Saturday, January 31, 2009


Our normal Saturday morning group is about 5 or 6 runners. This morning we had 23. I think the management at Lamar's Donuts will need to start sending me a referral fee. First, I ate one of their donuts with church and now I'm sending two dozen hungry runners their way after a run.

It was a near perfect morning. I run with Chris, Dave, Derrick, and Shannon. Chris, Shannon, and I finished 11.2 hilly miles in 1:21:30 for an average of 7:16 per mile.

Later in the afternoon Benjamin and I cleaned out the garage.

Step #1 - We swept the sand out.
Step #2 - We blew the remaining sand out of the garage and off the driveway.
Step #3 - We took the hose and rinsed off the floor.

Our garage, which had as much sand as many beaches is now clean. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon.

Friday, January 30, 2009


I had a list of 21 things to do today. I got 16 of them done. I got all the urgent things done, but no running and I'll have to work a little tomorrow.

Speaking of 21, I love this video.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Change. The Same.

  • It was the year I was born.
  • U.S. troops were invading Cambodia.
  • An earthquake killed 50,000 people in Peru.
  • Four students were killed at Kent State University by National Guardsmen.
  • Richard Nixon was President.
  • 205,052,174 lived in the United States.
  • Life expectancy in the United States was 70.8 years.
  • A first class stamp costs 6 cents.
  • Kansas City won the Super Bowl.
  • The Beatles broke up.
  • Monday Night Football debuted.
  • The record of the year was “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" by the 5th Dimension.
  • IBM introduced the floppy disk.
  • Bar codes were introduced for retail use in England.
  • LCD was invented in Switzerland.
  • Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin both died at age 27.

Since then here is what happened:

  • Pong, the first video game, was invented in 1972.
  • The Post-It Note was invented in 1974.
  • Bell labs invented the mobile phone in 1977.
  • Sony came out with the Walkman in 1979.Somebody shot JR in 1980. It was the most watched television show ever.
  • The Space Shuttle was first launched in 1982.
  • The first artificial heart was used in 1982.
  • Sony sold its first Camcorder in 1983.
  • The Apple Macintosh was introduced in 1984.
  • Microsoft came out with Windows in 1985 – even back then they were a year behind Apple.
  • CDs outsell vinyl for the first time in 1988.
  • The Berlin Wall came down in 1989.
  • The World Wide Web Protocol was released in 1990.
  • GPS was first used in 1993.
  • Terrorists attack the World Trade Centers in 2001.
  • Apple released the first iPod in 2001.
  • Hurricane Katrina was one of the largest natural disasters in history of the United States in 2006.
The world has changed, is changing, and will change. The good news of the Bible is that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

Training Update:

1 mile warm-up in 7:00
2 miles in 12:00
1 mile recovery in 7:00
1 mile in 5:42
.5 mile recovery in 3:30
.5 miles in 2:45
.5 mile recovery in 3:30
.5 miles in 2:30

Indoors on the treadmill.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Tears. Lots of different things cause them. A sunset and a sunrise. A baby child and elderly friends playing a game of checkers. The child who succeeds. The child who fails. An old friend. A new friend. Mountains. Oceans. Prairies. Some are expected. Some are unexpected.

Regardless of the source of the tears or the expectedness or unexpectedness of the tears, tears are generally a symbol that God is speaking to us. If you see tears in sombody's eyes, know that God is probably speaking to them. If you feel tears in your eyes, know that God is probably speaking to you.

Training Update:

7.3 miles easy in about 56 minutes. Mostly on 180th Street. In shorts. And I saw the sun setting at the end of the run and had a few tears in my eyes. I guess God was speaking to me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sloth and Depression

Somebody recently asked me to share about sloth and depression. Here was my reply:

The list of seven sins, as we know them, was complied by Pope Gregory I in 590. The sins are:
  • Gluttony
  • Lust
  • Greed
  • Wrath
  • Envy
  • Pride
  • Sloth
The above list is not found in the Bible, like the Ten Commandments. However, they are all mentioned in Scripture in various places.

Your questions are insightful. Sloth originally meant despair or sadness. Apathy, indifference, boredom, and ambivalence are probably the most common uses of sloth today. A good example might be a runner on a college team with great talent, but is lazy and doesn’t train hard. He then races poorly. This runner could be considered slothful. Roman Catholics generally consider sloth a sin of omission rather than a sin of commission.

Frederick Buechner gives the best definition of sloth I have come across:

Sloth is not to be confused with laziness. A lazy man, a man who sits around and watches the grass grow, may be a man at peace. His sundrenched, bumblebee dreaming may be a prelude to action or itself an act well worth the acting. A slothful man, on the other hand, may be a very busy man. He is a man who goes through the motions, who flies on automatic pilot. Like a man with a bad head cold, he has mostly lost his sense of taste and smell. He knows something’s wrong with him, but not wrong enough to do anything about. Other people come and go, but through glazed eyes he hardly notices them. He is letting things run their course. He is getting through his life.

