Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FlatRock '09

Christian and Kendall nearing the finish line
The Start of the 25K. Notice anything odd about this picture?
Just after the finish - catching my breath!
Crossing the Finish Line!
Sprinting to the Finish!
Another year – another fun, exciting, challenging and thrilling run at FlatRock! If I could only do a couple Ultras each year, FlatRock would certainly be one of them. Now that I’ve done 3 years in a row, I’m only 7 years in a row left from entering the Hall of Pain for 10 year in a row consecutive finishers. Can’t wait for 2016!

Back to reality…this year I finished 22nd out of 43 finishers and 46 starters with a time of 7:30:42. I finished faster than that in 07 (which was my first ever ultra) and I was much slower that that time in 08. Next year my goal will be again to try to break 7 hours, and to aid that goal perhaps next year I will incorporate a bit of a pre-FlatRock taper to allow my legs to be a little fresher going in. I’d run 60 miles the week before and week of the race. Never even thought about a taper since I’m training for what’s yet ahead (Run for Missions 100, etc.). I had hoped to break 7 hours this year but it just didn’t happen – I didn’t have the speed. Strangely, however, I never got really tired and I felt fine the rest of the day and the next day (yes, I felt ‘just fine’ and almost completely normal after FlatRock!) which is really weird to me because I remember being so trashed the last two years. My lowest point was between miles 15 and 23 were I just kind of putted along. But at mile 23 I had a surge that really took me all the way to the finish. When I came out of the trailhead, I sprinted hard all the way to the finish line about 2/3 mile away or so. Official Results:

There is another story though…my good friend Jesse Penna has come with me for all three FlatRock’s thus far and both this year and last year we invited Christian Stratton and Kendall Ens (from Jesse’s youth group at Northridge) to come along with us for the fun, the campout and the good food, etc. Well, we got them registered in the 25K at the last second and they both finished! They aren’t runners, don’t really run ever, wore jeans and steel-toed boots and finished strong! They got so many funny looks and questions (and suspicious whispers) as to why they are actually wearing jeans and cotton t-shirts and boots! They did their best and finished well. Congrats to the first time unorthodox trail runners! Afterwards they came up to me and said they respect the challenge of ultra-running much more than they used to and won’t ever make fun of me for limping around the day after an ultra anymore. And they said they don’t ever want to run FlatRock again! But we’ll see about those kind of never gonna vows!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wichita 1/2 Marathon

Early Sunday morning before the run on the Arkansas City River Bridge

Sunday morning early was Wichita's 1/2 Marathon. It it a race in two ways, the running, then hurrying home to clean up and get to church on time (my earlier Sunday morning duties are shared off to others) - this time I arrived just a few minutes before I had to go on stage to talk! Anyway, the race (with a partly new great course) went well and I started off a little fast 7:30's, and faded a bit between miles 8 and 11 before kicking it into higher gear for a "push" to the finish. I felt as good as I could after a very high mileage week (18 miles Wednesday night and 15 on Saturday, just the day before the 1/2 marathon and 60 total for the 7 day week - with 2 days off!).

I finished 138/1060 finishers with an official time of 1:42:16. Results: http://wichitamarathon.org/JohnstonsHalfMarathon/half09all.txt.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Great Celebration in Mexico!

Dinner at Fuddruckers in Eagle Pass
New Addition to the Youth Pastors with Crown Vics club: Special Honored Member Samuel Vasquez is welcomed to the Club as he is driving the beautiful white Crown Vic pictured with his family and Sergio & Luisa Ayala and their two kids. Bienvenido!
Saturday evening was Founding Pastor and Superintendent, Felipe Vasquez's Surprise 80th birthday party. By honoring Felipe with our presence and gifts, we honored the whole church. I ended up going alone while Matt stayed behind to finish Michelle's roof and then he and Ralph caught up a couple days later at the border, hauling pews. The party was a great celebration, though I arrived late due to missing my initial morning flight. I shared the message at Nueva Rosita Iglesia Amigos on Sunday morning and ate at Jugos on Sunday evening. Monday evening we went to the border for a meal together and Tuesday we left and I arrive at my house Wednesday morning at 2:22 am!

What A Week On A Roof!

