Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas through the Eyes of a Child

It is interesting how children and adults look at Christmas different. It shouldn't be much of a surprise since we look at the world differently as well.

I remember Christmas as a child. On Christmas Eve my parents and brothers and sisters would go to my grandparents who lived about a block away from us. Grandpa would have the fire place going full blast to take away the chill of the cold outside air. We had enough food to feed a small army which is just as well because we were a small army. It was a Norwegian feast: meatballs, lutefisk, lefse, oyster stew, mashed potatoes, and rice pudding. There was always a nut in the rice pudding. The person with the nut in his or her pudding won a box of chocolate. Since I was the youngest, I seemed to win most years.

We opened the gifts in the stockings above the fireplace first. Then we opened the presents under the tree. As the youngest child I got to deliver the presents to everybody else. I loved to open presents. I just ripped them open as fast as I could. It was pure joy. We threw the boxes and the wrapping paper into the fireplace. We played with our new toys. We ate some more. We closed the night by going to church at 11:00. We didn't go to church much during the year, but there was something special about church on Christmas Eve. Even for the distracted child, the Holy revealed God during Christmas Eve.

Life is different now. I still love Christmas, especially now that I kind of understand what it means. But something is different. I open presents much slower than Benjamin does. I seem to enjoy giving more than receiving. Nothing is wrong with either of those things. The latter is generally a healthy thing. I think what is different is this: Children see Christmas with wide-eyed excitement that some of us adults have lost along the way.

One more thing. Christmas is God's idea. For years and years and years God watched His children struggle. Then one day He said something like: "If you want something done right you have to do it yourself." So He gave himself to the world. The boy grew up and became a man. He showed us how to love and how to live. He died so that we can live abundantly now and eternally forever. It is a gift. God's gift to us. Christmas, in its rawest form, is about joyfully unwrapping the gift that God gives to us in Jesus Christ.

Benjamin and David getting ready for bed

David getting ready for a marathon

Sunday, December 9, 2007


The day started around 4:00 a.m. as is typical for most Sundays. I reviewed my sermon notes and the media.

I went running from about 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. Even though the weather was cold (about 10 degrees), it was one of my best runs of the year. I was the first person on the trail after about an inch of fresh, powdery snow which provided the perfect blend of cushion and traction.

Worship went well. Despite the bad weather, we had more kids than we have ever had on a Sunday before. Our worship area was full too. After Wednesday, people were looking for a word from God. Hopefully that is what they got. Here are my notes. They probably won't make much sense without listening, but you may find something useful. You can listen as well. I remember saying something at the end like: "Sometimes we see life most clearly through tears. We honor the dead by living. Today is a fresh start. I pray for us lives of focus where we give our best time and energy to the things that are most important and most important to God." Anyway, here are the notes:

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” -Thomas Merton

How do we achieve balance in life?

1. Don’t Fill a Teacup with a Firehose (Emotional Balance)

James 4:14

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Proverbs 25:27

Whoever has no rule over his own spirit
Is like a city broken down, without walls.

Outside noisy. Inside empty. -Chinese Proverb

Maintaining a complicated life is a great way to avoid changing it.

Yesterday is a cancelled check
Tomorrow is a promissory note
Today is the only cash you have
Spend it wisely

Do you love life? Then do not squander time. For that’s the stuff life is made of. –Benjamin Franklin

2. Lord, Teach Us to Play (Physical Balance)

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

2 Samuel 6:21 (KJV)

I will play before the Lord.

Zechariah 8:5

The streets of the city
Shall be full of boys and girls
Playing in its streets.

Matthew 18:3
Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Romans 12:1

I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

3. I Just Wanted to Be Sure of You (Relational Balance)

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. Pooh replied, “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

Romans 12:18

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

It is better to have loved and lost that to have never loved at all.

4. United or Untied? (Spiritual Balance)

Psalm 86:11 (Note change in wording)

Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Unite my heart, so that I may honor you.

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.
–C.S. Lewis

If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Police Horse Barn

The boys and I drove down to the Omaha Police Barn this morning. Benjamin and the rest of the Tiger Cub Scouts had a great time learning about the Mounted Police Officers. The adults thought it was pretty cool too.

Benjamin and one of the Police Horses

One of the horses getting fed a well-deserved candy cane

I was in the Omaha World-Herald two times today--once on the front page and once in the religion section. I wish neither of these stories had to be written. A lot of people are still grieving and still trying to make sense of what happened on Wednesday.

Comments about coping with tragedy, pain, and grief.

Comments about worship on the Sunday following Wednesday.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Winning Chili Recipe

A few weeks ago The Water's Edge had its first Great Chili Cookoff. Congratulations to Steve Johnson for winning the first annual Great Chili Cook-Off. Steve is excited to share his winning recipe with all of us.

1 Pound Hot Italian Sausage – Ground
1 Can Bushes Chili Fixins – Medium
2 Cans Stewed Tomatoes with garlic
¾ Can Refried Beans
1 packet Taco Bell taco Seasoning
½ Cup Water
1 red bell pepper
1 small onion
Optional: 1 medium – large Jalapeno

Brown sausage, onion, pepper, seasoning mix, and optional Jalapeno. Add chili fixings, stewed tomatoes, water, and refried beans. Cook for 1 hour at medium heat. Cool and refrigerate overnight and put in crock pot on low heat for four hours before serving.

Benjamin and his Chili

Thursday, December 6, 2007


We got one of our first snows of the year. The boys and I did some sledding and lots of shoveling. Georgia always enjoys the cold weather. She especially likes the snow.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tragedy and Pain

I had just arrived at home with my six year old son, Benjamin, around 2:10 in the afternoon. Amber called me to make sure I was alright. She told me about what had happened at Westroads Mall. I turned the television on in disbelief.

Westroads Mall is a place where most of us who live in Omaha have been many times. It is generally a busy, fun place. Today it was only busy.

Jesus says life will not be perfect: "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." (John 16:33) People get cancer. Babies are neglected. Children are hungry. Airplanes are hijacked and crashed into buildings. People go into shopping malls and shoot people. Sometimes the world doesn't make any sense at all.

I spoke with a newspaper reporter earlier who was wondering about the church's response to an event such as this. One of his first questions was: "What do you say to somebody who is grieving?" My reply was something like: "Not a whole lot because there is not a whole lot that can be said." Listening seems to be a more appropriate response. I spoke with a man a short time ago was was grieving. "I'm so sorry" were the first words that came out of my mouth. Most of the rest of the time I just listened to his story. Hopefully, somehow he experienced the love and care of God during our conversation.

