Friday, March 25, 2011

Born to Run

I am so blessed to be running again. One reason I'm thankful for that is that I've got that time where I am alone, and alone with God in a way that could never be duplicated throughout the rest of my day. For someone who is constantly moving (and perpetually running late), having some built-in time where I am really alone and able to focus is precious. For six months this has been gone, but now I've got this way to worship back, thank God!

During these moments I've had some dates and numbers in my mind:
- Thanksgiving 2009, first 5k, and where I caught this running bug..
- February 2010, 1st half marathon (~3:03)
- May 2010, 2nd half marathon (~2:47)
- September 2010, 3rd half marathon (~2:27) (and the last time I was allowed to run)
- November 9, 2010, heart surgery
- January 31, 2011, first day of running with the Surgeon's blessing!
(- January 10, 2011 'illegally' ran my first mile)
- April 3, 2011 Cherry Blossom 10 miler
- September 2011, half marathon

It's been almost 20 weeks since heart surgery. I've been able to run about 50 miles during the month of February. I'll have run about 70 in March. I'm getting stronger and faster, and able to run farther every week. I'm just in awe of all of it. I can't stress enough what a gift it is to just be able to run again. I've said it before, it makes feel me invincible to have been through everything and yet still be able to run. I know it's not me who's invincible, but God who's given me the strength to do everything. "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:26).

As I keep running, I'm trying to keep in mind what all these heart surgery adventures have taught me. I think they're still teaching me.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Worship Like This - part 1

In the last moments Jesus spent on earth with his disciples, he tells them this:

"'This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.'

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God."
Luke 24:46-53

There is so much in this passage... and over the next several posts, I would like to really work through all of it. But to start, I want to focus on the worship.

Place yourself in the shoes of these disciples: you've been through great grief over the past three days. The person you've followed for three years has been brutally, senselessly crucified. And Friday, Saturday, Sunday, you were without hope. But then, Sunday he finally reveals himself to you - he is alive! "Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" (Luke 24:26) In these glorious moments reunited with your Savior he speaks to you, promising you power from on high, blessing you. And then he's taken back up into heaven.

THIS is the stage on which the disciples worshiped.

Each of us should worship as these disciples did on that night. Each of us should worship as if we've seen and touched the risen Christ. Each of us should worship as if we've seen him ascend into heaven ourselves. Just close your eyes and imagine this scene set in the end of Luke. It's breath-taking to place ourselves in the disciples shoes and imagine the raw power and glory they witnessed. How real Christ was to these people! Because this great joy that they had, it's ours too. The promises, the blessings they received, these are also ours. Jesus is just as present in our lives as he was in theirs.

"Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him," (Luke 24:31a). Have your eyes been opened to how Christ works in your life? Can you recognize Christ in your life? Is he real to you? When Christ becomes as real to you as he was to the disciples, you can begin to worship as the disciples did.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Vision Casting

What follows is part of an email from a church called Relevant that I follow in Tampa, Florida. Watching them grow over the years has been amazing - and recently they've taken a big step: moving from having Sunday services in the upstairs of a club to having their own building, their own church. It's a huge time of growth for them. The email below is the weekly update from their pastor, Paul Wirth. He wraps up so perfectly what we're trying to do now for Hopewell, so I'm shamelessly stealing:

"I hope that all of you have had a productive and enjoyable week. For me, this has been one of those weeks that I am sure I will look back on for years to come and say that was the week everything changed. This week me, Carl, and Jamie went away for a few days to pray and plan for the future of Relevant and all I can say is that God showed up in a huge way. We were just trying to get away to get our heads above water so to speak and by the time we were finished I felt like I was walking on water.

I believe that God has some huge things in store for each one of us and I believe that His plans include everyone of us. So I just want you to begin now praying this prayer: "God whatever it is that you are about to reveal to me, help me to have the faith to believe it and the determination to do it" I am going to begin to pray this prayer everyday in anticipation that as we seek God and believe Him for great things that He is going to reveal for each of us individually what it is that he has in store for us. And I would like for you to prayer for me that God would help me to clearly cast the vision that He has for us both corporately and individually."