What can I say? I love to run. I've run 4 full marathons and 6 halfs. But I love God more and I'm determined to run this race of life for Him to receive the ultimate prize of Heaven. I'd like to share my thoughts with you. You can agree or disagree. Comment or don't. You can read or not read. But it's here if you want it. Enjoy! .

Monday, August 29, 2011

We're Building Up the Temple

Had a great weekend with family and friends. Ultimate Frisbee Friday afternoon with my CC team (always great). Sounds baseball game Friday night with friends which included an awesome Michael Jackson medley fireworks show and running the bases (the kids - not me). Faan (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network) walk and events at Centennial Park on Saturday morning (great cause and a lot of fun) . Hilarious skit practice with six 4th grade boys for the upcoming talent show (so funny!) Fantasy Football draft party with Carter and his 4th grade football team (watching the boys get into the live draft was great). Titans game Sat. night with friends. 2 great worship services with brothers and sisters Sunday including an amazing song service of praise Sunday night. It was a busy weekend but full of fun activities and that's the way I enjoy it. This morning it was back to the routine and God reminded me during my time alone with Him that each day is a blessing....and I'm grateful for every one.

My class built this on Friday....can you tell what it is?

No? Hey, they did it in about 20 minutes so all things considering, it's not too bad. It's supposed to be Solomon's temple. If you looked inside, you'd see 2 cherubims and the ark of God complete with two stone tablets. They each had a part of the temple to build and contribute. We build it each year and it always looks basically the same, but each class gives it their own personality. We are studying I Kings in Bible class as you may have guessed. It's always fascinating to me (probably more to me than the kiddos) how much detail is given to this temple in the book of I Kings. Go back and read chapters 5-8 at some point. The temple was exquisite. It was made of the finest materials and no expense was spared. It even says that no hammer or nail was used....every piece just fit into place. How amazing is that? I would've loved to have seen this temple in person. I can only imagine how amazing it would've been. After it was finished in chapter 8, God's presence fills the temple like a cloud. Obviously, He was pleased as His Spirit moved through the entire building. What a wonderful place that would've been to visit, worship, praise, pray, sing, meditate, etc. When I had the pleasure to visit Jerusalem a few years ago, I saw where the temple once stood, but of course it is no longer there like it was. And I think that's how it's meant to be.

I Corinthians 6:19-20 reads:

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

A physical temple is no longer needed for God. We are the temple. You. Me. According to this and other verses, each of us in our own bodies houses the Spirit of God. His presence still fills the temple like it did in Solomon's day. What a wonderful reality. We don't have to travel to Jerusalem to see the temple or even the remains of it. We see the temple every time we look in a mirror. God has built a new temple inside of us and we are to use it to glorify God every second of every day. Sometimes we (myself included) mess up and defile the temple but we never lose the presence of God or His Spirit. And check out this amazing verse I discovered the other day.

2 Corinthians 5:5

5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

GUARANTEEING. I love that word. Our salvation is guaranteed and we have the Spirit of God inside us as a "deposit"..... as an assurance. When I read that the other day it was a complete renewal of my hope, longing, and assurance of Heaven one day. Why do we often live like we're trying to "earn" Heaven when it's already been given to us? We should live like we're going home and celebrating what is to come. Heaven is not ours to win. We've already won it! It is only ours to lose if we choose through our sin not to accept this amazing gift. From now on, I plan to try even harder to abstain from sin, not because it'll keep me from Heaven (as it can), but more importantly because it tears down God's temple. It defiles what He's given me and is a slap in the face to my Father when He's blessed me with a "guarantee" of eternal life with Him.

If someone gave me a wonderful birthday gift, I would never offend them or go against them in return. Why would this gift from God be any different?

Build up your temple. Make it a house of God that he is pleased with. And realize that His Spirit inside you is the first taste of what is to come. It's assured. It's a given. It's definite. It's Heaven. Praise God!

