Running another Marathon

As the clock ticks softy, I am just a few hours away from running my fifth marathon. The road has not been easy, but it has been worth it. When I first began this task, in 2016, I was encouraged by my friends to give it a try. I worked hard, and in the end, completed my first marathon in May of 2016, at the Wisconsin Marathon, in Kenosha. I was happy to have finished my first marathon and even happier that I was done. The best part of the day was eating pizza and drinking Pepsi at a local pizza joint.

Since I was not satisfied with the outcome of that marathon, I ran another one, in Indianapolis, in November of 2016. I was pretty excited about that one and happy with my finish. I knew, at that time, that I would probably start to run marathons on a regular basis.

In 2017, I  was working diligently for the Columbus Marathon, when the unexpected happened. I was taking my daughter to Whiteys, our local ice cream place, for a nice refreshing treat. When we finished, we got into the car, and my vision suddenly, turned upside down. I called my wife Heather, and she took me to the hospital. It was soon determined that I was having a stroke and that I needed to go to Iowa City to be treated. The Lord was with me, and I survived. As a result of the stroke, I was not able to run in Columbus.

After a few months of testing, the doctors said that everything was healed and that I could go back to running marathons. My training began soon afterwards.

In 2018, I trained hard and ran the WhistleStop Marathon in Ashland, WI. It was a great race and I got another personal best. I still was not satisfied with the end result, so I began training for the next race.

In early 2019, I began training for the Illinois Marathon in Champaign. That was a fun race on a fairly flat course. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot from my experience. Again, I was blessed to have another personal best, but still short of being able to qualify for Boston.

Now, three years after I started my marathon journey, I am about to embark on a quest, to qualify for the Boston Marathon, in 2021. In order to do that, I need God’s help to run this marathon, the WhistleStop, in under 3:23:00. This is a daunting task, but one that I am committed to trying. Last year, I enjoyed the cool temperatures and the nice scenery, but I hated the small rocks that kept getting into my shoes.  This year, I have designed a shield system, that should protect my feet from harm.

The journey has been long, and it certainly has not turned out exactly the way that I thought that it should, but it has been a good journey. I have met a lot of great people, who have encouraged me to keep up the good work, and that has provided a great deal of support.

Psalm 143:1 says, “Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.” I am praying that the Lord would be gracious to me in this endeavor. If you get a chance, say a prayer for me as well. Pray that I would be safe, and that I would do my best.

I will let you know what happens!

 

 

 

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Facebook wants your first born!

Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Please, before you decide to post things on Facebook, educate yourself to see if the information is actually true. I have read multiple posts about privacy concerns with Facebook and Facebook messenger. Most of these concerns are the result of a misinformed public, parroting what they read in their newsfeed. Snopes.com is a great resource to help you determine if the information is actually true or not. Please help keep Facebook free from misinformation. Please don’t just blindly repost something because your friends are doing it.

If you are really concerned with your privacy, please delete your account, but be aware that everything that you have posted, up to this point, can and will be used against you in a court of law.

Facebook and the NSA will come to your house and will confiscate any device on which you have used Facebook and will then send them to a foreign country, to be used by foreign nationals, to hack your information and use that information to steal your identity. (This last paragraph, is an example of false information, that is being spread on Facebook, when people do not do their research, or is it?)

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Thanksgiving

As I sit here at my brother and sister in laws house, enjoying the fire, I pause to reflect on the blessings that The Lord has blessed me with.

1. Salvation through Jesus Christ. I am so undeserving of His Love and favor.

2. A loving family. God has blessed me with a loving wife and daughter. He has also given me a great extended family.

3. A great job where I can make a difference in the lives of other people.

4. Great co-workers who know how to balance ministry with having fun.

5. A great church family.

Ps 107:1
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

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The wrong starting point

Where you start will shape your world view.

I have been privileged, this week, to attend the Answers for Pastors conference in Petersburg, KY. The conference was held at the Creation Museum, a ministry of Answers in Genesis, whose primary goal is to evangelize and to educate people on the historical account of Creation and the early history of our world.

The emphasis of the week has been learning how to reach our culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the past it has been easier for people to understand concepts such as God, sin and the fall, because Christianity ,or an understanding of Christians concepts, was taught or at best tolerated in our culture. But today, we live in a culture where these concepts are not embraced, where in fact, they are banned and even mocked. We have a whole generation of people who have grown up outside of the church and inside an educational system that states that we are mere products of time, chance and death. Because our culture does not have a proper view of where we came from, it cannot have a proper view of concepts like, sin, death, redemption or even of God.

As a pastor, it is my responsibility to point people to Jesus and to make disciples. Sounds easy, but it is not. In order to do this, God needs to do a work in the heart, after all, only the Holy Spirit can draw a person to Jesus. But from a human standpoint, a person needs to understand that he is a sinner in need of a Savior. This is a tough task if mankind just evolved over millions of years. If man came to be as a result of evolutionary processes, then there was no literal Adam. If there was no Adam, then there was no Eve. If these two people did not live, then they could not have sinned and disobeyed God. If they did not sin, then there would be no need of a Savior.

Very quickly we see the problem that is facing the church today. It is a matter of starting points. This is why it it so important to teach the Bible and the redemption narrative starting in Genesis. This is the way that Paul taught the Greeks. In Act 17, we see that Paul declared to the Athenians the “unknown God”.

