"RotGLEW"    [ 18 ]   
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Oct 2016
 Running Man

I go running early in the mornings before sunrise, stumbling over unwieldy stones propped along the banks of the canal to pin down fishing lines (CAP fishing ~ eewww), or crashing headlong into the occasional overturned shopping cart. That is until I picked up a 500 lumen headlamp. Now I can pretty much see all the way to El Paso. If your early morning commute takes you through the intersection of Peoria and 43rd Avenue and you happen to notice the light of a freight train bobbing spasmodically along the canal .. that's me.

Some years ago I dipped into the collective sweat bucket known as Crossfit, straining weekly to best my own times &/or weights versus the atrocious WOD's (Workouts Of the Day). These sessions normally concluded with me crawling painfully back my SUV, which is one of the express goals of Crossfit. I will never 'bulk up'. I don't have the build for it, nor any foaming-at-the-mouth desire to Chisel My Physique the way so many body-worshippers do. And frankly, I am getting too old anymore to really give a rip about much of it. Mainly I just want to maintain good health & stamina, which equals a regular cardio workout [ie, running] and watching what I eat (mostly) .. .

One of my dearest friends knocks out marathons all the time. She's half my size and runs 10 miles any given day just for something to do. Yeah . . kinda nuts... but some people are Just That Way. She's thin and trim and fit as a track star.  Me . . not so much.  My 'BTNx' workout regimen (Better Than Nothing exercise) works well enough for me when I stick to it, but the problem is I still hate running. ~ Well 'hate' is a strong word. Let's call it 'degrees of lamentation', practicing by necessity what I have grown accustomed to as just part of my daily/weekly routine, something that I need to sustain to avoid morphing into a beluga whale draped all flubbery-like over our living room couch. Running now is only about as annoying as hooking out globs of hair from a clogged drain. There are certainly worse things. This is high praise coming from me. Toss in some regular pushups, situps, pullups (or whatever-ups) I knock out before trudging off into the pre-dawn darkness, and you have this man's solution to the worrisome ails of middle-age — but that's not why I'm writing this entry.

Most people run with earbuds jacked into their iWhatevers for proper motivation via beat-heavy tünyj. I have found this challenging because, as a musician, I can't seem to quell my tendency to match stride with whatever beat I'm hearing. This has led to some serious mismatches between diverse BPM's and my compulsion to jog along with the beat. I narrowed my running routine to a carefully selected list of songs with meters more or less mirroring my stride —( see blog·post 2010·04 )— but this still left me uninspired to stare down any early morning BTNx workouts.

A couple of years ago, I discovered that instead of pushing for my fastest mile(s), maintaining a steady heart rate was the key to my health needs. Turns out I was pounding the pavement WAY too fast. Too much rock in my roll, apparently...  [ sorry... not really... ]  Good news, this. Maintaining some frenetic pace is, fantastically, no longer an issue. Just getting out there and hitting a good jogging pace is all it will take.  :-)  So if this compulsory habit must be waffle-pressed into the rest of my life, what else besides pop/rock tunes might be a good application during my running time?  Why not feed my mind and soul along with my body?  Why not strengthen my spirit as well whenever I run?

  Faith comes by hearing,
and the hearing by the word of God.
  —  Romans 10:17 (NKJV)  

Getting the Word into your heart / mind / soul is as good for you as a hearty meal or a healthy workout — maybe even better in the long run. And one of the BEST sermon series I have ever stumbled upon (get it?) is posted and downloadable free of charge [as the Word of God should be] by one of my spiritual mentors, Pastor John Piper: "ROMANS - or the Greatest Letter Ever Written!" (I acronym it to 'RotGLEW') Listening to this long-term Bible book study is like creaking open the lid of a chest full of glowing treasure . . .

