July 26, 2017 Devotional: “Wanting What We Want Instead of What We Need”

Thirty years ago this week, Scott Rigsby was an 18 year old, recent high school graduate, working a landscaping job along with three other classmates in order to make some money before heading off to college at the University of Georgia.  The four classmates’ jobs were typically in spread out areas of rural Georgia.  No cell phones.  Long stretches of country roads between jobs.  Long days.  Sweltering heat.

Get the picture?

One day, after hours of working, the boys were heading home driving a pickup truck and pulling a long trailer with landscaping equipment.  A tractor trailer pulled up behind the boys, and attempted to pass them.  Up ahead was a narrow,  single-lane bridge.  The tractor trailer sped past the boys and attempted to complete the pass before coming up on the fast approaching bridge.

Too late.

The larger truck cut over quickly and clipped the boys’ pickup truck.  Two of the boys, including Scott, were thrown from the back of the pickup truck.  The end result, while all the boys survived, was Rigsby’s legs severely damaged, mangled and nearly unrecognizable after being pulled beneath the trailer for nearly 300 feet on the hot Georgia asphalt.  One leg was immediately severed off.  The other barely hung on by threads of skin.  His back had 3rd degree burns from the accident as well.

Eventually Scott would loose the mangled leg that remained.

Imagine being in the prime of your life, getting ready for college, all that excitement devastated within a matter of seconds.

Scott would eventually attend classes at UGA, and graduate.  But his recovery was long-lasting.  Years later he would describe battles with pain killer addiction, and depression.  His life was spiraling out of control.  Scott needed a break.

Scott recalls getting down on his knees one evening after realizing he could no longer have the day-to-day pity parties for himself.  “God….”, Scott asked.  “If you open one door for me, I will go through it.”

Be careful what you ask for….

What Scott really wanted was the “starfish syndrome” to occur.  You know….where the legs would grow back.

But God had other plans for him.

Scott began a fitness regimen centered around running races and triathlons.  Yes….triathlons.

He got aligned with the best medical help, prosthetics, and began competing.  Baby steps at first.  Eventually, Scott was not only on the local “radar” in Atlanta, but also on the national spotlight.

I recall reading about Scott’s efforts and I called him one day.

“Scott, you don’t know me.  My name is Mike Lenhart and I’d like to create an organization that helps people with physical disabilities compete in triathlons….and I’d like to start with you!”

And for nearly 15 months after that, Scott and I would train together.  Running, cycling, and swimming.  We’d pick races as iterative goals to help gauge progress.  5 km races at first.  Then 10 k’s.  Then sprint triathlons.  Eventually half-marathons and even a half-Ironman distance race!

But the goals didn’t stop there.  Scott wanted to go to Hawaii and compete in the Ironman World Championship!

2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling, then a marathon (26.2 miles) of running.

All in one day!

Through some wrangling, Scott got his wish.  The Ironman organization invited him to participate in the race under a “media entry”.  Things suddenly got very serious in our training, to say the least!

Through the help of some generous sponsors, Scott and I traveled to Kona, Hawaii for that race.  And in the wee hours of October 13, 2007, Scott Rigsby became the first double amputee to finish the Ironman World Championship!

When asked, Scott will joking say that his favorite part of that race was simply the “finish line”.

But catch him in a serious moment and Scott will tell you….”be careful what you ask God for…”.

While Scott was asking God to give him a door to walk through, and maybe get his legs back…..God had a different plan.

Today, years later, Scott is a frequent speaker on the motivational circuit as well as working a full time job for a medical company near Atlanta.  His foundation, The Scott Rigsby Foundation, has a clear mission of inspiring, informing, and enabling individuals with disabilities to living a healthy, active lifestyle.

They also provide great assistance to our wounded service members across the country, providing comradery that may have been lost due to the visible and invisible scars of recent conflicts overseas.

While there are many lessons to Scott’s story, the lesson for me remains that God will always give us what we “need” and not always what we “want”.

My prayer this week is that we trust our Heavenly Father to always give us what we need even when we fail to see the full picture or believe in His “plan”.

Amen!

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JULY 26, 2017 WAWA: “Brandy(wine) Before 6:30 am!”

We’ve got a great run workout planned for this week that will take us at one point through the tree lined, shady trail along Briar Creek Greenway from one end to the other, turn-around, and back out the same side we first entered.

Beyond that, this week’s total mileage is 5.1 miles!

The toughest part of the route will be right around 2.0 miles where we’ll hit the base of Brandywine Road.  It’s a short, three-tenths of a mile climb of about 70 feet!

We’ll catch our breath after that, run through the Briar Creek Greenway, and then it’s a steady climb back to the Cornwell Center for about 1.6 miles….100 feet of climbing on that last stretch.

Run Route is HERE.

