Thursday, September 23, 2021

Checking Up on the Goats

Hey boys and girls! 

The Run Walk Run Method

Lord willing, in 16 days I will run my second 32-mile ultramarathon. I am slowly putting the final touches on my training for that race. This Saturday I will run 10 miles at the Virginia 10 Miler. Today I also ran 10 miles on the same trail where the ultra will take place in two weeks. 


Today I walked again as part of my ultramarathon training. The human body is genetically designed to walk efficiently for hours. Constant running, on the other hand, produces more fatigue and aches than maintaining the same pace while taking walk breaks. I am a firm believer in the Jeff Galloway Run Walk Run method. During each walk break, the body can build and restore itself. Here are just some of the proven principles behind this method (source):

The continuous use of a muscle results in quicker fatigue. Walk breaks allow you to recover, erase fatigue, and rebound to perform better and better. 

The longer the run, the more fatigue.

The Run Walk Run method is a form of interval training.

Conservation of resources. Walk breaks leave more fuel in the tank for later in the run.

Elimination of cramping

Quicker recovery

Less stress on the weak links. Walk breaks allow the tissues to shift workloads to other areas.

Enjoy endorphins during the run

Reduce core body temperature on hot days

By using this method, my hope is to be able to complete the ultramarathon well under the time limit. One of the most important things to note is that this method promises all of the joys of running without the pain. Without the pressure that I "have to run" any specific distance, I can slow down and enjoy the race.

Note: This is not the run until you get tired method. You use the RUN WALK RUN method the entire time you are running. Frankly, there are races where I simply can't run the whole distance. Running the whole time doesn't work for me. I've tried this method and it works. But you have to practice, practice, practice. It involves a lot of training for what you'll do in the race. 

Bottom line: Jeff Galloway's advice and techniques are amazing. His method opens up running to everyone -- not just elite runners but also those who may be out of shape, overweight, or (like me) past their athletic prime. It's designed for every type of race at any age. 

Try it -- you might like it! 

P.S. A few pics from today's run. My, what a gorgeous day.

My Fall Challenge for You

Can it really be true? Has our long hot summer finally come to an end? Yesterday was the first official day of fall, and around here the weather backs up that statement. Temps in our area have dropped dramatically overnight, and the humidity as well. 


Perfect running weather! The heat and humidity don't cause your body extra stress. You don't get dehydrated so quickly. You notice small improvements in your time and pace. Of course, hot "summer" days will come back. They always do. But I am SO READY for fall. 

To all my non-running friends out there (and that's about 100 percent of you): Fall is the ideal time to run outdoors with minimal interruptions and discomfort. Countless races are approaching. Besides, the world all around us is filled with beauty. People from all walks of life have taken to the roads and trails en masse. Those of us who run 3 days a week don't quit because we feel so good. Today's runners are in it for the fun. And remember: The walk break is your secret weapon. It will allow your running muscles to recover before you get injured. In fact, at first your "runs" will be mostly walks. But eventually your running segments will become longer and your walk breaks shorter. Take it from someone who knows!

Here's my challenge for you this fall. Make a break with the old non-fit world you're so accustomed to. Just get out there and do what you can, when you can. The running lifestyle is not bound by age, ability, or pace. You're running for you. Run until running becomes a natural part of your week. Simply set aside three 30-minute periods of either walking or running per week. If you do, I can almost promise you that you will begin to experience the relaxed feeling that comes during and especially after a run. 

All it takes is to begin with a single step.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Life Can't Be Lived Vicariously

We all have goals, right? Some are written down in pen, and others in pencil. But we all must have goals -- certain or hopeful -- if we are to succeed in this world. 

The key is "Know thyself." The lessons we learn in life! Sometimes we are too ambitious and set unrealistic goals. At other times we underestimate what God wants to do in and through us. Today my goal was to get in a long run, but then the rain started up again. I took a nap instead. Actually, I really needed that nap. The Lord knew what was best. It's amazing to think that 2021 will be over before we know it and it will be time to set our goals for 2022, looking to the past in order to prepare for the future. 