The reporter also asked me if I change what I talk about on Sunday morning. I thought about it for a few moments and said, "No." A few months ago we planned to do a worship series where we look at Christmas through the eyes of various people. The eyes of a man, the eyes of a woman, the eyes of a child, and the eyes of a retailer. Ironically, this Sunday is the Sunday I will speak about Christmas through the eyes of a retailer. During this time of year, retailers are extremely busy and face extra stress. I was going to use our time on Sunday morning to encourage all of us to make priorities and seek balance in our lives to help us manage the busyness and stress we face in life. The message doesn't change. It only becomes more passionate and more urgent. Many of us spent a little extra time tucking in our children tonight. We spent extra time with our loved ones. We spent time thinking about what is really important in life. If we could turn back the clock ten hours and make this event disappear, we would do so without thinking twice. But it has happened and all we can do is react. I pray one of our reactions is by focusing our lives and giving our best time and energy to the things that matter most.

Jesus continues his little speech: "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

So we take heart. God is with us. He is grieving with us. He wants nothing more than to comfort us. He gives us the gift of each other so we can make it through times such as this. We will never have all the answers. But we get something even better--the presence of God.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I Forgot

I woke up this morning around 5:30 and was on the trail running by 6:30. I forgot how much I love running early in the morning. It was dark when I started. The temperature was in the mid 30s and there was no wind. It was a perfect morning for a run. I saw plenty of deer, lots of birds, a few other early morning humans. I also got to see a great sunrise as I made it around the lake. I ran 8 miles in just under an hour. What a great way to start the day!

I pray we don't forget the simple joys of life.

Here are some pictures I forgot to post when I took my sabbatical from blogging.

Me and Benjamin at the Father / Son Cake Bake

David and his skeleton shirt

Benjamin during a hike at Platte River State Park

Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas Through the Eyes of a Retailer

This Sunday we start a new sermon series: Christmas Through the Eyes of...

We start off by looking at Christmas through the eyes of a retailer. Retailers are exceptionally busy during December. Many retail stores can do about 25% to 50% of their yearly sales in one month. Stress is obviously high. Certainly the long hours can make a retailer tired.

Did you see three words? Busy, stress, and tired. I don't think these traits are unique to retailers in December. Many of us deal with these daily. I also don't think these are words that God generally wants us to use to describe ourselves.

Here are some thoughts about busyness, stress, and being tired:

The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. -Stephen Covey

There's no sense talking about priorities. Priorities reveal themselves. We're all transparent against the face of the clock. -Eric Zorn

It's not stress that kills us. It is out reaction to it. -Hans Selye

He who runs behind a truck is exhaused; he who runs in front of a truck is tired.

A teenager is always too tired to hold a dishcloth, but never too tired to hold a phone.

Luke 10:38-42

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

You can help me write the sermon. How do we respond to stress in a way that is helpful? How do we not get so busy with unimportant things so we have time and energy for the things that are most important to us? How do we achieve balance in life?

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Here are the notes from my message this morning. Thanks to all who participated from Friday's blog:

All God Intended for You - A Message of Hope

The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their school work during stays in the city's hospitals. One day a teacher who was assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child. She took the child's name and room number and talked briefly with the child's regular class teacher. "We're studying nouns and adverbs in his class now," the regular teacher said, "and I'd be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn't fall too far behind."

The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, "I've been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs." When she left she felt she hadn't accomplished much.

But the next day, a nurse asked her, "What did you do to that boy?" The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize. "No, no," said the nurse. "You don't know what I mean. We've been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He's fighting back, responding to treatment. It's as though he's decided to live."

Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization. He expressed it this way: "They wouldn't send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?"

What would life look like without hope?

Have you been there before?


Have you been there before?
Are you there now?

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

We all find ourselves in the gutter from time to time, but some of us choose to never stop looking at the stars.

How do we, like the little boy, change our attitude and decide to live?
How do we never lose sight of the stars?

1. Open the Gift

October 8th 2007 – An ex-employee of an online clothing sales company in Japan expressed remorse in court for smashing 22 computers after learning his boss hadn't opened a gift. The 31-year-old man said he became angry when he discovered his gift hadn't been opened by the Osaka company's president, Asahi Shimbun reported. He pleaded guilty to charges of obstructing business with force. The defendant's attorney said the man was sorry for what he did and sought leniency from the court. Prosecutors said the man began working part-time in the company's shipping department in January and in July he gave a box of jellies as a thank-you gift to the president. His employer, apparently too busy, left the unopened box under his desk. When the man found out his gift had been set aside, he went on his workplace rampage, destroying the computers. While about a dozen people were in the office, no one was injured.

How would you feel if you gave somebody a gift and they failed to open?


How do you think God feels when He offers us a gift and we don’t accept it?


Like humans give each other toys and candy. God gives us gifts. Hope is one of them.

1 Corinthians 13:13

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

So hope is a gift from God and it ranks right up there with faith and love.

Hope is nothing we can earn.
Hope is nothing we deserve.
Hope is a gift God offers to us.
It’s on the house. Free. No charge.

Like the toy or the box of candy – all we can do is accept it or not accept it.

The Greek word for hope is Elpis.
It is used 54 times in the NT.
Elpis is the desire for some future good with the expectation of obtaining it. Elpis is the opposite of despair.
Elpis then is a gift from God of a better future that we can expect to acquire.

1 Timothy 1:1

This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, appointed by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus, who gives us hope.

Psalm 71:5

O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood

Genuine Biblical hope is not a concept but God.

I took a few polls this week and asked people what they hoped for. Here is what I got.

Things We Hope For

  • I hope my marriage lasts my whole life
  • I hope for the restoration of fractured or broken relationships.
  • I hope for a cessation of stress.
  • I hope I am successful as a parent and husband. I hope I leave a respectable legacy, and that the world is a better place because I was here.
  • I hope that my life can be characterized as "well done, good and faithful servant" at the end of my term on this planet. –Matthew 25:23
  • I hope for peace of mind.
  • I hope to be more understanding and accepting.
  • I hope to be understood and accepted.
  • I hope for happiness for myself, my family, and for others.
  • I hope to be a kid every once in awhile.
  • I hope for family safety as we have known a number of families who have not been so fortunate lately.
  • I hope I see my father again and he tells me he was proud to have me as a son. We didn't have time for that conversation before he died.
  • I hope at least one person can say I was a good person and they miss me.
  • I hope my children learned some life lessons from me so they can make their little part of the world a better place.
  • I hope humanity someday learns to stop destroying each other because of race, religion, and / or desire for power.
  • I hope that my work doesn't bore me.
  • I guess if there's one thing I hope for, one all-encompassing thing, it's that I hope I've done the right thing and that it's enough.
  • I hope that we would learn to value biblical success and not our current materialistic success.
  • I hope for physical and emotional health and wellness for my family and myself.
  • I hope to make amends with some people from my past.
  • At the end of the day I hope I am a great husband and a great dad. I also hope to make the world a better place.
  • I hope to grow in my relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything else will take care of itself when that happens.
  • I guess what I really hope for then is a mixture of clear purpose and contentment with whatever that purpose is. Maybe not even contentment, but excitement and joy.

