My Running Craze

Can I be obsessive? For sure. In fact, when I get into something, I’m often obsessive about it. My latest obsession has to do with running. Now, if you know anything about me, I hate running. It was my bane during the time I was doing my military service.

You see, long-distance running is pure torture. It isn’t a short stab of pain but a numbing continuous agony that needs to be sustained for a long time. Yet I’ve taken to running with a vengeance in the last couple of weeks, clocking anywhere between 25-35km a week.

While my timing isn’t anything to brag about, I’ve discovered somewhat of a joy in running at a steady pace for a longer period of time.
 
Let me romanticise about running, about how it mirrors life and the needed elements of life so that we can sustain ourselves through life’s race – not a short one, but a rather long one in truth. 
 
1. Look for new sceneries
 
One thing I’ve discovered is that I can’t run around the same place over and over. I lose motivation. I start focusing on the end point instead of enjoying the journey that’s happening now. This is why I shudder at the thought of running round after endless round along a running track. To satiate my appetite for running, I’ve embraced a pursuit of new sceneries. Each week, I drive out looking for new places to run.
 
The pace of running makes it such that I’m able to take in much more of my surroundings than in my usual driving through. Squirrels, birds squawking, the wake of a swimming monitor lizard have all caused me to pause and take a second look.

Not too long ago, I discovered that right before Pasir Ris Beach was a vibrant, thriving mangrove habitat for all kinds of birds, crustaceans, and flora. Having lived around the area for over a decade, it was a revelation to discover boardwalks that led through the mangrove swamps, bursting with avid nature photographers touting their large lenses and waiting patiently to capture the perfect shot of their subjects.
 
Life should mimic this hunt for new sceneries and experiences. It might require us to take on a new mode of transportation and movement for our perspective to zoom in on things we’d otherwise overlook. But this is well worth it. God intends for us to enjoy the journey as much as the destination He’s calling us to.
 
2. Patience
 
If there’s something needed in endurance sports, it’s patience. You just can’t rush it. My Garmin coach works out a training schedule to help me attain my running goals. The training pace really goes slow. 
 
75% of the runs scheduled for me are much slower than what I’m capable of. The increase in distance is also very progressive. So often, I end up running at a faster pace than what’s been set for me, simply because patience isn’t my strength.

The end result is that I don’t recover as fully as I should. My training load also indicates that it hasn’t been as productive as it can be.
 
In conversing with a triathlete, he gave me a repeated advice about endurance exercises – have patience. He told me that distances should not be increased by more than 10% of what was previously run each week. What was a greater eye-opener was when he talked about the importance of zone 2 training for endurance sports.

Zone 2 training is simply training at just about the easy zone, where one is able to speak in short sentences and hold a conversation while running. This turns out to be quite easy and counter-conventional, where we tend to believe running faster helps us make better progress.

But, in reality, most of our training should be done at zone 2 to lay down a solid aerobic and endurance base. So basically, it’s to keep progress slow and steady. Reminds me of Aesop’s tale of the tortoise and the hare.
 
The implications for life are obvious, and maybe not so obvious. Obvious in how this parallels the progress we seek to achieve in life, but not so obvious as so few of us work out a sustained routine for the progress we seek.

Mastery isn’t something people generally aim for. We may fantasise about it but mostly, no one ever gives themselves over to the discipline, process, and systems that need to be practised to gain mastery and high levels of proficiency in our craft.

But, if we’re pursuing mastery, then patience and zone 2 training must be the mainstay of our routines.
 
3. Rhythm
 
Finally, finding a steady rhythm and holding to that constant pace is incredibly therapeutic. I’ve noticed that, whenever I pass by other runners, it’s easy for me to end up adopting their pace instead of keeping to mine.

Take a look around. Everything follows a rhythm and a pace. Things vibrate at a constant frequency, we breathe with a degree of constancy, time is measured in cycles of minutes, hours, days, and weeks – everything has a cadence to it. 
 
Likewise, we need a steady pace in the way we do life – physical, emotional, and spiritual. Avoid the tendency to be driven by the moment. Instead, find a steady regularity in what you do.

Keep your exercises regular. Maintain a regular schedule for your relationships. Fix a time each day for your daily devotions with God. Don’t let them stack up and attempt to do everything at one go. Find a rhythm and stick to it.
 
I invite you to run as well. It might turn out to be much more instructive than just getting your cardio pumping.


Pastor Lim Lip Yong

The Broken-down Wall

It’s a time of festivities with Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day over this weekend, but celebrations will be muted because of the continued Covid restrictions.

Should I reflect upon culture, tradition, family, love, but I was thinking about the broken-down wall. Perhaps there has been complacency, too much feasting when God is looking to build, reinforce and strengthen the wall of His Church and the believer in this time.

It has often been proposed that the Church should be without walls and we might have heard this comment that when a wall is erected, it will keep people out.

God loves and has great compassion for the person on the other side of the wall and we need to re-process if we think we’ve erected the wall to keep them out! If we understand anything of God’s heart, we read more…

Grace From The ‘Begats’

Like many of you, I’ve been on the #365 Bible Reading Plan. And as usual, when I came to Matthew 1, I was stumped by a whole list of genealogies. To be honest, this is where I’d usually flip the pages and skip the boring parts altogether (I’m sure I’m not the only one!).

As modern readers, our eyes would glaze over, and we’d ask, “When are we going to get to some action?” We don’t understand the significance of genealogies today, but people back then did. It was common practice to publicise one’s genealogy because they were proud of their ancestry and where they came from.

And it was your genealogy, not résumé, that determined if you had a place in the world. Today, we live in a highly individualistic society in which all that matters is what you read more…

Love God, Love Your Neighbour, Love Your Enemies

One of the most-talked-about subjects of the Bible is love. In fact, Jesus said that we identify ourselves as His disciples through the way we love people. We don’t prove who we are by the greatness of our faith or the number of miracles we perform, but by the way we love others.

