April 21, 2013
On Monday, they were just terrorists.
I ran Boston in 1979. I lived in Massachusetts for 12 years. For me, Boston, rather than the Masters, is “a tradition like no other.”
Monday I watched the last hour of the elite race online. I enjoyed it, but turned off the computer after the top 10 finished.
So when a friend called me at 4 and said, offhandedly, “I guess you know about the bombs in Boston,” I was floored. Bombs? At the marathon? Who would do something like this?
Terrorists. Only terrorists.
Friday morning, I wrote about the bombing for the blog. By that time, we knew something about the terrorists. They now had names. A nationality. They were brothers. They were athletes. The younger brother was an excellent student.
We also got a glimpse of the alienation of the older brother, Tamerlan. Several years ago, he wrote: “I don’t have a single American friend, I don’t understand them.”
That resonated with me. Three weeks ago, the Saturday before Easter, I met a Nepali man who had been in the US for almost four years. During that time he had only cursory interactions with Americans. He had never been in an American’s home. I asked him if he knew why he had Good Friday off of work. He said, “I think it has something to do with eggs and rabbits.” The name “Jesus” was vaguely familiar, but he didn’t know who He was. He had no inkling about the Gospel – until that day.
It sounds like Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s experience was similar.
At lunchtime on Friday I turned on the radio, and heard program host and Boston resident Robin Young say, “Some of us have found out that we know these boys.” I was intrigued, and kept listening. It turns out the younger brother, called Jahar by his friends, wrestled on a high school team with Robin Young’s nephew. They were good friends. Jahar had been the life of a party that Robin held for her nephew in her home.
As information streamed in over the internet, I noticed their birthdays. Jahar is 11 months younger than my son Matthew. Sixteen months older than Joel. Tamerlan was a few months younger than my son Jonathan.
That Friday afternoon something clicked in my heard. These two were no longer defined by the word “terrorist.” They were no longer abstractions. They were people. They were individuals. They were persons with birthdays and high school friends. They were the life of the party or the quiet kid in the corner.
All that – yet of greater importance:
Tamerlan and Jahar Tsarnaev were made in the image of God.
And: they murdered and maimed others made in the image of God. They committed an act of terrorism. By so doing they had made themselves my enemies, your enemies, our country’s enemies.
And Jesus said:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:43-45)
Yesterday evening, I was praying about whether to preach this sermon or the one I had planned. Driving home from a meeting about 8, flipping through radio stations, I heard a host reading emails from listeners. Each was suggesting what should be done to Jahar when he is convicted. One wrote: “Remember the end of Braveheart, when Mel Gibson is disemboweled?” I can’t even repeat some of the others.
We need to hear God’s Word on this issue.
How do we wrap our minds around this?
How do we love those who have committed such heinous acts?
What is the relationship between such love and love for the victims of their crimes?
What is the relationship between such love and a longing for justice?
Loving Your Enemy: Eight Propositions
1) If we are to love our enemies, surely we are to love those who are NOT our enemies but resemble our enemies.
In this case: Who resembles Tamerlan and Jahar?
The foreigners around us. International students. Refugees. Especially: The Muslims around us.
- No one is your enemy BECAUSE HE IS A MUSLIM
- No one is your enemy BECAUSE HE IS A FOREIGNER
- No one is your enemy because of language or ethnicity or dress or skin color
We must never treat anyone as an enemy because he looks like or talks like someone who is our enemy.
Rather: Can we love and care for and show hospitality to those who resemble our enemies?
Scripture is quite clear on this:
You must regard the foreigner who lives with you as the native-born among you. You are to love him as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:34)
Love those who resemble your enemies.
2) To love your enemies is not to deny that they are your enemies
Jesus does NOT say: “No one is your enemy. We’re all just one big happy family.”
Jesus had enemies. They tortured Him. They killed Him.
We have enemies. Indeed, Jesus prophesied:
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. (Matthew 24:9)
Once Tamerlan and Jahar decided to commit an act of terror, they became our enemies. Nothing is accomplished by denying that.
More broadly: A small number of Muslims from around the world has become radicalized. These few want to do all they can to wreak murder and mayhem. Those who are taking steps in this direction are our enemies.
