The Parallels of a Christian Runner: Part 4

Your Diet Matters

Recently, I was introduced to Kraft, thick n’ creamy, mac and cheese. I have never been much of a Kraft person. I didn’t grow up on it and cannot figure out how they get cheese anything in the dry food section, much less into a powder form. Well….. I don’t know how this happened but,….. I’m hooked. Seriously, it is so good. Oh, it’s creamy alright! And of course I doctor it up with milk, butter and a bit of real cheese to satisfy my conscience and make it extra creamy! Yes I do wonder, every time I prepare it, “How do they make this stuff??? It’s powder!!” but it stops there. I just don’t let my mind explore all the detrimental chemical possibilities. Why? Because I don’t care, it’s THAT GOOD! Plus, I don’t eat it THAT often,…. Maybe once a week as a side…. That’s not bad right??

I honestly don’t know what the long term impact of boxed mac and cheese is going to have on my health. However I DO know that if I approach my spiritual diet in this manner it does have negative effects and too often I don’t even think about the subtle ramifications of casual entertainment and pleasures. Like my mac and cheese I think things like it’s “just so good”, it’s “only once a week”, and “it can’t possibly be that harmful”, among many other excuses and justifications. Some of us may not even call it bad at all. We’ve dulled our spiritual taste buds so much that we don’t even see sin as sin, much less desire to protect and mature our faith through self-control or abstinence.

Well, if you are a runner, and you are taking this running thing seriously, than you definitely are considering what you are putting IN your body. You don’t even have to be an athlete to know “You are what you eat”. I can tell when I’ve been throwing back slices of Johns Favorite versus eating a salad and grilled chicken or a peanut butter sandwhich for that matter. My limbs just feel heavy. Today I caved with the Cheeseburger pizza (I know, 3 days ago I was like “Umm gross” but today I was all “Yum!”) and now I’m trying to convince myself to run despite how weighty I feel. You don’t care.

If you are serious about following Jesus you will have to deny yourself. But it’s not a bad thing. (Can we just stop viewing this as a bad thing??) Denying yourself produces good fruit and a lot of times simply provides protection. It’s like avoiding McDonalds…. We all KNOW that is clearly beneficial for us. Begin by asking the Lord, “Father, what in my life is inhibiting my growth as a Christian?”

Personal examples: I have some irrational fears. I do not reflect Jesus when I am fearful and anxious. But I kinda like crime shows. So, me+Dateline= watching my fears come to life. It feeds the possibilities in my mind and it’s not edifying. There are very few television programs that contribute to my spiritual growth so I choose carefully if I watch anything at all.

Or how about my social media. I had to get off FB and Instagram altogether because what started off as harmless connecting and sharing, birthed covetousness, jealousy, pride, judgment, insecurity, comparison, discontent, boasting, pretentiousness…. I know, someone lock me up, I’m a hazard!

It can be anything from questionable television, movies, music, books, social media, places you hang out, you name it. We live in a time where there is a lot of junk “fast food” at our finger tips to feast on. It’s not ALL bad but it’s definitely not all good for us. 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “’Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is helpful. ‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything builds up.’” If you’re engaging in something that disrupts your peace or creates a sense of distance with God, you may want to consider stepping back. Then ask the Lord if it’s nourishing His Spirit in you, quenching it or starving it altogether. If you truly “hunger and thirst for righteousness”, and start asking the Lord to show you how to delight in Him, the Spirit will begin revealing to you what will help you grow in His likeness.

Garbage in, garbage out.

We’ve all heard it and it’s true. Having relationship with Christ and becoming more like Him is more than just going to church on Sunday. It’s more than simply snacking on God’s Word. After all, eating a salad for lunch is pointless if you follow it up with a Big Mac, know what I’m sayin? 😉 Everything we do affects our Spiritual diet and relationship with the Lord. Everything.

So what are the Cheetos of your spiritual life? Followers of Jesus believe that choosing God over worldly things is far better.