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Monday, August 22, 2011

Be Weird!

Planning to run three times this week. I'm still slowly getting over my heel injury. That one was a doosie. Doosie. What a weird word. Is that even how you spell it? This is telling me it's misspelled, but it has no suggestion. But I can't think of a synonym. It was a doosie of an injury. It has taken forever to get better. It's still not 100% but it's much better. I ran 5 miles yesterday and the heel hurt a little this morning but not nearly as bad. I plan to run tomorrow and Friday. I want to get back into it....just have to wait for my rickety old body to kick in. Doosie? Doosy? Douisy? Weird word.

Speaking of weird....I've made a discovery and I believe it to be 100% true. Nobody can convince me otherwise. Here it is.....kids are weird! That's it. I'm around kids all the time and they are weird. They say weird things....do weird things.....they're just weird. Even high school, soon to be adult, kids are weird. My Cross Country team is weird and I shared this same speech with them last week in our team devo. I told them they are weird. Don't get me wrong, I love them and I love being around them each day.....but they're weird. Especially....ok, really only...my guys team. Here's an example....I came to our field house one day last week and walked into the guys' side. Here's some pictures of what I saw.....

Apparently, the day before, during their "run", they had found some nice items to decorate the field house with. I call the items TRASH but they call them "art". After I had left for the day, they had taken the time to hang up these items and decorate. They love it. I think it's pretty dumb to be perfectly honest but whatever. It's their field house. And I told them, if that's the weirdest thing they do all year, I'll be just fine. Just don't be too much weirder. Maybe pushing a grocery cart while running is a better workout anyways. But it backs up my point....kids are weird. I'm weird too sometimes. Maybe that's why I like being around kids so much. We're all weird at some point....right? I propose today that maybe we should be weird. In fact, I have no doubts that we should be weird spiritually.

Here's what I mean....being "weird" means being different. And aren't we called to be different? I told my runners that I'm fine with them being a little weird in their choice of decoration, but I'd also like them to be weird spiritually. I'd like for their friends and classmates to think they are weird when it comes to their spiritual life. Maybe they lead a prayer at a random time....weird! Maybe they talk about God in their conversation....weird! Maybe they even turn off their radio while driving around with friends and sing a song to God.....very weird! That would be very hard for them, I know. That would be hard for any of us. We don't want to be weird. We want to conform and be like everyone else. We want to fit in and be the same. We want to be accepted. Being weird sometimes means being excluded. But if enough of us are weird, maybe being weird won't be so weird. Say what?

I was just trying to convince them...and me...and anyone to be different from the world. Most of the world isn't giving God what He deserves. Most of the world is concerned with self first. Most of the world is on the wide road to destruction and not on the narrow path to life. So we're called to be different...to be weird. Consider these verses, the first from Paul, the 2nd from Christ....

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

John 15:18-19

18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

It may be uncomfortable or awkward or out of our comfort zone, but we're called to be different...to be weird.

So be weird today. I'm trying to be.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What a Gift!

Yesterday was my birthday. Not my actual birthday, my spiritual birthday. 24 years ago yesterday I was baptized into Christ. It's funny, it means so much more to me as I grow up then it did at the time. Don't get me wrong, I knew what I was doing and I feel good about when and how I did it, but it just means a lot more to me now. Anyways, I received a day-late birthday gift from God this morning. I wasn't expecting it but He gave me quite a show and I just had to write about it. Here's what happened....