Government is charged with helping us to live peaceful and quiet lives, and thus to protect us from enemies. We are charged to pray for government leaders and officials as they take on this difficult task.
We do have enemies.
3) To love your enemies is not to hope against justice
We must long for justice. We must long for every sin to be paid for, for every wrong to be righted.
God is a just God. He is the moral authority in the universe. He guarantees that the right punishment will be rendered for every sin.
In Revelation 6:9-10, John sees “under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
God doesn’t tell them: “O, don’t long for justice; love your enemies!”
They are right to long for justice – EVEN as they love their enemies.
So in Jahar’s case, love does not imply that we must hope for a lenient sentence, or no sentence at all. We hope for justice – not against it.
4) To love your enemies is perfectly consistent with loving your enemies’ victims
Sometimes in our politics we become advocates, on the one hand, of victims rights, and advocates, on the other hand, of rights of the accused.
Jesus tells us to be advocates for both.
We are to love our enemies AND we are to love EVERY neighbor as we love ourselves. That surely includes our neighbors who are victims.
And so: pray for the families and friends of Lu Lingzi, Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Sean Collier. Pray for the seriously wounded, including Richard Donohue, tThe officer critically injured in the Thursday night shootout.
Love the victims.
In propositions five to eight, we turn to how we should see our enemies – in particular, how we see Jahar Tsarnaev today.
5) To love your enemies is to see them as fundamentally like yourself.
What is true of you fundamentally?
What is true of Jahar Tsarnaev fundamentally?
What does Scripture say?
- You and Jahar are made in the image of God
- You and Jahar are made to glorify Him
- You and Jahar have rebelled against God
- You and Jahar deserve His judgment
- You and Jahar can do NOTHING to make up for your sins, to pay the penalty for your sins
- And God so loved you and Jahar – that He sent His one and only Son to die so that you might be forgiven by grace through faith
If you have not turned to God in repentance, with faith in Christ, you stand before God in exactly the same way as Jahar Tsarnaev. For as James tells us, “Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it” (James 2:10).
Should Jahar turn to Christ, he will stand before God FULLY cleansed – just as clean as anyone in this room, despite the enormity of His sins. For the blood of Jesus is able to wash clean even the vilest of sins.
And if that should happen – JUSTICE WILL HAVE BEEN DONE. For the penalty that Jesus paid – the beatings and whippings and overwhelming flood of God’s wrath that Jesus endured on the cross – is sufficient to satisfy the requirements of justice.
At root, Jahar and you stand before God in exactly the same way:
- Apart from the blood of Christ: Without hope
- Covered with the blood of Christ: Completely forgiven
6) To love your enemies is to be like God in showing mercy and kindness to the undeserving, because God showed mercy and kindness to you, the undeserving
Jahar does not deserve mercy. He certainly showed no mercy to his victims.
And our government, our court system, is under no obligation to show mercy. Rather, government is set up by God as His “servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4).
But what about you and me?
Acts like the bombing can lead to righteous anger on our part: An anger at the undermining of what is right and good; a steady, certain, deliberate intention to exercise justice. Such anger is consistent with loving our enemies.
But when that anger morphs into hatred, into a desire for personal vengeance, into the sorts of expressions I heard on the radio last night, we have sinned. We are not loving our enemies.
To love is to desire what is good AND TO DO GOOD for our enemies.
Remember what Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:45, immediately after telling us to love our enemies, and thus to be sons of our heavenly Father: “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. “
Consider: God gives sun and rain and life and breath every minute of every day to people who hate Him!
God gave YOU sun and rain and life and breath every minute of every day to YOU WHILE you were under His condemnation – when you deserved death!
We are to be LIKE GOD in DOING AND DESIRING GOOD for our enemies.
Specifically, we are to desire the good Paul speaks of in 2 Timothy 2:25-26: We are to pray that God might “grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”
You have received God’s undeserved mercy and kindness when you were His enemy.
Be like Him!