A few questions to contemplate:

Are you watching what you “eat”? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you away from junk that is weighing you down? Are you feasting on His Word or starving yourself from it? Is the grease from those side items in life contaminating the work of the Holy Spirit? Maybe you’re clinging to your “Kraft” without considering the possibilities of what it REALLY consists of and its effects on you?

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Galatians 5:24-25 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Group1Crew: Dangerous

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The Parallels of a Christian Runner: Part 3

Running is better with a buddy

This could be a matter of opinion. Maybe there are some lone runners out there that have no interest in having a buddy. My running began with a buddy and I miss my running companions. I think that is what has made getting back on the wagon so difficult. I’m always running alone. :tear: When I first was introduced to running it was quite a pathetic sight. I could barely make it half a mile. I cramped, I ached, I couldn’t breathe. It was super hard and of course the weakling in me was tempted to quit. But I didn’t and that was large in part because I had a buddy cheering me on, believing in me, and picking me up when I was down. I never actually fell but having buckled so far over with stiches in my side, I might as well have been on the ground. Not only did having someone to run with keep me from giving up altogether, but we would hold each other accountable and challenge each other to set goals and meet them. Not to mention simply enjoying each other’s company. Eventually I got comfortable enough that I could even hold conversations during some of the runs, yay! Yes, having a buddy is good.

There are two things I’d like to draw from this parallel.

1. We need fellow believers alongside us in this Christian race.

You’ll notice throughout the New Testament believers were often sent to each other to bring encouragement. Paul, Peter, Timothy, Judas, Silas, Titus, and more, continually went and even stayed lengths of time to build up fellow Christians.

1 Thessalonians 3:2 “We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith…”

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” It even goes on to say in verse 14 “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

Romans 1:11&12 “I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to make you strong- that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

I love that. The gift is mutual encouragement in faith.

We need each other not just for encouragement but also for our training. I didn’t have a CLUE about running when I started. Yeah it seems like a pretty simple sport, find a place to run and run. Maybe I’m special. But it wasn’t that simple for me. I needed help, information, correction, the whole gamut. Everything from picking out shoes to hydration and pacing myself so I wouldn’t pass out. This was where my more knowledgeable buddy came in to save the day. Which brings me to my second point in this parallel. Have you figured it out?? 🙂

2. We should be making disciples.

Because when you love something, you want other people to know about it right? My friend loved running way before I did. And so she naturally talked about it and got me curious and before I knew it, BAM! Half marathon. Whaaaat?!? Me? No.way. But alas, it’s true. All because someone else took the time to pour into me, help train me, and give me a vision for something I may have never experienced had it not been for her sharing something she loved. And I’m sure it wasn’t always the most fun thing to do, slowing down for me, sacrificing her runs to run with me, and answering all my endless questions. But she did it and I’m grateful.

Brothers and sisters, we are commanded, as in not an option, to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19 Not only is disciple making a command but it’s also a sign of growth and maturity. Hebrews 5:12 “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word.” Did you catch that? We ought to be teaching. But oh how we complicate this. It doesn’t have to be this formal thing and you don’t have to be an expert theologian. Just a student of the Word that has fallen in love with Jesus. Like my friend, you joyfully share what you love and are learning (and especially how you’ve learned how much Jesus loves you and them) and be ready to welcome aboard whoever is willing to train with you.

“Most of the time God strengthens our faith through another person. Eternal security is a community project.” John Piper

So, who are your buddies? Do you have someone you run with? Someone you’ve given permission to hold you accountable and correct you if necessary? Someone who is challenging you and encouraging your continued growth in Christ? And are you looking for someone to share the love of Christ with? Someone you can disciple? If you don’t have one of these or either begin praying God would send you someone. And then be ready with your eyes open, because he won’t delay. 😉

Planetshakers: This is Our Time

If you missed the first two parallels, check them out here and here.

