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Posted in As A Person, Life, Nature

Am I Blind and Deaf?

Christ shines through His creation!

Nature.  In all its beauty and luster, can one be so hardened and hurt as to not see a single sign of its loveliness?  Not to hear the sound of singing birds or feel the warmth of the radiant sun?  The smell of spring roses, the trickling brook, the soft touch of a gentle breeze, could someone really miss it all?  Sadly, the answer is yes.  And what is even more heartbreaking is that that individual may not even realize they are deaf, blind, or unfeeling to their surroundings, perhaps because that is just how they have always been.

God created the world, stating that it was very good and would often take walks through the Garden of Eden while conversing with Adam.  The Bible says that through nature people would be able to see living proof of God’s existence because, after all, everything on earth has a creator.

So why would someone not be able to “experience” His creation?  The answer is simple, yet profound.  While easily not being understood by anyone except those who have been through the change and gone from blind to seeing and deaf to hearing, it is possible to see the miraculous healing in others.  You know they have something you want; you may just not know what it is.  You see it in their eyes or etched into that smile that warms you.  Your mind dismisses it, but your soul longs for whatever it feels in that person. 

When we are filled with hurt, bitterness, fear, anxiety or the like, we very often focus on that pain, so much so that we don’t see anything beautiful in life.  We cannot enjoy the peace and comfort that it can bring us.  Have you ever been so hungry that by the time you sit down for supper you scarf down the whole plate of food in front of you at a pace that when you are done, you really don’t even remember what it tastes like?  How about when you go on vacation and you have “what it’s” going through your mind the entire time, do you or really even can you, enjoy your time off and away from home?

Satan’s goal in life is to steal, kill, and destroy.  He will do anything and everything to make your life as meaningless and painful as possible.  He knows what a person can do when he is free in Christ, and he abhors the very idea.  Being filled with joy and peace, you can easily share God’s love and hope with others, something we all long for.

For a long time I hid hurts from family and friends from the past.  Being overly sensitive to any negativity created by words, I was emotionally drained.  So as I grew up I would build closets in my heart, stuffing the pain in them and slamming the door shut behind them.  When one closet became too full I would simply build another one.  Soon my heart was so full of closets that there was no room for anymore and I had to start stuffing hurts into cracks and under rugs, anywhere I could find to hide them.  It wasn’t until I began allowing Jesus to cleanse and heal this pain that I have been able to see God’s spectacular beauty in nature. 

As a result of this I gained a more intimate relationship with Christ through His creation.  I could feel Him warmly embrace me through the rays of sunshine.  He would sing songs of joy over me through the choir of birds.  When I would feel the breeze against my skin, I could only imagine him giving me a soft kiss on the cheek.  The sunsets became a gentle reminder of His love for me and the trickling brook seemed to fill me with His peace.  The flat farm land that seemed to stretch for miles reminded me of the freedom I have in Christ.  As one of His creations, I’m filled with more and more awe as I run these country roads in sweet communion with Him.  Oh how I have come to love my Savior through the elegant and magnificent work of His hands, namely the nature we all have available to us.  I have so much more to learn and room to grow in our relationship, but the more he shows me the deeper my longing for Him gets.  May we all seek after what our soul truly longs for and find it in Christ!

Posted in As A Person, Be Still, Life, Our Focus

Turn your Back to the Wind

Where are our eyes and feet headed?

I had heard it multiple times, “You are focusing on it too much.”  Has anyone ever told you that the water will never boil if you stand there and watch it?  Have you ever stared at a clock and wondered what is taking that minute so long to go by?    What about resisting a food you know you shouldn’t eat?  The longer you stare at it the more you probably wanted to eat it.  Ever have an annoyance in your life?  I bet the more you dwelt on how annoying it was the worse of a headache it became. 

