Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A new Lens!

Discipline, perseverance, work-ethic, passion - all words that describe things that you cannot buy at the corner market, your on-line e-store, even in the mega-stores that have taken over America. These things all people are exposed to throughout life. Some pick them up early, some later and still some - well it just never sticks. For me - by God's grace alone I picked up these character traits in my late teens and they have been growing ever sense. I know this because of my best friend and wife and her continual affirmation over the last 18 (almost 19) years. There are many contributing factors to this, but for this writing, I am focusing on Endurance Sports. I have included an article that was written by Oliver Blanchard and I give him full credit for his work. You can go directly to his article here

I immediately connected with his message and his thoughts. But for me it fell a bit short! And I think that is because of the lens that I have for achievement. I have a deep rooted conviction that it is only by God's grace that we can really do anything. From being a 'good' husband or father to being an effective employee or endurance athlete. All benefit from God's grace or what is called 'common grace'. Humanity was created in God's image and people that claim not to know him still benefit from this common grace. Oliver make several great points about how endurance athletes develop discipline that crosses over to work. I know that is his point and he makes it well. But it all starts with the people doing the work! My point is that we would not be even attempting the work, if there was not something inherent to us that would make us want to achieve. There is a common tread here to why some many people get stuck in a more religious view of the world and not a 'Gospel' view of the world. You may be thinking - hold up here, aren't religion and gospel the same? NO they are not, it is night and day, but most people have been lulled to thinking they are the same. Religion is all about rules and laws and about doing more and more and more. The Gospel is all about Christ, doing all the work and empowering his people/believers/disciples to do 'good' even as sinful people. So it is really not the 'endurance sports' that are doing the hard work of change, it is God working in us so that he would get the glory.

All of this coming from a regular, sinful man, that loves Jesus and prays daily for a deeper sense of faith and repentance. For many years as I pursed Ironman Triathlon dreams (I raced in 14) it was mostly about me. But God was working in me the entire time. It did have a huge impact on my work in corporate America and had left an imprint in me for life. Even over the last 10 years of endurance coaching and running my own coaching business, I benefit from all those experiences. But the Glory is to God. From the Ironman PR to the DNF at mile 20 of and Ironman in 2003! He was training and teaching things into me that I could not buy! I pray that this helps you process how you interact with the idea of achievement in sport and in life!

Coach Kevin

I was forwarded this message from a buddy of mine that thought I would pass this on

Why runners usually make great employees.

February 21, 2009 by Olivier Blanchard
When you have a goal that is as huge as the marathon-it will “keep you honest.” It’s not like a smaller goal that you can announce and then put off or fake your way through. Once you sign up, commit months to training, and take your first step on race day-you better have done your homework.

The beauty of this is that it goes against 99% of the natural tendencies of our culture that favors gratification without effort or devotion. But is that kind of achievement ever as satisfying? Linda Hill once told me she loved the quote, “There is no glory in training, but there is no glory without training.” In no way is this more true than in running.

And business.

One thing I’ve found over the years is that many of the folks I train with (and race against) are for the most part as devoted to their jobs (if not more) as they are to running or cycling or triathlon.

Unlike participation in say, golf or softball or basketball - no offense to club/league sports - the type of determination, discipline and emotional focus that comes with training day in, day out for extremely challenging endurance events (often by yourself) tends to bleed over into people’s 9-5’s.

Whether you’re training for a marathon, a century or the Ironman triathlon, one thing you quickly find out is that there’s no room for bullshit out there on the pavement. You either do the work or you’re screwed. Politics won’t get you to the finish line. It doesn’t matter who you know or how well you can work the system. When you’re out there, every weakness bubbles up to the surface and stares you in the eye. Lack of preparation, lack of motivation, lack of dedication will all come back to bite you in the ass. there’s nowhere to hide. They will all find you and jump up on your back to stop you dead in your tracks. The choice becomes this: Do you let them stop you, or do you accept them and keep going?

You learn a lot about yourself, training for that type of event.

You learn a lot about how to break thresholds and get past your own little ego, training for events like these. When you’re tired and sore and hungry but you still have four miles to go, guess what? You still have four miles to go. How you get through these last four miles is entirely up to you. Nobody cares whether you walk those last four miles or run, or hail a cab. Nobody made you set 26.2 miles as a goal. Or 100 miles. Or 144+.

Once you’ve broken past your lack of will and learned to keep going, you are transformed. A similar thing happens to Marines during training. At some point, who you used to be before you went beyond what you thought your limitations were, before you kissed excuses goodbye, before you left all of the bullshit that stood in your mind’s way ceases to exist. You become someone else.

