Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Run

Gabe Hancock and I went for a Christmas run this morning dressed as the Grinch and Santa. It was rainy and cool and we had a lot of fun running in costume (first time I've ever done anything like that) for 11 miles. I smiled too much to be a good Grinch, though.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Great Awakening, Leeland

One man wakes, awakens another
Second one wakes his next door brother
Three awake can rouse a town
And turn the whole place upside down
Many awake will cause such a fuss
It finally awakes all of us
One man wakes with dawn in his eyes
Surely then it multiplies
Surely then it multiplies

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sacrilege: Finding Life In The Unorthodox Ways Of Jesus

Sacrilege: Finding Life In The Unorthodox Ways Of Jesus
By Hugh Halter

I just finished Sacrilege by Hugh Halter. I definitely loved the book, just as I have loved everything I have read by him so far. Halter tries to answer the question "what does it really mean to be like Jesus?" He addresses the gospels and the "ways of Jesus" by taking a fresh look at the beatitudes. He words are provocative, challenging, helpful, and formative for the church to be what God intends. This book does not address models of church ministry like his other books. Actually I don't think it hardly ever uses the words "missional" or "incarnational". And while some of the things he proposes are a "new way of thinking", he makes a good case for the possibility that they are really an "old way of thinking". A few of my favorite quotes:

...followership, instead of true discipleship, has been the norm, and thus we Christians have produced a lot more people that are like us than people who are like Jesus.  p44

Wrought with legalism, the Pharisees could have made the elder board in most US churches. Great behavior, few scandals...what more would any good pastor want? Ironic, isn't it, that it was these very well-behaved religious men who ended up being a hurdle rather than a bridge to bringing others into a real relationship with God? p48

You know what?  God and this thing called faith are so beyond my grasp that I am empty of the ability to know absolute truth. I know absolute truth exists.  But I also know that I am a human of very small brain compared to God, and I have no problem admitting that I may be wrong about many things and you may be right.  Only God Himself knows it all.  p67

Our perceived ideas or interpretations of "truth" have started religious wars.  "Truth" has construed private piety to be more important than taking care of orphans and widows.  "Truth" has taught us to blindly support whatever Israel wants.  "Truth" has casually brushed aside any thought of actually loving Muslims as a path to peace and change.  In other words, under the banner of "truth" many have missed the truth that Jesus preached.  In many cases, simple faith and humble learning have been replaced by a mountain-sized pile of ill-begotten ideas that encourage Christians to feel like they have arrived.  p70

Absolute truth is absolute.  God is truth and his Word is truth...There is however, one glaring problem with absolute truth, and that is that we, being humans, have a tendency to be...well, human.  And that means that we are biased, short-sighted, and very often wrong. p73

What do you think about letting God help you become a place of belonging for others instead of you just looking for another place to belong? p91

This isn't about a duty to be performed; it is about a relationship to be explored. p108

...Fervency in a slightly immature direction is better than apathy in the right direction.  p113

Monday, November 7, 2011


We evangelicals are hardly known for our silence. Our branding implies proclaiming, declaring, even persuading. But it opens up the possiblity that we can very easily be a rather noisy people even when we don't have much to say. Words without substance and authenticity equal irrelevance. -Gordon MacDonald

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Regardless of the Results of the Gift

A great post on living the life of missional obedience at YLCF this week. Check it out.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Run for Missions 2011 Report

Run for Missions 2011

5K, 10K, Half-Marathon

Over one-hundred and fifty runners participated in all of the Run for Missions race day events this year! This was the first year for the half-marathon and it was a great success. There were over fifty entries in this new event and for a race in Haviland, K
S, this number of entries surprised just about everyone. And even better, they came from all over the state and many of them enjoyed their first visit to Haviland and first glimpse of Barclay College. The 5K/10K

events were a lot of fun as well in their second year with lots of people who came last year and also plenty of new faces. Complete race results have been published at www.runformissions.org.

It was about 32 degrees or so at the 8 am start of the half-marathon wi
th a brisk wind out of the south. Many runners mentioned being cold when they ran south back towards town. Only a few commented saying they didn’t like running on the soft sand. Most of the rest loved being off the concrete and enjoyed the beauty of the country. The half-marathon followed the same route for the first 5K, crossed near the finish line and then set out to complete the second 5K loop with an added 6.9 mile out and back section to make for 13.1 miles. The half-marathon was generously sponsored by the GoRun Wichita stores and the top three males and females were awarded gift certificates towards running shoes.

By 9 am, as the 5K and 10K races started, the sun was out and it was
starting to warm up. As the 5K finishers crossed the finish line they were entertained with live music from Abby Hutson from Wichita and the kids had the option of playing on a giant inflatable. Nearly two dozen volunteers who manned the aid stations, directed traffic, and pointed the runners in the right direction were key components to this successful event. Another special feature this year was the visit of two really cool llamas who swept the 5K course.

