Last run before the race

This morning I hit the road for the last run before the big Ukrops 10K race this Saturday morning. It was a light day since the “experts” suggest going easy the week of the race. So, yesterday I ran four miles and today about four and a half. Now it is time to give the “old” body a couple days rest before the competition.

This is the first race I have ever run. Well, almost first. I did do a leg of the 880 yard relay team in high school. That was so long ago that they still measured in yards. Since then I have speed walked and moderately jogged for exercise, to some degree, every week. But competing in a race is uncharted territory for me.

I have taken this whole idea pretty seriously. I have jogged three or more times a week for a couple months now doing the full 6.2 miles (10K) at least a hand full of times. My best time was last week at about 68 minutes for the entire distance. My original goal was to keep it in the low 70’s for the race. Then I changed it to maybe breaking into the 60’s. Now I would love to see 65 minutes. That may be beyond the reach of someone who is almost as old as the number of minutes he wants to run it in. What ever the time, I intend to enjoy the experience.

I have to say though, that all the prep for a race and conditioning of the body to get and remain healthy is nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to spiritual conditioning and spiritual healthy. I know so many people who are “obsessed” with conditioning and physical health while their souls are sick and on life support.

I just can’t forget these words penned by a guy named Paul hundreds of years ago because they are just as true today as they were then. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come. “ (1 Timothy 4:8) In short, godliness is the pursuit of becoming more and more like Jesus.

The point here is, what good is it if we devote all our time to getting and staying physically healthy and neglect what is most important? What good is it if we have a body that turns heads and a soul that has one foot in the grave? What good is it if we win competitive awards and loose the most important award of all?

I am not in any way suggesting that we give up caring about our health. We need to stay healthy because we are the dwelling place of God, but that’s a subject for another time. We do however need a healthy balance of care for our spiritual as well as our physical wellbeing. And if we are excessive in any direction it should always be in the direction of the spiritual over the physical. After all, Jesus did say, “How do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process?  Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Mark 8:37-38)

Understanding His words in the context of this discussion is to say, “There is absolutely no benefit to having physical health at the neglect of your soul. Nothing deserves more devotion than the health of your soul.”

Neglect this instruction and you just might discover that the race of life has passed you by.

See you at the race.

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Making the most of Easter

I have been bouncing this one around in my head for several weeks. I have been thinking about how we can, as Christ followers, make the most of Easter for God and the Kingdom. My first thought was to do an online search to see what I could find on the subject but decided instead to just list ten things everyone of us can do to reap the exponential potential of the Easter season and NV Easter services. I am writing this now because we only have a few weeks until Easter on April 4.

1. Mark it on your calendar. I know, it is already denoted on pretty much every calendar that is printed. But I mean mark it in your mental calendar and determine not to let anything get in the way of celebrating Easter together with your church family. All those other things can wait till later time. Easter only comes once a year so give church attendance and worship the top billing.

2. Approach it with specific prayer. Pray about how God can use you to increase the influence of Him and His church through the Easter season and services. Pray for God to make some things obvious to you that He wants you to do.

3. Take in the Parents And Youth Event on April 3, and invite a family or friend to join you. It will be a blast including inflatables, family games, lots of food and a huge Easter egg hunt. The time is 10-2 at the Ministry Center, 201 N. Courthouse Rd. It is a tremendous environment in which to get to know some people in an informal setting. Remember, it takes seven positive touches to overcome one negative one about the church, in someone who is not a Christian. This is an excellent opportunity to create some positive touches.

4. Invite your friends to join you for Easter church the next day. It could be the beginning of the best thing that ever happened to them. And don’t just invite one friend. Invite lots of them. The more you invite the more chance you will have someone show up.

5. Let your friends know that you will meet them at the door to show them around.

6. Sit with them during the service and take some time to introduce then to some other people.

7. Participate in the service during each aspect of it. They are watching you whether or not you realize it.

8. Invite them out to eat or over to your place after the services and offer to pay for it if you are able to do so.

9. Invite them to come back to services the next Sunday or to participate in another event of the church.

10. Pray that good will come from the visit and that they will give God another chance real soon.

Surveys reveal that people are more apt to respond to your invitations during the Easter season than any other time of the year. Let’s take advantage of the opportunity that is before us. The Bible says, “Make the most of every opportunity.” Let’s make the most of the Easter season.

Six weddings performed in two families

Sharon and I were able to get away for a few days this past weekend. We traveled back to the town we lived in during the 80’s and early 90,’s, King NC. I’m sure you never heard of King. It is fifteen miles north of Winston Salem on Highway 52. It is just down the road from Pilot Mountain which happens to be the location from which the Andy Griffin show was based. They just reversed it and made it Mount Pilot.

While there we stayed with some friends who were part of the church I led during the time we lived there. They are the parents of three daughters all of which I married while serving the church there. Well, I really didn’t marry them, I just performed the ceremony. One of the three ceremonies I vividly remember. When the bride and groom knelt on the kneeling bench there was a chuckle that rippled across the crowd of guests. I thought I had spoken or done something that brought it on. Or maybe there was a clothing failure. However, after the ceremony I discovered that the sisters of the groom had written on the bottom of his black shoes in white shoe polish, “HELP ME.”

As I think about all the weddings I have performed this phenomenon occurred one other time. Not the “HELP ME” prank but performing the ceremony of three daughters from the same family. The second time was at the church I led in Troy, OH, right after moving from King. Again there was a family with three daughters and I had the privilege of marrying all three of them.

Here’s the most amazing part, all six of the marriages are still intact. All six are healthy, I think, and growing, thought not without their share of problems. And there are at least a dozen kids in the picture now as a result of these marriage unions.

It’s exciting to reflect on the past, especially the enjoyable parts of it.