Monday, September 24, 2012

#1 Together The Road Is Much Easier

During training, at times it was tough to finish a workout.  I would get bored talking to myself and slowly become demotivated as the run or bike ride went on. But during race day there was an adrenaline that came from having fans around me for an entire day.  The day did not seem that long, it did not seem that difficult, and it was definitely more enjoyable then what I expected.
Life is the same way.  It is much more enjoyable and easier to navigate when we are surrounded by people who encourage us, who are driven for the same thing, and who stick around us till the very end. I'm very blessed for the people that God has surrounded me with over the years.  People who have stuck by me and encouraged me.
So often we try to do things on our own.  We try to overcome our struggles, addictions, and try to battle on our own.  But God doesn't want us to take these things on our own.  He wants us to rely on each other, to help each other, and to really seek Him in our weakness.  It really is more enjoyable when we allow others to help us, to support us, and to walk through life with us.

Friday, September 21, 2012

#2 You'll Never Be The Best

From the time I exited the water on the swim, till I crossed the finish line, I passed almost 1,000 people, but I was still somewhere in the 600's.  There was always a line of people in front of me, no matter how fast I ran.  As I ran, I thought about this, how no matter what, I will never be the best.  If I'm seeking significance in this, I'll always come up empty.  Sometimes we strive so hard to be the best, and when this is our pursuit, we will do anything to get there.  In an age where it seems every athlete is using performance enhancing drugs, it's easy to see what this mindset can do.
It's refreshing and peaceful to know that God does not ask us to be the best there is.  He does not tell us that we must be #1 in order to be invited to heaven.  Instead He extends grace to us and states that He wants us in a state of weakness, for when we are weak He is strong.  He states that we should do the best we possibly can, to work as if working for the Lord not for man, but He does not require us to be #1.  What a refreshing thought that we don't have to outdo everyone around us, that we don't have to compete with those around us, but that we can join together, encouraging each other to be the best we can be.
There was such great camaraderie among these athletes, because the goal of the Ironman is to finish.  As you pass people (or get passed) they always encourage you and you encourage them.  There is not the competitive side with each other, but truly a challenge to oneself to finish.  And this is how the race of life should be.  We should not be running to beat those around us, running solely for ourselves, but we should be encouraging of those around us, pulling them along, and striving for the finish.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

#3 It Can Be Addicting

When I arrived to check-in on Friday morning, I received a flyer for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes prayer time later that evening.  I knew I had to attend this to connect with other Christian athletes.  I arrived expecting a hundred or so athletes, but was shocked when I walked into a room with about twenty athletes.  I was disheartened by how few athletes were willing to join together for prayer.  As the leaders talked, it was mentioned how so many of these athletes train 30-40 hours a week, and how this becomes there life.  They talked about how once people do one, many of them continue to do more and begin to lose focus of other things in life.
Talk about how we are in everyday life.  Many times we make decisions based on serving God and where He is leading us, only to quickly lose sight of why we are doing what we are doing.  We quickly make these opportunities into our god, throwing ourselves into what we are doing.  So many of these athletes are addicted to doing Ironman events.  They seek for significance in this event, using the event as a way to have people appreciate them.  Every person has a void in their hearts, a longing for something.  The only difference between people is what they fill this void with.  And at the Ironman, I could tell, many of these people filled this void with triathlons.
This event was a great accomplishment for me and something I can cross off my bucket list.  After I finished, I did and still do have a desire to do another one.  But as I sat in the FCA meeting, I heard a fellow athlete who was crying, as he shared that this was his 8th and last one, because this event had turned into an addiction for him, something that stole time from his wife, kids, and God.  Anything can become an addiction.  We want to do things that makes us feel significant, but we must find our significance in God!

