Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Thousand Words



Training Update:
Perfect weather. The temperature was in the mid 40s and it was sunny. 8.5 miles at 6:20 per mile was the goal for the morning. It wasn't too difficult, for the most part. I was just a little fast on most miles, after starting at 6:31 for the first mile. I plan to bump it up to marathon race pace (6:20 per mile) for 10 or 11 miles in a few weeks.
I rowed on the Concept 2 for about 30 minutes in the evening.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Where I Run

Here are some pictures from Corey Collmann of the trail at Lake Zorinsky where I usually run. These are some nice photos taken about a week ago.





Training Update:
10 miles pretty easy at 7:30 per mile. At Lake Zorinsky.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Little Bit about a Lot of Things

I talked about faith today in church. You can listen here.

We had a bunch of new people over to our house after worship this morning. I always enjoy Starting Point because I get to know new people--something that is difficult to do on Sunday morning. I love listening to people's stories and hearing about their dreams in life. Today's group of people were excited about church and a fun group to hang out with.

It was boy's night tonight at the Finnestad's. Amber went out with some friends for a well-deserved night of fun. David, Benjamin, and I had lots of fun of our own playing and wrestling.

Speaking of playing, Nebraska looked awful last night in their football game. Even though the game was close at the end, Nebraska couldn't run the ball, missed tackles, and made lots of silly mistakes. Missouri on Saturday night. If Nebraska doesn't play better, this one will be scary.

Congratulations to occasional training partner and friend, Gary, for getting his Boston Qualifier this morning at the Omaha Marathon. Congratulations as well to regular training partner, Christy, for winning the Omaha Half Marathon this morning. Happy 40th Birthday to occasional training partner Dave. We won't be in the same age group for another year and a half!

A new world record was set this morning in the marathon in Berlin. Haile Gebrselassie ran an astounding 2:03:59. That's under 4:44 per mile for 26.2 miles. Crazy.

It was good to see Lonnie Gibson in church this morning. She and her family moved to San Antonio last summer. She was back in town for a wedding. Lonnie is a frequent reader and occasional contributor to this blog. We miss having her and the family around.

Training Update:

I gave the legs a rest today and worked out on the Concept 2 Rowing Machine.

15 minutes easy rowing.
25 minutes of 1 minute harder rowing with 2 minutes of easy rowing for recovery.
10 minutes easy rowing.

14000 meters total in one hour.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

2 Weddings in 60 minutes

I did two weddings today within 60 minutes and the two weddings were about 10 minutes apart. Both weddings were great and it was a privilege for me to be a part of both of them.

At both weddings I said something like this (I figured nobody would be at both weddings, so I had no problem repeating myself. Ironically, one other person was at both weddings!):

As of today, you are no longer two, but one. You come into your marriage relationship as individuals and you will not lose your identity, rather you will use your individuality to create and strengthen your marriage relationship.

Today you promise that you will love, honor, and comfort each other to the last of your days.

Today you promise that you will cherish each other and be faithful to each other always.

Today you promise that you will do these things not just when you feel like it – but for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health – even and especially when you don’t feel like it at all.

Today you give away part of your freedom.

Today you take on each other’s burdens.

Today you bind yourselves together in ways that are even more painful to unbind emotionally than they are to unbind legally.

What is it then that you get in return?

Not very much, but the one thing you get is really cool. You get each other.

Assuming you have any success at all in keeping these promises, you will never have to face the world quite alone again. There will always be the other to talk to, to listen to. If you are blessed, even after the first passion passes – you’ll still have a kindness and a patience to depend on and a chance to be patient and kind.
There will be someone to get through the night with, to wake the new day beside.

You will both have lives apart as well as life together.

But a marriage made in heaven is one where a man and a woman become more richly themselves together than the chances are either of them could have managed to become alone.


[The above verse was mostly written by Frederick Buechner]

To Brain and Lisa and Rob and Julie -- I pray for years and years of faithfulness and fruitfulness in your respective marriages.