Next year we will have the same three events on Saturday morning, October 27th, 2012. The same basic course will be utilized but a few modifications to the event will be employed to make it better, safer, more fun and a better experience all around. Race directors are always eager to hear feedback from runners, volunteers, spectators, nay-sayers and fans alike to improve the event for next time. Please don’t hesitate to submit and ideas, suggestions or critiques to adam@efcmaym.org.

100-Mile Fundraiser Run

Well…100 miles is a long ways…it’s kinda hard to run that far really…sometimes you throw up…sometimes you just want to sleep…sometimes you even want to quit…sometimes you wonder why you ever committed to doing this!...and the rest of the time you are just so grateful to be alive and have such great friends and an incredible support team to be able to make it happen. I finished Sunday afternoon just before 1:00pm in a total time of 25 hours, 25 minutes and 6 seconds for the 4th annual Run for Missions. It wasn’t necessarily pretty or as ‘fun’ as other 100 mile run experiences in the past but I finished without injury or anything going wrong really. Well…kinda. Read on.

I honestly can’t remember all the details as the whole weekend is kind of a blur, but I will try to unpack a bit of what I do remember and how it felt. But first I must start with sincere words of deep gratitude to everyone who makes the Run for Missions possible. There wouldn’t be a run if there weren’t donors! To date, nearly $14,000 has been given and/or pledged this year. This makes a total of nearly $64,000 for the past four years of the Run. The Run for Missions also wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for a bunch of crazy runners (and some walkers too) who come from literally all over to run the 5K, 10K, and Half-Marathon. A portion of each of their entry fees goes toward the scholarship fund. The 100 mile fundraiser run wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the pacers (dozens of them each year) who give up so much time and energy to serve as companions and “sanity inspectors” to keep me moving. The last but not least thank you goes out to the support crew who drive all night long and serve generously and put up with whining and some sleeping and sections of me going really slow and all of the just plain craziness of the whole thing.

Thursday, Sarah and I traveled to Haviland and first thing Friday morning we began setting everything up for registration in the gym. By Friday evening we were ready for registration and it was time to set up and mark the course with flags and white flour and set up the finish line area. After a fitful night of tossing and turning and only sleeping for three hours on Friday night, Saturday Hmorning started at 5:30 for Jesse and I as we went out to drop cones and the pumpkin mile markers and the aid stations. We should have started at 4:00 am! We know better for next year! We were very late to our 7:15 meeting with the volunteers who were ready to go. But everyone was briefed and placed just in time for the 8 am start. Sarah and I had responsibilities at the finish line and Jesse was pretty much in charge of the other 13 miles of the course! By the time it was all over and the last runners were crossing the finish line I was already tired! A hiccup in the timing software caused some data to be temporarily lost and the awards ceremony to be delayed. But it started a little after 11 and was over before 11:30. Then it was my turn to run! I changed my clothes and set out to run knowing that I could be self-sufficient for about an hour until my crew caught up to me as they had to finish tearing everything down and cleaning up.

I left the start line at 11:38 am with Tim Marshall (the winner of the half-marathon, by the way) who would run with me for the first 50 miles! In the first mile I realized I was really hungry and hadn’t thought to eat lunch. It has been over 5 hours since a meager breakfast. So I ate a couple hammer gels until I felt balanced. Kind of a weird way to start. The whole first two miles my hamstring was really hurting. This had me worried to say the least. It had been bothering me for a couple weeks for some reason (probably due to over training and running too many miles) and I was worried it would really hurt me on this long run and either cause me to quit or get really injured if I finished all the way. Anyway I popped three ibuprophen at mile 2 which is also another first to take them that early. But after about 10-15 miles I didn’t really notice it anymore and I rarely mentioned my hamstring bothering me the rest of the way to the finish line.

At about mile three my friend Terry Rider joined me as a pacer. He ran aid-station #2 where the porta-potty was so he was busy tearing down and getting ready and wasn’t quite ready to take off with me from the start. Terry ended up logging 30 miles with me and was a great encouragement and inspiration and it adds comfort to know you have other experienced ultrarunners out there.

I came into Pratt before 3 pm and ran up 281 to the street where Pratt Friends Church was out. We stopped there for a couple minutes to regroup and I set off for another mile or so of pavement before heading back into the country. At this point we had three vehicles and three runners as Sarah was in her car with all the crewing supplies, Jesse had the church van with the porta-potty attached and Sherri was crewing for Terry. Just before dark Terry and Sherri went home.

The first 50 miles really were uneventful. I started knowing I would need some additional caffeine around 9pm as I requested a lot of Mt. Dew. It helped for a while. Somewhere around mile 40, if my memory serves correctly, I was joined by Gabe Hancock, Mike Neifert and Marc Compton as pacers. Tim quit after 50 miles which made his total 67 for the day. Tim ate a foot-long Subway sandwich while running during the last hour. I thought that was nuts!

I ran the first 50 miles in 10 hours and 20 minutes. Around midnight, my friend and weekly training partner, Andy Bowman showed up and started running with us at the 52 mile mark. This was the half-way mark and Andy would put in the last 52 with me and run a new distance record for him. Sometime after midnight I began to “lose it”. A few days later Gabe commented to me that I sure didn’t seem like myself. I agree with his observation completely. Somehow the pressure and the mental tiredness just caught up to me and I was losing the will to continue. My body felt fine relatively speaking but my brain was just checking out and was wanting to go to sleep and I just didn’t know what to do about it! After fighting for a couple of hours I gave in and announced that I had to take a short nap in the van. I honestly felt better after getting out and within a couple minutes threw up everything I had just ate on the side of the pitch dark road with Andy and Gabe standing watch. The dry-heaving lasted for quite a while and then I took off walking again before eventually working my way to a run some walk some rhythm.

Eventually around 1:30 am or so my mom arrived to help and to crew for a while and was able to give me a much needed hug, and Gabe a ride back to his car in Kingman. At this point it was just Andy and I who were left to run to the end. Two hours later I felt like if didn’t take another nap I was going to fall over. I slept solidly for 30 more minutes. This time getting out of the van was really hard. I don’t want to admit how badly I wanted to quit. I changed all of my clothes and wore Under Armor tights and tops with an additional layer to stay warm outside. Altogether I spent 60 minutes asleep in the warm van. I’ve never done that before. I don’t recommend it as a strategy to completing a 100 miler. It just happened. It was survival. But from that time on I never sat back down again…I knew that to do so would very likely be the end for me.

I tried to run but really didn’t do much running mostly just a lot of fast walking for the next two or three hours. I was discouraged, frustrated and just plan overwhelmed by how far I had left to go at mile 64 realizing I had 40 miles left to go and I already felt this bad. The course is actually 104.2 miles. Those extra 4 really seemed to overwhelm me. At that pace I was calculating possible finish times with the half of my brain that was awake and I was so discouraged thinking about it that I eventually just blocked it out of my mind.

I had a goal of getting to the Sedgwick County line which meant 25 miles left (79 miles run so far) before 7 am and I made it within 2 minutes. This was somewhat encouraging. I hoped and prayed that the sunrise would give me a boost. And thankfully it did!

Sarah, who had left to sleep for 7 hours at home came back with hot coffee for Andy and fresh breakfast burritos. This was a first for both of us drinking coffee and eating breakfast burritos on the run but it really hit the spot. As the sun came up and started to warm things up I started to feel better and started running the flats and downhills again and slowly warmed my way back to a consistent 14 minute mile for over 10 miles. My next mental goal was just getting to mile 94 which meant only 10 miles left to go. Somehow single digits were really encouraging. And this meant the hustle and bustle of Wichita and not the remote desolation of the middle of nowhere…no offense. Running through Wichita I honestly felt great like I could go on forever.

Tim Marshall who had run so many miles Saturday drove the crew van all night long going ahead about 1-2 miles at a time and filled up water bottles and offered lots of encouragement and support. He left around 9 am to go to church in Rose Hill to talk about the Run for Missions with no sleep!

When I hit the east side of Sedgwick County Park I only had 3.7 miles left to go. Then it got fun. I was in a t-shirt and shorts by this point and was worried about getting too much sun even on the second day. I was really running strong with Andy throughout these final miles and I hit a couple 12:30s, I think.

Several well-wishers and friends found me on the course those last 4 miles and honked and waved and yelled, “You’re crazy”. It was music to my ears. Several more friends met me and ran the last couple blocks. There were 20 or so people waiting to celebrate the finish line with Andy and I at 2018 W. Maple Street at 12:57 pm on Sunday afternoon.

Then I just sat down in a chair and began to tell the story to my friends who were gathered around. Part of me wanted to laugh and part of me wanted to cry. I was so relieved to be done and also just so overwhelmed by the whole ordeal. We stayed for 30 minutes talking and telling the story of how we got there. The crowd really enjoyed my silver-dollar sized blood blister on my left foot. Once my shoes came off, they didn’t go back on for 48 hours. I wore my wife’s slippers for the next two days!

Sometimes running is fun but, honestly, most of the time it isn’t. But it’s always good. My experience with the second half of this run wasn’t fun but it was good. I guess I’ve heard it said that God is kind of like that. He isn’t safe and we don’t always understand Him and His ways and we certainly should never claim to have Him all figured out, but He is good. Yes, I do believe to my core that God is truly good.

I finished so thankful for such incredible friends and family that are all such a gift and also so humbled by the distance. Running one hundred miles can do that to a guy.

