Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Mercedes Marathon- 2015

When I finished the Music City Marathon in 2011 (Link: Music City Miracle), I knew I wanted to do at least 1 more.

I finished that goal by running in the Mercedes Marathon this past weekend as a 'bucket list' challenge: I wanted to run a marathon at age 50.


The biggest challenge of a marathon is the commitment to train. I basically did a 26 week running schedule- the toughest part being right in the middle of football season!

AND- I had my gall bladder removed about 10 days before my training was supposed to start! I hope my surgeon does not read this... she would not be happy that I was at football practice 2 days after surgery and began slow jogging just 10 days later.

Lisa was a huge help through Sept and Oct- because we often were starting the 7 and 8 mile mid-week runs at 4:40 AM!

And we had a tough football season- so most of my fall long runs on Saturdays was sad. We did have some great moments including a 12 mile run in Tuscaloosa during the Alabama- Texas A&M game and a 18 mile run at Chief Ladiga Trail- running from Piedmont through Jacksonville, AL.

I laugh because I said I wanted to run a 1/2 and a full as a goal only to realize that I ran 11 half marathons (or more)!

My hardest pre-marathon run was a 24.5 killer at my usual long site: this is for my notes but I ran the Mtn Brook Jemison loop 3 times and did the entire Homewood greenbelt.... I was dying!


I made a decision to train in 'neutral Nikes' (pictured above). The lady at Track Shack was shocked that I was running roads in trail shoes...but I had not 1 single injury during the entire time. My favorite shoe was the Terra Kiger- but I ran the Race (started) in Pegasus. All in all I ran through 4 pair of shoes!

Again- thankful to be injury free for the entire process!

I used map my run- but again GPS is off of a real road race. For example - my 24.5 run may have only been 22.5.

Long Running Musts:
water and re-hydrate or sports drink
Gu or I liked Laura Bars
Body Glide
Hat/sunglasses/ear buds
better trim toenails!


I would be remiss if I didn't mention how Emergen-C and Advocare Spark and Rehydrate helped me during my runs and in my recovery.

These items became very important to me in terms of supplementing my water throughout my weeks of training.

Ernie Conwell introduced me to Emergen-C in 2006 or 2007 and it has become a staple for me. I believe I am a much healthier person because of it.

Meredith Fitzpatrick was kind enough to suggest Spark and Rehydrate to me. I ended up liking Rehydrate better because it didn't have caffeine. But I know that when I drank a water bottle with rehydrate in it around mile 13 on my long training runs, I noticed it took longer for me to 'hit the wall' and I never experienced severe cramping.

Always thankful for the good people God sends my way to help me out!


Could not have been worse- I had a tough December- then I was sick almost all January! I coughed for 3 weeks!

The Friday before was one of my worst days at work ever
Saturday night, I chaperoned the school dance in the rain

I went to bed Sat night at 12:30- calves tired- and stressed! As I fought to sleep my thought was "I am in big trouble".


Mid week as 19 degrees- weekend rain- so to get to run in 50 degree slight mist was a pure blessing!


I enjoyed it- I like the route and 2 laps is fine. I really feel I might have broken 5 hours had I not stepped in a big puddle around mile 8! I just did not see it and stepped right in it!

By mile 13 I could tell my left foot was getting raw.

I called my wife and she brought the dry shoes and socks I had packed. We swapped out at Railroad Park- but I lost 3 or 4 minutes in the process. Had I not changed though... I would not have finished.

I feel very blessed to do this- I am now retired from Marathons!

Here are My stats 2011 and 2015


MUSIC CITY 2011                         MERCEDES 2015

FINISH: 5:12:53                                 FINISH: 5:13:39
PACE:11:56                                      PACE: 11:59
5K- 32:27                                           5K- 
10K:1:06:41                                      10K- 1:04:55
HALF: 2:21:34                                   HALF 2:19:37
20 MI: 3:43:59
OVERALL: 2918 OUT OF 4082         705 out of 850?
DIVISION: 185 OUT OF 240              73 (50 YEARS OLD) out of 81
GENDER: 1727 OUT OF 2249           472 out of 575?

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Right of the Owner and the Appeal of our Arguments

In my lifetime, we have seen the ebb and flow of argumentation and the swing of momentum among societal attitudes in areas of the social norms of morality. How do we judge right and wrong? Is there a consensus of virtue?

The study of these trends are fascinating: women's issues, civil rights, medical ethics, abortion, the legalization of marijuana, 'just' wars, economic equality, and most recently the definition of marriage issues.

As we see poll after poll, trends of momentum, and the wrestling of a nation over 'justice' and 'protection' in 'issues'- it is the major shift that often goes unnoticed.

As an Alabamian, I have watched with fascination the comparison and posturing of two of these important issues. Is the debate over so-called same sex marriage a civil rights issue?

What sparked my brain enough to finally write about this came from an interview between Judge Roy Moore and CNN news anchor, Chris Cuomo, on Feb. 12, 2015.

Just a google search of that debate gives you the flavor of headlines that summarize how the interview went according to popular opinion:

CNN's Cuomo Badgers Roy Moore

CNN's Chris Cuomo grills Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Chris Cuomo Battles AL Justice Roy Moore in Epic 25 Minute ...
Chris Cuomo Destroys AL Justice Roy Moore in Epic, Combative ...

As I watched a replay of the almost 30 minute debate (extraordinary for TV), I was impressed by both men and their ability to draw on important distinctions of their views.

But the key difference (and what has become THE key difference in all social issues) was seen in the most heated part of the exchange:

Transcript provided (CNN)

MOORE: No, I believe that's a matter of law because our rights contained in the bill of rights do not come from the Constitution; they come from God. It's clearly stated -- 

CUOMO: Our laws do not come from God, Your Honor, and you know that. They come from man. 

MOORE: Well, let me ask you one question. Let me ask you one question, Chris. Is the Declaration of Independence law? 

CUOMO: You would call it organic law as a basis for future laws off of it? 

MOORE: I would call it the organic law because the United States code calls it organic law. It is organic law because the law of this country calls it the organic law of our country means where our rights come from. And if they come from there, men can't take -- 

CUOMO: Our rights do not come from God. That's your faith. That's my faith. But that's not our country. Our laws come from collective agreement and compromise. 

MOORE: It's not a matter of faith, sir; it's a matter of organic law, which states we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are held equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And the only role of government is stated in the next sentence, is to secure those rights for us. 
When government starts taking those rights away from us, then it's not securing it for us; it is violating the whole purpose of government. 

See the fundamental difference? Who is in charge of the final decision?

Now this key shift does not help me 'win' the argument... in fact, any study of current social trends will explain why evangelicals are 'losing' the popular consent. And to be honest, our inability to argue from the key difference ourselves hurts us in the mainstream of discourse.

The key demographic is who is the final judge in these matters?

A growing number of people will say 'the consensus of the republic'.

Christians will say 'the God of the Bible'.

We were fortunate that for many years, the two were hand in hand.. there was enough of a Christian consensus and the Judeo-Christian world view that decisions were made under the constraints that Biblical morality was a foundational aspect of our law and governance.

That has changed.

The Bible is not held in honor as our rule and authority and all religion has been relegated to the private sphere with no right to speak in the public square.

When the Supreme Court made the decision to sever Christianity from the government in removing prayer and the 10 Commandments in the 60's... the slow drift towards a utilitarian society began.

The Supreme Religion of our nation is Secularism whose final judge and owner is MAN. The fabric from which decisions are made is with the majority - the so called 51%... (however, I believe it is actually within the power of a smaller group of 'elites').

The owner now of our rights as a nation is MAN and it has been that way for a long time.

There is a fundamental difference in making decisions from those who see a higher law than Man's law.

Take for example- the comparison of the 1960's civil rights issues as further healing from the sin of the slave trade and the battle of same sex issues.

In God's law- Race is a sacred gift from God and sexuality is a gift from the Creator as well.

In Biblical terms-  it was a sin to recognize a PECKING ORDER of segregation when it came to a human beings race or ethnicity. We are all descendants of Adam...there is but one 'race'.

Yes, there were some who TRIED to argue the opposite...but the Bible always does a great job in correcting errors in interpretation. 

There are great translations in the language of the people...read it for yourself- racism and slavery are NOT in God's plan for humanity.

By this same 'authority' sex is a gift from God. We are to experience it as He has designed it.

It is a sin to transgress the gift of sexuality as the Owner defines it.

This doesn't mean that we may have desires to violate this God given gift... it is what we do with those desires and our response to the call of the gospel of Christ.

The same Bible (taken as a whole and in the light of the gospel) compels us to reject racism and reject homosexuality under the same principle- God is the Owner and He has communicated clearly how we are to act.

Sometimes, it looks like, on the surface- the views are inconsistent. We see an example of this in pro-life issues. The same Authority has puzzled non-believers for years.... How can a Christian be pro-life and pro-death penalty at the same time?

But both stances are under the same principle- life is sacred- it cannot be taken except in instances where God has commanded it. Capital punishment is God's law- showing that life is sacred. If you take a human life in a pre-meditated manner, you will receive the foremost punishment for such an act.

Life is sacred- race is sacred- sexuality is sacred. God owns these and we are not to arbitrarily redefine His will on these issues.

It is God who makes the rules on these issues... and man is rarely right in his personal choice.

There are those who are critical of the Scriptures or fight over interpretation- but any honest reader will see that the Bible speaks with great clarity when reading it in context and in the grand light of the gospel story.

I suspect the Supreme Court will rule in favor of redefining the definition of marriage this summer.

It will cause a lot of celebration... and someone will say "now it is legal and morally right".

And Bible believing Christians will say... it may be legal..but man's decision does not trump God's revelation.

And Bible believing Christians will be relegated to the mockery of current culture because we debate macro-evolution, man made climate change, the legalization of marijuana,  and abortion on demand.

At the same time-  we MUST be consistent:

Do we denounce, in love,  ALL sexual immorality including pornography and adultery? 
Are we willing to speak the truth in love and understanding regarding the struggle of sin?
Are we willing to minister to those who suffer the natural consequences of defying God's moral law?
Are we living out the call of Jesus to stand for justice, care for the poor, the widow, and the orphan?
Are we willing to embrace that the cross of Christ covers all sin for those who repent and believe in the atoning death of Jesus?

The world is watching...but more importantly-  the Owner Himself is watching.


None of this should leave Christians wringing our hands in melodramatic whining. 

I have always found it interesting what the Apostle Paul wrote as Christianity was a small speck of influence in a very pagan society:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13 ESV)

This verse has always instructed me to be loving to those who are receiving the gospel as a call for salvation... love them in patience and understanding.

I need to be more ruthless with me.. the one who should know better and encourage my fellow believers who bear the name of Christ- for His sake- to live under His ownership of our lives.

Who makes the supreme decisions in your life?

I expect there to be growing antagonism towards those who seek to live in a humble obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ as contained in the Scriptures.

We may find ourselves giving a simple reply one day- one that also has deep roots in history past:

The magistrates may say: "Do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?"

And we will reply as Martin Luther replied:

"'Since then your imperial majesty and your lordships demand a simple answer, I will give you one without teeth and without horns. Unless I am convicted of error by the testimony of Scripture or by manifest evidence...I cannot and will not retract, for we must never act contrary to our conscience....Here I stand. God help me! Amen!" 

Friday, February 06, 2015

Responding to Accurate Charges of Atrocity in the History of Christendom

This week, there has been a lot of debate about a historical (some called moral) equivalency when comparing atrocities in the history of Christianity with those within the religion of Islam.

Most of this is coming from remarks made by President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 5.

No one can deny the truth that horrible things have been done in the name of Christ. The harshest critics and the honest followers of Christ must admit that there are sad blights in the long history of the Christian faith.

My list (though not exhaustive) includes: the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem Witch trials, exploitation and mistakes made by missionaries, anti-Semitic attitudes and actions, the child abuse cases found within Roman Catholicism, and consistent violations of Christian teaching including everything from torture, killing, sexual immorality, false teaching.....

Some of my favorite heroes of the faith have dark stains within their biographies and writings- Martin Luther, John Calvin included.