Show undeserved mercy and kindness to your enemies
We’ll consider the last two propositions together:
7) To love your enemies is to see them as potential kings, potential heirs of the earth
8) To love your enemies is to see them as a potential part of the bride of Christ
Jahar Tsarnaev is made in the image of God. He has polluted that image by his sin and rebellion. By God’s grace, that image can shine forth in majesty and beauty.
Jahar Tsarnaev is potentially an heir of the earth (Matthew 5:5).
Jahar Tsarnaev is potentially part of the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27), dearly loved by Him, indeed, dearly loved by YOU. As John Newton writes, those who are our enemies now who truly follow Christ will one day be, “Dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now.”
Could that be true of Jahar?
Love Your enemies.
Pray for Those Who Persecute You
As we’ve said, we must pray for justice.
But also: Pray for Jahar.
- Pray that God would grant him repentance
- Pray that God would shatter the walls he has built to shield himself from the Gospel
- Pray that God would protect him from the even greater hardening that could easily occur in custody
- Pray that our Lord might open His eyes
And who else hates you? Who persecutes you? “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”
Remember our text Matthew 5:43-48: If we claim to be followers of Christ, if we say to Him “Lord, Lord,” we are to be different. We are to do more than others. We are to take on a family resemblance to Christ. Indeed, we are to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. We are to be agents of God’s mercy.
So: List your enemies.
Some might be abstractions, anonymous groups. But be sure to include individuals: Those who would do you harm if they could. List them. Pray for them.
As for the Boston Bombings:
- Pray for justice. By all means.
- Pray for information about contacts with foreign terrorists, if any.
- Pray for those whom they so cruelly injured.
- Pray for the families who have lost loved ones
- And pray for Jahar.
That You May Be Sons of Your Father
God in His mercy has invited you to be His child
- He has covered your guilt with blood of Jesus
- He has invited you into His Family
- He will wipe every tear from your eyes
- He will love you with an everlasting love
- You can call Him Daddy
- He will never leave you nor forsake you
And He enables you to look like Him. He empowers you to display His image. Indeed, He commands you by His power to treat your enemies as He treated you when you were His enemy.
He loved you when you were His enemy.
Will you love your enemies?
Will you love Jahar Tsarnaev?
By a process that we do not yet understand, he became your enemy. He became our enemy.
By a process that God has revealed to us, he can become your brother. May he become our brother.
Love Jahar. Love Your enemy. Pray for those who persecute you.
So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
(This is a shortened version of a sermon preached 4/21/13. The audio of the sermon is available here.)
March 6, 2009
(This sermon on Acts 13:13-52 was preached February 22, 2009. The audio is available here.)
What is the Bible? What do you think of it? How do you approach it?
Many want nothing to do with it. They might respond to such questions by saying, “The Bible – that’s old and out of date. It’s not relevant for today. If I’m going to read something hundreds of pages long, I want it to be fresh, new, written for this time period, and informed by all the recent advances in knowledge. Why should I spend time looking at that old book?”
Others might see historical or sociological value in the Bible: “Oh, yes, the Bible is an interesting record of a number of the spiritual encounters of great men and (a very few) great women. Perhaps some of those encounters have a basis in a supernatural being intervening in this world. In addition, the Bible has been esteemed by millions of people over the years; it has had a major influence on this country’s history and literature. Indeed, we can’t understand the US today without understanding the Bible. So, yes, I read it, I have studied it – as history, as an important core document of several religious traditions.”
Yet others might say more: They value the Bible for personal spiritual benefits: “Yes, the Bible has had a profound influence on me. Jesus is an amazing figure, as are Moses, Elijah, Daniel, David, and others. Jesus surely was a great teacher who was closely in touch with God. He is my example; I try to live like him. There is much we must learn from the Bible. But today, we can’t even know what the Bible originally said. The church may well have massaged the text to make it say what it wanted. And, in any event, the Bible is a pre-scientific account of origins and human psychology. We’ve learned so many things that make the Bible’s worldview archaic and obsolete. So, yes, it’s very interesting, impressive, and helpful – but today we must pick and choose what topics, what passages still make sense.”
Do those attitudes sound familiar to you? Do you yourself agree with one of them?
Consider the difference between those three attitudes toward the Bible and the psalmist’s attitude, expressed in Psalm 119:169-174: Read more
March 2, 2009
(This sermon on Acts 14 was preached on March 1, 2009. The audio will be posted at this link.)
