Another year has quickly passed into the annals of history, and a memorable year it was. 2014 was filled with global & personal challenges, and more growth for me than any time in recent years. As I stand just inside the door of a new year, and look to the future, the word that comes to mind is “possibilities.” “Unspecified qualities of a promising nature; potential” Webster.
For me, celebrating the New Year is like pushing the restart button, a fresh start in the important areas of my life. A chance to rethink the journey and how I am navigating, a chance to make course corrections. God has given us a road map for the journey in the Bible. In it we are encouraged to take stock of our lives and make any necessary changes to live as God intends us to. Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) says:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
We see three important things in this passage. 1) Life is like a race of unknown duration. We don’t know how long our race/life will be, but if we have a chance at winning the prize, we need to lighten the load so we can run our best race. Here the load can be several things but one is specifically mentioned, sin. Sin is like loose shoe laces on our life and if we are not careful, it will trip us and we will fall. 2) We don’t run alone. We are told that there are a great crowd of witnesses to our lives as followers of Jesus and they are cheering us on through our struggles. 3) The race is not going to be easy. Life will have it’s difficulty, and we will be required to endure to win the race.
As I think about the possibilities before me in 2015 my mind is filled with anticipation of what can be accomplished. In the days & weeks ahead I will be intentionally thinking, planning and structuring my life around the possibilities God has for me, my family, friendships and ministry and I would encourage you to do the same.
Realistically, like most years, 2015 will have it’s high points and it’s lows. But, I am confidant of this, that God is working out his plan in and through me, and you too! In the words of King David in Psalm 27:13:
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
This week I had the opportunity to spend some time in the City of Kiev in the Ukraine. If you have been watching the news you know of the current standoff between the people and the leader of the Ukraine, President Viktor Yanukovych, around issues of corruption and abuse of power. The situation is complicated by the pressure being applied by the Russian President Putin, to put down the rebellion and align with Russia.
We were in Kiev meeting with Church leaders from all over the Ukraine. We learned some more about their history, from the murder of Jews during the II World War, starvation of the population under Stalin and the oppression of the modern Soviet State before the fall of communist in 1991.
Our new friends took us to see Maiden (pronounced Maydawn) where the town square has been blocked by barricades. The protesters have taken over the city center occupying city hall and a number of other government buildings (they say they belong to the people). The youth are leading the protest, but there are those of all ages, and from all appearances, they seem willing to give their lives for the freedom of their country.
As we walked past the barricades, the tents and cooking stations we saw a people resolute in their cause. The local population supports the protesters by daily bringing food, firewood, clothing, supplies and money to meet the needs of those fighting for the cause of freedom.
The streets of Maiden could not help but make me think of Les Miserables, the story of the French Revolution and those who gave their lives for freedom there. I hope the situation in Kiev has a better ending.
Nothing like a stroll behind the barricades to make you appreciate the freedom we enjoy in the United States and those who secure it for us. This experience made me appreciate again the men & women of the United States armed forces who fight to keep our nation free. Not only do they fight for our nation, they fight to keep people free all over the world.
I would ask you to pray for the people of the Ukraine and especially those who control the government. Their future as a nation is in the balance, pray that God would intervene and there would be a peaceful resolution to this crisis that advances the cause of freedom in this country and region. It is a powder keg and has the potential to ignite something effecting all of Europe, Russia & the United States.
A long-time dream came true for me this last week as I have been made my home on a 41′ sailboat, sailing through the British Virgin Islands.
The opportunity came a few months ago when a friend of mine invited me to to crew on a boat for the week sailing in the BVI. I checked the calendar, talked to my amazingly generous wife , figured out a flight using frequent flyer miles, and the trip was a go.
It has been an unbelievable week, I stand in awe at God’s creation and power as a result of all I have seen and experienced in the last few days. The pristine beauty of this part of the world amazes me.
Our first day out we snorkeled over the “Wreck of the Rhone,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Rhone, a British mail ship sunk off of Salt Island on October 29, 1867. Seeing the massive 310 foot ship lying on the bottom of the sea like a filleted fish was amazing! Seeing the anchors, huge steel prop and metal framework made me think how incredible the seas power is to destroy such a huge ship. Then my mind wondered about the men & women who were on the ship, both passengers and crew, what were they thinking, what must have endured. Over 123 souls perished when the ship sunk.
My first time at the helm, we were sailing to Marina Cay through a gale. As I stood at the helm, I could feel the power of the sea and the wind as I tried to keep the ship on coarse. The wind was so strong…at one point the ship was leaning significantly to port, I slipped on the wet deck, my feet went out from under me, and I was hanging on by the huge pilot wheel.
God made His mighty power evident to me that day in the torment of the sea! I saw His power up close and personal.
As a part of my schedule, I am taking a seminary class on the Book of Isaiah, with Dr. Van Gemeren, at Trinity Divinity School (a fantastic class). This week, the BVI has been my classroom. What a place to study about our creator and His purposes for His people! God is teaching me many things through the book of Isaiah (more on that later). No question about it, God took me to school this week. He showed me amazing and wondrous things through His Natural Revelation (creation), and wondrous things through His Special Revelation (the book of Isaiah). I am grateful for both.
Here are a few of the lessons I learned this week, 1) God is good and sometimes If you are patient, dreams can come true. 2) Time with good friends is priceless. 3) I still like 80’s music. 4) Sometimes it’s difficult for us to see God or know Him, but, God has revealed Himself, His nature and character in the things he has made as well as the things He Has said.
