Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Shepherd's Rest"

In solitude we voluntarily abstain from our normal patterns of activity and interaction with people for a time in order to discover that our strength and well-being come from God alone.

The haunting words "in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place" describe a pattern of life more than a single event (Mark 1:35). Jesus needed frequent retreat and solitude to do his work. Yet we somehow think we can do without what he deemed essential.

"Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home" Richard Foster

For 24 hours this past holiday weekend I was able to get away to "Shepherd's Rest", a home out in the country east of Wichita set aside for use for solitude and spiritual renewal by Friends pastors. I find Foster's words challenging and a great reminder.

Topeka to Auburn 1/2 Marathon

Saturday was my first race of 2009 - the Topeka to Auburn 1/2 Marathon. It was a midly cool, sunny morning with a slight north breeze and beautiful morning for running, especially for a January Kansas day. I finished in 1:50:13. I was trying to finish under 1:50 but came in 13 seconds behind my goal, but oh well. There were a lot of hills and even some really long hills, especially the first 7 miles and the last 2-3. Overall, great course and a great time. Allen Smelser finished as well about 25 minutes behind me.

Pictures: http://00673d3.netsolhost.com/photoalbum_index.htm/01-17-09topeka_action/pages/IMG_0347_s_jpg.htm, about mid-way http://00673d3.netsolhost.com/photoalbum_index.htm/01-17-09topeka_action/pages/IMG_0348_s_jpg.htm, and 1 block from the finish line sprinting http://00673d3.netsolhost.com/photoalbum_index.htm/01-17-09topeka_action/pages/IMG_0641_s_jpg.htm

For results, click on 2009 results: http://sunflowerstriders.org/topeka-to-auburn/awards-results. I finished overall 96/270 and 5th in my age group of males 25 - 29 out of 18.

The Wisdom To Lead Us With Humility

Text of the Invocation Prayer by Pastor Rick Warren for today's Inauguration of President Barrack Obama :

Let us pray.

Almighty God, our Father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you. It all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory.

History is your story. The Scripture tells us, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God. The Lord is One.” And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now, today, we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hingepoint of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven. Give to our new President, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race, or religion, or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all. When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us. And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all. May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you. We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, who taught us to pray:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

"What To Pray for a New President: Seeking God's blessing for a pluralistic, conflicted, and divided nation" an article from Christianity Today about how and why to pray for the new President: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/currenttrendscolumns/culturewatch/whattoprayfornewpresident.html?start=1

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Wild Night

If you look closely (above) it says C.S.I. at Dodge & Munnell

The door (notice the broken glass, broken door frame, and kicked in bottom section (above), and the blood)
Last night at 8:30 pm I came home from the YMCA to find that my house had been intruded upon. The door window was shattered and the bottom part of the door kicked in. No one was home when the invasion took place. Strangely, nothing was stolen or even moved, as far as we could tell. Andrew and I used to laugh about how our house would be the wrong house for someone to break into because they'd be very dissapointed to find absolutely nothing of value! Not too funny anymore, I guess. The intruder apparently went into the basement and left a trail of blood (apparently injured breaking the glass). Wichita PD CSI came and looked for fingerprints and took blood samples.

I slept with a hammer next to my bed last night just in case!

We are thankful that we weren't home when it took place and that nothing was stolen!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday Night Small Group January Kick-off: Bowling!

Strike! (For the first time in my life I bowled 5 strikes within 10 frames!)

Anyway, last evening we took our Small Group to the Newton Bowling alley for our 2009 Kick-off! Lots of fun!