Ultimately the Run for Missions is not about my story. It is all about raising money for missions so that the story of God’s great goodness and mercy can be brought to all the people of all nations. That’s why we did this, that’s why we finished, and that’s why you support the cause. Thank you.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kansas City/Des Moines Marathons Back-to-Back

One of my 2011 “Goals” was to run marathons on back-to-back days and finish both of them under four hours. I accomplished that goal last weekend for the first time!

Back in April 2009, I ran a 40 mile trail run at Free State on a Saturday and then did the Oklahoma City Marathon the very next day which was a pretty tough little weekend challenge but I ran slow on Sunday and finished in like 4:28. So my goal was to run both races well and not just ‘finish’.

Saturday at the Kansas City Marathon I was a pacer for the 3:40 pace team. This was my third time pacing for Runner’s Edge out of Kansas City. The previous two times I have nailed my time so I felt all the pressure to make sure I hit it just right this time as well. We had a nice pack of runners shooting for 3:40 and I coached the back half of the pack along. A few of the people I was working with couldn’t quite keep up in the last 4-8 miles or so and had to fall back. I had slowed up to try to reel them in. This meant I had about 8 minutes to do the last 1.2 so I had to fly like crazy at nearly a sprint from mile 25 on to get in under pace time. I did in 3:39:51. Felt some right hamstring pain during the marathon which made me a little nervous.

Drove the few hour trip to Des Moines the same afternoon not yet even haven taken a shower! Went to packet pickup with salt-crusted face and smelly body and got ready for day 2 by sleeping 9 hours solid in a hotel room after watching about 3 outs of the NLCS but not being able to stay awake past the 3rd inning. Sunday morning came and the temperature was just perfect with a brisk, cool start and a perfect day ahead weather wise with cool temps and slight cloud cover.

I was still sore and kind of gimpy those first few miles. I fell in behind the 4 hour pace team and just tried to really take it easy the first half of the race which wasn’t hard because I was sore and even hurting some in that hamstring. But after about mile 10 it actually went away and I felt warmed up and started feeling great – ready to really run this thing! I went from running 9 minute or little slower miles to 8:15-8:30s or so for the next 10. I felt strong and confident. I had made a couple friends who were newbies and I had fun sharing stories and sharing running secrets. The last 10K I was still feeling surprisingly well so I sped up the pace all the way to the finish. I had caught up to and ran with the 3:55 pace group for a while and then went on ahead of them too. I ended up finishing in 3:52 and was just thrilled with the time. The other funny thing is I finished feeling good with basically no hamstring pain. Then I took a shower at the Y in downtown Des Moines, just 2 blocks from the finish line, drove back to Wichita and was home by supper time. The next day I was only slightly sore and felt surprisingly good.

Now all I have to do is some short simple maintenance runs every other day at the most between now and next Saturday when I run the Run for Missions 104.2 Fundraiser Run from Haviland to Wichita and nurse that sore hamstring back to health so it doesn’t come back to hurt me later. 

Sunday was my 16th state down for my running a marathon in every state goal. See total archive list here: http://adammonaghan.blogspot.com/2011/04/marathonultra-archive-2011-update.html

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Heartland 100 2011

Trying to summarize the experience of running 100 miles in less that 24 hours is not easy. I had been looking forward to the race all year and training fairly well all summer and into the fall. When the day finally arrived I just wanted to get started. Once you get started it feels as if everything is right, even though you know how crazy hard it's going to be to get to that finish line.

I started in a short sleeved shirt as it was in the low to mid 60s at the 6 am start on Saturday. That's really warm for October. I fell in with Eric and Steve, two guys I've run with before at other races and who were attempting their first 100 mile finishes. I enjoyed running with them on and off all the rest of the day to the finish. The first 25 miles was uneventful. Eric had a headlamp that was bright enough for Steve and I to see the rocks by for the first hour or so, since neither of us carried a headlamp at the start. I never have and never have felt like I needed one to start off at Heartland since so many have one and the first few miles are pretty smooth terrain-wise. Once the sun came up the winds began to pick up and the temps started to rise. I knew it was going to be a tough day. I arrive at the 25 mile aid station about 20 minutes slower than last year, which is smart, I think. 

The wind up on the high points of the road from Texaco Hill into Ridgeline was brutal. The temps were, I'm guessing here, nearly 80 or so by this point, or at least it felt that way and the wind really dried you out. We were estimating the wind gusts to as high as 40 mph. I kept reminding the guys I was running with and myself to drink, drink, drink! I arrived at Ridgeline, 36 miles, within a minute of the same time as last year. Last year at that point nausea was just starting to creep in. This year I still felt great. I was really encouraged by that! Also, a really a pleasant surprise at Ridgeline was seeing Sarah. Not feeling too well, she couldn't commit to making it out to crew and/or pace this year, so I was going it alone at Heartland with no crew and no pacer. But I was able to see Sarah and she knew I was doing well. 

