Run Today's Race Reflections Feed

Running Reflection

The Christian life is the simplest, the gayest, the most regardless-of-consequences life, lived as it is taught by Jesus. The plan of our life comes through the haphazard moments, but behind it is the order of God.

                       --Oswald Chambers, Run Today's Race, January 10

Path What is the order of God?  Is it a life where things are predetermined?  Where every action, thought and decision is planned out and scripted—just waiting to be performed? 

I don’t know. 

But what I do know is that if I allow myself to get hung up on a depiction of God that doesn’t fit the form of the God that I want to believe in, I will miss the incredible message that Oswald Chambers endeavors to communicate in the above quote.

Life in God is a life of freedom.  The form and order of the God of the universe is realized in the haphazard, minute by minute moments of life.  God is not outside of, at the end of, or beyond the activities of daily life, but rather God is in the very midst of the seemingly random and insignificant moments of life.  God’s order in life is realized in God’s very presence in life.

In John 17 Jesus prays to the Father, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.” (NIV)

A life of freedom is realized in a life that is bound tightly to God.  Just as Jesus lived with, and in, and through the presence of the Father, so are we to live in Christ via the Holy Spirit.  In John 3, Jesus likens the Holy Spirit to the “wind,” blowing freely and haphazardly wherever it pleases.  It is at this place of freedom that simplicity, joy, hope and ultimately God, resides in our lives.

That’s a plan I can live with.

Running Reflection

“God narrows our “shan’ts” to one explosive point. I don’t need to go that way, but God will have to bring me there if I persist in the little disobediences which no one knows but myself, because it is engendering in me a spirit God cannot allow.”

                 —Oswald Chambers, Run Today's Race, January 9
Reflections by Ryan:

My ribs were hurting.  They were hurting because I was playing city league basketball with a bunch of loggers in Baker City, Oregon, whose elbows were just as hard and dangerous as the axe handles that they carried around in the beds of their pickups.
On a Sunday morning, after a particularly painful Saturday night game, I was bemoaning my aches and pains to some friends at church when one of the guys listening to my whining spoke up with what I consider to be an extremely profound and true statement.  He was a crusty old cowboy from Eastern Oregon, who was unsympathetically amused with my case of sore ribs.  With a smirk on his face, he reached out, poked me in the ribs and said, "If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough."
If you take a moment to think about it...he is right.

There are some choices that we all make in life that look good, seem pleasurable and appear harmless, yet ultimately, they end up being difficult, painful and costly in multiple ways.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12

If you want to continue down that path and persist in your own (dumb) way, go ahead, but you better be tough enough to weather the consequences of your choices.

God is a loving father who will do just about anything for His children, and He is one who hates to see His children learn lessons the hard way.  He readily shows the way and He loves to see His children follow it. Through His Word, the Holy Spirit, the counsel of friends and His still small voice, God offers guidance, delineates boundaries and illumines the paths of His children. He does this by affirming the “shoulds” in life and by giving warnings via the “shan’ts” in life.

The “shoulds” in each of our lives are not so much about following the rules that are listed in the church manual or posted on the classroom wall, as they are about obedience—obedience to God.  God says, “If you love me, you will obey me.” 

The “shan’ts” on the other hand, are the little disobediences in life. They are those things in your heart and life that only you—and God—know about.   The “shan’ts” are not so much about breaking rules as they are about breaking relationship with the one who loves you most.

To ignore, make light of, or disregard the “shan’ts” in life is to take part in a very dangerous activity.  God loves each of us too much to allow us to continue down a path that will cause us great pain and that will serve to hinder our relationship with Him.

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36

Jesus came to forgive our sins, redeem our hearts and restore our lives.  The judging will come later.  Are you dabbling in some “shan’ts” in your life?  Are you disregarding some “shoulds”?  Don’t wait around for a poke in the ribs.  That is just too painful and dangerous.  Heed God’s prodding and obey Him—now. 

Anything less is just plain…dumb.

Run Today’s Race: A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year. Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.
Scripture: NIV

Running Reflection

The tendency is strong to say—“O God won’t be so stern as to expect me to give up that!” but He will; “He won’t expect me to walk in the light so that I have nothing to hide,” but He will; “He won’t expect me to draw on His grace for everything” but He will.
.--Oswald Chambers, Run Today's Race, January 8

Reflections by Ryan:

How can a God of love be so strict and demanding?  How can a God of love be so unbending and rigid?  How can a God of love be so jealous? 

