Map My Run

 

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Tweetsie Trail (Great place to run)

Map My Run is a handy app on my phone that logs all my workouts.  It records my distance, duration time, average pace, split-pace times, calories burned and elevation gain.  These details are very important as I reach out for my goals in preparation for the next race or just to keep in shape.

Map My Run reminds me of a very functional tool for your daily spiritual growth—a journal.  Just as the Map My Run app helps me track my physical fitness, I believe a hand written journal or one online is a good means to help you in your daily relationship with Christ; to run the race of the Christian life as we set our affection on things above and not on things of the earth (Colossians 3:2) to stay spiritually fit.  So consider the following questions:

  • How do you track your growth in Christ?
  • As you read the Word each day, where do you record what God said to you?
  • When you attend church, how do you document what God is up to in your life during the service whether in singing, prayer, small group Sunday School or the preaching?
  • What has the Lord been teaching you in the school of trials and temptation?
  • How have you seen God answer prayer today?
  • What spiritual goals have you attained by the grace of God?
  • What sins have your overcome?
  • What victories have been won by faith and God’s grace?

We are prone to soon forget the blessings of God, the impact of His Word, and the lessons He brings, but not so if we record them in a journal and then scan over them each week.  Our Shepherd is leading us today (Psalm 23).  Let’s track His steps and His lessons in our lives.  The Christian life is not a sprint but a marathon.  Let’s run well in His Word, burning off the calories of sin, the flesh and the world, and keep a good pace through all the elevations of life as we run for the prize.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

How’s Your Passion?

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Recently, I was asked this question by a dear friend.  We hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years, and after getting caught up, he asked, “How’s Your Passion?”  Passion for what?  Coffee?  UK Wildcats? Running?  Hiking?  Cars? Food?

Having known this person for many years, I knew what he meant.  He wanted to know how my passion for Christ was going?  He went on to say that recently two seminary students had ask him how they could keep their own passion going.  His answer, “You have to get up every day, early in the morning, and meet with God.”  His passion for Christ is on display every day and is so vital to him that he has even prepared a special place in his home to meet with God.  There you will find the fireplace, his chair, table, lamp, books, music, quiet and whatever else is necessary for him to pray, study and sit at Jesus feet.

Passion for Christ cannot be found doing ministry.  Passion for Christ cannot be gained from someone else.  Passion for Christ cannot be purchased at Lifeway Christian Bookstore. Passion for Christ comes by meeting daily with Him, alone, letting His Word read you, seeking His face, listening to His voice, and pouring out your heart to Him in prayer and worship.

Psalm 63 shows us another man, David, who was passionate about seeking God.

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

Pastor Steven Cole puts it, “David expresses longing for God’s presence, praise, joy, fellowship with God, and confidence in God’s salvation. The psalm shows us that David’s priority was to seek the Lord. Seeking after God should be our most important priority.”

So, let me ask you like my friend did me, “How’s your passion?”

Wildflowers and the Word

While traveling up the mountain toward the Blue Ridge Parkway for a day of hiking, all of sudden the driver of our vehicle stops in the road and puts the car in reverse.  What has caught Rick’s attention?  A bear?  Some deer? A waterfall?  Then he says, “That hillside is full of yellow trillium.”  I looked and all I saw were trees, weeds, and undergrowth.   I strained my eyes to see this early bloom, but to an avail.  And then he said, “See, right there in front of us beneath that tree is a whole bunch.”  Finally, my eyes settled in on what caught his eye passing by at 35- 40 mph.

Rick graduated from Clemson many years ago with a degree in forestry.  His love of the outdoors and all that God has created is readily seen if you spend any time with him in the mountains.  He has, by his own admission, spent many hours poring over wildflower books.  So a hike through the mountains with Rick is sure to be an education in forestry and flowers!

While heading on toward the trail with a few more wildflower recognitions, several analogies came to mind.

  1. Rick was able to quickly recognize these flowers because he has given dedicated time to the study of wildflowers. He knew what to look for, when to look for it, and where to look for these beautiful yellow flowers.  Are you able to readily see where God is at work because of your hours studying the Word of God?  Can you recognize His character being revealed through various daily situations of life?  Do you see answers to prayer?  Are opportunities to praise the Lord eagerly spoken?
  2. Rick has a passion for wildflowers that he is quick to share. How about you?  Is your passion for Christ such that there are no forced gospel opportunities?  It just comes natural for you to talk about the greatest passion of your life, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. As I mentioned earlier, Rick, without any fanfare, loves to teach about wildflowers. Have you studied the Word in such a way that discipleship is a passion for you?  Do you love to teach your children eternal truths?

