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TO BE OR NOT TO BE... A BLOG

Thursday
Aug212008

A Tribute to the Columbia Iron Girls

I happen to know several women competing in the Iron Girl Triathlon in Columbia this weekend. Some are from the "Granite" group my family and i hang out with, some are from the "Historic Ellicott City" group my wife and i hang out with and some are from the "Cornerstone" group that i am honored to pastor.

Now chances are, none of these women will compete in the 2012 Olympics in England.  Now it appears that i just delivered and insult.  Actually quite the opposite is true.  I could not be more proud.

Some of these women are moms, some have overcome some pretty traumatic stuff, some have endured some significant health issues. some are "less young" then they ever expected to be, some are battling weight issues, some never believed they could swim, run or bike much less participate in an event like this, some are scared, some figure "what the hell", some are working without being relieved of all of the responsibilities they had when they were on maternity leave, some we have seen along the roads training, some even run to church on sunday morning...

I did a Triathlon once: i waked my bike up a big hill in the rain - that is as close as i get.

What is the stuff that heros are made of?  Do they need to be super athletes or have the notoriety of a politician?  I don't think so.  i think what we see here are such examples.  Folks who are willing to go against what their bodies desire when it means getting healthier, folks who are willing to go after what is right when they have just as many reasons not to as those who don't,  and those who refuse to be defined by what limits are placed upon them.

On Sunday morning i will be delivering a sermon about a woman who was damned by society, then Jesus in turn freed.  I look forward to the message.  But i also look forward to privately cheering on the unsung heros, the ones i happen to know, who have the guts to defy all odds.

No, they may not be Olympic athletes, but they are heros.  I am proud of each and every one of them.

While i am sure i will leave several out, here are a few i know of: Betty, Sue, Susan, another Susan, and one more Susan, Esa, Michelle, Mary and Sara...

Do you know of more that i know?  be sure to add them on the comments and i will add them in.  Also feel free to comment on a word of encouragement for them.

Tuesday
Aug192008

Feeling a bit better about the big day...

Ran five miles on a tread mill today in in 44 minutes and 35 seconds - which is an 8 min 55 second pace. 

Saturday
Aug162008

How To Keep My Dignity Intact

Today ran 13.1 miles, the equivalent of a half marathon.  Perhaps ran is to strong of a term, lets use the term "accomplished".  In two weeks i am running in the Virginia Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon.  I signed up last Christmas when i had plenty of time to prepare AND a "lot of people" were going to sign up with me.  Lets just say, none of that happened.

To say that i have been doing proper training would be a stretch, as that would have started six months ago.  While i do run 3 miles from time to time, my real training began 2 weeks ago with an 8 mile run, followed by two 4 mile runs, followed by another 8 mile run then two 4 mile runs which led to the run today.

Today's run (ok ok - "accomplishment of millage") was to prove that it can be done.

Now there is one other problem.  If i cross the finish line with the overweight geriatrics group - i will not be a happy camper (yes yes i know, proper training could have avoided this predicament!)  

Yet i am a guy - i still have my ego to protect.

I think i figured out a plan "B".  Attaching a sign to my shirt!  For example, if i roll in with the folks with canes, the crowds will be cheering, but it won't be for me! Oh the shame!

What if i put a sign on my shirt that stated a true fact, one that could change the tide of the whole day!  Such as:

  • Born with Underdeveloped Legs.  (it is true, my legs were much shorter 41 years ago!)
  • Hearing Impaired: I never heard that we were supposed to train (that might drum up some sympathy!) 
  •  Special Olympics Runner (i was once a runner by getting the supplies to the event)
  •  Victim of N.G. A.T.T. ("Never Got Around To Training", but it sounds noble if you abbreviate it and who would have the guts to ask?) 
All of these are bound to get cheers from the crowd!  If all else fails, i have one more sign i can use: I'm Gay.  I have a friend who is gay that i joke with a lot.  i once said to him, "Hey if i walk downtown and have 'preacher' written on my shirt, people back away.  But in todays culture, if  you had a t-shirt that said 'Gay and Out', people don't know how to react so they would just stand up an applaud!"  He laughed and said, "You know, you are right"  So where is the truth in it, after all i am a minister i have got to at least be truthful!  Well, I do consider myself a happy person.

Hmm, guess i need to continue to train for the next two weeks and hope for the best.

Friday
Aug152008

What ever happened to Holy Rage?

Poem from Danish pastor Kaj Munk:

What is, therefore, the task of the preacher (or the church) today?

         Shall I answer: “Faith, hope and love”?

         That sounds beautiful.

                  But I would say – Courage.

                  No, even that is not challenging enough to be the whole truth.

Our task today is recklessness.

For what we Christians lack is not psychology or literature,

         We lack a holy rage.

The recklessness that comes from the knowledge of God and humanity.

The ability to rage when justice lies prostrate on the streets . . .

         And when the lie rages across the fact of the earth –

                  A holy anger about things that are wrong in the world.

To rage against the ravaging of God’s earth,

         And the destruction of God’s world.