These questions arise because of our wrong understanding of what constitutes genuine love.  How can a God who truly loves you and me and who is only interested in what is best for us, appear to be anything but these things?

In John 15:12-14 Jesus says, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command."

In these verses we see a glimpse of the love that God has for us.  The greatest love is realized in Jesus dying upon the cross for our sins.  Have you forgotten how much He loves you?  Have you taken the love of God for granted?  It is easy to do.
When we take our eyes off of Jesus and put them on our wants, our needs, our desires and our happiness, we tend to forget how much he really loves us.  We forget when we substitute the abandoned, protective, self-sacrificing love that God has for us, for a love that is tolerant of our wishes, understanding of our wanderings, and accepting of our independence.  Surely Jesus just wants us to be happy, doesn't he?

As we take our eyes off of the cross and put them on ourselves, the lines between happiness and holiness begin to blur.  God doesn't want us to be happy—he wants something better for us.  He wants us to be whole and complete.  He wants us to be holy.
Holiness is only realized as we live in obedience to and relationship with God.  "You are my friends if you do what I command."  In love He expects us to give up that thing that controls us; He expects us to walk in the way of transparency and integrity and He expects us to trust in Him as we live our lives.

He expects . . . because He loves.

Run Today’s Race: A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year. Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.  Scripture: NIV

Running Reflections

"Believe what you saw when you were in the light, and when you are in the ploughed field and God’s moral seasons are going over you—the remainder of the cold, hard winter, the beginnings of the strange, painful stirrings of spring—keep abandoned to Him. He knows the seasons to bring to your soul as He does in the natural world."
.--Oswald Chambers, Run Today's Race, January 7

Reflections by Ryan:
In the light of the summertime, the fields are alive, the crops are abundant and the work is immediately rewarding.  Yet, just on the heels of the rich time of harvest is the constant of change.  The fall colors give way to the cold stillness of winter and the green growth of the springtime seems only a memory.  Just as the hand of God is realized in the stages of growth and the harvest, so is His presence active in the seasons of change in our lives.

However, the grace of God in your life is not subject to change like the seasons.  You might change, but his loving grace remains constant.  He is present and working--not only in the vivid summertime of your faith but also in your cold winter of waiting.  With God, when it seems like nothing is happening--something is happening.

The presence of a plowed field speaks of the promise of new life.  Plowing is unsettling but needed.  The plow prepares the ground for the sowing of seed and is the prerequisite to new growth.  Let the blade of sorrow, struggle or the conviction of sin penetrate the soil of your soul.  Let it turn under the pride, worry and selfishness and then yield yourself to God, knowing that the moral seasons of cold, rain, snow and ice are working to transform the old ways of your life into new growth in Him.  Wait upon the Lord.  Submit yourself to His working in your soul. 

When the green of new growth begins to push up through the tilled soil of your heart and life, hold tightly to God.  Know that in the midst of the spring rains and cool nights God is working--sustaining you as the warm light of summer inches closer.  Growth happens as the winds of the Spirit blow and the seasons of change move over your soul.

We must wait upon the Lord, the creator and sustainer of all things--believing in faith that He is working to bring about a rich harvest in our lives.  Keep abandoned to Him--trusting that as surely as the sun rises on a summer morning He is lovingly present and working in your life.

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” 
,--Isaiah 40:8

Run Today’s Race: A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year. Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.
Scripture: NIV

Running Reflections

"It is easy to turn our religious life into a cathedral for beautiful memories, but there are feet to be washed, hard flints to be walked over, people to be fed. Very few of us go there, but that is the way the Son of God went."

                                    .--Oswald Chambers, Run Today's Race, January 6
Reflections by Ryan:
What constitutes your religious life?  Is it realized in church gatherings, devotional books, Bible studies, camps, retreats, prayer seminars, Christian events, teen group……the church softball team?  Is it focused upon that one great service, that really special prayer time or the time that you really "felt" God?  Do you think more about the good old days of church than you do about the adventure of today that awaits you in Jesus Christ? 