There is more suffering in the true Christian life than you ever thought you could handle.
There is more joy in the true Christian life than you ever thought possible.
Those are the two main points of Acts 14. We’ll come back to them. But now: Suppose you knew you were about to die. What would you say to those remaining behind?
When the Apostle Paul wrote 2 Timothy, he knew he was about to die by execution. Recall that Timothy grew up in Lystra (Acts 16); Paul met him there for the first time in the visit recorded in today’s passage (Acts 14). Near the end of his life, he wrote:
You . . . know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings– what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:10-17
Paul says “Timothy: Follow me as I follow Christ – and following Christ means suffering. Everyone who lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. And you know very well what happened to me in your hometown.”
As described in today’s text, Paul suffered horribly in Lystra – and he had the scars to prove it. Timothy too will suffer if he continues in the faith.
But Timothy is not to respond to this prediction of future suffering with fear! Instead, Timothy is to take encouragement from Paul’s own suffering. Paul says: ‘You will suffer – like I have suffered. So you must be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus! – like I was strong in His grace. You must continue – because you know me and my faith (and the faith of your Mom and grandmother), and you know the Word – this Word that makes you wise to salvation, and thoroughly equips you to suffer and endure.”
As we saw last week: We must continue in the WORD – we must learn it, lean on it, love it. THIS is God’s revelation to us – and we will never get through times of suffering without it
But 2 Timothy is a letter neither of sorrow in suffering, nor of simply endurance through suffering. Paul shows himself to be full of joy in suffering. He goes on to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.”
Suffering – yet joy.
Just so in Acts 14: Tremendous suffering. And tremendous joy. Read more
March 2, 2009
(This sermon on Acts 4:1-22 was preached on 11/2/2008. The audio is available here.)
Can a person be saved apart from calling on the Name of Jesus?
Last week we looked at Acts 3. Peter and John go to the temple to pray. There they encounter a lame man, a beggar asking for money. God heals him through Peter. This man is more than 40 years old; he has been begging for a long time, and thus is well known at the temple. The people are astonished.
Peter takes the occasion to proclaim the Gospel, saying,
And on the basis of faith in Jesus’ name, his very name has made this man- whom you see and know- strong. The faith that is through Jesus has given him this complete health in the presence of you all. Acts 3:16 NET
Peter makes four things clear:
1) Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises
2) His listeners are in the covenant!
3) They are murderers: They deserve to be cut off from God’s covenant people
4) They have a choice: If they call on the Name of Jesus, they will be saved.
So Peter is saying that this man was healed by the Name of Jesus, that this healing is a picture of spiritual salvation, and that there is spiritual salvation in that Name.
But could there be salvation through any other name or in any other way?
While Peter doesn’t directly answer that question in chapter 3, he does provide us with hints:
- He calls Jesus the author of life in verse 15. Could there be another author?
- He calls Jesus the promised Christ, the promised Messiah.
- He says Jesus is the descendant of Abraham through whom all nations are to be blessed
- He says Jesus is the prophesied Prophet like Moses – and that those who don’t listen to Him must be cut off from God’s people.
All these hints suggest that there is salvation through Jesus alone. But the question remains: Could there be some alternative way, some means perhaps for those who are not descendants of Abraham, who aren’t part of God’s covenant people?
In our day, as in the time of Peter, there are many who believe there is no existence past death, and thus no salvation. But the majority of people then and now believe in an existence after death; they even believe that there will be rewards and punishment meted out for what we do in this life. Many believe in a coming judgment (though most reserve that judgment for terrible people unlike themselves), and a coming salvation for all who are sincere, who try, who are regular participants in religious activities of any kind.
In this country today, a large number believe in this salvation by sincerity. They reject as repulsive the idea of a God who would condemn sincere adherents of any religion. They say, “I could never worship a God who would condemn such people!”
But the question is not: what you are willing or unwilling to believe. You are not the judge. You are not the authority.
The question is: Who is God? What has He revealed about Himself? Who are you? Where do you stand before Him? Is there any way you can be put right with Him?
In this passage, Peter gives one of Scriptures’ most powerful statements about the exclusive nature of salvation in Christ. There is one way of salvation, and one only. Salvation comes through believing in Jesus. That’s it. Those who don’t believe in Jesus are lost. But anyone may believe. And all who believe are saved. Read more
March 2, 2009
(This sermon on Acts 4:23-31was preached 11/9/08. The audio is available here.)
Imagine that you are engaged in a personal ministry. You are confident that you are following God, and it seems that you are having some success. Then, suddenly, there’s a huge obstacle in your path,
- It might be a failure on your part,
- It might be a rejection or betrayal by former colleagues,
- It might be a financial barrier,
- It might be opposition, or threats from others.
How do you respond?
In Acts 4, that’s the situation Peter and John and all the apostles find themselves in.
Jesus was killed just a few months ago. That itself had seemed to be the end of their hopes. But God raised Him from dead. Jesus opened their eyes to Scripture and to His own prophecies to see that the crucifixion had to happen, to see the role of Christ’s suffering in God’s plan. The apostles now know that Jesus is living, active, still at work.
He then sent the Holy Spirit on them with power at Pentecost, baptizing them and filling them for their special task. These apostles saw three thousand saved that day – and they themselves baptized every one. They’ve seen more come to faith day by day.
Then God worked through Peter and John to heal a man who was lame from birth. A crowd gathered, and Peter preached; once again, thousands more were saved.
It would be understandable if, at this point, the apostles thought, “Wow! Look at God work! What success! Everything is just going to get better and better!”
But things didn’t get better and better.
As we saw last week, the Jewish authorities arrest Peter and John. They threaten them, warning them not to speak any more in the name of Jesus. Peter speaks boldly in their presence, saying there is no other name by which men must be saved, saying that they cannot but speak about what they have seen and heard, saying they must obey God rather than men. But the Jewish authorities just threaten all the more. They release Peter and John, but make their point absolutely clear: “If you continue to speak in the name of Jesus, watch out. We’re here. You know what happened to Jesus. If you love your families, if you want to see your children grow up, you had better keep quiet.”
This is the first serious challenge to the young church.
Put yourself in their shoes: These are not supermen. They have families, worries, and cares. If they are put to death, there are no food stamps, there is no welfare, there is no social security for their children. They must be facing a strong temptation to be quiet. Satan undoubtedly tempted them in these terms: “Think about how many are already saved! Let’s just teach them. Let’s just live together and enjoy each other, be family to each other. We can stop this proselytizing. For it’s this speaking in public that will get us in trouble. Indeed, maybe this is a sign from God –we’ve been spreading the Gospel, and we’ve had our success. Now maybe we’re supposed to stop and focus on deepening our joy in Christ.”
Imagine what would have happened if apostles had done that. That would have been the end of the church. Or, possibly, the church would have been a tiny enclave, a minor sect within Judaism. In other words, that would have been disastrous.
So how do the apostles fight this temptation? How can we, facing our own obstacles, fight the temptation to quit, to change, to adapt in ways that destroy our ministry?
Peter and John fight in four ways that are applicable to us:
- Acknowledge your weakness
- Know the truth
- Trust the truth
- Ask for God’s enabling Read more
October 15, 2008
Do you ever dream that you’re in school, sitting down to take a test, and realize, “I never studied! I never even went to class!”
Or perhaps you dream that you are about to begin an athletic event – and realize you never practiced.
How do those dreams make you feel? Do you feel that way when you are called upon to be a witness to Jesus? Do you think, “I don’t know enough! I need years of study to properly witness! I can’t possibly make these people listen!”
Last week we began our series in the book of Acts. We saw that this book is not really the Acts of the Apostles. Only two apostles are prominent, but it is not a synopsis of their lives either. Instead, Luke opens by saying that his first volume, his gospel “dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach.” Acts then deals with what Jesus continued to do. Acts tells of the continuing work of Jesus. Read more
October 15, 2008
Think of an important historical figure. What was his or her greatest accomplishment?
- For Thomas Jefferson, perhaps authoring the Declaration of Independence.
- For Abraham Lincoln, keeping our country together.