Since we are what we eat, (physically and spiritually speaking), shouldn’t we be watching what we feed ourselves.  Physically speaking I guess I must be a chocolate covered banana, dipped in coffee and sprinkled with date slivers.  But spiritually speaking, what am I feeding myself?  Am I focusing on the news and what’s going on in this world?  Am I watching TV and playing video games?  Or am I spending time with my family and focusing on Christ?  If I do the first I could easily become an anxiety covered selfish sloth, but if I focus on Christ and serving my family, I could allow God to shape me into the image of His Son – my big brother, best friend and role-model!

I read a book on relationships a couple months ago and most of it, like most readings, is forgotten.  But two things stood out to me and one of them God has been pressing me to follow after.  I have always referred to the wind as my adversary – A Be Still and Run comparison – and would like to go back to it this week.

Is it easier for someone to run into the wind or with their back facing the wind?  Obviously it’s the latter.  So what does this mean for us as Christians, living in this world of turmoil and confusion?  It means to turn our back to the trouble and look at Christ.  Turn our back to the devil and run to Jesus.  Turn our back to the heartache and focus on our Savior.  Turn our back to the uproar all around us and look to God.  I have noticed that as I do this, as I turn my back on any evil, any sin, anything of this world, and look to Jesus, focusing my attention on Him, everything else slowly disappears and fades into the background. 

We need to use the example of a newly married couple on their wedding day.  They are so focused on one another that nothing else around them matters.  When they get a photograph taken, most likely the background will be blurred so that people can focus on what is most important in their photo. 

One afternoon I decided to try this method out during my run to refresh my memory.  Running into the wind took more effort and exertion as I tried to maintain a steady, slow pace.  I went about two miles into the wind before turning around and heading back home.  Not only was I able to double my pace comfortable, I noticed the wind was pushing me even faster to my final destination.  So by turning my back to the wind I got a double whammy; I was able to comfortably and almost effortlessly run, while the adversary was pushing me faster and closer to my goal.  The circumstances did not change, but the direction in which I set my eyes and feet did.  Do you see the comparison to our lives?  If we turn our back to temptation, to sin, to the enemy, and place our eyes on our Savior in Heaven, not only will our journey be more delightful and effortless because we will be allowing God to fight our battles, but the negative will help push us faster and closer to Jesus if we keep Him as our main focus.

I pray we would all be able to turn our back to the wind and focus our eyes on Jesus!

Happy Running ya’ll!

Posted in As A Person, Life, Nature, Training the Mind

Get Me Home – When the Fear is Too Much to Bear

During the “5K Everyday in the Month of May Challenge” I entered last year (2019) by Jeff Polen, I journaled about what God taught me each day.  The lessons were astounding and so encouraging to my heart that I decided to begin doing that more often.  Actually it was this challenge that inspired me to begin this blog.  Today, I decided to share one of the posts from that month’s journaling.

I went out planning on being back before the approaching storm. It was a pretty relaxing pace for the first half. My mom told me not to go far so I turned around at about 1.7 miles. (I had planned on going about 3 miles and then turning around.) I was watching the sky and when I turned around it seemed in those couple minutes the storm was much closer than I had anticipated.

I hadn’t learned anything during this run so I began praying that God would teach me something. (Not so sure that was a good idea). I noticed the storm began to pick up pace, as did my feet. It began to sprinkle when I reached the last .7 miles. Then all of a sudden it let loose. I saw a couple hail chunks and started getting super nervous. I was praying and running hard. With no time to think of anything I cried, “Lord, get me home!”

I had to stop and catch my breath once and cried out to God for strength. The rain almost completely stopped just long enough to give me courage to start running again. I have to admit I was scared to death. I was looking for any place I could to hide. A tree? No, I just saw lightening. A ditch? No, that wouldn’t do anything. Someone’s house? No, might as well just run the last tenth mile by then.

I wanted to get home and when I saw my dad outside looking for me I immediately felt better! I was home and had seen my dad. I was finally safe.

The main thing that kept popping in my head was, “You can’t outrun a storm.” As I ran that last half mile I realized how Jesus calls us to look to Him during a storm. Look to the Father for comfort. Seek Him and He will be found. Just like my dad waiting out in the storm for me, God waits in the storm with open arms for us to come to Him for comfort.