As I said the other day, much of this has to do with the doors the Lord opens for us in our lives. As we dream about our goals, he is busy behind the scenes preparing the way. Then, as our aspirations mesh with his directing and guiding hand, we get things on the calendar, which causes us to enjoy a sense of ANTICIPATION. Right now I am reviewing my calendar for the next few months. I simply can't wait to see how my life will unfold. I am looking forward to so many things:

  • Running in the historic Virginia 10 Miler this Saturday.
  • Speaking this Sunday to a Chinese congregation. After all, I speak fluent Mandarin (wink).

  • Pushing my body to the limits in the High Bridge 50K Ultramarathon on Saturday, October 9. 
  • Speaking at the Shepherd's Seminary in Cary on Monday, October 25.
  • The Richmond Marathon on Saturday, Nov. 13.

Marathons, training, teaching and so much more, it will be a great end to 2021. This is a time to create fresh dreams, fresh ideas, fresh aspirations as we chase down the remaining months of 2021. Be not afraid to lean into the future, my friend. Be not afraid to fail. It's better to fail than to attempt nothing. As someone has said, "If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, keep moving." 

Life can't be lived vicariously through social media. It's all about living bravely and boldly.

Tozer Speaks

"The church began in power, moved in power, and moved just as long as she had power. When she no longer had power, she dug in for safety. But her blessings were like manna. When they tried to keep it overnight, it bred worms and stank.... In church history every return to the New Testament has been marked by a new advance somewhere, a fresh proclamation of the gospel and an upsurge of missionary zeal." -- A. W. Tozer. 


Last night the Lord sent us a long "farmer's rain" -- slow and steady. Rain is a lifeline for anyone who farms. There would be no food supply without it. But have you ever thought about the therapeutic value of rain? That's right -- when you're warm and sheltered and a long downpour begins. There's nothing quite like going to sleep to the pitter patter of rain falling on a tin roof. This morning the rain is gone, but the after-effects are there: an earthy, warm scent filling the air. 

Gratitude has been on my mind lately. Life is difficult at times but it's infinitely easier if you're grateful for the good. I love my job, I love the people I work with, I love the farm and my animals, I love being outdoors (even when it's raining), I love having a car that gets me back and forth, I love having a gym nearby. Gratitude is mandatory in life folks. It keeps everything in perspective and helps us to laugh at the silly things. Looking forward to the rest of the week as I get some writing done and pursue my running goals. But today, right NOW, I'm one thankful farmer. We couldn't do what we do without God sending us rain. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Virginia 10 Miler Is Back!

Did I tell you? It's back. The Virginia 10 Miler in Lynchburg, that is.

The race is this Saturday and I'm signed up for it. It wasn't cheap, but hey, I've still got a roof over my head and Ramen noodles to eat. It's all good. Even though this is race #3 for me at the Virginia 10 Miler, it's been a while and I need to be more prepared than I am. 10 miles is a long ways to go. But the perks are amazing. You even have some world class athletes competing for first place, including Kenyans and Ethiopians.

Need I say more? Yes, any chance to practice my abysmal Amharic is a good day. 


The hills are another story, especially that last uphill stretch before the finish line. 

It's brutal. But the rest of the course is lovely. You run through the historic Rivermont neighborhood, past Randolph College, through Riverside Park, and then back. The weather is usually warm and humid. Sounds perfect, doesn't it? Tomorrow I hope to get in my last long run before the race. 

So there you have it. How's your week going?

New Interview with Energion Publications

Just finished a Google Meet interview with Henry Neufeld of Energion Publications about my book Seven Marks of a New Testament Church. It should be up shortly. I'll let you know when! 

All Believers Are Ministers

"The church has a shortage of 'ministers' only when it fails to see all believers as ministers and thus fails to disciple all believers into leaders." -- Howard Snyder, Liberating the Church, p. 247. 

Today's Topics from A. T. Robertson's Big Grammar

Here are the 5 topics:

  • It’s impossible to translate syntax completely. “The more literal a translation, like the LXX, the more it fails in syntax” (p. 389).
  • Two essential parts of a sentence = subject/predicate, substantive/verb, head/modifier.
  • Pindaric construction and the syntax of Mark 4:41 (see this power point on why Mark's language is NOT "incorrect grammar"!). 
  • Word order!!!!
  • The significance of participles (Eph. 5:15-22).

