Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Malachi 3: 8 "Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How are we robbing you?'
"In tithes and offerings."

Before the three kings left their palaces, they did a most important thing that secured their successful journey. They loaded up their camels with a very valuable offering to present to the King of Kings. Their offering was not an afterthought, but forethought. Their gold, frankincense and myrrh were chosen as an offering to the King of King's by each of three lesser kings.

This is the eve of 2012. Where do you want to be financially, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, physically, etc, a year from now. It will be by God's grace we have any movement at all in any aspect of our life. This is why the refusal of giving tithes and offerings is considered to be robbing God, for it is God who brought you into a better place. Look ahead to 2012, and join the three kings on their journey to Bethlehem and bring tithes and offerings with you.

Lord, thank you for what the New Year holds. Guide us as we choose to thank you with tithes and offerings for your sufficient grace.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Belonging

Malachi 2: 15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.

The scriptures don't say whether or not the three kings were married and if they brought their wives with them on the long journey from Persia to Bethlehem. I am guessing that they didn't bring their wives, and would certainly have had opportunities along the way to give their bodies to another woman. Opportunity does not equal permission.

Opportunities abound to give one's body and spirit to other's especially for one's in the financial position of the three kings'. As we continue our journey to Bethlehem, let us make a fresh commitment to stay focused on the mission and to keep ourselves only for the Lord and our spouse.

Lord, we have already given our bodies and spirit as an entire human being over to you and have reserved ourselves only for you and our spouse. We re-commit ourselves to this vow and make a fresh offering up unto you. Take away any desire that is unpleasing to you. In Jesus name, amen.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Advocate

Proverbs 31: 8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute

No doubt the three kings witnessed social injustice as they journeyed from Persia to Bethlehem. As strangers on a journey they would have been limited on what they could do about any injustice they saw.

We who have lived in the same area for a long time may no longer see injustice in our community. It sometimes takes fresh eyes coming into our communities to see what we have failed to see for a long time. Will you be open to looking around for social injustices and use what power has been delegated to you by God and those in authority to do something about it?

Lord as we journey through life, help us not be blind and unconcerned for those who cannot or won't speak up for themselves. Empower us to be like you, the Great Advocate. In Jesus name, amen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Names not numbers

Ps. 147: 4 He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.

Last night I held my phone up to the sky and with an application, discovered a particular star was T5065. It made me wonder, what God calls that particular star. There are stars we don't even know exist, and God "calls them each by name". On the journey from Persia to Bethlehem, the three kings were guided by a star. This time of year with the shorter days (at least on our spot on the planet), try to go outside and imagine the greatness of God who "determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name".

Lord, help us get away from the artificial world we have made and re-engage with the creation you have made. Remind us of you mind, your will, your memory, you ability to recall thoughts, and your kindness to give us names not numbers. In Jesus name, amen.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Thought Seeds

Zechariah 8: 12 For I am planting seeds of peace and prosperity among you.

On the long journey from Persia to Bethlehem, there surely would have been moments when the three kings would have gotten on each other's nerves and some level of negative tension would have arisen. It is the day after Christmas and it is possible to get on one another's nerves today. It is also possible to be a vessel of peace and prosperity in all our interactions.

At any moment of our lives the enemy of all that is good is attempting to plant seeds of discord, discontent, disharmony, deceit and anything to hinder our harmonious relationships with one another. Also, at all moments, the Lord Himself is planting seeds of peace and prosperity to bless our relationships. On this day in our journey, let us give no place to the devil and his thought seeds. On this day, let our hearts be a fertile ground for the Lord's seeds of peace and prosperity.

Lord, we repent of giving place to the thought seeds of Satan. They will not grow, but die. I choose to forgive and to grow the thought seeds of peace and prosperity in all my relationships. In Jesus name, amen.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Blessed and Merry Christmas

Following in the steps of the three kings will help us avoid the post-Christmas let down. Prolonging this exciting season until January 6 will help capture all the essences this blessed time of year holds. Holding onto the unique feeling of Christmas morning until after the New Year as we continue our own personal journey to Bethlehem will balance out the high's and lift up the lows of this season. If you cannot make it out to the "assembling" with others in worship, I pray you can find a few minutes to break away from family long enough to bow silently in His presence and give thanks for all He is and all He has already provided through His birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and His soon and sudden return.

Lord, thank you that our journey to your presence is both already completed and not yet completely entered into. Help us keep pressing on and forward into all the adventures that lay before us. And… Happy Birthday, we give ourselves to you.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

The day after a zero day for the three kings would have begun early. After a day of rest, the human being rises early and is well into their day as the sun rises. The kings had passed the halfway mark and would feel the excitement building that they were over halfway to the place the star was leading them.

Culturally, Christmas Eve is a day many of us gear up for all year long. It is a day that is integrated with so many streams of thought, emotions, materials, foods, friends, family, faith, duties, work, play, hobbies, entertainment, and countless random ideas and pursuits. The freedom to explore all of what it means to be human was made possible by the coming of the Kingdom of God, in the person of Jesus Christ. Without guilt, enjoy all the blessings of the Kingdom of God, and quietly and loudly, alone and in groups, in word and deeds, let us celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Allow the excitement of this day, propel you forward into 2012 and into all the possibilities that the rule and reign of Jesus Christ offers.

Lord, there are so many things going on that it is hard to fully express the thoughts and thankfulness we feel. Accept our praise and thanks and we give you all the honor and glory for all that exists and for all that will come into existence as we follow you into this day. In Jesus name, amen.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Zero day

Zechariah 4: 6 Then he said to me, "It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies".

The three kings on their journey to Bethlehem probably had a few days like I am feeling this morning. I am feeling like doing nothing productive, and just chilling out. Even AT through hikers has zero days, as I am sure the three kings did. I cannot remember my parental units ever encouraging myself or my two brothers to ever take a day, or a half a day and just do nothing and let your mind, emotions, body and being just chill out. My heavenly Father not only encourages a day of rest, but included it in the TEN COMMMANDMENTS. They were VERY important. It is possible your day of rest doesn't always cycle on the day of worship that your community of worship has set aside as the day to rest from your human forces and human strength.

Why is a moment or two of doing nothing so important? Zechariah captured some of it. We put too much stock in our human force and strength to get things accomplished. Every now and then, we need to rest from our efforts and put our full trust in the Lord, without guilt.

Lord, help us recapture the Sabbath rest. Help us enter into your rest, especially on the days when we don't wake with energy or will to do anything productive. On those days, help us focus our energies on loving you and trusting you to get things done in our lives. In Jesus name, amen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Medi Port Removed

By now, the three kings would have figured out there were things they brought on the journey of following the star they really didn't want or need anymore. They would have to face the fact that what they thought they needed they really didn't need and therefore a choice had to be made. Do I keep carrying this thing I don't need? I recently read of a strategy employed by through hikers of the AT. They are carried fifty or more miles into the AT, and hike back to the front so they can figure out what they don't really want or need and get rid of it. They then are carried back to their put in spot, and carry on the hike without the stuff they didn't want or need.

Yesterday, after a few months of thinking and getting multiple inputs from my oncologist and nurses, I had my medi port removed. It had served me well and protected my arm veins from the toxicity of the chemotherapy. Its purpose had been completed, and now it had to be removed. It was a hassle and it hurts and I almost passed out during the process. If you choose to de-clutter your life it will be initially a hassle, it will hurt and you may almost pass out in the process. Eventually, you will be glad you let it or them go. I also have less than 10% on my laptops hard drive. Deleting old, duplicate, and uploading pictures to online storage is time consuming, and is also a hassle.

Question? What spiritual, emotional, physical, relational, or material stuff are you carrying that you don't want or need anymore?

Lord, help us continue our journey without regrets as we let go of stuff and get rid of stuff and relationships we don't want or need for our journey to Bethlehem. Help us lighten up as we enter the second half of our journey. In Jesus name, amen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mid Life Crisis

Zechariah 1: 3 "Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.'"

We are at the half way point in the journey from Persia to Bethlehem, and it is a good time to reflect. Half time at a game, the middle of one's life span, the turnaround at a loop ultra marathon, are all times to reflect and give up, do something stupid, or press ahead, and do something wise. Something about passing over and beyond the half way point provides a burst of energy to 'get 'er done', or some other version of finishing the race. We all know people who make changes that are less than positive after times of reflection on how their life is going. Many families have been hurt when one member decides to leave their families and make another one. As we reflect on our lives, (and in every life there is pain and disappointment), let us turn towards God and receive his mercy, grace, forgiveness and strength to make our second half better than our first.

Lord, help us not do something stupid with our lives as we reflect on where we are in life. We give our disappointments to you, and we fully return to you in every way and in everything. With your grace we will make the right choices as we enter the second half of our journey to Bethlehem. In Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Looking backwards and forwards

Zephaniah 14 "That terrible day of the LORD is near.
Swiftly it comes—

We are to simultaneously look back and remember the first coming, the Incarnation, and look forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The second coming will be sudden and unexpected and is described as being similar to an unexpected nocturnal burglar. For those who are prepared for a night time burglary, a visit by a thief in the night will not be a "terrible day". A person can be fully prepared for the second coming, by fully embracing one's relationship with God, through Christ Jesus.

By now, on the journey from Persia to Bethlehem, the three kings would have needed to be re-supplied. Their food and water they prepared in Persia would have to be replenished.

Today is a good day to pause, and take note of your spiritual life and re-supply and replenish yourself with all a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ offers.

Lord, if we are not fully ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ, awaken us to our need so we can pause our life, repent of our condition, and renew our relationship with you. In Jesus name, amen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Go Outside

Hab. 3:19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,

Indoor exercise machines and the controlled environments of gyms are great for winter time exercise. It is also a great stimulation to get outside and exercise in nature and feel the earth beneath your feet, the cold air fill your lungs, the sounds of hawks fill your ears, the scent of leaves fill your nose, and the sights that leafless trees affords you. The three wise men didn't embark on a 1000 mile journey without a lifetime of mental and physical preparation.

How is the Lord making you as surefooted as the deer?

Lord, help me to cooperate with your plan of making me surefooted as the deer. Lead me and I will follow you into the path's that lead to mobility, endurance and health.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Occupy Bethlehem!

As we journey to occupy Bethlehem, the real question is not so much, "What are we going to occupy?" but more, "Will we allow Christ to occupy our hearts?"

Lord, help us be concerned and moved to action for justice and peace, and even more concerned and moved to action to enter into a relationship with God, through Christ Jesus. May every human being receive the message that God so loved them that Jesus was given and can be received as Lord and savior.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Nahum?

Nahum 1:2 "The LORD is a jealous God"

On our journey's through life is to include a daily focus on loving God that lingers all through the day.

Lord, we love you, adore you, give ourselves to you, and may our love for you linger all through the day and into the night, forever and ever, amen.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lighten up

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 NLT)

The same prophet who predicted that Bethlehem would be the birth place of the Messiah also provides a short list of basic requirements. The longer one follows Jesus the less requirements are needed.

In long runs or long, through hikes of the AT, less baggage is the ideal. The less stuff you bring is better. I am reading a story of a through hiker who got rid of her cook stove early in her hike of the AT. One of the harder things to do as one progresses in building up endurance for long runs or hikes is to get rid of stuff that you thought you might need but really don't need.

I am sure that by now the three kings would have gotten rid of some of the stuff they didn't need.

What excess "requirements" do you need to let go of so that you can go the full distance and occupy Bethlehem?

Lord, help us lighten up so we can go the full distance and occupy the place and person of Jesus.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Smart Phone Aps

Mt. 2: 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.(NIV)

On Monday night I was privileged to sit beside Pastor Mark Lehmann, of Cornerstone Assembly of God in Bowie, Maryland. If you have ever wondered what preachers talk about when they sit together, let me assure you it is a very wide and diverse series of topics. Just one, was comparing smart phone applications. Pastor Mark shared one that enabled you to raise your smart phone to any place and it would display and give you the names of the stars, constellations, and even satellites that were in the area. I quickly downloaded it, and had fun playing with it. Living with so much light pollution, it is hard to fully enjoy a star filled sky, but this was not the case for the three kings who travelled from Persia to Bethlehem to see the birth of the King of all Kings. They didn't have this smart phone app., to point at the star and be told what it was or what its purpose was, or what sign it was signaling. The star of Bethlehem was set apart, unique and had one purpose. That purpose was to signal the birth of the King of the Universe. Once the three Kings found what the star was signaling, their worship was pointed to the King of Kings. At least once this December, go outside at night, away from the city, and just look up and be awed at the mystery of stars.

Lord, move us, awaken us, alert us to love you, others and life as we simultaneously remember your first coming, and prepare for your second. In Jesus name, amen

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To Take

Mark 11: 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.(NIV)

The original written language of the scriptures defines the word received as "to take" and "to get hold of". (Strong's Concordance G2983). I, personally like being around babies and toddlers and this I have learned. Once a toddler has a piece of candy or a toy, that they have taken a hold of, it is a real fight to get it away from them. They learn early how to grasp the item they have taken a hold of, and run with one fist and arm clenched and held close to their body.

One, very good reason to have at least ten minutes a day with God is "to take" and "to get hold of", God's will, plan, purpose, promises, direction, wisdom, etc. for your life. This human life is good, but it also can also try to take away a portion of God's wonderful, abundant, blessed plan from your life. Today is my quarterly check up with my oncologist. The positive condition I am now experiencing was at one time only by faith. Now it is sight. Now it is feel, taste, touch and hearing. As we journey to Bethlehem, we will encounter doubt, unbelief, insecurity, failures, slip ups, mistakes, and the limitations of being human. It is also possible, "to take" and "to get hold of" a promise from God, and not let go of it no matter how long the journey. There will be a day when faith has become sight.

What is a promise from God that you need/want "to take" and "to get hold of"?

Lord, help us to take and get a hold of, and not let go of any your promises. In Jesus name.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Don Webb

Revelations 12: 11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony ;( NIV)

My good friend Don Webb through hiked the Appalachian Trail this year. An even greater feat was overcoming cancer (Lymphoma), a few years ago, and was a source of encouragement to me and others who also faced and overcame this deadly disease. I sat beside Don last night at the Potomac District Christmas Party and he is full of amazing stories from his hike on the AT. He has also kept his bald head look, while I have chosen to let mine grow out with the plan of donating it. Our friendships influence us and also allows for our own individuality to come forth. I also sat beside Mark Lehman and Wayne Brimmer. (The men decided to sit one side of the table and talk, so our wives could do the same.) Sitting with these overcoming men, influenced me for good and I left the party encouraged in the Lord and in life.

The three wise men must have had a similar chemistry among themselves. Each one contributed to the friendship and brought their own uniqueness to the journey they chose to make. Be encouraged to give and receive in the context of friendships. A simple choice of who to sit with, fellowship with, hang out with, or journey for a thousand miles with can prove very instrumental in forming and shaping our lives.

Lord, help us be strong in the Lord and be strengthened in the Lord through our relationships.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Headlamps and Tail lamps

Amos 5:8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
…the Lord is his name.

With the shorter days of winter it is inevitable that one's exercise routine will either begin in the dark or end in the dark. I have learned the hard way to always carry a headlamp and a tail lamp. I have added the tail lamp, after being run over by a bicyclist on a downhill stretch of the W.&O.D. near Difficult Run. One of my favorite most memorable runs was at night during a light snow, through Clark's Crossing and the trails that parallel the W.&O.D. With a headlamp one can get out in the dark and enjoy the One who made the stars, and be awed into humility at the greatness of our God. The three wise men followed a star to find the birth place our Lord and Savior so they must have traveled at night. Exercising at night opens up a whole new world and could provide the awakening to a depth and majesty of God that may have been lost with so much time in manmade structures and systems.

Lord, help us press through our fear of the dark and enjoy the heavenlies. Help us face and overcome every fear that hinders us from your wonderful plan for our lives.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Who doesn’t lack something?

Everyone lacks something they want or need. This hunger for more will never be completely satisfied. There is a God way to have one's needs and wants met, and it is found throughout the bible. There is also an accurate description of why one's needs and wants are not being met. The following passage specifically deals with wisdom, but you can also fill in your own blank of what you are wanting and needing.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. (NIV)

Everyone lacks something they want or need and this passage says it is because of "doubt". If we are honest we can admit that with every prayer request, some have at least a little doubt attached to them. That little bit of doubt is all it takes to continue to lack what you want and need.

As we remember the first coming of Christ, and prepare for the second coming of Christ, let us "believe and not doubt".

Lord, we lack (___________________). I want (__________________) and need (_____________________). I ask you for this, in Jesus name. I believe, and I do not and will not doubt, because you give generously without finding fault. I receive what I want and need, in Jesus name, amen.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Praise the Lord

Psalms 103: 2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—

3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases

Let this thought be your thought. Let this word become your word. When thoughts, feelings, and even symptoms of diseases come into your being, you will act on what you believe to be true. You will give voice to what you believe for good or not so good. Give voice to the Word instead of the voice of past sins that still condemn. Give voice to the Word instead of the voice of a past disease that wants to re-establish itself.

Combining stretching, and any form of physical exercise with scripture memorization and meditation for at least ten minutes will have a profound and long lasting effect.

Lord, we praise you. Help us remember your benefits. Thank you for the reminder that you have already forgiven every sin, and healed all my diseases. In Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Iran to Bethlehem

It is approximately 1000 miles that the three Persian Kings travelled to see the birth of the Son of God. The hardest steps were within the first few days. Starting anything new that involves a life change is the most difficult at the beginning. Offering your entire self to God for a minimum of ten minutes a day, and every day is a life change and the hardest time is right now. Those who fish know that the hardest fish is the first fish in the boat. Whatever context you are familiar with; please accept that it requires much more effort to start a positive spiritual discipline. Combine ten minutes of any physical exercise, with listening to scripture, praying, watching a pastor on TV. and/or singing praises and you will be doing what you didn't think you could ever do. Elevate scripture above your own thoughts, feelings, health, job, dysfunctions, etc., and allow God's Word to transform your entire being. Like the three kings, one day, there won't be a 1000 miles to Bethlehem, but 900, then 800, … There were some days the three kings travelled much farther than others, but it was the consistent moving forward every day, that brought them to where they were called to be.

I am asking for 100% of us, to love ourselves enough to grow in our experiential relationship with God. December is the time to remember the first coming of Christ and prepare for the Second Coming.

Romans 12: 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Lord, help us elevate Your Word over our thoughts, feelings, health, job, relationships, emotions and everything and everyone. Help us to allow Your Word to transform us into your wonderful plan for us. In Jesus name, amen.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ten to Twenty minutes can change your life

2 Peter 3:11 asks this question. "What kind of people ought you to be?"

The question reveals our solutions to our life challenges. We can do something about ourselves and our circumstances. If we would take away our excuses of why we are not the kind of person we ought to be, we could become the kind of person we ought to be. Think about your own life issues that frustrate you, trouble you, worry you, cause fear, create lust, cause depression, and stir up anger or any of the countless issues of what it means to be human.

December is the best time to make positive life changes because it is the season of Advent, the time of remembering the first coming and preparing for the second coming of Christ. We all lose the sense of urgency to make life changes over a long and prospered life. Narrowing the time frame in which we have to be ready for something, provides us the energy and will to do something about our life situations.

This is a minimum daily recommendation for life changes during December. Every day engage in at least 10 minutes of physical exercise in a setting where you can give yourself to the Lord. Walking, stretching, doing stairs, pushups, sit-ups, running, biking, or anything that you can commit to doing for ten minutes every day. The key is consistently incorporating some level of strengthening your relationship with God at the same time. On some days, increase the time as opportunity presents itself. Every day elevate God's Word over your feelings, attitudes, health, finances, relationships, job situation, and any and everything about your life. Elevate scriptures by reading a few verses, and then think on them during the day, and replace your thoughts and words with God's thoughts and words. You can find resources that have scriptures set to songs, or with the option of listening if you are really pressed for time. This ten to twenty minutes of every day, will help you become the kind of person you ought to be.


 

Lord, I die to a life of making excuses of why I am not the person I ought to be. As I remember your first coming, and prepare for your second coming, I receive your empowered grace to think your thoughts, say your words and do your will. In Jesus name, amen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Religious Fatalism

Some have a religion concerned only with not doing anything wrong. This puts you in the category of the person in the parable of the talents (opportunities of the kingdom) who buried the talent (opportunity) he was given out of fear of doing something wrong with that opportunity.

Lord, help us live by faith, not fear of doing something wrong.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Parable of the Talents

The parable of the talents is often superimposed with our own world view of what a talent was. The biblical view of the talents is "not natural endowments given to humanity in general, but the specific privileges and opportunities of the kingdom of heaven". This is not our talent of singing, or crunching numbers, or writing, or athleticism, or the lack of it. The talents or bags of gold, are the specific privileges and opportunities of the kingdom of heaven. I have heard preachers say, "if you don't use your singing, teaching, administrative talents for God's work, you will lose them, and base this on the parable of the talents. This has contributed to the burn out and guilt often found among active church going followers of Jesus Christ. Doing all things for the glory of God with all of one's natural endowments is a more biblical approach to life in following Jesus. The talents or bags of gold are the opportunities to bring yourself and others into a deepening, maturing relationship with God.

Lord, help us overcome burnout and guilt that has been imposed upon us by a lack of biblical knowledge. Do help us view positively the privileges and opportunities that you arrange for us, so we can grow in our relationship with you, and to invite others into a relationship with you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Running Cancer and Chemotherapy free

Saturday, November 5 will be the first race in memory that I will be running free of cancer and chemotherapy. The journey into and through the valley of the shadow of death will be celebrated in the Mountain Masochist 50 mile trail run. I pray this is an encouragement to those who may be just starting on their journey a valley of the shadow of death.

Lord, thank you for your carrying grace through cancer and chemotherapy. I offer this and all future races up unto you,

In Jesus name, amen.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Blessed Halloween?

A blessed All Hallowed Eve on this eve of All Saints day. Halloween isn't supposed to be about scaring people, but drawing people deeper in faith and more willing to suffer for and with Jesus. November 1 is a day to honor the many who have been martyred for following Jesus Christ. The evening prior (October 31) has become something it was never intended to be.

Lord, help us suffer with you by saying yes to building faith, and saying no to building fear.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Parade Outreach!

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ has made every day, a day that anyone can enter into God's presence. There are no 'evil' days because of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ to the place of authority and power. We can join in joyful agreement with God's finished work, or live in fear, cowered down and be judgmental to those who enjoy Halloween.

Lord, help us to make every day, especially Halloween, the day that you have made, and we will rejoice in it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Never give up

The Apostle Paul said, in 2 Timothy 4: 17…"I was delivered from the lion's mouth". I wonder how he got there. I also wonder how he never yielded to fear and quitting. Being in a lions mouth would certainly give a person reason to think, that "God was taking me home", or "God has called my number" or, any number of things that God's people say when death is imminent, or a situation is impossible.

Lord, forgive us for quitting when you desire to deliver us from the lion's mouth. By your grace we are saved. By faith we enter into your grace, and in your grace we are delivered from the impossibilities of life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Following Jesus back into health

Early this year, I felt the Lord ask me to "follow" him back into ultra marathons. In this process of following I wanted to give a short update on the results of following Jesus. Late winter and spring of this year, I was able to complete three 50k's. Last week I was able to complete a 15 mile long run, after recovering from an injury in the spring. This morning I was able to complete 50 pushups and 50 sit-ups after the back injury (multiple compression fractures of my vertebrae) from 2009. One's health is something the Lord can lead anyone into, if the Lord is welcome into one's health. Next week mark's the end of the chemotherapy season of my life having finished 18 weeks of R-CHOP in 2009 and two years of Rituxan.

Lord, we welcome you into our health and well being. We ask that you would lead us into better and better health. Thank you that you have provided all the health we will ever need. Help us follow your leadership.

In Jesus name, amen.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake

Romans 8: 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

All creation, says Paul, is waiting with earnest longing for the day when the sons of God will be manifested in glory.

Creation includes the globe, global climate changes, weather, droughts, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes.

This seems to imply that the problems being experienced with creation are waiting on us.

It was very early in my Christian life, I heard and read this, and maybe like me, you don't want or can't get your mind around this.

It's okay.

A child of God, a joint heir with Jesus, has been born from above, can make a difference in creation, and creation is waiting for us to manifest ourselves.

Do you pray for creation at all?

Do you even think, your prayers can make a difference in earthquakes, droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires, plagues and pestilences?

A trait of most of us in Northern Virginia is that we are always in a hurry and don't like to wait on slow people. When I check out at the grocery store, I try to find the line with the shortest wait time, and the fastest checkout person. It's a game, and a gamble, and sometimes you pick right and others times you don't.

How many of us do the same? Waiting for someone else to get done with their business is not a favorite activity for any of us. We want the person we are waiting on the quickly get done. We don't mind waiting if the person we are waiting on is doing their best.

Very few of us enjoy waiting on the interstate in a very, very long line of traffic. We would rather be moving forward, than waiting.

Creation is waiting for us to fully manifest our relationship as heirs with Jesus Christ.

This obscure scripture is not even on very many people's prayer list, but it should be.

Creation is waiting for us, to fully manifest a family relationship with God the Father, and be stewards over this creation.

Jesus spoke peace to the storms, and so should we.

Jesus spoke to trees that were not fruitful, and so should we.

Jesus spoke to mountains that needed moving, and so should we.

The Father cares for even sparrows, and so should we.

Jesus drank from water wells and cisterns, and needed fresh water to be safe, and so do we.

Jesus, the Apostles all breathed air, that needed to be clean and pure, and so should we.

Creation waits for all of us, to manifest ourselves to be who we are. Sons and daughters of the Creator, who pray for and bless the Creator's creation.

The selfishness and greed of mankind can create the dust bowls of the past, and the droughts and maybe even the fires that Arizona experienced.

We don't want the Creator's creation waiting on us to manifest ourselves as Heirs with Christ. We need to get on with our loving lives, and extend that love to the Creator's creation.

Be a prayer blessing to the Creator's creation.

In Jesus name, bless the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the trees, the rivers, the forests, the mountains, the oceans, the lakes, the flora, the fauna, the weather, and all of creation.

I am now a published photographer, for a picture I took is in an article entitled, Trashing wildlife", in the Virginia Wildlife magazine.

From cigarette butts, to once helium filled balloons, to plastic grocery bags, to a plastic cup that a deer had stepped in, are a sign that the fullness of the manifestation of the children of God has not happened.

More greed, more selfishness, more cigarette butts, more trash is being selfishly thrown into creation, and instead of creation being blessed, creation remains waiting for the manifestation of the children of God to be the stewards of creation, they were meant to be.

Instead of blaming God, when a violent storm occurs, or a drought occurs or a fire occurs or an earthquake occurs why not ask, what could a human being do about that? Instead of asking, where is God in times of human suffering because of weather, ask, why do human beings allow so much suffering.

The evil times predicted for the end times are directly connected to people who love themselves, or selfishness.

We are to love God, others and this life, and be manifested as children of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ, and let us stop having creation waiting on us.

Take a moment every day to bless in Jesus name, as heirs with Christ, the Creator's creation.

Lord, we pause and pray for your creation. We agree in prayer with the "groans" of creation that we and creation will share in the glory you have promised and provided for us.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lovin’ Life run and bike in a storm along the Potomac River

Tom Kraft and I did some loving life tonight and are trying to initiate a new ministry at VAOG called a Lovin' Life run/bike/walk/hike experience. Here is the Lovin' Life run and bike along the Potomac Heritage Trail highlights for this evening: 5 p.m. start, 95 degrees, thunder in distance, check weather ap and map and we hope it passes to the north, semi trespass through the Trump golf course, hills too steep to ride, roots, rocks, mud, river, creeks, bridges, more mud, more rocks, roots, sky turning darker, thunder closer, temperature cooler, stinging nettles, path through weeds, creeks, Potomac River, discussion at 3.5 miles to turn back as storm is approaching, high winds, dark sky, very dark sky, leaves blowing off, tree limbs falling, larger tree limbs falling, deer running scared, river rising, proclaiming the Lordship of Christ over storms and falling limbs, more proclaiming the rule and reign of Jesus over nature, lightning cracking overhead, downpour, phone water logged goes blank, glasses fogged, holding glasses in teeth, Tom Kraft running very fast, I can't keep up on my bike, worried wives calling, storm passes, debris everywhere, cooler temps, peace, adrenaline levels off, reconnection with family, shower, dinner, and the stinging nettles are still tingling two hours later. Jesus is Lord over storms, nettles and falling tree limbs.

Living by faith with accompanying adrenaline rushes as one is loving life with loved ones is one of the great experiences of being human in loving relationship with God, others and life itself.

Thank you, Jesus, that you are Lord over storms, nature, tree limbs, winds, rain and everyone and everything. Your rule and reign is very much appreciated and in relationship with you life really is an adventure.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Everything was Experimental

In the earliest Christian churches, everything was experimental and especially with the Corinthian church. They had nothing but a wild, pagan religious background and the Apostle Paul had to both encourage the gifts of the Spirit and to teach on the boundaries of giving voice to the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are Gifts for the common good, and may all who follow Christ, allow for some experimental expressions within the boundaries set by the scripture.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

“And in that place many believed in Jesus”.

Vienna Assembly of God is strategically located as a transition between the residential and the industrial zones in Vienna, VA. Our parking lot serves as a blessing to the community because parking is so limited in the industrial zone. For many it is just a parking lot and it is treated as such, with all the manifestations of rudeness and litter that rude people leave behind them for someone else to clean up. For the congregation it is a place that we pray and have set aside as a "place many believed in Jesus" Jn. 10:42. Viva Vienna is coming in another week and thousands of people will come in and out of our parking lot, with the hope and belief that while they were in the parking lot, the Holy Spirit will draw them closer and closer to relationship with Jesus and cross the line of faith, and come to active ministry at VAOG. In addition, every Saturday we have an agreement with the Town of Vienna for our parking lot to serve the community to provide parking for the Vienna Farmer's Market. Last night in prayer and bible study those that were present prayed and agreed in prayer with generations of VAOG's members, that 100 Ayrhill Ave. N.E., Vienna, VA. will be a "place many believed in Jesus".

Lord, may everyone who walks through or parks in the parking lot be drawn closer and closer to a relationship with you, become active in following you and become active in ministry at Vienna Assembly of God.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Promise Land 50K 2011

I probably could have finished a little faster if I didn't pause to take in the beauty of this waterfall, and plead with a hiker if he would take my picture and email it to me. The last time I ran this (2007), I vowed that if I ever made it back to this spot that I would take the time to get a picture, and the Lord provided with a really nice person. This is a little over a marathon distance at this point. I was really needing a break as this is a 4.1 mile climb, and it felt straight up, complete with about a thousand man made steps and a gagillion others. It took me about 2 hours to make it from aid station 6 to 7 and lots of people passed me. I was turtle slow and so I just enjoyed the beauty of God's creation, and encouraged the many people who were faster than I. I was just thankful to be here, as I am two years out of R-CHOP chemotherapy, and still have one more Rituxan chemotherapy infusion to go. Every so often I would touch my surgically inserted port and thank God, for His strength and grace. It was just a few months ago, that I had a break down and cried uncontrolably because my compromised health had taken me out of running altogether. (It's the reason my hair is so long. I am hoping to donate it once it gets long enough.) Running ultra's and overcoming cancer and chemotherapy have lots in common.


The day's prior were filled with grand daughter time as we hung out, fished and played. I found a new use for a turkey call as a teething item for my youngest. I was really hoping (and praying) a big striper would latch upon my grand daughter's lure, but it didn't happen (yet).

The day prior to the race was rainy and a perfect day of rest to prepare for the 50 K. My wife was gracious to arise early with me to prepare for the day at hand. We arrived in plenty of time and with the steady rain, I stayed in the car until the very last minute. As Dr. Horton led us in prayer I knelt in the mud to bow my knee and confess with my mouth the Lord Jesus' rule and reign over my once cancer diseased body then up the mountain in the dark we all went. I hadn't run over three miles since the Terrapin Mountain 50K because my left calf would really hurt after two miles, so it was another run of faith. I hoped my calf would respond to the rule and reign of God's kingdom, and it did! The first portion of the race (to me) was not as pretty as in the past because a weather front with very thick fog moved in. I was very thankful for the efficient placement of the trail markers for at times the visibility was about 50 ft. The fog and the gusting wind were a mild distraction from the race at hand. I was glad to have made it to the Sunset Fields overlook without any huge calf issues, and it was now down, down, down, down, and the fog lifted, the sun came out, and it was spectacular. I caught and passed a few people, and headed into the loop. I had to put on some podcasts to keep me moving as I went into a real energy lull. Two podcasts were on healing (Gloria Copeland), and one was on the eternal crowd (Joel Osteen) who cheers us on as we walk/run in faith. I could imagine that the eternal inhabitants of heaven according to Hebrews 12 were quite entertained as many of us run these things by faith. I also imagined my mother and father and recently passed member of our church, being able to witness the struggle and conquest of an ultra marathon. After those pod casts, and some refueling, I felt better and turned on some high energy music for the remainder and envisioned I was in an eternal outdoor stadium, with heaven's inhabitants cheering us on.

After the loop came the huge climb out of the valley mentioned above and it was soon to be all down hill. My calves were hanging in there, and the descent was so steep, I just let gravity pull me down, and kept praying that I wouldn't fall or make a misstep. Eventually, I made it to the gravel road, and it began to sink in, that by God's grace I was going to finish another miracle run, that I entered in early January, by a prompting by the Lord. The Lord had taken the years of cancer and treatments and had suddenly restored me to the ability to run at this level and it is still an amazing thing to experience. I have a hard time believing it really happened, so I doesn't bother me when others cannot believe that God could restore the years of cancer and chemotherapy in a moment. I was experiencing time redemption and I can only thank and praise God from whom all blessing flow.