Church Bulletins

One of my favorite all-time emails passed around that I just received again today (maybe for the 6th time?):

They're Back! Those wonderful Church Bulletins! Thank God for church ladies with typewriters.
These sentences (with all the BLOOPERS) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:
The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."
Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.
Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Scouts are saving aluminium cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tortured For Christ

Rumanian Pastor Richard Wurmbrand spent fourteen years in communist prisons and endured torture because of his work with the Underground Church. There is nothing more humbling and challenging than to read about those brave and amazing Christians of the persecuted and underground church around the world. I’d say with certainty that Wurmbrand’s book, “Tortured For Christ”, rocked my world! Below are some of my favorite passages/quotes from the book:

A man really believes not what he recites in his creed, but only the things he is ready to die for. P64
The Underground Church is a poor and suffering church, but it has no lukewarm members. P79

No prison and no torture can frighten the Christians of the Underground Church. Just as in the Early Church, persecution only deepens their dedication. P116

The answers Christians of the Underground Church give, when brought before Communist courts, are divinely inspired. One judge demanded: “Why did you attract people to your forbidden sect?” A Christian sister answered; “Our aim is to win the whole world for Christ.”

The message I [Wurmbrand] bring out from the Underground Church is:
“Don’t abandon us!”
“Don’t forget us!”
“Don’t write us off!” P131

God is “the Truth.” The Bible is the “truth about the Truth.” Theology is the “truth about the truth about the Truth.” Fundamentalism is the “truth about the truth about the truth about the Truth.” Christian people live in these many truths about the Truth, and, because of them, have not “the Truth.” Hungry, beaten and doped, we had forgotten theology and the Bible. We had forgotten the “truths about the Truth,” therefore we live in “the Truth.” … In our darkest hours the Son of man came to us, making the prison walls shine like diamonds and filling the cells with light. Somewhere, far away, were the torturers below us in the sphere of the body. But the spirit rejoiced in the Lord. We would not have given up this joy for that of kingly palaces. P73

Monday, January 12, 2009

2008 Total Running Mileage

I've totaled up my 2008 running mileage: 1,655!

This averages to 31.8 miles per week, 137.92 per month, and 4.52 per day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A New Hero: Eric Liddell

I’ve heard of Eric Liddell and “Chariots of Fire” but about all I’ve ever known of it is that Liddell was a Christian who was a runner. I’ve never seen the movie.

I just finished reading an article in the Mission Frontiers magazine called “The Flying Man” about Eric Liddell and his story. I am a new fan of Liddell who shares two of my passions: missions and running. While I am in no way a good runner like Liddell, I found several things about his life very interesting!

-He was a 1924 Olympic champion
-the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire” which introduced the world to Liddell won four Academy Awards and is famous all around the world (especially in China)
-Liddell struggled with whether or not his running interfered with his ministry (he didn’t think so, others did) I can relate to this!
-He once declined to participate in a heat that took place on a Sunday (because it went against his Presbyterian conviction about the Sabbath)
-He set a world record time for the 400-yard dash, saying “the secret of my success in the 400m is that I run the first 200m as fast as I can. Then, for the last 200m with God’s help I run faster.” (Sound like good advice for an ultra-marathon too!)
-Liddell was born in 1902 in China as his parents were Presbyterian missionaries. He went to the U.K. at age six to go to school and later became a runner
-after the 24 Olympics he was the equivalents of Michael Phelps today in fame, but announced that he would return to China following the footsteps of his father and older brother
-Liddell decided to stay in China even after all foreign nationals were advised to leave during the Japanese Invasion so he sent his pregnant wife and two daughters to China (never to see them again)
-he ended up in an internment camp where he continued his faithful ministry (even teaching the fellow prisoners not to hate their captors but to love them and pray for them)
-an opportunity came for Liddell to be released in a POW exchange negotiated by Winston Churchill but he refused to be exchanged, instead giving up his place to pregnant woman
-he died in the camp on February 21, 1945 (only 5 months before liberation) due to a brain tumor, exhaustion and malnourishment
-at his death he was greatly honored and mourned both in the camp and in Scotland
-Liddell’s life and legacy has even been honored by the modern Chinese government

Liddell’s story is to be portrayed in a major motion picture to be called “The Flying Man” which will come out sometime late 2009 or early 2010. Liddell is one of my new heroes because in addition to being such an excellent runner, he demonstrated sacrificial love for the Chinese people in a way that is challenging and compelling even today!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Extreme Camp Makeover 2009

(below and above) the "new view" from the ridge at CQH!