Yep, the three oldest Macy boys helped on the roof too!
Who is that?!
I'm not sure if I've ever, ever been so dirty! Pausing for a short afternoon break for Sonic Strawberry Limeades.
Monaghan Roofing Co. back in action!
Picnic lunch in the shade in Michelle's backyard
Starting Labor Day weekend, Matt, Jesse, and I, along with Andrew, Ralph and countless others worked to replace Michelle Carpenter's roof. We worked Saturday, Sunday, all day holiday Monday, and then even Tuesday in the rain and Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We tore off three layers of shingles and went through the whole process of re-sheeting and laying tar paper and then actually the easiest part, the new shingles. We also had to do some unfortunante disaster restoration (moving all belongings out of the house, ripping out sheetrock and ceilings in the house that were damaged by leakage from a freak rainstorm, etc.). Anyway, in the end I learned a lot about roofing and hard work!

Crossroads Youth Fall Kick-Off

We started our regular weekly Crossroads Small Group for Youth meetings on Wednesday night, this time at the Wilson's in Bel Aire. We play a really, really fun game of Cul de Sac Soccer! This is a city slicker thing where the cars and mailboxes are all in play and you have to watch out for cars coming and going from the Cul de Sac. Neighborhood kids joined us to play.

September Garden Update

The garden that we've worked so hard on all year looks great due to lot's of recent rain and cooler fall-like temperatures!
Uh...the vegetable garden is, well...pictured above. I'm not sure what to say about it. Or what to do to it. Not sure what is alive or dead, nor which plant is which? I think I'm going to call it "The Secret Garden", because it's mystery and secret is hidden even from me! I do know that it has produced plenty of cucumbers (but all of the cucumbers in the last month have been yellow when earlier in the summer they were green!?), tomatoes, and corn. I believe there is still in the ground, carrots, red peppers, and a few other miscellaneous yet to be identified items. I am also surprised and intrigued by these blooming red and some blue flowers that have suddenly appeared all over everything! I certainly know what to do differently next year!

Watching Barclay Soccer

Several weeks ago, I went with Gabe and Sarah Hancock to watch Barclay College soccer play in not too far away, McPherson. We lost, but not by much (to a scholarship team!). We have a really great team this year, coached by Jeff Carpenter. Go Barclay Bears!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dream Big 5K

The Saturday before Labor Day I ran, for the 3rd year in a row, a little 5K that is a lot of fun. It's called Dream Big. This year the course was on the west side of town, the first ever race in New Market Square. I ran a 22:29 and finished 37/158 runners.

I also finished 9th out of 58 in the One Mile Run, held shortly after the 5K. But as you'll notice, two 12 year old girls sprinted ahead of me at the last second to beat me out. Oh well!

Results: http://runwichita.org/siteadmin/raceresults_file/346.txt

Linda was there to cheer me on as well, as she was up for the holiday weekend.

The Prodigal God

Several weeks ago now, I finished the book The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller. Since then my mind and heart have swam in and wrestled with the thoughts and challenges of the message of the “Parable of the Two Lost Sons”. This parable is also known as the parable of the prodigal son but, in fact, there are two lost sons. Some identify with the younger brother and others identify with the elder brother. Either way, the message is a call to return home (relationship) to the Father! The story is about “a man who had two sons”, not about either son! In fact, the Father is the only one who is truly Prodigal in this story, having extravagantly and recklessly given everything to his sons in love. I couldn’t recommend The Prodigal God any higher for the faithful, the skeptics, and even the cynics. I am thankful for this book and it’s message and how it has helped me to understand, internalize, and articulate the message of Jesus. The following are some of my favorite quotes from the book.