My running partners weren't quite ready so I took off from Ridgeline, running alone for the first time of the day. I enjoyed the next few miles as some clouds had finally rolled in and made the day much more pleasant. Then all of the sudden close to the 40 mile mark the temps dropped 10 degrees! That was great. I saw Sarah again at Matfield Green (and then she went ahead and left for home) and changed my shirt for the first time that day. As I left the aid-station it started to rain. It rained off and on for the next few hours. I rolled on to the half way point, enjoying the opportunity to greet all the others on the course. I got to the 50 mile mark, called Lone Tree, at 9:50 and got my supplies I needed and ate some awesome food (like fried chicken tacquitos and real food for the first time all day - just gels up until that point!) and took off at 9:55 elapsed time. I was thrilled to see Eric show up there just after me so we took off together, and really cruised back to Matfield Green (30 min faster than last year). As I greeted most of the rest of the runners, I thought it was cool how many of them I actually know and know well. That makes the whole ultra-running thing so much more fun!

At Matfield Green I ate some soup and filled pockets with other food and, since Eric wasn't quite ready, took off alone again for Ridgeline. I got to Ridgeline before dark and found my drop bag and put on my headlamp. But when I turned it on it wouldn't work! The batteries were brand new and the headlamp is brand new. I changed the batteries and it still wouldn't work so I panicked and asked around until a crew person for someone else (Eric's wife actually) loaned me their hand-held back up flashlight. This helped me to get to Texaco Hill but was hard because I was carrying two hand held water bottles and made the flashlight difficult to carry and balance everything. I ate a big cup of Gary's potato chili leaving the aid-station. It was great!

By the time I got to Texaco Hill it was really raining hard and I knew I had to keep moving to stay warm. They had hot fresh food off the grill there so I ate a couple quesadillas and some more soup and some Mt. Dew totally loved it! Also, thankfully, one of the aid-station volunteers graciously loaned me his extra headlamp that I could wear all the way to the finish line. The next section was tough only because of the rain had caused some serious mud to occur. I tried to run in the grass next to the mud but the grass had lots of large hidden rocks so that didn't work out too well. Eventually after a few miles, the mud section passed. I was still feeling well, sore and stiff legged, but still running strong and feeling good coming into Teterville, the 75 mile marker. I ate a hot grilled cheese sandwich and two cups of potato soup and well as 2 cups of Mt Dew here.

About a mile down the road I saw my friend and training partner Andy heading the opposite direction to the turnaround as he was running the 50 mile course and had started at 6 pm. I knew he would eventually catch me but now I had something to work for and to delay that as long as possible. I ran pretty hard into Lapland, the 83.5 mile mark, and arrived there just after 12:00 am. Just before arriving Steve and his pacer caught up to me and I followed them on it at a great pace. While at the aid-station, and eating some more ramen noodle soup, Andy caught up. I stayed with him for about a mile and a half before he took off for good. I stayed with Steve and his pacer Brian all the way to the finish line. 

I honestly felt great the whole day. I never had any nausea or any pain of any kind other than just normal soreness from running so far. Obviously my quads were trashed by the end but it didn't hurt any less or more to run than walk. I ate 30 or more gels throughout the day but had GU this year and think I need to stick with the Hammer Gels I had last year which are a bit more expensive.

In the last 11 miles or so I just kind of lost my drive and didn't really care. I didn't want to quit or anything but I lost that drive to push hard and fight and measure and calculate and beat my PR from last year. I finished with 22:51 which was about 28 minutes slower than last year. Honestly though, I didn't really care by this point. I was just so relieved to be done and to be able to just sit down! After eating yet more soup and half of a cheeseburger, I, with help, went to my car to sleep with the heater on! I woke 2 hours later feeling suprisingly well. I drove myself home and showered, and then waddled my pathetic looking self into church and everyone kept asking me what was wrong with me! (I don’t tell everyone I’m running 100 miles any more because after a while - this was my 7th 100 mile finish - they get tired of hearing about it.) Of course, I took a long afternoon nap but I feel surprisingly well. My quads are destroyed but otherwise I feel good and will probably be running again by Wednesday. Gotta get loosened up for the back to back marathons this weekend in Kansas City and Des Moines! I never claimed to be smart - just adventurous.

I am thrilled to have my 4th Heartland 100 belt buckle. I finished 15th out of 69 finishers with closer to 100 starters, I think.

I want to conclude with words shared by Eric, one of the guys I was running with. He posted the following really profound words after his finish (thanks, Eric!):

It was truly an amazing journey, and one that covered enough terrain and time to take me to a lot of different places - not all of them pleasant. As expected it was a practice in accepting and receiving what was there at any given moment - high winds, rain, pain, stunning skies, gorgeous prairie, herds of cows, more pain - without resisting it or wishing things would be different. Deeply grateful for the experience and the friends and family who helped make it possible.

I just think that says it all. In the end I am deeply grateful to have the chance to do this and believe that this experience is one intended to teach me how to be grateful, present to any moment "without resisting it or wishing things would be different..."

Heartland 100 2010: http://adammonaghan.blogspot.com/2010/10/heartland-100-2010.html

Friday, October 7, 2011

Run for Missions 2011

Sarah is the webmaster and I am the race director for our Run for Missions 5K and 10K event, coming up on Saturday, October 29 in Haviland, KS. We are excited that this year will be the first year for a half-marathon that has been added as well. So far the majority of advance entries are in the half-marathon event. Prices go up on Oct 18th. You can still register up to and on race day.

We are also looking forward to the 100 Mile-Fundraiser Run beginning before noon on Oct 29 and running in reverse from Haviland to Wichita. This will be the 4th consecutive year for this Run. Several people plan to join up with me for a few miles here and there. Let me know if you're interested.

Run for Missions website: http://runformissions.org/

Monday, October 3, 2011

Flatrock 2011

What can I say? It's a very hard 31 mile trail run. There is no other trail that I've ever run anywhere that is consistently, relentlessly, and ridiculously technical as Flatrock 50K in southeast Kansas. Oh wait, there was that stupid Canadian Death Race thing but that doesn’t really count because 1. It is in Canada and 2. I didn’t even finish it and 3. While the worst of it was worse than the worse of Flatrock, there was more runnable terrain at the Death Race than at Flatrock so it doesn’t count.

Okay, before I exaggerate how hard Flatrock is too much, and start to dream up a really big one, at least I can say that as I entered the trailhead after a little 1/5 mile jaunt on the road I yelled out “Now everything I ran and trained for in the last 3 months has nothing to do with the type of terrain I will cover in the next 6 hours”.

My favorite mental image of Flatrock this year is my poor friend and training partner, Andy, who finished bleeding in more ways than one. But he was still very happy!
I wanted to arrive at the turnaround (half-way point) about 3 hours in and I pushed to make it happen. But it didn’t happen. Not even close. 3:15 or so and I was already tired. I tripped a lot and stubbed my toes a lot and turned my ankles a lot in the return-trip. But I enjoyed every second of it. I think I know how weird that sounds but probably not. I finished in like 6:54 which was slower than last year even though I believe I'm in better shape but who knows.

Thankfully on the return trip I fell in with a pack of other people (long time Flatrock finishers like Dennis Haig and Teresa Wheeler) slugging along and stayed in the train all the way to the end.

This is my fifth consecutive finish. Only 5 more to go and the Hall of Pain. What more could a guy ask for in life?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quotes on Post-Modern Spirituality and Leadership

Church is not a classroom where subjects are cut and dried, black and white, and true or not true. Everybody's living a life that contains ambiguity and complexity. My task is to enter that world, find a language, and preserve the ambiguity without giving up the truth. -Eugene Peterson, Catalyst Leadership, Sept-Oct 2011

If superficiality is the curse of the modern age, what's the curse of the postmodern age? Distraction. People today are distracted and cannot focus. With the Internet and entertainment, so many different ways to keep people's minds constantly shifting, they don't have to think. And, of course, churches sometimes play right into that-with fast paced services that keep people jumping all over the place. That's why solitude and silence are among the most important spiritual disciplines for today.

What other spiritual challenges are unique to our age? We have taught a gospel for some decades now that has cut people off from a life of holiness and discipleship with Jesus. We have preached, "Assent to certain truths and you'll get into heaven when you die." the main focus has been getting into heaven. The gospel of Jesus-"repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"-is about entering into a life with Jesus now. And that includes heaven, of course, when we die. But life formation beings right now.

William Penn said, "Religion doesn't take us out of the world. But it pushes us into the world and excites our endeavors to mend the world."

-Richard Foster Q & A, Catalyst Leadership, Sept-Oct 2011

Christian bubble...the subculture Christians create that allows us to conduct our entire life having minimal contact with anything "secular"...Taking a missionary posture with our church plant, we began employing strategies to build relationships with non-Christians. We hung out in coffee shops, invited people to our house, and talked to our neighbors. That doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was a challenge. We had spent our entire lives doing Christian things with Christian people, and engaging people who did not share our faith. This felt as awkward as a first date....The bubble is comfortable. There are unwritten rules about how to be nice to each other, what you can say and what you can't, and the correct answers to life's difficult questions...not a short-term missionary on a day trip out of the bubble...an ambassador of Christ to this outpost of God's kingdom. -Trevor Lee, Catalyst Leadership, Sept-Oct 2011

Sadly, as our culture's capacity to engage and maintain meaningful relationships has deteriorated, we have seen a rise in celebrity-based rather than proximity-based authority. And the same trend is evident within the church. Just because someone has a large ministry or has sold millions of books doesn't mean we should automatically grant him authority over our life, faith, or congregation. As many entertainers, politicians, and church leaders have proven, it is possible to build a large platform and yet lack the character, intelligence, and competency to faithfully wield it. - Skye Jethani, Catalyst Leadership, Sept-Oct 2011

For Millennials, just attending church does not equal faithfulness. The only way they'll attend is if they see the church as being a meaningful part of their lives...Most Millennials...prefer heterogeneous groups. Perhaps this is being driven by the diversification of our culture. For example, preschools are projected to become minority white in 2021. Diversity is normative for Millennials, and they will gravitate toward churches that look like their diverse schools and workplaces.

