Monday, November 26, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness
By Scott Jurek
I just finished yesterday the book Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek. I loved it! Once I got into the middle part I couldn’t put it down. And once I finished it, I went out to do, of course, a fast 5 miles in the cool Kansas air to let it all sink in.

I highly recommend this book to all my running, marathon, and especially ultramarathon friends. I add this to the list of my favorite ultramarathon autobiographies that I’ve read and among the most informative, reflective, and inspiring (though they are all inspiring).

As with any book, I don’t advocate everything his says, nor do I aspire to be just like Scott Jurek. But I respect the guy and his accomplishments and what he has learned about life and about himself because of and while running, competing and pushing himself.

I also am challenged in new ways about the use of food and how it affects the body. I don’t necessarily want to become a vegan like Scott Jurek, but I do want to take how I eat and what I put into my body at least half as seriously as how I burn it off.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Run for Missions 2012 Official Report

Run for Missions 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon

The 2012 Run for Missions events are all now successfully completed. The fundraising process will continue through the end of the year, but the biggest final push is in the next few days as the original goal was to have all pledges made by November 15th! We are still boldly shooting for our goal of $25,000 to fund the Scholarship and Missions Support Fund. The deadline has been extended and we can receive those funds all the way through the end of the year (postmarked by December 31st). If you want to support the Run for Missions with a gift per mile, please send a check payable to EFCMAYM, memo Run for Missions, 2018 W. Maple St., Wichita, KS 67213.
The 3rd Annual 5K, 10K, and Half-Marathon Run for Missions events were held on a blustery cold Saturday, October 27 in Haviland. The temperature at the starting line was in the mid-20s with a light wind from the south. 144 runners lined up to participate in three events, first a half-marathon starting at 8am and then the 5K and 10K events starting at 9am. The races attracted runners from Haviland, Pratt, Wichita and other cities from around Kansas. The race was sponsored by area businesses including Origins Coffeehouse of Haviland, Traci Ballard’s Gymnastics and Dance Studio, Haviland Telephone Company, Farmer’s Cooperative Company, and GoRun Wichita running store. New in 2012 were finisher’s medals for all half-marathon finishers and ribbons for all 5K and 10K finishers. Also new this year was chip timing for all three events. Chip timing is a computer generated system that tracks each runner with a coded chip on their shoe as they cross the finish line for a very accurate finish time recorded. The timing services were contracted by TATUR (Tulsa Area Trail and Ultra Running) Timing. The finish line is under a large inflatable chute with a ten foot Run for Missions banner hanging over it.

A simple course change near the Mile 3 marker made this year go really smoothly. The runners in the 10K and Half-Marathon had to battle some soft sand on the country dirt roads but they got to enjoy the beautiful Kansas prairie scenery and hills. But first they were hosted by friendly volunteers holding encouraging signs and even playing the bagpipes!

Half-marathon finishers finished in a wide range from an hour and 16 minutes to just over 3 hours. An awards assembly was held at 10:45am sharp presenting awards to the top three males and females in each event. Then a random raffle was held to give away the remaining prizes. The race prizes (cookies, cakes, pies, brownies, and fresh homemade desserts!) and hospitality were provided by Friends Women missionary groups from Argonia, Derby, Haviland, Hutchinson, Northridge, Pratt, Rose Hill, University Friends.

A few 2012 t-shirts are left for purchase at cost.

We are already looking forward to the 2013 Run for Missions events and with the dates to be released soon.

Run for Missions 100 Mile Fundraiser Run
The 5th Annual 100 Mile Fundraiser Run was held on a hot and windy November 9th and into the morning of the 10th. The temperatures hit the mid-80s during the heat of the day, producing record highs. The finish line was reached just after the sun came up on a cool breezy Saturday morning.

Mike Neifert and Adam Monaghan set out at 5am from 2018 W. Maple St, the Friends Ministry Center, with three pacers (Taylor Johnson, Jeff Kinniburgh, and Marc Compton) on the 104 mile quest to Haviland. We wound through the streets of Wichita, up to Central, over to Zoo Boulevard, and then headed west on 21st straight west for 50 miles before turning south on a country dirt road. Mike was accompanied by his crew vehicle operated by Greg and Isaac Garrison. My crew vehicle was operated by my wife, Sarah.  The third crew vehicle was the church van driven by Frank Penna, assisted most of the day by Marc Compton, whose job was to take help the pacers find the runners and then find their cars after pacing.

The first 25 miles were uneventful other than the wind. Our early morning shift pacers dropped off after mile 10 and Mike and I ran alone most of the way until mile 50. We were joined for an hour by a young boy on a bike from my church, Ky Leslie.
Mile 25-50 was were the run got pretty intense with full sun exposure, the heat soaring into the 80s, and an intense wind that gusted up to 40-50 mph at times. The miles, pain, heat, sun, and dehydration took it’s toll on Mike and he had decided to end his run at 50 miles.
See Mike Neifert’s full report of his experience this year at the Run for Missions. Mike is a brave hero and dedicated runner and even more important, a champion for the cause of missions.
The conditions were taking a serious toll on me as well. It took me about 10 hours and 30 minutes to complete the first 50 miles, slightly longer than normal. Heat and dehydration usually leads to nausea. This day was no exception. By mile 63 I had to vomit. Ironically, this is the third year in a row (of 5 total years of completing the 100 mile run) where I have puked for missions! J And it always seems to happen somewhere around the 60-70 mile mark.

I was joined by a whole host of pacers from mile 55 – 80 including Tim Hawkins, Dan from Pratt on a mountain bike with a spotlight to light the way for all the runners, Nate Dipman, Ryan Kendall, Matthew Schafer, Andy Bowman, Gabe Hancock, Ellen Sigley, Dwight Smitherman, David Frietas, and Jake Spencer. Each running different sections provided encouragement, motivation and company.
After the long bout with nausea for nearly 15 miles, by mile 70 I was running consistently again. Our team clicked off mile after mile as we could see the lights of Pratt pulling us in. We arrived at Pratt Friends Church and used the facility as the final aid station, at mile 81, before heading into the country for the final 23 miles to Haviland. On the west side of Pratt we encountered a train that was stopped on the tracks. We waited 10 minutes but knew that we had to find a way around or we were going to freeze up and fall asleep. So we actually drove around the section to the other side of the tracks and ran from there. About 30 minutes later we heard the train start to move.

The final 23 miles are always some of the most challenging and most exhilarating times. On one hand you are so close but on the other hand even the smallest number of miles begins to feel so psychologically overwhelming when you’ve already put on 80/90 miles on your legs. I was joined by 4 individuals who all ran ultra of their own in pacing me to the finish: Gabe and Andy – 45 miles, David 30 miles, Ellen 35 miles. We were also rejoined by Mike Neifert who had thrown up, had a shower and something to eat and drink. He helped provide crew and support and driving all the way to the end!

About 2 miles from Haviland the sun came up on Saturday morning.  The sun seemed to give me that final boost of energy I needed to finish strong. We ran pretty well all the way from Pratt but those last few miles were pretty fast, comparatively speaking. Running into Haviland was again once a thrill. It never gets old. Finishing 104 miles takes so much determination and persistence. I was overjoyed to cross the finish line with the 4 other ultra-marathoners and 50 mile runner Mike Niefert. Our crew, and family and a few other friends and well-wishers were there to cheer us on. We quickly went to host homes to shower, eat and sleep.
The Finish Line: 103.9 Miles
The Sunrise on Saturday Morning

As I limped around weary and tired for the next 24 hours I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for all the support and prayers and, as always, most of all for the donors who sacrifice to give to this cause. 5 years of the Run for Missions down, and 5 years to go…that seems to be the way this whole thing is working out. Here’s to making 2013-2017 the best 5 yet. Until next year… J


Monday, November 5, 2012

Speaking of Jesus

"Speaking of Jesus: the Art of Non-Evangelism" by Carl Medearis is definitely one of my new favorite books of all time and definitely my favorite of 2012. A great call to make my life and ministry speak of Jesus, not about Jesus or anything else. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Because we’re Christians, we unfortunately feel we have to own up to Christendom. We believe that we are responsible for the entire history of Christian faith and that it’s our job to explain everything.” 39

“In my experience, sharing Jesus is not all that difficult, even in a hostile environment. I don’t tell people that they’re sinning and that they’re going to go to hell unless they believe what I believe. I just talk about Jesus. If, on the other hand, we believe that the gospel is a systematic explanation of Christianity, we have to own up to all the faults and failures of Christian history, while convincing people that Christianity really is better than whatever they believe.” 46-47

“I believe that the gospel and the religion of Christianity can be two different messages. Even opposed on some points. When we preach Christianity, we have to own it. When we preach Jesus, we don’t have to own anything. Jesus owns us. We don’t have to defend Him. We don’t even have to explain Him. All we have to do is point with our fingers, like the blind man in the book of John, and say, “There is Jesus. All I know is that He touched me, and where I was once blind, now I see.” 47-48

“We have to open our eyes to the possibility that we’re preaching the wrong message. We’re busy trying to find the boundary line that separates the saved from the unsaved and trying to bring people across that boundary by convincing them to think like we do. Here in the West, reason is king. We have doctrines and apologetics and really nifty devices to solidify the right thoughts. If it doesn’t make sense, it’s not relevant.” 48

“I don’t want to redefine salvation. I don’t want to redefine the gospel or even Christianity on the whole. I suppose I want to undefined them. I want to strip away the thousands of years of graffiti painted onto the gospel, turning it into a reasonable code of doctrines. The gospel is not an idea. It is not a belief. It is not a favorite verse. The gospel does not live in your church, it cannot be written down in a simple message, and it is not the sinner’s prayer. The gospel is not a what. It is not a how. The gospel is a Who. The gospel is literally the good news of Jesus. Jesus is the gospel.” 48-49

“…The gospel lies in the person of Jesus, that he himself is the Good News, that my one task was to live and to present him. My task was simplified.” 55

“What if we were to take Jesus at His word --- “I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32 NKJV)? What if our complicated explanations are wrong, not because they are incorrect, but because they do not constitute the person of Jesus?” 55

“The gospel is not a debate or a list of things to believe. The gospel is a person. Jesus Christ is the gospel. He is the truth. He is the point. He embodies all of the salvation/redemption/forgiveness/freedom stuff Himself, and because He is a personality, He does not require doctrinal mastery to connect with an individual.” 56

When we stand inside the circle, trying to get people “into the kingdom,” we mistakenly do two things wrong. First, we try to “download” the right definitions, doctrines, and beliefs into the brains of people who don’t know the apostle Peter from Homer Simpson. By doing that, we communicate that having the right thoughts is the means of salvation. We’re telling them that it’s the stuff that happens between their ears that matters. When we focus on theology, we’re not touching thirsty hearts. Thirsty people don’t want to memorize theology any more than they want to learn a new language. 67

This is not a case of Paul versus Jesus. They’re not in any kind of doctrinal debate against each other. If Paul and you and I sat down today for a cup of coffee, Paul would talk about one thing above all. He would talk about Jesus. If Paul could make one exhortation to today’s church, he might simply plead with it to stick close to Jesus. 83

If you want to get to know Jesus, the actual person, then read the four Gospels. Read them until they become part of you. Eat and breathe them. 88

…The Word became flesh and lived with us. And now dwells in us. All of the Bible is helpful, but it is a signpost to the ultimate Word of God –Jesus the Christ. We do not follow the Bible. We don’t worship the Bible. We love it because it directs us toward the One who is everything. So while all the Bible is God’s  Word, it is not all equal in weight. 88

I don’t have to defend or understand everything in the Bible in order to share my faith. Jesus is the point of the Bible. It all points to Him. I don’t have to be the Bible’s defense attorney. All I have to do is speak of Jesus and He will draw people to Himself. 89 

We know Jesus by practicing acting like him. I’m not really that good at being like him, so I act like him. 91

If you don’t feel like you have to evangelize someone away from their team and onto yours, you can speak of Jesus much more freely, and thus, more effectively. 103

There is no score, or at least, we don’t know what the score is. There are sheep and goats, but we’ve admitted we sometimes confuse the two…This doesn’t mean they aren’t what they are, it just means we may not as good at knowing the difference as we once thought. 103

Relax. Enjoy your friends. Enjoy their company along with the company of Jesus. Point Him out, freely, without fear or intimidation. You’re not responsible to sell Him to them. You’re simply saying what you’ve seen. You’re not the judge. You’re the witness. 105

The ones who had ears to hear Jesus typically were the hurting, the broken, the desperate. 110

Jesus loved the humility of those who understood they needed help. 114

Where we go terribly off course is when we lead a conversation with doctrine rather than Jesus Himself. 115

The conservative movement here in the West often tries to embrace the moral code of Christianity without the self-sacrificial teachings of Jesus. 148

We in the West have often adopted what I call the “fortress mentality,” which says it’s okay to oppose other people out of self-preservation. If Jesus had done that, we’d be in trouble. 150