"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

ROCC RFG 2017 - Week 1

Off and running, as all of our individual stories come together for one journey!  
The 2017 edition of ROCC's Run for God is underway, with the most difficult first step taken by our group on Monday night. Workout # 1 was fantastic!

Triad Run for God FB Page
Below are  the individual slides that we covered during our study and instruction time, including the workout details. In addition, we attempted a 'Facebook Live' event last night in order to provide some audio and context to our discussion for those who might have missed and would like to review the slides while listening to the audio. It seems to work best on Firefox browsers or mobile devices, but hopefully it is helpful. It can be found here:  Facebook Live Week 1

If you have any questions regarding the content or the upcoming week, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. We are planning to meet on Saturday for what should be your third workout of week 1. The group run will be at 8:30 AM at the Muddy Creek Greenway. We'll meet in the new parking lot near Meadowlark Elementary School.

Have a great week!

As read last night, submitted by our very own Dee Slater! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kingdom Living (Part 1 of 2)

In just a few weeks, we will begin a new sermon series and small group study at River Oaks. An 8-week survey of one of the more powerful passages in all of Scripture. A teaching series that should be incredibly challenging to all of us. On February 5th, we start Kingdom Living: A Study of the Sermon on the Mount.

For the past several months, I have been anxiously looking forward to, and preparing for, our time in Matthew, chapters 5-7. In this text, we find such rich instruction from Jesus to his 1st century crowd of disciples, and even richer application for his 21st century crowd of disciples.

The Sermon on the Mount covers some of the most well-known and beloved content found anywhere in the New Testament. Think about the Lord's Prayer, the Golden Rule, the call to be salt, light, and fruit. Or, "Judge not, that you be not judged," "Ask ... seek ... knock," and the list of "You have heard that it was said," relative to anger, lust, divorce, oaths, revenge, and loving enemies.

But as any good sermon goes, there must be an introduction to all of these teaching points. The Sermon on the Mount is no exception. In Matthew 5:1-11, the scene is set and we are provided the outline for what Jesus will cover throughout this sermon. It is a list commonly referred to as the Beatitudes, and they form the core from which Jesus will develop the remainder of the sermon.

Below are these Beatitudes. They represent significant truths for followers of Christ who look to incorporate these characteristics into their life. Technically, they are not optional. Jesus does not qualify his sermon by remarking that what he is about to preach are only suggestions. As a disciple, one who comes to Jesus on the mountainside, sits down, and seeks to understand, this teaching represents our pursuit; what we strive to be each day, a little more than the previous, as part of the sanctifiation (or the becoming more Christ-like) of our lives.

As a parallel thought, in a part 2 post, I would like to consider the application of the Beatitudes as it relates to our running, or specifically, our Running for God. I'm not sure what this means yet, and I will stress that it is not a contextual exegesis, but more of an analogical comparison for the purpose of encouragement and reflection. Hopefully it is both of these, plus a little bit of fun. Be back soon.

Jesus Preaching the Sermon on the Mount, Gustave-Dore
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 
- Matthew 5:1-11

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lowest Common Denominator

I really like math. It was a favorite subject in school, and throughout my life as an operations' guy, homework-helping dad, family bill payer, and general all-around inquisitive puzzle solver, I have discovered that more often than not, regardless of the subject, "it always comes down to a math problem!" (Think pacing, fueling, elevation, shoe wear, the terrible too's, and much more!)

One of the more intriguing concepts of math is that of Lowest Common Denominator (LCD). It is especially helpful when trying to get the best buy on hot dog buns relative to hot dog wieners 😋

But LCD is not for math alone. It's one of those concepts that serves as a great literary device in describing the point where two similar, but different, entities find common ground.

For example, runners come in various shapes and sizes. We have different motivations and goals. And when it comes to techniques, accessories, shoes, training plans .... again, different strokes for different folks.

But aside from perhaps the commitment to discipline, one of the more obvious lowest common denominators between runners is that of being curious. In other words, most runners that I know, have a great curiosity about the sport itself, about inspirational stories, about races and results, about their own limits. To quench this curiosity, I find that many of us share a genuine interest in reading about all things running.

That said, over the past week I have picked up the above pictured magazines. They have some really great articles, and despite the title, Blue Ridge Outdoors, I found several running related pieces included. Best of all, not only were they well-written, they were FREE! Located where one might normally find the weekly auto trader or community periodical - you know, near the entrance of many restaurants and retail spaces - there they were, racked and stacked.

So, keep an eye out next time you visit the Waffle House (oops, I'm giving away my training secrets), er, the Salad Shop, and you'll hopefully find some good insight on running and exercise.

But most of all, stay curious!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Runnin' Around the Christmas Tree

(Note: There is no exciting new running insight nor great theological truth in the following. Just some rambling “deep thoughts" of a nostalgic old man at Christmas 🎄 Enjoy).