The Extreme Camp Makeover will be at Camp Quaker Haven will be held during the two Spring Break weeks in March. However, much work between now and then will be done to prepare the camp for our arrival and for the most effective use of the youth and adult teams.

Tuesday was my first all day work day there in 2009. It was cold and thinking that I'd working inside, I didn't really bring a coat. The inside temperature of the Dining Hall was 34 degrees and it held there pretty steady all day! We demolished (my kind of 'skilled' labor) the suspended ceiling completely. We also tore out the part of a rock wall and did more demo work in another building. I came home late that night covered in dirt and ready to warm up!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wonderful Joy Ahead

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Blog for Run for Missions

Announcing a new blog address for the Run for Missions as we look forward to the Run for Missions 2009: http://run4missions.blogspot.com/

Run for Missions 2008 Final Update (Updated 1/8/09)

Dear Run for Missions Supporter,

Thank you so much for your gift in support of the Run for Missions 2008! These funds will be used for scholarships for EFC-MAYM college and graduate students intending to serve on Friends Mission fields. We set out to raise $10,000 and look what has happened because people like you caught the vision! Can you believe exactly $12,997.65 (NEW as of /8/2009) has been raised from 132 different individuals and churches since August? Thank God!

Imagine a day when our church can take it to another level in supporting the work of missions, getting behind our missionaries in financial support not only from the time they go to the field until they come home, but from the first day of their calling and throughout their schooling and education process! You have helped make this a possibility.

Thank you!

Allen Smelser and Adam Monaghan for the EFC-MAYM Mission Mobilizers

Friends Student Conference 2008

The 9th Friends Student Conference was a success! Students testify to being challenged, renewed, and equipped! Happy New Year 2009! Brad and I "celebrating" after the New Year's Eve Party clean-up!

Who knows? We found this hair-piece and several of us tried it on aboard the Royal Princess Yacht ride we took Wednesday afternoon into Kemah Bay.

Josh Locke & Michael Wilson from Crossroads
Jacob & T.J. from Chandler
Brad Carpenter (with hair) and Jeremiah Williams (Haviland, Barclay, who was in my Junior High youth group when I worked with the youth at Haviland when I went to Barclay. Jeremiah played the bass guitar in the worship band at FSC. He also ran 5 miles with me on Wednesday afternoon.)

Happy New Year 2009!

Andrew and I went to the Wichita Thunder Ice-Hockey game last night at the Kansas Colesium since it was Credit Union of America's member appreciation night (free tickets!). It was both Andrew and I's first hockey game in about 10 years. Right as the game was starting, some official guy came up and asked us if Andrew and I wanted to be in a contest during the break after the first period. We said, "of course!" We had to hit the puck off the wall and into the net. We both hit it on target but not hard enough. Just for participating we received additional free tickets. Guess we'll be going again! Other than getting to go down on the ice the only other exciting moments of the 0-4 loss was when the referee fell down going backwards and when the Thunder, realizing they weren't going win in the final minutes, decided that perhaps they could enterain the crowd much better with a good old fashioned hockey fight than by scoring some goals!

Got Sleep? The Physical and Spiritual Benefits of Sleep

The following notes are from my Friends Student Conference 2008 workshop.

Got Sleep? The Physical and Spiritual Benefits of Sleep FSC '08
Are you constantly tired? Do you have irregular sleep patterns? Getting a good night’s rest can make your life better all around. Come here about some of the latest news in sleep research and how sleep can actually be an important “spiritual discipline”. This workshop will provide a powerful case for the need to take sleep seriously.

*Much of the information and scientific research presented in this workshop comes from Paul Martin’s extensive sleep research book Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams.

“…Samuel was sleeping…Suddenly, the LORD called out, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ 1 Samuel 3
“Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion…” Mark 4:38
-The Bible if filled with stories of people who heard God’s voice in their sleep: Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and Samuel, Joseph, Saul/Paul, etc.
–maybe there’s something to the fact that Samuel heard God’s voice when he was asleep? Chronically tired people must have a much more difficult hearing (and obeying) God’s voice.

