Why I Started Running part 2

Last week, I ran a 5K. I signed up for this event because I knew I needed the accountability to discipline myself to run. I heard a quote recently that said, “The most difficult distance any runner crosses is from the bed to the front door.” I have been asked recently why I have been crossing that distance. I gave my first three reasons here. Here are more reasons why I started running.

4.  Confidence- Running has given me increased confidence in other areas of my life. I find myself entering other stressful arenas with a more relaxed mindset and a more positive attitude. This confidence makes me a better leader and a better speaker. Also, this is confidence, not arrogance. I cannot compare my accomplishments to anyone else, and I surely don’t think I am a better person than anyone else because I run!

5. Healthy Modeling to My Family- I am passionate about healthy churches and healthy leaders. My exercise habits are forming an example to my children. I want them to choose healthy habits in their life and I know that neither the school’s teachings, a TV campaign nor a lecture from me will ever replace my walking in the door having exercised. I want them to know this is a healthy thing to do and to participate in this because I want my three children to lead healthy lives.

6. Healthy Leadership to My Church- Ministers are notorious for being health risks. Disability insurance companies rates ministers in the same categories as construction workers and other physically intense laborers. Ministers are stereotyped for being out of shape and sedentary. This lack of health combined with the stresses of ministry leads to ministers having shortened careers and, in many cases, shortened life spans. Modeling healthy decisions makes one a better leader because one will be around to lead longer. Also, modeling these healthy decisions gives a leader more integrity. Modeling is an important and integral part of ministry.

7. Stewardship- I am not a “good” runner. People won’t ever look at me as an exemplar of graceful athleticism. I just don’t have those gifts. I want to do the best with what God has given me. God has given me this body. I will do the best I can with this one. In the past I have thought that our physical bodies are not important to God. I thought, “Why would I waste energy on this body when it is destined for death?” I have come to realize that Jesus redeems every aspect of our lives including our physical bodies. One cannot divorce the physical body from the spiritual condition. We are unified creatures! Because of this, I see physical health as a response to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over my being. I will be a good steward of everything God has given me, including my physical body.

These are some of my reasons for choosing to start running. I hope that perhaps you will chose to start doing the best with what God has given you. If that includes running, I believe you will find some benefits as well!

What would you add to this? What is the biggest benefit from healthy physical practices that you know?


Posted by on July 24, 2011 in Uncategorized


Why I Started Running part 1.

A week ago, I ran my first 5K. For those who don’t know metric system conversions, a 5K is 3.1 miles. I have been asked several times over the past few weeks why I started running. I want to give 7 reasons here. I will post the first 3 today and finish later.

This is not what I look like when all.

1. Physical Health- I have never been very physically active. The only time I used to run was to “run to the border” when Taco Bell had a special on. My physical health has always been a weakness. Some people are given physically fit bodies through good genes and heritage. Physical health for me will only come through discipline. I have had times when I have been upset with God about this, but now I am seeing what a gift this is for me.

2. Accomplishment-
Mondays can be a terrible time for me. I will have preached my heart out on Sunday, feeling more alive than I’ve ever been while proclaiming the Gospel. And then the realization happens that Sunday is just a few days away and I have to do it again. In my life, I need some markers that I can post and say, “There, I DID something.” No matter what happens for the rest of the day or week, running has given me a sense of accomplishment. I can say, “I did this.”

3. Soul Care- I don’t know why, but I have never wanted to listen to music while I run. Instead, I listen to sermons and messages from other Christian leaders. When I am running my best, my mind is absorbed in the message. I find myself reflecting on the scriptures and the messages throughout the day. This routine has become a spiritual discipline for me and helps to feed my soul.

To read the next 4 reasons click here.

What benefits have you encountered to running and exercise?


Posted by on July 23, 2011 in Uncategorized


What I love about my church today (July 10, 2011)

Each week, I want to share something I appreciate about my community of faith, the Belton Church of Christ located in Belton, TX.  Each week, I will highlight one “bright spot” in my congregation.

This story did not happen this week, but it is one I believe is worth sharing.

I recently preached a sermon that I did not intend to preach. I preached the parable of the Talents from Matthew 25. I started out with an assumption that the sermon would be about using our gifts for God in a good way, but the study, prayer and preparation for the message took me down a different path. The voice of the message was leading me toward the dangers of those who would emphasize religious forms and structures over the healthy disciplemaking life that Jesus wants for us. The sermon took on a more prophetic nature than my church is used to hearing from me. In other words, I stepped on toes.