Training update:

20 miles at 7:30 per mile with Chris, Dave, and Dave. We started at five thirty in the morning and finished two and a half hours later at eight o'clock. We hit Elmwood Park, Memorial Park, and the Keystone Trail. Great run with some great guys.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Faith

I'm talking about faith on Sunday morning. I had a great time researching this week and can't wait to share on Sunday. Here is some of the work:

What Christian faith is not:
  1. The ability to manipulate God. This approach only sees faith as having one aim -one fruit - a life of ease and blessing.
  2. The adherence to a set of beliefs. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed. 2 Timothy 1:12 (NIV)
  3. A blind leap into the dark. Reason is our soul's left hand, Faith her right. -John Donne

What Christian faith is:

  1. A biblical definition: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. -Hebrews 11:1-3 (NIV)
  2. A gift from God. And now these (gifts) three remain: faith, hope and love. -1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
  3. Faith is like radar that sees through the fog. -Corrie Ten Boom
What Christian faith means for us today:

Salvation


For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. -Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

Compassion


What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. -James 2:14-17 (NIV)

Power


“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” -Matthew 17:20 (NIV)

Faith makes things possible, not easy. -Unknown

Faith is raising the sail of our little boat until it is caught up in the soft winds above and picks up speed, not from anything within itself, but from the vast resources of the universe around us. -W. Ralph Ward

Faith enables persons to be persons because it lets God be God. -Carter Lindberg

Faith can move mountains, but don't be surprised if God hands you a shovel. -Unknown

Hope

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. -Hebrews 11:7 (NIV) and “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” -Genesis 8:1 (NIV)

A little faith will bring your soul to heaven, but a lot of faith will bring heaven to your soul.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase. -Martin Luther King Jr.

Training Update

Another bad bad. I don't know why, but I'm just not feeling it lately. And easy 8 this morning with Dave and Dave through Elmwood and Memorial Parks long before the sun came out. 59 minutes.

Kid's Update

David on the Mac

Benjamin getting ready 50s Day at School

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Revolution

I was reading about the American Revolution earlier this week. Here is some of the stuff I dug up:
  • "Gentlemen may cry peace peace—but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" -Patrick Henry
  • "I am well aware of the toll and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance." -John Adams
  • "America is ready to fight fifty years to win." -Benjamin Franklin
  • "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." -Nathan Hale
  • "I have not yet begun to fight!" -John Paul Jones
  • "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” -Thomas Paine
Easily some of the most powerful words ever written. It’s no wonder with people thinking like this that the British decided to hop in their boats and take their chances with a wooden boat, cloth sails, and the Atlantic Ocean. A few hundred years later the dream still exists.

A French historian named Alexis de Tocqueville described the challenges and opportunities of democracy, in general, and the United States, in particular. 175 years ago he wrote: “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”

Now consider your life. The early Americans wanted something better. And they were going to do whatever it took to improve their lives. I think our situation in life is much like the Revolutionaries.

We have faults. We want something better. Greatness comes when we repair our faults. For the last two weeks and in the next two weeks we are talking about personal revolution. We have been talking how to take our life from 211 degrees to 212 degrees. In the way that we think, in what we believe, and how we act. We can and will change the world one person at a time. Do something big today. If you aren’t able to do something big, then do something small. Dream a big dream. Take a risk. Help somebody. Open the Bible. Join a serving team. Say a prayer. Fail and get back up and try again until you succeed. Life is too short to settle for anything less.

Sunday morning I’m talking about faith. In the vernacular faith has come to mean something like believing in God. But in the Bible I think it means something a little different. Something like: Believing that God believes in me. God believes in you. Don’t settle for good when great is right around the corner!

Training update:

I had a YMCA Board of Directors meeting this morning. Christy was kind enough to delay our start until later than usual. We paid for it as it was getting warm and sunny out.

2 mile warm-up

3 x 2 miles at 6:15 per mile. We were pretty much right on the whole time. 800 meters jogging between reps.

3.25 mile cool-down which is probably more accurately described as a slow run back to our cars with pit stops at every water fountain. 12.25 miles total.

Benjamin is home sick today. I get to stay home and take care of him.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Parenting

I have been thinking a lot about parenting lately. I have one chance with the boys.

A general observation:
  • Bad parents can produce good kids.
  • Good parents can produce not-so-good kids.
But they seem to be the exception and not the rule.