I was driving to Woodlawn cemetery this morning. This makes 8 school mornings in a row that I've gone to Griffin's grave to talk and listen to God. I've seen some beautiful skies and sunrises the last 7 mornings but this morning took the cake. Actually, it totally demolished the cake. This morning without a doubt was the most beautiful sunrise and sky I've ever seen. As I was driving, I went around a curve about a mile away from the cemetery and literally gasped. The sky was full of bright, pink clouds. It was amazing. I also literally almost swerved because it took me by such surprise. I pulled over. I wanted to just look at it so badly. I wanted to capture it. I wanted to share it. I wished I had my camera. Then I remembered my Ipad. It takes pictures, right? Does it ever. So I took several. Dozen. Granted, the pictures don't do it justice, but I took one on the road there and then drove on to the cemetery. When I got there, instead of reading and praying like I usually do, I just stared and took pictures. Then, when I thought it couldn't get any more beautiful, the sun slowly started to come up. I had to take a whole new batch of pictures for that. It was just amazing. I wish you could've been there with me. God was all over that sky and he talked to me so loud and clear through it. I've put several in a post below this one, but again, they don't do it justice.

One more thing....since I was a kid, I've always loved when the sun rays come through the clouds like the picture to the right. I've always, for as long as I can remember, thought of God when I see that. I don't know why. It just seems like God shining down from above. I bought this framed saying (below) a long time ago just for the picture. I keep it in my office. I mean, I like the saying, but I really just like the picture because it's God for me. I saw that again this morning. Check out this picture of a stray ray making it's way to Griffin's grave marker.

Again, tell me God isn't talking through this. It's so obvious. He's there. He cares. He's comforting. He's healing. He's present. I actually said to God this morning, "How come I've never seen You so clear as I do now?" I love that He's making His presence so obvious to me. He keeps giving me gifts even though I don't deserve them.

This morning God gave me a very unexpected, but wonderful gift.

Yes, He gave me an amazing sky and sunrise.

But most importantly, He gave me His presence.

And it was a gift I'll never forget.

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Pictures from God. August, 17, 2011

This is the first one I had to pull over to take. It just got better from there. (Click on them to make them larger if you want.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

One Year Ago Today

It was today. Friday. First full day of school. 2010. I can't believe it's been a year. What a year it's been! The best and worst year of my life. All in one. Was it the best? I think it was. Was it the worst? I know it was. So what happened exactly one year ago today...right now....at this exact time. Here's the story:

I was sitting in my office just as I am now. I was on my planning period just as I am now. I was busy at work but excited that another year had started. A new group of kids. I'm always excited at the beginning of the year. I'm anxious to start back. I don't dread it. That's a good thing, right? If I did, I would need to look for a new career. But I love what I do and look forward to each new year. Do I have bad days? Of course. Who doesn't at their job? (If you don't, don't tell me.) And I'll admit by the time May rolls around, I'm ready to go. I'm ready for summer. I just need a break. Everyone does. Summer break for schools are a very good thing. It's just needed. Ok, I'm getting off subject. Anyways, I was sitting at my desk when my phone rang. I answered and it was my wife. She asked if she could come see me for a second during my planning period. I said sure. What a wonderful wife, I thought. Wanting to come see me on my first day. She really does love me. She already misses me. She arrived about 5 minutes later. So fast. Wow, she really does want to see me, I thought.

I heard her come in but didn't look up immediately. I was working on something...can't remember what...and I never will because what happened next emptied out my brain completely and put a brand new volume of thoughts in there. I looked up and smiled. She didn't really smile back. She had shut my office door. I could tell she was a little upset. My first thought was of course....what have I done? I was sure I had done something wrong and I was really racking my brain to figure out what it was. I was about to just ask...it's easier that way....when she spoke first. I have no idea what she said. It's all a blur now. Something about...I knew something felt different...I'm just going to tell you....I can't believe it but...I don't really remember any of those things. All I remember was the next sentence..."I'm going to have another baby." Come again now? My jaw dropped....to the floor....actually below the floor. My jaw actually dug a hole in the floor so it could get a little lower. Susan isn't afraid to tell you she told me those words through tears. It was a shocking and scary announcement. We weren't planning, trying, expecting, any of those words to have another baby. We thought we were finished. We had discussed it before, but had made the conclusion, or so we thought. My first reaction was shock, then confusion, then more shock, then worry, but by the time we hugged and she left, there was definitely some joy and happiness in there. It took Susan a little longer, but she eventually found the same joy and happiness. After we both accepted it and just gave it to God, we knew it was a blessing and were extremely excited to be getting this wonderful surprise. But you know the rest of the story. That's why it was the worst year of my life.

