Month: October 2010

The Workout I Will Always Remember

Are you kidding me, Coach?” That was the thought running through my mind when my coach asked us to do some things I thought I’d never be able to do physically. Making the transition from a high school cross country runner to a NCAA Division II distance runner had been a challenge. There were more miles, more workouts and greater intensity mixed in with all the stresses of college life.

[pullquote]As Christians, I believe we often underestimate the potential of our spiritual capacity. We incorrectly believe that we’ll never be good enough to do what God desires.[/pullquote]

This particular workout remains one of the most vivid memories of my college career. As my teammates and I stretched for our afternoon practice, our coach laid the plan out. We were to run the “Market Street” route, which led us through five miles of residential, city, campus and rural roads. Each mile had to be run in five minutes, thirty seconds—no slower. Directly following that run, we would meet at the track and run 20, 400m laps at 72 seconds each. “Are you kidding me, Coach?” Five miles at a 5:30 pace was hard enough by itself!

But our coach knew what I would eventually discover. We had trained all summer and were in the middle of our collegiate cross country season. I had already put hundreds of miles in, lifted weight and had increased my physical capacity to run further beyond what I had thought. I had faithfully done the work, and it paid off.

I completed the Market Street Five at a sub 5:30 pace. As we tried to catch our breath, we heard the infamous words, “On the line!” The 20 400m laps were about to begin. We ran 17 at sub 72 seconds and then ran the 18th lap in 69 seconds to avoid the last two.

What started out as a mentally impossible proposition was possible, because I had the physical capacity to do it. When I doubted, the challenge of my teammates and coaches revealed my true capacity. I could run farther, faster and longer than I ever imagined.

As Christians, I believe we often underestimate the potential of our spiritual capacity. We incorrectly believe that we’ll never be good enough to do what God desires. We’ll never find consistent spiritual disciplines in prayer and reading God’s Word. We’ll never be able to control our tongue, stop lusting, beat addictions, drop the worldly attitudes or ever become Christ-like.

The truth is, without Christ we can’t. But once we come to an authentic faith in Jesus Christ, we become children of God with unbelievable spiritual capacity. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we have “His divine power” which has given us “everything required for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3-4). Jesus did the work on the cross, and through his life, death and resurrection, we have Christ-like potential.

When God calls you to radical change, He knows the power of the Holy Spirit has given you everything you need to change. When you think you can’t give anything more, God will continue to equip you. When there doesn’t seem to be a way out, He will provide a way.

You have more spiritual capacity than you know. Will you partner with your Savior to go discover it?

This writing is part of a devotional I wrote for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. You can view the complete devotional here

Dear Comcast…

Dear Comcast…

While I have been a faithful customer for over 5 years, it has unfortunately not been by choice. The stranglehold you have on the City of Independence won’t allow me to go elsewhere. I’ve ignored the incessant promotional mailings from your dish competitors because I don’t need another contract or a temporary “promotional” rate. But in an ever evolving age where I can choose where, when and how I want to view media, I must ask…is this your best?

If I like to read I can buy a Kindle, if I like movies I can grab Netflix, if I miss a show I can watch HULU, if I want news I can pre-determine where I get my news and funnel it into one place, Google Reader.

And yet, when I look over your “Better TV” plans, all I find is a bunch of high-priced packages inflated with irrelevant channels I’d never watch. “Why aren’t you interested in upgrading?” you ask? Because cable television is one of the last media segments who have failed to adapt to the world around it.  Shift already happened. Good or bad, the individual consumer has the ability to customize how and what they want to consume.

So again I’ll ask, is this your best?

Someone among the conglomerate of cable providers who peddle the illusion of “choice” has to break away from the status quo and give the people what they want. Your audience is already taking measures into their own hands. Individualized, internet based content delivery is already here (i.e., HULU, Netflix, etc). You can try and come up with new ways to slice and dice your channel lineup, you can call it XFinity, or TheBestNewestMostAwesomeEnhancedTV, but in the end, it’s still cable TV…inflexible, irrelevant, impersonal and old.

Coming are the days where I can pay for only the programming that interests me and I gladly would. Just like the Kindle, the iPod, the apps and everything else, I’m concerned that someone is going to come along and replace you.

“Oh Danny, that will never happen, we’re the cable companies” says large cable company CEOs.

A brief trip through history reveals Betamax lost to VHS, Laserdisc (yes! video on discs the size of records) lost to the DVD, the DVD is slowly getting beat by BluRay and BluRay leapfrogged over the HD-DVD. Someone always loses.

So Comcast I ask that you consider being that pioneer, that agent of change and provide a way to allow everyone the freedom to truly choose what they watch, how they watch it, where they watch it and when.

Or you can keep holding out, keep renaming your services, toss up some new video content and still sell the same old thing.

I don’t know how much longer we have together.
I don’t know how much longer you have.

Island Men

Island Men

Are you an island man?

I must confess that I have a natural, inner desire to be one.

But we should probably start with a definition. What is an island man exactly? An island man is one who lives out portions of his life on a figurative island, incorrectly believing that he can go at it alone and “make it work” in his marriage, family, relationships, job, dreams and even his faith.

[pullquote]A guy who doesn’t have deep, invested, distinct, relationships with other guys in his life will never be able to be the man he is to be.[/pullquote]

From my vantage point, I believe every man has a tendency to drift into his own island. Some men realize it and try to claw their way off the island. Some men realize it and don’t care. And many men are oblivious.  If we just work harder, put in more hours, read more, be more disciplined, go through countless programs, we will make it happen. But after years of living on and off the island, I can confess it never quite worked to just “go at it alone”.

My working idea is this: A guy who doesn’t have deep, invested, distinct, relationships with other guys in his life will never be able to be the man he is to be.

Now in Christian circles this is nothing new. Churches build programs on “discipleship” and “mentoring”. Thousands of books and approaches have been created. But I wonder if all of this has become nothing more than a “great Sunday pep talk”. Talk of discipleship and mentoring rings hollow and no longer stirs a calling within a man. A.W. Tozer would call these “dead words”, words that have become so overused they are often unable to encourage or foster much change.

So we men are left with our islands, our inadequacies and our inability to get off the island or recognize the priority it should be in our lives.

Recently the aspect of the island man that has become most baffling are the guys who recognize their tendencies, they know they shouldn’t go at it alone but yet they do nothing about it. Life is busy, responsibilities are mounting and there just isn’t enough time in the week or month to allow other guys access to their lives.

The remedy for us island men can be found by opening the Book. Contrary to popular belief the Bible remains practical and relevant for today’s men. Crack’n it open reveals these truths:

  • If we claim to be Christ followers, we must walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6). Even God in the flesh recognized the importance of surrounding Himself with other willing men.
  • Other guys in our lives help us grow and keep us sharp (Proverbs 27:7).
  • We need older guys who have “walked the walk” to provide us with wisdom (Proverbs 13:20).
  • And we need to pour into those who are younger to help show them a life off the island (Luke 6:40).

So if that’s the remedy, how do we get there? Two men I look up to and countless others recognize the same principle, as Christian men we need to be actively pursuing three types of relationships:

  1. A guy who sharpen me, is in a similar life stage and wants to pursue a radically transformed life through the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
  2. A guy who is older than me, who can speak into my life, show me the path to walk and impart wisdom and knowledge from a life of experience.
  3. A younger guy or a guy who is earlier in the journey. Someone I can pour into myself and share my own journey.

What are you doing today to get off your island?

What are you doing to find 3 guys that will help you stay off the island and what are you doing to allow them access into your life?

May we bring to life the “dead words” of today by being men who daily pursue a life lived together.