It needs to be said that when I start stepping on toes, I have to squash mine first! So I didn’t say anything to anyone that did not implicate me first. After our service concluded, I received only positive comments from people, with some kidding about needing to wear steel-toes to church. Despite the encouragement, I knew some would struggle and some would be feeling disequilibrium. One of the most encouraging and wise men I know came to me after the crowds dispersed. He looked at me and said, “Those were hard words today. I wasn’t expecting that.” And then he said, “It took a lot of love for you to say what you did today. Thank you.”

His words moved me. I love my church because of people who are willing to hear the Word of God preached, even when that Word challenges us and makes us uncomfortable. And I love my church because they give me grace.

How have you experienced love and grace from your faith community?

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Posted by on July 12, 2011 in Uncategorized


Family Prayer Exercises

Prayer is simply one of the most crucial disciplines for any Christian’s life.

Here is a series of prayer exercises designed to equip families to pray together. This is a good example of what it means for a church to partner with parents to disciple children. The hour-long meeting time equips the parents to pray with their children for the rest of the week.

The family prayer evening is a series of 7 prayer exercises. Families should spend around 7 minutes per station.

  • Pin-the-Tail on the Map- Blindfold the children and give them either tacks or sticky notes. Spin them around and then they go to a map of the world mounted on a wall. The child “pins” a country and then prays for that country. Parents help the children understand more about the country that she or he “pinned.”
  • Lectio Divina- Have grapes in a big bowl. Have the family sit down together on the floor. An adult reader instructs everyone to close their eyes and be still. The reader reads from John 15:1-4. Then the reader tells the family to listen to the words again and think of their favorite word in the passage. Read John 15:1-4 again. The children share their favorite word first and then the parents share. The passage is read one last time. The family then prays a prayer about being connected to Jesus. Afterwards, they can eat a grape.
  • Prayer Books- Have the pages copied and ready to assemble a prayer book that the children can take and use. The prayers to put in the book are The Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 8, Psalm 23, St. Francis’ Prayer, (an abbreviated) Shield of St. Patrick, and the Jesus Prayer. The children can take this home and the family can use this for prayers.
  • Whiteboard Worship- Take a dry-erase marker and write on a whiteboard a word or phrase to praise God. Simply complete the phrase “God, You are…”
  • Paper Prayerplanes-This is a prayer exercise to help families to pray for one another. Everyone takes a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. Write out prayer needs on the paper. After prayer needs are written out, fold and make a paper airplane out of the paper. At the end of the time, gather together and throw the paper airplanes out. Pick up someone else’s airplane and commit to praying for those needs this week.
  • Roll-A-Prayer-Have each family member take the die and roll it. Compare the number that is rolled  paper and direct the family member to pray to God about that specific thing.
    If you roll a:                 Pray For
    1                                 Deployed Soldiers and their families
    2                                 Children who don’t have enough to eat
    3                                 Our church leaders (elders and ministers)
    4                                 Your mom, dad or guardian.
    5                                 Friends to know Jesus
    6                                 Children living in disaster areas
  • Prayer Balloons- (Need helium tank, balloons, ribbon, sharpie markers) Each family member can take 1 balloon to inflate with the helium. After inflating the balloon, tie the balloon and then put a ribbon on the balloon. Use the markers to write prayer needs on the balloon. These are prayers that you want God to hear and answer. To conclude the evening everyone goes outside together and releases the balloons as a sign we can release our burdens to God.
Our schedule:
7:05- Gather and explain stations
7:10-7:50- Prayer exercises with families
7:50-7:55- Gather & ask children to reflect on their favorite activity.
7:55- Form circle and throw prayerplanes.
7:57- Take balloons outside and release them together. Close with a group prayer

The best thing about this evening is equipping families to pray together and to explore different ways to pray. The boys loved the prayerplanes and the girls loved the balloons. The families prayed together at roll-a-prayer and discussed faith issues at the lectio station. The map station gave the parents a good opportunity to explain mission to the children.

How have you taught your children to pray?

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Posted by on June 30, 2011 in Uncategorized


What I love about my church today (June 26, 2011)

Each week, I want to share something I appreciate about my community of faith, the Belton Church of Christ located in Belton, TX.  Each week, I will highlight one “bright spot” in my congregation.

I returned to preach today after being out of the pulpit for two weeks. Although I attended my congregation for the two Sundays I did not preach, I was able to use the time to focus on post-graduate work through Abilene Christian University. I love my church because the leaders encourage me to grow through education.

