When we meet someone for the first time we as humans, and especially men, share two basic pieces of information, our name and our title (or label).  Depending on our age and or present company that label may look different.  It can range from what we do for a living (doctor, lawyer), our hobby (ironman, crossfitter), or any other thing that we feel sets us apart (philanthropist, republican/democrat, christian, etc.). 
How easy is it for us to get so caught up in these labels and daunting task of maintaining them?  How much more worldly can we focus our attention?  Labels are to a man and beauty is to a women (a little SAT practice for you).
Bottom line God calls us to through off the worries of the world and focus on Him and this will lead us to His perfect will for our lives.  And isn’t this the ultimate goal?  So shake of you current labels and trade it in for the one that brings ultimate peace and satisfaction, “Christ Follower”.
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.


Ten Talents

Let’s stop you right there.  This blog is not declaring my ten awe inspiring talents to the world.  Rather on the contrary is the nagging question that smacks me square in the face on a nightly basis.  Here’s the parable that is giving me so much grief.

Matthew 25:14-30 ESV

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.  To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.  He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.  So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.  But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.  Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’  And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’  He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed,  so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’  But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?  Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.  So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

While it is clear that I don’t want to take the approach of the servant who did nothing with his talent, as it is clear that this did not end well for him. I struggle with figuring out how to balance life with trying to be a good steward in charge of many talents. In my life this means trying to be an excellent husband, father, physical therapist, and triathlete. Often the last two attempt to take over where the previous two should superspeed. Then there’s always the option of just sleeping a little less. A fellow racer once said, “My father said you can be good at 3 things, pick 2.” Or something to this effect. Making the point that pick a few things and excell at them rather than spreading yourself thin across more.

So what do you do when you feel like God has given you passions and skills in multiple areas and have the desire to be excellent in them all without you family paying the price? My solution thus far, and by no means is this the right answer just what I have come up with till I hear otherwise, is to poor everything into the things I feel God has given me a passion for and keep remembering to go to Him daily to for his strength and to make sure that I still feel Him pulling me in this particular direction, at this time. Because plain and simple I am not enough or smart enough to be excellent in all things, but He can make my enough, excellent and He is more than enough.

Surface Level

Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21 NIV
“Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root… …The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.”

How often is this true in our lives? Maybe it is evident in the sharp drop in gym attendance come February 1st. Or the noted exuberance, or lack there of with each punching of the time clock when working for the man. Maybe our ability to churn out the look at me workout but inability to make good on those cornerstones that make or break a season. Or even worse or ability to take our seat weekly at church but or inability to wake up early so we can spend time in the Word daily.
In the book,  Quitter by Jon Acuff, the author speaks about how we are whole beings and can not act one way in a particular aspect of our lives and flip a magic switch to act another way in a separate aspect.
Like the seed among the rocks how often do we as Christians claim to have faith yet lack the knowledge and discipline to spend the time to study the Word and gain some roots. As whole beings I would argue that if the surface level disease reaches into the depths of our faith it to affects our pursuit of sport. Like a small leak in the boat it may not be yet apparent but we are still taking on water. The good news is that these leaks in one area of our life can clue us to look for areas of surface level living before they shipwreck another.

Priorities: Where does God fit in?

If something is scheduled (i.e. office ours, task deadlines, race calendar,  etc.) I alot time to completing that tasks.  If not, even if it something I enjoy or feel is important, it gets lost in the wash of today’s busy life.
One such items that is sent adrift in the business of day to day life is my devotion time. Devotion time while number one on my I should, no I want to do this more list gets pushed aside for things such as work, training, family, and sleep, all things with more tangible consequences when void of routine attention. So what is the solution? More hours in the day? Borrow time spent in other areas, perhaps family or sleep? Or even start a blog to make me feel that I have responsibility to my readers to generate more material found in my quiet time? Ironically while this blog is dedicated to how the my time in the Word influences my training I think I will take a page out if my training to be more dedicated in my devotion time. I did not get to where I am now in endurance sports by being ho-hum about my training. I set aside time, stayed consistent, and kept the ultimate goal in mind when my motivation wained. Like training when the alarm goes off at stupid o’clock it won’t be easy but when I have an answer for a question person about my faith and why I am called to act differently the struggle will be worth it. This weekend at church my pastor spoke of Haggai, a small unassuming book in the Bible’s old testament giving a warning from God for the Israelites to stop putting off building God’s house in order to build their own. So here’s to putting growing in my walking with God before my worldly pursuits.

“Me We”

What can we learn from Ali?  I just finished watching When Were Kings.  A movie documenting the Ali vs. Foreman fight.  A lot of motivation can be gained from this movie.  What I gleamed from it this time around was how we as Christians could take a lesson in representing what we say we represent.  I don’t stand behind all of Ali’s beliefs and actions but he was and seemingly still is a man that when he said something he followed through.  Quite impressive for a man that was know among other things for his tongue being the one thing faster than his punch. 
His statement, “Me We”, given as a response to a request for a poem from a crowd of Harvard graduates, seemingly echoed his life of being about something bigger than himself.  This creed can be seen in a clip in the same movie in which he talks about if he looks at the fight as him vs Foreman than his foe is daunting and the task at hand is monumentous.  But if he thinks of all the good he can achieve for others than the greatness behind him all of the sudden makes Foreman seem much smaller.
So like Ali with his eyes on something bigger and his actions following the path his tongue set before him let’s aspire to live something bigger than personal gain and be found altruistic by walking out the faith we so easily profess. 
These are not easy goals but neither was Christ walking out his Father’s words and dying on a cross for all of our gain.

Personal Accountability

Professional athletes are either the worst professionals about taking personal responsibility or simply have the pleasure of their lack of personal responsibility being more visible than most. 

Listening to the EntreLeadership podcast from the Dave Ramsey company, which could be summed up in three powerful words from Dave himself, brought light to the great failure of people to do just that.  Those three simple words are, “I AM RESPONSIBLE.”

Personally I don’t know how many times I have finished a race and found blame in a bike mechanical, poor nutrition, not enough hours to train, etc.  In short, everything else except that I simply did not execute well enough to get the job done despite the days obstacles. 

John Miller, a guest on the podcast and the author of “QBP” had a great illustrations he titled, “Beating the ref”.  This illistration went on to explain that John’s dad would tell him before each wrestling match that to win he would have to be good enough to overcome his opponent, himself, and the referee.”

This same sage author advised that, “One can only rise above the situation when he asks, What can I do?”  This is not apathy it is a forward thought process that asks, How can I change my performance so that even in the face of adversity it will be enough to accomplish the goal?

With the thought of getting away from our victim mentality and rising above our daily obstacles I leave you with one final quote from Tim Sanders.

“Don’t make excuses, make up ground.”

Trials to Triumph

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

How many times have you reached that moment in a workout where the pain brings you to a pivotal point of decision? Push ahead or give in?  It is victories over these athletic trails that not only stimulate our physiology to adapt but shape our minds ability to find reason to push when everything else screams back off.  My coach used to call this closing the back door.  Often races are won by a single percentage and usually by the person the holds the back door shut the longest.

This too rings true outside of the sporting venue in everyday life as here we must push through daily struggles, learn from them, and move closer to our ultimate goal.

So take pleasure in that next difficult situation or workout knowing that it builds perseverance.  Preparing us for the next bigger task that we must overcome on our path towards success.