Things God Hopes For His Children

  • That we love God
  • That we love others
  • That we don’t live in fear
  • That we experience joy
  • That we experience peace

Pretty much everybody I ask hopes the same thing for themselves as God hopes all of us. God is willing and able to give us what we most want and need.

So we open the gift. Next we need to…

2. Utilize the Gift

What if Benjamin opened the train, but didn’t play with it?
What if the executive opened the box of candy and threw it away?

One night at dinner a man, who had spent many summers in Maine, fascinated his companions by telling of his experiences in a little town named Flagstaff. The town was to be flooded, as part of a large lake for which a dam was being built. In the months before it was to be flooded, all improvements and repairs in the whole town were stopped. What was the use of painting a house if it were to be covered with water in six months? Why repair anything when the whole village was to be wiped out? So, week by week, the whole town became more and more bedraggled, more gone to seed, more woebegone. Then he added by way of explanation: "Where there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present."

And so it is with us. Where there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present.

What if we opened the gift of hope? What if we once saw some value in it and maybe even used it and benefited from it, but then we stopped using it? Even though we may be aware of the gift, maybe we aren’t using it.

Acts 27:20

The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone.

People can live about forty days without food
People can live about three days without water
People can live about eight minutes without air
But people can only truly live for one moment without hope. Despair sucks the life right out of us.

When we say a situation or a person is hopeless, what we are doing is slamming the door in the face of God.

Philippians 4:13

For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.

No problem is too big for God.
No opportunity is too big for God.

Hear the words of Jesus from

Mark 10:27

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

Think about this:

Hope never abandons you; you abandon it. -George Weinberg

God won’t abandon us. Hold on to God. Clutch on to God. Don’t let go.Remember that things can happen when we let God take the lead.It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of hope and strength.
Are you facing a great trial? Take heart. Put yourself in God's hands. Know that you are not the only imperfect person.

The Bible is full of imperfect people. Such examples are written for our consolation: for it is a great comfort to us to hear that great saints, who have the Spirit of God, also struggle. Those who say that saints do not sin would deprive us of this comfort.

Samson, David, and many other celebrated men full of the Holy Spirit fell into grievous sins.

Job and Jeremiah cursed the day of their birth;

Elijah and Jonah were weary of life and desired death.

No one has ever fallen so grievously that he may not rise again. Conversely, no one stands so firmly that he may not fall. If Peter and Paul and Barnabas fell, we too may fall. If they rose again, we too may rise again.

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying and kept on believing when there seemed to be no hope at all.

3. Enjoy the Gift

Hebrews 6:11

Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.

What will your life be like when your hopes come true?

Keep loving, keep hoping, and know that dreams come true.

4. Make Others Aware of the Gift

Self-made millionaire Eugene Lang, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get these predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him. Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. "Stay in school," he admonished, "and I'll help pay the college tuition for every one of you." At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. Said one student, "I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling." Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.

Romans 15:13

So I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Ice, Wedding, Football

Benjamin and I woke up around 7:00 a.m. and found the area to be covered in ice. It was beautiful. Thankfully it melted by noon.

I did a wedding at 2:00 p.m. They are both firemen. I guess she is probably more of a fireperson. Anyway, they rode away in a big red fire truck. Nice wedding.
I played a little wii golf with Cody at the church after the wedding. It was fun.
Benjamin and I watched college football tonight. This whole thing in crazy. This year is a poster child for a much needed playoff system. Hawaii and Kansas should play for the national championship.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I am talking about hope on Sunday morning. Hope is the desire for some future good with the expectation of obtaining it. Here are some thoughts about hope:

Hope is the dream of a soul awake. -French Proverb

Hope never abandons you; you abandon it. -George Weinberg

People can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but can only truly live for one moment without hope.

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark. -George Iles

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.

I am interested to know: what do you hope for? Let me know your first thought. Don't think about it too much. Just share your hope(s).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Root Canal

I walked into the dental office about 15 minutes early. Those of you who know me well know that is a small miracle. I made small talk with the receptionist for a while. She had a good Thanksgiving and ate too much. Like I said, it was small talk.

The root canal was surprisingly painless. The only painful part of the procedure was when I got my third of three shots to numb my mouth. I made small talk with the endodontist and his assistant. She talked about the Christmas lights across the street. He was looking forward to pheasant hunting in the snow. Both asked about the church. I was the first pastor they remember working on. I don't know if we all have good dental habits or what? They remember a priest from a few years ago. He made them call him "Father." I told them pretty much everybody calls me Craig except my mom (Ben -- long story), Amber (Tig -- another long story), and Benjamin (daddy). The drilling was kind of wierd. I think I'll wear an iPod if I ever need another root canal. Lots of money later, I was almost as good as new.

It was strange trying to eat with a numb mouth. I kept felt like I was spilling. I got feeling back in my mouth just after dinner. I am off now to floss and gargle some mouthwash.

In life as in teeth, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


My last marathon was rough on me. It took me a few weeks to truly recover. I am not nearly running as much or as fast. It seems more enjoyable that way. So the blog will be different until I get the urge to run another marathon. I'll just write whatever is on my mind. It may or may not involve running. I always welcome your comments and insights.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Twin Cities Marathon

You know when you get a sunburn during a marathon, you are in trouble. The marathon runner has three natural enemies: heat, hills, and humidity. All three were present on Sunday.

I woke up around 4:30 and watched the weather. The weatherman said it was the first time in the history of Minneapolis that the low temperature was in the 70s. The dew point was 69 degrees making the humidity near 100%. The sun was going to be out in full force as well. The race director said at the start that the temperature was 74 degrees. Ouch. It was like running a marathon on the 4th of July. It was a bit discouraging to train so hard for five months and then get bad weather (again!). But: the conditions are the same for all runners and I was ready to roll.

I was a little anxious about running the race. I have been busy the last few weeks and haven't had much time to train. But I had a great summer of training and a good 5K effort last week.

Overall, I loved the race. Great course, great volunteers, great organization, great finisher's shirt (long-sleeve technical), and great spectators (all 300,000 of them!). I will do this one again for sure.

I started off at a pace that I thought was very conservative -- about 6:30 per mile. The pace felt slow and I had to hold myself back a number of times. I kept that pace, or slightly faster or slightly slower for the first two-thirds of the race. This is one beautiful course. The spectators were all over the place. Rarely was there ever a time where people weren't cheering us on. At the half marathon I was sub 1:26. I was thinking 2:52 was a good possibility. Maybe a little faster or maybe a little slower.

I kept the 6:30 pace until 17 miles when all the sudden the bottom fell out. At this point I was still cooking along, passing lots of people, and running sub 6:30 miles. I took a Clif Shot at the 17 mile mark. The girl said it was strawberry. I took a big shot and discovered it was chocolate / coffee. I won't go into a ton of detail here, but I lost the Clif Shot and some blue Powerade that I had the previous mile within seconds of swallowing the Clif Shot. After that point I wasn't under 7:00 / mile the rest of the way.