I think the best way to think about sloth is that we are dying instead of living.
Before I start talking about depression, you should know that I am a pastor. I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist. People know more about this than I do.

I see a relationship between depression and sloth. Boredom and apathy can lead to depression. And depression can lead to boredom and apathy. Depression can either be environmental, physical, or both. This could tell us if depression is the cause of sloth or a symptom of sloth.

It isn’t surprising that depression is evident in the Bible. Some of David’s Psalms would indicate that he occasionally battled depression. Some scholars believe that the thorn in Paul’s side was depression. Jesus said that we will have trials and tribulations in life (depression can certainly be one of these), but he promised us his presence.

Depression is common today. Having it doesn’t make you weird or bad. It is believed that roughly 15% to 20% of the adult population has some level of depression. Some studies suggest that the number is much higher. Is it a little bit more common in women than it is in men. A recent study of the United Methodist clergy’s (which I am one) health insurance data showed that anti-depressants are the third most prescribed drug.

Depression isn't selfish. Most people who have it don’t want to have it. It is a disease and though the symptoms of depression may appear selfish, the depressed person often isn’t choosing their self-destructive behaviors.

If depression is something you are struggling with (I’m not clear by your question if this is the case or not) I would suggest that you see a medical doctor or psychiatrist. Good medications exist that can help. I also suggest seeing a therapist who can help create healthy systems in the life of the person they are working with. Finally, I recommend seeking spiritual guidance through a church or support group.

Training Update:

No sloth with the training today. I finally had a good run. I couldn't go outside today. I'm tired of running slow through snow and ice and slop. I went to the gym. I started slower (8:30 / mile) and finished faster (5:30 / mile). Hit every speed in between and threw in some hills (-2% to 5%). 14 miles in 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Back Up

You have noticed, maybe you haven't, that the blog has been down for a few days. It turns out that my friends at were doing some routine maintence and something got messed up. Since they do my work pro bono I'm grateful for them and that the issue is resolved.

Training Udpate:

8 miles easy today in the hills. Here is one of the songs I have been listening to lately when I run. It is very insightful and easy to run to.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I'm called many names each day. My favorite is "daddy." Only two people call me this: Benjamin and David.
I got to sleep in today. I had a guest preacher for the morning. She did an excellent job talking about suffering. Then we had about 20 people at our house for lunch. They were people who are mostly new to the church. It was great to meet them.
After we got everything cleaned up, we had a few hours before small group started. I had a choice to either go running by myself or go sledding with the boys. I chose being "daddy."
Benjamin and I were picking up some serious speed down the hills. The hills had a nice layer of ice and the ice was covered by about 2 inches of snow. Amber brought David up for his first-ever sledding adventure. He loved it. He kept saying, "top hill" which meant he wanted to go again.

Our small group had an interesting discussion about busyness and priorities in life. It was a busy day, but a great day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


It was freezing this morning. It wasn't even just freezing. It was a cold freezing. The air temperature was well below zero. The light wind made even seem colder. Six of us gathered at Lake Zorinsky. If five guys weren't waiting for me, I would have turned off my alarm and went back to bed. To make matters worse, the trail was quite icy. All of us ran around the east lake twice for a total of 8.85 miles. Chris and I added a third lap for 13.25 miles in about an hour and 40 minutes.

Benjamin and I went with a few friends to the Creighton - Drake game. Being a Drake alumni, Benjamin and I cheered for the Bulldogs. In a room filled with over 17,000 people, we were among the few dozen cheering for Drake. Anyway, the good guys won pretty easily extending their winning streak over Creighton to four consecutive games!

Friday, January 23, 2009


I don't enjoy running in the dark. Sometimes life leaves no options. Chris and I hit the roads in the cold, in the wind, on the concrete, in the dark at 5 a.m. We ran 10.5 miles in an hour and twenty minutes. I found myself dreaming of the warm and humid summer mornings at Lake Zorinsky when the sun was beating down on the lake. We got it done, but it was tough going.

Post-run I did some work, made breakfast for the family, and got Benjamin ready for school. After I dropped Benjamin off for school, I worked from 9 to 7. Amber and I went to our friend Paul's restaurant, Prima 140, for dinner. I had the most amazing walleye covered in lobster sauce. Amber had roasted Mahi Mahi in a bar-b-que sauce. I didn't get much of it, but it looked pretty good too. Post-dinner, we walked out to our car, in the dark. The same way the day began.

Darkness is the absence of light. Before the world began there was darkness. The world was void and without form. And then God said, "Let there be light." And the world has never quite been the same again. People are attracted to light. As Chris and I headed east on Harrison Street at the end of our run a hint of the sunrise was in the sky. It was hard not to look at the emerging light. In the restaurant, a little light above our table allowed me to see Amber. Light is beauty and light allows us to see beauty. Light is God's gift to us. It sure beats darkness.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


My life has been a bit hectic lately with church, family, my disseration, training for Boston, etc...

Today I had to be in Lincoln by 8:00 a.m. I was on the road by 7:00. I was up at 6:00. The day was packed with no breathing room. The last Cub Scout left your house around 8:30.

This Sunday my small group will be looking at busyness and priorities. It is a very insightful video by Rob Bell called "Shells." Here is the video and the study guide (sorry for the subtitles, it's the only version of the video I could find on YouTube):

“I’m not that convinced that that many people really truly need an even better cell phone, with more features. But it seems like a lot of people never stop moving, going from place to place and meeting to meeting…so busy. And yet life in some sense is passing them by.”

Do you have a cell phone? A laptop? A BlackBerry?

Do these things help you “get it done”?

How do you feel about the pace of your life?

In what ways do you feel life is passing you by?

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Mark 1:35-38

“There’s this whole village that wants him to stay and he basically says, “No, got to go.” There’s this opportunity to do so much good, help so many people, and he turns it down. Jesus doesn’t do everything.”

How could Jesus walk away from this village of people?
Have you ever walked away from something “good”?
Why or why not?

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Luke 9:51

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Luke 13:22

While he was on the way to Jerusalem, he was passing between Samaria and Galilee. Luke 17:11

Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.” Luke 18:31

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. Luke 19:28

“You begin to get the sense after a while that Jesus is headed somewhere and that ‘somewhere’ is Jerusalem. Now it’s not like he’s some sort of preprogrammed robot who has not control over his life. He gets interrupted along the way. Actually, a lot of his teachings are his responses to the questions that people ask him along the way. But he can’t be everything to everybody.”

Do you know someone who has this kind of purpose?
How is their life different?

“He has a compass. He has an orientation. He has a way to orient his life, a path that he’s on. Jesus says no because he’s already said yes. He’s very clear on what his life is about. Do you have a hard time saying no? Or perhaps there’s a better question – what is it that you have said yes to? Because you can’t say no until you’ve said yes to something else.”

What is your life about?
How could answering that question help you to be more focused?

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

“He’s just been surrounded by this crowd that has all these expectations of him. There’s all of these people and they have very strong opinions about what he should be doing and who he should be doing it for. So Jesus retreats; he withdraws to check himself, to listen to God, to make sure that all these voices haven’t pulled him off track. You never see Jesus doing anything out of obligation. You never hear him saying, “Oh, I guess I should I’m supposed to.’”

How can we avoid letting the expectations of others dictate what we do?
When was the last time you were able to retreat?

“The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said that a saint is the person who can will the one thing. He was talking about the kind of person who knows exactly what their life is about.”

What does it mean to you to “will the one thing”?
Do your choices drive you toward the “one thing” in your life?

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17

“I heard this guy recently say that he’s drowning in good. See the enemy of the best isn’t always the worst. Sometimes the enemy of the best is the good. It’s when we become so busy doing all these good thing that we have no energy left to will the one thing.”

Who or what is suffering in your life because you’re busy doing so many good things?

“He’s getting more and more frustrated and more and more anxious and we’re all saying to him, ‘What’s the problem? Just get it! Why can’t you get it?’ And he says, ‘I can’t do it!’ And we say, ‘Why?’ and he says, ‘Because my hands are filled with shells!’”

What are the shells that keep you from grabbing hold of your starfish?
What would it take to drop them?

“May you drop your shells in the pursuit of a simple, disciplined, focused life in which you pursue the few things God has for you. And may you be like Jesus, able to say no, because you’ve already said yes.”

Training Update:

Among my shells today was a 7.5 mile run in 56 minutes sandwiched between a late afternoon meeting and an early evening Cub Scout meeting.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Suffering

We are talking about suffering this Sunday. A person in my church sent this to me. It is very insightful. I don't know who wrote it:

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects.

When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: "I don't believe that God exists." "Why do you say that?" asked the customer. "Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things."

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop.

Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist." "How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. "I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!" "No!" the customer exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside." "Ah, but barbers DO exist! That's what happens when people do not come to me." "Exactly!" affirmed the customer. "That's the point! God, too, DOES exist!"

Training Update:

10 miles easy at 6 o'clock in the morning. I had a meeting in Lincoln all day so I had to get it done early.

Post-meeting: Amber, the boys, and I went to the new La Mesa for dinner. Quadruple thumbs up!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


This weekend we are looking at suffering. Here is what I cam up with for my column this Sunday:

Suffering. Evil. Pain. Unfairness. Disease. Brokenness. They all exist. Children in Africa long for a meal that will make their hunger go away. Airplanes are hijacked and crashed into skyscrapers. Relationships go down the drain and people, including innocent people, suffer. People who do bad things are rewarded. Cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart attacks, etc… all happen. People live with depression and are alone. All of us know these things.

And we ask the question, “Why?” You can’t blame anybody for asking that question. This was the question Job asked. The messenger came to Job’s door and told him that he lost all his livestock, all his money, and all his kids. Before he even had an opportunity to grieve he got so sick that he wished that not only his problems would go away, but that he would go away as well.

Job had a wife who wasn’t much help. She told Job to curse God and die. I guess she forgot about the part, “For better, for poorer, in sickness, and in health.” He had three friends who did their best to convince Job that all of this was his fault. Job spit out some of the most insightful words ever to come off the lips of a human: “Do we take only the good from God and not the bad” and “I know that my Redeemer lives and in the end he will stand upon the earth.” But, Job’s friends were wearing him down it looked like then were almost getting to him, but then God took over and had a few words to speak of His own. And comparing Job’s words to God’s words is kind of like comparing a writing assignment of a 2nd grade student to the poetry of Shakespeare:

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb? I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’ Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east?

And God was just getting warmed up. When He was done speaking Job finally figured out who Job was and who God was. Job also figured out that “Why?” was no longer the question that needed to be asked. The new question was “Who?” Not: “Why will such things happen?” But: “Who will help me get through this?”

The who includes the people God puts on our path in the journey of life. It also includes God. God is with us in our days of health and strength and God cries with us when we cry, grieves with us when we grieve, holds us when we fear, and carries us when we have no strength of our own.

In Christ,


Training Update:

5:00 a.m. workout I was up early. I met Nicole at the gym and we did the following:

1 hour cycling on a trainer.

1 hour on the treadmill

10 minutes easy running
15 minutes at marathon pace
3 minutes recovery
5 x 5 minutes at marathon pace with 30 seconds recovery between harder runs
5 minutes easy running

Monday, January 19, 2009


I like painting. In moderation anyway. In the last few days I've repainted much of the downstairs of our house. A little magnetic paint, an accent wall, a few new colors here and there, and repainting where the dog and kids have been a dog and kids for the last three years.

The part I liked best in the recent painting weekend was when I painted the wall the Georgia typiclally lays next to when all of us are gone. We had noticed that the wall was getting dirty, but had no idea of how dirty until I slapped a fresh coat of paint on it. The difference was like night and day.

Two lessons can be learned:
  1. When something happens gradually, it really isn't noticable. Like a 150 pound dog laying on a wall for a thousand consecutive days and the wall getting dirty over time. Or putting on two or three pounds a year for 15 years. Or neglecting our relationship with others or with God and one day realizing that we have drifted apart.
  2. Restoration can happen. After the first coat of paint dried I put on another coat. For the dirtiest part I put on three coats of paint. And now it looks like new. Walls can be refurbished, pounds can be lost, and relationships can be restored. In the case of a wall it takes work (painting) and grace (some free-time I wasn't really expecting). Restoration and reconciliation is possible, but it takes work and grace.

A wall, partially restored

No running today. Too busy painting.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

God's Plans

Here are the sermon notes from this morning. I gave this message this morning with Brad Krebs. You can listen here.

1. Know God has a Voice

God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. –Ephesians 1:9

The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. –Mitch Albom

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. –Jeremiah 29:11

2. Listen to God’s Voice

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. –John 10:27

In the moments we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose our connection with God, others, and ourselves.

3. Trust God’s Voice

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:6-7

We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy. –Walter Anderson

4. Follow God’s Voice

And so, dear brothers and sisters, 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. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. –Romans 12:1-2

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. –Micah 6:8

There is never a wrong time to do the right thing.

Grace is what God gives us when we don't deserve and mercy is when God doesn't give us what we do deserve.

Humility is not to opposite of arrogance. Nor is it the opposite of low self-esteem. And it isn’t the same thing as modesty either. Humility is the ability to see that you and everybody else are fully human and fully a child of God. It is thinking of yourself and all others in pretty much the same way.

Training Update

I ran 15 easy miles is Tonya at Lake Zorinsky. About an hour and 55 minutes.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


One of the best things about the usual Saturday morning run are the donuts. Lamar's Donuts has the best donuts I've ever eaten. Dave and I ran about 12 miles in about an hour and a half or so. For a person my size at the pace we were moving, that is about 750 calories or a chocolate-covered Bavarian cream-filled Lamar's bar.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Pinewood Derby

It's one of my favorite nights of the year: The Pinewood Derby. Thanks to Gary and Bob for helping us cut out, sand, and add some weight to the car.
Benjamin wanted an aerodynamic car this year that would have a chance to win. He picked out the design on the Internet. He then learned about cutting on a saw, sanding, and why a heavier car goes faster than a lighter car. Green was his color this year. After painting, we also talked about friction, grinded the axles down, and applied some graphite.
Benjamin won his Den and was 5th overall. There were lots of really cool cars and lots of really fast cars with year.

The car almost matches Amber's shirt

Craig and Benjamin proudly displaying his medal

No running today. No time. I'm going to have a slow time in Boston this year, but at least we had a fast Pinewood Derby car.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The other day my seven year old son, Benjamin, and I were having an interesting discussion about health insurance. Here is a very abbreviated transcript of that conversation:

BF: “Daddy, do you have to pay to go to the doctor?”

CF: “Interesting question.”

BF: “Why?”

CF: “It’s kind of complicated.”

BF: “Why?”

CF: “Well the church pays for my health insurance, the insurance company pays the doctor some money, and we pay the doctor some more money.”

BF: “Does the church pay for everybody’s health insurance?”

CF: “No. Most employers pay for part of their employees health insurance.”

BF: “If I’m a police officer or a fireman with they pay for my health insurance?”

CF: “Yes. They probably have good health insurance. Wait a second, I thought you wanted to be a pastor?”

BF: “No. I kind of changed my mind. You’re job seems pretty boring.”

First he wanted to be a railroad conductor. Then he wanted to be a pastor. Now he wants to either be a police officer or a fireman. And I’m sure it will change again sometime in the not so distant future. The conversation Benjamin and I had was a conversation that raised a question that all of us have in life: What is God’s plan for my life and what can I do about it? We have this question in many areas of our lives: work, family, play, faith, finances, etc…

The Bible gives us direction and guidance on how to listen to God and respond to God. One of my favorite Bible verses is Romans 12:1-2—And so, dear brothers and sisters, 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. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

I pray for all of us that we discover, embrace, and live out God’s perfect and pleasing will for our lives.

Training Update:

No running today. Too busy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I have nothing to report after today's run. See yesterday's post about my thoughts on treadmills. It was below zero outside and the treadmill was my only option. I ran 45 minutes which was 6 miles with 4 x 400 hill repeats at the end of the run.

David enjoying some butter

David listening to one of daddy's sermons

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I broke my streak of running three consecutive days outside in shorts. As much as I dislike treadmills, I dislike minus three degree temperatures even more. The treadmills were all full at the gym. I had to wait a few minutes before I could get one.
I did a little interval workout on the treadmill to get the legs moving a little faster than the slower pace they have become used to.
10 minute warm-up at 8:00 / mile
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 minutes of harder running (6:00 / mile) with 2 minutes of jogging (8:00 / mile) between each rep
10 minute cool-down at 8:00 / mile
At the end of the run I looked at the data on the treadmill. 60 minutes. 930 calories. 8.75 miles. Somehow that just doesn't do it for me. My soaked gray t-shirt gave me some satisfaction, but I didn't go anywhere in those 60 minutes. I couldn't say I went around Lake Zorinsky or to the Pumpkin Patch and back. I didn't go anywhere and that frustrated me.
I think life is a lot like a treadmill. We work hard and make no progress. We go through motions and repeat those same motions day after day after day. It's not that any of those motions are necessarily bad, but collectively they get us stuck in the same place and that is not good.
Listen to the language we use:
  • I need to take a break.
  • It's like I'm taking two steps forward and one step back.
  • I'm in a rut.
  • I'm bored.
  • It's the same old stuff just a different day.
  • I was so busy, this week just flew by.
Sometimes the treadmill of life is necessary. Homework, household management, work, getting from Point A to Point B -- they all need to be done. But life is too short to to be too busy, too bored, or stuck in a rut forever.
I pray today you find some time to try something new, to take a few steps forward, to do something you enjoy, to spend time with somebody you love, and to enjoy and embrace the journey of life.

David isn't feeling the best today

Monday, January 12, 2009


Georgia enjoying the fresh snow
Running on two inches of fresh snow is one of my favorite things to do. It's so nice and soft. Add pristine and playful into the mix and you have the best possible running surface. Fresh snow even smells good. It's kind of like walking through a trail of fallen leaves in the autumn when you walk without lifting your feet too far off the ground. It's tough to describe, but it's wonderful to experience.

I was just over 2 miles into my 7.5 mile run on the 180th Street trail when the powdery snow covered an enemy of the runner: ice. Before I knew it, I was on my bottom. My hands took some of the force. My bottom, which currently has a zip lock bag full of ice on it, took most of the force. I popped up like a slice of burnt toast, probably mostly to prevent my ego from being bruised any more than it already was. I continued running. A little sore at first, but then I was fine. I turned around at the halfway point. A mile or two after that I saw the markings in the snow of a fallen runner who lost his balance while enjoying the snow a little too much.

Life is like that as well. Snow is beautiful and fun, but it can also be dangerous. Jesus made wine sacred, Paul told Timothy to chill out and drink a glass of wine to relax, and researchers even tell us that wine has health benefits. But drunkenness can ruin families and lives. Money can feed the poor, put a roof over our head, get us from point A to point B, and generally help people enjoy and live life. An excess love of money produces greed, envy, and a list of other ills too long to mention. Sex is God's idea. At it's best it is sacred and holy and is God's way of telling us that the world should go on. At it's worst it is profane and ugly. Instead of bring people together is tears them apart. The laughter is replaced by tears. And so it is with food, humor, running, leadership, and many other things / areas of life.

Enjoy the blessing, but don't lost your balance because blessedness can turn into brokenness.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


This morning's sermon was about money. You can listen here. The question this week was: Is Money a Bad Thing? To summarize 36 minutes into a few phases: No, money is not bad. (1 Timothy 6:10) However, an unhealthy obsession with money and a craving for money is not a good thing. (Ecclesiastes 5:10) God is the creator and owner of all things. (Job 41:11) We are stewards of what He lets us have during our short time on the earth. (Matthew 25:14-30)

I wanted to thank everybody who was at worship this morning for being there. The kid's wrestling tournament that was held in the gym had over 1,300 wrestlers amd probably about 1,300 cars crammed in the parking lot. As many of you are aware, this led to a major parking problem with all of our people and all of the wrestling fans trying to get spaces. I know that many of us had to drive around for quite some time to find parking spots. (It took me 15 minutes!) I know many had to trek through cold and snow to make it to the school. And I know that many were not able to worship with us because there was no room to park.

We learned last Sunday that we would be in the auditorium today. We learned during the week that there would be no kid's ministry this morning. And we learned this morning, the hard way, that there was going to be huge parking problems. Sometimes that's the way it is in a rented facility.

For all the volunteers who make the worship possible on Sunday mornings, I'm grateful. For all who were able to worship with us, thank you for your extra effort. For all who were unable to worship with us, I'm sorry. We'll make sure we do a better job during the wrestling tournament Sunday next year.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Play can be something physical that gives your mind rest. Like running. Or it can be something mental that gives your body rest. Like chess. Or it can be something mental and / or physical that somehow gives rest to your body and / or your mind and / or your soul.
I don't think that play gets quite enough credit. Those who reserve play for the children are missing out on rest, restoration, and rejuvenation of the mind, body, and / or soul. The old axiom "all work and no play make Jack a dull boy" has a deep truth of life embedded in it: that play can be a good thing.
Saturday is generally my play day. David and I built a train track. Benjamin and I play the Wii. I went running 7.5 miles on the slushy trail next to 180th Street. At the end of the day, I feel rested, restored, and rejuvenated.

David enjoying a morning of play

Friday, January 9, 2009


One of God's greatest gifts to us is one other.

My alarm went off at 4:40 with morning. I was up late last night watching the football came and 4:40 seemed to come way too early. I was going to go back to sleep after turning the alarm off, but remembered that Nicole was meeting me in my driveway at 5:00 to run 12 miles. So I dragged myself out of bed, threw on some shorts, socks, shoes, hat, and a couple shirts and made it out my door at 5:00. Then we ran 12.5 pretty easy miles.

Here's the deal: without somebody waiting for me, I don't think I would have run this morning. Looking at my schedule today and tonight, I wouldn't have run at all. Other people make us better in running and in life.

The best way for an addict to be in recovery is from the help of another addict. The best way to learn is from others. Sharing joys is best done in the company of others. The same is true for sharing sorrows.

And so it is for being a disciple. Join a small group. Read the Bible with somebody. Get a mentor. Be a mentor. Serve together. Grow together. Pray together. Worship together. I think that is pretty much what Jesus was telling us when he told us to love each other.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I woke up this morning, went outside, got the paper, and came back in to get ready to go run. I thought it was nice out. I put on a pair of shorts, gloves, a cap, a few shirts, and headed out the door. I turned from my subdivision to Harrison Street and was greeted by the wind. The air temperature was cold too. Very cold. I was short on time and could only go 4 miles, so I decided to tough it out. From .66 miles to 2 miles it was brutal. Right into the north wind. When I turned around at the 2 mile mark, it got a little better, but I was still cold.

The shorts were not the best idea I had all day. In fact they were probably the worst. They weren't probably the worst. They were the worst. Yeah, I may have provided a good conversation starter for many of the drivers on 180th Street. The warm shower probably felt better than usual. Maybe there is some sort of really strange satisfaction a person gets from running in shorts when the wind chill index is right at zero degrees. But it was a mistake.

We all make mistakes. Some of them are little and we laugh. Some are big and we cry or at least wish we could cry. Some don't matter much in the grand scheme of things. Others will be with us for all the days of our lives.

We can do a few things with mistakes:

#1 Learn from them
#2 Keep making them and self-destructing
#3 Forget about them and move on
#4 Let them define us

If you want an unhealthy life, I suggest #2 and #4.

If you want a healthy life, go for #1 and #3.

Speaking of mistakes, check these mistakes out...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


One of the things the church needs most is leaders. I'm blessed to serve with some great ones. At our leadership meeting tonight, we came up with these goals for The Water's Edge in 2009:

  • 400 per week on a regular basis with peaks at 500
  • Video streaming of worship experiences

Small groups

  • 60% of our worshippers to be in a small group

  • To develop new small group leaders

  • To develop new small groups
  • 75% of our worshippers to volunteer as least once a month

  • To have people enjoy, connect with others, and be fulfilled through serving

  • To provide our children with a large team of enthusiastic and equipped adults


  • To identify and connect with our guests before, during, and after our Sunday morning worship experience

  • To follow-up with, listen to, and help our Sunday morning guests connect to people and ministries
These are great. Pray for us as we work toward and accomplish these goals.

No time to run today.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I don't consider peace to be the absence of war. Historians may take exception with me, but then again, I'm not sure how many historians read this blog. Even if they did they would probably be open to my definition once they thought about it.

Anyway, I think peace is something that happens inside somebody where we fully embrace who we are and whose we are. It's when we are fine with who we are and who we are not. It's being cool with our past, present, and future. Peace can happen in times of stillness and in times of anxiety. It can happen at a monastery and it can happen right in the middle of a war zone. And it can happen everywhere and anytime in between.

Jesus said: "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27) So there is another thing about peace that you need to know: it is a gift from God. Asking for peace and being open to receiving peace is going to work a whole lot better than trying to create it or come up with it on your own.

This morning I had to run early -- 5:00 a.m. Amber is sick and I wanted to be home before the boys woke up so she could sleep in. I got up at 4:45. I went to and checked the weather. Then I got dressed. Then I went running. It was cold, but calm. A totally clear sky. It was tough going. I felt like I was just grinding out the miles. I made it to the turn around point and 204th and F Streets which is 5 miles from my house. On the way back home I had to stop and tie my left shoe. I tied it. After I tied it, on my way back up, I looked up at the stars. I just stood there for a while on the north edge of F Street. No cars. No worries. No to do lists. No appointments. No dissertations or sermons or Cub Scout meetings or dirty diapers. Just me and God and some cool air. For the rest of the run I was fine with who I was and am and will be. It didn't matter that I was going slow or have a busy day in front of me or that I didn't get much sleep or that I wished I would have done some things differently the day before. It was a gift from God and I thankfully I accepted it.

10 miles easy in the hills. The last 4.5 miles very very peaceful.

Speaking of peace. Check this video out:

Monday, January 5, 2009


I did a funeral for a friend of mine today. She was a wonderful woman. Amber and I first met Kathy when she was our realtor. She was so patient with us. Cancer is a terrible disease and Kathy died too young. I was touched to hear the words of her friends, co-workers, and grand-daughters.

I shared about God's grace (thanks to Frederick Buechner for helping me understand grace):

Death is a mystery.
Life is God’s gift to us.
What we make of that life is our gift to God.

Living has very little to do with a heart that beats or lungs that breathe.
Living has to do with serving, smiling, crying, relating, laughing, and loving.

Grace is what we need most in life. Grace is forgiveness from the past, power in the present, and hope for the future.

Grace is something we can never get, but only be given. There is no way to earn it or deserve it any more than we deserve the taste of fresh ice cream or earned our own birth.

A good sleep is grace. So is a good dream. Laughter is grace and so are most tears. The smell of fresh rain is grace and so is a kiss from a child. Somebody loving you is grace and loving somebody is also grace.

Grace is the central theme of the Bible. It is how the world began and is how the world will end. God is the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the end. He is the giver of grace.

The grace of God means something like this: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things happen. Do not be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate you from my love.

After the funeral lunch and before picking Benjamin up from school, I got in an easy 11 miles in the hills.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Can I Really Change?

Here is the sermon from the morning. You can listen here. If you want to dig deeper I recommend the book: 9 Things You Simply Must Do by Henry Cloud. I just kind of skimmed the surface of what he covers in great detail and insight. We had bad weather, but a great morning. No running today. Life got in the way.

Life’s Most Important Questions: Can I Really Change?

Will-power plans rarely work. God-power plans are much more likely to work.
The Plan Only Works If You Work the Plan
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

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. –Jim Rohn

If you are an undisciplined person…

1. Accountability alone will not create a lasting change.
2. An increase in will power from within isn’t likely to help either.
3. Grace needs to be present in the situation for change to occur.

It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them. And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved. –Romans 11:5-6

Yes! You can really change. Here’s how.