Another observation:

We receive so much training in life for stuff: our jobs, etc...But we receive very little training for our most important roles in life: being a spouse and being a parent. Most of us would do well to read books or take a class or seek some mentoring from others on such things.

Anyway, here is what I have been thinking about the past couple days. A few generations ago, our culture was relationship rich and experience poor. What I mean is that in previous generations there weren't a million opportunities to play lacrosse and dance and learn tae kwon do and play baseball 12 months a year. We just spent a lot of time together and focused on relationships. Today, we cart our kids around from soccer to cheerleading to piano lessons. Lots of experiences, but not a whole lot of relationships. Unless you count the time stuck in traffic.

The solution is not to take the kids out of all activities and start spending serious time with them. It is probably more along the lines of balance (See yesterday's post on balance for more details). Find a balance of experience and relationship. Experience is not bad. Too much experience is bad when it affects relationship.

Become involved in their experience. Let them be part of yours. Say "no" to things that aren't essential and create healthy environments where relationships can be nurtured.

Training update:

This morning's run was painful, especially the first mile. My hamstrings were like a tight rubber band. I got warmed-up after a while. I ran easy for an hour. About 8 miles. On the bright side, it was a beautiful morning. Lots of fog.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Overdoing It

Ouch. I woke up this morning and both my hamstrings had the elasticity of a 2 x 4. The culprit: The Bosu Ball. Or was I the culprit?


I had this brilliant idea that I would integrate some circuit training into my marathon training program to be a more well-rounded athlete. At least it sounded like a good idea.
Yesterday's circuit was something like: 100 single-unders (jump rope), 15 bicep curls with a 45 pound bar on the flat side of the Bosu, 15 squats with the 45 pound bar on the flat side of the Bosu, 15 military presses with the 45 pound bar on the flat side of the Bosu, 15 tricep dips with a 35 pound plate, 100 bicycle crunches, 15 push-ups with my feet on a medicine ball and my hands on the flat side of the Bosu, and 100 single-unders without any rest. Rest for 3 minutes. x3
I guess I overdid it. The squats were the worst. They didn't really hurt at the time, but they are hurting bad today.
That is a something all of us can do from time to time -- overdoing it. We overreact, get angry, get obsessed, can't see the forest because we are too busy looking at the trees. It seems simple enough that for every action we have at least an equal and opposite reaction. If one is good, two must be better. And three is better than two.
In a bit of irony, Bosu is all about balance. The same little half-ball that almost finished me off yesterday is all about balance.
Balance is a much better option that overreacting. Balance in life is what we need. Sometimes, two is greater than three and one is even better than two. Words like gradual, progress, process, patience, boundaries, etc...are all helpful.
I pray for balance for all of us. I pray we can respond to life in a way that is healthy and sustainable.
Today's training: A one hour run on the treadmill. I started off slow: 6.5 mph for 10 minutes. It is all my tight legs could handle. Once I got warmed up I was fine. Between 20 minutes and 50 minutes I was rolling between 8.5 mph and 9.5 mph. I slowed down the last 10 minutes. 7.61 miles total.
I saw a bunch of friends and people from the church during my time at the YMCA, so that was good and it always makes the time go faster.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Grind

(gr─źnd)

transitive verb ground, grind′·ing

1. to sharpen, shape, or smooth by friction

Tonight's run was nothing short of grinding out the miles. It rained all morning. It was too hot in the afternoon. I didn't want to run on a treadmill. I had excuses all day long. But I knew I needed to run. It's one of those: "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare" things. I usually run before most people wake up. Tonight I ran after most people go to bed.

It was a miserable run. It was all on concrete in my neighborhood which means it was all on the hills as well. It was muggy and warm for ten o'clock at night. I didn't really even enjoy the run - which is pretty rare for me. I was just grinding out the miles. It only felt good when I stopped an hour after I started: about 8 miles or so. One thing that I have always said about running is that it is just like beating your head against the wall, it feels best the moment you stop doing it.