But I'm also prepared to say it was the best. Why? My relationship with God today compared to my relationship with Him then...when I sat in that office picking up my jaw with a shovel....has done a complete 180. Well, I guess not 180, but somewhere in the 100's. I was doing fine then. I went to church and went through all the motions. I was generally good. I felt pretty good about my life. But I had no idea what all I was missing out on. And it took the gift and then death of my child for me to see it. Yes it's a shame it had to take that but I believe it's all part of God's plan. I see God so much clearer now. I feel him so much closer now. I understand him so much better now. I want to be with Him so much more now. My desire to share Him with others is so much stronger now. He's all that really matters now. So in that sense, as far as my salvation and eternity are concerned, it was the best year of my life.

I've still got a ways to go. I'm learning more every day. But I'm on the way, the right way. I'm on the narrow path to Heaven. Matthew 7:14.

What a year it has been!!

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

That Last Book - What a Revelation! (Part 2)

God is amazing! Can I just start out with that? The past three mornings I have seen the most beautiful sunrises. Pink skies. I love when the sky is that color. I've gone to Griffin's grave the last 3 mornings to spend some time with God and it's just been amazing. It's funny, the sunrise and the sky are different every morning. They never look exactly the same, but the One who created them IS the same. He will never change. His words, His love, His word, His promises, His Spirit, His Son, His eternity.....never change. But I'm grateful that his creation does. It's like a new surprise each morning when I get there. I could sit there forever.

That is if I didn't have 8 million things to do. What a busy week. School. I could say "ugh" but that sounds negative and I'm actually not in a negative kindof mood. Yes, the busyness is tough and I hate not being able to spend the time with my family that I've been used to the last few months, but I'm actually looking forward to school. I do every year. A new batch of kids = a new opportunity to influence kids and lead them toward God. Speaking of opportunities, my prayers these last few months have included a request for God to use me. I want to be His instrument and do whatever He needs done. I want to share Him with others as I've mentioned on here before. It's amazing how He is answering that prayer. People keep coming up to me saying that I need to talk to this person or that person. I hear about kids who are having troubles at home and need encouragement. Just a few days ago, God used a friend to tell me about someone that has fallen away and needs encouragement to come back to God. It's so obvious that God is answering my prayer so I'm going to do my best to talk to these individuals even though it's a little out of my comfort zone. God is calling. How can I not answer?

I got to meet a couple of very special people this past Monday afternoon. I had gotten an email from a friend that Todd Burpo, the author of "Heaven is for Real" (the book I menioned in the last post) was going to be signing copies at Lifeway bookstore nearby. I decided to go. That book helped me in the darkest point in my life and brought such encouragement and hope and I just had to thank this man. I got there 15 min. early but was still waaaaay back in line. There were a lot of people there. It's obviously affected a lot of people. I had no idea that his son, Colton would be there also. Colton is who the book is about. He's the boy that got a glimpse of Heaven. I waited about 45 mintues, longer than I was expecting, but it was worth it. When I got to the front, I told them both how grateful I was for the book and how much it helped me during a very rough time. They were both very kind. You can see their signatures. Notice that Todd wrote Hebrews 12:2. It reads...."Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." What a great reminder and summary of our goal and duty. In the book, Colton says he saw Jesus sitting there...at the right hand of God. I can't wait to see that myself.
Ok, back to Revelation. After reading Revelation, I got a strong urge to re-read the Left Behind series of books. I read these about 5-6 years ago and loved them. For some reason, I read 11 of the 12 books but didn't read the final one. Not sure why. But I've started them again. I read the first one very quickly and am now almost done with the 2nd. They are page turners and I look forward to reading each night if I have some time. I know there is some disagreement about the books and discussion about if they should be read, but I read them as fiction. They are a good story. Is that how it will happen when Christ returns? I don't know. Nobody knows exactly what will happen. We have clues, especially in the book of Revelation, but I don't read these books as an exact representation of what it will be like. Like I said, I just enjoy the story. But (you knew that was coming), you can't read those books and not think. And I think it's a good think. Huh? Did that makes sense? I just mean reading those stories does make me think about my own life and what would happen IF Jesus did come back today. Would I be taken or "left behind"? In the book, some great (and God-believing) individuals are left behind because they weren't sincere enough in their faith and I don't think it hurts to evaluate my own sincerity. I say I'm doing well with God and I feel like I am, but am I really? Deep down? Am I sincere in all aspects of my daily life? Something to think about for us all.