The Parallels of a Christian Runner: Part 2

The Sporadic Runner

Sporadic is defined as occurring at irregular intervals or only in a few places; scattered or isolated. Synonyms: occasional, infrequent, irregular, periodic,…

For the last 2 years I have been anything but disciplined with running. I can’t seem to get my act together. To be honest, most of the time, I just don’t even care. I mean I want to be healthy and active, but I struggle to have that drive and passion for running like I once did. I keep telling myself it’ll come back and here I am waiting. It’s as if I’m waiting for the day I get back on my treadmill and bust out a 15k, which at this point would be miraculous. I told you, I’m delusional. (This also is an example of how performance oriented I am. It’s a curse I tell you!) I’ve tried motivating myself by picking out races, which typically gets a few runs out of me but before I even commit to purchase a participant spot I’ve moved on. For months I have been a sporadic runner. I’ll get in a couple good ones and then 3 weeks go by and I’m back where I started. My treadmill is the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night and every time I walk by it, it beckons, “Come run on me. It’s been so long.”

This reminds me of places I have been in my walk with Christ. Have you been there? I definitely have! You know you want/need to maintain this relationship but the discipline is lacking and even producing a somewhat aloof, uncaring, attitude toward God and the importance of spiritual habits. You set your alarm for a morning quiet time and hit snooze, promising you’ll meet Him tomorrow. You pick out devotionals or start reading the latest Christian best seller only to read a few days and never finish it. I’ve even hoped for those moments when all of a sudden my passion for Jesus is ignited again and suddenly I crave His Word and presence every hour of the day. I’ve looked to church services to motivate me and expected a verse of the day here and there to train and mature me. Meanwhile, my Bible sits on a table beckoning me to feast on His Word, instead of sporadically snacking on it.

With running, we can’t expect a quick jog here and there to get us to the finish line of a race. And when it comes to being a follower of Christ, we can’t expect Sunday mornings, bits of God’s Word or the JoyFM to sustain us for the lifelong race He has marked out for us. Being a runner requires frequent, consistent training. Runners who are serious are devoted. Christian, we shouldn’t be any different. We should be devoted and willing to train hard. We have to get away from always needing to “feel like it.” Even when I was hard after running, I had moments where I didn’t feel like doing it. But, because I was devoted to training I did it anyway. Similarly we should pursue Christ obediently whether or not the feelings are there. This is the path to growth and maturity. He will be faithful.

Are you a sporadic Christian?

In Revelation chapter three messages are being sent to a few churches. To the church in Laodicea, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!…..I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.”

I’m not a scholar but it sounds like these Christians were struggling in their devotion. They don’t use the word sporadic but they clearly didn’t know if they wanted to be loyal or disloyal to the Living God. They were apathetic and indifferent. He instructs them to be diligent, show care in their work. Diligence also means to be industrious, hard-working, and painstaking. He also instructs them to turn from their indifference, their lack of interest or concern.

Remember, the first parallel I wrote on was about evaluating our current condition honestly. Are you diligent in your relationship with Christ? Do you make time to read the scriptures? Do you desire to push through pain staking moments to grow and mature in your faith? Or are you sporadic, irregular, and indifferent? Do you have a lack of concern for your sin? One of the things God has really been pressing on me is being able to call my sin, sin. To confess it, turn from it and turn to fellowship with Him. And let me tell you, that process has been a bit painstaking. It’s not easy admitting you’re wrong. But for those that run, you know all about the pain, moving beyond the threshold, and experiencing freedom on the road. And as great as that is, it doesn’t even compare to experiencing freedom in Christ, which is what repentance brings! 1 John 1:6&7 “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice and blood that cleanses us!

If you are struggling to pursue relationship with Christ daily, don’t give up. Press on in obedience, expose yourself to the truth in His Word and pray that He would make Himself known to you.