Should be a fun class 😎

A Bit of Hebrew

 Prepping for Greek class today. Life don't get no better! 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Blind Woman Wins Flying Pig Marathon

 This inspires me every time I watch it. "It's God's grace." Yes it is! 

Free eBook!

Good news! My book Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions? is now available for free as an eBook. Go here to take advantage of this special offer. 

Quote of the Day

 "Non scholae sed vitae discimus." -- Seneca.

("We learn, not for school, but for life.")

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Faith and Reason Go Hand in Hand

In my 45 years in the classroom, both as a student and a teacher, I have noticed that the best teachers are always the best students. In fact, if you were to come and talk to me about possibly doing your doctorate under my supervision, one of the first questions you would be asked is, "What's your GPA?" I find that students who do well in their studies are often marked by high standards in the other areas of their life. 

Tomorrow we will have our first exam in Greek 2. For many, it will be more than a test of knowledge. To be sure, there will be vocabulary words, and verbs to parse, and an extra credit sentence going from English into Greek. But the exam will be about so much more than those things. 

I realize that in our evangelical circles there is a distrust of the mind. Richard Hofstadter's Anti-Intellectualism in American Life documents this well. But Christianity is a reasonable faith. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of truth. Hence the early church worked hard on training new disciples. When, for example, Paul spent 3 years in Ephesus, it was primarily to teach. 

If your spiritual life needs nourishment, so does your intellectual life. The plain truth of the matter is that God created us as rational beings. Anti-intellectualism is therefore a serious threat to balanced Christianity. "It is fundamental with us," wrote John Wesley, "that to renounce reason is to renounce religion, that religion and reason go hand in hand, and that all irrational religion is false religion." 

God wants to be the God of our minds as well as our hearts.

Tomorrow's exam will not be a guessing game with the teacher. Students will know exactly what to study for. The goal of it all is to become so conversant with the language of the New Testament that we can produce our own basic translation as a basis for study and teaching. The authors of the New Testament did not write for fame or publicity. They wrote so that others might come to know Christ as well as they did. If we want to know what God is like, all we have to do is open our Bibles -- in the original languages, if God makes it possible for us to do so. It's all right there in the Book of books. 

I can think of no other writing in this world that deserves more attention or study. Can you?

What Is Your (Latest) Macedonian Call?

God's will has been full of surprises for me. I imagine for you, too. This morning, in my Bible time in Acts 16, I was reminded that God alone opens doors -- and closes them (Rev. 3:7-8). He is in charge. I'm not. Never have been. I doubt that Paul had planned to visit Macedonia when he left Antioch on his second missionary journey with Silas. But the door to Asia was closed. Ditto for Bythinia. Can't go there. We're in Troas. Where now? 

Every place I've lived I've been surprised to have lived there. Every ministry I've had I've been surprised to have had it. Every single one. When I was in high school, Biola wasn't on my radar screen. When I was a student at Biola, going to Basel was never in my plan. Teaching Greek was never a goal I had set for myself. I never expected to have spent the last 23 years of my life serving students in North Carolina. I never planned to have a retreat center on a farm in rural Virginia. I never expected to write any of the books that would be published. Not one of them. I never planned on making a trip to Central Asia, let alone 13 of them. I never asked to go to Ethiopia or Ukraine or Armenia or the Middle East. 

For what it's worth, here's what I've learned. If the door is closed, don't try to force it open. Let it go. No door closes without God's loving approval. If the door is closing, let it close. Don't keep trying to go into Asia. God has other plans. 

Likewise, no door opens without God's direction. As I said, I am amazed at how my life has unfolded. The key is being willing to accept God's will. When you sense the door opening, you walk through it. You don't tell God your agenda. You simply say, "I will go wherever you want me to go." He takes full responsibility for your life.  

As for prayer, Scripture is clear: "Call on me and I will answer you" (Jer. 33:3). Jesus said basically the same thing in Matt. 7:7-8. If we could read his words as they were recorded in the language of the New Testament, they might sound something like this:

Keep on asking and you will receive. Seek and seek and seek and you will find. Keep knocking long and hard and the door will be opened to you.

Keep on praying until the Lord shows you the door you should go through. Learn to pray until he speaks. We can keep on praying until he says, "Yes, I will open that door," or "No, I am not going to open it." If he says no, move on. 