About a quarter of a mile from the end, I saw a flattened Pabst Blue Ribbon beer can. This was my mother's favorite beer which she and Aunt Marilyn consumed a few million of before her days of Lupus, Emphysema and making peace with God. Whether it was real or imagined, I could hear my mother, like she used to yell in my high school track meets as soon as I would be making the last turn towards the finish line. Above every voice in the stands I can/could still hear her. "Come on Craig! Kick it in! Move it! Kick it! Come on! You can do it!

Well, finishing an 880 yard race in less than two minutes has a much different kick at the end than finishing a 50 K in 9 and a half hours, but I kicked it in as much as I could, looked over my shoulder to make sure no one was coming up from behind, and was blessed to hear my name being called by Dr. Horton and see my lovely wife as I made it the last few steps to the finish line.

Thanks be to God!





p.s. I am still learning how to insert pictures.
p.p.s. top picture (already explained), boat picture with my grand daughter Becca @ Smith Mountain Lake, smores cooking and eating with daughter and grand daughters, calling turkeys and teething, the finish line, the final finish, look of being done, kneeling in the creek to cool off and treat my legs, two pictures of the creek along the start and finish road, a cleaned up me, and a beautiful wife.




Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter

The bodily resurrection of Jesus is a "first fruit" of the bodily resurrection of every human being at God's appointed time in the future. This event, brought the future promise back into our sphere of existence, and we can, now by faith in God, through Jesus Christ receive salvation and all its 'attendant blessings'. The 'attendant' blessings include so much more than any human being can receive in their lifetime.

One of the 'attendant' blessings was the strength and healing from God to have run three 50 k's since a word from the Lord to follow Him back into ultra marathons on January 3 of this year.

A few of the memories from yesterday are:

My awesome wife arising at 3:15 a.m. to get me to the start and videoing, and compiling a short clip of the start. Also, being there at the finish, cheering me on, and driving the curvy mountain roads home at high speeds.

At a low energy moment listening to podcasts to lift me up. Gloria Copeland on healing (Proverbs 3 and Isaiah 40) and Joel Osteen ( Hebrews 12). Listening to my compilation of music, just one was "Pressing On" by Bob Dylan as I walked five miles straight up the mountain (Apple Orchard Trail up to Sunset Fields Overlook)

Seeing the most fabulous scenery. Huge creeks, waterfalls, vegetation of every sort, mountains, valley's, fog so thick you couldn't see 50 ft., rain, sun, clouds, wind, heat, cold, rocks, more rocks, steps, dozens of creek crossings, song birds mating, mud, grass, trees, and, and, and….

Witnessed and experienced the struggle and conquest of the human being at the 9500 ft. of elevation change over 31 plus miles. Experienced the friendship of like minded people, camaraderie of a unique sub-culture, friendly competition with one's self, and others, and crossing the finish line with nothing left in reserve.

Jesus lives, because God, the Father raised him from the dead. We have the promise of life, (eternal, abundant life), in a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.

The act of giving a life to God and asking him to take it and do something with it, opens a person up to the life of adventure that only God could plan.

The truest celebration of Easter is to give one's self to God and ask Him to raise you up to live with Him in the heavenly places, all the while giving you the strength by his kingdom's rule and reign to follow Him into his mission.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Promise Land 50K

April 22, 2011

On Saturday, I will attempt the third 50K of the year after the experience with the risen Lord on January 3. His bodily resurrection was a first fruit of the final resurrection to come and is the ground upon I will run/walk the Promise Land 50k on Saturday, April 23.

Physical strength and financial provision was included on the cross and resurrection and I ask you prayerfully consider giving a small portion of what God has blessed you with to the Cuban Bible College. Just a little bit, goes a long way, and anything you can do will help the future leadership of this vital island country move a little closer to freedom.

FYI: The Promise Land 50K starts and finishes at the base of some beautiful mountains of the Blue Ridge. The first one is Onion Mountain, and if you have ever driven along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Sunset Hills overlook looks down into the valley we will run down and I will walk back up. If I come to mind on Saturday I would appreciate a prayer. There will be 9500 ft. of elevation change in case you were wondering.

If you can spare just a little of what the Lord has blessed you with, please go to viennaag.com, where you can make a donation. I would like to say to the leadership that the rest of the $5000.00 I felt him leading me to make a faith promise would all come in during this Easter week end. So far about $1500.00 has been given.

Blessings,

Craig

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fast Women and Buzzards

March 25, 2011: Friday afternoon, I took by wife, daughter and son-in-law striper fishing on Smith Mountain Lake. I had hoped they would catch one, but, unfortunately I was the only one. I landed a nice 21 incher and it was fun. The plans were to fish early afternoon, and eat dinner early so as to facilitate a good night’s rest.

We were challenged by my daughter to a game of hearts in which she informed us, she “would take us to school”. Growing up as a child it was one of mom’s favorite games, and I was very rusty, but quickly remembered. Brenda plays it often on the computer and instead of being schooled, we schooled her, badly. We headed upstairs as Jakob barely beat her in ping pong and retired early. I have never not had some kind of issue right before any attempt at an ultra marathon and this one would be unique. My sleep would be drastically interrupted. I had a “Proctalgia Fujax” moment that pulled me out of a deep sleep. This is a rectal cramp that is unimaginably painful. (you don’t want one of these) I have fainted with them before. (I faint easily) I quickly quoted from memory Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24 reminding myself that “by his wounds we are healed” and “by His wounds you have been healed” and walked around the living room praying. I have needed to lean and trust in scripture for much worse pains and sicknesses and sorrows and I still marvel that Jesus bore all my sins, all my sorrows and all my sicknesses. I took some vitamin I (Ibuprophen) and after 15 minutes of pain meds, prayer and scripture quoting, it subsided enough to attempt lying down again. (They normally last for hours.) Fortunately, I was able to get a little sleep until our 4:15 a.m. wakeup. I had laid out all my gear ahead of time and after dressing, we headed to the start. The deer were out in herds, and the trip was uneventful as we made our way to the start. I had to make an emergency potty stop on the side of the road, and when I saw the lines to the restrooms, I was glad I did. The weather forecast included everything from light rain to snow to cloudy with a high in the forties.