- For Martin Luther, taking his stand on the Word of God, and returning much of the church to biblical authority.
Some of you may be thinking of scientists, missionaries, authors, or explorers. Different men, different women, different fields of endeavor – but for all their varied accomplishments, the question makes sense.
Now: Consider Jesus: Can we ask the same question about Him? What was Jesus’ greatest accomplishment?
I hope when you hear that question you’re somewhat uneasy. For if we were to judge Jesus’ accomplishments on the same basis as the others we’ve mentioned – frankly, there’s not much there. For a period of time shorter than one US presidential term, he traveled around with a dozen men, in a backwater province of the Roman Empire; He taught publicly, and made some pretty outrageous claims. He healed people, a few rather dramatically. Perhaps during His lifetime as many as 200 people believed He was the promised Messiah. But one of his closest associates turned Him in to authorities for a few thousand dollars. The Roman governor executed Him.
That doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment compared to Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, or Isaac Newton, does it?
But there’s a huge difference with Jesus: His death is not the end of the story.
We celebrate what Jefferson, Lincoln, Luther, and others accomplished prior to their deaths. For Jesus: We celebrate what He accomplished in His death, in His resurrection, and what He continues to do after death.
We begin today a series on the book of Acts. This is the second volume written by Luke, the traveling companion of the Apostle Paul. This volume was written about 30 years after the crucifixion. Each volume begins with a note to a man named Theophilus, who seems to be a prominent Roman official who has heard much about Jesus, but needs assurance of the truthfulness of the reports. So Luke says he writes: “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:4).
Luke opens the book of Acts with these words.
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up
This is a pretty strange statement. Imagine two-volume biographical study of Lincoln, written decades after his death, with the second volume beginning, “My first volume dealt with all that Lincoln began to do until his assassination.”
That makes no sense for Lincoln. Why does it make sense for Jesus?
To speak this way implies that Jesus is still at work.
John Wilkes Booth’s bullet ended Lincoln’s accomplishments. But the cross did not end Jesus’ accomplishments. The cross was only the beginning. Read more
August 31, 2008
We had some recording problems with the August 17 sermon, “Work Hard Yet Relax During the Race of Faith,” but thanks to Michael Black and Matthew Pinckney we now have a satisfactory version of the audio online here.
August 27, 2008
Many expected the Beijing Olympic marathon to be slow, as runner after runner would succumb to the pollution on top of high heat and humidity. So when this morning the leaders took off at close to world record pace, a number of runners – including the top Americans, Dathan Ritzenheim and Ryan Hall – decided around three miles that that was suicidal, and backed off, hoping to run a slower, more even pace, and pick off stragglers. Such tactics had worked well in a number of past Olympic marathons.
But not today. Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya had other plans. He had prepared for these conditions. When the day dawned quite clear for Beijing, he was confident he could run a fast pace all the way to the end.
And he did. With a little over two miles to go he picked up the pace – and immediately dropped his last competitor. Running smoothly, relaxed and strong, he entered the stadium with a large lead. The crowd roared, cheering him on. He celebrated as he ran the last quarter mile on the track. Sammy Wanjiru finished well.
Our question this morning: Will you also finish well?
To get the gold medal, you have to finish the race. The marathon is 26 miles 385 yards. If you stop at 26 miles, 384 yards, you do not win – no matter how far ahead you are at that point. Read more
August 18, 2008
No one in the history of mankind has run 100 meters as fast as Usain Bolt did yesterday. And yet – did you see the head-on shot of his race? He looked completely relaxed.
This coming Saturday night, watch the men’s marathon. Ryan Hall will run over 26 miles, averaging well under 5-minutes per mile. That’s fast. Indeed, looking around, I don’t think there’s anyone here this morning who can run one mile that fast. Yet while making that long, sustained effort, his stride will be fluid and his face relaxed.
Are these two anomalies?
No: All good coaches teach their runners to relax.
When trying to run as fast as we can, we have a natural tendency to grimace, to tighten the mouth, the neck, the shoulders. But all that is counterproductive. All that slows you down.
In order to run fast, you must relax.
Why is this? It is actually quite logical, for two reasons. Read more