“But” Problem #1

(A series on lessons learned from running this year)

I’m sure I’ve made it clear before, but I’m okay repeating myself.

Running in the Florida summer is dreadful. This summer, however, I did much better than any summer prior. But that doesn’t mean all went well. Looking back, two particular days stand out…and they’ve got clear takeaways, both having to do with self talk where a “but” led to a problem.

Both happened on Saturdays. Both happened when I drove to run with friends in a running club. Both involved first-time experiences.

The first Saturday experience happened actually back at home after the run. That morning I decided to add a few miles for my long run of the week. And, surprisingly, I managed the run quite well. In fact, I was feeling pretty good about myself. So good, in fact, that I veered away from my normal recovery routine.

My Saturday long run routine is pretty well set.

  • Hit the pavement by 6
  • Minimum 8 miles
  • Recovery starts with a banana and water
  • Stretching while running an Epsom salt bath
  • More water and half a bagel while letting the salt do its thing
  • Shower
  • More fluid and food
  • Nap usually follows within an hour or two, if possible

On this Saturday, I broke routine. I was feeling so good, so surprisingly good, that I let a “but” lead me to break routine. And it led to a personal violation.

“I can’t believe how well I feel. I killed that run. Normally I drink more water while in the bath, but I’m feeling quite good. No water today. I’m mean, it’s only like 8-10 ounces. What’s that matter?”

Did I mention the bath is as hot as I can make it? Which means even more sweating. Which I don’t mind at all…until it’s time to stand up to shower. And this time, my body had something to say.

My body decided it had had enough. And the first-time experience was finding myself waking up on the shower floor not long after wondering, “What is the deal with my head?”

The problem with this scene was I ignored what I knew was wise, common sense, and established. I allowed my mind to accept a problematic “but.”

Lesson #1: “Buts” lead to violations. Violations lead to fetal positions in the shower.

Photo by Karim Ghantous on Unsplash


Mountain Climbing State of Mind

Two weeks ago I completed a 14er. That’s what Coloradans call hiking one of their mountains that has an elevation over 14k feet. Not an easy feat for this Floridian. In order to get to the top, I employed several mind games; some worth sharing, others are none of your business. I roleplayed being novel characters, rewrote song lyrics, and said “Lord, have mercy” the most ever in one day. And my friend Danny, who suckered me into this adventure, witnessed it all. Well, most of it. (at the base) Danny is a native. Pretty disgusting how easy this was for him (some of that none of your business mind games). And he’s a Cubs fan. Seriously-who needs enemies with friends like Danny? All the way up and all the way down, Danny looked out for me. Sometimes right by my side, but most of the time yards ahead, usually within eyesight. It didn’t really matter, though, where he was. Knowing he was there somewhere was enough. I never felt abandoned. Not by Danny. Maybe by my lungs, but not by my friend, guide, encourager. I didn’t always have my eyes on him, but I knew he was around. (Danny capturing me ascending) If we humans can do that for each other, imagine the depth that God can. 
  • He’s everywhere simultaneously. He’s by my side, up trail, at the peak, and back in the parking lot, all at the same time.
  • He’s communicating constantly. Listening to my jokes, my whining, my singing, my doubting, my spoken and unspoken thoughts, and responding compassionately.
If anyone’s native, it’s God. Been around forever. Witnessing our everything. Created all those humans hiking up the mountain he spoke into being. Wise and discerning to give us Dannys. Whatever adventure he invites us on, the answer should be “yes.” You might call it a mountain climbing state of mind. (from the peak)

31 Proverbs Highlights: #25-Gold and Cool Drinks

(A simple series highlighting verses from each chapter of the book of Proverbs)

A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples on a silver tray. A wise correction to a receptive ear is like a gold ring or an ornament of gold. To those who send him, a trustworthy messenger is like the coolness of snow on a harvest day; he refreshes the life of his masters. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭25‬:‭11-13‬ HCSB)

Do you have a friend that knows what to say, it seems, all the time? Either they are just faster on their feet or they are just more in tuned? Verse 11-12 says they are gold. The Message paraphrase describes them as “custom made.” I can’t say I have many friends that are “gold,” but the one that comes to mind is definitely priceless. I would say his listening skills are what makes him gold.

How about friends that are reliable, that do what they say? Got many of those? Verse 13 calls them refreshing. The Message paraphrase describes them as “cool drinks in sweltering heat.” What I know is how unrefreshing unreliable “friends” are. To have “cool drink” friends, which I’m thankful to say I do, is one of the greatest blessings in life.

We should strive to be gold and cool drinks, not just receivers but givers. Who would call you gold or a cool drink?

Fruity Fridays: 3 Steps to Goodness

(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)

post by Eric Vorhies

If kindness is the way we act toward others, then goodness is just the way we act regardless of the presence of other people. But like kindness, for me, the struggle is real.

I know what it looks like though. We all have that one friend that would totally shock us if he/she did anything wrong — I’m looking at you, Jacob Zerkle. And, just in case you don’t, you might be that friend…or you might be really bad at choosing friends.
Frankly, I don’t know how Jacob does it. It is as if bad, mean, hateful, or selfish thoughts don’t cross his mind. But with me, horrible and nasty thoughts pop up so fast that I have to play a type of mental whack-a-mole to avoid utterly destroying my life. So, today, I want to share how I battle to be good. (Spoiler Alert: it’s by the Holy Spirit)
Okay, we have established that I have many thoughts that directly conflict with my relationship with God and my sense of morality. But as I reflect how I have changed over the years, I can narrow it done to three concepts that I believe are rooted in Scripture.
1. Take Every Thought Captive
The nature of a thought is that it is a thought. That’s it. But what we do with that thought is important. During the sermon on the mount, Jesus starts each topic with a law regarding an action, such as “do not commit adultery.” Then he called out our thoughts by letting us know that even lusting after someone is the same. In James, it says that “each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin…” Be aware — having a thought is not wrong. What we do with it is where we can cross the line.
The remedy – “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Have a thought, give it to God. Ask Him to get rid of it. Ask Him where it came from. Ask Him what you should have been thinking. He will reveal to you what you need to hear. And over time (as long as you keep this discipline), those stupid thoughts will become fewer and your thoughts will be more in tune with the thoughts of God.
2. Stop Comparing
Look, let’s be honest, we all know someone who is a better Christian than you…and me. And that’s OK. There will always be someone better…there will always be someone worse. But goodness in your walk with Christ has nothing to do with the goodness you have or don’t have. Phil. 3:16  — “In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.” When you look around and see people are better at “being” Christians, don’t beat yourself up. Also, when you see people who are worse at it, don’t pat yourself on your back. Stop comparing with others.
The only comparison that needs to be made is the one between what you know you should do and what you actually did.
Think about that for a second.
It’s like exercising. You add weight and intensity based on where you are. You are able to achieve things that are actually obtainable. You are about to grow. More importantly, your relationship with Christ becomes more focused on your relationship with Christ and not others’ relationship with Him.
3. Grow
Lastly, never stop improving. Let’s stick to the exercise comparison. If you go to a gym for three years and can’t lift any more than what you did at the beginning, then what’s the point? Don’t we want a stronger relationship with Christ? A more meaningful and deeper relationship? Then never stop growing.
Eph. 4:15 — “But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head — Christ.”
Goodness isn’t something we have. It is something that God is. And through the Holy Spirit, we can grow in it…we can grow closer to God.