The air was chilly and damp, and I soon figured out that my layers were not sufficient. After checking in and picking up my race bib, I was already chilled and decided to add one more layer after doing some stretching. (I would be glad, later on.). I had on my finisher shirt from the HL 50k, a camouflage shirt and my LUS 2007 series light weight jacket. I try to color coordinate now, so I put on my Florida Gator visor because it matches the blue of the jacket. Brenda had not only driven me to the race start but was video documenting the moment as well. After a few bad starts, she recorded my thoughts on the beginning and soon I was kneeling at the start as the race director asked a participant to lead in prayer. In a moment we were off into the dark. Thirty nine minutes later the two leaders would make it to the top. I would be fiddling around the way through the first creek crossing at the same time. There were about ten of us trying to figure a way across, none of which was good. I somehow chose to not just wade through, but instead risked life and limb trying to step across large moss and slime covered rocks upstream. I thought to myself, on the way back I am just wading through. I nearly fell over into the rushing stream but somehow made it across safely. I had pre-determined to be helpful on the race, but the survival instincts over rode it and I was striding on up the mountain when I remembered I should have helped the others across. As soon as I recovered I looked back and apologized to the first group that soon caught up. I was blessed to see it was an old friend, Diane Taylor from Nashville. We then reconnected on all that has happened in the few years of being away from ultras. It was fulfilling to be able to share with her and others within earshot of my healing of cancer and recovery from all the complications and treatments thereof. An hour and 12 minutes later I reach the first aid station called Camping Gap 1. There were two simultaneous races going on. A half marathon and a 50K. I had to ask a few people which way to go, and they pointed me down the other side of the mountain. Great. It was a gravel road, and it was a fairly easy slope, and side by side with Diane we made it down in pretty good time. A treat was seeing the two lead runners coming back up the mountain. They were running up the mountain faster than we were running down the mountain. We made it to the next aid station, and noticed pink streamers going off to the left up the mountain. I headed in that direction, but was told to keep going down the mountain. I figured there must be some kind of a loop thing that brought you out by this aid station. After a while, I started getting nauseas and my stomach was talking to me, so I told Diane to go on ahead, as I needed to stop. I popped some antacid pills, relieved myself, ate some electrolyte filled nutrition gooey stuff, and slowly started feeling better. I was going to experiment on this ultra with supplementing with my multivitamin assortment every two hours. It was nearing two hours, and I could see the aid station ahead, so I downed the package, and drained my water bottle. The aid station was staffed with some cheerful young people who were well trained to tell everyone how well they were doing. (There is a fine line between encouragement and lying, and they stayed on the encouraging side, and I headed back up the mountain on a different road, but my stomach still was hurting. The two lead runners had bottomed and topped the mountain in the time it took me to make it down the mountain. Diane was way ahead, and I was alone and it was okay. I didn’t see anyone behind me and it slowly dawned on me that I was last. It didn’t mess with my head too much. The streamers were marking a trail off of the road, and into the woods I went. They were gorgeous woods and along this stretch I saw what I think was sign of turkey’s scratching for last season’s acorns. There must have been a pretty huge flock that had discovered the acorns, for the trail was marked often with their sign. I eventually came out of the woods back to the aid station, and after refueling, began walking back up the road. It was lined with campsites and one particular site there were two teenagers being mentored into trout fishing by a young adult. The stream was full and the boys were standing on a large rock casting their baited ultra lite rod and reel into a large pool. The trout must not have been cooperating at least in the time it took me to walk past. I thought of my friend, Jeff, and how he would have liked to be giving it a try. I am not sure of the distances between all the aid stations, but I think the aid station back at Camping Gap 2 after climbing back up the mountain said it was 16.7 miles. It took me two hours and nine minutes to make it back up the mountain and I was now sitting at 4: 14. I thought to myself my friend, Ben was done with his National Marathon run and was enjoying the feeling of completion. Meanwhile I was pointed to my right where I saw some people running at me and realized I was heading into a loop. It was here I got to see other runners including the fast women. I didn’t think I was as far back of the pack as I really was because I got to see so many runners. I mistakenly thought I must be better off than I thought. (I was wrong.) The loop was much longer loop than I realized. I passed the spot where the loop came back upon itself and was very quickly alone again. I also didn’t understand that this little loop would also ascend to the highest elevation (according to the course map) at a mere 3615 feet. One note of encouragement was I passed someone and then another one. One had a cramp and another had stopped to take a rock out of his shoe. I kept worrying about this ‘punch’ thing the race director had mentioned in the pre-race briefing. I asked the guys I passed if they knew anything and they were as clueless as I was. At one obscure place, there were three or four streamers and an object hanging from a string. I approached with caution and attempted to use it as a punch, but it wasn’t like any punch I was familiar with. I tried it a few times and looked at my bib number and at least there was some evidence albeit small, that I had indeed found the punch and used it. I had caught up to Diane and discovered I was a bit faster on the downhills and I was now ahead of three people. I eventually made it back to Camping Gap, now the third time and asked which way to go. I was now 5:40 in. The lead runners had already finished, taken pictures, eaten, showered, taken a sauna, gotten their massages, made it home, watched a movie and were checking email. Someone pointed up a very steep ascent and broke me out of my daze. The White Oak loop had a slow ascent from 3000 ft. to 3600 ft. over a mile or so, but this one went from 3000 to 3500 in, like 20 yards. Not really, but it was Billy goat steep. Surrounded by Mountain laurel and solitude, up and up and up and up I went, pausing long enough to count my heart beats in my head. Finally, at the peak I was greeted with two signs. The one on top said, #2 Fat Mans Revenge with an arrow to the left. Below it was another sign, with #1 Summit with an arrow to the right. Now, I am thinking, why didn’t the #1 sign go on top, and is this some kind of a trick. Do I go with the uppermost sign or the number one sign? Also about this time I am getting disoriented and my mind is playing tricks on me. I looked around for any human help, but there aren’t any (that I can see)(maybe they were hiding to see which way I would go and then jump out and scare me). I shrug my shoulders, make a guess that I should go with the #1 sign instead of the uppermost sign, and head to the right. I was really hoping for a little guidance at this moment. I make my way across some large boulders and see a gorgeous panoramic view and what I think is another of the punch thingies. The problem is, you have to go out on this ledge thing and I am already dizzy. I ease on out, and punch my bib, and take a moment to survey the view. I see a gorgeous view and as I pan to the right realize I do have a companion, but it isn’t human. Perched about 20 feet away is a buzzard eyeing me. I wonder if this is some trick being played on the back of the packers. Like, “I know, just for fun, let’s make the back of the packers think they are supposed to go out on this ledge to be food for my pet buzzard”. I peaked over the ledge to see if there were any streamers down there, to make sure I wasn’t supposed to try to climb down somehow. I am still second guessing myself and stumble back to the spot of the two signs when Diane makes it to the junction and she asks me what to do. I tell her what I did, but I also tell her I don’t know if it is the correct thing or not. (I think it best not to tell her about the pet buzzard.) I follow the streamers through rock outcroppings and still am disoriented and dizzy. I stumble upon yet another patch of streamers and below on a string is the elusive third punch. And then… I see the dreaded Fat Man’s revenge. At this moment my ‘feed my pet buzzard plot’ becomes real as I realize the director is directing us to squeeze through this narrow crack in an outcropping. To get into the narrow crack required being very careful as not become a steer, if you know what I am alluding to. Being disoriented, dizzy, and distrustful of the plot to hassle the back of the packers didn’t make a positive passage through the narrow gap. I am guessing I am about 24 to 25 miles in and my legs aren’t liking this crawl, squat, kneel thing to get through, but I made it through and then it was down, down, down, down. I saw lots of bear poop or some kind of poop that wasn’t human that was laced with lots of fur of some dead quarry, so I kept moving. Three of the people who were behind me were reduced to two and then to one as the fellow who had stopped to clear the stone out of his shoe blew past me. The young man with the cramp was joined by a friend and they also blew right past me. I had begun to worry about Diane and I asked him if she made it through the Fat Man’s revenge and he affirmed that she had. After a while I approached a young woman who, though being far below me I could tell something wasn’t right. As I got closer I saw she was hugging herself attempting to retain body heat. She was shivering cold and I thought about giving her one of my layers, but they were all wet. I thought about trying to hug her to give her warmth, but thought it might be awkward and be misunderstood. All I could do was empathize and encourage her and eventually passed her. I was thankful for my layers and my jacket. Down, down, down and after what seemed forever found two young guys nonchalantly sitting in chairs, looking down the hill. They speak in a very slow drawl and they point me down hill and I meet a few runners coming back up. I ask if I am going the right way, and they affirm that I am, and one group tells me that the cutoff time is fast approaching. I make it to the aid station, and am informed the cutoff was in one minute. He told me I had completed 26 miles and it was only about five miles to the end. He also said that it was a nice easy, gentle sloped downhill run to the finish and to enjoy myself. I should have picked up on his sarcasm as he had this kind of funky orange spiky wig thingy on his head (or maybe I was hallucinating). I load up on fluids and a handful of PB and J sandwiches, and head back up the mountain, yelling up to both the hypothermic young lady and to Diane. The young lady was crying and the thrill of the race was gone. I whispered a prayer for her and when Diane came into view chose not to tell her that she might get pulled. Early on she had told me of recent races that had pulled her for not making the time cutoff. The two boys are heading down the mountain carrying their chair and I really hoped I could find the streamers leading to the left and down the “gentle slope” to the finish. I was 7:13 in and I was filled with joy, thinking I was going to make it. I only had an hour and forty seven minutes to take my time down the “gentle slope” the funky orange spiky haired person told me about. Climbing from about 400 ft. to about 1200 ft. may not seem like much, but when your mind has settled into a big ‘aaah’, I am about to do a “gentle” downhill run, and it turns out to be a 800 ft. ascent (that is four Chinsegut Hill’s where I was raised), became a not such a good thing. I had to re-engage the brain, and recalculate what was involved. I eventually got my mind back in the groove and now the watch began to call me. Sooner than I wanted I passed the 8 hour mark and I was still a long ways away from anything familiar. I kept moving as fast as I could and it started snowing. Snow! I also could hear a dog barking down in the valley which sounded very similar to my grand dog Hobbes. We have our own family’s version of Calvin and Hobbes. (My first name is Calvin). My daughter’s dog surely wasn’t the one barking as I had let her know of the race director’s explicit instructions not to bring dogs, but, it played on my mind just a bit. I also entertained the idea of getting Dr’s Horton and Zealand a stuffed dog as a joke. It was obvious how much they love dogs and really like for them to be at the races. I would have enjoyed this portion of the run a lot more if I wasn’t starting to worry that I wasn’t going to make it before the nine hour cutoff. I attempted to assure myself, and remembered how I was even here in the first place. I recounted the Sunday morning service of January 2, 2011 kneeling at the altar with elements representing the body and blood of Jesus in hand. I yielded myself up to the Lord and asked for his leading for 2011. That afternoon, I received a sense that the Lord was calling me back to ultra marathons and out of cancer, back pain and bone disease. January 3, though I hadn’t run in months entered the LUS series of which this one was the second. The Lord had brought me this far, and I knew he was going to carry me through to the end, but… my mind began to play tricks, like…, when would the end come. I had been singing in my head songs of faith all day, and even more so now. I was walking/running by faith, not by sight, and it became more and more real as I was experiencing one of the more difficult races of my life. I kept hoping I was getting closer to the end, and I knew I had to be, but the trail just kept on going up and around the side of the mountain. Eventually I saw the initial creek crossing and didn’t hesitate sloshing on through. I wasn’t going to risk breaking something just to keep my feet dry. Now, began the “gentle” descent in my wet shoes that the orange, spiky, wig thingy person told me about. I was so thankful the cramps had not come and my experiment with multivitamins every two hours had worked. I cannot remember feeling more positive about a ‘one mile to go’ sign than I did on this race. I looked at my watch, and I calculated I could walk the rest of the way and make it. I probably could even walk it backwards, but, maybe another day. I could now enjoy the moment. After hitting the hard road and cresting a hill I saw the three guys in the distance who had passed me. I also saw a figure on the left hand side of the road in a white coat with a black thing hung across their shoulder. I think to myself, that person looks just like my wife. The online system of notifying of a runner’s time at each aid station had stopped posting times and by all accounts it appeared that I had stopped running the race hours ago, and no one could tell her what had happened to me. She was heading up the road to look for me. She, my daughter and son in law were there on the road, and broke out into a cheer once they saw it was me.