Pray as the Psalmist did, “I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding. Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” Psalm 119:32-37

*Picking out my favorite songs has been hard! So many good ones. This ones my jam! I mean they all are… But this post it’s got to be Lecrae: Don’t Waste Your Life.*

The Parallels of a Christian Runner: Part 1

*I started writing these up several months ago. And as I contemplated the content, I thought it would be fun to pair each post with one of my favorite running jams. So at the end of each blog you’ll find a song and I just want you to imagine me run-dancing, lots of arm flailing, and basically me looking pretty ridiculous because I can in the privacy of my bedroom on the treadmill. Just yes.*

I am a runner,… or at least I once was.

As I laced up my worn down running shoes and prepared to hop on my treadmill for the first time in months, I started evaluating my current physical state. In the past when I have taken time off from running I always get back into it with certain expectations. I tell myself things like “You’ve run two marathons you should at least be able to make it x amount of miles in x amount of time” or “It hasn’t been THAT long since you’ve run I mean what’s three months?” or “It’s mostly a mental battle Katie, think confident thoughts.” In case you’re wondering, “Will she delude/coach herself with just about anything?” The answer is, “Yes!” I hop on the treadmill and begin at a comfortable pace which quickly becomes very uncomfortable and I realize that to even make my bare minimum mileage it is going to be slow and painful. When confronted with this reality I find myself having to make a choice:

I can quit as soon as discomfort sets in, hop off my treadmill, and continue deluding myself by thinking that because I ran a decent marathon a couple years ago that makes me a runner forever, yay! Here’s to never running again!

OR

I can accept the fact that while I did run a great race or two in the past, I have not been disciplined in my running for a while. If I want to call myself a runner there needs to be consistent evidence of it. I need to, well…run!

And it hit me. I have also been here in my walk with Christ. I’m sure I’m not the first person to ever write about the parallel of athletics and faith. Nope, that credit goes to the Apostle Paul, but I want to share a series of blog posts about those parallels that God laid on my heart several months ago. And this first one is:

Evaluate your relationship with Christ honestly and frequently.


2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

Hebrews 3:12-14 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.

Here are some questions I have had to ask myself:

What’s your condition? Is God’s peace ruling your heart? Are you disciplined? Do you enjoy and carve out time with your Maker consistently? Would people around you clearly see evidence of a life surrendered to Christ?

Or is it like your running? Calling yourself a Christian and yet there is little to nothing that would set you apart today as a Christ follower? You once had tasted and seen that the Lord was so good. You were training hard, meeting with Him daily, asking Him to challenge and grow you, to make you stronger, faster, steadier for His purposes for your life. You reached the “mountain” of the marathon, but now that’s a distant memory. You let “ordinary” life and worldly distractions creep in. Gradually you slacked off with training and making that time with the Lord important and vital for everyday life.

I have found that it can be quite difficult to be honest with myself about where I am spiritually (and apparently physically, lol). If we can’t evaluate ourselves honestly, if we can’t call ourselves out and confess where we are wrong, we will continue down a dangerous road of self-deception. Oh how I have been there!

Let’s get honest with ourselves and God about our condition. If we’re out of shape (like me in running!) let us confess our sins, “He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us…” (1 John 1:9) and repent of where we have been lazy, undisciplined and uncommitted. It’s the first step in the right direction in the Christian race.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Brit Nicole (Ft. Lecrae): Ready or Not

Melodious Monday: Start Over

Start Over: FLAME featuring NF 

Hello friends! It’s Monday and God reminded me this morning that His mercies are new every morning, so thankful for His mercy. I’m sharing this song with you that speaks of His mercy and new beginnings because this girl is thankful for being able to start over, again and again. 

A few months ago God began laying something on my heart, The Parallels of a Christian Runner. I have been writing several posts that I was hoping would complete a series. I first heard this song, Start Over, amidst a brutal run on the “dreadmill” as some refer to it and I just thought, what a great launch for the series. 

So,….coming soon!!