At 20 miles I was so thirsty! The sun and the heat were oppressive. I stopped and drank an entire 20 ounce bottle of water. Not a good idea. It tasted better going down than it did coming back up a few moments later. At this point I don't think I ever dipped below 8:00 / mile. I was merely running to finish. The marathon got the best of me.

A friend Tracy was there at 21 miles. She ran (jogged slowly) with me for about a half mile. It was crazy. Runners were being carted off in ambulances (and these are runners in the top 100). I thought of quitting. The temperature was in the 80s and the conditions were getting dangerous. I didn't think about it for too long. A wife and two kids were at the finish line waiting for me. They have given up too much for me not to finish. People in the church were tracking me and praying for me. I didn't come to start the race, I came to finish.

I stopped at all the water stops the last few miles -- taking two bottles each time. One to drink and the other to dump on my head. I had to slow the pace down even more. The new goal was not to finish fast, only to finish.

I hooked up with this kid from Minneapolis the last few miles. He was walking when I passed him at 24.5 miles. I gave him one of my water bottles and told him, "Don't stop now. We are going to finish together." We ran (ok...jogged slowly) the rest of the way in with only one stop. I looked over at him at 25.5 miles and said, "Hey, wanna race?" He laughed so hard we had to stop.

I saw the family cheering at the end. I crossed the finish line in 3:05:58 -- my second slowest marathon. They didn't have a clergy division, so I only have overall results to post: 120th out of 10,500 runners. 7,221 runners managed to finish the race with an average time of 4:48:01. This marathon was absolutely brutal.

The volunteers at marathons continue to show me what it means to serve and love. A young woman massaged my calves and feet for about ten minutes. I didn't even want to get close to my own feet, but she did it with great joy.

I went back to my sisters and took a nap for a few hours. Her SUV was showing the temperature at 88 degrees. Ouch. I woke up and ate. It was good to have an appetite. Post race I didn't have one. Amber, the boys, and I drove back to Omaha and made it back around midnight. That 5:50 a.m. flight to Fayetteville was going to come early.

Of all the races I have run, this one is the one that means the most. That last hour was something that I won't forget. I remember taking to Brad on the cell phone post race and hearing the support of the church. Thanks so much to all of you for caring! I remember Benjamin running to hug me. I remember Amber saying she was proud of me. I can honestly say that I gave it everything I had this morning.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ikea and Food

The day before the marathon is one of my favorites because it involves lots of food. We woke up and ate pancakes courtesy of my sister Anne (I had six of them). After that Amber and I went to the Expo, picked up my race number, and bought a few things. Amber requested that we save plenty of time for a pilgrimage to Ikea. We started off with lunch. I ate 15 Swedish meatballs, three steamed potatoes, and a slice of pie. We made our way through the massive furniture store with thousands of other people and left the store with a couple hundred less dollars in our checking account. We made a pit stop at Cold Stone Creamery on the way back to my sisters. Hung out there for the rest of the night and enjoyed chicken, pasta, and apple crisp for supper. Finished the day by watching Nebraska get crushed by Missouri 41-6. Ouch.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


This morning I talked about messiness. You can listen to the message here.

o God loves the world.
o God is all-powerful.
o Terrible things happen in the world.

As followers of Jesus, we believe all three of these things are true. It is interesting that any of these two statements make sense when used with each other. Putting all three of these statements together makes no sense at all. The problem of evil is probably the greatest problem of the Christian faith.

Books have been written on the subject. The newspaper headline reads something like: “Teenage girl molested and beaten to death.” Details are on page three if you have the stomach to read them. Airplanes full of people are hijacked and crashed into buildings full of people. The young child in Africa has AIDS. He sits in crowded hut fighting off the bugs dreaming of some food as he slowly withers away. The couple is married with a few kids. They are overextended, overstressed, overwhelmed, and under loved.

Other religions try to answer the question of evil. Even people with no religion try to answer the question of evil. Their answers fall short of acceptable. I haven’t found that Christianity offers a grand theological explanation of how God can be loving and powerful and yet terrible things still happen. Christianity simply leads us to the cross, a picture of evil if there ever was one, and tells us that there is no evil that is so sinister and so ominous that God can’t find something good to come out of it. Know this: God loves you and the world can be a messy place. I pray that in our mess, instead of pulling away from God, that we draw closer to God. He wants to help.

No running today. Not much time.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


I woke up at 5:00 this morning, ate an Apricot Clif Bar, drank 32 ounces of Lemon-Lime Gatorade, and got my racing gear on. I hadn't raced since the 4th of July, so I had no idea what to expect. I picked up Kurt and we made it down to the starting line about 45 minutes early. We jogged about two miles for a warm-up.

Great morning for a race. It was a 5K (3.1 miles) on a very hilly course. Kurt and I ran most of the race together. Our first two miles were 5:32 and 5:36. Before the uphill sections started our pace was well below 5:30. The last 1.2 miles was all uphill (and parts of it were very steep) except a short section near the finish line that was flat. My third mile was a very cruel 6:05 and my last .12 miles was 36 seconds. Team ndorfnz finished first and second. I won overall in 17:50 and missed the course record by 2 seconds. I didn't know what the course record was until after the I probably would have dug a little deeper. But, just as well...the marathon is next Sunday and that is the race I have been training for for the last five months. I think third place was a few minutes back, so both Kurt and I ran well.

Shortly after I got home, Benjamin and I made our way in Lincoln to watch Nebraska and Iowa State play football. Before we left, I asked Benjamin if he wanted lunch. He replied, "No. I'll have stadium food." My reply was something like, "Let me make sure I have stadium money for your stadium food." We skipped lunch and enjoyed the ride down there with our friends Mark and Gary. It was a good game. Iowa State, fresh off a loss against national powerhouse Toledo, took a 10 point lead in the first half. Nebraska played pretty well the rest of the game and ended up winning.

Life is full of uphills. I climbed one for six minutes this morning. Nebraska had to climb up a hill this afternoon. Sport is a good metaphor for life. But in the grand scheme of things, the hill I climbed this morning and the hill Nebraska climbed this afternoon matter about the same -- not a whole bunch. Cancer patients are the true heroes. So are those who are overcoming learning disabilities. So are those whose heart has been broken and are trying to get well again. So is the single parent who works hard all day and then works even harder at night. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. So for all who are climbing, keep striving for the top and do your best to enjoy the journey on the way up.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Doing a Wedding With My Eyes Dilated

No running today. No time. Just as well. My legs will appreciate the rest as I have a race tomorrow.

I had lots of work to do this morning. Two friends and I flew to North Platte where I am getting Lasik surgery on Tuesday. It was a great day to fly. They always have fresh chocolate chip cookies at the North Platte airport. I had three of them.

