Just Delete It

I have a hard time calling myself a runner.

This picture shows my wife and her sister in the start corral for the Oklahoma CIty Memorial Marathon – and gives evidence of my epic photobombing skills.

I have done enough running to learn that what you wear and what you carry with you can make a huge difference in how you run. I have run enough to know that you don’t want over-sized, loose-fitting clothing. I will spare you the mental images that naturally come with an explanation of this matter, but do trust me.

That’s why it’s no surprise when I read Hebrews 12:1 these insightful words:

“…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”

The extra stuff – even if it’s not a lot – can get heavy. That’s incredibly true of an extra 40 or 50 pounds of excess weight. It gets old in a hurry.

The clothes you wear can be a help or a hindrance depending solely upon how they fit. It’s way to easy to get tangled up.

But the writer of Hebrews was not talking about running a physical race. He was talking about the spiritual journey of faith that is a long-distance run. It requires perseverance and endurance. It requires discipline and a great deal of faith.

He tells us that, in order to run the race well, we need to lay aside the extra weights that slow us down. We can think of that as the things that may not be wrong or bad necessarily, but just get in the way and slow down our running of the race. Sometimes good things can really crowd out the best and most important things.

But we’re also told to lay aside the sin that trips us up. We all have things in our lives that we know are not pleasing to God. We also know that they present an obstacle to our spiritual growth.

So, as we take a moment to look through our lives, what are the things that need to be laid aside? What are the weights that need to be dropped by the wayside – activities that get in the way of your walk with God, involvements or relationships, or anything else that is not wrong, just in the way?

What are the things that we know ought not be in our lives – ungodly habits or attitudes, inappropriate relationships, or other practices that need to be removed?

Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with a DELETE button. Though, as you begin to look at your life, this process may begin with deleting some apps or programs from your phone or computer or tablet. It may mean getting rid of a device or a TV channel or such. But I believe in the willingness of God to enable us by His Spirit to delete things that need to be deleted from our lives.

It’s like the story I heard of a wise father that noticed the bulging pockets of his little boy. The father asked about the contents and the boy said, as boys do, “I don’t know…just stuff.”

The father asked the boy to come to the table and empty the pockets. There were all kinds of things there stuffed into those little pockets. As the contents were brought to light, the father sorted them into two piles there on the table. Once his pockets were empty, the boy looked anxiously at his dad, wondering what was about to happen.

The father pushed one pile back over to the boy and said, “Here you go, son. You can keep these.” The other pile was placed in the trash. You see, the father could see the problems that the little boy could not. He could see complications that the little boy would never see coming.

I believe our Heavenly Father is inviting you and me to come and empty the pockets of our lives out before Him. He will gently affirm the things we need to keep. But He will insist that some things need to be deleted. He knows they’re just slowing us down or tripping us up as we run.

So, whatever it is, will we just delete it?

One and Only

God has blessed my wife and me with six great kids. I have many sons, but there only one girl. Kari is our second oldest and is, by every account I have ever heard, amazing.

Kari, my only girl, is indeed my one and only SweetPea. She has always been so.

My SweetPea and I have always shared a particular love for music. She was singing long before we could discern the words. It once was a common thing to walk through the house and hear that sweet voice resonating off of the tile walls in the bathroom as she sat taking care of things…and singing with all her might. “I’m singing…..in the potty…..” and so on.

I knew she had great talent, but when it finally came time for her to start playing an instrument, even I was blown away. She played all the time. As she grew and grew and advanced and advanced, I tried to encourage and support and help as best I could. We finally got to the place where I had to refinance my suburban in order to purchase a professional model clarinet. It seems to have paid off because it has been key in paying her way through college.

I didn’t commision this for her, but I can pretend I did just because I came across it and she will think it’s pretty cool.

This precious girl of mine has been used by God in some powerful ways. She has been an example to me of what amazing things happen when tremendous talent meets discipline. She works hard and her talent serves her well to take her so much farther than I was ever able to go. She reminds me constantly that, if I will lean into the talents God has placed in me and just keep practicing them, there is no limit to what God can do.

The other thing that God has used her to teach me is that God, as my Father, is not objective in His opinion of me.

When I hear my daughter play and she happens to miss a note or squeak here or there, I almost don’t hear it. I hear past it because that’s my SweetPea playing that music.

When I am trying to get life “right” and I mess up – which happens a lot more often than I want to admit – I know that my Father sees beyond it. It’s not that my failures are ok. It’s because He already paid the price for my failures by giving His Son to die in my place. Jesus paid my death penalty. So, when my Father watches my life, He looks past my poor decisions to see Jesus living in me.

Incidentally, my daughter is 1000x better musician than I am a Christian. That’s an observation that could be validated by many, but it is my opinion. And, as proud as I am of my one and only SweetPea, that’s how my Father feels about me…and more.


The Lion Heart

I have spoken and written much of my constant battle with fear. It has been too strong a force for too long a time in my life. If I had to choose a fictional character to represent me, it very well might be the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz.

I have come to understand that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the strength to face the fear – and thereby overcome it.

God has used my role as a dad to teach me a lot of things in myriad ways. But one little, hard-headed, rough-housing boy has been, perhaps, God’s most powerful tool over the last several years in renovating my own heart.

My son Andrew – known to many by Drew and many others by Andrew and by close family as Drewby – is one of the most courageous people I have ever known in so many ways. And through him I have grown in courage and strength to face many of my fears head-on.

Let me be clear. It has not been easy. It’s not easy to discipline a kid who is not afraid of much. I could write a book of stories of difficult situations we have endured. But in each and every difficult step, God has taught me so much.

The stories bring lots of laughter. This boy stole a not-fully-baked cinnamon roll off the pan while it was still in the oven – at about three years old. About that same time I turned around one day while working out in the yard to see him standing there eating a stick of butter like a candy bar. Of course, as soon as I saw him, he took off running.

He just has a passion for what he loves. For instance, brownies…He was staying with his aunt & uncle one weekend when his aunt woke to him closing her bedroom door about 5:30 on a Saturday morning. She got up and put him in bed with her (this was while he was still little and cute and cuddly). A while later, when Aunt Liz went to the bathroom, Drew made a break for it.

Liz heard him in his room struggling with something. As it turns out, he had awakened early and gone to the kitchen and retrieved the pan of brownies off of the kitchen counter and taken it back to his room. Aunt Liz found him mad as a hornet because he couldn’t get the lid off of the pan.

I have watched that little boy grow into an amazing young man. I have seen that passion come to bear on different things, especially football. But lately, as he has let go of that game that was so much a part of his life, I see him directing that passion toward becoming the man God wants to make of him.

I have tried to teach him to be a man of God. He has taught me to be a man of courage. I pray that this, my lion-hearted son, will ever be a passionate, courageous man of God.

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1)