Now, that being said...I am comfortable with where I am. I'm not perfect. Not close. I have some hang-ups...some habits or tendencies that I know I need to work on. But I feel confident that if Jesus came back right this second, I would be welcomed home. And I don't say that with a sense of bragging or too much pride and I pray it doesn't come out that way. If it does, forgive me. But I think we are all supposed to "know" that we are saved. (I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. -I John 5:13) If we don't, we need to evaluate and figure out what's keeping us from knowing. And we need to be ready at all times. That's a good reminder to get at any time, even from a fictional book.

I've enjoyed my study of Revelation. I'm glad Carter is studying it for Bible Bowl. I hope to continue to study it and understand it because I'll be honest...I've got a long way to go. But I love the hope that the book brings. I can't wait to experience these things in eternity. And I also love that Christ himself speaks in this book. In the last chapter (22), verse 12, Christ says, "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done."

Let us all strive to get that reward!

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

That Last Book - What a Revelation! (Part 1)

Ok, so this post is going to be 2 parts because I just have too much to say. I've been thinking about this one for a week or so...actually I've been thinking about it all summer. I'll tell you why in a second. First, the update on the Days of My Lives.....

Cross Country is going well. I lost some runners that I never had. That always happens. I have these runners...actually they are not runners because they never run....I have these students who just walk like normal humans that say in the Spring that they are going to run CC when school starts back. They get me all stinkin' excited because they are great kids and then they don't even show. When I ask, they always have an excuse. I'm too busy with school work or I really want to just focus on soccer or baseball or guitar or hopscotch or whatever!! The sad thing is that a lot of them would be GREAT runners. I KNOW they would. And their running career is over...like that! The world will never know what they could've done for the CC team and for our school and for themselves and for their lives. Kindof sad isn't it? Cue the slow violin music. I'm usually mad at them for about a day and then I get over it. It is disappointing, but they're kids. What can I expect? It's not easy being a kid. (I know b/c I still act like one most of the time.) And I guess that kind of disappointment comes with coaching any sport. But the ones I have are awesome! 22 boys and 11 girls. And I can't wait to see what they're going to do. I really want to be running with them. Badly. But I'm going to take this final week off for my heel and then try to go back.

School starts one week from tonight. One week! Yikes. And inservice starts next Sunday afternoon. Say what? Yep, Sunday afternoon. Christian school stating on Sunday. Go figure. But whatever. The times they are a-changin'. At least that's what we keep hearing. We are going to worship next Sunday night as a school faculty with our families and I'm really looking forward to that. I love worshipping with my school family. Lots of different congregations coming together and praising as one. That's what it's all about I'd say, and I think it's a great way to start off our year.