I generally prefer going to the dentist more than I do the eye doctor. I don't know if that makes me weird or not. I don't mind reading charts, but I don't do well with the other tests. The doctor dilated my eyes as part of the tests. I couldn't read, the sun was about ten times as bright as usual, and everything was blurry. I slept on the flight home.

After we landed, I had an hour before a 5:00 wedding I was performing. My eyes just weren't recovering. I led the groom and his boys into the wedding. I looked down at my script and it was pretty blurry. Having dyslexia, I have enough trouble reading the way it is. I couldn't see enough to read. The wedding turned out great. I spontaneously prayed most of the prayers, didn't use my notes during the sermon, and stumbled through the Bible readings. I had the rest of the ceremony pretty much memorized as I have done about 20 weddings this year.

Despite the impaired vision of the pastor--the marriage is off to a good start. I pray for them years of faithfulness and fruitfulness.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I am not doing to good on my consistency with running lately. With the marathon only 10 days away I need rest, but I think I am pushing the envelope. Amber had to work early and then I had a busy day at the church. The day ended with a party at Benjamin's school with a country dance. Benjamin and Amber danced, I pushed David around in the baby jogger.

Dancing is interesting. It is usually a celebration. It is usually fun. Some people work really hard at it to do it well. Few people do it really well. Some people wear denim jeans and boots while others wear leotards and those little shoes that function a whole lot more like a sock. Some of us couldn't do it well if our lives depended on it.

The Bible says there is a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Nowhere in the Bible do we find a dance like David's dance when the Ark was moved to Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 6:14 says that David danced before the Lord with all his might. You wonder if a first grade student dancing with the mom that he loves gives us a glimpse of David's dance. A dance in God's eyes doesn't seem to have as much to do with technique or style as it does the heart of the dancer and a different kind of grace.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Kurt and I got one of our last workouts in before Twin Cities. 1.75 warm-up and cool-down. The workout was 6.5 miles of 400 meters at 5:30 pace followed by 400 meters of recovery at 7:00 pace. We were right on with the faster running and a little slow on the slower stuff. The heart rate was getting up to 160 on the faster running and would go down in the 130s on the slower running.

I did this same workout about a month ago with Christy. It seemed a lot easier than that it did today. And the weather could not have been anymore perfect today.

I was kind of getting worried after the workout. Maybe I am not in as good as shape as I thought. Maybe I trained too hard this summer and have slacked off too much in the last month. Maybe I shouldn't have eaten those ribs the other night. In the grand scheme of things, I guess it doesn't matter a whole lot.

Paul writes to the Philippians not to worry. It applies to us as well. But sometimes I think it is kind of like telling a woman with a bad cold not to sniffle or sneeze. We worry about life. We worry about death. Kids. Money. Not being able to have kids. Not having money. Relationships. Health. Not being fast enough. There seem to be as many things to worry about as there are things. But Paul says: Don't worry. (Philippians 4:6) Come to think of it, Jesus said it too. We shouldn't worry. It won't add a single day to our life. (Matthew 6:25-27)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My New Favorite Running Partner

I had a couple free hours this afternoon. I pushed David around the lake for an easy run that I was not able to fit into my schedule this morning and won't be able to fit into my schedule tonight. I think I got 100% smiles and hellos from people. We did about 8 miles in just under an hour. He slept most of the time. I guess I wasn't quite fast enough to excite him. This was our first run together and David is now my new official favorite running partner.

Monday, September 24, 2007


After Cub Scout Camp on Friday / Saturday and church stuff most of the day yesterday -- I had two days off from running and fresh legs. I ran easy with Christy and Kurt so I still have fresh legs. We kept it around 8 minutes a mile. Kurt and I are getting ready for our big showdown in 13 days and Christy is still getting better from her little episode of mono. I kept my average heart rate below 130, so my heart is strong and ready to race.

It was just a normal run today. Normal in a good kind of way. A little shorter and slower than usual, but with the usual partners. Sometimes normal is good. It is relaxing and familiar. Sometimes normal is not so good. Words like stressful and boring.

Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it. -Ellen Goodman

Strive for good normal.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pictures from The Water's Edge

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. are 6,000 words.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New Beginnings and Questions

No time to run today. I was at Millard West shortly after 7:00 this morning and left our small group about 8:00 tonight. It was our first morning at Millard West. What a great morning. We had over 300 adults and over 60 kids present. Mike Jasa was there too. Not sure which category he falls under. This is an incredible space for worship. Here is my column this morning:

New Beginnings

This morning is a morning of new beginnings. After one year we have outgrown our space at Russell Middle School. Our new beginning at Millard West will allow us to do many things different and better. Hopefully some things will stay the same. I am reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses—2 Corinthians 5:17—“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” As it is a new beginning for The Water’s Edge, it can be a new beginning for you as well. It is so exciting to know that a growing relationship with Jesus Christ allows us to learn from our past, accept forgiveness, live with a clean slate, and live with God’s power.


We begin our new series this morning: Questions for All Your Answers. I’ve learned in life that good questions are just as important as good answers. Maybe they are even more important. When God gets going, He doesn’t come up with answers to our questions, He has questions for our answers:

  • And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? –Matthew 16:26
  • Am I my brother’s keeper? –Genesis 4:9
  • If God is for us, who can be against us? –Romans 8:31
  • What must I do to inherit eternal life? –Luke 10:25
  • Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth, to bring an end to the night’s wickedness? –Job 38:13
For the next month or so, I invite you to join us for this series that you will hopefully find thought-provoking to our minds, challenging to our habits, and applicable to our everyday lives.


Our Connection’s Team leaders had an important meeting this week. They met about how we can better welcome guests and create enhanced surroundings for the development of community and spiritual growth. You will see many of the improvements in our environment this morning and look for more in the very near future. Thanks to all who lead in this area and to all those who wear the blue shirts on Sunday mornings. We have more blue shirts coming next week and can’t wait to give them away.

the best is yet to come...


Saturday, September 15, 2007


We got home from our family trip about 1:00 this morning. The boys were up and ready to go at 6:30 or so. Needless to say: not a whole lot of sleep going on. Amber works from 8:30 to 2:30 on Saturdays. Today I had to work from the moment she got home until about 7:00 or so. With our move to Millard West tomorrow, it has been a busy week.

I decided to miss the first quarter of the Nebraska - USC game and do a quick run around the lake.

I had a great run. I started off at about 6:30 per mile and picked it up from there. I love this cooler weather. For running anyway. Here were my splits.