It’s easy to love those who are nice, humble, lovely, and kind. We spend much time loving these people because of the ease of it. As a result, we sometimes come to think that we’ve lived out the command to love our neighbours pretty well.

But recently, the realisation hit me that I was unconsciously avoiding the ones that I don’t understand, those who are different from me, and the ones who weirded me out. I definitely wasn’t rude to them, but I haven’t engaged them the read more…

Huh? Work On My Weakness?

At the start of the year, like all prophetic believers, we asked what the word of the Lord was for 2021. I started the year with our three days of churchwide prayer and fasting, followed by 18 days of prayer – all pumped up and excited to hear what the Lord had to say.

Every new year, I’d resolve to do something different – like learning a new skill, a sport or try something new and outside my comfort zone. In 2018, I tried open water diving, under the persuasion of a pastor friend. I was almost scared to death, if not for a good and experienced dive master. I went mountain climbing in 2019, injured my knee and took a year to recover with the help of a physical trainer.

Last year, during the lockdown, I picked up cooking, learning read more…

A Man of the Spirit

As we turn the corner to a new decade, it’s a great time to affirm our commitment to things that really matter. At Cornerstone, we don’t want to be a people who merely ‘talk the talk’, we want to be people who are born of, filled with, and walk in the Spirit.
 
Some four million Jews spread throughout the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus’ birth. Sects and schools arosing within Judaism memorised huge portions of Scripture. Until that time, no generation had a greater expectation that the Messiah’s visitation was at hand. Prophecies were diligently studied, theories and timelines were drawn up, groups formed isolated communities to wait for the Christ. 

And yet the first person to recognise Jesus did not study under any famous rabbi nor join any elite school. Simeon was an old read more…

Rehearsing Our Beginnings

One of my life-long emphasis is PURPOSE. What’s the purpose of my life? What am I supposed to do? What’s my destiny? Perhaps more understandable – what’s the destination that God has for me?

More than 34 years ago, I began earnestly asking if there’s a point to my life. I was perhaps 11 years old, but even then, I needed to know that there was more to life than just sustenance and existence.

I spent countless hours wandering in the recesses of my mind asking questions. I often wondered where my consciousness would go when I die. Does it just get snuffed out or does it drift onwards in the emptiness of space and time?

Even there, I intuitively sensed that my consciousness was somehow eternal. I wondered also if I was a read more…

What A Year 2020 Has Been!

I’ve been in full-time ministry for 30 years, and in all those 30 years, three clearly stood out as being earth-shaking.
 
The first was 2001. What happened? 9/11. When those planes struck the World Trade Center in New York City, the world we knew changed forever. And I remember the exact moment I heard the news. Time stopped for me as I watched the horror of those twin towers collapsing. Life was never going to be the same again.

A war followed shortly. Stock markets around the world crashed. Fear was all around. The Middle East was in turmoil. Security ramped up around the world. The new normal was long queues at airports, tight airport security, restrictions. But we learned to make adjustments, and live with inconveniences because life had to go on.
 
The read more…

Intimacy With Christ Defines Us

Is 2020 the beginning of a new decade or the end of the last? Whatever your social or mathematical persuasion may be, 2020 has been the ‘new’ for many things.

On the global scene, the year was marked as the new decade with prospects of booming economies, only to be shuttered because of the novel coronavirus, an unprecedented viral spread which continues with increasing deaths.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made world news at the start of the year when they stepped back from the royal family. We saw the worst bushfires in Australia yet, the controversial American Presidential election, the ongoing international war threats and trade disputes, and end this year with the United Kingdom’s much-anticipated final exit from the European Union on 31 December.

On the local scene, it would be the 2020 General read more…

The Plight of Lostness

For thousands of years, the fundamental problem with mankind has been the heart. There’s something twisted inside and we often find ourselves in bondage to our sinful desires. Sin is not just an outward act but the inner disposition of our heart.

The Bible describes sin as falling short of God’s glory, violating what’s right and exchanging the truth for the lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.

John Stott famously said, “Many of the happenings of civilised society, the problems with morals and civility would not exist if it were not for human sin. A promise is not enough; we need a contract. Doors are not enough; we have to lock and bolt them. The payment of fares is not enough; we have to be issued with tickets which are punched, inspected and collected. read more…

Leah’s Victory

When we mention Jacob and Rachel in the Bible, it’s usually about how he worked 14 years for her. She’s the woman of promise – the one we should wait for.

But I’ve a fascination with the story of Leah, Jacob’s first wife. Her story moves me – I pitied and felt bad for her, yet somehow, when I began to read about her life again this year, I saw the goodness and sovereignty of God.

Because of the greed of Leah’s father and his manipulation and deceit, Leah was thrown into a living hell.

She was put into a situation where she married a man who not only did not love her, but found that her very own sister was her husband’s one true love.

The final verses of this passage are the most plaintive I know of, hardly read more…

The Shame Pandemic

“You shall not testify falsely against your neighbour.” Deuteronomy 5:20

I learned the 10 Commandments when I was very young. The image of Moses angrily demolishing the tablets when he discovered Israel had grievously sinned against the Lord – worshipping the golden calf while Moses lingered on the mountain – left a deep, restraining impression on me.

The commandments written by the very finger of God were daunting: Thou shalt not murder, steal, nor commit adultery. At the time, I didn’t understand how the command not to bear false witness against my neighbour could be put into the same category with these ‘weighty’ sins. Time and many life experiences have taught me just how shortsighted I was!

Several years ago, I was shocked by a revelation of just how chilling breaking the 9th Commandment can be. False rumours were being read more…

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