Appeals to positional authority don't carry weight with younger people. They want pastors, elders, and leaders who equip them without constantly reminding them of who is in charge. For Millennials, authority doesn't exist to prop up leaders. Rather, the leader must assume the responsibility to enhance the lives of followers. The debt of authority is the responsibility to sacrifice for followers.

Millennials refuse to sit on the sidelines. They want to be part of the action, or they'll be gone. A church without opportunities for the next generation is boring at best and disobedient at worst. Contrary to the stereotype, most Millennials are not scared off by hard work. In fact, one of the best ways to keep them engaged is communicate a large vision, worthy of their devotion, and set high expectations.

This next generation desires to be led. They are willing to follow if given a change to make a difference. Unify them with other generations. And them them meaningful opportunities to participate in God's work in the world. -Sam S. Rainer, Catalyst Leadership, Sept-Oct 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sit Among Roses and Lilies?

“The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared?” (Luther) p17-18, quoted in Life Together by Bonhoeffer

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating The Missional Church

By Alan Hirsch

A church which pitches its tents without constantly looking out for new horizons, which does not continually strike camp, is being untrue to its calling…We must play down our longing for certainty, accept what is risky, and live by improvisation and experiment. –Has Kung, The Church as the People of God

We can't seem to make disciples based on a consumerist approach to the faith. We plainly cannot consume our way into discipleship. All of us must become much more active in the equation of becoming lifelong followers of Jesus. Consumption is detrimental to discipleship. P45

Strictly speaking one ought to say that the Church is always in a state of crisis and that its greatest shortcoming is that it is only occasionally aware of it… This ought to be the case because the abiding centuries of crisis-free existence for the Church was therefore an abnormality…And if the atmosphere of crisislessness still lingers on in many parts of the West, this is simply the result of a dangerous delusion. Let us also know that to encounter crisis is to encounter the possibility of truly being the Church. –David Bosch, Transforming Mission p49

Theologically, we are right to say that the church is not the kingdom. It is but a sign, a symbol, and a foretaste of the kingdom of God. And while the kingdom expresses itself in and through the church in powerful ways, it is never the sole expression of it. The church is part of the kingdom, but the kingdom extends to God's rule everywhere. P51

We must not abandon Christendom, for in it we are God's people, but it needs a fundamental change, a conversion if you like, if it is to become genuinely missional. This change is possible, but not without major realignment of our current thinking and resources. And because Christendom is so deeply entrenched in our imaginations and practices, this shift will certainly not happen without significant political will to change. It will be resisted by those with the most significant vested interests in the current system. P67
The truly liberating thing to realize is that Christendom was not the original mode of the church, and hopefully it will not be the final one. It is high time for us to dethrone Constantine; as far as matters of church go, it seems he is still the emperor of our imaginations. The church now faces the challenge of discovering mission in a new paradigm while struggling to free itself from the Christendom mindset. P66
The major threat to the viability of our faith is that of consumerism. This is a far more heinous and insidious challenge to the gospel, because in so many ways it infects each and every one of us. P106-107

I simply do not believe that we can continue to try and think our way into a new way of thinking, but rather, we need to act our way into a new way of thinking. P122

"I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings." 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

We can identify at least four dimensions that frame our understanding of the Incarnation of God in Jesus the Messiah. They are Presence: In Jesus the eternal God is fully present to us…God in the flesh (John 1:1-15, Col 2:9); Proximity: God in Christ approached us not only in a way we can understand, but in a way we can access. He not only called people to repentance and proclaimed the direct presence of God (Mark 1:15), but befriended outcast people and lived life in proximity with the broken and "the lost" (Luke 19:10); Powerlessness: in becoming "one of us," God takes the form of a servant and not that of someone who rules over us (Phil 2:6ff, Luke 22:25-27)…; and Proclamation: Not only did the Presence of God directly dignify all that is human, but he heralded the reign of God and called people to respond in repentance and faith…. P132

The Incarnation not only qualifies God's acts in the world, but must also qualify ours. If God's central way of reaching his world was to incarnate himself in Jesus, then our way of reaching the world should be likewise be incarnational. To act incarnationally therefore will mean in part that in our mission to those outside of the faith we will need to exercise a genuine identification and affinity with those we are attempting to reach. At the very least, it will probably mean moving into common geography/space and so set up a real and abiding presence among the group. But the basic motive of incarnational ministry is also revelatory—that they may come to know God through Jesus. P133