1. Play the movie

The three motivators of the Bible
a. What you want and desire
b. What you love
c. What you have to lose

Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. -1 Corinthians 3:12-15

2. Life only changes when we bring in structure and discipline from the outside.

What was once external can become internal

If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself;
but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.
-Proverbs 15:32

We must find external structure to help us accomplish change

1. Get a group together that is committed to a goal
2. Get a regular time to meet together that you never miss
3. Join an already structured group
4. Get consequences
5. Get a set schedule

3. You must have support and healing for the stuff that drives you to medicate

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. –Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

4. Quarantine your weaknesses

People will fail in predictable ways

Three reasons we fail
a. Our own self-destructive behaviors
b. External environments
c. Interpersonal challenges

5. Learn the Gift of Process

I will bring that group through the fire
and make them pure.
I will refine them like silver
and purify them like gold.
They will call on my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘These are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’
-Zechariah 13:9

I guess that's what grace is. The refinement of your soul through time.

Change doesn’t happen in a day. It happens daily.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Ant

I have been working on my dissertation on humor and preaching for quite some time now. I finally decided that I need to get it done. My previous plan didn't work, so I've been trying a new plan:

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. -Proverbs 6:6-8

Ants are pretty amazing. We can learn a lot from them. They just keep at it. Day after day. An ant farm isn't made in a day; it's made daily. Lately (finally and thankfully), I have been more like an ant and less like a lazybones. Progress is being made. I sent in the edits / revisions of chapters 1 and 3 to my mentor today. Hopefully they are good enough!

When taking on a big project in life, remember the ant.

No running today, only writing. Unless you include chasing two boys around.

Friday, January 2, 2009


I registered for Boston today so it's a go. I'm going there with about 15 other runners and staying with some runners in Boston. It should be lots of fun. Hopefully I can be consistent in my training.

I was going to take the day off from running after doing 26.2 miles yesterday, but decided to go for an hour. I got 8 miles in. It felt great.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Here is my column from this coming Sunday morning:

We all have hopes for 2009. I took a few moments to write down some of mine: for my family, for me, for the church, and for the world. Here are some of them in no particular order:
  • For my lawn to look half as good as my neighbor’s lawn.
  • For the economy to stabilize and rebound.
  • For my son, Benjamin, to score a goal during a soccer game.
  • For my other son, David, to stay off the playing field during his older brother’s soccer games.
  • To spend more time and better time with my boys.
  • To spend more time and better time with my wife.
  • For Nebraska to beat a Top 10 football team. I'll settle for a Top 25 team.
  • For peace to develop in areas where there is violence.
  • Safety for our brave men and women who are defending freedom in various places throughout the world.
  • For families in our church to be strengthened.
  • For thousands of people in Omaha to be fed by our food ministry.
  • For people to join small groups and for new small groups to be started. I want everybody to experience growth and community.
  • To get to know so many more of you and deepen my friendship with those of you I do know.
  • To break 2:45 in the Boston Marathon. I’d actually settle for finishing and not ending up in the hospital this time.
  • To finish my dissertation and graduate.
  • To organize our garage, basement, and home office.
  • For us to experience God’s forgiveness, to forgive others, and to forgive ourselves. 2009 will be a time when we can look forward and not backward.
  • For even more of us to feel comfortable inviting our friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors, and family to worship with us.
  • For our kid’s team and kid’s ministry to continue to develop and grow. We made such great progress in 2008.
  • To say thank you more often.
  • To write in my blog more often.
  • To be a better listener. To be a better speaker. To pray more. I guess they are probably all related to each other.
  • To find better balance in life and invite others to continue on this journey with me.
  • To keep the promises I make.
  • Maybe not to worry if my lawn doesn’t look half as good as my neighbor’s lawn.

The best is yet to come…


New Year's Day Marathon Runners
Back Row: Jeff and David
Front Row: Scott, Tonya, Nicole, Craig

Great run this morning. We ran all over the place which isn't surprising since we ran 26.2 miles: the Harrison hills, the northern 192nd Street hills, the F Street hills, Mission Park hills, the Lamar's Donut / Pumpkin Patch course with a few miles of the southern 192nd Street hills added in, the Giles Street hills, and we finished up in Harrison Woods.

Six finishers: Tonya, Scott, Nicole, Jeff, David, and me. Chris ran the first 10 or so with us, then we ran with the large group of runners who ran the 14.5 mile coarse, and then the six of us finished together in my neighborhood.

This run was a lot of fun. I got to meet some new people and got to know some others who I already knew, a lot better. By the end I was ready to be done. This was a very hilly course and 3 hours and 43 minutes is a long time to be running. There were a number of ultra runners with us today at various times. I don't know how they do it.

We had nice weather. It wasn't too windy or cold. The gravel was a little tricky at times and we had a little ice too, but overall it was excellent running conditions. This was the best run of the year, to date, by far. Hope to do it again next year.