I tried to “rejoice with those who rejoice” when Rick showed us those wildflowers. They were special to him. But the real rejoicing was being with a man who is more fervent for the Word of God, knowing Christ and seeing souls come to understand the Creator more than for what He has created.

So, the day on the trail was a day of beautiful wildflower sightings as well as sharing together in the blessings of being born again in Christ!

The Making of a Man: Who You Listen To

Who is the person you listen to more than anyone else?  Bob Kesling (UT Radio Voice)?  Brad Nessler (ESPN)? Shepard Smith (FoxNews)? Your children?  Your wife?  Your boss?  Your co-workers?  Men, the voice you listen to more than anyone else is . . . your own; your own heart.  Throughout a day, no matter what anyone says to you, you always respond to it from your heart.  See, right now, you are already responding to what I have written!  This begs us as men to consider two truths.

You must not listen to your heart.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Just taking this passage at face value, what does it say about your heart?  Do you want to listen to that which is deceitful, full of lies, and desperately wicked?  Do you want to listen to a heart that you cannot fathom, understand, or explain?  Then, why do you listen to yourself?  I listen to myself because I like myself.  I am selfish.  I think I have it all figured out.  See there, I am deceived.  So that leads me to the next principle that is so needed.

You must speak the truth to your heart.

Proverbs 23:7 says, For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.   Instead of listening to myself, I must speak the truth to myself.  There are so many wonderful, life-changing, “keeping me on the right track,” truths from God’s Word that need to be uppermost in my mind and heart.  Here a few right out of Ephesians 1 and based upon my position in Christ:

  • Since Christ is the eternal expression of God’s greatest blessing, I am blessed forever in Christ with all spiritual blessings (3).
  • Since Christ is the Father’s eternally Chosen One, I am chosen in Christ; His forever (4).
  • Since Christ is the accepted and beloved Son of God, I am accepted in the beloved (6).
  • Since Christ is the full payment for my sin, I am redeemed through His blood (7).
  • Since Christ is the access into God’s grace, I am graced forever (7).
  • Since Christ took the wrath of God for my sin, I am reconciled to God (10).

Men, to overcome the deceitfulness of our hearts, we must constantly speak the truth to our hearts.  Stop listening to yourself and start preaching the Truth to yourself today—that’s what we need to hear!

To the People in the Pew: The Snowy Word

Quiet. Peaceful. Snow falling. The country view out my front window. Another fresh blanket covering the ground.  As I watched the beauty of God’s creation, the Lord brought Isaiah 55:10-11 to my mind:

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,

And do not return there,

But water the earth,

And make it bring forth and bud,

That it may give seed to the sower

And bread to the eater,

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void,

But it shall accomplish what I please,

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

There are several analogies of the snow and the Word of God:

  1. Snow quiets the earth, and the Word quiets our soul, our heart, our mind, our life.
  2. Snow falls quietly, and God speaks the Word quietly to our heart.
  3. Snow blankets the earth, and the Word blankets our heart when we are troubled, discouraged, or in need of wisdom.
  4. Snow makes the ugly beautiful, and the Word regenerates making beautiful what sin makes ugly.
  5. Snow slows us down, and the Word does the same or stops us in our tracks.
  6. Snow alters our life, and the Word will alter our life always for the better.
  7. Snow comes from the heavens, and the Word is settled and comes from above.
  8. Snow is avoided; sadly, the Word is avoided by so many.
  9. Snow has a future effect upon the earth preparing the ground for spring; the Word has a present and future effect preparing us for service, trials, witnessing, the Bema, and making us more Christ-like..
  10. Snow is unique as is demonstrated by each flake, and the Word is forever unique as there is no other word like God’s Word.

I’m sure there are many other analogies, but simply put, the next time the snow falls, if you are a believer, begin to think on the tremendous, awesome Word of God and let it drive you to its pages!!  Let it accomplish and prosper in your life what God so ordains!

Friday’s Findings

What a week this has been!  Winter raised its frigid head and blew in a storm of gnarly winds, bone-chilling temps, yet layered the ground with a pristine blanket of snow.  Quite, frankly, its just been another typical week in the life of a child of God.  And as always, it must be said, “God is good all the time; all the time God is good.”  So, here’s a few blog posts to end the week that you might find edifying, challenging, and humorous.  Looking for the Lord Jesus Christ to return today!  Will He find you and me watching and faithful? I heard Dr. Charles Wagner say many years ago in a sermon, “The imminent return of Christ should have immediate effects upon my life!”

Why Don’t Choir Members Smile

Three Reasons Why Bible Reading Can Feel Like a Chore

Fifteen Ways to Honor Your Wife

Our Home Heating Unit Is Broken and We Think It’s Funny

Only Just For Fun

Friday’s Findings

Is Your Marriage a Picture of the Gospel?Here’s a great read written by my in-law’s former pastor, Dr. Hershel York.  Very transparent and insightful.

What’s Really Wrong With MillennialsThankful here for Joel’s thoughts concerning a subject tackled by many church growth blogs.

Gangman Style vs. Bible Reading“Bible reading is a privilege, not work! How cool would it be to trade off a couple of TV series for listening / reading through the Bible this next year? Don’t do it as a burden or from guilt. It’s a privilege. Love it!”

Ten Things We Should Get Angry About Before Yoga PantsAnd more than what this article is all about, these same people need the Gospel!!  The next time you get all fumed about yoga pants or Happy Holidays, ask yourself, “Did I share the Gospel with that person?”

This-N-That: 56

When I was kid, I thought anyone in their 50’s was old; anyone in their 60’s were really old; and anything beyond that was ancient!!  Well, today I am celebrating 56 years of life which moves me closer to the 60 mark.  As I consider the fact that I have more years in my rearview mirror than the front windshield, many thoughts come to my mind.  Most days I don’t feel old; I’ve gotten through recent surgery, and I’m ready to start running again; many times I still think I’m 30 something.  Nevertheless, the finish line is getting closer if the Lord permits me to live to 70 or more, or the Rapture doesn’t occur in my lifetime.  With that in mind, today causes me to consider the following:

  • By God’s grace, I want to stay faithful to Christ, my wife, my family and my Christian family.
  • I want our marriage to grow sweeter and sweeter each day as we grow older. May we never get calloused, uncaring, mean-spirited, or withdrawn.  Keep us warm and tender toward each other, holding hands, finger-dancing, winkin’ and smoochin’ until the end!!
  • Oh, how I long and pray that my daughters and sons-in-law are used to the hilt for God’s glory, and I will hear God’s “Well done” spoken to them at the Bema!!!!!!
  • I don’t want to grow old and be grumpy! May the joy the Lord be my strength!
  • I long to see the power of God moving through the local church in such a sweeping way that souls are saved and believers are extremely passionate about Christ, His Word, and sharing/living the gospel.
  • May I not be so stiff and rigid and wound up that I miss out on laughing and crying and rejoicing in all the good things that God has given and wants us to enjoy.
  • In the rest of my years, I long to see a huge number of souls truly come to Christ and be genuine, sold-out believers; followers, not fans!
  • May the impact of the Bema loom over my life in such a way that I finish strong!
  • I long to see my neighborhood follow Christ!!
  • I want to be used of the Lord for His glory and for souls until the day He calls me home!
  • May my heart become more and more tender and sensitive to the things of Christ and to people. Help me, Lord, to see the sheep as You do.
  • Lord, teach me to pray.
  • May I continually run to Christ.
  • Help me, Lord, to know when it’s time to move on. I never want to go down with a sinking ship because I won’t let go.
  • Keep me balanced, Lord.
  • I want to memorize more Scripture. If I can worry, I can memorize.
  • Let me run until I’m 70! Hike until I’m 80!  Race around Bristol when I’m 90!!  And jog the streets of gold when I’m 100!!
  • May the UK Wildcats win the NCAA basketball championship each year!!!! #BBN
  • Don’t let me miss out on any senior discounts! 🙂
  • May Dunkin Donuts Coffee keep America running!
  • I want to keep a burning heart for Christ, His Word, and the local church, His body!

So, so much to be thankful for in my past!! God has been so very good to me!!  The truth is, every day is getting better and the best is yet to come!! Click on the following link and see why:  What A Day That Will Be

Friday’s Findings

What can you find today?  What will you find today?

The Lord GodBut from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deut. 4:29)  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Rich TreasureI rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure (Psalm 119:162).

Knowledge of God  If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:4-6).

Wisdom I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me (Proverbs 8:17).

GoodHe who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he (Proverbs 16:20).

Answered Prayer“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

RestCome to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 28:28-30).

LifeFor whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 16:25).

An Empty TombBut they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly[a] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments (Luke 24:2-4).

Weakness of my FleshFor I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find (Romans 7:18).

Sufficient GraceLet us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

So, as you go throughout your Friday, what will you find?  What are you looking for? That depends on where you look, the surrender of your heart, and the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.  God is pursuing you today.

 

Here’s something else you will find to be helpful.  Looking so forward to Evangelist Aaron Coffey and the team being with us March 15-20, 2015.  This powerful message was delivered last night at Bob Jones University.  Listen here: January 15, Aaron Coffey.

The Making of a Man

Over the years I have read some good books on the subject of being a godly man.  My heart and life have been challenged and changed by these reads.  As I begin today with this Tuesday series of blog posts, “The Making of a Man,” I must make two statements.  First of all, these writings are from a desire to see men be genuine, Spirit-filled, Christlike, servant leaders . . . men of God.  Have I arrived there?  In no way.  This leads me to my second statement. To be all that God wants us to be, you and I must be humble, willing, teachable and “changeable.”  (By the way, humility is not me thinking little of myself; it’s me not thinking of myself at all.)  Therefore, these blog posts will begin with me . . . me searching my own heart, being honest before the Lord and trusting that what He does in me will be encouraging and edifying to you.  Let’s grow together to be men of God, men of the Book, men of character, men of Christ!

Since I mentioned the subject of good books, I’ll start there today.  You have heard the statement, “Leaders are readers.”  I totally agree!  Please don’t overlook the next statement by using the “I’ve Heard It Before Lens.”  Men, to be the godly leader of your wife and family, at church, at work, in recreation or any other venue of life, you must have the daily habit of reading God’s Word and letting God’s Word read you!!  The most courageous, strong, manly man is one who knows his God through His Word and applies the Word to every area of his life.

Let me give you some examples of real men who walked with God and knew His Word.  Do you think these men were sissies?  (This list is by no means exhaustive.)

Noah – What a carpenter!  What a man of faith! What an influence on his world & family! What patience and endurance! (Hebrews 11:7)

Abraham – He didn’t have to have everything laid out in front of him when God told him to depart his homeland—the guarantee of a good job, good retirement, etc.  He had a promise!  What faith!  What adventure! What courage!! (Hebrews 11:8-19)

Amram (Moses’ father) – Here’s a father who did not live in fear but faith.  He did not fear Pharaoh (the government); he feared God.  He did not fear to let his son go into the hands of Almighty God; he and his wife, Jochebed, “cut the apron strings”!!  (Hebrews 11:23)  What leadership!  What courage!

Nehemiah – Many things to be said about him, but most of all, he was a man strong in prayer who based his intercession upon the character of God (Nehemiah 1:4-11).  He stood tall because he knew his God!!  What a leader!  What a man of courage!!

Onisephrous – Here’s a risk-taker.  He was not ashamed to be identified with Paul so he could be a refreshment to his brother in Christ in prison.  Nero was not a fan of Paul nor of anyone associated with him or Christ! Onisephorus often was like a “breath of fresh air” to Paul.  What a friend!  What a blessing!  (2 Timothy 1:16-18)

Paul – Like so many in Scripture, much could be said about this man.  One thing here, he was not ashamed of the gospel!  He proclaimed it, stood for it, shared it, lived it, wrote about it, and died for it!!  What a man; gospel-saturated; all out for Christ!!  (Romans 1:16)

All of a sudden, I find myself wanting to stand up and sing . . .

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve the King of kings.

Rise up, O men of God!
The kingdom tarries long.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O men of God!
The church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task;
Rise up and make her great!

Lift high the cross of Christ!
Tread where His feet have trod.
As brothers of the Son of Man,
Rise up, O men of God!

So, men, are you a student of God’s Word?  Is your passion to know God and the Lord Jesus Christ?  Do you begin your day in the Word (Psalm 63:1) and with the Word (John 1:1,14)?  Real men read the Word and let the Word read them in a real way for that’s when you become a real man!! Let’s be humble, teachable, willing, and changeable right now.

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Joshua 1:8-9)  — By the way, this was written by a real, courageous man who knew his God!!   The Word of God makes real men!