So back to this post. Here's the deal. Early this Summer I really got into this last book of the Bible. Revelation. Just the word scares some people. Is is supposed to be scary? If I asked that question based on my growing up, I might have to say yes because it was never studied and barely talked about. And if it was brought up, it was often brought up in a 'we don't understand that book so we don't try to' kind of way. But here's why I got into it. Several reasons actually. First, when we lost Griffin, we got books. Lots of books. From many different people. I've read several. And for obvious reasons, most of them were on grief or losing someone or Heaven. The ones focusing on Heaven have been my favorites by far. Hence this new blog focus. I just said "hence". Strange word. Do you ever say 'hence'? Ok, it's lost all meaning. Sorry. Anyways....."Heaven if For Real" by Todd Burpo. Loved it. And you can call me crazy all day long and I may be but I believe it. I'm sorry if that's weird....and it's not just because I need to believe it, which I do....I know it's a kid and it could be totally made up, but I have no doubts God wanted me to read that book. It was given to us multiple times and suggested many more. It was even offered to me today.....over 4 months after our loss. I felt so happy when I read it....so filled with hope and joy and encoruagement. So I believe God was telling me to feel comfort through it and to believe it. If it's not true, does it really matter? Does it really hurt to believe in something like that? We know Heaven is going to be great and that our loved ones will be there. And a lot that was in there, I already believed anyways. Does it really matter what we believe about the details? I'm getting off track, but I just really loved that book. I just finished another one that I loved. It was called "Have Heart". It was by the Berger family who lost their son Josiah at age 19. They live in Franklin, TN. It is a GREAT book and I highly recommend it. It also gives such hope and happiness and longing for Heaven. They use a lot of scripture, especially from Revelation. The point is that a lot of these books we received focused on Heaven and since Revelation is that magic Heavenly guide, I've read more than my regular share of Revelation.

Another reason - Bible Bowl. This is Carter's first year to do Bible Bowl and each year a new book is chosen. Out of all 66, this year....you guessed it....Revelation. I was pretty surprised at first. And I've heard mixed discussion on that. I've even heard of some churches choosing not to participate because of the topic. Can't say I agree with that. Revelation is inspired by God just like the other 65. Why would you skip it? But after I got over my initial surprise, I was actually excited. I'm glad it's being studied. It should be. It certainly wasn't when I was young. Now granted, Bible Bowl from what I can tell is stricly memorization of facts. These kids aren't getting a whole lot on meaning. And that could be frustrating, but that's what Bible Bowl is. It's a competition based on memorization. That's what it's always been. And that's fine. But I'm glad those who choose the book each year didn't back away from it. I'm glad they didn't skip it so as not to offend. I wish it could be the chosen curriculum for kids or at least teenagers during a class or two at church. But after the summer focus, I have to ask these questions. Is Revelation ignored or avoided? Is it studied as much as any other book? What's the deal with Revelation?

My thought it that we've chosen to avoid it or just lightly touch on it because it does scare us. We don't understand it, understandably, and so we avoid it. We don't want to be wrong. We don't want to study something that's difficult. Study Psalms instead we may think. They're comforting and make sense. Again, Revelation is just as inspired by God as any other book. He wouldn't have put it in there if He didn't want us to study it. I just hope we're not avoiding it because we're scared of it. That's not right. Is it hard to understand? Yes it is! I don't claim to understand it all. I've read it. This summer. When I had to write Bible Bowl questions for the first five chapters for camp, I read them of course and then decided to just read the whole book. I don't get it all. I still don't know if it's telling me what's going to happen, what's already happened, if it's even going to happen ever. I do believe that it is a picture of Heaven. I do believe at least part of God's intention was to show us a picture of Heaven. I have really enjoyed reading about it through these books and it makes me want to study it more.

I'll stop for now, but there's more I want to say including a certain fiction series that I've started reading again because of Revelation. Some of you may know what I'm talking about. But it's just all made me think about this book. What is it's purpose? How it can help me? You? I feel God calling me to study it and focus on it and I won't let Him down. Would love to hear your thoughts. More in a few days....

I love God, Griffin, my Girl, and my Guys.

Keep runnin'. The PRIZE awaits. (Php. 3:14)