Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On the necessity of baptism...

If now some know-it-alls object and say, “Well, even if somebody is not baptized with outward water, he can still believe, change and improve his life, and live according to the Rule of Christ. Therefore, baptism is not necessary.” Answer: You highly learned people should have made this objection not to me but to Christ himself, and that before he instituted baptism, so that he could have refrained from it. But at that time you were not his counselors. I realize it was a great oversight.

-On the Christian Baptism of Believers by Balthasar Hubmaier

Stolen from David Norman

Quick Running Tip Tuesday - Daily Mile (1.31.12)

Having joined the ranks of runners late in life, the social aspect of running was something that surprised me.  Often, people will approach me at church or Starbucks and ask about running. Sometimes, these individuals are runners and we talk about training, routes, races or shoes.  Sometimes, these individuals are folks that are just starting out and are looking for advice (BTW: If that's you, check back next week for a tip on getting started...).

The interesting thing to me is that in these instances, I could stand and talk to these people about running for hours (and sometimes do).  There is a definite social aspect to running.  Even running around town, whenever I see a runner, there is an instant connection there.

This week... a free and awesome tip for you from personal experience is the website Daily Mile. There are a couple of reasons why I have grown to love this website.

First, you can add all of your running buddies (I have several from my church that I keep up with) to the site.  You can follow their runs, comment on their activities, see the map of their routes (if they post it) and encourage them along the way.  You can also see how your weekly mileage stacks up against your friend's weekly mileage.

Second, you can track your weekly, monthly, yearly and total mileage.  Since I became a runner, I have always been interested in how many miles I'm racking up every week.  I keep track in a paper log for my own future reference.  But it's fun to see the miles stacking up and look back over the past few months to see what you've accomplished.  Additionally, they have recently added a "gear tracking" option where you can keep track of the mileage on your shoes or whatever (I'm tracking my shoe mileage because I tend to wear them out pretty fast).  You can also join challenges with other people around the country who may not even be within your social circle on Daily Mile. 

Third, you can post all of your data to other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and share with others what you're doing. 

Finally... and maybe the best part... all of this is free.  And it syncs with Garmin Connect, which is what I use to track all of my runs.

So... go... get an account! It's super-easy to set one up.  And after you've set one up, add me! I'm HERE.

Keep running friends!


Disclaimer (if you're into that sort of thing): Jim is not a professional runner nor is this blog endorsed by any company.  These thoughts are merely the thoughts and experiences on one runner.  What works and what doesn't work from a practical level.  Jim hasn't set any records, but he's run a few races (Marathon: 4h 22m / Half-Marathon: 2h 3m / 5k: 22m 57s) and he's been around the block! 

Daily Read - January 31, 2012

10A wife of noble character who can find?
   She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
   and lacks nothing of value.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Daily Read - January 30, 2012

 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Fun - The Bark Side

Just thought you could use a little "pick-me-up" for your Friday...


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Daily Read - January 26, 2012

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Quick Running Tip Tuesday - January 24

Last week I started a new running segment here on my blog called "Quick Running Tip Tuesday."  (Here's a link to last week's.)  Nothing monumental... Just some thoughts about what has worked for me and may help you.

In line with last week's thoughts on hats and rain, I thought I would share a little tip that will save you some money in the short term and the long term.

When I started running a couple of years ago, I began using the Nike+ app on my iPhone.  It was simple and easy.  I liked having my iPhone with me for the music and in case I got lost.

But after ruining at least one iPhone and nearly ruining several others, I downgraded to a cheaper option: an iPod shuffle.  They usually run about $50 new... or $35-$40 used on eBay.  Which might seem like a lot... but compared to $400-600 for a new iPhone, that's cheap. 

I still ran into a problem.  When I ran in the rain, which I don't like, but often have to do to keep up with my training, what do I do to protect my iPod.  While it's cheap, I'd rather not have to replace them every other week.  They really don't make a waterproof case that I could find that I liked for running for my iPod shuffle.  So I improvised.

