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.