Has your burning heart of relationship with Jesus been replaced by the warm fuzzy memory of a beautiful service?
God is not a memory, a feeling or an event and He does not reside in the brick and mortar of stained glass cathedrals.  God is the living and active one who in mystery creates, forgives, empowers, guides, and loves--and He resides within the human heart.  In Him, our religious lives are not to be realized in memory but rather in movement.  God is love and grace in action.  He is a God who is constantly reaching out to His children—lovingly drawing them unto Himself. 

Jesus, the Son of God came and lived among us.  He washed feet, touched lepers, loved the unlovely and fed the multitudes.  He died upon the cross for our sins and rose from the dead.  Jesus went to heaven to prepare a place for us and he sent the Holy Spirit to fill us with power so we might live in His name.
The words of 1 John 2:6 say it pretty clearly, "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."
Let the momentum of God move you beyond the memories of the cathedral and into the world of people who need a Savior.

Run Today’s Race: A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year. Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.
Scripture: NIV

Running Reflection--January 5

Run Today’s Race
A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year
Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.
Scripture NIV

January 5
"Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace." 

Reflections by Ryan:

In the year 1949 the Christian missionary, Jim Elliot, penned the words, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”  Just over six years later he died a martyr’s death.  He and four other missionaries were killed by tribal warriors while attempting to evangelize the Huaorani people in Ecuador, South America.

Not every story in life turns out “happily ever after.”  You know it, I know it and God knows it.  That is why he sent his son, Jesus, to show us his love, to die upon the cross for our sins and to rise from the grave on the third day.

We are all about results; He is all about relationship.  We are all about contracts; He is all about covenant.  We want assurance of a God we can trust in all matters; He wants us to trust in Him--no matter what. 

In Daniel chapter 3 we find Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego with their feet to the fire because they won’t bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue.  Nebuchadnezzar threatened them with death and this was their response:

"O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

It is an amazing account—the king throws them into the fiery furnace and when he looks in to gloat over their charred remains he can’t believe his eyes.  Instead of being dead, the three guys are very much alive and they are not alone!  God is with them! 

Please notice one thing—they ended up in the fire. 

You and I will find ourselves in the fire some day.  Maybe you are there now.  Faith in God is not realized in avoidance of the fire.  Faith in God is not realized in a way out of the fire.  Faith in God and God’s faithfulness to us are realized in the midst of the fire.

Jim Elliot’s wife and the wives of the other four missionaries stayed in Ecuador, South America and lovingly held out the message of the Gospel to the very tribe that killed their husbands.  Now, fifty years after the massacre of the five missionaries the entire Huaorani tribe are followers of Jesus Christ.  In faith, the missionary widows stepped into the fiery furnace.  Regardless of the outcome, they chose to live for Jesus.  In the place of unlikely rescue they encountered the faithful Deliverer.  No foolin.

Running Reflection--January 4

Run Today’s Race
A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year
Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.
Scripture NIV

January 4

"It is a great moment when we realize we have the power to trample on certain moods, a tremendous emancipation to get rid of every kind of self-consciousness and heed one thing only: the relationship between God and myself."

Reflections by Ryan:

In Oswald’s word for the day he uses the phrase, “tremendous emancipation.”  When I hear the word “emancipation” my mind goes to its antithesis, “slavery.”  There are very few things in this world worse than slavery.   A slave is one who is bound against their will (oftentimes by chains), who is controlled by someone or something else, and whose life is characterized as one of drudgery, toil and hopelessness.

I understand slavery better than I understand emancipation—don’t you?  Thankfully, I have never been a “slave” in the literal sense of the word but I have been a slave in the figurative sense.  Even figuratively, slavery is horrible.

I have been a slave to the most subtle, yet insidious master imaginable.  I have been a slave to . . . myself.  I shudder when I think about my critical attitudes, my laziness, my apathy, my judgmental spirit, my impatience, my worries, my justified irritability, and my anger.  The chains of pride hang heavy on my wrists and the shackles of selfishness and self-centeredness bind my legs and limit my movement towards others and towards God.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  I can be free and so can you.  Emancipation is found in Jesus Christ!

When Jesus, the Son of God, came to redeem us he said,

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
   because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
                                               .--Luke 4:18-19

The Apostle Paul reminds us that when we turn to the Lord we are given His Spirit and freedom.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
                                               .--2 Corinthians 3:17

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
                                                .--Galatians 5:1

Jesus died on the cross for our sins and He rose from the grave on the third day.  Jesus holds the keys to life. Submit yourself to Him.  Let him unlock the door, escort you out of your dark prison cell and release you from your bonds so that you can enjoy the “tremendous emancipation” of relationship with Him.