Home never sounded so good as it did during that storm while I was out. And what frustrated me even more was that the storm was over by the time I got out of the shower, and it looked beautiful outside.  I thought, Seriously!

During spiritual storms, very often, Jesus never sounds so good until we are in the storm. Why do you think God put the Israelites through so many hardships?  It was to draw them back to Himself. To remind them that He is the ultimate goal in life. At the end of our life we will stand before Him. If on earth we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, we will get to live with Him forever. But if we reject His free gift on earth, He has no other choice but to give us to our father. We have a choice to either stay a child of the devil or be adopted into God’s family. It’s our choice.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy being a child of God way more than I “enjoyed” being a child of the devil. God’s ways are way more pleasant in the end!

Posted in As A Person, Life, Training the Mind

Running Mantras

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they wonder if what they are doing is right.  They wonder if they are going down the right road.  Once they begin to move forward in any direction they question whether they made the right choice or not.  They may even begin hating their decision and wonder what made them move in that direction anyway.  Take a job change for instance, you may have been so excited but now you hate it.  Exercise – well, you may have had high hopes at one point, but those are dashed now.  What about when you got married?  Where you excited to start a new life, but now your struggles make you wonder if you married the right person? 

The very mantra that drives Satan to do what he does could very well be this: “Steal, Kill, Destroy – Steal, Kill, Destroy – Steal, Kill, Destroy!”  After all, Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”  But then He goes on to explain that He, Jesus, is come to give life and give it abundantly!  What a difference!!  Satan wants you to live in fear, depression, hopelessness, despair, lies, and self-condemnation… but Jesus wants to give you life, hope, joy, peace and love!  Wow!

So what exactly made us not want to run anymore anyway?  What caused us to stray from the motivation and willpower we had in the beginning?  About 80% of Americans have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions by now, about half of marriages end in divorce, and exercise, well if you ask most anyone you’ll see how long that lasts.  When we do not like something, most likely we have allowed ourselves to focus on a lie or something that is not true -which would be deception, same thing as a lie.  Almost all negativity comes from a lie that we believe, either about God, ourselves or others.  We live our lives based on what we believe, whether it is true or not.

A few weeks ago I was working on a speed workout in the rain, I was exhausted and mentally worn out.  I knew my body could do more but my mind kept screaming that I couldn’t do it.  Then it hit me.  My whole life I had told myself in different scenarios, “I can’t do it,” and that had become such a belief of my heart that when something got tough I would know that I couldn’t do it.  I intellectually knew the truth, but I didn’t believe it.  Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” 

I decided to try a new mantra, “I can.”  I yelled, (as much as one totally out of breath can), “I CAN” over and over again as I finished my sprints.  I was pretty wet by now, but I didn’t care.  I was determined to run those tenth mile laps as fast as my body could.  When I was finally done and satisfied with my pace, I praised God and went about my day, but that lesson has not left me.  Whenever I think I can’t, immediately the phrase, “I can” pops in my mind and I thank God for it.

I challenge each one of you to pick a struggle you are going through, whatever it may be, and ask God for a scripture truth.  Memorize that verse and meditate on it.  If you can, find a few words that state the truth and for five minutes repeat that, out loud, to yourself over and over again.  The fewer the words the faster it will stick, (just make sure it is a true statement).  For example, another situation I went through a while back I kept repeating, “It’s Impossible,” but God gave me Matthew 19:26, “…with God all things are possible.”  From this I repeated over and over again, “It’s Possible.”  (Now that I think of it, I could have also done, “God Can,” but at the time, “Its Possible” was more fitting for the situation, so do what works for you.)

As we close, I leave you with these verses:

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life… If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

John 8:32; 14:6; 8:36

Now, go believe the truth!

Posted in As A Person, Life, Training the Mind

Dying Breath

We never realize how good life is until we feel like we’re dying.

