Category Archives: Faith

Show me…

Running has been coming along pretty well. Having my friend Trent training for a half-marathon and using my new toys (Run keeper app on iPhone) to help track my training has been very effective.  This past Saturday I went to run in an addition that someone had recommended I run some of my longer runs in called Biltmore Forest.  She told me that it was a low traffic area and that it was a beautiful addition as well. I was excited to check it out and it was cool to finally run somewhere new. It was a little hillier than I had expected, but I was focusing on keeping my head up and breathing correctly so i wasn’t too distracted by the obsticles and instead enjoyed the new scenery. It turned out to be an amazing run and today was a good run was well. My time is improving and I’m seeing progress in all areas.

Today during my run I spent time reflecting on a movie that I started watching called Lord Save Us From Your Followers. It’s a documentary style film about the division that faith is having on America. Although I haven’t seen Religulous yet, I gather that it might be in the same vein except with the end point being that faith shouldn’t be given up on. Religulous is next on my Netflix cue, so I’ll be checking that out this week as well. As I ran I just kept thinking about how different this world might be if Christians were as passionate about loving others as trying to win arguments. What if we stopped trying to convince people that we are “right” and instead lived what we believe. How different might things be?

Today was Ash Wednesday. Last year I decided to participate in Lent differently than I had in the past. I decided to focus on doing more spiritual emphasis than abstaining from something. This year I plan on doing the same. Of the four New Year resolutions I have taken on, I’ve done really well with three of the four. Reading, running, and blogging have been very regular but blogging hasn’t taken off as well as I’d hoped. I really think that for me journaling is an essential spiritual discipline. It is where I can be totally honest with myself and really express myself in though and prayer. This year for lent my plan is to journal every night, reading through the gospel of Matthew, and reading Jesus wants to save Christians by Rob Bell and Don Golden. To make time for this I’ve limited myself to only two TV shows a day. Although I don’t like to admit it, TV can be a real time waster for me. I guess my computer can be as well, maybe next year I’ll reduce my computer usage.

Favorite song of the moment…Use Somebody by Kings of Leon.



Filed under Faith, My Journey, Running

Tearful performance.

I’m reading a book called Divine Nobodies by Jim Palmer and tonight I’m absolutely crying. I mean I’m not much of a crier, you won’t probably ever see me cry. Don’t let that fool you though, I’m a softy, and I do cry often when reading books or watching movies alone. Well, actually even then I don’t cry often, but I definitely tear up and get a little emotional. I’m not bragging that I don’t cry in front of people, I know that it’s the machismo culture that men have been brought up in that makes me this way. I’m fully aware that crying is not a sign of weakness and there are several men that I admire that I see cry often at sentimental moments, but still it’s engrained  in me to not cry easily in front of others. I know it’s silly.

Anyways, tonight I was really hit by a story that Jim shared about a young woman who was sitting in the library with her father as he read her a book. She was an angelically beautiful young woman who had cerebral palsy. He talked about how she sat with her face against her father’s shoulder, enamored as he read to her. By no fault of her own, she can’t express to her father all that she feels in the ways that a typical child would, yet by her father’s actions, it is clear that he adores her and loves to be with her. It’s a beautiful picture and I believe Jim’s point was that the father’s love for his daughter has nothing to do with what the daughter can or cannot do. He related this to the fact that so many people are caught up with trying to “perform” for God instead of loving God and loving others.

I wonder how long I will keep trying to perform for God before I realize that what God really wants is for me to just live life in love with Him. I believe we will bring more of the kingdom of God to this world out of response of living in love then in trying to perform for him. When will I ever realize that there is nothing I can do to make God love me more?

C.S. Lewis expresses it like this in Mere Christianity.  There’s a story where a child asks his father for a sixpence to buy his father a gift. The father gives the son the money and is happy with the gift that he gets. But he realizes that he’s not any richer, because he gave the child the money in the first place. It’s a reminder that we can never really “do” anything for God. He has made us, and we are just to live in response to that love, by loving God and loving others.  I’m done trying to perform.