One of the signs that you many not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do. xi

In this story the father represents the Heavenly Father Jesus knew so well… Jesus is showing us the God of Great Expenditure, who is nothing if not prodigal toward us, his children. God’s reckless grace is our greatest hope, a life-changing experience, and the subject of this book. xv

To sit down and eat with someone in the Near East was a token of acceptance. “How dare Jesus reach out to sinners like that?” they were saying. “These people never come to our services! … 9

So whose side is Jesus on? In The Lord of the Rings, when the hobbits ask the ancient Treebeard who side he is on, he answers: “I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side…But there are some things, of course, who side I’m altogether not on.” Jesus’s own answer to this question, through the parable is similar. He is on the side of neither the irreligious nor the religious, but he singles out religious moralism as a particularly deadly spiritual condition. 13

If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren’t appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we’d like to think. 16

Ordinarily when our live is rejected we get angry, retaliate, and do what we can to diminish our affection for the rejecting person, so we won’t hurt so much. But this father maintains his affection for his son and bears the agony. 20

The father is saying, “I’m not going to wait until you’ve paid off your debt; I’m not going to wait until you’ve duly groveled. You are not going to earn your way back into the family, I am going to simply take you back. I will cover your nakedness, poverty, and rages with the robes of my office and honor. 23

Jesus shows the father pouncing on his son in love not only before he has a change to clean up his life and evidence a change of heart, but even before he can recite his repentance speech. Nothing, not even abject contrition, merits the favor of God. The Father’s love and acceptance are absolutely free. 24

You can rebel against God and be alienated from him either by breaking his rules or by keeping all of them diligently. It’s a shocking message: Careful obedience to God’s law may serve as a strategy for rebelling against God. 37

Here, then, is Jesus’s radical definition of what is wrong with us. Nearly everyone defines sin as breaking a list of rules. Jesus, though, shows us that a man who has violated virtually nothing on the list of moral misbehaviors can be every bit as spiritually lost as the most profligate, immoral person. Why? Because sin is not just breaking the rules, it is putting yourself in the place of God as Savior, Lord, and Judge just as each son sought to displace the authority of the father in his own life. 43

Because the elder brother is more blind to what is going on, being an elder-brother Pharisee is a more spiritually desperate condition. 47

If a group believes God favors their particularly true doctrine, ways of worship, and ethical behavior, their attitude toward those without these things can be hostile. Their self-righteousness hides under the claim that they are only opposing the enemies of God. When you look, at the world through those lenses, it becomes easy to justify hate and oppression, all in the name of truth. As Richard Lovelace has written: People who are no longer sure that God loves and accepts them in Jesus, apart from their present spiritual achievements, are subconsciously radically insecure persons…Their insecurity shows itself in pride, a fierce, defensive, assertion of their own righteousness, and defensive criticism of others. They come naturally to hate other cultural styles and other races in order to bolster their own security and discharge their suppressed anger. 54

Another sign of those with an “elder brother” is joyless, fear-based compliance. 57

As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough for him. You simply aren’t sure God loves and delights in you. 63

There are many people today who have abandoned any kind of religious faith because they see clearly that the major religions are simply full of elder brothers. 66

We discovered, however, that younger brothers were willing to come to our church because they saw that we made a clear distinction between the gospel and religious moralism, and that provided an opportunity in which they could explore Christianity from a new perspective. 69

…the main barrier between Pharisees and God is “not their sins, but their damnable good works.” 77

What must we do, then, to be saved? To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just an elder brother. To truly become Christians we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must repent of…the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord. 78

We will never stop being younger brothers or older brothers until we acknowledge our need, rest by faith, and gaze in wonder at the work of our true elder brother, Jesus Christ. 89

Salvation is not only objective and legal but also subjective and experiential. The Bible insists on using sensory language about salvation. It calls us to “taste and see” that the Lord is good, not only to agree and believe it. 107

The inevitable sign that you know you are a sinner saved by sheer, costly grace is a sensitive social conscience and a life poured out in deed of service to the poor. Younger brothers are too selfish and elder brothers are too self-righteous to care for the poor. 112

Religion operates on the principle of “I obey—therefore I am accepted by God.” The basic operating principle of the gospel is “I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ—therefore I obey.” 114

Faith in the gospel restructures our motivations, our self-understanding, our identity, and our view of the world. Behavioral compliance to rules without heart-change will be superficial and fleeting. 119

God’s grace is free, yes, but it is also costly, infinitely so. 122

Jesus’s great Parable…retells the story of the entire Bible and the story of the human race. Within the story, Jesus teaches that the two most common ways to live are both spiritual dead ends. He shows how the plotlines of our lives can only find a resolution, a happy ending, in him, in his person and work. 127-8