With a rubber band and a cheap zip-lock sandwich baggie, I created my own case.  I plug in my headphones and put the iPod about 3 or 4 inches down inside the baggie.  Turn on the iPod and put it on the correct playlist (another blog post for another day).  Then zip up the top securely around the headphone cord.  Then wrap the baggie around it and wrap the rubber band as tightly as I can around the cord to help seal it in.  It isn't 100% (like I would jump in the river), but so far it's been tight enough to keep my iPod from getting ruined.

Additionally, being a bigger runner, I tend to sweat a lot.  So on day when I know that my shorts are going to get soaked, I baggie my iPod.  A box of cheap zip lock baggies costs about $1.50 for 50 of them.  I use them once and then toss them.  Grab a couple rubber bands from anywhere you can find them and you're good to go.

Like I said... it's not 100%... but it's certainly better than nothing.  And it keeps me from worrying about whether or not my iPod will get ruined.

Keep running friends!

Disclaimer (if you're into that sort of thing): Jim is not a professional runner nor is this blog endorsed by any company.  These thoughts are merely the thoughts and experiences on one runner.  What works and what doesn't work from a practical level.  Jim hasn't set any records, but he's run a few races (Marathon: 4h 22m / Half-Marathon: 2h 3m / 5k: 22m 57s) and he's been around the block!

People are awesome...

I saw this video over on Doug Field's blog.  He asked, "What could we use this video to kick off discussion on?"

For me... seems pretty simple:
We can accomplish some wild and crazy things (like skydiving off a cliff or doing a backflip with a car) when we set our minds on it... what are some wild and crazy things that we could accomplish for God this week simply because we set our minds on it?

Learning to backflip a car is awesome... but what if we used our abilities and time for something (this week... this month) that actually mattered?

Let's do it!


Daily Read - January 24, 2012

 7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Human rights... for everyone?? (On Abortion)

 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place,
   when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
   all the days ordained for me were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the historic case that decided the death of millions of children called "Roe v. Wade."  If you aren't familiar, Roe v. Wade essentially made abortion legal in the United States.

In my opinion... this could be considered one of the most despicable and grotesque things that we have allowed to happen in our country (right up there with slavery... and we had to fight a war to end that).

While this won't be a long post... I simply wanted to mark the date (again) this year and remind everyone of the sheer numbers of babies being murdered/killed for convenience.  According to the CDC report, in 2007, a total of 827,609 abortions were reported.

That, my friends, is sad...

Today in Washington, D.C., millions of individuals are marching to Capital Hill and the Supreme Court (again) in protest of this killing.  Unfortunately, I scanned the major news networks' websites looking for any mention of the march.  What did I find?  Nothing.

Again... Sad...

For 39 years, we've allowed the slaughter of unborn babies. 



Daily Read - January 23, 2012

 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
 3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why I Love Religion, And Love Jesus || Spoken Word

Probably... one of the best responses that I've seen to that "Why I hate religion but love Jesus" videos that I blogged about earlier this week (HERE). Ironically enough, he and I shared many of the same points. I still could do without the narcissistic idea of Jesus on the cross thinking about me. But I'll take this over the other every day and twice on Sunday!

Here are the lyrics:

What if I told you that Jesus loves religion
And that by his coming as man he brought his religion to fruition
See this had to be addressed, the use of illogical terms and definitions
You clearly have a heart for Jesus but its fueling atheistic opinions
See what makes his religion great is not errors of wars and inquisitions
It's that broken men and women to participate in his mission
Clearly Jesus says I have not come to abolish
I came to fulfill the law and I came to fulfill the prophets (Matthew 5:17)
And lines about building big churches and tending to the poor
Sounds a bit like Judas when the perfume was being poured (John 12:5)
See His religion is the largest worldwide source of relief
For the poor, the hungry, the sick and repentant thief
Oceans of compassion, opening wide the doors
For single mothers, widows and orphans, married and divorced (James 1:27)
We all detest hypocrisy, and empty show is just the worst
But blaming religion for contradiction
Is like staring at death, and blaming the hearse.
See the teacher will teach when the students are ready to listen
But those that choose to sit in the pews and refuse the good news
Is not the fault of religion.
And If I have the Jersey and I'm playing for the Bulls
There's going to be some boundaries, regulations and some rules.
You can't have Christ without his Church; you can't have the King without his Kingdom
Sins of the Body and internal treason will never ever make me leave him
And that Jesus said it is done, is absolutely true
But he also gave us a mission with many things to DO.
Jesus says if you love me, you will Do what I command. (JN 15:14)
Go and Baptize in the name of the Father, Son & Spirit in Every Land. (MT 28:19)
And on the night he was betrayed he took his men in the Upper Room
Take at eat this is my body take and drink my blood for you.
A New covenant you see, an act connected to the tree,
Do this time and time again in Memory of Me. (Mt 26:26-28)
And at last with crown of thorns beaten beyond comprehension
His eyes were looking for yours and mine; it was divine, no human invention.
So as for religion I love it, I have one because Jesus rose from the dead and won.
I believe When Jesus said IT IS FINISHED, His religion had just begun.

Here is a direct link to the video on YouTube.

Amen and amen!


Leadership Lesson - Terrible Church Singer Attempting To Sing

I think there's a leadership lesson here... something about using your gifts or knowing your limitations or keeping someone from doing something they aren't gifted at... I'll have to think about it some more.

Ugh! That, folks, is why I don't sing.


It's HERE.

2 New Shadowboxes for the wall!

I finally got around to getting my shadowboxes done for last year's marathon and half marathon.

To the right is the box for the Flying Pig 1/2 Marathon in May.  Featured is the medal, my bib (mostly behind the pictures), my finish line picture, a picture of my wife and I and a picture of the two guys that I ran with Todd and Ben.  Good stuff.

This will be going up on the wall beside the Akron box from 2010's fall.

This one is from the Air Force Full in September.  If you can't tell, it's bigger than the Flying Pig.  Why?  13.1 more miles... that's why.  Featured in this shadowbox is my medal, my bib, my finish line picture, the badge from the weekend, and pictures of me finishing, me running, with my wife, by a big plane and the B-2 bomber (the weekend's featured plane). 

This will be going up on my wall beside the Flying Pig box. 

I'm thinking about going ahead and getting shadowboxes for the Cap City Half (what I'm running in May) and the Chicago Marathon (what I'm running in October) and putting them up empty as motivation. 


Daily Read - January 19, 2012

 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life;
   then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop SOPA and PIPA

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Sorry folks... I wanted to make my blog completely dark for the day.  Unfortunately, I'm just not that techy. 

HERE is everything you need to know in 5 minutes!

Let's get involved! Contact your representative TODAY! If you are in Zanesville, I already did the work for you... If not, contact your own!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Daily Read - January 17, 2012

1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”  4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
   And Moses said, “Here I am.”
 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

Quick Running Tip Tuesday - January 17

I hate running in the rain.

It seems to me that running in the rain is one of those things that polarizes the running community.  Some love it and can't wait to get out and splash in the puddles.  Others hate it and would rather skip the run than get wet.  I find myself in the running later.

I do not like running in the rain.  Bottom line: If I am not planning to get wet, I don't like getting wet.

But I found something... purely by accident... a few weeks ago that makes running in the rain more bearable.  This thought dawned on me a couple of days ago as I was running (in the rain): I must share it.

Anyone who is around me for any length of time knows that running is a passion of mine.  I love to talk about tricks and tips, what is working and what isn't with those who run.  So I decided to start putting out some thoughts.  I'll post these on Tuesday around lunchtime.  Just quick tips of things that I've found that work or things that don't.  In many cases, these aren't things that anyone taught or showed me (if they do, I'll give them all the credit).  They are simply things I stumbled on myself.  I'm not claiming to be original or a genius (I actually just had to spell check genius) or anything.  Just sharing what I've learned from running around the block a few times.  

I've found over the past couple of weeks that a hat (the one pictured is actually mine) makes running in the rain more bearable.  It seems hard to believe... but the fact that rain isn't hitting me directly in the face makes it more tolerable.

I'm not a hat person.  I have a few trusty Cubs hats that I will wear from time to time.  But by in large, hats make my head itch.  So I skip them.  I picked up this Adidas hat at an outlet store for about $12.  It is elastic and technical in fabric so it wicks sweat away.  And it does wonders for keeping the rain out of my eyes.

Additionally, I've started wearing it every time that I run.  It's just part of mentally preparing for the run.  When the hat goes on the head, I run!

Maybe it will help you, maybe it won't.

Keep running friends!


Disclaimer (if you're into that sort of thing): Jim is not a professional runner nor is this blog endorsed by any company.  These thoughts are merely the thoughts and experiences on one runner.  What works and what doesn't work from a practical level.  Jim hasn't set any records, but he's run a few races (Marathon: 4h 22m / Half-Marathon: 2h 3m / 5k: 22m 57s) and he's been around the block!

Day 50... Run Streak!

I started doing something a little different after Thanksgiving.  I started a Run Streak. 

That means that I have run (at least a mile) every day.  Yesterday was day 50.  Today will be day 51.  How long will it go, let's connect on Daily Mile!

Just felt like sharing!

If you think I'm crazy, check out this list of those who have been doing it for 40+ years!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Why I Hate: "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus"

"What if I told you, Jesus came to abolish religion?"
What if I told you (Jefferson Bethke) that you were wrong?

I have thought about this post for several days. After 12 million+ hits on YouTube and multiple occurrences on my Facebook feed on Friday and Saturday, I started to consider a response. Not that Mr. Bethke will ever see it. There are many, many other more intelligent and thoughtful posts out there that he should be reading.
But over the weekend, I was approached by multiple students about the video and what I thought. So… I thought I would post something official.

Officially… I don't like the video.
There, I said it.

There are several things to like about the video. His style is appealing. His rhymes are nice. The content seems to be driving at something good and many people seem to be pulled into approving this video and it's content. On a couple occasions he drives at something that is needed (the tendency to tell people we're Christians on Facebook but never back it up without lifestyle). There are some things to agree with.

However, it gives me an icky feeling.

Primarily because he's wrong on several occasions. Some of what he said is not just wrong… It's unChristian. I could drive in on a variety of issues but in my desire to keep my blog posts short, I'm going to point out two places where I feel that he leads people astray (as a shepherd, I feel its part of my job to help the flock).

First, Jesus didn't come to abolish religion… He came to fulfill it.
Jesus himself said: "17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Matthew 5:17
Jesus was a Jew. He grew up in the Jewish religion. He went to the temple… made sacrifices… offered offerings… observed the Sabbath and the feasts… like the rest of the Jewish nation. Yet, Jesus never commanded, instructed or even hinted that his followers should abandon the Jewish religion. In fact, when Jesus chose this followers… those who would begin the church… he chose 12 guys from the Jewish religion (one was even a Zealot… the strictest of the Jewish religion). One would think that it was Jesus' desire that his followers abandon the Jewish religion, he would have picked 12 disciples from outside the Jewish faith.

Furthermore, after Jesus died on the cross, rose from the grave and ascended into heaven, his followers continued to function within the Jewish religion. Peter and John are on their way to the temple in Acts 3 for afternoon prayers when they meet a lame beggar and heal him. Paul, during his missionary journeys who was notably the biggest rebel of the New Testament, went to the temple, observed the sacrifices and stayed within the Jewish religion. Paul also preached to the Gentiles (those outside of the Jewish religion) but we never have any record of Paul denouncing the Jewish faith and writing that anyone should.

The word "religion" comes from the Latin root "religio". That root simply means "to bind together." Moreover, Jesus never uses this word that we are aware of… neither the Latin form nor the Greek (neither "eusebeo" (pious) nor the more common "threskiea" (religion) form. Jesus never uses these words.

Additionally, Jesus' argument in the New Testament isn't with the "religious" people… those people who were bound to God in relationship (i.e.: the Jews). Instead, Jesus' argument (especially in Matthew 23) was with the hypocrites and legalism. Those two groups of people are very different from religious. While it may seem at this point like semantics, I don't think it is. For whatever reason, Mr. Bethke chooses the word "religion" and then drives and drives and drives on it. Had he used the word "legalism," I would have been more on board.

But I need religion. I need to be reminded of the things that keep me in relationship with God. See, I'm prone to wander off (mostly after shiny things). I need to be reminded by my church… by my Bible… by influential Christians in my life… by weekly observance of the Lord's Supper… by the songs that remind me of what Jesus has done… by a variety of things that I am in relationship… that I am bound to God together in a covenant. Jesus didn't come to destroy… abolish… do away with… or any other verb form… religion. Jesus came to fulfill it. All of those things are part of the religion that binds me to Jesus.

Secondly, I am most uncomfortable with the notion that Mr. Bethke puts forward that he doesn't need the church.
Oh, you might say that he says he "loves the church… loves the Bible." Unfortunately everything he said contracts that. While he says that he loves the church, he bashes it… calls it a museum for good people… a starter of wars (that is entirely different discussion… Mr. Bethke should read a little more history and little less Mr. Hawkins)… failure to feed the poor.

This is most unfortunate. The Bible that I spend time reading calls the church (the ecclesia… the assembly) the Body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23 and Colossians 1:18)), the Bride of Christ that Jesus sacrificed for (Ephesians 5:25), a radiant bride without any blemish (Ephesians 5:27). The Church belongs to Jesus and Jesus belongs to the church. The Bible pictures the church as the bride of Christ. Now, I don't know how some people run their families, but nothing gets me more upset than someone saying bad things about my wife. That will draw anger quickly. And yet, the Bible calls the Church Jesus' bride. Do we not think that this pains and angers Jesus? (Personally, I think it does.

Furthermore, some in our church culture have begun to promulgate the notion that "all I need to be a Christian is to love Jesus." They don't see the need to connect with a church. They don't see the need to function within the church. They feel that they can float along, unconnected, just following Jesus and they will be an okay Christian. Sorry… that idea is just flat wrong. Jesus is the head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23) and we are commanded (not suggested) to stay connected to Jesus (John 15:4). If we are disconnected from the church, we are disconnected from God's people and we are disconnected from Jesus.

This individualistic notion has spilled over into our understanding of Jesus' death on the cross. Somewhere along the lines we have picked up this narcissistic perspective that when Jesus lived, and walked, and taught and died on the cross, Jesus was thinking about me. Craziness! Mr. Bethke even mentions it in his little poem. Jesus, when "he was dangling on the cross, he was thinking of you." Craziness! I'm not sure what Bible Mr. Bethke is reading… but in THE Bible, we have no idea what Jesus was thinking of. We know from what Jesus said that he was thirsty, he felt abandoned by his Father, that he forgave the soldiers, scribes and Pilate for putting him there, he spoke with the thief and that he was thinking of his mother Mary. But we have no notion, contrary to Michael W. Smith's song, that Jesus was thinking of me when he hung there. Maybe he was… maybe he wasn't. Was he dying for my sins? Absolutely. But was he thinking of a man who would be born in March of 1977 and become a youth pastor? Maybe… maybe not. We simply don't know. But I think we need to lose that narcissistic notion that I am the center of Jesus' universe.

It's not me and Jesus. Both fortunately and unfortunately, it's "us and Jesus." It's the community that bears his name in relationship with Jesus. That is the Church. That is an official religious binding in relationship between Jesus and His Church.

Finally… contrary to Mr. Bethke's poem, we are commanded to be religious in the Bible. Jesus' brother James, who likely wrote the book of James in our Bibles, instructs us that "7 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27). Is the church perfect? No way… because I'm there and I'm not perfect… and you're there and you aren't perfect. The church… organized religion… the people called and bound to Jesus in relationship… is the bride of Christ. And if we are going to follow Jesus, we must be connected.


Very Simple but fun game - Ups and Downs

I picked up a free e-book by Ryan Nielson over at Youth Ministry.com called "Rug Burn"  It is a simple e-book filled with 20 indoor simple youth ministry games.  All the games are super-simple... some I had heard and have used before... but some I hadn't.

But tonight, we stumbled on a goodie.  We do a mixture of active (running around kind of) games and media-based table trivia games.  Tonight, we decided to go active since we were sending kids out to after youth group parties called Y.A.C. (youth after church).  And grabbed a quick and easy game called "Ups and Downs." 

The game is simple.  Declare half of the students to be "ups" and the other half "downs."  Put cups either up or down all around the room.  Give the students a time limit and the nature of the game is to turn as many cups in their direction as possible.  Ups turn cups up and downs turn cups down.  You can't hold onto the cups and you can't smash any cups.  At the end, the team with the most up or down, wins!

I thought it sounded like fun.  I couldn't believe how quickly our students took to it.  We cued up some music... gave them 5 minutes and turned them loose! They went nuts! Running around! Screaming! Nearly tackling each other! It as very fun. 

In the end, it came down to one cup difference between the ups and downs.  Ups won!

Good game! I think it shall return!

Sometimes... good ideas are simple ideas!  Feel free to use it if you want a good game!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Daily Read - January 13, 2012

 20 Walk with the wise and become wise,
   for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tonight I sat alone in the high school room...

Tonight (Wednesday night), in a room that used to be full of noisy, soda drinking and talking teenagers, I sat alone.  It was empty.  And I sat in the middle of it. 


And I was okay with that. 

All around our building, our six small groups were just getting started.  Our students were interacting with their leaders and each other (I could hear them through the walls and closed doors... laughing... talking... catching up about their days and homework and iPod games).  They were interacting with each other.  The leaders were beginning their lessons. 

No lesson for me tonight. 

And I am okay with that. 

A couple of months ago, we dreamed about what it would be like to have a solid, backbone small group program.  And I have to say that it's happening.  We dreamed of a team of independent leaders (who united within the youth ministry team and vision) would take ownership of their small groups and lead them in ways that only they could do.  We dreamed of leaders loving students and students being connected to leaders (other than me).  We dreamed of leaders taking the leadership for their small group of 4 to 8 students and becoming another voice pointing them toward the cross of Christ. 

And it's happening!!!

And it's amazing!

At the beginning of the year, we made the tough call that our small groups would be "closed" meaning that you needed to sign up in order to join.  Those who didn't, were funneled toward a general group that I led (so that no one would be left out at church).  Over the holidays, we opened our groups up for a couple of weeks for new kids to get in.  All the students in my group are now in groups of their own with small group leaders. 

Tonight, as I sat alone in the middle of the high school room, a couple of thoughts dawned on me. 
1. Ministry is bigger than me.  It needs to be bigger than me.  Right now, as I type, our students are seeing Jesus working in the lives of other leaders... other than me.  Many of our students know my stories.  They know my life.  Some of them could tell some of my classic stories better than me.  Tonight, they get to hear different stories and be challenged in different ways that I can't do.

2. More voices is better for our students.  This ties in directly with what I just said.  Others are pouring what Jesus is doing in their lives into students.  Students are being challenged in ways that I cannot... because their stories aren't my stories.  God is using them in ways that He isn't using me.  Something happened this week in the lives of my leaders that didn't happen to me... and that something is illustrating what God is doing through their lives.

3. More people = more health.  If healthy is what we want... and it ought to be... we should all want health... then we have to get more people involved.  Could I teach all of our students?  Sure. I do it already weekly on Sunday nights.  If I did, would it be as good as what our small group leaders are doing? NO WAY!  They are doing a way better job than what I'm doing.  They are creative in ways that I am not (for instance... one of our high school girls' groups has two leaders... they invited their girls over to their house to make Christmas cookies.  While there, they took pictures of all of them and for Christmas gave them all unique picture frames with pictures taken at that party.  That's amazing! That's creative beyond what I could do! I never, ever, ever, would have thought of that!)!

So tonight... while I sat alone... I prayed for Katie and Megan, Doug and Andy, Betsy, Karen and Lora, Bill, and Deb and Diana.  And you know... it was better than "okay" that I was alone!

It was stinkin' awesome!!! Praise God for small groups!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Not sure how I feel about this... Jackie graduated...

Totally kidding...

Just wanted a title that would grab your attention.  Although, I am a bit bitter.  Jackie started her Masters of Arts in Counseling a semester after I started my MDiv and she finished a semester before me.  Maybe a little bitter...

But not really. 
But totally proud of her. 

She is amazingly smarter than I am.  I have almost made it through my MDiv... not because I'm smart (if you've been around me for any length of time, I'm not)... I've almost made it through because she is super-smart and has pushed me (shoved in many cases) to continue.

She isn't quite finished yet... if we were in Illinois, she would be (I think).  But Ohio's counseling laws are more stringent than Illinois' so she has another semester of work at Ashland. 

But she has at least crossed one finish line.  And she is narrowing down on another this May.  In fact, we'll hopefully get to cross that finish line together. We are planning to both walk at Lincoln in May.  That will be incredible. 

She will be completely done with her MAC.
I will be done with my MDiv. 

Glorious day!

Newsboys - God's Not Dead

Good stuff from the Newsboys!

Daily Read - January 10, 2012

 9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
   but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

Cool look at the whole year running-wise

Daily Mile sent along this cool little report of my 2011 running.  Pretty cool!


Monday, January 09, 2012

On reading the Bible...

11 I have hidden your word in my heart
   that I might not sin against you.

Today I finished a New Year's resolution from last year. 

The month of December was hard on me reading-wise.  I got behind (partly due to procrastination) in my seminary class and had to spend extra time finishing up the reading.  Once I got it done, I really didn't feel like reading.  So it took me a few extra days to finish my 2011 New Year's resolution to read through the entire Bible again last year. 

But I finished it. 

As a follower of Christ, I think that it's vital that we spend some time in God's word every day.  Personally, as a believer, I think it's important for me to read through the entire Bible every year.  Why?

Several reasons...
First, there are parts that I would skip if I didn't have a plan that expected me to read through the difficult parts.  Just like with my running, I don't usually like hill sprints or speed workouts, but they make me better.  As a Christian, there are parts of the Bible that are hard (either just hard to read: i.e. Leviticus... or hard for me to stomach because of my own walk).  But reading through the entire Bible forces me to read these parts along with the parts that I want. 

Second, I've got issues in my life that need to be dealt with.  When I read God's Word, often the Holy Spirit smacks me in the face with something that needs some work.  If I don't have time in God's Word, I'm less likely to get smacked.  But I'm also less likely to grow (see first point).

Third, reading God's Word every year reminds me of what God has done in the past and is continuing to do in the present.  It's easy for me to get focused on me.  God's Word reminds me that God's story is bigger than me.  It's broader than me.  It includes more people than just me and my church family in my little corner of the world. 

Fourth, reading God's Word every year reminds me of what God has done for all of us: salvation through the sacrifice of the cross.  Without the difficult books like Exodus and Leviticus, we really don't understand all the complexities of the cross and Jesus' perfect sacrifice on it.  I need those parts to explain other parts.  It all ties together... therefore, all of it has to be read. 

Unfortunately, many Christians don't see the need or have the desire to feast on God's Word.  Honestly, this is sad I believe that it breaks God's heart.  Over 1,500 years through 40 different authors on multiple continents God worked to make sure that His word was recorded so we would know how to live.  Since then, the Church has worked tirelessly to make sure that God's Word was preserved through church history and multiple church leaders (i.e.: Luther) fought and in some cases sacrificed their lives in order to have it translated into our language so we can feast on it regularly.  Yet many of our houses sit with Bibles lined on the shelves that never move... let alone get read. 

Come on Church! Let's get with the program. 

We (all of us...) need to commit to spending time regularly in God's Word.  You don't have to read through the entire Bible in a year like I do... there's nothing special/magical/amazing about that.  For me, it's a good time marker and creates a goal (I like goals... they keep me moving forward).  If it takes you a year, 3 years or 5 years... doesn't really matter.  What matters is that you are hiding God's Word in your heart.  You're getting God's perspective on life.

And I firmly believe that we are failing as Christians and our churches are struggling and we are losing the battle against the enemy because of our own laziness... because we aren't spending time in God's Word on a regular basis. 

We should all resolve to spend 5 or 10 or 20 minutes in God's Word every day

Looking for a place to get started? There are over 130 Bible reading plans on YouVersion for you to choose from.  There are reading plans that go for a month... 6 months... a whole year.  You can read through the whole Bible (in different orders), read through the New Testament a couple of times along with other books... there is lots of variety.  Look through them, pick one and get started!

Come on Church... Let's step up and get it done!


Daily Read - January 9, 2012

  11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:    KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Daily Read - January 3, 2012

5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
 6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Running... 2012 style!

I've been thinking a lot over the past week or so about my running goals for 2012. 

I like goals.  Goals keep me moving in a direction.  They keep me moving forward.  They give me something to look back on and feel a sense of accomplishment about.  (Here's a link to last year's goals...) I accomplished almost everything off my list from last year.  Which makes me feel great!

I ran the Flying Pig... unfortunately I didn't break the 2 hour mark.  It was a crappy day and several things led to it not happening. But overall: I was pleased with the day's effort.  I ran the Air Force Marathon... and did better than I thought I would.  I broke the 24 minute mark in the 5k not once, but twice.  I didn't get a chance to run an official 10k.  My weight thing is doing pretty well... I'm hanging right around 230.  I could use to lose a few pounds... but we'll see how I am after the holiday sweets are out of the house for the season.

All in all... 2012 was a successful year running for me. 
Plus, I destroyed my goal of running 750 miles.  I actually racked up 1201.43 miles for the year.  That's incredible to me.  I ran 217 times over the course of the year making my daily running average about 5.5 miles.  Counting all the days of the year, including non-running days, I still averaged 3.3 miles per day.  Awesome!

So... where shall I go in 2012?
Half Marathon:
This will likely be the last year that I set out to run a half marathon and train for it.  That's not to say that I will never run the half distance again... I'm just finding it difficult to think about training.  I'm in winter maintenance mode (which means I'm really not running hard or pushing it) and I'm currently running more than my half training schedule instructs.  But I'm going run the Cap City Half in Columbus in May with Jackie and Donnie (our worship minister).  That will make it extra fun!  My plan is to train for it like it's a marathon and smash the two hour mark and maybe hit the 90 minute mark (we'll see). 

Full Marathon:
I'm planning to knock another race off my bucket list... the Chicago Marathon in October.  My bucket list contains the major marathons... New York... Boston... Chicago... I thought I'd go ahead and knock it off! I'm planning to break the 4 hour mark in the marathon while I'm at it.  Additionally, I will be running to raise funds for Active Water. I'm joining their "Team Chicago."  But more on that later...

As I already stated... besides breaking the 2 hour and 4 hour marks in the half and full respectably, I have my eye on breaking the 22 minute mark in the 5k.  Hopefully I'll be ready to test my time at the Caldwell Fireman's Festival in July again.  In my last 5k, I was only 57 seconds from breaking that barrier...

Run Streak(???):
I caught on a couple of days late... but I picked up on the Runner's World Run Streak Challenge.  It was an unofficial run streak challenge to run every day (at least a mile) between Thanksgiving and New Year's. The idea was to fight off the effects of the holiday cookies, parties and sweets with a run every day.  I thought it was worth a shot. For me, today was day 36. I'm not sure if I'm going to continue it or not.  I like the rhythm of running every day... but it is also time consuming.  We'll see how long it continues.

I have never run a 10k race.  I'm hoping this will be the year that changes.  Maybe I should go and see if I can find one.    

So... there are a few things that are running around in my head as I begin to run into the new year.  We'll see how the new year goes.  I'm excited about what it holds. 


Daily Read - January 2, 2012

 20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Daily Read - January 1, 2012

1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.