Ever walk up the stairs and feel like you’re out of breath?  Ever go for a walk or exercise and feel out of breath?  Honestly that is the worst part about running in life.  I hate it when I run out of breath.  I would rather have a painful run.  I like the feeling of being able to breath.

Anxiety, fear and pain all take our breath away.  It’s something that every person on earth has to learn how to deal with.  I’m not just talking physical pain either, I also mean that emotional pain of our heart being wounded, that hurtful word that sent a knife through your heart, and that feeling of being rejected or betrayed.

When we follow Jesus, we learn that God is the breath of life.  Without breath, we cannot live.

On one of my runs I decided to do what they call a negative split, where each mile is faster than the one before.  The first mile was supposed to be around 11 minutes but turned out to be around 10.  I turned around for the second mile and was hit full force with the wind.  Being as this mile was supposed to faster than the last, I pushed harder, but with little success.  I ended up finishing this one still around 10 minutes.

I was determined that the last mile, whether it rained on me or not, was going to be faster than the last two.  At about six-tenths of a mile I had to stop, I couldn’t breathe.  I cried out to God in desperation, I need strength, I need breath, I can’t breathe.  Give me breath.  All of a sudden an image popped in my head and I started crying.  Lord, forgive me.  I saw Jesus hanging on the cross gasping for breath- pushing against the nail in his feet in order to fill his lungs with air; blood running down his body… for me.

Now there was no way I was going to be able to run hard anymore being all choked up like that.  But I thank God for the lesson he gave me.  He reminded me in a very real way how much He loves me.  I finished the three miles in my average pace and ended up doing a couple tenth mile sprints afterwards.  The sprints were all around 50 seconds proving to me that my body really could have gone on, if I had only remembered to breath.

As humans we are capable of doing so much more than we could ever imagine.  I mean, we have the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, living inside of us!  And Philippians clearly says that we can do all things through Christ because He strengthens us.  And in Matthew it shows us that Jesus’ yoke is easy and light.

But we first have to lose our own life.  We first need to die to ourselves and take Jesus’ yoke.  We need to be like a seed, to die and be placed deep in the earth before we can grow and produce life!  We need to lose our breath so He can breathe His breath into us! 

But then the question, do we want this?  Are we truly willing to lose our breath, our very life, for Him?  I challenge you to ponder this question in prayer and allow Jesus to speak true life into your being.

Happy Running Ya’ll!

Posted in As A Person, Charater Qualities, Life

Forever Running, But Losing the Race

After four years of running, I wished I had put more miles under my shoes than I have.  I feel like I have been running forever and I’ve gotten nowhere.  Looking back at the miles I have logged, I can’t seem to see any difference in my times or pace.  My legs seem to not be any stronger and my miles have dropped significantly.  Where I was once close to a half marathon I am now barely above a 5k.  But yet I know something’s different.  I can feel it.  The past couple months I can sort of see improvements, but the problem is that they are not in ways I was expecting or hoping. 

Have you ever been so excited about a goal you have set or a plan you have carefully laid out, only to find out the harder you work at it, the farther you seem to get away from what you had envisioned?  It seems most of the time the harder I work at something, the harder it is to move forward, the more difficult it gets and the more I want to give up. 

Did you know the Bible says “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it”? (Matthew 10:39)  The world around us is constantly saying the opposite, “Don’t give up, pursue your dreams, follow your heart.”  They say, “You are capable of so much, keep going.”  In a sense this one is true because we can do all things through Christ because he strengthens  us.  (Philippians 4:13)  But we seem to forget the middle part, “Through Christ”.  We must remember what John 15:5 says, “For without me [Jesus] ye can do nothing.”

During a race, we pour our hearts out during the first however many miles and then comes the last one – that final mile between me and the finish line.  That final stretch where we push our bodies as hard and as fast as we can making sure we use every last bit of strength we have.  The worst feeling after a hard run is when you realize you had more left you could have given.  And that feeling is worsened when you realize you were only seconds away from your goal. 