If we are to follow in his footsteps, his people will need to be directly and actively involved in the lives of the people we are seeking to reach. This assumes not only presence but also genuine availability, which will involve spontaneity as well as regularity in friendships and communities we inhabit. P134

A genuine incarnational approach will require that we be always willing to share the gospel story with those within our world. We simply cannot take this aspect out of the equation of mission and remain faithful to our calling in the world. We are essentially a "message tribe," and that means we must ensure the faithful transmission of the message we carry through proclamation. P134

…Ecclesiology is the most fluid of the doctrines. The church is a dynamic cultural expression of the people of God in any given place. Worship style, social dynamics, liturgical expressions must result from the process of contextualizing the gospel in any given culture. Church must follow mission. P143

We need to move from evangelistic-attractional to missional-incarnational. This transition can best be recovered by seeing mission as an activity of God and not primarily an activity of the church. We participate in God's mission and not the other way around. If this is conceded, then it follows that we must engage in ways that mirror God's engagement with the world…p147

…Religious institutionalism happens when in the name of some convenience we set up a system to do what we must do ourselves so that over time the structures we create take on a life of their own. A classic example is churches outsourcing education to external organizations. Initially, these training organizations exist to fully serve the grass roots. However, over time they increase in authority, eventually becoming ordaining bodies whose imprimatur is needed to minister. As the provider of degrees, they become increasingly more accountable to the government bodies than they do to the mission of the church. But the net result for the local community is that not only do they become dependent on an increasingly powerful and cloistered institution, they also lose the ancient art of discipling and educating for life in the local setting. The local church as a learning and theologizing community is degraded as a result. P186

(Summary) of Howard Snyder's book Signs of the Spirit, where he identifies the following as characteristics of movements: thirst for renewal (holy discontent), a new stress on the work of the Spirit, an institutional-charismatic tension (tensions within existing structures, i.e. wineskins), a concern for being a countercultural community, non traditional or nonordainded leadership, ministry to the poor, and an energy and dynamism. P193
…We too quickly identify the concrete-historical expressions of the church as the body of Christ. And while there is a truth to this, for the church is the body of Christ, perhaps the greater truth is that the body of Christ is the church. When we say that the church is the body of Christ, it claims a certain authority for a particular expression of church. To say that the body of Christ is the church is to open up possibilities as to how it might physically and organizationally express itself. This doesn't just localize it to one particular expression of church….To restate in these terms enables us to escape the monopolizing grip that the institutional image of church holds over our theological imaginations, and allows us to undertake a journey of reimagining what it means to be God's people in our own day and in our own situations. P198-199

There is something about middle-class culture that seems to be contrary to authentic gospel values…what goes by "middle-class" involves a preoccupation with safety and security, developed mostly in pursuit of what seems to be best for our children. And this is understandable as long as it doesn't become obsessive. But when these impulses of middle-class culture fuse with consumerism, as they most often do, we can add the obsession with comfort and convenience to the list. And this is not a good mix—at least as far as the gospel and missional church are concerned. P219

No groups that came together around a non-missional purpose (e.g., prayer, worship, study, etc.) ever ended up becoming missional. It was only those groups that set out to be missional (while embracing prayer, worship study, etc., in the process) that actually got to doing it. p235

A genuine missional church is therefore a genuine learning organization. P260

Brian McLaren, a key voice for what is called the emerging voice in the United States, recommends that the churches adopt a core value of valuing adaptability itself. He says, "Change your church's attitude toward change and everything else will change as it should." P260

Adaptive (versus operational) leadership moves the system to the edge of chaos, not over it, but to the edge of it. As was said before, the leader's role is to ensure that the system is directly facing up to the issues that confront it, issues that if left unattended will eventually destroy it. P261

Theological liberalism is an indicator of institutional decline not only because it tries to minimize the necessary tension between gospel and culture by eliminating the culturally offending bits, but because it is basically parasitical ideology…theological liberalism rarely creates new forms of church or extends Christianity in any significant way, but rather exists and "feeds off" what the more orthodox missional movements started. P262

Most established denominations, including the more evangelical ones, are also built squarely on Christendom assumptions of church and therefore, like all institutions, are facing significant threat and need to be led to the edge of chaos. It is there, by living in the tension that it brings, they will find more authentic and missional ways of being God's people. So leaders, turn up the heat, but manage it. P262

Friday, August 26, 2011

Listening as Spiritual Hospitality

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.

Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Crossroads Message

Here is the link to my most recent (August) message on Romans 12 at Crossroads: http://www.crossroadswichita.com/romans-12-adam-monaghan/.

Romans 12:9-21
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.