That someone else, the marathoner, the long distance cyclist, the triathlete, the Ironman, he or she walks into your place of work with you every morning.

We all work with two types of people: Partisans of the least amount of effort, and dedicated professionals.

The latter aren’t all marathoners or triathletes, but I have yet to meet an Ironman or marathoner who didn’t take his or her intensity and dedication to their job.

Not that there’s anything wrong with drinking a case of beer and watching sports on TV all weekend, but who you are outside of your work does have parallels with who you are when you are at work.

Something to think about.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Megan as a driver

Who said it was time for my teenage daughter to start driving? More proof that our lives are but a dot or a dash between the start date and the end date. So this week we (Megan and I) will embark on a whole new adventure together, another building block in her independence. Do I have to be OK with it? As I tell Meg, I am not that worried about you, it is everybody else that scares me to death :-) I have found memories of being taught to drive by my father. He is the most patient man that I know. I hope to continue that legacy with Megan. I was fortunate to be taught to drive using a manual transmission (stick shift). So my desire is to pass that on to Megan. Through God's grace, I have a brother that has an old truck that we will be using for training that is a stick shift. Meg is not that excited about learning on a manual, but she is so ready to learn, she is all game. We have a weekly driving date set up for Saturday afternoons as I teach her some basics. We will be staring in a parking lot and eventually moving to the streets! I am honestly looking forward to the adventure!

Be on the lookout!

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Holy Spirit

I am taking a distance class called: "The Spirit, Church, and Last Things" in which I write a short paper on several books that are part of the required reading list. Enjoy!!

Ferguson Paperette
Describe how having read Ferguson will help you be a better servant for Christ in your various contexts

The Holy Spirit affects all aspects of a Christians life. That would be my executive summary of Sinclair B. Ferguson's book “The Holy Spirt”. But, that is really just the big idea. There were several topics and explanations that provided clarity into some dimly lit / darker rooms in my thoughts on several subjects.

I am currently reading the bible, chronologically in one year, and am in the midst of the Old Testament. The historical books have a way of drawing you into the story-line, but there always seems to be a dark shroud over the people and leaders. As I studied this book I was reminded that the story of the Spirit is an incomplete one when limited to the pages of the Old Testament. It was with the coming of Jesus that the day of the Spirit finally arrived!

In the many context's that I find myself in from being a disciple of Christ, a husband, father, church leader, coach, I am increasingly aware of the Holy Spirit, his power and the many effects it has in those areas. I am reminded that “If Christ is in me, my body is dead because of sin, yet my spirit is alive because of Christ's righteousness.” Not to have the spirit of Christ is to lack Christ.

I was reminded that the central function of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian believer as stated in 2 Cor 3:17-18, is to be transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory. And also of the role of the Spirit coming in John 16:7-11, that he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement.

In the context of my leadership role with-in my local church community. I am renewed in this recent study of the Spirit's role to reveal Christ and to unite us to him and to all those who participate in his body. Without a solid foundation of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit people can easily fall on their own strength and will to unite themselves to Christ. I find that this is the struggle that I see God revealing more and more to me each day. I continue to repent to of my performance based faith and my need to rely on him for my righteousness.

I found great encouragement in hearing Ferguson explain that believers are chosen in Christ before the creation of the world in order that we are blessed in covenant union with him, that we might be for the praise of his glory Eph 1:3-4, 11-12. And to be in Christ is to enter a new creation 2 Cor 5:17. I have had many opportunities to discuss what conversion is, and to counsel people in being able to articulate what this 'new creation' looks like to them. So this study has given me a greater foundation as I continue to engage in those discussions.

Being a husband and father, I get the front row seat in witnessing the on-going regeneration that is enabled through the power of the Holy Spirt. The outward expression is different, yet the inward change is similar and powerful. We are all born as sinners, so we all start from the same place, we are in bondage dominated by sin. By God's grace I can see regeneration happening all around me; in myself, my wife, kids, friends, small group. That is not to say that I see it everywhere within the church or outside of my gospel centered community. But I do witness the liberation of the will in many people from their bondage to sin.

About a year ago I heard a sermon on faith and the small group I lead had an opportunity to dive into this subject. Ferguson nailed it on the head when he wrote “The saving power of faith does not lie in itself but in the object of its trust.” I am reminded of the number of people that I come in contact with that understand faith, but have faith in all the wrong things of the world.

At my local church 'Coram Deo' we believe and preach that the Christian life is a continuos cycle of faith and repentance. These are words that even non-christians are familiar with but I have found that most people do not really understand their meaning. For Christians in the midst of regeneration they are not just the beginning aspects of the Christian life, but fuller characteristics and fruits of the spirits continual ministry. Ferguson puts it well when he says: “Indeed, the entire progress of sanctification is but regeneration coming into its own, and faith and repentance becoming more and more the dominant notes of life in the Spirit.”

I have had many conversions with different people on Spiritual Gifts. How to assess you have them, what you are supposed to do with them, etc. Ferguson explains: “the gifts of the Spirit are given essentially to the individual for the edification of others rather than for himself or herself.” Essentially Spiritual Gifts are given to enable the recipients to minister to others. He goes on to indicate: “Spiritual gifts reflect more about the grace of the Giver than they reveal about the gracious condition of the recipient.” I found this to be a healthy reminder of what the focus spiritual gifts are for. They are not for us, they are to edify (build up) others. And it says little about our standing or ability but magnifies God's grace even more!

In summary – Ferguson's book will be a solid resource in my growing theological library. I am thankful for his work in explaining the Holy Spirit and giving me a broader stroke on the subject increasing the size of my theological understanding and the importance of a solid foundational understanding of the Holy Spirit in the life of a disciple of Christ.

I delight in Weaknesses

Our bodies are not meant to last forever :-)

Mine has treated me well and by God's grace I have endured many miles. I pray he provides for many more!

I have been training for a marathon in Birmingham Alabama, with my friend Darin, in mid-February using my regular protocol and getting in the training and making some nice gains. The problem - my hip was not recovering and getting more and more painful. To the point it hurts to put weight on it, to sit, to lie down is the worst. The joys of getting old!!!

Some history - when I lived in Valentine, NE in the 5th grade, I sustained permanent damage to my hip by the fall I took at the pool. Recently taken X-rays show a very deformed hip (femoral head, stem and socket). This is all not new. The many doctors that I have had the opportunity to examine my hip over the last 20 years have all told me the same thing .... my hip will not last as long as a normal one due to progressive arthritis. The fact that I have run marathons / ultra-marathons & Ironman's is very challenging to doctors (the power of God). My most recent doctor Joshua Urban (Nebraska Orthopedics) is impressed with how my hip 'arthritis' looks. It is not showing the wear that he thought he would see with being active as I am. He did confirm that I will need a hip-replacement, but now is not the time. That's good news - praise Jesus!

I had an MRI last week to see why I am in so much pain. Dr. Urban was specifically looking for a stress fracture, a 'liberal tear' (sp) in the hip cartilage or a muscular tear. The results of the MRI all came back negative. That is all good news too!

The doctor says that with arthritis there comes pain, tell me something I don't know. So with people that have hips in my condition but are not ready for total hips they give an injection of a steroid right into the hip. They do this in a surgical environment and is pretty common. Good results will be to be pain free in about a week and back to my regular activity level (swim, bike, run).

This whole experience is a reminder of what I put my faith in (my health) and how I need to repent of not putting my faith in Jesus. He has lead me to some rich reading in scripture of how I tend to pray for deliverance rather than for a deeper relationship with God, his son and spirit :-)

In my on-line research of Total Hip Replacements (THR) in the last couple of weeks, I came across some new procedures (since 2000) that is called Hip Re-surfacing (HR). In HR's they re-surface the femoral head and put a metal ball on it, maintaining its normal size, and put in a metal cup in the hip bone to receive the ball. HR's have allowed younger / active people with hip issues to resume their full activity level and wear much longer than THR's.

I made it through the 'injection' procedure with flying colors! Couldn't have done it without my beautiful wife taking care of me! And many thanks 'dad' for taking Cam and Meg to school in the morning :-)

Time will only tell on the success of the injection, but Dr. Urban is very optimistic. They have me on some pain meds, which I am trying not to take unless absolutely necessary. So I still have some pain in the hip / lower back but it should go away potentially by tomorrow! I have been given the go-ahead to start exercising as soon as I want to :-) I will admit part of me wants to jump back in, but some wise coach 'inner voice' is telling me to be smart and ease back in. So no Feb, marathon for me :-( Actually the doctor is telling me that I could continue to do marathons but to do so would greatly shorten the life of my hip. Time to be wise and not foolish!!! So for now, or at least the next few years I am going to retire from the long running 'marathons' and stick with shorter runs 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathons. And get more focused on my cycling (road & MTB), swimming and strength training. I will be honest, with all that being said, the thing I look forward to the most is being able to chase my children and wrestle with them. Cameron has had the upper hand the last few weeks :-) Its time for a come back! I praise Christ for his providence during the last couple of weeks (as always) and for the many reminders of his greatness!

Here is a passage of scripture that I have been praying through in the last few weeks:
2 Cor 12:9-10
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

For His Glory - Kev

Monday, February 02, 2009

A Theology of the City

At Coram Deo (my local church community) we are in the middle of a series called "A Theology of the City". This week we are studying how the 'church' today is the visible expression of the invisible. Just as the city of Jerusalem was the visible place where God was present, the church is the place (people) where God resides. Check out these passages and notes from the sermon:

1 Peter 2:9 (light)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

2 Corinthians 6:16 (temple)
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Luke 17:21 (kingdom)
nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you."

The church in America creates isolation by creating a parallel world (Christian subculture) so that we can be “safe” from the culture. This often leads to moralistic religion.

The church in America also creates syncretism because Christians functionally live like the world. There is very little distinction morally between Christians and non-Christians. This often leads to irrelevant spirituality because there is not personal transformation. There is very little distinction morally between Christians and non-Christians.

What happened? We quit preaching the gospel. The gospel calls all people to repent (Christians and non Christians), which would keep us from isolationism and moralism. The gospel also provides the power to change and transform us, which would keep us from syncretism and irrelevance.

I am in the midst of a biblical reading plan that takes me through the bible 'chronologically' in one year. I am in the book of Judges and studying about the continual struggle that the people of Isreal (God's choosen people) have with following God, even though they experience his power and authority, at every turn. I was reminded how I fall into the same error by seeking God for deliverence through repentence, rather than having the motive of a heart that desires 'true' service of him. Read the following of an example of this:

Judges 10:10-16
10And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, "We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals." 11And the LORD said to the people of Israel, "Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? 12The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to me, and I saved you out of their hand. 13Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. 14Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress." 15And the people of Israel said to the LORD, "We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you. Only please deliver us this day." 16So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD, and he became impatient over the misery of Israel.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Life in the day of a Painter

My son and a few friends spent the afternoon painting the basement of another friend of mine today. Anybody that knows me has heard the stories of my painting struggles. It is not that I can't paint, it is just that there is a right way to paint and a wrong way. I seem to paint naturally the wrong way. So if you need a painter of the quality kind, you might need to look else where. But if you don't mind some paint splatter and the increased possibility of having to do a second coat - I am your man. Actually my son Cameron and I make a good team - he lays down a thick coat of paint about 4 feet from the floor and I come through and even it out :-)

Here's to messiness!!!

The Story of Christianity

I am currently reading a book "The Story of Christianity" by Justo Gonzolez. It is a historical book of Christianity starting with the Reformation of the church to Present day. I am reminded in the reading that the church and christian faith continually experiences changes that in some ways have been experienced before, but in others have a whole new expression. Here is a quote that caught my eye this week:
"An old world was passing away, and a new one was being born in its place. It was unavoidable that the church too would feel the impact of the new times that, just as new forms of being human were emerging, new forms of being Christian would also emerge."
I am gaining a whole new appreciation of where Christianity is at today, buy understanding how we actually got here!


Thursday, January 01, 2009

It's a New Year!!

The last couple of weeks are usually a time of reflection for me and my family. Just something about nearing the end of the year and also beginning a new one. My wife and I were having dinner last night a few hours before the ball dropped and were reflecting on the year. I think we summed it up as a trying year for us. From the death of a parent, much uncertainty on my own health and some major financial stress. But as we look back, we have been blessed with a deeper sense of peace than we have ever had. And with that peace is great hope! I have discovered that with trial comes a greater awareness of who we really are and what is really important to us.

That being relationships and more importantly our walk with Christ. Christ provides the framework for us to live our lives. We cannot and do not accomplish anything without his willing it for us. And going along with that, the struggles I mentioned above are more about our growth towards Christ than anything else. It is in times of adversity that we have the greatest growth.

My prayer as I begin a New Year - that I would love God with all my heart, and that I would love those in my life that are hard to love. That Christ would continue to convict me of sin, and that I would run to the cross as I live a lifestyle of repentance!

With great peace and hope -


Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Newton's

You have to love the smell of new running shoes!!! Yes - I will admit, a bit of an off the wall post, but man these shoes smell good!!! Don't go around thinking that I smell my shoes once I run in them, but fresh out of the box, they are wonderful.