When I think back over the many Christmas seasons past, I can’t help but realize that one of the more enjoyable holiday rituals has involved the activity of the tree. Whether helping mom and dad as a kid, or cranking up the carols and officially kicking off festivities with our own kids, there has been a unique consistency of good times and great joy around the tannenbaum. And when it comes to decorating the Christmas tree, I was thinking about the four approaches that seem to be most common. Each equally appealing, festive, and meaningful in their own way. Perhaps you and your family can relate. These four come to mind:

Throwback Traditional - Awesome!
The Traditional - A little garland, some colored lights, a topper, and "balls" (for the lack of knowing the technical term). If you are a child of the '70s, then you know this tree. You enjoyed hanging the garland, whether it was circling the tree with one long strand or draping the more strategically placed icicles. Good times.

The Old World - This is my mother-in-law's tree, one with large glass ornaments, a little baby's breath within the branches, a majestic angel on top, and a colorful skirt around the bottom, spread out well into the living room. As beautiful as this tree is, it was the source of much anxiety when our daughters were young, (think about "bulls in a china shop" type of anxiety!)

Old World class

The Themed - You've probably seen all kinds, right? A few that I have personally come across include: A Kentucky Wildcat tree, an Auburn Tiger tree, a Santa tree, a snowman tree, one filled with children's handmade "ornaments," a religious themed tree, a twelve days of Christmas tree, a Star Wars tree ... a blue one, a green one, a Jelly Belly Bean one (inner Seuss), and more. They are always eclectic, creative, and fun.
"These aren't the droids ....."

And finally, The Memory Collection - I save this one for last, because it is the one that has filled our home for twenty-five years. In short, we only hang ornaments that have a story attached to them. They are evidence of a past address, a special vacation, a season of life, a gift from a church party, a neighborhood exchange, or close friendship. Having lived in nine states, from Carolina to California, we cherish the relationships and memories that have made our journey so special. And as we decorate each year, we tell the story. In fact, a typical conversation goes something like this: "Hey look  - our trip to San Diego for Jill and Dave's wedding - I wonder how they are doing? - we should call them ..... oh, hey, the pickle, you remember when Barb Howell in Henderson introduced us to the pickle tradition - that was such a fun group - I wonder how ...." and so it goes, until over a hundred memories are carefully placed on the tree and their story re-told.

So the years go by, and the tree - thankfully - is filled with more and more memories. I sit here next to this tree and reflect on them all.  I’ve posted a few pics of some special ones below, and of course, 'running with horses' (shown above) is definitely one of the favorites. I realize they won’t mean nearly as much to you as they do to us, but hopefully they trigger some of your own ornament memories.

And as you ponder the decorations on your tree this season, we are hopeful it is a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good .... slow, easy, long distance run to bring in the new year!

One image - Six previous residences

From our homes in Winchester, KY to Springboro, OH to Doe Lane in Henderson, KY to Graceland and our Memphis address, to the historic landmarks of Florence, SC and a reminder of our Reagan HS Teal and Black years in Winston - Salem, this one glance captures six of our ten previous homes. We’re especially fond of the Doe Lane ornament that came from a neighborhood (actually, a single street of homes some five miles outside of town) Christmas party our final year in Henderson.

Friends through the years

Jake and Cisco were our first four-legged friends, way back in our Memphis days (’93 - 96), then Cassie, our loyal wonder-dog was part of the family for over eleven years, helping to raise our girls. And now, Aladdin keeps the nest not-so-empty for Christy and I.

The most meaningful are our reminders of the Christ-child, the season, and the reason. From the Moravian faith of Old Salem to a wonderful church group gift in Florence, the prime real estate is always reserved for these.
And he shall be called Immanuel! 

And finally, it all started with a magical 26.2 miles! 

Merry Christmas and Happy Running All! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cowboy Up

The Lord willing, our season of "pause" is officially over.

As the New Year approaches, and the unexpected life crisis of late-summer settles into a new norm, it is time to resume the activity of Running With Horses. A 2017 reset will follow a year that began as strong, if not stronger, than any prior. But for all the right reasons, that 2016 first half gave way to the longest layoff in almost ten years. So goes our journey, and so goes the familiar reminder that we are especially grateful for the ability to run and walk today, for there is no promise of doing so tomorrow.

That said, the resumption of activity here at RWH has not only benefited from the mental boost of a calendar rollover, but has also been encouraged by a recent project with Run for God.

In short, several months ago I received a call from Dean - if you are familiar with the Run for God program, then you certainly know Dean. If not, I describe him as the RFG equivalent to Runner's World Bart Yasso, running guru and author. He wanted to know if I would consider being interviewed for a story in their Connect Magazine winter edition. Truthfully, with everything going on, I really wasn't sure I had the energy or focus, even for a minimum amount of my time.