The greatest men of faith, even those listed in the 'Hebrews Hall of Fame- Chapter 11' have times of failure and sin listed in the very passages that extol their faith. These include Noah (drunkenness), Abraham (lying), Moses (murder), Jacob (deceit), Samson (lust), David (adultery, murder).... the Bible records the highs and the lows. 

The only person to completely live according the the Holy requirements of God is the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

So what do we say in response to the charges of sin and hypocrisy?

And is there an equivalence when looking at these shortcomings of Christianity and other faiths?

But before I go further, there has to always be an important point made about the comparison of Christianity to any other faith.

Our default mode in human religion is to create a 'works' salvation... one where man must live GOOD enough to receive God's acceptance. The basic tenets of almost all human religion is to have our good deeds and virtue surpass our sin and vice.

The reason the Bible records the evil of man is to always shine the glorious light of the Christian gospel and the loving gift of Christ as the atoning sacrifice for sin. Man is not saved by his good works, and he doesn't HAVE to be condemned by his sin.... Jesus Christ is offered as God's provision for the reality of sin and the 'problem' of God's holiness.

If I were a truly brave man... I would gladly list all my current sins one by one where you could see how 'guilty' I am.... my thoughts, deeds, actions, and inactions place my life in danger of the fires of hell. I only have one option.... I cling to the cross of Jesus.. His death is my only hope... that is how good the gospel is!

The Christian gospel is unlike ANY other religion... Religion is man's best attempt to get to God. Christianity is God's successful plan to get to us!

I find it sad that our society portrays all 'faith' systems as the same.....

All religions are not the same. They have different systems and practices. I do believe that jihadist Islam poses a violent danger to our world today. All religions have the possibility of perpetrating great oppression and harm. One has to look no farther than the Crusades to see the destruction that misguided human beings can cause in the name of religious belief.

But even in the case of the Crusades, there are fundamental differences in belief.

The Crusades demonstrate followers of Islam doing what their faith requires them to do and followers of Christ ignoring what their Savior requires them to do. The Crusades represent Islam at its best and Christianity at its worst.


I want to recommend a chapter in an excellent book- The Case for Faith, by Lee Strobel. Strobel takes on this issue along with other issues and questions Christians are asked.

Chapter 7 is entitled, 'Church History is Littered with Oppression and Violence'. Strobel looks at the history of the errors I listed and asks historian, Dr. John D. Woodbridge, to respond to these questions.

I will summarize his argument and list a few key quotes from the chapter: 

"CHRISTIANITY has been a boon to mankind... (and) has had a beneficent effect upon the human race... Most people today who live in an ostensibly Christian environment with Christian ethics do not realize how much we owe to Jesus of Nazareth... What goodness and mercy there is in this world has come in a large measure from Him."  Dr. D. James Kennedy

Christians tend to see the instances of church abuse and violence through the centuries as anomalies in an otherwise positive situation. Critics, however, are more apt to see the travesties.....

Some of Woodbridge (some paraphrasing):

We always have to be careful when attributing sin to the 'church'. We must always make a point to show the line of demarcation... there are 'true' Christians and 'false' Christians. Sheep and Wolves in sheep's clothing.. cultural Christians and authentic Christians.. in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus speaks of those who say "Lord, Lord" but Jesus says "Depart from Me, I never knew you".

"there are misleading stereotypes about what Christians have done and haven't done based on the reality that some critics fail to notice a difference in a cultural Christian and an authentic one." 

It is not the teachings of Jesus that are fault here.. it is (the inability of His followers to follow Him.)
'for whatever reason...they greatly strayed away from what he (Jesus) clearly taught.

We often think of Christians as the imposing majority when history does not bear that out....

"The typical Christian lives in a developing country, speaks a non-European language, and exists in the constant threat of persecution"

We must never downplay the tragedy of these terrible moments in history......

but, at the same  time, we must also recognize that in most cases... it was Christians who played key roles in righting the wrongs. And this often came from re-discovering the unchanging truth of God's Word and applying it accurately.

You can name and count many of the atrocities.... but there have been innumerable acts of charity that have been God-honoring.