Mile 1 - 6:29
Mile 2 - 6:28
Mile 3 - 6:14
Mile 4 - 6:11
Mile 5 - 6:07
Mile 6 - 6:06
Mile 7 - 5:58
Last .4 miles - 2:06 (5:15 pace)

I made it home to see that Nebraska was winning. From the moment I started watching to the time I feel asleep, they were outscored 42 to 7. Ouch.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Clay County Fair

The family and I woke up at my mom's house in northwest Iowa and were greeted by the coldest day of the year. We went to the Clay County Fair, a family tradition since 2000. Along with well over 300,000 other people (not bad for a city of about 10,000 people) we had a blast. Even in the cold -- 45 degrees and windy. Here are Benjamin and I riding the Farris Wheel.

We had a great day as far as eating goes. I had a pork tenderloin sandwich smothered with onions and mayonnaise, french fries, a root beer, a dozen Tom Thumb donuts, a few chocolate chip cookies, and an extra large Gyro before we hit the road.

Benjamin rode on a couple dozen rides. We checked out the cows, pigs, sheep, and horses. We also spent some time in the train place, walking through the exhibits, and seeing old friends. What a great day! David wasn't quite as thrilled as the rest of us, but he had fun too.

Not much running today. 7 miles easy in the cold.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why do I Run?

I run beacuse of mornings like this. Kurt, who is one of the best visually impaired runners in the country and an all around good guy, and I took off at Lake Zorinsky at 7:00 a.m. The weather was nearly perfect.
Kurt and I got 15.5 miles in in just over an hour and fifty minutes. Here is what we did:
1.75 mile warm-up in 15:02
1 x 3 miles at marathon pace. 18:48 (6:21-6:09-6:18)
1 mile recovery jog
2 x 800 meters (2:48 and 2:51) with half-mile recovery jog after each rep
1 x 3 miles at marathon pace. 18:41 (6:16-6:12-6:13)
1 mile recovery jog
2 x 800 meters (2:49 and 2:52) with half-mile recovery jog after each rep
1.75 mile cool-down in 14:16
It was an awesome run. It was tough, but good. It was one of those mornings where we pushed each other about as far and as fast as we could. After running this workout I am ready to take on the day.
That seems to be the point in life and running. Becoming the best that we can be with what God has given us.
Here is one of my two favorite future little marathoners:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Slow run around the lake this morning with Christy. Christy is a great runner -- she is running the Olympic Marathon Trials in April. She is also recovering from we ran slow. It was nice. We could talk easily and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings. One lap around the lake. 7.4 miles in about 58 minutes.

Sometimes in life it is best to go slow and enjoy the company and the surroundings.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Long Sleeves

I broke out a long sleeve top this morning. I haven't done that since April. I was a little tired from last night's run (I forgot about the little races within the run) and started very slow, but got things going after a few miles. My glasses kept fogging over when the wind was at my back. I can't wait to get Lasik surgery in a few weeks. Anyway, I started off at Zorinsky. I decided to hit the F Street Hills for about six miles. Back at Zorinsky I did 2 x 2 miles at marathon pace. 13.1 miles in 1:37.

Long sleeves protect us from cool weather. We all need long sleeves in life to protect us from the elements. Friends and family can be long sleeves. Preparation and planning can too. Good decision making and wisdom is another long sleeve. So is God.

Monday, September 10, 2007


My work schedule is little on the hectic side right now. We are trying to move from Russell Middle School to Millard West High School this coming weekend. A few details are involved. You all know how much I love details. Add my wife's always busy schedule, a first grade boy, and a 8 month old who just started crawling last week and doesn't like to sleep at night and all the sudden I find myself trying to find time to run.

Another perfect night for a run. 10 easy miles with Julia in 1:13:02. Mostly at Zorinsky. We ran up the quarter mile hill a couple times (I won once and she won once), raced up the steep dirt hill (I won), raced over the flat section of the little damn (she won), and ran (not raced) through the Reserve neighborhood (nice little houses there).

Julia is probably the most gifted runner I know. She is better at the shorter, fast stuff. I tend to be better over the long haul. I had fun racing her tonight. It was like two kids playing together.

Like praying, playing is something that is good for us, but we probably neglect it more than we should. It might be running, playing chess, pulling weeds, fixing a car, or about a million other things. God tells us to rest and to be still. I think what He is really telling us is to play, have fun, enjoy life.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


Happy first birthday to The Water's Edge today. We had a great birthday bash. You can listen to my sermon about risk.

Here was my column this morning:

As a father, one of my great joys in life has been watching my two sons grow up. At six years old, Benjamin is in first grade. He now has spelling tests and loves playing chess. It is hard to believe David is eight months old. He just started crawling last week which now provides many interruptions to the chess battles that Benjamin and I have. I enjoy this time in their lives and I know I will love watching them grow up.

It has been that way with The Water’s Edge as well. I remember the second Sunday. We maybe had 100 people here if you counted a few of us a few times. AJ was a one man band. Our volunteers were stretched way too thin. A year later, we have almost tripled in size, outgrown our worship space, and will be moving soon. Our band is like six or seven times bigger and will be moving with us. More people every week are discovering the joys of serving and being connected. Each week I hear stories from people whose lives are changing. I am so grateful for so many people.

Our Leadership Team has been at this for more than one year. In addition to your full-time jobs and families, you have made serving God through the local church a top priority in your lives. Most of all I am thankful for your friendship.
Our small group leaders, hosts, and participants who make a commitment each week to grow in the journey with Christ. Starting next week we will begin a small group emphasis. I encourage all of us to be part of a small group.
Our many people who serve on ministry teams. Without you, Sunday mornings @ The Water’s Edge would not be possible.
Our set-up and tear-down crew. Many of you are here at 9:00 on Sunday mornings and don’t leave until after noon. Your sweat on our behalf doesn’t go unnoticed.
To all who have invited guests. I am so grateful that you are sharing your faith.
To the band who plays every week. All of us are not only grateful for your music, but your commitment as well.
To our sound and media guys. You all do such a great job with the limited time and the challenging space that you have to work with.
To our new people. You are the reason why we are here.
To those who attend on Sunday mornings. I am always humbled by your presence. I pray our worship experiences have made you a better person and have moved you closer to God.
To all those who give, serve, and pray. You are the reason we are thriving.

I can’t wait to see what God is going to do during the next year with The Water’s Edge and with each of us.

Easy run tonight with Julia. Once around the lake. 7.4 miles in 55 minutes. We started in the light and finished in the dark. Great run to end a busy day.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Grace is a lot of things. One way to think of it is the surprise gift of good news. This morning was grace. Between 7:00 a.m. (I had baby duty before that) and 8:30 a.m. (when Amber leaves to work) -- I got to run. For some reason (this is where grace comes in) I was flying and it was easy. I ran once around the lake solo. 7.41 miles in 45:50. The weather was perfect. We'll call that grace as well. The boys and I had a blast this morning. I guess I'll chalk that up to grace as well. I was blessed to do the wedding of two great people this afternoon. That also was grace.

When grace comes all you can do is appreciate it and enjoy it. In the meantime, we can pray for more of it.