Monday, September 17, 2012

#4 Goals Require Sacrifice

Each day is filled with thousands of choices. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all prioritize our lives by the choices we make.  Everything we do is prioritized.  When we are striving to achieve a goal, that goal is placed near or at the top of the list.  Everything we do focuses on the top.  When I signed up for the Ironman, immediately this became a top priority.  I had to sacrifice time with friends (so I could get rest), I had to sacrifice certain eating habits (although I didn't sacrifice as much as I probably should have:), and at times I even sacrificed my relationship with God.
Daily we make decisions that reflect what our priorities are.  Too often we do not stay focused on our goal, which should be to know Christ and to make Christ known.  When we are not focused on this, we waste hours of our day on meaningless things.  We can sit down in front of the tv for hours and watch pointless shows or spend countless hours on facebook, where we compare our lives with others.  We tend to waste lots of time.  We waste money trying to improve our self-esteem or on the latest 'thing'.  When we stop striving to become more like Christ, we lose focus and become poor stewards of what God has given us.
As I trained, I never listened to music.  Before training started I told myself I would use this time to talk with God and to listen, making sure that He would stay #1 on my priority list.  There were times were I lost focus of why I was doing this event.  At times, becoming an Ironman was selfish, a goal to gain significance in the world and in the eyes of those I love.  And it was in those times where God lost priority that I struggled, that I wanted to stop training, and where I felt weak.  But when we are weak, God is strong, and as race day came closer, I refocused, knowing that the only way I could complete this task, is with God's help.
I have learned that no matter what our goals in life are, God MUST be #1 on our priority list.  It's not so much about what we are doing, but about why we are doing it.  Make God #1, and never sacrifice this!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

#5 The Road Is Long

When Paul explains running the race with endurance, he very accurately explains how long and difficult it is.  It's a decision that takes extreme sacrifice.  So often we get excited to do these awesome things, only to fall apart a week later when we realize the work it takes to get there.  Life takes sacrifice.  God requires us to sacrifice a lot to follow Him.  Yes, we want to follow Jesus because He is incredible, but we quickly abandon the cause of Christ when we have to start sacrificing.  But if we push on, staying strong, running with endurance, the reward is incredible.
There were many weeks where my workouts struggled because I couldn't stay motivated, but I continued doing the workouts, pushing past those rough weeks, and in the end, it was so worth it.  I had to sacrifice time with friends, money, and pretty much my life for 6 months.  At times I wondered if it was worth it, if all this sacrifice would pay off, but crossing that finish line, it was worth it.
The biggest thing was keeping my eyes focused on the goal.  If I was not focused on the goal, I would not have made it to the end.  The race of life takes focus and constant sight on the goal.  Only when our eyes are set on the finish, can we stay strong and committed to the cause of Christ.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ironman Wisconsin

Absolutely incredible!!  One of the coolest things I've done & another thing off the bucket list!  It's too hard to explain in one blog post.  2400+ athletes swimming together in the water and taking on the challenge of a lifetime.  This event was so different than anything else, not only because of the distance, but because the goal is to finish, not to beat anyone else.  Everyone on the course was cheering each other on, 55,000 fans cheering us on, and 4,000 volunteers there to support us.  It was so awesome to be a part of this and to join the Ironman family.
I felt so much better than what I could have ever imagined.  I just kept going faster and faster and felt better and better.  It was incredible.  God has blessed me so much with strength, the athleticism to complete something like this, and He gave me such favor in this event.
Over the next few days I'm going to explain the top things I have learned from this event, and the lessons God has taught me.
I want to thank all of you for your support, prayers, and continued encouragement!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Two Days

First thing I'm finding out, I'm way out of my league here!  I'm not from this triathlon world, so I don't know the lingo or how to behave at such a function.  The nerves are starting to set-in a bit, the question of can I do this?  Two days and that question will be answered.  I really am jumping into this with little experience.  It's the little things that I'm not sure about.  What will transitions be like, how do I handle aid stations, what do I carry on my bike?  But it's exciting to step out and take on a challenge.  So in two days, all questions will be answered or dissipate as the starting gun sounds.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


One of the big issues in the church is fear.  We fear uncertainty, we fear the future, we fear failure.  We have to have everything planned out, and everything has to go according to detail.  We don't do things if we think we can't accomplish it.  We are scared to take risk, we are afraid to do something if there is any doubt of accomplishing it.
Going into the Ironman, there is plenty of doubt.  Lots of people have doubted me.  I doubt myself at times.  But I do not fear it, cause God's word says, "Perfect Love drives out fear".  I don't have to worry about not finishing, cause I have failed before, I will fail again, but no matter what, God still Loves me!  He will Love me no matter what happens.  That is perfect Love!
This Love should drive us to take risk, to step into the future without worry of what's next.  Knowing God's unfailing Love should drive us to attempt big things, because no matter what happens He will Love us.
I say this, yet to many times I myself don't believe it.  God says He takes care of the birds and animals, yet I find it hard to believe that He Loves me as much as them.  We see ourselves as unloveable at times.  We let our experiences with others dictate our relationship God.  But what we forget is that God's relationship and Love for us is Perfect!  We must take hope in this, cause God's Love MUST be enough, or else we have nothing.  If we do not accept God's perfect Love, our hearts will always long for something more.  Easy to say, hard to do.  It starts with accepting God's Love, and once we have done this, we no longer have to fear anything.  Allow yourself to be Loved and fear no more!