Many people in life are trying their best to get to heaven.  They make sure their goods outweigh their bad.  They make it a meaningless ritual of going to God in prayer.  There are some others that live a life of lies, thinking they can enjoy life in the now and when they get around to it they might consider following Christ.

You’re trying too hard, He told me

“You’re trying too hard,” I heard God say as I bent over, with a heaving chest and feeling of failure.  He reminded me of the verses I shared above along with this passage,

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but it if die, it bringeth forth much fruit.  He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.  If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” (John 12:24-26)

When are we going to realize that Jesus has a far better plan for our lives than we could ever imagine?  When are we going to see that life is found in Christ?  How long will it take before we acknowledge that we can do nothing in and of ourselves?  Even Jesus said He can’t do anything unless He sees the Father do it.  Why are we to expect that we can? 

There is a better way to live this life.  There is a more rewarding way.  A healthier way.  A stronger way.  But we must choose to die to ourselves and take up Jesus’ yoke.  Almost every morning since I decided to yield to God’s will instead of my own, I surrender everything to Him and ask Him what He wants me to do that day.  Some days the tasks are difficult and some days they are simple and yet some days there is nothing different than the day before; it all depends on what He wants of me that day. 

I’ve lived a life trying to seek my own pleasures and it felt like everything I did came to a dead end – the door was shut.  I tried climbing through windows, beating on closed doors, wedging between cracks in the walls, but nothing ever seemed to work.  God protected me for many years before I finally gave in to His will.  I struggled in the yoke with Jesus for a long time before I finally submitted.   Oh how good and peaceful of a life it is!  I only wished I had seen this pasture beside the still waters as pleasant then as it is to me now!  What a difference in life I could have had!  Were it not for grace I would still be wondering down some pointless road to nowhere!  Jesus went that final mille between me and heaven!  Oh what a glorious day that will be when I finally meet with my Saviour in the clouds!

As a grand finale,  Were it Not for Grace by Larnelle Harris is a song a friend shared with me months ago.  I asked Changing our Hearts over on YouTube to sing it for me; please Enjoy!

Posted in As A Person, Charater Qualities, Holidays, Love

Why Do You Love Me?

I felt like I rammed face first into a concrete wall when someone asked me this question.  I had never been asked that before.  Why do you love me?  I had never even thought of it.  I have always said that I loved God because He first loved me, because that’s what the Bible says.  I never even thought about asking this before, I figured if someone said or acted like they loved me, that’s just what they meant.  No need to explain.  I wasn’t even sure I knew what love was after I was asked this. 

The Search

I looked the word up in the dictionary, prayed about it, pondered over the question… It was like a reality check that was written for thousands of dollars.  Was I going to cash this in and learn from this valuable question, or lay it aside and pretend the situation never happened?  I knew I couldn’t let it go.

As I prayed about it things started to click.  My definition of love was all screwed up.  If I asked you why you like dessert, what would you say?  How about your morning coffee?  Or your hobby?   So, why do you love the people in your life that you do?

I grew up thinking love is an action and a choice, and it is, but why do you love?  Most everybody has something or someone that they love.  I started asking myself, why does God love me?  Certainly there is nothing that a holy God could have a reason to love me.  I’ve asked God this question multiple times, but this time, I needed an answer. Did He really just love me because He is love, or does He actually find delight in me? 

I’m not one that gets into Greek and Hebrew words but I’ve read that there are two different types of love, Phileo and Agape.  The love that a mother or father has for their child is different than the love they have for one another.  The love you have towards your friend is different than the love you have towards your fiancé. The love you have for your morning coffee or quiet time after a hard day at work is different than the love you have for a person. 

First the Choice, and then the Reason

First we must make a decision to love someone or something.  Then we can find out what the reason is.  Do you know what the difference is between liking and loving something?  When we are pleased with something at a moderate level you say you like it.  But if that level goes up to a higher position we may begin realizing we love it.  But why did the needle move up a notch?  What caused it to gain elevation?