Running Reflection--January 3

Run Today’s Race
A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year
Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.

January 3

"The Spirit of God alters my dominating desires; He alters the thing that matters, and a universe of desires I had never known before, suddenly comes on the horizon."

Reflections by Ryan:

“Dominating desires” . . . Hmmm . . . the term “dominate” is a pretty hefty word.  Dominating desires are those desires that rule you and control you; they are the desires that exert a supreme guiding influence over your life.  What are your dominating desires?  If you don’t know, you might take a look at your checkbook, your thought life, your relationships or at the way you spend your time. 

Regardless of how long your list of dominating desires might be there is most likely only one overarching, dominating desire that serves as the source for all of your other desires.  In most cases it is that thing that matters the most to you and for most of us that thing is . . . OURSELVES.

God wants to make a change in those things that control you and he will make the change by focusing the eyes of your heart upon Himself and others.  If you will let Him, God through the Holy Spirit will actually change the focus and desire of your heart.

By now you have probably figured out your list of “dominating desires.”  Do you really want to keep that limited, debilitating, mundane, miserable, short-sighted, self-focused list?  If not, look away from yourself and look to God.  In Him, the sky is the limit, as He holds out a list of desires that you can only imagine.

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

Running Reflection--January 2

Run Today’s Race
A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year
Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.

January 2

"The very life of Jesus is given to us unstintedly if we will identify ourselves with His Death. At the back of us stands the Risen Life of Jesus that nothing can overcome."

Reflections by Ryan:

In other words....go for it.
The life of the One who created the galaxies, the oceans, the mountains, and the inhabitants of the earth is available to us. His presence, his peace, his hope, and his love is available to us in an unlimited, unrestricted way. . . IF . . .   

IF what?  "If" we will identify ourselves with His death.  What does it mean to identify with the death of Jesus?  The Apostle Paul gives us a pretty good idea in Philippians 2. 

He writes:

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!”
(vs. 2-8 NIV)

We identify with the death of Jesus as we live lives of service, forgiveness and love amongst others.  God gives us the strength and support to live in this way.  As we face life and its challenges we have one who stands behind us—like a big brother.  Actually, standing behind us is the risen life of Jesus Christ—the one who has defeated sin and death and who stands as hope and life for all who believe.  He says to us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” in other words, “I’ve got your back.”

Philippians 2: 9-11(NIV) best completes this thought.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Go for it.  Live in abandonment to Jesus Christ, facing the trials and obstacles of life with confidence because Jesus has “got your back.”

Running Reflection--January 1

Run Today’s Race
A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year
Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.
Scripture NIV

January 1

"God is so immediately near and so immensely strong that I get more and more joyous in my confidence in Him and less and less careful how I feel."

Reflections by Ryan:

I read the words of Oswald Chambers and I realize that I need to remember that God is near—He is here with me right now. In Psalm 139, King David asks of the Lord, “Where I can I go from your Spirit?” and the resounding answer is….nowhere. I need to remember that. God is near. Yes, this knowledge will keep me accountable but more importantly, it is so good to know that my “abba” Father is always with me.

As I read the daily news and consider the struggles in my own life and in the lives of those around me I find myself doubting that God is “immensely strong.” However, God’s immense strength is not realized on my terms. I think God should flex his muscles and hold back the tsunami tidal wave, cure the stage four cancer and end world hunger but God shows His strength in other ways.
God is immensely strong as He gives me grace to live today, as He loves the unlovely, as He forgives the sinner through the blood of Jesus Christ and as He is hope even when things appear hopeless.  Even if the boat sinks and we with it—He is with us, holding us all the way down.  Even in death, He is strong.  "Death where is thy sting?"  He is our hope and ours is the hope of heaven.
In God we are never alone and we are never without hope.  Now that is cause for joy.  Not happiness, but joy.  It has been said that "happiness" is based on "happenings".  This is not the case with joy.  Joy in the Lord is not found in "happenings" and it is not realized in feelings.  Joy in the Lord is much deeper.  It is foundational in our lives.  It is the place of strength, peace and hope for the one who is abandoned to Jesus Christ.

". . . This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."          --Nehemiah 8:10