of the Israelites’ journey when they went out of the land of Egypt by their military divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. At the Lord’s command, Moses wrote down the starting points for the stages of their journey; these are the stages listed by their starting points:” ‭‭Numbers‬ ‭33:1-2‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

From verse 3-49, the review of these stages and starting points include 42 campsites. That means this nation of people together moved 42 times over a 40-year period. Go ahead and pause. Just try to get your mind wrapped around that. I’m just going to sit here and shake my head for a moment.

Ready for a different thought? As I read this review, I thought about my stages and starting points. First, I thanked God it hasn’t been 42, only 6-if you’re counting only cities, that is. Actual “campsites,” something like 15. Like in this Numbers 33 review, some stages had some notable events where God’s work in my life/community can be seen. These events are worth remembering, worth learning from, worth being grateful for.

  • Winchester, Tennessee-where I was born and was given the foundation for life from parents of faith in the God of these same Israelites
  • Gadsden, Alabama-where the importance of a church community was illustrated to me, in particular when my dad died
  • Thomasville, Georgia-where I began the journey into adulthood and watched my mother model courage and faithfulness
  • Pensacola, Florida-where my college work gave me the opportunity to personally mature in following God through my own convictions
  • Jacksonville, Florida-where my various career moves showed God’s patience, wisdom, and guidance
  • Bradenton, Florida-where God continues to reinforce that the best place in life is right where He has placed you

Where has God been in each of your stages? Take a review. Go ahead and pause. Get your mind wrapped around that. I’m just going to sit here and nod my head for a moment.

Running Tuesdays: ’16/’17 Phrases

by Michael Wilder

On a 4×4 piece of wood, painted white, attached to the wall where I hang my medals, this verse reference is seen in black paint: 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Out of that verse, one phrase sums up my 2016 running life and another phrase my future 2017 running life:

“…Surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…”

“…Run with perseverance…”

For 2016, I found myself in a very interesting spot. I have only been running for 6 years, and by no means am I an expert in the field of running. I always found myself reading or seeking advice from others. However, in 2016 I was thrust into a role similar to an expert but better, a coach. My longtime friend starting getting into running as a way to lose weight, but like most of us he fell in love with the sport and wanted to make it a lifestyle. Just assuming here, but my being an experienced runner with several races under my belt as well as our friendship led him to pick me as his running coach. After him sharing his desire early in 2016 to run a marathon, we both signed up for the Disney World Marathon for January 2017. After that moment I assumed this coaching role. We would train together during this year, he would call me throughout this year to get advice, and I held him accountable for his new running life. This coaching role in 2016 has been great for me. Why…because I was surround by a great friend who helped me change how I viewed running. I now see running as a journey in which I enjoy. I run now because I love the process/change. Being a “coach” made me see this process play out. It is funny how other people help you see things differently. I like being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

For 2017 I challenged myself to run with perseverance. I made a goal for myself to reach 1,000 miles by year’s end. Doing the math, that’s 20 miles a week. I never do 20 miles a week unless I am training for a marathon, in which for 2017 I have no current plans to do any races. This goal however is a year-long race that will require perseverance. There will be weeks in which I will not be feeling it, especially in the hot summer months. But I am determined to run the race marked out for me. I know I can, and at the end of this year I might have to buy myself the 1,000-mile medal to add to my collection.

Fruity Fridays: Seen Peace

by Jeremy Nixon, a nobody fireman trying to do it right, but mostly getting it wrong

Galatians 5:22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… 


We’ve walked through what love and joy means over the last couple of months; but today, today we enter into peace. At least my prayer is that you can enter this day, week, month and year with peace, a true peace. With the election being over and hate crimes surfacing, racism, discrimination, x vs. y, red vs. blue and everything else going on in America, to say that tension is like cutting butter with a knife is an understatement. So my prayer for you and me this year is that we could have peace. The God-sized peace that is talked about in the Bible. But, what is peace?

 

Peace is a fruit of the Spirit, and Paul writes that if we live by the Spirit then we are free and we can stand firm knowing that we are doing what God has called us to. Peace is supposed to rule in hearts. (Col. 3:15) In 1 Peter we are called to cast all of our anxiety on the Lord because he cares for us. He also calls us to seek peace and pursue it, turning away from evil and doing good. James tells us that peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. Proverbs 12 tells us that those who promote peace have joy…and we all know how important joy is.  

 

I see a trend of the fruits. One leads right into another. They go hand in hand, and I don’t believe that you can have one without the other. Psalm 29:11 says the Lord gives strength to his people and the Lord blesses his people with PEACE.  

 

Paul calls us, in Romans 12, to live at peace with everyone. WOW. That seems like a hard statement living in the world we are in today. It’s easy to get anxious and worry about different things in our lives: our children, our homes, making ends meet, or work. And the media seems to show that there is so much hate in our world, but I believe and trust that God is up to something BIG. If we can stand firm and let the fruit of peace happen in our lives, it will overflow into the world. It has to start with you. It has to start with me. You all know about the snowball effect. God wants to use you, and me, to spread his peace to all nations, and I believe that if we are seeking first His kingdom and listening to what the Lord says, he will give us peace. He promises it.  

 

When we need peace, He promises to give us a peace that surpasses all understanding. The best thing that we can do when we are filled with anxiety and worry is to find a quiet place to pray and seek His kingdom. God wants us to live a life that is full of peace. He wants to do BIG things in your life. Let your fruit be seen.

Authority is in the Name

“In that day you will not ask Me anything. I assure you: Anything you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”‭‭John‬ ‭16:23-24‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Because of this teaching by Jesus, believers pray in the name of Jesus. The early church leaders drew their authority in the name of Jesus; they knew what it was like to attempt things in their own power and had witnessed the power only available in the name of the Son of God.

Through His name…

  • …we access the power of the Creator and acknowledge our weakness
  • …we receive victory over sin and resist temptations
  • …we connect to God the Father and overcome this earthly kingdom
  • …we give honor to our King and bow in submission to His kingdom
  • …we give thanks for the Son’s sacrifice and admit our need for salvation

Hope

Yesterday, for the first time I can recall, I watched the entire movie The Shawshank Redemption. I’d only seen portions before, so now I know the full story of the two main characters, Andy and Red. Andy, falsely convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, and Red, serving a life sentence for a just conviction, both battled hope. Andy’s hope was stronger because he envisioned something beyond what he could see; he placed his actions and his beliefs in that hope. (That’s all the plot I’ll divulge; get some popcorn and watch it and enjoy to see how it works out for Andy and Red.)

The lines from the dialogue and the theme of the movie led me to think further about my hope, where is it and where should it be. I was reminded that my hope isn’t in temporal things but in eternal things. My values aren’t satisfied by temporal things, as much as I’m tempted to go after them.

Turning to scripture then, here are 10 passages that define my hope. May they give you a starting place for yours.

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:1-5‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:24-25 HCSB

“Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭39:7‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭62:5‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“The Lord values those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His faithful love.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭147:11‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“The hope of the righteous is joy, but the expectation of the wicked comes to nothing.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭10:28‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! I say: The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is still young. Let him sit alone and be silent, for God has disciplined him. Let him put his mouth in the dust — perhaps there is still hope.”‭‭ Lamentations‬ ‭3:21-29‬ ‭HCSB‬

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He remains faithful forever, executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry. The Lord frees prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord raises up those who are oppressed. The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects foreigners and helps the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever; Zion, your God reigns for all generations. Hallelujah!” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭146:5-10‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

“Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭HCSB‬‬