Monday, February 25, 2008

One Issue Voting

For many years, I apologized for basically being a one issue voter. I no longer apologize.

I do generally fall in line with a conservative, "don't expect others (esp. the gov't) to help you" mentality. However, I have found more often than not, that conservatives actually think: "we will give away more than we should, because we really have more than we need." Many even act on these thoughts. This was recently well documented in a surprising book about compassionate conservatism, Who Really Cares, by Arthur C. Brooks, Basic Books, 2006.

I am a strict pro-life voter. Here's why. 
The true character of a person is never determined by what they say or do in public alone. 
The true character of a person is seen 
• in private,
• in how they treat people when no one is watching,
• in how they treat a person whom others have determined is not worth treating well,
• in how they value the life of the unborn.

True character is best seen when one is faced with a difficult dilemma.  Difficult dilemmas are messy, they usually involve moral high roads and moral middle roads, and then a lot of roads that our culture now considers just roads.

Being pro-life does not automatically give a person a morally upright character.  It's just that when a presidential candidate supports pro-choice legislation, that candidate is publicly telling me how they value a person whom others have determined is not worth treating well. More specifically, it tells me how they value such an "unwanted." I might be an "unwanted" someday.

And here is why I included the comment about Gonzales v. Carhart: the pro-choice candidate immediately says, "You can't make the above claim about me because I don't believe the fetus is a person."  Gonzales v. Carhart is about babies, who, if preserved in an incubator instead of having their skulls crushed for extraction purposes, would live.  My or their arguments about personhood pale in comparison to what is communicated by the finger prints and eye lashes of a "fetus."

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Tonight, I could barely keep reading. My kids were still.

Every other Sunday, we have small group. Sometimes it is every third Sunday. This week, it was every week.

Our 5 kids (Zeke was removed to playpen), Marty, me, Larry and Alice.

We sing a few songs. Then, we read the story Larry and Alice love dearly. The story of a handicapped boy named Gunther in pre-Nazi Germany. A true story. He lived in a home for the handicapped near Bielefeld, Germany, founded by Pastor Bodelschwingh. It is simply called Bethel.
A sentence from their mission statement sums up the first reason I am unable to vote for any of the current democratic candidates: "Our vision is rooted in the Christian faith an d is based on respect for the inalienable worth of every individual being as one of God's creatures." Ah, one small part of Europe not ravaged by the French Enlightenment. But I digress.

Gunther was placed at Bethel after spending years in a bed, in a kitchen, in an apartment. At Bethel, he is touched, loved, talked with. He is learning to speak. He is learning sensations of taste, smell and the outdoors. As we listen each week, we get a glimpse into how his "poor brain" is awakened. This week, because Larry was sick, I read.

I rarely cry. I don't hold myself out as a non-crier, but crying is just not a part of my make up. Tonight, I could barely read.

Gunther was experiencing his first Advent season and Christmas.
"Thus Gunther had two very opposite feelings as he approached his first real Christmas. It was like discovering a new star in the sky. First a pinpoint of light, growing bigger day by day, until at last it was the biggest and brightest star in the heaven. But it was also like discovering a dark cloud low on the horizon, and the cloud, too, grew bigger and bigger each day. All the time Gunther's idea of Christmas was growing little by little, his [epileptic] friend Kurt was dying little by little."

Before Kurt died, he held the Christmas Eve candle as it was lit. A "mindquake" struck. The candle dropped. A pain-torn Gunther cried, "There's a crack in everything!" Several children explained in their particular handicapped way what is so great about Christmas. "Because," [Leni] shouted triumphantly, "Because everything has a crack!"

Pastor Fritz knelt beside Gunther's chair.
"It is true, Gunther, that there is a crack in everything. God sees the crack better than we do, and the crack is ever so much worse than we think it is. That is why God sent his Son from the heavenly home to our earthly home. Not to patch up the crack, but to make everything new. That is why Christmas is so great, Gunther."

Bright Valley of Love, Edna Hong, Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, MN, 1976.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Weather & Briefs

Honestly, before 3 years ago, I thought a brief was either a form of underwear or a misuse of an adjective.

I know what a brief is, now.  

There is a real, legal definition: a written legal document used in various legal adversary systems that is presented to a court arguing why a party to a case should prevail. - Wikipedia

My wife, who has now lived through several briefs, could probably provide a more accurate definition.  It would be less legal and more real.

Last spring, I had the privilege of working with an attorney to write an amici curiae brief for the MN Supreme Court. We started in January and finished in June. I was consumed.

I have a brief due tonight at midnight; one of the curses of the internet.  
Consequently, this past week, I have been consumed.  

Consequently, I haven't run much this week.  I blame it on the weather... and a brief.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Do the Right Thing

The only good that I do is from Christ. 

“As far as God sees Christ in anyone He accepts them. If Christ is not there, no matter what they have, He does not regard them.” See Christ Is All In All, Jeremiah Burroughs (1657).

• Unregenerate people do things right.     • Regenerate people do things wrong.
• Regenerate people do wrong things.       • Unregenerate people do right things.
See Romans 2:14; Romans 7:19; and a large % of the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes

Total Depravity and our ability to “Do the Right Thing?”
John Piper
Westminster Shorter Catechism Questions 17-19
Westminster Confession Chapter VI
Calvin’s Institutes, Book II. Especially chapter 3, sections 3 and 4: virtues are but “special gifts of God.”

I cringe everytime I hear “Do the Right Thing.” Something in me wants to rebel and do the wrong thing. I think it is because “Do the Right Thing” is a disingenuous phrase. It says one thing, but really means another. It’s like the “dear” friend who says, “Don’t you think it’s interesting that Eli still can’t say his Rs?” when you’d rather they just said, “I’m concerned. Eli can’t say his Rs.”

I think the person who tells someone to “Do the Right Thing” really means one of two things. Either they mean:

1. “Do those things that are within the bounds of the rules of your present situation so that others don’t have to deal with you, discipline you or get themselves messy because of you.”


2. “Change your heart so that you desire to do those things that fit the boundaries of God or at least desire to do the things that fit the rules of whatever situation you find yourself in.”

The problem with 1: The speaker sounds concerned for the well-being of the recipient, but is actually interested in having a less bothersome day.

The problem with 2: The speaker demands what no person can do; change their heart. God can demand that we “Do the Right Thing.” See I Peter 1:15-16. But God can also do it, i.e. change hearts. See Ezekiel 11:19.
Consequently, the speaker either unintentionally plays God, demanding of another what only God can accomplish, or unintentionally plays the Devil, encouraging another to do what only God can do.

I will likely say, “Do the right thing” this week. 
And, it will probably be said to someone who has read this blog. 

I trust that you will do what we are commanded and, 
because of Christ, able to do; 
forgive me.

Yes We Can

I just finished watching the infamous remake of Obama's speech on You Tube.
Wow.  If the presidential decision were based solely on inspirational productions, I'd be hooked.

Nightline tonight was about Obama.  Someone who "knows" said that people in his generation are following Obama like people followed the Beatles.   They don't really know why; it's exciting, they want to see where it will go.

I'm skeptical.  When people grow big because of mass, emotional followings, those big people often are not whom we thought.

Take a few minutes and Google "Obama a muslim."  Sure, there is wacky stuff on the web and at the check out counters.  

I remember many past elections when the other side dredged up everything from the past about my favorite candidate.  I'm curious how this will play out.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Real Treat

It figures.  I start a blog; my family ridicules me.

Now, two of those ridiculers can't stop asking me to read their blogs!

Please go visit two incredible posts on fairly fresh blog sites.  Both are better than anything I could write today.

My wife, Marty, just wrote about deer meat at THINGS THAT GO MOM IN THE NIGHT.

My daughter, Emma, just wrote about ski school at Home Schooling Rox.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Coming Under

For many years, I ran alone.  I could not have imagined anything better.

About one year ago, I began running with Pete.  This required some adjustment - probably for Pete as well.   Pace,  tempo, conversations (yes, I do talk to myself while running alone), expectations all had to change.  Sometimes it is inconvenient. 

However, running with Pete has been one of the best changes to my running.  I'll elaborate at another time.   For now, the important factor is that when we run together, I run behind Pete about 50% of the time.  40% of the time we run next to each other (when the trail is wide enough).  

50% of time running with Pete, I follow.  I've become a better runner by following Pete.  He knows how to approach a hill, how to keep his heart rate constant, how to pick a path, when to push and when to ease up.  He knows how to persevere.  I benefit by following.  I benefit by "coming under" Pete.  It is not a burden to follow Pete.

Last night, our pastor, John Piper, answered questions from people in the congregation.  Topics included the emergent church, "Common Ground" between Muslims and Christians, and baptism.  Pastor Piper's answers dripped with:
a passion to glorify God, 
the desire to draw people to joy in Christ,
biblical authority, and 

Driving home afterward, I concluded that I want to "come under" Piper's teaching as much as possible.  He knows how to approach a hill, how to keep his heart rate constant, how to pick a path, when to push and when to ease up.  He knows how to persevere.  I benefit by following.  It is not a burden to follow Piper.

Then it hit me.  Piper is really encouraging me to "come under" Christ.  Christ is saturated with:
a passion to glorify God,
the desire to draw people to joy in Himself,
biblical authority, and

It was Christ who mentioned that I would benefit by following Him.  "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  Mt. 11:29-30

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


One of my favorite bands has a song entitled, "Grace."  The leader has done much to remind American Protestants that God's grace needs to be shown to African AIDS victims.  See CBS article, Bono and the Christian Right, July 30, 2006.  Is he a believer?  Check out Worldwide Faith New's article from 2002, "U2's Bono launches AIDS awareness tour from church," or my favorite article on Bono, "Salty dogma," from World Magazine.  Unfortunately, you have to pay to read the entire article.