Sometimes life is a grind. Lots of friction. Not easy or enjoyable. Tough. But, grinding serves a purpose: to sharpen, shape, or smooth. Know that when life gets tough and seems like a grind: you are being transformed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Be Kind

I told a story in my sermon this morning about Benjamin approaching approaching a first grade boy yesterday who was sitting by himself. The conversation went something like this:

BF (Benjamin Finnestad): You look sad.
LB (Little Boy): I am.
BF: What's a matter?
LB: Nobody wants to play with me.
BF: You can play with me.
LB: Really?
BF: Yeah.

The boys started playing. As I watched the little laugh and smile, I looked at my own son and realized that I don't think I have ever been as proud of him as I was at that moment.

When the American novelist, Henry James, was saying goodbye once to his young nephew Billy, his brother William’s son, he said something that the boy never forgot. Of all the things he might have said, what the old novelist did say was this, “There are three things that are important in human life — the first, is to be kind; the second, is to be kind; the third, is to be kind.”

So to all who read this, my prayer for you is that you will be kind.

Listen to my message on kindness from this morning.

The only time I had to run was late this evening. I'm not much of an evening runner. I'm more of an evening sleeper. My legs, heart, and lungs were kind to me. My stomach was not! Anyway...for those of you following along...here it is:

I jogged to the Millard West track and did 1K, 2K, 3K, and 4K at a goal of 3:50 per 1,000 meters (6:10 / mile). I'll add a 5K in a couple weeks.

1K - 3:48 (6:07 pace)
600 jog
2K - 7:39 (6:07 pace)
600 jog
3K - 11:23 (6:05 pace)
800 jog
4K - 15:15 (6:07 pace)

2 mile cool-down back home. 11.5 miles total.

Congratulations to my training partner, Christy, who won the Corporate Cup this morning. Great job!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Camp Fire

"One can enjoy a wood fire worthily only when he warms his thoughts by it as well as his hands and feet." ~Odell Shepherd


This weekend was a Cub Scout camping weekend for Benjamin and me. Lots of fun: GPS hiking, ultimate frisbee, good food, learning, friends, sleeping in a tent, great weather, etc...
The highlight of the weekend for us was the campfire. We brought a lighter, some starter logs, and lots of wood. About nine o'clock in the evening, we started our campfire. Within minutes the fire was roaring. It was amazing to see the world through the eyes of seven year old. He loved the campfire. It's almost as no video games or television shows ever existed. The campfire was the center of the universe. When it started to go down, Benjamin would throw a new log on the fire. If a spark would spill out of the pit, he would put out the fire and save the forest. He collected leaves and twigs and burned them. We talked next to the warmth of the fire. We cooked some bratwurst and marshmallows. As the fire started to go out, he sat on my lap as we talked some more.
The best two hours of my week! No question about it.
No running today unless you count a couple miles of chasing kids around.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Dark

I woke up around 4:00 this morning. I was planning on doing a long run, so I just decided to stay up and go for it. I parked at some friend's house near Zorinsky (because cars parked at Zorinsky at 4:45 in the morning have a good chance of being broke into) and started off. The moon was pretty full and it lit the trail nicely. It was interesting, on the tree covered areas of the west side, it was very dark. Running in the dark isn't much fun and it can be dangerous.

I wonder if life isn't like that as well sometimes. Like running down a dark trail. Sometimes we do it because we have to. Other times we do it because of choices that we have made that give us no choice but to run down the dark trail. We all know that darkness in life isn't a whole lot of fun and danger is not good.

Around 6:30 it started to get light out. The sunrise over the lake was beautiful. My third and final lap around the lake I could see the deer, the turtles, the turkeys, a few bicyclists, the lake, and even a few obstacles on the path that I somehow managed to avoid during my first two passes.

Jesus says that he is the light of the world:

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life. -John 8:12

I know in our dark world, Jesus wants to be our light. He invites us to follow him.

22.16 miles in 2:36:56. An average of 7:05 per mile. The first 18 miles were easy running. The last 4 miles were at marathon race pace.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thoughts on Kindness

This Sunday I’m talking about kindness. My mind when back into history about 25 years.

When the American novelist, Henry James, was saying goodbye once to his young nephew Billy, his brother William’s son, he said something that the boy never forgot. Of all the things he might have said, what the old novelist did say was this, “There are three things that are important in human life — the first, is to be kind; the second, is to be kind; the third, is to be kind.”

Be kind enough to ourselves, not just to play it safe with our life for your own sakes, but to spend at least part of our lives like a motorcycle jumper or a deep sea diver, for God’s sake, if you believe in God — or, for the world’s sake, if you believe in the world. And that’s to come alive truly. Be kind enough to others, to listen beneath the words they speak for that usually unspoken hunger for kindness that is part of all of us, because by listening to it and cherishing it, maybe we can help bring it to birth, both in ourselves and in the world.

Be kind today, tomorrow, and forever.

In Christ,

Craig

[Thanks to Frederick Buechner for much of the above insight]

Training:

2 mile warm-up.

Then 4 x 3 minutes faster running followed by 4 minutes of recovery running.

3 mile cool-down.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Research on Kindness

What is Kindness?

Hebrew: “chesed” which means loving.
Greek: "chrestotes" which means gracious.

Put them all together: Kindness is caring enough about others that we treat them with love and grace.

Kindness is a gift from God

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! –Galatians 5:22-23

Kindness is not an action; kindness is an attitude.

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. –Proverbs 3:3

Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts another person.

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” -Mother Teresa

Be kind today

I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” –Stephan Grellet

So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return. -Matthew 25:13

Kindness will change you

Your kindness will reward you. –Proverbs 11:17

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Kindness is never wasted. If it has no effect on the recipient, at least it benefits the bestower.

Kindness will change the world

Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. –Scott Adams

Your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people. –Philemon 1:7

Kindness is not an attribute of the weak; it is a sign of strength.

Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair but manifestations of strength and resolution. –Kahlil Gibran

One day David asked, “Is anyone in Saul’s family still alive—anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” -2 Samuel 9:1

Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind

I must be cruel only to be kind. –Shakespeare, from Hamlet

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. -Hebrews 12:11

Kindness is oblivious

And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to show kindness, and to walk humbly with God? –Micah 6:8

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the and the blind can see” –Mark Twain

Be generous with kindly words, especially about those who are absent. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Kindness is loving people more than they deserve. -Joseph Joubert

Be kind to unkind people - they need kindness the most.

If you are not kind, try being nice.


We can be made kind by being kind. –Eric Hoffer


Training: 7.62 miles pretty easy in about 52 minutes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

David in Pictures

I dressed David this morning and thought he was a little cuter than normal. I thought I would share a few photos with you.



In addition to snapping a few pictures of David, I ran 9 miles easy in the morning with an adult friend whose name is also David and I pushed David and Benjamin 5.5 in the evening.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Odds and Ends

Yesterday I spoke about attitude. It was an interesting sermon to write. The Bible verses and research I did challenged me in a good way. Hopefully my attitude will improve!

One of the things I talked about was that our attitude is our choice. One of the things that helps me when I am struggling is to write a list of the things I am thankful for. This simple exercise seems to put everything in perspective. I encourage you to give it a try! Here is what I came up with yesterday morning (not in any particular order):
  1. The Water’s Edge is two years old. God has used this ministry to connect people to each other and to connect people to God. I am grateful to be part of what God is doing.
  2. My family. Amber, Benjamin, and David.
  3. A nice place to live. Good food to eat.
  4. Seinfeld reruns.
  5. I work with great group of leaders and servants.
  6. I get to run marathons all over the country.
  7. The Bible.
  8. Fall is my favorite time of year.
  9. A big dog who thinks I am the greatest thing since canned dogged food.
  10. Great friends.

We had our first Cub Scout meeting at our house tonight. Benjamin is a Wolf this year and I'm the leader. We set our schedule, went over the upcoming year, and then went and cleaned the park across the street from our house.

I started off the day running with Christy. Nice run this morning. The temperature was in the mid-40s, sunny, and no wind. Perfect! We did 12 miles. 4 mile warm-up. 3 miles at 6:30 per mile. 1 mile of jogging for recovery. Gatorade stop. Lost the shirt. 2 miles at 6:00 per mile. 2 mile cool-down.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

2nd Birthday

It was our 2nd birthday this morning at The Water's Edge. We celebrated with about 350 adults and 75 children present. We have come a long way in 2 years!

Note: We are having trouble with our audio of the sermon. We usually post it on Sunday. If we are able to post the message, it will happen on Tuesday. Also, hopefully we'll get some pictures up in the near future.

Here is my column from this morning:

It’s hard to believe that we are celebrating our second birthday this morning. How time flies when you are having fun. Since we launched worship on September 10, 2006, Nebraska has a new football coach, most of our houses have dropped in value, gas prices are a lot higher, Sarah Palin has become a household name, people were shot at the Westroads Mall, Amber and I had a baby, AJ has come out with a CD, the war continues in Iraq, and so on and so on.

A lot has changed at The Water’s Edge as well. We have met in three different schools. There are a lot more of us now. We have new small groups and ministry teams. We have collected thousands of pounds of food for the hungry and have given away thousands of bottles of water to the thirsty.

In our short time together we have seen dozens of babies born, dozens of baptisms, and dozens of new members. People have had the opportunities to care for each other and be cared for. People have met new friends and deepened existing friendships. Some of us have struggled in various areas of our lives. Others have flourished in many areas of their lives. Many of us have done a little of both.

The church is about God. It is about God sharing his word, his dreams, and his love to his people. The church is about people as well. You have probably heard me say that people are what are most important to God. The church is God’s people loving God, doing life together, chasing dreams, and serving the world.

I remember back to those second and third weeks at Russell Middle School. I wondered if we were going to make it. We were very small in numbers and had many tired and overworked volunteers. But God kept adding to our numbers. One of the most exciting things for me as a pastor is when people share with me how they are growing in their relationship with God. I have been blessed to hear many of those stories of the past two years.

I can’t wait to see where God has us in two more years and what he is doing through us. I am excited to deepen existing friendships I have with many of you, develop friendships with others, and welcome the new people God will send our way.

In Christ,

Craig

Today's workout:

I managed to squeeze in a run this afternoon with Samantha, at sophomore at Gretna High School. She won her race yesterday and was looking for a workout to help her improve. I enjoy running faster and helping people reach their goals, so here is what we did:

1 mile warm-up
1 mile in 5:50
800 meters jogging
400 meters in 72 seconds
2 minutes rest
400 meters in 72 seconds (uphill and against the wind)
800 meters cool-down

She is a gifted young runner and is as tough as a steak from Denny's. It will be fun watching her compete in the future.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Youth Soccer and Nebraska Football

Busy day today. It started off with a run around the lake around 6:00 a.m. I did the 7.38 miles in just over 45 minutes - about 6:10 per mile. Sticky morning out. Lots of good sweat. I got Benjamin and David loaded up and took them to Benjamin's soccer game. Benjamin played hard and had fun. David wished he was a few years older and was playing as well.


After the soccer game, Benjamin and I went to the Nebraska vs. New Mexico State football game in Lincoln. Benjamin had fun at the pre-game festivities at the Pavilion. Nebraska played great. We saw lots of friends at the game and had a great time on a great night for college football. Thanks to our friend Jerry for the tickets and for hanging out with us all day (and night).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Nutrition

Every runner needs good nutrition. There is no better place to find calories than the Clay County Fair. We made our yearly pilgrimage to the fair today. I was a pastor for three years in Spencer, the city where the fair is located. We spent last night at mom's house. Today--Amber, the boys, and I spent the day looking at farm animals, riding rides, talking to old friends, looking through RVs, buying stuff, and eating some of the best food on the planet! What a great way to spend the day!



No running today. Lots of walking and carbohydrate loading. Here is a rough estimate of what I ate:
  • A half a rack of ribs
  • A nutty ice cream bar
  • A pork tenderloin sandwich
  • Part of a turkey leg (Benjamin ate most of it)
  • A bag of Tom Thumb donuts
  • An 8 inch Amana sausage with sauerkraut
  • Some green pepper rings
  • A root beer float

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rain

Christy and I had a workout planned this morning. The weather wasn't really cooperating. When we got out of our cars at 7:00 it started raining. Within minutes it was raining really hard. It kept coming down and kept coming down. By the time our 2.5 mile warm-up was complete, we were soaked!

The workout was 5 x 1 mile starting at 6:15 per mile and working our way down to under 6:00 for the last mile. Each faster mile was followed by a recovery mile of about 7:30 or so. The trail was flooded on part of the section where we were running. Our shoes we soaked. We would wring out our hats after each rep. We got it done and ran well. Our 3 mile cool-down was water-logged. 15.5 miles total for the morning.

Life is full of rain storms. Obstacles that get in our way from helping us achieve our dreams, goals, objectives, etc... We all know that life isn't easy. But, it can be rewarding. Some of the most rewarding times in life are when we made it through the rain. (Oh my gosh...I think I just plagiarized the words from a Barry Manilow song!)

Don't let rain, circumstance, things you can't control, a little bad luck, define who you become. With God's help, that is your job!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Research on Attitude

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes. –Charles Swindoll

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. –Ephesians 4:21-24

A miserable heart means a miserable life; a cheerful heart fills the day with song. –Proverbs 15:15

The Prayer of Serenity

God grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. -Reinhold Niebuhr

Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude. –William James

I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. –James Dean

Our attitude toward life determines life's attitude towards us. –John Mitchell
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. –Winston Churchill


Take charge of your attitude. Don't let someone else choose it for you. –Unknown

Abundance is, in large part, an attitude. –Sue Patton

What are your thoughts on attitude?

Training Update: No time to run today. Too busy doing stuff with the church and kdis. My legs enjoyed the day off.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Burdens

During my run this evening, I pushed the boys in our jogging stroller. One of my favorite activities with two of my favorite people. It was a perfect night for a run too!

Benjamin is about 65 pounds or so. I'm putting David at about 25 pounds. Running 5.5 miles isn't exceptionally difficult, but it becomes much more difficult pushing 90 pounds of kids. The extra weight doesn't matter on the downhills: I just hold on tight with one hand on the brake. Since the stroller is pretty high tech and ergonomic, the level ground is a little tougher, but more doable. Pushing the kids up a hill is nothing short of an intense workout!

I think life is kind of like pushing a few kids in a stroller. The extra baggage that we carry can make life much more difficult. We carry burdens like unforgiveness, worry, frustrations, fear, brokenness, anger, anxiety, etc... These burdens slow us down. We can't go as far when carrying them. God doesn't intend for us to hold on to these burdens all by ourselves.

He desires two things:
  1. Share each other's burdens. -Galatians 6:2
  2. Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28
I hope we can support each, be supported by others, and turn our junk over to God.

I ran without pushing the boys in the morning -- 10 miles with Christy: 3 miles warming up, 5 miles at marathon pace (about 31 minutes), and 2 miles cooling down. Nice and chilly with no wind. Perfect morning for a run.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Yes, I Gave My Medal Away

Yesterday during worship I spoke about economics. I spoke about it because Jesus had a lot to say on the subject as well. In fact, Jesus spoke more about money than anything and everything else.

At the end of the message, I wanted to give something away that I owned that was of value to me that would be of greater value to somebody else. I thought about what was most valuable to me. I didn't think it would be right to give the boys away. I have lots of books and Bibles that mean a lot to me, but I could always just get new ones. I looked on my mirror in our bedroom and saw a bunch of medals hanging on the sides. Of those, one has more value than all the rest of them combined -- my medal from the 2007 Boston Marathon. It was the first time I ran the race. It was something I always wanted to do. It was my dream coming true. So I took the medal down, put it in the computer bag, and took it to the high school where we worship.

Before the message, I went up to a young woman who is a freshman in high school. I asked her if I could give her something that was of great value to me. She was a little shy, but agreed to accept the gift. At the end of the message I explained what the medal meant to me and then I gave it to her. She put the medal around her neck and seemed to enjoy the gift. I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was something like this:

I hope you will put this medal in a place where you can see it. It's not about a pastor finishing a marathon. It's about a dream coming true. I hope when you see this medal in the future you realize that with some hard work and some faith, that your dreams in life can come true.

The rest of the story: As I was going to bed last night I looked up at the mirror and saw the medals. I didn't notice the medal was gone as there was still a bunch of medals there.