 Treasure Chest
 John Piper
 Desiring God

DesiringGod.org

The above link opens up an entire trove of complete sermon series, but if you're specifically interested in RotGLEW, here is a direct link to all 250 messages (8½ yrs ~ 1998-2006). You can listen to them online or download them as I have done. Some are offered only in text transcript form, but with so many to run with, I just loaded `em all onto my Zen Player, which will carry me along quite nicely for years!  :-D  Here's a sample of the kind of perspective to be gained:

RotGLEW #76 (@11:30) "Troughs and Trifles" [my title] (Romans 6:11-14)

   Don't be like the person who goes with a little garden shovel to the Grand Canyon, stands on the precipice of that majesty, turns his back on it, kneels down, and digs a little trough in the ground, and says to all of his friends, "Hey, come here! Look at this! Look at my trough! Isn't this cool? Look at my trough!"

   So if your heart is being carried away right now with small things, and not God, and not the cross, and not Christ, and not the solution to sin, and not heaven, and not union with Jesus.. and you're really excited about nothings .. then stand up, turn around, and look at the Canyon! Look at the Canyon this morning! If you feel like, "I looked at it already, I like my trough," then pray that God would open your eyes.

   Look, this is not funny at all, because sin has such a power over our lives that takes our minds, it takes our hearts, and it just shrivels them up, so we have no capacity to enjoy God, no capacity to marvel at grace and salvation and the new heavens and the new earth, and tears being taken away by King Jesus someday, and all we can get excited about is troughs and trifles in our lives — that's sin! That's a disease! It's a horrible, horrible disease that grips most people in the world. And if you're one of them, you should just be whispering right now, because just a little thought will make it clear that if you're more excited about a trough you've dug than a canyon GOD dug, you're sick. And you should pray, "O God, heal me! Give taste buds to the tongue of my soul so that when I taste of the things that John's going to talk about in this text, I will taste them. I won't lick and just find it nothing, which has been the case all my life!"

   Pray that you be healed, that God would wake you up to Reality — BIG Reality — so that you don't have to waste your life on trifles. Most people are very content with trifles, they feel so good. And they have no taste for God, no taste for heaven, no taste for holiness, no taste for righteousness, no taste for Christ, no taste for justice in Him, no taste for heaven, no fear of hell . . . they're blind . . .

 
  “If you only rake the surface, you get leaves.
  If you dare to dig, you get diamonds.”
  John Piper

Why not benefit from another deep-thinking soul and his years of dedication to seminary-level education and additional decades of devoted studies? For instance, after struggling for most of my life with the concept of 'suffering for a purpose' as a part of Christian theology, this message #112 (4·21·02) [Romans 8:14-18] FINALLY made Total Sense of it .. especially toward the end when he quotes John Newton and a poignant illustration involving a broken carriage. Another message that I have parked on for weeks is #122 (8·18·02) [Romans 8:28-32]. Even after repeated listenings I keep discovering incredible paradigm-rocking insights like never before!

If any of this resonates with you, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you check it out. If not this sermon series, then try another that piques your interest. If not this pastor, search for another great contemporary theologian/pastor such as John MacArthur ("Grace to You Ministries"), Alistair Begg ("Truth for Life"), John Politan ("Reformed Living"), or R.C. Sproul ("Ligonier Ministries") just to name a few. During workouts, or driving a long commute, or even in just a quiet daily devotional moment, it is so much more important [eternally speaking] to feed your soul than even running your best mile or maxxing your rep-rate/weight. No physical regimen will detour any of us from ending our time here on earth at some point. Only gaining strength-training in God's truths will yield genuine everlasting results!  And speaking in daily practical terms, even more than any workout, running through the Word makes me a better man.

Sure, most mornings I stagger to the canal like a zombie in the dark 'looking forward to' running a few (3 to 6) miles, but my real inspiration for rolling outa bed is RotGLEW! This practice has galvanized my faith (not to mention informed my theological horizons) to bring Real Change and Positive Effect into my life... and in today's multitasking culture, I can think of no better multi-use of one's exercise time.

 red leaf
 orange leaf
 brown leaf
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Give it a shot — you'll be glad you did!
 diamond
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