Friday, September 7, 2007


Christy is one of my regular running partners. She has been on the shelf with mono the last few weeks. It was great to run with her again! We did two laps at an easy, post-mono pace. Lots of laughing and talking about important stuff like which brand of bottled water tastes the best and whether dogs or horses make better pets. (In case you were wondering: Hy-Vee water is as good as it gets and dogs make better pets than horses.)

15 miles in 1:57.

God gives us each other. What a great gift!

Thursday, September 6, 2007


I was thinking about a wedding I am doing this weekend. I always tell couples who are engaged that love is better described as a verb than an adjective. It is something we do rather than a way that we feel. It is an action rather than a status of the heart. When we get married we promise to love when we feel like it and when we don't much feel like it at all -- for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.

Today I didn't feel like running. I drug myself out of bed and got my gear on. I elected to stay home with Benjamin and work on his first grade spelling words with him. I dropped him off at school and then made the short drive to the lake.

8 x 800 meter repeats in about 2:40 to 2:45 were the workout of the day. I warmed up a few miles and started doing the repeats on the north side of the west lake. It quickly became apparent that 2:45 was going to be pushing it. After two repeats and all the following repeats, I was ready to quit. I ended up doing all eight of them in the 2:45 to 2:50 range and felt miserable the entire time. The humidity and sun were both brutal.

On the bright side, I got it done and my day can only get better!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Easy runs are always my favorite runs. I ran an easy lap around the lake with Julia. We enjoyed the sunset, watching people, and our conversation. 7.38 miles in 52:55.

Sometimes the best things in life are simple.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Beautiful morning out. Miserable run. Even at a slow pace, I was breathing heavy. I had to make a couple bathroom stops, but the bathrooms were all closed. I cut my losses and just did the east lake. 4.45 miles in 35:02.

Sometimes in running and in life we have bad days. On those days let us press onward and have hope for a better tomorrow.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day

Enough people have asked when I am going to start blogging again. The Twin Cities Marathon is in less than five I thought this would be as good as time as any.

1 mile warm-up to the Millard West track. Repeats at marathon pace...

1 x 1K in 3:50 with 600 meters recovery
1 x 2K in 7:43 with 600 meters recovery
1 x 3K in 11:38 with 800 meters recovery
1 x 4K in 15:25 with 1000 meters recovery
1 x 5K in 19:30 with 1 mile cool-down back home.

13.2 miles in about 1:28.

Most of the warming-up, recovery, and cooling-down was around 7:30 to 8:00 per mile. The repeats were supposed to be at marathon pace, but I ended up being a little faster on the first three.I will definately do this workout again, but will probably do it at Zorinsky as running 11 miles on a track was a bit much. The Garmin 305 can easily switch from statute to metric. Lots of people at the track. Beautiful morning and one of the best workouts I have done all season.

The only place success comes before hard work is in the dictionary.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


The history of Israel begins—if it does not sound too impious—with a joke, a divine joke. God told Sarah that she and Abraham would have a baby. Sarah laughed because she was too old to do such a thing. God kept His promise. They named the child Isaac which in Hebrew means “laughter.” Isaac had a couple of kids and one of them was Jacob. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. The Hebrew reader understands that Laughter is the father of Israel.

Sarah and Abraham had plenty of hard knocks in their time, and there were plenty more of them still to come, but at that moment when the angel told them they'd better start dipping into their old age pensions for cash to build a nursery, the reason they laughed was that it suddenly dawned on them that the wildest dreams they'd ever had hadn't been half wild enough. The laughter of Abraham and Sarah at this joke was not so much a laughter of unbelief as of disbelief, as when we say "You can't be serious" or "You've got to be kidding." Yet it was a laughter that became the laughter of faith. Abraham and Sarah would be less inclined in the future to declare the impossible. And their laughter, in turn, would become the laughter of faith and hope for generations to follow.

The Bible is a collection of tragedies and comedies that ends as a comedy. A tragedy has finality and ends in despair. The Bible does not end in misery, but ends with a pronouncement of life, making it ultimately a book of comedy—the unforeseeable grace of God is given to an undeserving people. Humor happens because people are surprised at the benevolence of God and are offered an escape or a way out from tragic life into faith. Like Sarah and Abraham, Christians are often surprised by God's goodness. The Bible shows how the comic eye can stare directly into the face of death and still see the surging powers of life and laughter. People laugh at the comic overcoming the tragic: How can Donald Duck foresee that after being run over by a steamroller he will pick himself up on the other side as flat as a pancake for a few seconds but alive and squawking?

The connection between the tragic and the comic can be demonstrated in one short saying from Jesus Christ. "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). The first part, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens," is descriptive of the inevitable tragedy that is life. People live and die in pain. People are weary and carry heavy burdens. The second part, "and I will give you rest," is the comedy, the unforeseen joy given by the grace of God. Life is tragic, but God overwhelms tragedy with the comedy. Jesus says, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world" (John 16:33)

This Sunday we’ll celebrate the triumph of comedy; I hope to see you then!

This morning I ran with a pack of runners. I did 12 miles with Christy, Machelle, and Robert. Paul joined us for most of the run. We ran a few miles with Joanie, Tracy, and Kurt. Lots of comedy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Paul Valery once wrote something like: "Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, and their own content." I am thinking the same perils exist for runners.

No fire today and no animals that weren't aren't leashes. Our own content is always subject to inspection, introspection, and investigation. But this morning, the humidity was brutal. The air was 100% saturated with water. You know when you get out of the car and your glasses fog over -- that is not a good thing.

I ran with Christy and Machelle. We did a three mile warm-up followed by: 3 x 2 miles at marathon pace (6 minutes and 20 seconds per mile) with a half mile jog between reps. Our times were: 12:38, 12:39, and 12:36. We did a mile cool-down.

So here's the deal... Some things in life we can't change. We can either let those things distract us or deflate us or defeat us. Or we can just do our best and play with the hand that is dealt to us.

Monday, July 23, 2007


A number of people have been asking me for the modern translation of the Ten Commandments that I read in worship yesterday. I think this is the work of Barbara Brown-Taylor. Here they are:

One. You shall have no other gods before me...other gods cannot do anything for you. I am the one who brought you out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God, and you shall not give anyone else my place in your hearts.

Two. No more golden calves. You look silly bowing down to little statues that you yourselves have made, and besides, you don't need them. [They don't serve you.] You have me.

Three. Don't throw my name around. My name is a very personal thing, and the fact that you know mine at all is a sign of our closeness. Do not abuse the privilege.

Four. Keep the Sabbath, not for my sake but for yours. One day a week, stop working and remember that you are more than what you do.

Five. Honor your father and mother. Whatever job they did on you, they are your roots. Lose them and you will lose your place in the story.

Six. Don't murder. However dubious it may seem to you, all life is precious to me, including yours. Until you can make it, don't take it.

