Saturday, March 25, 2017

My first Spartan Race!

Last weekend I ran my first Spartan Race and it was an absolute blast! The course was 4.8 miles long with 23 obstacles and over 1200 feet of elevation change. The obstacles included a sand bag hoist, barbed wire crawl, Atlas stone carry and cargo net climb up a cliff just to name a few.

My favorite part wasn't the finish line or nailing all the challenges. It wasn't the cool medal or even my new favorite T-shirt. My favorite part was the 5 guys I ran the race with. We overcome obstacles as a team, we struggled through the mud as a team, we cheered each other on as a team and when someone couldn't complete a challenge we did burpees as a team. All of us.

See the race rules say that for every obstacle that isn't completed successfully a participant is assessed a 30 burpee penalty. Now for the uninitiated a burpee is pretty much the bane of the fitness world. Starting from a standing position you drop to the deck, do a pushup and then jump back up, feet off the floor and hands touching overhead. If that doesn't sound too bad you obviously haven't done one recently. Much less 30. Much less 100's of them.

Early on we decided that if any of us failed an obstacle we would split the burpees up amongst the team. It wasn't ringing the bell at the top of the rope climb or sticking the spear throw (which only 14% of racers do FYI) that defined my race. It was on my face, in the mud, counting off burpees with my brothers by my side.

"But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." - 1 Corinthians 12:24-27 NIV

The best life has to offer is found in the people we surround ourselves with. The best church has to offer us isn't the music or even the message. The best church has to offer is relationship, with Jesus and with each other.

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." - Acts 2:42-47 NIV

If we're running alone we may cross the finish line but I have to wonder are we really winning?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Help is closer than you think.

I'm getting ready to run my first Spartan Race this weekend near Atlanta. It's basically a 4 mile long obstacle course with water, mud, ropes, walls, fire, etc. I've been training for 6 months and I'm really looking forward to conquering a new challenge. In addition to the physical preparation I've done I'm making sure that I have all the right equipment to succeed - trail shoes, running socks, quick drying clothes, a hydration pack and fuel. I've done a good bit of research since I'm new to all this and most people recommend energy gel packs to keep your body fueled and blood sugar up during the strenuous exercise. They're small, light and quick to consume so it makes sense. However in the little town I call home they are apparently not easy to find. 

My friend, who is racing with me, and I went out looking for them this week. We tried GNC. Then Walmart. Then the local backpacking store in town. Nothing. As we were walking around, in the bitter cold mind you, my friend has a great thought, "What about the bike store?!" We walked to the end of the block, down the hill, across the street and into the shop. Not only did they have EXACTLY what we were looking for but they had two displays full of them!

The funny thing is that the bike store is literally right across the street from where we work. I mean there isn't another building physically closer to ours than theirs. We spent all that time running around and the whole time what we needed was less than 100 feet from where we started. It took us 3 days, several miles and multiple trips to find it. 

I think life is like that sometimes. We forget just how close and how good God is. We spend more time worrying about things than we do praying about them. The more time we spend praising Jesus the less time we have left to stress.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” – Psalm 46:1 NIV

Prayer shouldn't be our last resort; it should be our first response. Whatever it is that we need God has more than enough. He has aisle and aisle of displays full of physical healing, financial provision, emotional support, spiritual transformation and so much more. And God has given us brothers and sisters to wait with us and to pray for us. Our church family is there to share life together with all its ups and downs and unexpected turns along the way. Sometimes we just have to walk across the street. And sometime we just have to be willing to reach out. Who knows? Maybe we’ll find exactly what we need!

God's Promises.

Earlier this week I was working on a log cabin I have for sale. As I was driving over to crawl back under the house for the 3rd day this is ...