-life is hard and complex and busy and can be filled with stress and chaos. Many things are out of your control and there’s simply nothing you can do about them but learn to respond with gratitude and trust. But there are a few things you can do that are within your realm of influence and decision making that can make your life drastically better and less complex (and significantly decrease the stress and chaos of your life).

–These are tools that help us to do what we can so we can do our best with the things we can’t. How you eat (diet), how you rest from work on a regular pattern (Sabbath), how you sweat/play/workout (exercise), and how you SLEEP are ways to make your life more balanced, less stressed and in a steady pattern! Imagine your life with… balance? With margin? (These things help us to obey God better!)

-THE SLEEP CHALLENGE- about 7 months ago I was challenged at a spiritual retreat to sleep better (and then I started researching the science of sleep as well). It has made such a difference in my life! For the first time in my life-the past 7 months-I have gotten enough regular sleep – and my body thrives on and this has helped my attitude, mindset, outlook on life, perspective, sense of humor (even better!) and my work proficiency, and all around made my life better (which all ultimately helps me to be in the right place to where it’s easier to obey God – which is the definition of a “spiritual discipline”. Imagine that! – sleep a spiritual discipline.).

-your making a big mistake if you think you can separate your spiritual life from the rest of your life – from your body - they’re 100% connected and inseparable! When’s ones a mess so is the other. (Separating body and spirit is one of the oldest heresies in the book, of course!)

-the average teenager needs 9.5 hours of sleep/night because chemicals related to growth are released during sleep (athletes beware!); therefore teenagers require more sleep than your younger siblings who are only 9-10 years old who need around 8
-irregular sleep patterns negatively impact the quality of your sleep
-sleep is food for the brain
-skipping sleep affects your life: your attitude, your looks (skin, weight), your health (immune system), safety (car accidents), etc.
-1/2 of all students sleep 7 hours or less
-1 in 5 regularly gets less then 6 hours of sleep per night
-only 15% of teenagers get the at least 8.5 hours of sleep that they need on school nights
-being tired is scientifically proven to make us stupid and reckless
-driving while sleep is the equivalent to driving drunk because being sleep blurs our vision and decreases reaction time
-Signs of sleep deprivation:
-Difficulty waking up in the morning (hitting the snooze button) – it doesn’t have to be this
-irritability in the afternoon
-falling asleep during the day
-oversleeping on the weekends
-lack of memory/difficulty concentrating
-moodiness, poor performance in school
-behavior problems
-the gospels are filled with stories of Jesus sleeping and resting
-maybe “napping and sleeping are part of what it means to be a good Christian”

RECOMMENDATIONS for getting a “Good Night’s Rest”
-establish a reasonable bedtime and wake time and make that consistent with weekends too (maybe the hardest thing to do but not impossible)
-establish bedtime routine (self-discipline)
-if you have difficult falling asleep (first, ask yourself: are you sleeping too much? Do you have a pattern? Are you off your pattern?): take a hot bath/shower 30 minutes before falling asleep, do only quiet activities that are not mentally stimulating before trying to fall asleep, starting turning off lights one by one an hour before bed, turn off cell phones!, avoid techology right before wanting to fall asleep.
-eliminate caffeine consumption 7 hours before sleep (the effects stay in your body for 7 hours) –affects your quality of sleep even if you can sleep – makes it less restorative
-keep a sleep log (record sleep times and wake times and state of restfulness for 3 weeks or until you have patterns established)
-sleep experts favor a school day that begins at 9:30 or so but until that’s an option, we have to discipline ourselves!
-give sleep the high priority that it deserves in your life (which is probably higher than it currently is)
-listen to your body: if you feel tired you probably are and need more sleep
-learn to nap efficiently and without feeling guility
-get a good bed (most important piece of furniture in your home?)
-cooler the better for sleeping
-bedroom should be as peaceful as possible – conducive environment for sleeping
-aim to avoid eating large meals just before going to sleep

“Busyness is the enemy of spirituality. It is essentially laziness. It is doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing. It is filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attention to God’s actions. It is taking charge.” Eugene Peterson, Subversive Spirituality

“Fatigue makes women talk more and men talk less.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters