Discipleship & Running (2)

Wow! The smell was rank! It may have been just me or both of us, but the aroma in the car was almost roadkill worthy. But, what do you expect with all that sweat!

You say, “what does that have to do with discipleship?” Well, you may or may not have heard it said, but “discipleship is messy.”

Think of all Jesus dealt with in reference to his disciples. Here He is leading this band of twelve knowing one would betray Him, one would deny Him and they would forsake Him at the cross.

At various times Jesus had to deal with their insecurities, their misunderstandings, their pride, their selfishness, their unbelief, their hasty decisions, their inopportune sleepiness, their parents, their confusion, their rejection of children, their hindering statements, their temptations, their prejudice, their low commitment, their fears, their bad spirit, their doubts, etc. Leading these men was messy.

We and those we disciple are messy, too. As you do life with others, as you get to know one another, weaknesses, sins, and frailties are exposed. We can easily relate to the list in the previous paragraph. Many times, the stories of those we disciple are complicated by sin and its consequences. It’s a mess! And, we too, have paragraphs and chapters in our life that we wish had never been written.

If we stopped right here, it would end like a cheap television talk show. All the gory details, the mess, the sin, the raw display of our humanness, but no solution, no spiritual transformation.

Discipleship is simply helping someone take the next step toward Christ for God’s glory. As you do life together, pray together, read the Word together, serve together, work in the yard together, play ball together, share together, laugh together, eat together, talk together, etc., you will work up some holy sweat as you together exercise unto godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).

The smell of a messy life can be transformed by the grace of God (Romans 5:19-21) into a sweet-smelling aroma for Christ and unto God (2 Corinthians 2:15-16; Ephesians 5:12).

As someone has said, “Let your mess be transformed into a message;” a message of the Christlife being formed in you and lived out of you (Romans 6-8; Galatians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 3:18). That’s a pleasing aroma!

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Discipleship & Running

One of the joys of my life is running on the nearby Tweetsie Trail in Johnson City / Elizabethton, TN. The views of the mountains, the trees lining the trail, the fresh air, the quiet, the deer and squirrels, and the bridges are all way cool!

Another joy is running with my son-in-law. He’s a great encourager as he runs alongside me asking every now and then, “You doing ok?” I’m sure he would run a fastest pace than me since he’s 35 years younger, but he stays right there with me until the last mile. That’s when he moves on ahead to our normal finish line of 4.3 miles.

He and I have run many times on the Tweetsie as well as in other timed races. His question “You doing ok”? is standard fare and reminds me of discipleship in another believer’s life.

You see, we are not okay if we think we can go solo in this walk with Christ. Besides the residency of the Trinity within us (John 14:15-24), we must have one another outside of us asking, “You doing okay?”

When you consider all the “one another” passages in Scripture as well as Matthew 28:18-20 and Titus 2:1-8, it is very evident we need our family in Christ to go beyond the shallow, surface relationships of what has sadly become normal Christianity. We need to seek it out and also offer ourselves in genuine love and transparency to encourage and edify one another in our participation with Christ in this life.

There have been times when Andrew asks, “Are you doing ok?” that I have had to declare, “I’m struggling today!” Or, “You go ahead, I’ve got to slow down. I’ll catch up with you.” Or, “Doing great!” There have also been times that I have done the same for him. We are definitely transparent with each other.

You see, running together makes this question mean something. We are both running for the finish life; we are on the same trail; we are pushing each other; we care for one another; we are involved in each other’s lives; we are sweating together; we know this is good for us! Discipleship is the life of Christ! This is what we are, disciple-makers. This is the core of life!

Who are you running with in discipleship? Who are you honestly asking “You doing okay?”?

(More on this in future posts.)

Buffering

 

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Cell service in my neck of the woods has been an adventure since we moved here almost five years ago.  I am told that we live between two cell towers and therefore, service is sketchy.  We have tried LG, Samsung, Moto, and iphones from Sprint and Verizon.  Used a booster. Talked hours to tech support.   Nothing has changed. Most of the time, I have one bar showing on my phone.  Not to mentioned a gazillion dropped calls.

Continue reading “Buffering”

Taking the Scenic Route in Marriage #10

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Biking the Greenbelt, Kingsport, TN

“Enjoying the Pleasures; Avoiding the Potholes”

On the scenic route through the mountains, especially the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will see many folks riding their bikes.  These guys and gals are fit and trim.  They are dressed for action and prepared for the long haul.

I will probably get myself in trouble here, but husbands, are you still your wife’s prince, her knight in shining armor?

Have you looked at any of your wedding pictures lately?  Who are those people?

At our wedding I wore a white tux with tails, or as Jerry Clower would have called it, “a claw-hammer tail coat.”  Standing 6’2” and weighing 185 pounds, I looked like a Good Humor Ice Cream salesmen.  My sweet wife . . . 4’9” and weighed under 100 pounds.

The years went by and my wife began to see more and more of me.  Ugh! Not good. Eventually almost 100 pounds of me!  She on the other hand has given birth to three children and today is still under a 100 pounds.

Men, once we get our gal, why do we let ourselves deteriorate physically?  Do we not respect her and the Lord enough to take care of our bodies?

Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body, and in 9:27, But I discipline my body and keep it under control.  And then John in 3 John 2, Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. Then in 1 Timothy 4:8, Paul once again exhorts us, For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

Husbands, you need to be your wife’s protection, pillow and partner (Blog Posts #4 -#9), but also her prince!

In this age of fast food, video games, busyness of life and “feeding” our emotions, it is so easy to get lazy, overweight, and out-of-shape.  It takes discipline, planning, and sweat to exercise yourself unto godliness and good health. Your testimony and your wife are worth it!

Husbands, begin to exercise and eat right. Deny yourself.  Join up with your wife on a plan to work together to get healthy, eat healthy and stay heathy. Be honest with each other and encourage each other for your good and God’s glory!

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Husbands, dress for your wife.  When you are home, don’t look like a bum.  Your wife is there and your kids.  You can be casual without looking like you just stepped out of a dirty laundry basket.

Yes, the inner man must be renewed day-by-day, but our outward man is a reflection of what’s going on in our heart.

Something that I have appreciated about my wife from the very beginning is that she wants to look good for me.  She has said many times, “I do not dress for me but for you.”  I should reciprocate. She has eyes, too.  She is my princess.

Also, men, in being a prince to your wife, have good manners at the dinner table (1 Corinthians 10:31).  You should be the last to be served and the first to want to serve.  You should seat your wife at the table.  Put away your cell phones and talk to each other. You take the lead in prayer or calling on someone to pray; on having family devotions at the table if that is a good time for you.

Last of all, men, in being your wife’s prince, be polite.  Read Ruth 2 and take note of how polite and kind Boaz was to Ruth.  She was impressed by his gracious actions.

A prince draws his wife to himself by his kind words and deeds.  Speak well of your wife in public, tell her how much she means to you, let her know that you are paying attention to her, and be sure to often speak the words “I love you.”

Recently, I have added biking to my running routine.  No, I am not planning on riding the Blue Ridge Parkway for any great distance, but I am trying to do what I have encouraged you to do, men.  It’s for God’s glory and for my wife.

We are in it for the long haul.

Clippin’ Grace Coupons

The complete life of a believer in Christ is all about grace.  We deserve an eternity in hell because we are sinners under the wrath of God (Romans 3:9-30; Ephesians 2:1-3).  We are totally unrighteous (Romans 3:10).  But when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:9-13), God accepts us in Christ by His grace (Ephesians 1:6; 2:8-9).  From that point on, we live by God’s grace, we are sustained by God’s grace, and we are empowered to live for Him by grace as His disciple (Matthew 4:19; Luke 14:26-27, 33).

So, whenever I write this post about clippin’ grace coupons, it is my way of recognizing the truth of Ephesians 2:7, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  God is so very good to us, and sometimes like Andy Griffith would say, “Extreee good!”

Here’s a few grace  coupons God has allowed me to clip in the past two weeks.

Grace Coupon #1:  Running toward the sunrise at the beach

Denise and I love to get up early on vacation and watch the awesome display of God’s handiwork!  She walks, and I run.  What a time we have together!

Grace Coupon #2:  Seeing the elk at Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountain Park

What a special treat to hike this area as well as Big Creek with a dear friend and fellow hiker, Rick Stoner!

Grace Coupon #3:  The Beauty of Cataloochee

Grace Coupon #4:  Singing in the Sun 2017

What a special treat to attend two nights and hear such groups as Mark Trammell Quartet, Brian Free & Assurance, The Talleys, Gold City, and Triumphant Quartet.  Better than the singing was the preaching of Evangelist C.T. Townsend and Dr. Herb Reavis and seeing many souls come to Christ!!  A special thank you to the Life FM for the great seats.

An unexpected blessing on the second night was to sit right behind a young girl from back home, her husband and their daughter.  Then, to find out that a dear friend of mine and his wife were a section over from us!  He and I have shouted, praised the Lord, wept, and rejoiced at many Southern Gospel concerts.

 

Grace Coupon #5:  Worshiping With Our Daughter & Son-in-Law, Whitney & Paul

Running Uphill . . . to the Finish Line

My son-in-law and I have basically owned the Tweetsie Trail this summer for our morning run.  The beautiful scenery, friendly bikers, walkers and runners, beautiful wildlife, the nostalgia, pristine quiet, and the desire to stay healthy and prepare for periodic races calls us out three to four times a week.  Our routine is to run from Johnson City to Elizabethton at different distances as my training is currently maxed out for 10Ks while Andrew is preparing for a half-marathon.  Recently, I said, “Let’s change our routine and run from Elizabethton to Johnson City.  Well, I was greeted with a startling fact . . . the trail is predominately an uphill grade.

Our last run really took it out of me, and I was a bit defeated because running is such a challenge to me.  Upon sharing my thoughts via texting with Andrew, he said, “The second you feel defeated, you fail.  Sounds like the Christian life.”  He is right.

Running is such a mind game.  Correct thinking is so crucial.  In most instances, you can run farther than your mind tells you.  There you are, your legs are burning a bit, your lungs grasping for air, and your mind saying, “Just go ahead and quit.  You know it’s too hard to finish. You just don’t have it.”  That’s when you have to think the truth, remind yourself about things you have learned from running, and take another drink as well as another step.  You really don’t want to listen to yourself.

The Christian life is often uphill as well.  Every day presents you with battles that begin with putting your feet on the floor first thing in the morning.   Once that happens, you are “off to the races.”  How needful it is to think biblically from the first thought of the morning.  So often when we start the Tweetsie Trail, one of us will say, “What a beautiful day to run.  Praise the Lord!”  Starting your day thinking the Word and then throughout the day reminding yourself of the Word will help you climb the next hill.  It is so important that we do not listen to ourselves but rather preach the Word to ourselves.

I for one will tell you that one of the best parts of running is the finish.  There is such an exhilarated rush when you are done.  So here’s some truths to begin your day that will get you to the finish line… even if its uphill.

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.  (Lamentations 3:21-26)

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).

The Most Important Word in Running

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That was the title to an article found within the pages of Runner’s World written by Mark Remy.  The subtitle was, “Here’s a hint: It has nothing to do with nutrition, form, or VO2 max.”

So now, you are asking, what did the article say was the most important word in running?  Are you ready?—-“Thank you.”

Often my wife, who power walks, and I remark about how grateful we are to be out exercising.  We both realize that all we are enjoying comes from the good hand of our God.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us, In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

So what are we grateful for?