As I close, let me make one final plea:

Christianity makes a 'call' to the world.... we echo the call of Jesus.... 'sinner come unto Me'. 

True Christianity will never subjugate others with threat of sword... the True Church of Jesus is compelled to humbly serve and love... even those who do not believe.

We have never done it as well as we should... we often look 'no different' that the world... but we cry out.. do not judge this message based on our failures... judge the message on the ONE who gave it and the ONE who lived it and the ONE who demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Jesus died for us.

All who are oppressed under a yoke of man made religion.. the fear and pressure to live perfectly and a zeal to kill... walk away from that and enter into forgiveness and peace.

All faiths are not the same......

Come to Jesus... the One who conquered the grave... the One who is alive and offers grace and mercy.

Lay down the arms of Jihad and embrace the sweetness of being a child of the King!

Monday, February 02, 2015

Super Bowl 49- Calling Plays

As I was watching the game last night, I was reminded of a post I made in 2010 about the tough life of a play caller. One of the toughest lessons I have learned over the years is to not out think the pressure situations- put it in the hands of the best player.

1 timeout.... 2nd and goal... it becomes a potential 'throw away down'. I personally don't like an inside slant in that position, 

When you call it- the QB,Wilson is placed in the trigger puller of 'yes' or 'no'.

What Wilson saw was the 'open window' that the YES/NO alert made it a GREEN/GO.

The execution of the play was worse than the call- but I can't defend the call. The 'rub' was not vertical enough, the alignment was too tight to the run box, the route wasn't as sharp and physical to the ball for that part of the field, and the throw was too soft. If the stack was a little wider, the rub a little more vertical, the slant a tad sharper and more physical, and the throw a tad firmer- the Seahawks win.

You HAVE to give corner Malcolm Butler credit for an AMAZING rocket step.

So as you read what I posted in 2011... it is still the same... a good call works and a bad call doesn't... but that would not have been my call in that spot. Naked with a walk in or throw away? Yes  Give to Lynch and use timeout? Probably on 3rd down.......

Life of a Play Caller

When a coach is planing for a game- he is putting into his mental rehearsal a lot of information. First, he knows his team and players. He has watched them live and on film and he knows both strengths and weaknesses. He knows how healthy they are. He knows who is likely to perform under pressure and who is likely to choke. He has certain plays and players he trusts and he has certain others he does not.

Secondly, a coach tries to guess what the other team knows. As an opposing coach breaks down his team, what does he see? Who is he impressed with? Where does he see weaknesses?

Both coaches see schemes- and almost any coach knows the strong and weak match-ups of scheme. Behind the scheme are philosophical beliefs that have strengths and weaknesses as well. Some teams are very good against your philosophy and scheme- and other teams create real issues.

Thirdly, there is the plan and practice of the plan. What was new this week? How did it look? Was it repped enough to a point where the players can execute it in the game?

Finally, there is the game condition itself. How is the game going? What is the weather, field conditions, momentum?

There are many different styles and ways to call a game. I see it being very similar to playing a par 5 in golf. The drive is the field position- are we in the fairway? Then there is the risk and reward- do we lay up or go for the green in two? And you can always out think yourself a little- what is the other guy going to do? Is he coming with the blitz or will he back off in a zone?

Now- let me add one other factor- PLAY CLOCK. A good play caller has to immediately call out personnel, formation, and play- you really get no time to weigh pro and cons. That is why the excellent ones have experience and mental rehearsal to quickly pull the trigger.

The bottom line is this: it is kind of stupid to ever say "That was a dumb play call" unless you are privy to all the conditions I have described above. That is why it is very, very rare for me to even entertain the idea of questioning a play call. I tend to be a very supportive coach in that area.

To the common observer -


I have had coaches tell me that I called a good game- it feels good- but the bottom line is this- only I know when I botched a call- which means I put the formation to the wrong side of the field- or I messed up the personnel- or I called something that I knew the players struggled with- or mis-spoke.

Next time you are at a game- don't fall into the temptation of saying 'that was a dumb call'- it might have been a brilliant call, but it just didn't happen. I have had dumb calls go for TD's and great ones lose the game..... it is that crazy of a sport!