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.
23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,
25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,
27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,
28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.
30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”
33 So Paul went out from their midst.
34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Paul, in order to help the people understand, took them back to the Creator God. I suggest that that is where we need to start our Gospel presentations today. Why? Because today, when we say God, people wonder what god you are talking about. We need to bring people back to Genesis, to the very beginning of the redemption story, so that they understand why Jesus came to earth and why He died for humanity.

God created this world and all things. He created Adam so that He could have a relationship with him. He also created Eve out of Adam’s rib. He blessed the pair and told them to be fruitful and multiply. He also gave them one prohibition- don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and evil. When mankind listened to the serpent instead of God, they died spiritually and all of creation began to die too. But God in His mercy, promised a savior would come to redeem the creation and mankind.

Now, about 6000 years later, we have forgotten our Creator God. We have turned to the gods of chance, time and natural processes to explain our origins and our purpose. No wonder we are so messed up! We no longer have the same starting point and therefore will not be able to arrive at the same conclusions.

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Clear Air

I just returned from a quick three day vacation in Wisconsin. My wife Heather, my daughter Daisy, and I, made the seven hour trip to Pembine, with no problems. We travelled through rain for about a third of the trip, but that soon gave way to clear skies.

I always enjoy going to this part of Wisconsin. For one thing, my parents live there. For another, the scenery is breathe taking. My dad shared with me that a recent air quality report stated that the purest area in the the United States is about 3 miles from where my parents live.

On Friday, I went for a 9.5 mile run. I was a bit concerned because of all of the hills, but I soon discovered that I was able to run with no problems. The air was so clean and crisp. The sky was so blue. 2013-08-24 15.51.50

The scenery was beautiful and the temps were great (the high 40’s).

Getting away was great, because it allowed me to get out of the every day routine and unplug for awhile.

Even Jesus unplugged from time to time. In Mark 1:35 (NASB) we read “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” Matthew 14:23 says “After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.”

Jesus saw the need to unplug and get alone with God, and we would do well to do the same. There is something great about getting away.

 

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I was wrong

“I was wrong”.

Perhaps these are among the hardest words to say in the English language. They are right up there with “please forgive me” and “I am sorry”. These words, and the feelings and actions behind them, make us vulnerable. They reveal that we don’t always have it all together. They show us that we are human and make mistakes.

Growing up, I liked to watch the television show “Happy Days”. One of the characters was named Fonzie. He was the king of cool. Everyone looked up to the Fonz as someone who could do no wrong. But, on a few occasions, he was imperfect and made mistakes. I love this clip where Fonzie is trying to tell Ralph that he was wrong. click here

As followers of Christ, we are called to be salt and light. We are called to do the difficult thing and ask for forgiveness when it is necessary.

James 5:16 says Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

This verse teaches me that I need to keep short accounts with people. When I offend, or wrong, or sin against someone, I have a responsibility to confess and ask for forgiveness. When I do that, I begin to receive the healing power of the Holy Spirit, and the relationship can begin to be healed.

I recently had to apologize and ask for forgiveness from someone that I didn’t even know. I was acting on old information and asked this person to do something. Turns out, that my intel was wrong and I looked like a fool because of my request. When it came to my attention, that my information was outdated, I called the individual and asked for their forgiveness. They graciously gave it.

You know, I didn’t want to make that call, but I am glad that I did. It gave me the opportunity to live out my faith and ask for the thing that I need most, forgiveness.

Is there someone that you need to go to and ask for forgiveness? What is standing in your way? It may not be easy, but it will be worth it.

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Running the Race

Recently, I had the opportunity to compete in the Firecracker 10K race on July 4th. Race time conditions were ideal with temps in the 60’s. The course was a bit hilly and challenging. Along the way, there were bands, singers and even crazy guys dressed up as Elvis. At pre-determined intervals there were water stations, where you could refresh yourself before continuing on your way.  Toward the end of the race (mile 5), there was a decent hill for all of the runners to scale, followed by a nice long downhill decent. But the race was not over. You still have another mile to go!

This year I have also been able to run a 5K and a half marathon and in 3 weeks, I will be running the Bix, a grueling 7 mile, hilly race.

It doesn’t matter what race a person decides to run, all  runners are interested in one thing, crossing the finish line.

finish

 

This reminds me of a passage from 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

I am a slow runner compared to those who won this race. Did it discourage me from running? No. I was out there to do my very best and beat my best time at 10K distance, and I accomplished that goal.

In life, we have two choices, we can run the race that God lays out before us, or we can run our own race and follow our path.  The path that God lays out before us will be challenging. It will have hills and valleys. Good times and bad. Times of thirst and times of refreshment, but in the end, He is there to welcome us.

Hebrews 12:2 says
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

As I was approaching the end of the race, I kept focusing on the finish line. I wasn’t concerned about the people around me or the people trying to run me down from behind. I wasn’t concerned about the last 6 miles of the race. My eyes were on the finish line.

No matter what you are going through right now, may I encourage you to fix your eyes on Jesus? He doesn’t promise an easy “race”, but He does promise a great after-race party! Keep your eyes on Jesus!

 

If you do not yet have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and would like to learn more about it, please let me know.

 

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July 6, 2013 · 5:15 pm