SEP 28, 2016 Devotional: The Running Father

Today’s WAWA was purely running focused so it’s only appropriate that I tell you a story that involves “running”.  Now, when I tell you this story, you’re probably going to recognize it by another title.  But for the sake of today’s devotional, I’m going to follow the storyline as it was told for many years in the ancient Middle Eastern Church….the story of “The Running Father” which comes to us in Luke, Chapter 15.

In modern times, we know this parable as that of the Prodigal Son.  You are familiar with the story as told by Jesus.  A family has two sons and one goes away to a foreign land and squanders away all his share of his inheritance.  He shamefully returns to his family, thinking he would only be fit to eat with the hogs in the field.  However, his father opens his arms to his long-lost son.  All is forgiven.

That’s the modern version of our story.

Now, let me tell you the significance of the Middle Eastern version, which focuses more on the role of the father….and not on the son.

I said earlier that this would be a running story.  Back in those days, men never ran anywhere.  Never ever!  There were a couple reasons for this.  First, running was said to be “child’s play” so adults would not run as to be ridiculed as children and never taken seriously.  Secondly, men wore long tunics (or robes) back in those days, so if they were to run, they’d have to pull up on the tunic, expose their legs, in order to develop any sort of stride.  At any rate, the exposing of one’s legs, in those times, was considered humiliating and disgraceful.

The father sees his son from a very long way away, and picks up a run to meet him.  Some scholars believe the father ran in order to meet his son before he entered the town.  Jewish tradition had it that if a family member lost his family’s wealth in a foreign land, that the town would surround him, break a clay pot near his feet, thus symbolizing that he was cut off from his family and his town.

So, the father is running to get to his son in hopes that he would be spared from the Jewish customs.  He not only ran to get ahead of the other villagers, but he ran to stay ahead of justice and what was widely considered to be reasonable and fair.  Instead, the father took the shame upon his own shoulders, sparing his son any humiliation.

How many times have we looked at this story from the eyes of the prodigal son?  Today, I’d ask you to consider the parable from the viewpoint of the running father.  Just as the father in this story puts everything aside to gather his son up in his arms, kiss him on the cheek, and call for a banquet in his honor, our Heavenly Father would willingly do the same for us.

The next time you think there’s no turning back to our Father in heaven, remember that He too will run to us, scoop us up in His arms, and welcome us home when we return from going astray.

 

 

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SEP 28, 2016 WAWA: Two Lollipops and a Gumball!

This week’s WAWA is run-focused….and we’re running to the candy store….so to speak!

A few weeks back, we did a run workout called “A Baptist, a Presbyterian, and a Methodist Go Out for a Run” . I’m modifying that workout for this week, removing some of the extra stuff, and creating a pure, running workout.

Participates will have three pieces of candy to collect, figuratively speaking:  a Big Lollipop, a Small Lollipop, and a Gumball.  Each candy piece represents a run route which closely traces the outline of that sweet treat!

Big Lollipop route:  Start in front of the Cornwell Center.  Run down Selwyn Avenue just past the Gold Man statue at the corner of Queens and Providence.  Turn right and head down Providence.  Turn right onto Oxford Place.  Turn left back onto Queens/Selwyn and head back to the Cornwell Center.

Route is approximately 1.5 miles.

Little Lollipop route:  Start in front of the Cornwell Center.  Run down Selwyn Avenue to the Oxford Place intersection.  Turn right then right again onto Beverly then right onto Sherwood.  Follow Sherwood back to Queens/Selwyn.  Turn left and head back to the Cornwell Center.

Route is approximately 1.0 mile.

Gumball route:  Start in front of the Cornwell Center.  Run to the corner of Selwyn & Queens; the point where Queens Road takes a sharp right turn.  Follow Queens around then turn right onto Roswell Road.  Follow Roswell to the intersection of Wellesley.  Turn right, then right again onto Selwyn.  Head back to the Cornwell Center.

Route is approximately three-quarters of a mile.

Participants will choose their “candy”.  Here are some options:

Option 1:  

Two Big Lollipops and a Gumball:  approx. 3.75 miles

Option 2:  

Big Lollipop, Little Lollipop and Gumball:  approx. 3:25 miles

Option 3:

Little Lollipop and two Gumballs:  approx. 2.5 miles

Regardless of what route anyone chooses, we’ll gather at 6:25 am to cool down and hear the devotional.

See you in the morning, ready to go at 5:40 am!  Meet by the front door to the Cornwell Center.

 

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SEP 21, 2016 Devotional: Prayers for You

If I shared with you what’s been happening around me the last 60 hours it might give you some reason to pause. But before I share a few details, I’ll first say that I know my life pales in comparison to what some endure for much more than just 60 hours.  I am grateful for some calm in what has been a rough few days of seas.

Over the weekend, on Saturday, I was getting a haircut and having my truck washed close to Noon.  I stopped into a local deli here in Charlotte to buy some chicken salad and pimento cheese spreads that my wife had asked me to pick up on the way home.  I figured I’d only be in the deli a few minutes so I just left my cell phone in the truck as I went inside.  The purchase took a little longer because I saw a couple friends and made small talk while waiting in line to pay the cashier.  When I got back to the truck, my wife had texted me saying “Call me as soon as you get this.  It’s URGENT!”.

I knew something was up since she’d never sent me that kind of message before.  “Your dad’s had a heart attack and they’re transporting him to the emergency room.  Call your mom ASAP.” were the words I heard when I finally called home.  I raced home, got a few more details, then raced to the hospital to meet my parents.  Dad had indeed suffered a heart attack, not the mention, paramedics had to shock him to get his heart rate back in rhythm.  I spent the next several hours talking to doctors, meeting with my parents, and relaying important details to family members.

We monitored progress over the weekend and listened to a plan that the doctors described would take place over the next several days.  Most signs seemed to say Dad would need a pacemaker implanted, but the docs wanted to run a few more tests to be sure. Read More

SEP 21, 2016 WAWA: Suicide Strength Drills

This week’s WAWA is non-running focused.  Instead, we’re mostly concentrating on the upper body and strength.  I’ll set up four stations as follows:

Station 1:  Suicide Pushup Drills

Station 2:  Kettlebell Strength Drills

Station 3:  Ultimate Burpee Shuttle

Station 4:  Core Salvation Drills

Participants will be divided up on the four stations.  Station 1, the Suicide Push Up drills, is our limiting station.  This means all the other three stations will continue to work out until Station 1 is complete, at which point that individuals yells “rotate”.  Station 1 goes to Station 2; Station 2 goes to Station 3; etc.

Rinse and repeat! Read More

SEPT 14, 2016 Devotional: Last Stop Before the Land of Oz!

I had been thinking about the Land of Oz ever since my two younger nieces traveled up to the Beech Mountain theme park this past weekend….following the yellow brick road all along the way.  So this morning’s workout was loosely derived from some stories my sister-in-law was telling me when they got back last Sunday.

In today’s running workout, there were two hidden messages; were you able to put the pieces together to solve the puzzles?  Each puzzle was a verse from scripture that ties into today’s devotional.  I’ll circle back to those two verses in just a minute.  First, however, a little side story….

September 14th marks my dad’s 75th birthday.  Yesterday, I picked him up from a local Charlotte medical center because he had an outpatient eye surgery and would not be able to drive himself back to their home in South Charlotte.  My sister and I split the duties, her dropping off dad and mom in the late morning, and me picking them up in the early afternoon.  My mom is recovering from a knee replacement a couple weeks ago, so they really did need some help from my sister and me to get them around. Read More

SEP 14, 2016 WAWA: Finding the Yellow Brick Road

Back on a pure, run-focused WAWA this week!  I’ll have two routes set up with different distances:  One route is just under 4.5 miles; the other route will be approximately 3.5 miles.  Participants will choose one route or the other, form a team, and complete the run route.  To make things fun, however, each route will have several checkpoints along the way, with each checkpoint having a card.  “Teams” will collect up each card and bring them along to the end point of the route.  The cards will be clues that the teams will put together to decipher a hidden message.  Oh, and the cards will be secured to a yellow brick at each checkpoint!

You do NOT have to pick up the bricks and bring them along….although I did consider that!