I started wearing Newton running shoes about a year ago. I was a hard sell in the beginning as the price of the shoes are outrageous. But a then client / friend of mine suggested I give them a try and he gave me an introductory price. The shoes promote a bio-mechanical fore-foot push off and also are know to reduce leg fatigue caused by heel-strike running. I found that the shoes really helped my running mechanics and also improved my recovery. I tried to switch back to my staple running shoes 'Asics', but my legs would not have it. Last winter, while I was training for a January marathon I experienced extreme frost bite while running in the Newton's, due to the very light mess upper out-sole of the shoe. This winter the shoe manufacturer came out with an all-terrain version and those are ones in the picture. I am preparing for a February marathon and I confident that I won't freeze off my dogs this winter!

Run Smart -


How the Newton's work:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cameron has the Moves

A couple of weeks ago the family and I went to a wedding. I have to tell you the best thing about weddings for me is the party afterwards. It has always been that way, at least for as long as I can remember! My son Cameron loves to dance, what kid doesn't? He has always been drawn to break-dancing. Here is a couple photos of him tearing it up!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Warrior Challenge Adventure Race

Adventure what?

I suggested to Ironman legend Darin A and my Missional Community sister L. Asher (an accomplished kayaker that we form a team for an 8 hour Adventure Race that started and finished in Platte River State Park near Springfield Nebraska on October 18th 2009. They actually were excited about the challenge and demands of finding up to 30 check points that spanned 3 Nebraska State Parks, three cities and a river.

The event included lots of mountain biking both on single track trails (think technical) and roads, trail running, canoeing and lots and lots of navigation. The navigation is where the challenge for this type of even lies. No GPS equipment allowed, just a map, UTM coordinates and the technical know how to position a point on a map given both an eastern and norther set of coordinate. You locate the point in the wrong location, you are hunting for a check point that doesn't exist.

I did some of this kind of racing about 10 years ago, so I was exposed to the technical aspects that are required for this kind of event, but this was my first race where I was directing this effort. My hat off to Darin for picking up the skill and also reading the map way better than I could (contours and such).

I think the team agreed that the most challenging aspect next to the navigation was the canoe section on the Platte River. Lets just say we are all still great friends, but there was some flames coming out of Darin's ears as he has steering the boat!

We finished in 7:54 (yes 7 hours 54 mins) but were assessed a penalty for skipping a check point. We were not the fastest, and not the slowest, but the overall goal going into the event was a finish!


Live for the Adventure - Kev

Friday, October 17, 2008

One God in Trinity

I came across some clarifying content in a book I was reading titled "The Doctrine of God". Some pretty heady stuff, but the particular info that helped me in one chapter was the background on Judaism or the Jewish religion. This was of particular interest as a new friend of mine is married to person that grew up in a Jewish home and claims to be a practicing Jew. As I grow in my relationship with Christ and process life in that lens, there has been a growing desire for me to understand the 'religious movements' in the world. So the following has helped me shape those thoughts!

"In Judaism God is one and personal, but although these characteristics are fundamental to his being, they are not the most important element in Jewish worship of him. Jews tend to be preoccupied with the holiness of God, and especially of the divine name, an attitude which is inculcated by the covenant law of Israel. The main purpose of this law is to keep Jews clean, pure and undefiled, so as to make them worthy of their calling as God's chosen people. But the restrictive legalism which this has entailed is not regarded by those who uphold it as a fetter on their spiritual liberty. On the contrary, it appears to them to be the main basis of their spiritual assurance and freedom, since only within the narrow confines of the law can Jews be assured that they are living according to God's will. The law, supplemented by the interpretations of later generations, is revered as the voice of God, through which the nation enters into a living experience of its covenant relationship with him."

"In principle, Christianity subscribes to the Jewish covenant, and the belief in a holy God which that entails. It accepts the law of Moses as a revelation of God's holiness, but argues that it cannot be used as a means of salvation. In Christian eyes, nobody can keep the law in every respect, because at the bottom the problem of human sin is that of a broken relationship with God. Only when that is put right can the spiritual character of the law begin to make sense, and become applicable to us. In putting that broken relationship right, Christians agree with traditional Jews that the atoning sacrifice provided for in the law is fundamental, but they insist that this sacrifice was made once for all by Jesus Christ."

"Jews may recognize God's existence and know his law, but without Christ, they cannot penetrate the mystery of that divine fellowship which Christians call the Holy Trinity."