  • The beauty of running in the country!
  • Ol’ Bossie watching us from the cow pasture.
  • Seeing a newborn calf.
  • Quiet.
  • Time to pray, memorize Scripture, and/or listen to sermon podcasts.
  • Fellowship with other runners and the encouragement they bring to keep going.
  • The ability to exercise. I promise you this is not taken for granted!
  • Meeting some our neighbors who are out as well.
  • The benefits of exercise.
  • Safety.  (This can be a challenge when faced with a driver who does not want to lose five seconds of his drive-time.)
  • Goal setting.
  • Being with my wife.
  • Camaraderie with other runners through the MapMyRun app.
  • Finishing the race.
  • Good shoes.
  • Water & Gatorade!
  • Strength & endurance
  • Memories of good and bad races.
  • The opportunity to run again in races that were special.
  • The fall colors.
  • Our Enduracool towels.
  • The Tweetsie Trail.
  • Eyes to see, ears to hears, and lips to rejoice in all that God has created around us.
  • Life in Christ that makes this life worth living.

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:20)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

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Running to Heaven

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I love to run!  There is something special about being outdoors, the scenery of the mountains or farm lands, pushing your body beyond what you think it can do, running alone or with others or a crowd, and then the exhilarating rush of accomplishment!

Kingsport, TN, hosts an annual race that has intimidated me due to its Saturday, 9:58 p.m. start time. I have never run in a race beyond 7:00 p.m. and the thought of its effect upon my “Sunday life” left me a bit concerned. I missed it last year, but had set my sights on conquering this Crazy 8s 8K this time around!  Wow!  What a race!   2,287 participants lined up on Ft. Henry Drive for the start.  After prayer that included the gospel and ended with a note of thanks for Christ’s death on the cross as well as a stirring rendition of the National Anthem, it was time for the start!  Obviously, it is a bit slow for the wave of runners to get up to speed, but as we turned the corner onto Eastman Road, we were well up to our pace.  All the way, folks were gathered on the sidewalks to watch, cheer, hold up signs, spray us with water, and give us a boosts of mental energy.  The highlight was finishing the race by entering J. Fred Johnson Stadium with the festive fanfare of multiplied cheers of encouragement.  What a run!

Crazy 8 8K

Scripture reminds us that the Christian life is like running a race:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians  9:24-27).

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 (Hebrews 12:1).

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).

May I encourage all believers today in the Christian race to:

  • “Stay the course” – Be faithful in your daily spiritual preparation of the Word, prayer, memorization, memorization, and the use of 1 John 1:9.
  • Don’t run aimlessly – Just as you choose the races to run, have a plan and set goals for your spiritual growth. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
  • Exercise self-control – Begin your day in surrender to Christ. Don’t listen to yourself . . . preach the Truth to yourself . . . and do it all day! (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
  • Be encouraged by all who have finished – Just when you think you will not make it through another day, look to the Captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10), our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) as well as all who have finished well. (Hebrews 12:1; Isaiah 40:31)
  • Edify and encourage other runners — This race is an eternal one with an eternal reward. We are running the best race.  Let’s help the fallen, encourage the weak, hand them a cup of water, and run alongside at times.
  • Keep pressing on toward the goal – We are to be forward-looking believers. In a race, I may look back to see who’s behind me for safety sake as I move right or left in the road, but my mind is not on the start line but the finish line.
  • Finish well – As I turned right onto Indian Drive and up the hill for the stadium, I could hear the crowd cheering, the music playing, Tom Taylor making comments over the PA system, and it gave me a boost of energy to quicken my pace. For a runner, coming into that stadium and running to the 50 yard line with folks on both sides cheering; that was one awesome entrance!!  I’ve got tears in my eyes right now thinking about it.  I can only imagine what Heaven will be like with the saints of God praising, singing, worshipping, enthralled in the presence of Christ, and knowing . . . we are finally Home!

As I said earlier, we are running the best race now with the Bema as the finish line and Christ the Perfect Judge to hand out the rewards.  In the meantime, let’s run spiritually and physically well for God’s glory.  By the way, “When’s the next race?  I’m ready!”

Give a listen:  Finish Well