But of course, down deep, I knew there was no way I would decline the request. Over the past five years, this organization has helped to enable so many relationships, memorable moments, and life changes here at River Oaks and across the country. The vision of RFG has met our group at the crossroads of our passions and purposes. In fact, we owe our annual 5K to the fact that Run for God exists. So, yes, I gladly spoke with Dean and tried to provide as much insight about our group as possible. It was a wonderful conversation that even uncovered some 'previous life' similarities between us old guy runners in 'present life' ministry.

Here's the funny part. Now that the issue is out "on newsstands everywhere!" (not really, but in pdf digital format, pp. 18-22, at the following link: http://www.runforgod.com/connect), but now that it is out, and now that it speaks about the RWH website, and now that Dean has taken a great deal of creative license in describing yours truly, who is not nearly as interesting as Dean seemed to dream up 😄 ... now that all that is a reality, I have found this exercise to be one of accountability for which I really just need to cowboy up. In other words, I realize now that Dean's call has resulted in a big push, a timely push, and a necessary push. It's time to run with horses; for myself, for others, for the service of the Kingdom.

Thank you Dean for the timely motivation and support, and thank you Lord for showing us the plan for our lives, the ups and downs, one day at a time. - Isaiah 58:11

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pressing Pause


It’s been a really good run (pun intended), but the circumstances, milestones, crisis, and overall pace (it’s always about the pace), of the past several months, and foreseeable future, are requiring that the Running With Horses staff push the pause button for an indefinite hiatus. Obviously, after several months of inactivity, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize someone over here was slacking, and that someone is most definitely ‘me.’ However, as I don’t like to leave things halfway done, I felt the need for some closure language in a closure post, and this is it.

So, if you're new to RWH, hopefully you will still find an encouraging, enlightening, or at least entertaining word from the 350 previously published posts. If you are a regular, then you realize that it likely won’t be that much time away, or at least I hope not. In a way, it feels like the intersection of Forest Gump’s, “I’m pretty tired ... I think I’ll go home now” and Arnold’s “I’ll be back.”

But for now, I truly wish you all the best, in both your running adventures and your spiritual journey. May you feel the adrenaline rush of each mile that passes underfoot and each new insight into God’s Word. Have a wonderful season of training, racing, and running.

See you soon.


Oh, and as I haven’t officially notified the local running regulars (i.e., 10K fall club), this should provide an indication that it’s just not in the plans for 2016, sorry.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Ol’ Blue

“Do not cast me off in the time of old age” - Psalm 71:9

I was recently considering various passages of Scripture which speak to the idea of aging; its wisdom (Job), its splendor (Proverbs), its due respect (1 Timothy). And one of the verses, Psalm 71:9, made me think about a running related epiphany of sorts, and I thought I’d share.

This past week, my vehicle (aka, Ol’ Blue), turned over a few numbers on the odometer and landed on an interesting figure. It wasn’t a major milestone, (although, these days every new mile is a major milestone), but as I stopped at the traffic light I noticed it had settled on 236,026.2 For obvious reasons, the 26.2 caught my attention. I started thinking about reaching 262,000 (or better yet 262,262!) in a few years - how cool, huh? Of course, the traffic light turned green and my mind turned to more important thoughts, like whether or not I had time for a Chick-fil-A drive-thru?

Fast forward to the following morning and a run from the 'Y' parking lot. Like hundreds of times prior, I completed the workout and returned to Ol’ Blue for my post-run ritual; fuel belt and hat hung in position, sweaty shirt on the hood in a halfway attempt to let it dry, and so forth. This is always cool-down and refuel central after long runs. As I stood there trying to recover, I glanced over at her and it struck me ... My vehicle and I have become a perfect match, personalities formed across many years and much time together, perhaps described best as a couple of long distance, keep on keepin' on, hard working, rain or shine, it ain’t pretty but it sure is tough, marathon machines. No wonder I refuse to cast her off in her time of (relative) old age!

Just as I am starting to see ’50’ in the windshield, (off in the distance a bit, but it’s out there), and ’40’ is no longer visible in the rear-view mirror, Ol’ Blue is turning 20 this year. Together we pace ourselves well. We get our regular check-ups, and we attempt (she better than I) to keep sludge out of the tank. Sure, there’s the dented fender, the leaky window, the inoperable gas gauge, the duct-taped seats, the creaky vibration sound when turning left, and more (much more). But those are simply reminders of the journey. No different than that dog bite scar, the achy back, the tight IT that clamors for attention, the creaky vibration sound in my knees on the Monday after race day, and more (much more). All are reminders of the journey and reminders for us to keep our collective head down, our motors in gear, and our Firestone All-Weathers / Brooks Adrenalines moving us forward, one new mile at a time.

Alright, I’ll admit that the line between deep, interesting reflection and corny commentary is fairly thin. So let’s close this reflection with a motivational thought that both Ol' Blue and I wake up to each morning ...

There will be a day when we can no longer run, but seemingly, and hopefully, and thankfully, today is not that day!