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Change the world?

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.

As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change –
So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country,

And who knows, I might have even changed the world.”

– inscription on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey

I really like this thought, and yet tonight, for the first time, I’m realizing that my entire adult life has still been lived trying to change the world. I feel bad about it, the fact that I’ve lived trying to change everyone else instead of trying to change myself more often. It’s not like I’ve grown up never hearing this sentiment.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Ghandi

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” – Jesus

Still I find that I’m so quick to try to change the world and others instead of focusing on being who it is that I believe I’m meant to be, who I’m trying to be. The crazy part is that at this point in my life, I feel as though I really have something to say, something to contribute to the conversation of life, but realize that most of us are too wrapped up in our own lives to have the conversation anyways. So for those of you that I’ve tried to change, instead of enjoying the conversations in life that are worth having, I’m sorry. I’m working on it, and I’m learning to listen and understand before trying to be understood. This will be an ongoing process though, so please be patient. I’m learning how to live life all over again. Learn how to live as I believe is best and yet to not impose on others. Learn to live my life in a way that hopefully does inspire others and yet be ready for when no one takes notice.

On the other hand I’ve been pretty excited lately and for several good reasons.

1) My half marathon training is going well and I can already feel and see a difference with my running and weight lifting. My blisters are healing nicely now that I’m using two pairs of socks. I have changed my training program though; I’m using Runners World smart coach training now.

2) I’ve just got six new books and I’m excited to read all of them. (authors: Jim Palmer, Shane Claiborne, Rob Bell, Mark Steele and 2 by N.T. Wright.)

3) I got information on Noe Israel, the kid I’m now sponsoring in the Dominican Republic, and his family, along with a photo. (I’ll scan it soon.)

4) The next two months of my life continue to blossom with more and more fun excursions with great friends who will be coming to visit me and of course Lesley and Bruce’s wedding.

5) I found the blogs of two authors that I’ve really enjoyed reading lately: Jim Palmer and Brian D. McLaren.

The sum of these things has really kept me in pretty great spirits. That being said, here’s to being a world changer, the right way.


Filed under Faith, Running

Ain’t no party like a Souper Bowl Party!

This weekend for me, and for many others, was centered on the Super bowl. For my friends, this weekend has always been a party weekend with lots of food, friends, and a great time for those watching the game as well as those who aren’t into the game. Althought this weekend wasn’t lacking in the food, friends, and fun department, this year was a little different for me.

This time around I really threw myself into a service project called the Souper Bowl of Caring. Along with about five thousand other groups across the country, I worked to try to make a difference this weekend for those who possibly weren’t able to enjoy a weekend the way that many of us are accustom to.


It started on Saturday when I went with six teenagers to Ms. Maylee’s house. She is a widow in her 90’s who lives alone. Looking at her house it was obvious that it was in need of some repairs and when we arrived there, smoke billowing out of one of her windows. Ms. Maylee had been without heat the past few days because her chimney was clogged and because the power outlets in her room weren’t working. So we split up and joined the others who were already there helping make a difference for Ms. Maylee. Together we cleaned out her chimney, cleaned up and mulched around her place, cleaned her kitchen and bathroom, and got her heater and wood burning stove back to working. I got to spend some time talking to her about the past few days, her dog Blister, and how thankful she was that people were there to help her during this difficult time. As we were leaving to head over to the Rescue Mission, people from her church showed up as well to check on her and continue the good work. When we got over to the Rescue Mission, we lead a small chapel service and then ate with those who were there for a nice warm meal.


On Sunday, we had been encouraging our church members to bring a can and a donation to give to IAM and the Rescue Mission. In the past we had raised as much as $700 and 300 cans. This year the response was amazing. Our church and community responded by giving $1742 and 542 cans. Whether it was because we had an article in the local paper about this service opportunity, or because people are very aware of the needs in the current economic situation, the giving to those less fortunate was really inspirational.

