Monday, October 29, 2007

Beyond my cognitive ablities

Moving has introduced me to a new communities and one of those are the folks who run in Visalia. They are fewer than the Dallas folks who I joined at White Rock every Saturday for years. They run faster and longer. This past weekend, two folks I know ran the Javelina Jundred. That is a 100 mile race. Now, this ain't no marathon it is 100 miles. To the left is Marcia who is sporting a devil costume, because the JJ has costume contest to go with the race. I figure, you get beyond a marathon and folks can do anything they want. Behind her is a more traditional ultra runner.

It is pretty incredible. One guy told me all you have to do is run 5mph for 24 hours. It sounds simple and I guess that is a way to get my head around it. However, after 20 miles in Chicago...I thought, no ultra in this body. Who knows?

I got other friends who moved from the 5K to the marathon and are now beyond the marathon. They may coax over the threshold. So, as we were chatting one early morning. The 100 miler is now the new marathon. Everybody is doing them.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Stepping into 3

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood him."

Those words are brutal words and probably the most hopeful words ever uttered.

To turn our will and our lives over to God.

Do you know how hard that is for me? For me, I will only speak of my experience, this step in life is critical and crucial. As I am starting to plant a new church, I must get out of my own way and let God work through me.

Earlier this week, I had come to the conclusion that I was using food to handle anxiety. That is not healthy. I was seeking comfort or pleasure from food. I was not trusting that God would take care of me. I had been heading down that path for awhile, but I decided that I needed to stop. Earlier this month, I had a diabetes scare and found out that everything was alright. However, I do have elevated cholesterol. I workout three to four times a week, my cholesterol should not be that high. So, I need to change my diet. However, that is hard to do when food is not fuel but a tool and means for handling anxiety. So, I just said to God, "This hunger that I feel is really about my hunger for you. I will seek you." It has been hard but in two days I feel healthier. That is good. I am not going to get into the details of how. I am not sure how, but I keep knowing that my hunger pangs are mostly hunger pangs for the divine.

As a church planter, I must rely heavily upon God to do it. I must conform my will to His will. I must trust that God will use me. At times there are moments of self doubt, but I work through this step daily to remember that I must turn my will and life over to God.

Working on Step 3, that is where I am. I don't progress beyond this step...I stay here and do it everyday.

Your will, not mine.
Your will, not mine.

Sometime in the midst of those words, I began to quit trusting myself and trusting God. It seems so foolish to say this that is hard. Do I trust that God will get me through? I only do that by moving into those places of discomfort and realizing that God is there with me. I really wish the gospel was not about salvation but comfort. Yeah, but we all would be numb and bloated.

Fearless Joy,

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ministry why?

I think one of the things I have learned is that why do I want to be a minister. One thing is that I really like people and when I trust myself and not give into is much better. There are those fears of insecurity rumbling inside me. So, I must constantly be vigilant on trusting God and myself.

The key to me is that I believe that Jesus has the power to transform lives. Why? My own life has been transformed. Not transformed at baptism, but transformed later. It took awhile before I allowed myself to experience grace and forgiveness.

Where has that transformation taken place in my life. The shame and dread that isolated me from family and friends and the self loathing that kept me from hearing from people who loved me, friends, family, and acquaintances that I had gifts to share is gone. Not because I thought good about myself. Not that I heard the stories of Jesus' love. No, when I finally believed them and allowed them to rumble in my bowels (good Hebrew word) that was when I was able to see that I am a child of God and my sin was not so great that God could not forgive me. My seperation from my God could only be breached by Jesus who connected with me God. A God who loves me and that allowed me to trust God, myself, and others. It allowed me to connect.

My task in life is to help people get connected. First with God, then with themselves, and then with others.

I know you believe that God loves you...but do you live like an agnostic? Do you live like God hates you? If you do...I pray that you will hear the words of grace and that you feel that love that is found in a god who leaves heaven to come to earth to be with you.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Losing my daytimer

Last week, I lost my day planner. I had gone the way of Franklin Covey and tried to organize and focus my life. Since graduating from seminary, I had tried many paths to organization. In Seminary, my uncle gave me a Day Runner that has been very useful, but it was a little too small. So, I looked a day planner that used 8 1/2 x 11 paper. That was too huge. Then I went electronic using a Palm. The Palm was laborious. Then I used Outlook that was like the palm, but a little easier to use. However, it kept my day planning tied to the computer. Then I had my computer stolen or I had to reformat the C: drive. So, I went for a couple of years without any real organization.

Then in the summer, I decided that I was going to need a better mode of organization. I decided that I was an old school person, I needed paper. I bought "7 Habits for Highly Effective People" to get the philosophy about this program. I agreed with a great deal of it. Created a mission statement and bought into the system. I bought the year of daily planning pages, put all my information into the my day planner, and I had decided to use the Classic size. A little too bulky, but large enough to get the information. I lost the day planner last week in Costco. I was loading groceries and forgot my day planner in the grocery cart

This really sucks. So, I went to Depot de Office and bought another simulated leather binder and am beginning another attempt. I was asked how my week was at church and this moment of losing my day planner tops the week's memories. I think part of my frustration is that losing a day planner is a reminder how finite my organization skills are. How scattered brain that I can be and a great way for shame to creep in. That voice in my head that tells me that I am a failure. However, I decided to quit dwelling on that voice and buy a new planner. Re write my mission statement and come to the realization that keeping my life totally organized is the defining point of who I am. That my salvation is not dependent upon it.

So, I try to be organized to be helpful and useful. I am not working on my organization as way of being perfect. Got to remember that and losing my day planner helped me remember why I am doing this.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Chicago Marathon

What a brutal day last Sunday was.
The runner's reports are not overly exagerrated. I arrived at the first two water stops and there was not any Gatorade. The water was low. It took 90 seconds to find water at each stop. At that moment, I realized that I would need to readjust my time. The temperatures were excrutiating with it being 88 degrees and 86% humidity.
Three thoughts.
1.) Volunteers are incredible. Those folks who arrived to hand out water at the aid stations were pretty much screwed. They had a race organization that did not prepare them for the day. They had runners who were jerks. We runners can be very self centered, because well, the whole day is about us. However, I did not meet any volunteers who were bitter, angry, or anything but helpful. Chicago bravo!
2.) Quitting is an option. At mile 14 I was pretty much done. Anything else that was going to happen that day was going to be slow and painful My feet hurt and I was cramping. I quit sweating once. Sometimes it is better to quit than to push on. I was telling myself during the run. My measure as an athlete, person, father, and pastor did not lay upon my ability to run this thing. So, I quit running at mile 15 and just was looking to finish.
3.) I prayed that morning and my prayer was basically, "God I am not asking for a great time, because I am supposed to prepare to run. I am not praying for a day free of pain. Just let me accept the day as it is." That was a hard prayer to live into as the day came about. As the day ended, I met a Nigerian cab driver who said, "I was inspired by you all. I saw 70 year old man, running. I sit on my butt. THere was a 300 pound guy doing 26.2 miles. I can't get around two blocks. You all are heroes, you changed my life."
No Cabbie, you changed my life. It takes perspective to understand life and sometimes it is best seen outside of myself.
Fearless Joy,