We’ll see you in the morning!  Gather outside the Cornwell Center, ready to go at 6 am!

WORKOUT LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTION LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

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JULY 19, 2017 Devotional: “Lessons Learned Through Sawdust, Sweat and Shiplap”

Okay….I’m going to admit something this week.  I have a new “man crush”….a “bro-ance”, of sorts, if only from my point of view for the moment!  I’m hooked on home improvement genius….Chip Gaines.  Have you heard of him?  He’s part of the dynamic duo of HGTV’s hit show, “Fixer Upper“.  His wife, Joanna Gaines, could also be considered a “woman crush” too, but I’m not sure my wife would like me saying that…so I’m steering clear!

Chip is a real “guy’s guy”.  Think of him as “handy man meets Texas cowboy meets DIY visionary meets stand-up comedian”.  I really wanna travel to Waco, Texas and have a beer with this guy.

Chip and Joanna have a motto of finding the worst house on the best street, creating a design plan, getting buy-in from mere mortals, and wa-lah….with a little sweat equity, the magic happens!  You really need to watch the show to see what I’m talking about!  I never knew anything about “shiplap” before and now I walk around the house just murmuring it under my breath!

But Chip is an interesting character who I’ve been drawn to for a few weeks now.  I follow him on Instagram….@chippergaines….and that’s where I learned about the new book he’s written called “Capital Gaines“, due out in stores in October of this year.  I was especially drawn to the book’s subtitle:  “Smart Things I’ve Learned Doing Stupid Stuff”.  Wow….now how many of us…..guys particularly….can relate?

You can probably Google search the Gaines’ this week as they’re making the rounds on the early morning news programs, promoting Chip’s book.  I found an excerpt from the book that was worth sharing for this week’s devotional.

In the excerpt, Chip talks about life in his early 20’s.  He and Jo were recently married and had welcomed their first son into the family.  (The Gaines’ currently have 4 kids, 2 boys and 2 girls…..told you I had a “man crush”…).  But Chip still had a wild side.  It’s no secret that Chip’s younger years were self-described as nothing short of reckless.   Chip admits the following:

“I’d made a habit of pushing the envelope pretty much my whole life. Back in high school, when a group of kids would go climb a bridge to jump into some invariably scary-looking body of water beneath, I’d be the kid who climbed five-feet higher than everybody else, just because. I was not about to not be outdone.”

He goes on the describe crashing an ATV while his wife stood horrified, clutching to the baby-seat of their first-born.

“What was I thinking….?” asks Chip.

Most of us have those ah-ha moments in life.  Some have them sooner than others….and sadly some have them nearly too late in life.  But I believe we ALL have them.

I think those moments are directly tied back to God’s grace in our lives.  Call it the gift of the Holy Spirit who Christ describes as the “advocate” who will stay behind and watch over our lives.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”  John 14:26

Now, I know very well that some of you will say it’s a stretch to draw some connection between some home improvement celebrities and the Holy Spirit.  I’m with you.  But hopefully you can see that all of us…yes, every one of us, will have those times just like Chip Gaines, where the Holy Spirit interjects to say…”you might want to think that one over again…”

It’s that Advocate who is the ultimate “fixer upper” of our broken lives when we need renovations!

My prayer this week is that we recognize the Advocate who Christ has given us to watch over our daily lives, remind us when we drift off the path, and guide us to the way back “home”……amen!

…..Shiplap…..!

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JULY 19, 2017 WAWA: “River Otter Run”

Great run planned for this week’s WAWA…..4.5 miles in distance!

About one mile of the route will take us along the Briar Creek Greenway behind Myers Park High School.  When I looked up information on this section of greenway, under the section called “interesting facts” was some mention of river otters along the route.  We’ll see if that’s true or not!

Specific details on this week’s route is at this link.

Here’s the highlights:

  • Route is a gradual downhill until Mile 2.
  • Slight climb for a tenth of a mile from that point then another downhill for two-tenths of a mile.
  • Remainder of the run from that point is a gradual climb until we reach the Cornwell Center.

No rain in the forecast for Wednesday morning.  Temps will be in the lower 70’s.

Meet outside the Cornwell Center ready to go at 6 am!

WORKOUT LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

DEVOTIONAL LEADER:  Mike Lenhart

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JULY 12, 2017 Devotional: “Steve Jobs and the Garden of Eden”

Earlier last year, my wife and I struggled whether or not to give our oldest son an iPhone as he prepared to start middle school.  We weren’t sure he was ready and we had barely done any of our homework on what rules to put in place for him.  What made the decision slightly more difficult was that our second son, only a grade apart, would most likely want a phone as well.  Part of me thought….”Why not?  Give them both phones and make the rules at the same time rather than have to repeat them all over again the following year.”

So with somewhat baited breath, we got both boys phones, explained the rules, to include having them sign a “contract” of what to do and what not to do with their phones, ….. and we buckled in for the “what next” of unknowns.

Most of the rules were fairly expected.

-No using the phone past 7 pm on school nights.

-No prank calls

-No texting with people you haven’t met

-Always answer when a parent calls

-No excessive texting

There we a handful of other rules…but you get the general message.

If you were to ask me what rule was most important above all others….it centered around “respect”.  And we struggled with this … and continue to struggle with this one.  You see, this great gift of technology full of benefits is also loaded with many pitfalls just waiting to happen.  Cell phones are a HUGE distraction to teenagers!  Their whole world becomes narrowly focused when their eyes become fixated on the glow of a 5.4 inch by 2.6 inch piece of rectangular metal.

At one point, I found myself saying…”Boys, you can enjoy all the technology associated with your new device.  But when it comes to respect, you must not lose respect for others, else you will lose your phone privileges.”

Truth be told, we’ve been trying to teach our sons about respect for others way before cell phones came into the mix.  The cell phone just happens to create a physical object that helps “we”, the parents, clearly delineate between right and wrong…..some might even say, delineate between good and evil!

When God made Adam and Eve the stewards of the Garden of Eden, He gave them full dominion over the Garden.  They became God’s surrogates, His representatives in the creation He had formed.

In Genesis, chapter 1 we read:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  GEN 1: 26-27

For years, even into my adulthood, I have questioned this concept of “creating man and woman in the image of God”.  Recently, I’ve read one interpretation that makes a little more sense to me.  The “image” is not so much the physical piece; what we see in the mirror.  Rather, “image” refers to Adam and Eve as “image bearers” of God.  And being made in the image of God means we are able (and expected) to do what God has called us to do.  For Adam and Eve, it was the dominion over the Garden pieces.  For us, today, it’s living out a Christian life.

I may have lost a few of you on that last part, so let me bring this plane around and get ready for the soft landing.

While God gave Adam and Eve everything they needed and more in the Garden, He still made one area off limits.  Remember what that was?  The fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  We know what eventually happens.  Serpent persuades Eve that she could eat of the fruit.  She takes one of the fruits from the tree, commonly explained as an “apple”, and gives it to Adam, who eats of the fruit.

Immediately their eyes were opened, and scripture says they realized they were naked.

Now there’s a few additional messages we could talk about but let’s focus on the tree and the apple.

The tree could have been a number of things.  It could have been a place….it could have been an animal….or it could have simple have been something else tangible.  The tree, however, represents God’s covenant between Himself and Adam & Eve.  And the most important part of any covenant relationship is the defining of conditions that go with it.  In this case, God asked them to trust and obey Him.  Pretty simple when you pare it all down.

When we take away the tree….and eventually the apple as well, we can hopefully see the covenant that God had with the couple.

Do you have trees in your life today?  Are their things that might be forbidden, that are preventing you from celebrating that covenant with our Heavenly Father?  It could be a number of things….and don’t worry, I won’t ask anyone to list those out to me now.

In an oddly parallel sense, when I’m disappointed in my sons for lack of respect because they’re so engrossed with their devices, it really has nothing to do with what’s on the screen that has their minds so preoccupied.  No, it’s the broken covenant we have that hurts the most.

So….I get it when God gets disappointed with us too.  And I mean no form of disrespect to God in my simplified analogy of teenagers and cell phones.

For me, and maybe for you, my prayer this week is that I look at the covenants that I am breaking and look for ways to shore up those relationships with our Heavenly Father.  Won’t you join me in that effort?

Lastly, did anyone else’s mind drift off to notice the icon for the iPhone is an “apple”?  Coincidence maybe?

How about the next time you close down your MacBook or turn on your iPhone….take a look at the icon and let it be a reminder of that “first” apple in the Garden.

Peace!

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JULY 12, 2017 WAWA: “Say hello to my friend, Ed”

Okay….actually, I’ve never met said “Ed”….but this week’s run route of just under 5 miles takes us past Myers Park / Dilworth landmark, Ed’s Tavern off Ideal Way.  I’ve never stepped in the place, but I drive past it all the time for my frequent trips to Lowe’s.

Three hills on the route:  First one is just before mile 2; second one is just before mile 3; and the final one takes us back to the Cornwell Center…..you’re welcome!

Hill 1:  Mile 0.8 to Mile 1.55 is 90 ft of climbing.

Hill 2:  Mile 2.0 to Mile 2.6 is 60 ft of climbing.

Hill 3:  Mile 3.5 to Finish is 70 ft of climbing.

See the attached map for the full planned run route.

Gather outside the Cornwell Center just before 6 am.  We’ll step off promptly at 6 am!

Distance is 4.69 miles.  Moderate pace.  We’ll break into two pace groups if necessary.

All are welcome!

See you in the morning!

 

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