As I've gotten older, I've been trying to take this advice more seriously myself.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Languages Do Funny Things

I had to smile when I saw this in the porta-potty at today's race.


Certainly the prize for the most economical language goes to English. A very enlightening article on this subject says that French and Spanish generally use more words to express meaning than English. In fact, French and Spanish texts are about 20 percent longer than their English counterparts. And German? Here we're possibly talking about a 35 percent expansion

For fun, tonight I read John 1:1-5 in Greek, English, Spanish, German, and French. The Greek text of John 1:1-5 has 60 words. All the other languages have more. Here are the stats:            

SBL: 60

LB: 63

ESV: 66

LS: 68   

RV: 70     

[Key: SBL (Society of Biblical Literature Greek New Testament); LB (Luther Bibel), ESV (English Standard Version), RV (Reina Valera), LS (Louis Segond).]

Just for fun, I checked the Hebrew (Habrit Hakhadasha). It had only 40 words! 

So much to talk about in Advanced Greek Grammar this week as we discuss loss in translation!  

Are you sure?


Greensboro Run on the Runway 10K Race Report

Let's get started on today's race report before I forget everything. I'm old, remember? Let's see, where was I?

This was one of the funnest races I've run in a very long time. It was fantastic! I drove to the Piedmont International Airport and found a parking place. 


From there, runners were bused to the runway. 


The lines for race packets were surprisingly short. 


After that I just milled about for a bit before exploring the sights. 


This guy was offering flying lessons.


And they had an aircraft kids could enjoy. 


Then we were asked to line up. Per usual, I started the race dead last so as not to make the faster runners have to pass me. 


My legs did not fail me in this race. 


After I settled into an 11:30ish pace, I was on autopilot for the rest of the race. 


Wasn't it a beautiful day? 


And just like that, the race was over. 


I cruised over the finish line with the same smile I had when I started. As always, a race challenges you both mentally and physically. But once I found my rhythm everything just seemed to fall into place. 


Sort of like life. Find out what you're here for. Then go for the gusto. All this to say, today's race proved to me once again how running can make all of us better and stronger. 


If standing at the starting line gives you permission to dare greatly, standing at the finish line gives you permission to give thanks to the One who allows you to realize your dreams. Take a moment to think about your next step. What lies in your future as a follower of Jesus? Dream on, my friend, dream on! 

Friday, September 17, 2021

My 5 Favorite Marathons

I have loved all of the marathons I've been in. But these 5 have to be my favorites:

#5 The Anthem Richmond Marathon.

I've done this race twice. After all, it's close to home! It's a medium-sized race that courses through downtown Richmond and then along the banks of the James River. It's always run in the fall when the leaves are at their prettiest. The elevation was only 600 feet for the entire race. Running along the river was very nice and there weren't too many turns to deal with. Overall just a wonderful race with a great post-race party along the riverside.

#4 The BMW Dallas Marathon.


I've also run this race twice. Running in Dallas was always a good excuse to visit with Becky's mom and dad. The race actually circles the lake where I proposed to Becky. Music along the course was great. Overall a fun race that made even an older runner like me feel like a rock star. The start/finish at City Hal was icing on the cake.

#3 The St. George (Utah) Marathon.


For this race you hop on a bus in town and it brings you to the top of a mountain where you start. The morning is extremely cold but nothing the 100 + bonfires can't handle. There are only about 7,000 runners, no half marathoners, and no congestion (the roads were closed completely). The scenery is absolutely spectacular. Except for the dreaded Veyo Hill, the course is net downhill. I even managed to bag a marathon PR. While in the 'hood I was able to also hike Bryce and Zion National Parks. 

#2 The Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

What's not to like about this race? Such an awesome event! Despite the huge number of runners (45,000 or so), I never felt claustrophobic. The crowd support is amazing, and you get to run through the different parts of the city. The race is fast and flat but watch out for the headwind around the half marathon mark. This is one of my favorite cities and I would do this marathon again in a heartbeat.

#1. The Flying Pig Marathon (Cincinnati).  

