Saturday, 25 October 2014

Marathon Musings

Tomorrow is the big day! Over 15000 runners will be participating in the Frankfurt Marathon. The place will be mobbed with people, buzzing with excitement and teaming with spectators. 42,195 kilometres is written in a second but will take quite a lot longer to run tomorrow. The fastest will try and crack the world record just over 2 hours whilst I am going to try and not crack anything. I am looking to make it in 4 hours and 20 minutes but just making it would also be just fine.

This will be my first marathon. When I turned 45 last year I decided to go for it. Why? Well, there are several reasons. I am not having a mid-life crisis. I was fed up being overweight and never knowing what feeling fit is really like. I suddenly realised I am getting on. I am not having a mid-life crisis. The apostle Paul often compares one's spiritual walk with running a race. I felt God wanted me to learn some things on the way. Here are some of the things I have learned during this past year that I believe also apply to my spiritual walk. 

Unconditional commitment

My decision to run a marathon was not a flippant idea. I knew it would mean hard work and entering something new and unfamiliar. Once I had counted the cost, I made an unconditional commitment to pull it through, come rain or shine. Only then could I let other people know what I was embarking on.

Following Jesus is the same. It costs us our lives. It is not a decision one can make flippantly. It's an unconditional commitent to follow Jesus despite any circumstances. Only then will one be willing to tell others about one's journey with God.


I have to say that having someone at my side, supporting me, encouraging me and believing in me has helped me immensely not to give up. Frances, my wife, has been right behind me all the time. She has gone out of her way to make room for me to succeed. I am not alone.

The Holy Spirit believes in us. Jesus has not left us alone. The Holy Spirit runs alongside us, supporting, encouraging and believing in us. Jesus went out of His way to make room for us to succeed. We are not alone!


Once I made up my mind to go for it, I bought books on the subject, gear for running and kept my eyes on the goal. I monitored my running, kept a log of my runs and kept studying ways to improve. I have been extremely focused.

Focus is so important in our walk with God. The apostle Paul repeatedly tells us to keep our minds on things above to ensure that we stay focused on the things of God and our journey with Him. The way we do that is to train ourselves in God-consciousness by spending time in prayer, reading the Bible and meditating on God's truth. When I lose focus I become spiritually lazy!


Without discipline I wouldn't be able to overcome my natural tendency to want to remain comfortable. Discipline is a matter of the will that has decided to submit to something outside oneself. I made the decision to run at least 3 times a week regardless of whether I felt like it or not. There were times I would hover in the living room with my running gear on and have to tell myself to get on with it. My running spirit had to overcome my lazy body!  

We cannot expect to grow in our relationship with God without discipline. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! Getting up early to spend time with God requires discipline. Going to church every Sunday requires discipline. Serving God when you would rather sit at home on the sofa requires discipline. It is a matter of submitting one's will to something outside ourselves - the Spirit of God.


Part of my training involved doing some really long runs of up to 30 kilometres. I built up the length of my runs gradually over the year until I felt my body could handle increasingly longer distances. However, after a while I realised that I needed to decide to run a certain distance regardless of whether I felt up to it before or during the run. If I decided to run 25 kilometres, for example, that is what I would do. Easier said than done! After 20 kilometres the body says, "Stop!" and the mind says, "Keep going" and the will is like a spectator at wimbledon. At this point one is confronted with the meaning of perseverance: continuing regardless!

I am sure most believers have times in their run with God where God seems to be absent, joy has left, circumstances are bleak and one wonders, "What is the point?!" Perseverance continues regardless. Perseverance pushes through the difficult times and overcomes the voice of discouragement and unbelief. The apostle Paul says perseverance produces character. I think that means that as we overcome difficult times and push past our natural selves, we develop a strength that takes us deeper into God and makes us stronger to face even greater challenges!


After pushing through the initial challenges of being unfit and the body stops complaining, sort of, there comes a time during one's training when running is actually a lot of fun. One feels good, alive and strong and begins to appreciate the gift of life and health. The enjoyment of a warm shower and being allowed to stuff your face without a bad conscience after a good run is a lot of fun. I love it. Maybe I run just so I can eat. In any case, there is even greater joy when one beats one's best time or simply finishes a run after having forced oneself to go and realising how much better one feels after the run.