Photo by jonas mohamadi on Pexels.com

 I used to say I like coffee, but after drinking it for about a year, I realized I loved coffee.  I now jump up from my chair to get it if it is offered to me, whereas before I would only respond with a simple yes. What happened?  I started having reasons behind why I liked coffee.  Its bittersweet taste woke me up in the morning.  Rising hours before daylight it can be quite difficult to stay awake.  I love waking up and heading to the kitchen to hear the sound of the water running through the coffee machine – in clear and out black.  Its warmth creates a cozy feeling inside and being able to hold that mug in my hand brings me a strange comfort.  It keeps me awake at friends’ houses after being up for hours and then gives me that extra boost for my early morning run.  It helps me think clearly during computer hours and keeps me emotionally stable throughout the day.  Before, I could have said nothing much about it; I liked it because it woke me up, plain and simple.

When a baby is born, loving parents decide to love their baby.  Then, and only then, can they say why.  It’s my child.  God gave him to me.  He smiles so warmly at me.  He’s so innocent.  He looks just like his dad.  He makes the cutest faces.  He looks so peaceful when he sleeps.

Because God is love, He chose to love us, by sending His only Son to die for us, so that He could have a relationship with us.  He sacrificed what He loved so dearly so He could love us unconditionally.  Through His Son He sees us as His child.  And because of His Son, He finds delight in us.  He cares for us.  He encourages us in our dreams.  He gives us our desires.  He pursues us and gives us what is best for us.  He wants to know us intimately.

We Have to Accept

When a guy asks a girl to marry him, she has to say yes in order for them to get married.  If he truly loves her, he will not force his love on her.  He may pursue her and try to win her love, but if he truly loves her, he will let go because she does not want him.  He will want her to be happy.  He will want to grant her requests.

Jesus did not force His love on us.  He does not make us love Him.  A child will not truly love his parents if they force him to.  They will only act like they do to keep the peace.  If someone gives someone a gift to show their love, the receiver can either reject the love or accept it.  We can want to accept it, but we have to actually make the choice to do so.   

Sometimes people’s hearts are so locked up from the pain of their past that they cannot give or receive love.  Jesus is the only one who can break that barrier and make them feel loved in ways they never thought possible.  God longs to have his love accepted.  He is not willing that any should perish, He wants all of us to accept His love, to accept His gift.  Because He is a holy God and no sin can be in His presence, He has to see us through His Son.  It’s as if sin is the color blue and Jesus is one of those fancy cameras they use to make movies that cannot see the color blue.  If we have accepted Jesus, when God looks through that camera (Jesus), He sees no sin.  Therefore, because of Jesus, we are perfect in His sight!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Flattery is Not the Answer

The definition of flattery is false praise – praising someone in order to gain something yourself.  Telling someone they are beautiful or handsome is not true praise; they cannot control how they look.  Saying, “Your desserts are amazing,” hoping that maybe they will make you some cookies because of that, is not truly praising them for how good they cook.  Telling them, “I love you,” right before asking a favor, is also not true love. 

Instead of saying you love his smile, maybe consider looking deeper into his heart to thank him for the reason behind his smile.  Instead of saying you love how she keeps house, consider thanking her for her diligence.  Giving examples may help, but try to look for the character quality or virtues behind the actions.  That is what true praise is.

So, Why Do You Love Me?

I believe that when someone is asking this question, what they really want to know is, do you love them for who they are or for what they do?  With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, ponder this question, “Lord, why do you love me?”  As He reveals His answer to you, you will realize why you love others and on what level your love is based.  Because God is love, the more of Him you have, the more love you can give to others. 

As you think about that special someone in your life, or special “someones” (i.e. family and friends), take time to stop and think why you love this person(s).  Ask God why you love them.  Think about what you would want someone else to say if you asked them this question.  We are commanded to love others even if they hate us.  What if your enemy came to you and asked this very question?  Love can always see the good in a person, and true love also overlooks the bad.

Happy Valentine’s Day and May God Bless You!!