Brenda was crying with positive emotion, once she realized it was me, and that I was okay. It was the first race any of my children had been able to come to, and it was quite the blessing to jog the rest of the way in being escorted by my wife, daughter and son in law 8:43:09 after beginning. I thanked the race director for a well done race (I also told him he was a crazy man for designing this thing) and began to realize the immensity of the miracle of grace that had just occurred. My son-in-law, Jakob noticed the medal
was the outline of a turtle. I didn’t until that moment connect that Terrapin Mountain was known as a turtle mountain. Since I am as slow as a turtle it fits. On one hand it was good I didn’t have a clue as to the difficulty of the race, but on the other hand it would have been a little more helpful to have studied the course and listened better to the pre-race instructions. I think it is called cognitive dissonance. I heard it, but didn’t hear it. They had some freshly smoked pulled pork sandwiches and as I sat down to feast, heard, then saw that Diane hadn’t been pulled and was about to finish. I asked Brenda to take her picture and to bring her over and it was a happy reunion, as we shared about the race with my family. True to form, Diane could talk with a smile on her face, about the adventure and we all connected around a common love of life. I was getting chilled, and the two pork sandwiches had joined the eight gooey nutrition packs and various food supplies each aid station offered. So, with some hugs and good byes, Brenda and I headed home while Diane headed back to Nashville and the kids headed back to our lake house. Back at the car our little Cairn Terrier was quietly waiting in her crate. I am still thinking of giving a pet dog to both Dr. Horton and Dr. Zealand, as they love to have dogs at all their races so much. (maybe not). Since one of them already has a pet buzzard trained to monitor the Summit Punch station, they may not need another pet.