I think that this weekend was such a meaningful time for me because over the past year I’ve really been struggling with what my faith means to me. Like I’ve said before, I don’t think that it’s me losing my faith, but me rethinking my faith. During this time I’ve repeatedly remembered the words of Pastor Rich Pagan who always says “You will get more happiness from helping others than you will ever get trying to make yourself happy.” I fell as though I’m on a journey to become a different kind of person, someone who truly looks to take care of those around me, not just look out for myself.

What if everyone committed to having only what we need rather then everything we want, and then gave the surplus to the needy amongst us? – Scott Phillips

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. 
– James 1:27 (NAS)

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bumper stickers


I wanted to re-post an old note I wrote several months back.  I’ve been noticing bumper stickers quite often lately and so it made me think of this post and just wanted to share it again.  I also found out that Bono, the lead singer from U2, has used a similar coexist symbol in his efforts to promote peace between Muslim, Jews, and Christians, and spoke about it in his book On the Move. By the way, another cool bumper sticker…Jesus is for losers. Think about that one for a while, true or not? I love the shock value of that one.  Here’s the re-post with a few additional thoughts…

I’ve noticed a bumper sticker on the back of people’s cars for a while now that has been really interesting to me. The bumper sticker says “coexist”, but it is spelled out using symbols of different faiths and beliefs. At first glance I didn’t find it very appealing. But over the course of a few months, it has become something that I really love. What changed my mind? I think it came while reading and listening to some people of faith lately. In both cases the people spoke about the way people treated people of other faiths. Specifically in John 4 when Jesus approaches the woman at the well. I see an amazing picture of how Jesus shows her respect even though she was a woman and of a different faith, both cultural reasons for a man like Jesus to not approach her at the time.

It really got me to thinking about how I treat people who don’t believe as I do. Do I begin to act pious and look down on them? Do I make jokes about their beliefs and get upset if they do the same to me? Do I distance myself so that I won’t have to interact with them? That’s not the way that Jesus did things. When looking at the interaction that he was with the woman, I believe I see someone who takes genuine interest in someone else’s story and offers his own story as well.  The transforming message of the gospel is the power of love and acceptance that is not of this world, not the power of exclusion and disrespect.

It’s very interesting to me that coexistence is such a scary thought to many people. Even though I know I’m one that would have found it scary in the past, I have a hard time understanding why it is that many people find loving others that aren’t like them so scary. I guess I have come to believe that God is constantly reaching out to all of us and active in all our lives. With this in mind we must with humility and grace, continue the dialogue with others and pray that we continue to seek truth. I believe God will not fail us.

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.  – 1 John 4:19-21

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weddings and funerals

223There was a funeral for a 17 year old boy today. It was a shock to the community, and really caused me to sit and reflect some today. Funerals often do that to me. My friend Scott says that there are two things that you should never miss if possible, weddings and funerals. I think it has something to do with celebration of life. All this got me thinking about life and actually more about death. Another friend of mine speaking of tragic times used to say “I don’t know how people get through these times if they don’t believe in God”.

I found myself thinking, how my life might be different if I didn’t believe in God. What would be different about the way I live and experience things? I don’t know if I can answer that question honestly right now. C.S. Lewis asked how we might respond if as we died we heard God’s undeniable voice say something like ‘I can’t do anything for you, I die now’, would that be a time for switching sides? I believe what he was ask was if we found out that there was no heaven and no hell, and that we weren’t going to spend eternity with God, would that be a time for giving up on our faith. Would I really look back on my life and say ‘I missed out’? I think I’d still be happy with the way I’ve lived my life, because I believe that my faith has caused me to be a more reflective and caring person. It has caused me to listen to the wisdom of Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living. When it would be easy to be all about myself, my faith has caused me to reach beyond myself and when I’d like to just be happy where I am, my faith has helped me to continue to grow and not never cease to search for faith, hope and love.

Usually when I write I have a purpose or point, I’m not sure I do tonight. I just wanted to get some thoughts out there. Life is precious and today I was reminded to make the most of it.


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