Preaching can be a draining activity. I enjoy the study of the Bible but what gets me most excited is to think about how God’s Word can change our congregation. It can take incredible amounts of energy reserves to preach week after week. I am still a relative beginner at preaching since I’ve only been doing this for less than 4 years. My church leaders recognize that I need to have times when I can refresh, retool and refocus for preaching and leading. Education helps give me this space.

Many congregations and church leaderships do not value education. In fact, there are those who are suspicious of education. They believe that education will ruin a preacher. I agree that it is possible to become so enamored with theory that you forget reality, but I have found that time away reflecting about ministry has made me a more effective minister. I need all the help I can get.

Here are the education opportunities that I have taken advantage of this past year. There are many other options for ministers, but these are simply the ones I have been able to be a part of.

William Willimon Symposium at Truett Seminary, Baylor University

Catalyst Dallas

Abilene Christian University Graduate School of Theology

Catalyst One-Day (Coming Aug 25)

I love my church because they see the importance of keeping me sharp, fresh and ready. Not every church shares the value of education, but I love that my church does.

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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


What I love about my church today (June 12, 2011)

Each week, I want to share something I appreciate about my community of faith, the Belton Church of Christ located in Belton, TX.  Each week, I will highlight one “bright spot” in my congregation.

I participated in worship today as a hearer of the Word. Joe Baisden preached about God’s grace to the Belton Church of Christ. I love our church because I have experienced God’s grace through the life of Joe Baisden.

Joe Baisden

Joe preached at the Belton Church of Christ for 33 years. Joe’s ministry in Belton was marked by:

1.     Love for the community– Joe joined Belton. He has always been an advocate for our community. He has been active in city government, schools, community service organizations. Under his leadership, Belton Church of Christ gained the reputation of being a church for the community.
2.     Love for individuals- Joe has a heart for the hurting. He prioritized people above everything else. Joe is always quick to respond to those who are physically ill or grieving. Because of Joe’s pastoral heart, Belton Church of Christ became known as a caring congregation.
3.     Absolute integrity- Joe Baisden is a man of character, a man of his word, and a man of the Spirit. He does what he says, and he follows through with his intentions. Joe instilled his sense of right and wrong in the congregation.
4.     Gratitude- Joe writes thank you notes for every act of kindness he notices. In fact, if you write Joe a thank you note, he will write a thank you note for your thank you note. Joe gives thanks at every turn. Gratitude is a foundation of godly character.
5.     Dependence upon God’s Spirit- Joe is known as a person of prayer and a man of the Scriptures. He talks about Scripture from an experience that says he has lived the Bible for many years. Joe’s dependence on God’s Spirit has shaped the spirituality of Belton Church of Christ.

I was able to receive Joe’s teaching about God’s grace because Joe lives as a grace-oriented man. His ministry at Belton Church of Christ is a grace to me. He has treated me with kindness and grace, and Joe has inspired me to continue to walk in his legacy. I love my church because of the character established by Joe’s 33 year ministry!


What characteristics would you like to be known for when people survey your career?



Posted by on June 13, 2011 in Uncategorized


What I love about my church today (June 5, 2011)

Each week, I want to share something I appreciate about my community of faith, the Belton Church of Christ located in Belton, TX.  Each week, I will highlight one “bright spot” in my congregation.

Courage is the ability to do the right thing even when it is difficult.

I love my church because of the courageous people I know and love. David and Kristi are close friends. When we moved back to Belton Church of Christ, my wife and I started a LifeGroup with this couple. Our children play together and are all good friends. Over the past 18 months of co-leading LifeGroup we have grown together with them. Being friends with them has been a joy and is one of the easiest things I do.

David and Kristi live in Harker Heights, a city almost 20 miles from Belton. We have a large number of people in our faith community who live in Harker Heights and Killeen. Despite having a significant amount of people in these other communities we do not have any LifeGroups meeting in that community. People who want to connect in LifeGroups must drive to Belton or Temple to join groups. David and Kristi feel a burden for their community and for the the BCC families in west Bell County. Because of these passions they are leaving my LifeGroup and starting a new LifeGroup that will meet in their home. This will immediately provide a place for 12 people who are currently not connected to be connected in LifeGroups.

Tonight was the last time that David and Kristi are a part of the LifeGroup I have called home for a year and a half. There are so many reasons for this couple to stay with us. Our friendship, our comfort, the joys of seeing our children play together, our common interests in superhero movies (well, for David and me anyway), a common love for Christ and for God’s Word. Easy would be to stay with us. God’s mission calls for them to go and birth a new group. I love their courage to do the right thing even though it is hard.

How have you seen courage in your faith community?



Posted by on June 6, 2011 in Uncategorized