My home away from home was a gift for which I am extremely grateful!
Sunday June 23, 2013 was the most amazing day! The alarm went off at 3:30 AM. The big day was hear. Tucker & Jordan were heading out to the car, their bikes were already checked in the day before as well as their race gear. All they had to do was dress and get themselves to the starting line for the swim.
My son Ty and I were volunteering all day at 3 different locations during Ironman. We had to be at our first assignment by 5:30 AM, which was the first bike aid station at mile 6. Ironman begins with a 2.4 mile swim, so we did not expect to see the frontrunner cyclist until around 8 AM.
Next at 11:30 AM we reported to the transition area from Bike to Run, where we helped the athletes transition to their running gear. Transitions are very important for racers, so if we could help them shave a few minutes off their time, that would be a good thing.
We ended the day with the final shift at the finish line from 8:30 PM – 12:00 AM where we expected to see Tucker & Jordan cross the finish line. It was a long day, but more fun than you should have on a Sunday. We met lots of interesting people and were able to help hundreds & hundreds of people achieve there dream.
We saw Tucker & Jordan a number of times during the day as they passed through each of these stations. We were able to get updates and encourage them along the way. They both were doing well, but were tired coming off of the 112 mile bike…with lots of hills! Jordan had broken 2 spokes on his bike and was delayed significantly while he figured out a repair. He had time to make up in the run if he was going to finish.
We were able to follow their progress on an app called IronMobile, both of them were slowing their pace especially on the 2nd half of the marathon, but each would find the finish line in time to hear the words of Mike Reily, “You are Ironman!” before the 17 hour deadline. They had hoped to cross the finish line together, but due to Jordan’s bike troubles that did not happen.
What does it feel like to swim, bike & run your hardest for over 16 hours? What’s it like to get the the point of absolute exhaustion and have to keep going and going? What are the things you endure, think about? How do you find the will to keep yourself from quitting 100 times along the way when you so very badly want to?
The Apostle Paul talked about a race in Hebrews 12:1 “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Paul also said in I Corinthians 9:24 “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” In the case of Sunday’s event, the prize was crossing the finish-line and getting that medal around your neck that says “Ironman.” Not to mention bragging rights for the rest of your life! Tucker said he was going to add Ironman to his resume! I guess he & Jordan have both earned that.
But what is the bigger picture? Paul tells us, life is like a race, a very difficult and challenging race, the Ironman of life. If you are going to cross the finish line and win the prize, you must keep focused and disciplined. I think the lessons that Tucker & Jordan learned by doing Ironman will be lasting and have application in their careers, family and spiritual lives. We can all learn from this and we can run the race of our lives to win the prize that Christ Jesus has in store for us.
Congratulations Ironmen! You are truly amazing!
Well, the day has arrived…Ironman is tomorrow! Months of training, discipline and hard work will come to bear on one of the most physically challenging athletic competitions on the planet.
As often happens, sometimes life will through you a curve ball or two. Ten days ago, Tucker came down with a very bad cold including a fever, aches & upset stomach. The Doctor diagnosed his issue as a virus that needed to run it’s course. So, he has been slowly nursing himself back to health. Today was his first day feeling well again. This severely cut into his ability to train and taper his workouts…bummer!
Jordan had his own issues, he tweaked his neck, and could barely turn his head. He nursed it with patches, massage & rest. He is also feeling pretty good heading into tomorrow.
Race day waits for no one. The alarm will sound at 3:30 am and no matter how they slept or how they are feeling, they will rise and face the giant they have been training to slay. Even if they feel they only have a slingshot and a few small stones to do it with.
It takes a man of great character and strength to face his giant against all odds. The words of The Quitter by Robert Service seem appropriate on a night like tonight.
When you are lost in the wild and scared as a child,
and death looks you long in the eye,
and your sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle
to cock your revolver and…die.
But the code of a man says: “Fight all you can,”
and self dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it’s easy to blow…
It’s the hell-served-for-breakfast that’s hard.
“Your sick of the game, well that’s a shame.
Your young and your brave and your bright.
“You’ve had a raw deal!” I know–but don’t squeal,
Back up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don’t be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on you grit; it’s so easy to quit:
It’s the keeping-your-chin-up that is hard.
It’s easy to cry that you are beaten–and die;
It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope is out of sight–
Why that’s the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each grueling bout,
All broken and beaten and scarred,
Just have one more try–it’s easy to die,
It’s the keeping-on-living that is hard.
Our hopes and prayers will be with you tomorrow and throughout your day you will spot me here and there along the way. See you at the finish line!
This week we are in one of my favorite places, Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho for the Ironman race this next Sunday. My oldest son Tucker and his cousin Jordan are competing in this penultimate athletic challenge of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike race and finishing with a 26.2 mile marathon. Ironman draws the elite in terms of athletic ability, discipline and mental toughness. I am both proud and in awe as these young men attempt this endeavor.
It’s a gift that this elite athletic challenge takes place in one of the most pristine places on the planet. If you have had the good fortune of visiting this God kissed place, no one needs to tell you of its serene beauty. We are blessed to have a place here on the Spokane River where we come to rest, recharge and build memories as a family. Ironman will be imbedded deep within our memories from now on.
There are places and experiences in life that take us to the edge of ourselves and cause us to depend on God in a new and fresh way. Having run 2 marathons, I know the feeling of pushing yourself to the edge of your will & physical ability…to the point of supernatural dependance, and the great connection & intimacy with God that comes in that place.
King David in Psalm 27:4 says,