If this young woman just looks at it one time and has a partial understanding that her dreams can come true in life -- this medal is in a much better home right now.

So now I'm going back to Boston in 2009 to get another medal. It won't ever make it to my mirror though because I'll be giving this one away too.

Today's workout on the way to Boston 2009 was 6 miles very easy on a treadmill. It was raining pretty hard outside and I didn't have time for any more.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Back to School: Home Ec

Here is the message from today.

Listen here

Here are some of the Scripture verses, quotes, and a few of my thoughts.


Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. -Matthew 6:19

It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly. -Henry David Thoreau

Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. -Matthew 6:20

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. -Matthew 6:21

Jesus never said that this world is unimportant. What is says is this:

When we put most of our thoughts, time, energy, and resources and when we set our hearts on the things of the earth., then we have little interest in anything beyond this world. That makes it very difficult to die.

When our thoughts, time, energy, and resources are on loving God and loving those God loves, the end of life is a time of gladness because at last we get to see God face to face.

Two ways we see the world:

1. World = Paradise
2. World = Preparing for paradise


No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. -Mathew 6:24

The biggest competition God has in the world is money

So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. -Joshua 24:14-15

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. -1 Timothy 6:10

What we try to do in life is fill our hearts with attachments and possessions and power and things. And our hearts remain empty because there is a place in our heart that can only be filled by the love of God.

Hear this:

I want to be clear…

Having wealth and money and stuff and things and possessions is not a sin; it is a responsibility.

Challenge:

Material wealth is not a sin; it is a responsibility.

It is not a matter for congratulations; it is a matter of prayer that we would use our wealth as God would have us do.

A lesson I have learned in life:

There are people who use up their entire lives making money so they can enjoy the lives they have entirely used up.


What I’m saying is that when we use all our time, energy, talents making and storing money – we are missing the point of life.

Life is about

Loving and being loved
Serving
Laughing
Giving
Praying
Worshipping
Caring
Sharing


A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit. -Elton Trueblood

Invite

Sarah changed my life forever. It was 18 years ago that she invited me to go to a meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Drake University. I liked her and trusted her. I wasn’t sure about the whole God thing. But I thought I would give the FCA a try. Being an introvert, it was a little awkward. Especially, at first. The people were nice enough. The lesson we learned was helpful. I had fun. I decided to go back. And then went back again. A few months later, I embraced that God created me and loved me. It was a simple invitation by a simple person to an even more simple person. I think about how my life changed because of Sarah.

There are some things you need to know about Sarah:
  • She wasn’t a super psycho Jesus freak. She simply was growing in her journey with God and genuinely cared about me.
  • She didn’t know everything about the Bible or theology or the church. She just invited me and let me decide for myself.
  • She wasn’t pushy or high pressure.
  • My life is different now. It’s much better as well. Not perfect. Not without set-backs. Not without questions. But it is different and better. Thanks to a simple invitation.

I encourage you to be:

  • An inviter.
  • A seed planter.
  • A fire starter.
  • A hope peddler.
  • A grace giver.
  • A risk taker.
  • A dream builder.
Think about somebody you know that isn’t connected to a local church. Make a simple invitation. Invite a guest here. The person may say a simple, “No thanks.” But you may get a “yes” and that “yes” may change somebody’s life forever - all because you were faithful!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) This is Labor Day Weekend. Some consider it the official end of summer. Some go on trips or make an extra effort to see family. Certainly less people will be here this morning. Others get lots of work done around the house. Some of us will watch football, go swimming, play golf, cook outside, and watch the parade.

Most of us wouldn't consider ourselves overly rested. Our jobs keep us busy. So do our families and our friends. Then there is paying bills, grocery shopping, hobbies, church, fitness, household management, and dozens of other things. We aren't an overly rested population. Just check around and notice how many people are yawning. Here is one of the top young preachers in Methodism, maybe even God's entire Church, and people are so tired that they yawn. Seriously, this one life that God gives us is right in front of us and some of us are too tired to live it much less enjoy it.

I pray that this weekend is a time when you can go to God, give Him your burdens and tiredness, and accept his rest. More important, I pray you can find small nuggets of time each day and a good part of one day each week where you allow God to replenish your soul, mind, and body.