Surprisingly these kinds of “why in the world am I doing this?” moments are becoming a part of everyday life
In situations like this its best to calm down by finding your “happy place”  and constantly reminding yourself of why this is important.
While I have many answers to the why am I doing this question, here’s the one that works best…
Because of what happened last time
In 2009 a tooth that had bothering me for a very long time became infected, which resulted in some very expensive (and painful) dental work. To make matters worse this was a time that the American dollar was starting to weaken in strength so my budget was tight.
That experience taught me our setbacks or failures can be some of life’s greatest motivations. So sitting in a dentist office five years ago I promised that would never happen again
And that’s what kept me going for over an hour in the dentist chair 
See you need a real answer when your mind starts asking “why am I doing this?” because the basic answers  won’t cut it.
So go out and dig up that painful memory
Because by doing so you can ensure it won’t be repeated
translation: If this thing doesn’t break now just take a sledgehammer to it ↩
mine includes netflix, macaroni and cheese, and baked goods ↩
that and the fact that they wouldn’t let me leave ↩
Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (KJV)
Every one of us have a reputation that can be summed up in a few words. This usually involves positive things lke “caring, generous, organized, or energetic” however few of us can be described by the word “perfect.”
Yet that’s how the book of Genesis describes Noah.
There’s just a slight problem with that though…he wasn’t
Noah just like all the rest of us was born with a sin nature that desired to take control instead allowing God to reign .
So why did God call Noah perfect when he wasn’t?
Actually the word perfect here doesn’t mean someone who has never done anything wrong. Instead it comes originally from a hebrew word that means Just (doing the right thing) or righteous.
In other words perfect is someone who lives a life of integrity  in the midst of a very wicked world.
This is encouraging for us:
Because it shows God doesn’t want perfect people
It is possible to have integrity
The strength to do this comes from God instead of us 
But it also has a very important lesson about our relationship with the world…there must be a contrast.
This contrast however flows out of our relationship with God.
Noah was a man of great humility and obedience which is why when God commanded him to build a huge boat he did it  even though nobody had ever seen rain!
I’m sure there were probably some outer differences between Noah and the people of his day. But the biggest one was his response to a challenge (building the ark).
It’s tempting to focus on living a good (perfect) life as a Christian that will serve as a testimony to those around us. But any kind of attempt to live for God based upon our strength is destined to fail.
So instead of pursuing perfection we must develop a habit of seeking God’s Will, and obeying it every moment (“walked with God”).
For as we follow the Lord a true contrast will be seen.
There’s a famous movie quote where the character says “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”
That line kept running through my head last Tuesday morning.
Last year I ministered in an after-school Bible program for thirteen kindergarteners but wasn’t able to continue this Fall  however the director called to ask if I could fill in for a few weeks .
The weird thing was I felt absolutely sure returning to that ministry wasn’t what God wanted me to do…but in that moment I knew returning was His plan.
Not only that, but I will be staying there much longer than a few weeks.
I know those kids are in need  but there’s something about walking into a room filled with children literally starved for love or attention that does something to a person.
Suddenly the problem becomes more personal than “our children need positive role models”
It has a face and a name
It’s the girl who grabs your hand in hers the moment you walk in the door and won’t let go
It’s the boy who starts shouting “mr John!” when he sees you at the grocery store
It’s the child who can’t comprehend why he doesn’t get candy even though he didn’t do the right thing
So if you want to help others but don’t have the time or energy to do it properly take my advice…don’t become a volunteer
Of course I’m being a bit sarcastic since it’s possible to spend one hour a week Ministering to others.
The thing is though, once you see the need, you will immediately want to do more.
Don’t get me wrong…volunteering is one of the most awesome things that you can do with your life. Just keep in mind seeing those needs has an effect on a person.
But that’s okay
Because seeing the impact you have in a persons life makes all the difference
visa paperwork and other ministries took up my time ↩
Last Tuesday my training group had our second 500 mile challenge of 2014.
Actually it’s not as bad as it may sound:
1. As many runners as possible meet at a local track
2. Each starts by running a lap, and then getting in the back of a line
3. Once they are at the front of the line, another runner will tag them, and they run another lap
4. The entire process usually takes about an hour 
Our first challenge in the winter actually set a record because it included a large amount of strong half-marathon runners…but I enjoyed the second one a lot more
The biggest reason for this is we were helped out by trainees from our beginning 5k program. Many of whom have never run a mile without stopping.
Obviously it’s easy for someone in the half-marathon or marathon training program to jog around the track once . But it’s a lot harder for someone who is just starting the 5k program.
But that didn’t keep them from walking one lap after another for just under an hour Tuesday.
And I couldn’t have been more proud
If running has taught me anything, it’s that determination is better than talent any day of the week
Because no matter how much talent a person has, there will come a day when they face adversity.
In that moment the amount of talent that you have means nothing…all that matters is the amount of determination in your heart. Many beginners showed a ton of heart Tuesday night, and I was very thankful to have them there .
Over time they will get stronger, faster, and a lot more confident. But even if they don’t I will still be screaming their names at the top of my lungs on race day.
Because when times are hard they don’t quit
And that’s all that really matters
depending on thier speed, runners could complete as many as twenty laps ↩
My table has puppets, an australian football (they are encouraged to throw), a kangaroo skin, and inflattable kangaroo for children to sign
The good news is this attracts a lot of attention
The bad news is it’s hard to answer questions about Australia with a football flying through the air, and children riding your inflattable kangaroo
But I love those moments because they develop relationships.
Last Sunday was a fun reminder of how beautiful chaos can be…I had encouraged a few kids to sign my kangroo Kev and went to set up my powerpoint. Upon returning a few minutes later I found them coloring in the kangaroos eye making it five-times larger.
I asked why they did it and one of the boys calmly explained he was a pirate kangaroo, so they put an eye patch on him 
Later towards the end of my question and answer time a little girl raised her hand and asked “how God could open a door if we can’t see him” after which half the people needed needed resuscitation because of cuteness overload.
Of course life cannot be totally filled with chaos…but it’s important to remember those moments connect us with others.
See that’s what those children will remember:
Throwing my football in Church
Or riding my inflattable kangaroo
Trying on my Australian hat
Carrying my kangaroo puppet into Church
And touching a real live kangaroo skin I brought
Or if your REALLY GOOD you get to carry my kangaroo back to the car!
So I go out of my way to create chaotic moments…because they help create beautiful ones
the fact that she has three young children shoulidn’t be surprising ↩
This is a table where people can pick up a prayer card, ask questions, or sign up for email updates ↩
I have a friend who uses a (very dull) sword which certainly attracts attention ↩
You can even see the strands for the patch if you look closely ↩
Part of the presentation focuses on God’s ability to open opportunties we cannot and I use the word door figuratively ↩
Last Saturday was a rest-week in our marathon training so I only had to do fourteen miles . On weeks like this we are challenged to run a slower pace (since rest weeks prepare us for longer runs in the future).
There are a few ways coaches can make sure we aren’t running too fast.
Instruct the mentors to hold the groups pace back
Run along with them
Or put so many hills in the route that they couldn’t possibly run quickly
Can you guess which one they chose?
Let me put it this way…I feel qualified to teach a College course on “the steep hills of Winston Salem” since I ran all of them last Saturday
Editors Note: That’s a joke, please don’t tell my coaches I said this, or they will just find more hills for next week
It’s tempting to view the coaches who created this route as barbaric people who just enjoyed watching others suffer. But there is a very important reason for these hills 
Around mile eight my body started gaining it’s second wind, and I ended up running the second-half twenty seconds faster per-mile than the first.
This fits in with something our coaches have been challenging us to do from the beginning of training: Find race pace  when your at the point of exhaustion.
See anybody can run fast at the beginning of a race:
When everyone is full of energy
When your family and friends are shouting encouragement
When you feel ready to run twenty marathons
but it takes a real athlete to run fast near the end
When your whole body hurts
When a man shouts it’s all downhill from here and you turn the corner to find another hill 
When there is nobody to shout encouragemnet
Yet that’s the exact moment you need to find another gear and start pushing harder.
So I run the ridiculous hill routes because they make me stronger.
And the moment everyone else is exhausted I will have something left .
and before you laugh at that keep in mind over the next two Saturdays I will be running twenty and twenty-two miles ↩