Category: Running

Jesus’ Heart Monitor

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

This passage always seemed vaguely menacing to me. After all, the deeds listed sound so good and spiritual. Aren’t they all things that God loves seeing done? So what is wrong? Do we need to be scared that Jesus would say ‘I never knew you’ to us, after we thought we were living for him?

Here’s a clue: We know that Jesus says he wants us to put his words into practice. And there is a way we can know we are on the right track as we try to do that. When I go running, I like to wear a heart rate monitor to track my level of effort. And Jesus has given us a spiritual heart monitor.

How does that work? First, note that all three of the activities in verse 22, prophesying, exorcizing and healing, are activities that are done in public. But that means there’s a huge danger that they can become public displays that draw attention to the doer rather than to Jesus!

The Beatitudes give us a remedy for this risk: they focus not on what we are doing but on our heart attitude. Look at this one especially:

 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.(Matthew 5:8)

It’s far better to be doing quiet stuff that few people see while having the right heart attitude, than to do flashy visible stuff with the wrong heart attitude.

So now we see that Jesus kicks out people who seek after self-glory rather than his glory.

Do you ever wonder whether you are seeking his glory or your own glory? Sometimes it is hard to distinguish.  But the mere fact that you are even bothering to wrestle with this issue, admitting that it might be a problem, is a great sign that you are on the right track.

We press on with good deeds, not worrying about publicity or recognition. Inviting Christ to keep working in our hearts leads to an excellent result: At life’s end, Jesus welcomes us into his kingdom, saying “Well done, good and faithful servant!

COVID Running

mind the gap

We sure get a lot of COVID warnings and decrees nowadays!

One decree shut down all our county and state parks. One county park, Tourne, is not too far from the pictured roadside path.  (Long ago, this path was a trolley car route).

The park shutdowns annoyed me.  After all, I have been running in our county for 25 years. And never before did I have someone telling me where I could not go for my run!

So, one weekday at the quiet end of the park, there was no one in sight.  So I snuck around a barricade and ran…. through the park.

But afterwards I did feel a little weird. What if I had fallen down and could not get up? No one would ever find me!

But more importantly I was also becoming a law unto myself, deciding on my own which laws were worth obeying. That’s not really consistent……….with what I profess to believe.

So, I did not run that route again. Thankfully, though, the issue became moot when the county and state parks got reopened.

I am thankful for my solo runs, but I sure do miss group runs. And runners standing shoulder to shoulder waiting for the start of a 5K. And then heading out for postrace beer and pub fare.

We all say the same thing the Psalmist did in Psalm 89 and Psalm 13:  How long, Lord?

Lord knows when. But this will pass.

In the meantime:  Happy running!

From Weeping to Joy

Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
 Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them.
(Psalm 126:5-6)

This Psalm promises that sadness will turn to joy. When we have a sad season in our lives, God often walks us through it and moves us on to a cheerier time. But what happens when we don’t see an end to what saddens us?  

Then, we can look through the Psalms like a telescope, zooming to the future: we have a blessed hope that will be filled beyond our own lifetime here on this earth. Then our joy will be full and permanent.  

This “telescope effect” is an antidote to a teaching that’s popular nowadays that says you are guaranteed a joyful and healthy life now if only you have faith. According to this bogus teaching, if you lack a joyful and prosperous life now, that means you don’t have enough faith. And that lack of faith is your fault.

Today’s passage helps me deal with the end of my being a serious competitive runner. Because of developing atrial fibrillation, I no longer have mighty power in my legs. I am now more of a jogger than a racer. My cardiologist says it will never be healed in my lifetime. He is probably correct…. and no, the persistence of the problem is not my fault for not having enough faith!

Do I miss competing and winning medals? Yes. But I really am not nearly as upset about it as I would have thought I would be if you had told me this two years ago.   Why? Because God keeps providing. One example: He gave me a new volunteer assignment serving the Board of our church…what a useful way to redeem some of the time I would have spent on my crazed competitive running.

I can’t rack up medals anymore, but I’m glad that God keeps providing grace. The joy that gives is an amazing preview of what eternity will be like when we’ll have joy beyond measure.

My Will Be Done?

 Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6)

The great Hebrew warriors were itching to fight their Philistine enemies.  They didn’t want to wait!

That’s why I was so struck by the word perhaps in reading this passage. Instead of rushing in, these bold warriors were being tentative!  Why?  They needed to find out whether God would be with them in their attack. Hence, they waited for further direction from the Lord.

And they got a “Yes” from God and went on to a big victory.

Today, few of us are planning military battles, and we are probably not facing anyone as violent as the Philistines.  So what, then, does God working on our behalf mean now? How can we ever be sure that God will act?

For starters, Scripture does say that there is one way in which we know the Lord will always act on our behalf: We know that God wants each of us to grow to be more like Christ and to show more of God’s glory.

But can we get the precise details and guidance on exactly how God will achieve that in our life? Not always!

Last year, I was excitedly waiting for my new age group in competitive running. I was sure I could show God’s glory by running strong and winning prizes as the youngest runner in my new group. But God had other plans — just months before my milestone birthday, I developed a heart rhythm issue that takes away much of my speed and power in running. And this probably won’t ever change.  Yet I know that God is with me in it. Indeed, I have seen him more closely in some ways that I would have if I were able to persist as a running fanatic!

Yes, it’s great to know by faith that God loves to act on my behalf, even though the way he does it can be quite different from how I told him I wanted it done!