Seven. Don't mess around with marriage vows, your own or anyone else's. Sticking with one person is the best chance you have got of growing up.

Eight. Don't take what doesn't belong to you. Life may not be fair, but that doesn't mean that you [don't have] to be.

Nine. Don't give your word on things you know aren't true. Your word is as much a part of you as your arm or your leg. Twist it and you will limp. Why would you want to do that to yourself?

Ten. Don't fondle other people's things in your mind as if they were your own. You'll not only resent them for having things; you'll soon resent yourself for not having them too. Learn to want what you have and pretty soon you will have what you want.

It was a nice morning for a run. Lots of the kids from Millard West were out. I would pass them on the trail and then they would take the road less traveled and get ahead of me. I would pass them again on the trail until they would use their resourcefulness and mountaineering skills to exceed my raw talent and gritty determination.

Anyway, I ran 13.1 miles. Somebody left me a liter of cold water and a breakfast cookie on my car. Thanks to whoever it was!

In the evening I did the Giles hills from 168th Street to about 198th Street with Brad -- pound for pound one of the best hill runners around. Nice run tonight. Giles is a very hilly course and the gravel feels good on the feet. We finished in the dark, picked up Benjamin, and went to Sonic for some ice cream.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


We finished up our worship series: Games People Play with the game "Life". The premise is that God wants our lives to be fun, fulfilling, and fovever.

Read the Study Guide

Listen to the Sermon

I ran five miles with Machelle at 3:00 in the afternoon. At 95 degrees and sunny with no wind, the run was no too fun, kind of fulfilling, and seemed to take forever.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Quotes from George Sheehan -- runner, author, speaker, doctor, etc...

His book Running and Being is a classic.

  • Life is the great experiment. Each of us is an experiment of one-observer and subject-making choices, living with them, recording the effects.
  • Success rests in having the courage and endurance and, above all, the will to become the person you are, however peculiar that may be. Then you will be able to say, "I have found my hero and he is me."
  • Fitness has to be fun. If it is not play, there will be no fitness. Play, you see, is the process. Fitness is merely the product.
  • Listen to your body.
  • Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach.
  • There is no substitute for learning to live in our bodies. All the tests and all the machines in the world will fail if we do not first become good animals.
  • No matter how old I get, the race remains one of life's most rewarding experiences. My times become slower and slower, but the experience of the race is unchanged: each race a drama, each race a challenge, each race stretching me in one way or another, and each race telling me more about myself and others.
  • Play is where life lives.
  • Once you have decided that winning isn't everything, you become a winner.
  • Everyone is an athlete. The only difference is that some of us are in training, and some are not.

I had to run early today as I had a very busy day. Imagine that. Thanks to Robert and Machelle for being willing to start at 6:00 on a Saturday morning. We did 13 miles. 7.5 miles at Lake Zorinsky and 5.5 miles in the infamous F Street Hills. Will joined us in the F Street Hills. It was a near perfect morning for a run. 81.5 miles for the week.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Friday is the typical day for long runs. I met the typical suspects--Robert, Christy, Machelle, and Kurt--at the lake at 6:00 in the morning. We ran a 3.5 mile warm-up and then ran 6 x 1 mile repeats @ marathon pace (we were generally around 6:15 per mile) followed by 1 mile recovery runs around 8:00 per mile. The cool-down of 3.5 miles included the final recovery run. The run is tough because most workouts are either longer and slower or shorter and faster. This one is longer but one-third of it is run at a pretty fast pace.

In running, as a disciple, and in life--tough training makes you better.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I ran the normal run today with the normal people. Actually none of them are too normal. I guess I should have used the word "regular". 12 miles. Christy, Tracy, Machelle, and Robert. Lake Zorinsky.

I was reading Soren Kierkegaard last night. He is a brilliant man. He lived in Denmark which makes being brilliant even more rare. Here are some of his best quotes:
  • Be that self which one truly is.
  • The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.
  • At the bottom of enmity between strangers lies indifference.
  • Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
  • Never cease loving a person, and never give up hope for him, for even the prodigal son who had fallen most low, could still be saved; the bitterest enemy and also he who was your friend could again be your friend; love that has grown cold can kindle.
  • Do you not know that there comes a midnight hour when every one has to throw off his mask? Do you believe that life will always let itself be mocked? Do you think you can slip away a little before midnight in order to avoid this? Or are you not terrified by it? I have seen men in real life who so long deceived others that at last their true nature could not reveal itself;... In every man there is something which to a certain degree prevents him from becoming perfectly transparent to himself; and this may be the case in so high a degree, he may be so inexplicably woven into relationships of life which extend far beyond himself that he almost cannot reveal himself. But he who cannot reveal himself cannot love, and he who cannot love is the most unhappy man of all.
  • There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.
  • Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good.
  • To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself.
  • Once you label me, you negate me.
What do you think?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I did two runs today. The first was with Machelle. We ran 12 miles at Lake Zorinsky. It took us about 90 minutes or 7:30 per mile. Very nice run.

The second run was a little crazy. It was as close to extreme running that you will find in Nebraska. We ran on the trail at Schram Park, the hilliest place around. The temperature was at an even 100 degrees. We made 4 miles in about 35 minutes. The kid hung in there and finished the run.
I picked up Benjamin from Bible School and we met Brad and his mom at Culver's. Benjamin and I shared a ham and cheese sandwich, onion rings, cole slaw, and lots of custard.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sleep in Progress

I got to spend a little extra time with the boys today. I put David down for a nap. It was a beautiful thing.

I did a workout today. It started with a 3 mile warm-up. The workout was 10 x 1 minute at marathon pace (about 6:15 / mile) with a 1 minute recovery jog at Maureen's current 5K pace (about 7:45 / mile). We (Robert, Christy, and Machelle) rested for a few minutes and then repeated the 10 x 1 minute (hard / easy). We covered about three miles each time. 1 mile cool-down.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hot Air Balloon

Many of you have asked for the text of the parable I told about the hot air balloon yesterday. Here it is:

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.” The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41 degrees north altitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”

“You must be an engineer,” said the balloonist.

I am replied the woman, “How did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is, I’m still lost. Frankly you’ve not been much help to me at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.”
The woman below responded, “You must be in management.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist, “How did you know?”

“Well,” the woman said, “You don’t know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. That fact is, you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, you’ve managed to make it my fault.”

When we fail to see things from the perspective of others we will fail in our relationships.

How are you doing at seeing life from the perspective of others?

On the running front: I did an easy run with Christy and Machelle. Congratulations to Machelle who only stopped three times to go to the bathroom. We did 12 miles in about an hour and a half.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

You Must Be An Idiot!

We had a great worship experience this morning. I was amazed at how many people we had for a nice summer morning. I talked about how to deal with difficult people.



No running today. I took a very long nap in the afternoon. Benjamin and I started Vacation Bible School tonight. He is a student. I am helping lead the pre-school games.