They (ah, yes, the ubiquitous “they”) say that everyone gets fifteen minutes of fame. This might be my lovely bride’s. However those who know Linda know that her legacy will include more than encouraging people towards bone health. I think it will include her wonderful and sacrificial commitment to the spiritual well-being of her many women, her kids, and her very appreciative husband of 37 years.
Monthly Archives: August 2008
A long time ago in a galaxy far away I ran. I ran the mile, the two-mile, and cross-country. I knew the thrill of victory. I knew the agony of defeat. But one thing I didn’t “know” very often was the roar of a crowd (when you run distance in High School or Junior College no one really cares). I never ran a marathon … not even a half-marathon … but I can appreciate the accomplishment of those who do. And I have always enjoyed watching the coverage of the Olympic Marathon. My favorite moment is when they come into the stadium to the roar of the crowd … even when the leader is not from the home country. Everyone seems to understand the accomplishment. I enjoyed the moment again this evening watching the Women’s Marthon from Beijing when Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania came through the tunnel to the cheers of the crowd. You could almost see her draw strength and energy from the crowd. It always surprises me that I have a bit of a “Hallmark moment” right then … just a bit emotional.
When it comes to the marathon I’m pretty sure that any contestant that makes it to the end is energized by the crowd … especially a crowd that knows the difficulty of that race and cheers everyone on … in this race there may be a gold medal, but everyone who finishes should be proud.
It doesn’t take a lot of original thought to make the jump to the running metaphors used by the biblical authors – especially in Hebrews 12.
“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, ESV)
I want to run the race with endurance. I can do it because of Jesus and in him I will find the strength and example to run well … to finish. But I like that he includes the idea of witnesses in the picture. Men and women who have already run the race, finished the race, and (metaphorically) cheer us on in the race even as we fix on Jesus. I think we humanly find strength in the encouragement … even if it is a word picture.
It sure reminds me to encourage others in the race. To cheer them on when I can. And remind us all that the crowd will be cheering when we finish. I think Jesus cheers too.
Extra running story: you’ve probably seen the ad/story about during the Olympic coverage about Derek Redmond’s race in the 1992 games. Thanks to Brian Walker at TheStreet.com for the synopsis:
British sprinter Derek Redmond returned to the Barcelona Games in 1992 after having to withdraw in 1988 due to injury. He entered as one of Britain’s favorites to win a medal, and easily won the first round and quarter-finals. But in the semifinals, his hamstring snapped and Redmond went sprawling to the track. It was what he did afterward, though, that cemented him in Olympics lore.
Redmond got up and began hobbling toward the finish line. Unable to continue very far, he again fell. A moment later, his dad appeared at his side, at first to talk him out of trying to continue. But when Redmond still tried to get up and keep running, his dad put his arm around him and helped his son around the track. The race was long over, and officially he got a disqualification, but the crowd gave Redmond and his father a standing ovation as he completed the remaining distance of the race.
No medal … but a finisher … a champion cheered by the crowd! You can see the story here.
I’ve been sorting through my resource files and came across this convicting list of practical questions to consider as an exercise in discerning whether we have become insensitive to sin. They are worth consideration on a regular basis … especially in light of the danger that lurks when we don’t pay attention close attention to our souls. Since I can easily post them because Amy (my wonderful assistant) was so kind type them, here they are:
- Have I complained for so long, that I don’t recognize it as sin?
- Am I so impatient with my family/co-workers that I’ve forgotten how comforting the grace of God is to me?
- Have I gossiped for so long that I don’t remember how to carry on a conversation that isn’t talking about other people’s lives?
- Have I been doing things in my own strength for so long, that I’ve forgotten the excitement of watching God work?
- Am I so tight with my money that I’ve forgotten it holds no security?
- Have I not taken a spiritual “risk” for so long, that I’ve forgotten what it is to trust Christ out on the cutting edge of life?
- Have I flirted (in thought or action) with the opposite sex for so long, that I begin to feel that I am immune to the danger?
- Has it been so long since I’ve chosen to live in moment-by-moment submission, that I don’t remember what abundant living can feel like?
- Have I chosen not to forgive for so long, that I can’t remember real freedom?
- Have I chosen to blame others for my problem for so long, that I can’t remember what the view of reality looks like without my screen of dark resentment?
- Have I heard the Word and not applied it in my life for so long, that my daily walk grows stale and academic?
- Am I so in to material things, that I’ve forgotten the discipline of saying “no” to myself?
- Have I exclaimed, prayed, cried my love for the Lord but not backed it up with obedience for so long, that His heart weeps at my hypocrisy and lack of power?
Lord, please keep me daily aware of my sin and humble enough to confess it so that I might be pure and useful to you.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” (Romans 8:5-7, ESV)
To the best of my knowledge these were adapted from a list first written by June Marshall of Grace Church in San Luis Obispo, CA.
Before you follow this link to iMonk please note that I am a pastor in a very-well-to suburban church and have been for a long time. I like our church and I like what we do and I believe we are pursuing God. But I have to agree with iMonk that there is a very real danger in being in a church like ours. I saw it as a youth pastor. I see it today as an Executive Pastor. Whether we fully agree with all his points we certainly must be aware of this very real concern.
The danger? iMonk writes …
Suburban Christianity is frequently not about an honest following of Jesus. It’s about an edited, reworked Jesus who blesses the American way of life and our definition of normal and happy.
It’s Jesus the sponsor of our beautiful church. It’s Jesus the bus driver of the ticket to heaven. It’s Jesus the guy who wants us to be nice to children. It’s Jesus who presides over all kinds of niceness.
Hey….I can get that from Tony Robbins or Oprah. I don’t need to dilute the demanding, revolutionary promises of Jesus into the suburban American Dream. I can get that life from someone who makes no more demands on me than buying a book.
I too have at stories I could tell of those who had parents that affirmed God’s call in their kid’s life as long as it involved being mostly safe, didn’t take them too far away, or ruin chances for grandkids. And I can also tell stories of those who followed “God’s call” not to follow God but to find adventure, run away from parents, or to be with their friends – so I know how important it is to listen to wisdom from people of godly character.
But the danger is still real.
It is encouraging to find a growing trend among students. Check out this site – I’m almost persuaded to return to being a youth pastor!