"Consider it pure joy when you face all kinds of trials," says James. Joy comes when we are suffering for a good cause. As a believer, I live to fulfill God's call for my life. I am called heavenward in Christ Jesus. As I journey with God, I can rejoice in my relationship with Him and also enjoy pushing through and overcomig temptation and any obstacle the enemy throws at me. The sense of achievement and victory having overcome gives great joy. I rejoice in the ability to overcome in the Spirit's power and shower in Christ's righteousness!  Overcoming increases my capacity for more of Christ.


On the bottled water we buy, there used to be a picture of one of the fastest German long distance runners, Jan Fitschen. Every time I took a swig from the bottle, I saw his picture and was inspired to go for it - run the marathon! Staying motivated is important. I would read blogs about others who trained for their first marathon and made it. I would remind myself that all my small victories will produce an even larger victory on the day. At times when I really did not feel like it at all, Frances would encourage me. If I was really struggling I would choose to do an easier route and inevitably find that once I was on the road, I felt like doing more after all. Motivation is the encouragement that stirs us to action.

Jesus is my model of one who persevered until the end. He did not give up. His testimony and the testimonies of those God commends in Hebrews chapter 11, motivate me to keep going. The Bible is full of testimonies of normal people not giving up because they saw Him who is invisible. I am motivated to believe until the end when I read the stories of people in the past and today who were and are willing to lay down their lives for their faith. We also need one another to encourage one another to keep going until the end.

I have mixed feelings about tomorrow's marathon. Excitement to be part of the event but also respect for what will happen after 30 kilometres. I have trained and worked hard but I still don't really know how I will do.  I am qualified to paticipate and I will do my best. Isn't that what God wants of us? He qualifies us with Christ's righteousness and simply wants us to do our best. After all we are His workmanship, created in Chrst Jesus to do good works (Eph 2:10). I am running the race to complete it and I look forward to receiving my medal at the end. I am going to feel 10 years younger (I am not going through a mid-lfe crisis) and stuff my face with delight. Sounds like heaven to me!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014


"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you - even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets." Acts 3:19-21

Kingdom invasion

Jesus came to bring God's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. The Kingdom of light broke into the kingdom of darkness as the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. John writes,

"The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." John 1:9

Jesus broke into the kingdom of darkness to penetrate it and overcome the work of the devil. John writes,

"The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." 1 John 3:8

The devil's purpose is to steal, kill and destroy mankind but Jesus came to bring fullness of life (John 10:10)!

Christ's death and resurrection fulfilled everything that was needed to overcome the kingdom of darkness. Sin and death had no power over Jesus so that through dependence on Christ and on His victory over the kingdom of darkness, the believer is able to overcome the world and dwell in fullness of life. John writes,

"Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." 1 John 5:4,5

Those who trust in Jesus and His finished work are rescued from the kingdom of darkness and brought into "the kingdom of the Son he loves" (Col 1:13).

Fullness of Life

Fullness of life is what Jesus provides through His death and resurrection. Christ's death on the cross dealt with all of man's problems. Through Jesus' sacrifice, man is saved/healed spiritually, emotionally and physically (Isaiah 53:4-6). Therefore, as man looks to Jesus for salvation, man is completely saved and healed and walks in fullness of life (John 3,14,15). Jesus is Eternal life and those who trust in Him are made one with fullness of life. John writes,

"God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life." 1 John 5:11,12

The believer, therefore, is restored to the Kingdom of Light and lives from the reality of fullness in Christ.

Times of refreshing

As man repents of his rebellion and sin and turns to God, times of refreshing come from the Lord. These times of refreshing are what the believer experiences as he is saturated with God, having been immersed in fullness of life as part of the Kingdom of Light.

Breakthrough is therefore not about trying to penetrate the kingdom of darkness or even trying to overcome it. Christ has already done that! Breakthrough is about appropriating or reckoning fullness in Christ. When Christ returns, all things will be restored and aligned to God's Kingdom. Until then, the believer must live from the spiritual reality of the Kingdom so that it breaks into the natural realm.

Times of refreshing are the manifestation of fullness in Christ!

Prayer for breakthrough

My prayer is for breakthrough - the realisation of fullness in Christ in my own life, the lives of those around me, the Church, Israel and the Jewish people and the nations so that times of refreshing may come until Jesus comes again! I believe it is time for the Church to arise and appropriate fullness of life in Christ by faith! The Church must intercede for the nations from a place of fullness and victory in Christ. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places and our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Eph 2:6; Col 3:3)! We must pray from our heavenly position and see heaven break through onto earth so that God's Kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven! Hallelujah!

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you - even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets." Acts 3:19-21

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The power of "no"

 image coutesy of

How do you respond to someone who says no to you? Do you take offence or do you accept the boundary established by the other person?

The power of NO!

Saying no to someone has the power to reveal what is truly in the heart of the other person.

Saying no to someone affects the will of the other. Suddenly the other person cannot just do what he or she wants to. She or he encounters a boundary that demands a response. Will the boundary be met with resistance or with understanding; with selfish ambition or humility; with offence or respect; with conflict or compliance?

Sadly many people don't respond well to no. Instead of seeking to understand why the boundary is established and honouring that boundary, they take offence and will sometimes even leave the relationship.

Mature relationships are built as boundaries are respected

Unfortunately, in many cases, when boundaries are not accepted, the person who set the boundary is considered inconsiderate, unloving and ungracious. The tables are turned and the person who is actually the baddy and who disrespected the boundary, now accuses the person who set the boundary as the baddy! Amazing!

I have seen people walk out of relationships so many times because they were not prepared to respect the boundaries of others. People leave churches, friendships, and marriages rather than honour boundaries and accept no. Instead of respecting no and seeking to understand why the boundary exists, they take offence and accuse the boundary-setter for their choices.

Regardless of whether you think someone shouldn't be setting a boundary, how have you responded to their no in the past? Do you hold a grudge against them? Have you separated yourself from them, emotionally or physically?

What is your response when an authority figure in your life says no to you? Do you respect him or her or do you resent him or her for setting boundaries?

Do an attitude check, next time someone says no to you. What is your response? What does it reveal about you? How do you respond when God says no?

I want to encourage you to think about what boundaries are important to you that you would like others to respect and to examine what boundaries others are putting in place and learn to respect those boundaries.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Are you producing the fruit of the Kingdom?

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." John 15:4

Our fruitfulness depends on the realm we choose to dwell in.

When I started to play the bassoon I began to take part in an annual orchestra course for young people. Everyone auditioned and based upon one's abilities, one was put into one of the orchestras - A-,B-, or C- orchestra. The C-orchestra was for beginners, the B-orchestra for intermediate players and the A-orchestra was for the best players. When I was placed in the C-orchestra I was happy to be part of a bunch of enthusiastic players my age but I quickly realised that there was a long way to go to get to the A-orchestra. I stood in awe of how the bassoonists from the A-orchestra could play. For me it was a different realm. The remarkable thing however was that when I had the privilege of spending time playing with the bassoonists from the A-orchestra and being around them, I made significant progress in a very short space of time. Somehow being in the A-orchestra realm produced something in me beyond my normal abilities!

The C-orchestra is like the natural realm whilst the A-orchestra is like the Kingdom of God - Jesus' realm. If I had stayed in the C-orchestra all my life and had never been aware of the A-orchestra, I would never have made it to the A-orchestra. I would have assumed that my standard of playing was enough since everyone around me had the same standard of playing as I did. However, the moment I came in touch with a different standard of playing, my expectations changed. I now had the evidence of what I hoped to one day achieve. Although my father was a professional bassoonist at the time, his example did not inspire me as much as the example of the young people who were just a few years older than I was - it became more tangible and in my mind, achievable. Dad was out there, one day I can play like that. These A-orchestra guys were nearer.

Sometimes, when we look at the life of Jesus and the miracles, signs and wonders he did, we can also think He is out there, one day I will be able to do that...perhaps. However, when we look at the lives of the men and women of God in the Bible or in our contemporary world, the Kingdom of God seems nearer! Jesus' realm becomes tangible and achievable. We have a "great cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1) as well as the "author and perfecter of our faith" to encourage us to dwell in the realm of the Kingdom so as to produce the fruit of God's Kingdom.

When Jesus becomes our reality, we can expect to see miracles, signs and wonders. We produce the fruit of the realm we dwell in!

I want to encourage you to hang out with the guys from the A-orchestra - those who dwell in the realm of the Kingdom and produce its fruit. Read testimonies and begin to expect the same fruit in your own life as you meditate on the possibilities of God. Don't stay in the C-orchestra. The Kingdom of God is near. It is tangible. It is achievable. Hallelujah!