Teams must stick together and complete the run as a TEAM!

Fun, right?

Well if that’s not fun enough, each card will ALSO have a required exercise and reps that must be performed before the team heads to the next checkpoint.  Directions to the next checkpoints are outlined on each card.  Teams will not know the entire route in advance.

Start and end points for each route will be in front of The Cornwell Center.  I’ll give the two teams directions to their first checkpoints when we get ready to go.

See you at 5:40 am on Wednesday morning.  Light stretching then we’ll be “off and running”, literally.

Exercise Leader:  Mike Lenhart

Devotion Leader:  Mike Lenhart

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SEP 7, 2016 Devotional: Army Football and the Wager

Last Friday evening, if you were anywhere close to my home then you probably heard me scream for joy as my beloved alma mater’s football team won their opening game in impressive fashion.  West Point’s Black Knights defeated the Temple University Owls by a final score of 28-13.  “Why“, you might ask, “was this such a big deal?”  Well if you follow Army football….and I realize that many of you might not….but if you do, then you’d agree that the last several years have been disappointment after disappointment.  And let’s not mention that long 14-year losing streak to our arch rival, the Naval Academy.

So there is hope along the Hudson River at the United States Military Academy this week, and time will tell if it carries forward beyond this week’s opponent, Rice University, which will serve as Army’s home opener.

But there’s a point to my story.  In all my excitement, I came across a viral video of the football team’s post-game celebration in the locker room.  Imagine the scene.  The football team is packed into a tiny locker room, while the head coach, standing on top of a table, is delivering an inspirational message about enjoying the fruits of this hard fought victory.  Then, without provocation, the coach takes what some might see as a sharp turn from his unprepared remarks.  He asks one of the players to “lead the team in giving thanks”.  The team drops to one knee while the player says to his teammates, “I invite you to join me in a word of thanks”.  What then followed was a gracious young player leading his teammates in an unscripted prayer which I decided to share to all my friends on my Facebook page.

I can’t immediately confirm if my excitement and reason for sharing the video was due to the team’s victory or was it because of the prayer.  For me, there were two personal take-aways from that video that I’d like to share.

First, football, as many know, is a full contact sport, full of noises, expletives, bruises and many times, broken bones.  Yet in the stillness after the final whistle, there was a quiet moment and a sudden still.  Some of you may recall the story of Elijah in 1 Kings, Chapter 19, verses 11 – 12:

He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;  and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.

Sometimes it takes the sheer silence and the removal of any seemingly, deafening sounds around us before we are able to hear what God is saying to us.  What are you doing to remove those noises around you?

My second takeaway struck me to the bone.  While I was sharing a video about Army’s victory and the gracious prayer, what followed on my Facebook page was very surprising.  We all have those handful of friends in the hundreds that follow us on Facebook that really aren’t friends at all….right?  I mean, they’re those individuals who “friended” us years ago and if we ever had the time to go through and purge the lists, then maybe they wouldn’t make the cut.  One such individual suddenly went into a subtle but direct discourse about “what about the non-Christians” on the team who might be offended by the prayer that was heavily leaning in the Christian light?

I tried to put out the fuse delicately , but my “friend” pursued and things got a little ugly and tense.  The gloves started to come off and my friend was obviously turned off that the public prayer by the team was assumingly offensive.  In this age of political correctness, in her mind, my friend was in the right frame of mind to debate the fairness of the prayer.  In fact, days later, that same video has been removed from the Internet it seems.  What only appears now is a “cleaned up” version of the same video, where the coach’s remarks are heard, but the prayer is removed.

I don’t know the exact religious beliefs of my friend but I suspect she is either agnostic or an atheist.  I don’t know if she’s ever been on an organized sports team that’s overcome adversity.  And I don’t know if she was just having a bad day when my post popped up on her news feed.  Whatever the reason, they are certainly her right to debate and maybe that’s a WAWA message for another day.  As for me, I am always reminded of Pascal’s similar thoughts on the subject of “is there a God or not”.  These thoughts are commonly referred to as “Pascal’s Wager” where he says (paraphrased by me):

“I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live as if there isn’t and to die to find out that there is.”

What kind of wager will you make today?

Peace….!

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