Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Seasons

This blog has not been kept up for the past several years because my professional and private life created enough activities that posting updates was more work than pleasure.

So I took a season off from updating this.  Now as my life continues to evolve, I feel it might be the right time to begin this journey again.

So in the Winter/Spring of 2016, I made a major change in my life.  I began to transition from being the Associate Director for the Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel to life as the General Presbyter of Kiskiminetas Presbytery in Pennsylvania.  Basically, I became pastor to 79 churches with about 7,000 plus members spread across a 5 county area Northeast of Pittsburgh.  And it has been a wonderful adventure.

But making this transition, has had ups and down.  One of the downside was having to cut my running time.  After all my years of running and moving, I realize that there is a time you have to just admit, running time is a luxury that you currently can't afford.  I know there are some who would highly disagree with me on that statement, but honestly when running dictates your daily action to the point of hurting you and your relationship with others, it is to much.  And as a Christian, I believe that my relationship to God is more important than running.  So I greatly reduced my runs.  I didn't stop, but my average monthly millage total dropped to about 60 miles, or about 2 miles a day.

But as I began to settle into a comfort level with my life, I began to increase my millage and time.  Balance is critical.  So when I balanced my life out, with work, family, and God; I was able to bring back my running time.  Lesson to be learn:  I control my running, my running doesn't control me.  O there were times I didn't take that lesson to heart, and the result always tended to be an increase in my stress level. I run to reduce stress, not to increase it.  So I took the season off.

Now I'm back.  On 30 September, I'll be up in Bristol, New Hampshire to run their marathon.  I'm excited and anxious to get back. As my old coach use to say:  Go out, have fun, and keep the desire to run.  Yea...that's what it is all about.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Balance in Life and Running

Today I'm headed to Rehoboth Beach for the Marathon.  As I sat and reviewed my running for the past three months coming into this race, I feel good.  Everything was balanced for a change.  Work schedule, family life, running time and most important, time for my spiritual life; it all seemed so right for me.  I don't have a time goal or any expectation other than finishing the distance.  But given the balance that has been in my life, I am hopeful that it will all pay off as I take to the starting line tomorrow.

Stay tune, result will be posted...some time after tomorrow.  God Bless!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Making Commitments

I know it isn't not January 1, but then I'm not making a New Years Commitment.  After all most New Years Commitments are over by the 2nd of January.  I know...I've made many of them.  But over the years, I've learned that making a Commitment is about dedicating yourself to the truth of who you are and working at it daily.  I've also learned much about "Grace" in the process.  After all, we love baseball players who have batting averages over .300.  In other words, we like people who try and may only get it right 30% of the time...but I think its not the getting it right that we like...but the fact is they keep trying.

So...I'm going to keep on trying...and to help the process...I'm going to make it public...or as public as this Blog page.  My intent is to run a marathon in all 50 States by 2015...and I get to count the ones all ready done.  So I'm currently standing at 8 states, VA, PA, MD, MS, LA, TX, OH, and CA.  Can't count DC because its not a State.  So I'll pick up Deleware in December, that gets me to 9 States.  So from 2013 to 2015, I'm making the commitment to do 41 marathons in 36 months.  Okay...I guess its time to pull out the map book and the racing calendar and try to figure out how to make this all happen.  Oh and for you who are also interested...there is actually a club for this...50 States Marathon Club.  I know its an original name...but you have to have completed 10 states before joining.  Here is their link http://www.50statesmarathonclub.com/.  No I don't know if there is a cure for this kind of illness, but I'll keep running until they figure out how to cure it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Best Month of Running in 10 no 12 years

October 2012 is in the books, and for me it was the best month of running I've had since 2000.  What made such a solid month for me was the consistence of those runs.  In the past few months and year, I would have a good week or two in a row, then a few bad weeks.  When I look over the logs, I also noticed an increase in injuries because I tried to make up for the bad weeks by over running the following week.  So the difference was just being consistent and running 5 to 6 times a week, even if it was just a short mile run.  So this month was basicly four weeks of solid running of 5 or 6 days of running even if it was a short run.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mother

"But as it is now our purpose to discourse of the visible Church, [518] let us learn, from her single title of Mother, how useful, nay, how necessary the knowledge of her is, since there is no other means of entering into life unless she conceive us in the womb and give us birth, unless she nourish us at her breasts, and, in short, keep us under her charge and government, until, divested of mortal flesh, we become like the angels (Mt. 22:30)." - John Calvin

On 8th of August 2012 at 9:01, I walked into the the large and empty Anderson Auditorium at Montreat Conference Center with my wife.  I walked back to the pew in the middle of the auditorium where 38 years before at this very hour on this very day my life changed and I shared the story of the moment with her.  And there in that darken auditorium the days from those years so long ago seemed so close and real to me.

On the 8th of August 1974 at 9:01, Richard Nixon, the President of the United States, began "Good evening. This is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office, where so many decisions have been made that shaped the history of this Nation. Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I believe affected the national interest..."

At the end of the speech, the youth conference leader stood before the group of over 1,000 youth and read, "...then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the alter with a pair of tongs.  The Seraph touched my mouth with it and said: "Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out."  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"  And I said, "Here am I; send me!"

In those last few words my life goals changed.  As I walked out the auditorium that night 38 years before all I knew was that I wanted to serve God with all my life.  The conference had been life alterning in so many ways.  At this I realized who I was and who I was going to be, had all been nurtured in me by my "mother."  The church was my mother.  The Presbyterian Church who had raised my parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents back centuries had now given birth to me.  It had given me nurture and faith in Christ.  And it was something that was bonded to me forever.

That following week in 1974, I walked into my parents bedroom one morning around 10 and found my mother seated in a rocking chair reading her Bible and devotional.  As she looked up she asked me to come sit beside her.  As we sat there in the room, I shared what I had experienced and I thought I was going to be a minister.  Her response was that being a minister was going to be a hard life, but if that what I wanted, she and Dad would support me.  Those words were the only words of affirmation that I needed.

My mother who had given birth to me, who nurtured me, and helped me grow into the young man I was becoming, believed in me enough to let me walk where and when I needed to go.  Now 38 years latter, I am who I am because of her nuture and love.  And I am who I am becuase of the nuture and love of hundreds, if not thousands of fellow Presbyterians and Christians.

John Calvin was right to say that the Church is our mother.  It is in her walls and rooms, that we find support and hope to live our lives.  Yes, many times I have been anger at her and disagreed with her.  But we are family and you don't walk away from family.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Remnant

Remnant...it is not much...just enough that allows something wonderful to happen. Residue...it is not much...just enough to change the appearance, giving it something more. Reminder...it’s not much...just enough to make you remember.

One of my favorite stories from the Bible has always been the one about the Prophet Elijah who goes out into the desert fleeing for his life. He goes out there, sits under a "solitary broom tree," ready to die. Then God sends him to Horeb the mount of God and he spend his time in a cave still bemoaning his situation. When God ask him what he is doing there he answers "I alone am left, and they are seeking my life to take it away. Poor God, apparently He is down to only Elijah as a faithful believer. Sad God, it really looks like everything is turning against him. Just like in that movie "Elf." His belief meter is about to peg out on the side of empty. And what is worse...God unlike Santa Claus in Elf...has no jet engines to propel Him forward.

There in this cave is the only man who thinks he is the final remnant of faith left in God. He is the only one left with any residue of faith.

And God tells him to go stand in front of the cave. And then there is an earthquake, a strong wind and a fire and in each of these things Elijah sees there that the Lord is not in any of these things. Then in the silence that follows he wrapped his face in his mantle. Then the question comes again..."Why are you here?"

Elijah thinking that God is hard of hearing again answers...that he only is there for God. He is the only one left.

I love what happens next. God gives Elijah a laundry list of things to do...basically telling him to get his stuff in order because Elijah doesn't get it. Then at the end of the “to do list”...God tells Elijah why.

18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

Harper Bibles (2011-11-22). NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Kindle Locations 14774-14775). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

In other words...Elijah...Don...any individual who thinks they are the last true remnant of God, members of the PCUSA church...any church out there..."God is in charge." End of story. God rules...now get your sorry tail out there and do the work.

The church will always be a remnant. A small group of people...but it will never come down to one person on their own. There will be others...small in number who will do what God wants us to do. So if the policy of a church changes...big deal...God's word hasn't changed. So just keep doing what God told you to do.

Yes, I was one of those who thought I would have to leave the church because I don't agree with the removal of the moral policy...but...then again. God is in charge. Maybe, I should start listening to God and start looking for what God is doing in the midst of all this.

Monday, July 23, 2012

What is the Church?

Back in May 2011, I was interviewed for my new job. At the interview, I heard that the Presbyterian Church (USA) which is my Church finally had the last presbytery voted to remove the moral clause from the Book of Church Order. At first I felt hurt and offended. The argument was that each presbytery had the responsibility to determine for itself the moral character of its own members. It was a backdoor opening for homosexual ministers to be legally included on roles of presbyteries, and everyone knew exactly what it meant. Now nearly a year after the vote there have been a steady stream of local churches leaving the denomination...including the one that nurtured me over my high school years. It has been a sad and disappointing process. It has left me trying to understand once again what the Church is and what it is not. And it has driven me back to my roots as a Presbyterian and a Calvinist.

Over the past year, part of me debated the idea of leaving the denomination as others have done. But every time I gave real consideration, I kept hearing the voice of my father. Back in the late 1970's and early 1980's my father served as Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Southern Mississippi. It was the battle ground, and a very bloody battle ground for the Southern Presbyterians as they debated reunion with the Northern Presbyterians. Many churches in the southern part of the state left the denomination to help create the Presbyterian Church in America and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denominations. My father was knee deep in the fight as congregations and families were ripped apart. And several times over those years I accompanied him on his trips to visit these warring churches.

I remember one time driving home after a church meeting, there were tears in his eyes, and he said to me. "We never leave the body of Christ...we might get kicked out but we never leave Him." As we talked about this on our drive home, he shared his very strong belief that the Church was always a remnant. Going back to Israel and the prophets, God always kept his chosen few, faithfully plowing, and always doing His work. He also expressed the idea that we are called to work for reunion and reconciliation; the moment we decided to divide ourselves from our roots, we were creating division inside of our own very being.

As I have reflected on this and other conversations that I had with my father. I am convinced that I have no choice but to remain a minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA). I may disagree with stands the Church may take, but it is Christ's Body and it is my "mother." I will not walk away and I will keep faith. In the next couple of weeks, I'm going to reflect a little more on this subject, not because anyone really wants to hear what I have to say, but because I have something to say...and I have to say it.

To my beloved little Presbyterian church that left the denomination...you will always be in my heart, but I without a doubt believe you have simply made a wrong turn... I pray one day you will be able to return again home to your family.