To rage when little children must die of hunger,

         When the tables of the rich are sagging with food.

To rage at the senseless killing of so many,

         And against the madness of militaries.

To rage at the lie that calls the threat of death and the strategy of

Destruction – Peace.

To rage against complacency.

To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change

         Human history until it conforms with the norms of the Kingdom of

                  God.

And remember the signs of the Christian Church have always been –

         The Lion, the Lamb, the Dove, and the Fish . . .

                  But never the chameleon.

Tuesday
Aug122008

Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto

In the book, How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill (Doubleday, USA, 1995) I read an interesting citation by the Latin comedy writer Terentius (he lived from about 190 to about 160 B.C.); in English he is often named "Terence".  I had heard the expression before, of course, but I never knew what the exact, original formulation was. 

I AM HUMAN SO NOTHING HUMAN IS ALIEN TO ME

Sometimes people blush when they tell me about the "stuff" in their lives, because i am a pastor.  King Solomon once said:  There is nothing new under the sun.

I like to tell people that just nothing surprises me anymore. 
Monday
Aug112008

Last week I declared BANKRUPTCY

 E-mail bankruptcy that is.  Everyday I work hard to stay on top of my e-mail.  In between meetings, early in the morning, late at night - even in the middle of the night.  I clear out the junk ASAP and I even have a great junk filter (two actually).  Beyond the obvious junk i get several stories people found while bored at work and determine that surely a pastor could use one more sappy story, yes those go pretty quickly too.  

As a pastor I try to stay on top of the urgent ones (at least what i consider urgent anyway), as a leader I try my best to help leaders with leadership issues and as a friend i want to stay on top of personal issues. 

Yet, oh how it piles up.  Last week i was looking at my list of 384 undealt with e-mail.  Again, these are not junk e-mails, many are filled with good thoughts or concerns or else i would have deleted them a long time ago.  

What is the meaning of life? Ok, that is not the typical question i get, but it could be. Often times they are short e-mials that have good questions or ideas that take quite a bit of time to answer.  Perhaps i over think, but it is not easy for me to say, "No, because i said so"  I want to explain why i feel the way i do, and that is a long e-mail.  Or an organization / network that i have leadership roles in needs my help, when i don't always have the time to give.  Often well meaning people, with-in the church or those who want to meet about church planting or some other worthy cause.  SImple short e-mails. Of course, that may also be because long rambling emails get deleted much faster ;-)

I agree with Kip, I love technology.  I love cell phones, e-mail, computers - the whole nine yards.  If it were not for modern technology i would not be working on my doctorate ( first of all, i need spell check!)  Because of e-mail i can resolve so much and not have as many meetings.  Because of technology i can wear hearing aids.  I love the times we live in!  Yet, information goes from being at my finger tips, to coming at me at all times.  I consider myself a multi-tasking go-getter.  Yet there are times you can get overwhelmed to the point that you walk around in a daze.

No time for creative energy.  Someone once asked an author who was staring out the window why he was wasting time.  His response was that he was actually working hard, creating the next chapter of his book.  I don't know about you, but with all of the information overload, I lose time to be creative.  If i am spending every free moment trying to knock out an e-mail or two, when is the time to be free, to be creative in leadership, creative in message planing, creative in life.  Instead i am in perpetual motion of cranking out one thing to the next.

When is a debt a debt?  If i charge up my credit card, I created a large debt out of many "little expenses".  I should be responsible for that.  When hundreds of e-mails roll in every week, it is obvious that junk e-mail is just that... Junk.  But where is the line?  When do i feel obligated that I owe a debt of time to respond.  Usually if someone takes the time to write one, even if they wrote it while bored at work (by the way most of those i receive don't fit in that category - using an extreme to make a point) ...there is a high expectation that i should pay back with a response.  Until i reply, i rack up debt.  At what point am i a bad person or considered uncaring if i can't get to certain ones?

How about you?  Am I alone on this?  

Well last week i declared bankruptcy in regards to e-mail.  I paid many debts off first by giving quick responses or making sure urgent request were handled.  As i frequently do, i pass on e-mails to people who are better suited to handle them.  But there were several people i had to write (usually those with 10 or more unanswered that were good, but not urgent or sometimes even best use of my time) and let them know that i needed to be freed of my debt.  If they still felt some things were important, they could resend those few to me.

i got it down to 15 e-mails to my inbox.  As i write i still have about that many, but i have put much time in to keep it down.

Does anyone else get overwhelmed with e-mail?

Thursday
Jul312008

Confessions of a Recovering Teetotaler

This post has been inspired by two things.

First, I would like to share a few lessons I have learned about alcohol.

Second, completely unbeknownst to me, I have created quite a stir and controversy amongst many Baptist pastors in my region. Although this controversy has been brewing for some time, I have only recently been told about it.

The flap is over a video I posted on this blog a while ago... here 
Thursday
Mar272008

A GREAT LESSON FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH

The ship is safest when it is in port. But that’s not what ships were made for. Paulo Coelho