This was my very first marathon. I've run it now 3 times. I can't help it -- the race is amazing! The entire city of Cincinnati truly invests in this race. For all 26.2 miles, the crowd support is phenomenal. The aid stations are unrivaled (every mile). Again, as this was my first marathon, I was a bit nervous going into it. But the crowd support carried me along to the end. The race medal is definitely one of the nicest I've ever received. A trip to Skyline Chili after the race made my experience complete.

It's been said that the marathon is not a race but an experience. I have now completed 17 marathons and every single one of them was just as gratifying as the last one. Did thousands of runners finish in front of me? Yep. But that doesn't mean they had a better experience than I did. The differences between us aren't related to pace. They're related to genetics and the priorities you have. But the accomplishments are identical. 

I know it sounds trite to say it, but a person's life can change in a single step. Mine did. No one who completes a marathon is ever the same person again. Long distance running, like life, is more about tenacity than talent. Just take what the Lord has given you, train as hard as you can, and then go out and see what happens!

The Greek Words for Prayer

I'm loving this book by Max Lucado. 


In essence, it's a summary of the heart of our prayer lives. Lucado calls it his "Pocket Prayer." It looks like this:


You are good.

I need help.

They need help.

Thank you.

In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Brief but comprehensive! Each of these components is then fleshed out in subsequent chapters. Writes Lucado:

Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. My friend, he wants to talk with you. Even now, as you read these words, he taps at the door. Open it. Welcome him in. Let the conversation begin.

Of course, prayer is an attitude as well as an activity. It is both communion and communication. We see this by examining the Greek words for prayer. Of these, the word proseuche is far and away the most significant. Along with its verb form (proseuchomai), it's found over 100 times in the New Testament. Proseuche involves speaking to God, but it goes further than that. It is as much a Godward attitude on the part of the Christian as it is an act. We might call it an attitude of prayerfulness. Thus Paul can command Christians to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). Here the thought is not so much one of continuous conversation with God as it is enjoying fellowship with him. We might say that prayer is ultimately communing with God. It begins with a conscious awareness of his presence in our lives. Little or nothing can be accomplished in our prayer lives without this personal, intimate relationship. I like to think of prayer as just friends being together. Sometimes words are involved, and sometimes they are aren't. 

Three other Greek words also require our attention. First, we have deesis. A deesis is a petition. Then we have aitema. Aitema is the basic New Testament word for "request." Finally we have eucharistia -- the giving of thanks. These words refer not to different kinds of prayer but to different aspects of prayer. Putting them all together, we might say that prayer is communing with God our Father, to whom we come with our petitions and requests, and whom we praise and thank for his goodness and faithfulness to us. 

In his wonderful book The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence writes that some of his closest moments with God were not spent on his knees but by staying in constant communion with him throughout the day. 


Try "practicing the presence" yourself in the midst of your busy life this day. Remember that you can pray in the shower, while jogging, or even while sitting in class bored to death. Whenever the Spirit brings the words of prayer to mind, immediately respond, whether the response is a desperate "I need help!" or a quick "Thank you!" Prayer is nothing more than voicing our dependence on our Father.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Cycling (and Ethiopian Food) in Richmond

Food and I are good friends. Especially Ethiopian food. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My training goal today was to get in a long(ish) bike. So off I went to the great city of Richmond to bike the Virginia Capital Trail from Schockoe Bottom to the Four Mile Creek Park. The skies were just beginning to clear when I arrived in Richmond. 


I grabbed my bike and headed off. Here's where I started from. 


Here's my turnaround point. 


And here I am after the bike. 


I am one hungry puppy. A long(ish) ride will do that to you. 


What shall I eat? Ethiopian, of course! The Addis Ethiopian Restaurant is located less than a mile from where I parked. Schockoe Bottom is truly a city under revision. It has a funky hipster vibe, making it a growing foodie destination. The cobblestone streets make the neighborhood easy to explore. 


The community is undergoing a revival thanks to the influx of new businesses. The Addis is one of them. The food was spectacular -- fresh and authentic. I ordered Becky's favorite -- kai wat (spicy beef stew). 


The owner's name is Bitew and he is super friendly. 


If you're ever in the Richmond area, be sure to pay the Addis a visit. It's only a stone's throw from the interstate. Check out the menu


So you see, it was a pretty neat day. Hope yours was too. 

Tomorrow is a day for lifting, then I have a 10K in Greensboro on Saturday. 

That's all for now!