Tonight, I responded to a former student's email.  He is struggling.  What does he need from me?  Sure, he needs truth.  But he knows most of the truth that applies to his particular struggle.

What do I want when I consider my relatively simple struggles?  I, too, pretty much know the truth that applies to mine.  

I want "something."  Sure, a kick in the pants sometimes.  Sometimes, a listening ear, a gentle word.  Sometimes, I want what I deserve.  Sometimes, I want what I don't deserve. (There's grace.)  But more importantly, I want to be certain that all the "somethings" are for my good.  If it's not for my good, I don't want the kick in the pants, or even the gentle word.

Scripture endlessly mentions grace.  My favorite: "The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people..." Titus 2:11.  

I'm glad Bono ends his song the way he does.  It reminds of how God deals with us:

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

Grace makes beauty out of ugly things

Monday, February 11, 2008

Blogger Fodder

I've been a little consumed with school and the cold.   Sometimes we just get consumed by something that takes us away from our ritual.  Thus, no entries for the past few days.

Tonight, as I sat down to write extremely sage thoughts, my wife asked me to read her most recent blog entry.   But first, let me digress.

When I re-started this blog several weeks ago, my wife could do nothing but mock and deride me. She hated the word "blog;" said it sounded like "scab" or "barf."  She said I was "wasting my time, writing about myself all day."

All that changed when I told her that 54 people had visited my blog on one day. (It happened to be the day after I emailed every person, friend, relative, enemy and legal entity that popped into my email "To:" field.)  That night, I was commissioned to set-up her blog site.

I just finished reading her blog for today.  It's not worth it for me to write a blog today.  Hers is so good, and funny.  So, go be consumed by her most recent article about child IN-appropriate animal activity, "Innocence Lost,"  at her new blogsite.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Ultra-running is a one person sport.
Really? Not really.

A few people who have helped me:



Jen & Pete

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bumper Stickers

There are 4 things I would like to place/stick/tape to my car.  

1. A William Mitchell sticker.  That's pure pride. I'll wrestle with it a little longer.

2. One of those IXO.... fish stickers that says I'm a Christian.  Actually, what it says is that I'm not just a peace-loving, all inclusive, Jesus loves everyone Christian, but a REAL Christian.  Maybe even a "thinking" Christian.  That's pure pride.  I'll wrestle with it a little longer.

3.  An ultra runner sticker.  Maybe from a race.  Maybe there's a clever one out there that says, "Hey, I call your 26.2 mile sticker and raise you 73.8 miles!"  That's pure pride.  I should wrestle with it a little longer.

4.  This one requires an explanation.  There has been tremendous controversy about torture by America.  I don't think we're all that bad.  Here's why: 
a. I contend that abortion is unadulterated torture.  The UN and Amnesty International definitions might be too specific to include abortion.  However, abortion fits the International Red Cross' definition of torture.  
b. Only 3% of all abortions are performed in the United States. See, "Abortion Creates a Mission Field," by Abraham Piper.
So, we're not not torturing as much as we think.
Still, I'm going to put a sticker on my car [or tape it to a window] that says:


I'll only wrestle with how to attach it.

What Days Do I Not Run?

Sundays. Most Saturdays.

We're not strict Sabbatarians. If we had a donkey, and it got stuck in a ditch, and it were a Sunday, I would pull it out. I have run marathons on Sundays. I will, Lord willing, run a few more. It's just that we attend a great church. I wouldn't miss Sunday morning worship for a training run. And then, once home, I'd much rather nap than run.

Why not Saturdays? My wife sidewalk counsels outside of an abortion clinic many Saturday mornings. It's called a Health Center for Women. Statistically, half of the potential women who enter do not leave alive. That does not sound like health.

My wife, Marty, stands outside of the abortion clinic. She tries to talk with people who enter. Sometimes they listen. Sometimes a girl comes back out without killing her baby. Marty has held one of these babies. That family now has one of our old dressers. They could use a lot more things.

My wife, Marty, also runs. She is attempting her first trail run this spring. Not surprisingly, she rarely runs on a Sunday or Saturday.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mamo Wolde & God's Sovereignty

Mamo Wolde was one of Ethiopia's greatest distance runners. I learned about him through an article in Runner's World written by Kenny Moore. You can find it at the Honolulu Marathon site. Kenny had run against Mamo. Kenny had visited Mamo in Ethiopia. More precisely, Kenny visited Mamo in a prison in Addis Ababa. Kenny gave each of Mamo's two children a Gameboy.

For seven years, I was the admissions "guy" at an international Christian boarding school in Iowa. We brought the Wolde children to Iowa. It took:
a little paperwork,
some calls to Amby Burfoot at Runner's World,
some emails to Kenny Moore,
about 5 phone conversations with Barbara Bowerman,
an intense talk with folks at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa,
and lots of prayer.

Addis Alem and Tabor Wolde lived with us for two years while we worked to get political asylum for their mother. There were no distinctions between our children and them: food, clothes, jokes, Masterpiece [the board game] every night, UNO, snow blowing for the first time. One day, Tabor needed batteries; for his Gamboy. "Where did you get this?"
"From Kenny Moore."
"Kenny Moore?"
"Yes. When he visited our dad. He came to our house and gave them to us."

In 2006, we all went to Duluth for Grandma's Marathon. Kenny Moore was at a table with his new book about Bowerman. Addis and Tabor were able to see Kenny again. No father. No prison. Tabor asked Kenny if he remembered giving him the Gameboy. Kenny gave them a signed copy of his book.

For more information:
An article from the Des Moines Register.

A blog from another Ethiopian.

An article in the Stillwater Gazette.

Duel in the Sun

I just finished John Brant's Duel in the Sun. The famous marathon battle between Dick Beardsley, fellow Minnesotan who also ran along the St. Croix River, and Alberto Salazar. Brant compellingly describes the inner demons that each man faced before and after the 1982 Boston marathon duel. Beardsley and Salazar used running to battle their demons and their demons battered their running.
There are many reasons why I run. Not many are noble. Neither do I have many demons. Nevertheless, I want to live passionately. I want to worship passionately. I want to be a passionate husband and passionate father. I want to run passionately. Duel in the Sun is a passionate description of two passionate men with a passion for life and running. A must read for all runners.

Wild River State Park

Yesterday, Pete and I explored a state park neither of us had visited. Wild River State Park is about 15 miles north of Taylor's Falls on the MN side of the St. Croix River. Check out Wild River State Park or Wild River State park at the MN DNR site.
We didn't run the entire 35 miles of trails, nor the 18 mile stretch along the river. Nevertheless, we have found a new ultra trail running location. We'll need to do hill training at Afton because the bluffs at Wild River are not as high.
At Afton, there is a stretch of trail along the river. It's about 2.5 miles long. It is flat; a former train track. It does provide relief from the many hills at Afton. But, it is straight and monotonous. The trail along the river at Wild River is rolling and crooked.
At Afton, we had trained ourselves to walk often because of the hills. This proved problematic at Leadville. There were numerous runnable sections. My body wanted some small hills so I could walk. Wild River seems to provide miles of trails that don't require walking. Maybe I can retrain my body.

Monday, February 4, 2008

My Running Partner

Peter Grimes, Me

How to Redeem a Blog Site?

I attended a rally for teenagers last night. It was put on by two brothers. Actually, two twin brothers. They are nineteen years old. That is significant.

When they were sixteen, they began blogging. They blogged about teenagers. But not what one would think about teenagers. They wrote about how teens could do more than what our culture thinks they can do. Long story short: they semi-clerked for an AL Supreme Court judge, they ran four Supreme Court judge campaigns, put on 4 national conferences in 2007 and have plans for twice that many in 2008 and wrote a book. They just turned 19.

Brett and Alex Harris are literally the brain-children of a movement called "THE REBELUTION: Do Hard Things." It's a novel idea that teenagers can accomplish things, at least for most everyone I know.

So, inspired by two boys whose fashion sense is only rivaled by their energy to do hard things, I am endeavoring to maintain a blog about running, that is more than a blog about running.

I want to explore what it means to ultra run. What gets sacrificed? Is running a redemptive activity? Is it good stewardship? How does a sovereign God get glory as I stumble through Afton State Park, while my wife is feeding, dressing and raising all the kids that morning?

All things, all activities.

Friday, February 1, 2008

First Day of February

One step too many.

Only a lanky fellow between me, the ball and the goal. Someone yelled, "Half!" I just wanted to see what I could do.
What I did was step on the ball. Now it was the lanky fellow, the ball and me between me and the goal.

As I stood up, the left foot didn't feel right. It still doesn't feel right. No stress fracture, but the doctor said to return in ten days if it still hurts. Today is day seven. It still hurts.

I know that every step on a trail is a potential strain, stress, pull, tweak. The list of ills is endless.
But every step develops a little more strength. Every step lets me to see glorious things; a sunrise, a sunset, a bird, deer, a porcupine, a bear one time, a foggy meadow, 12,600 ft. It seems as if every step on a trail begs another. I usually wish I could take just one more.

Last Friday night, I took one just one more. I should have known better. I wasn't on a trail.