Archive for October, 2007

I’m still reading through Isaiah and was struck by some of the great passages found within his pages.

Some of these have great personal meaning to me because of life’s current circumstances.  It is great to be reminded that God still cares and will provide strength forever.

The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. 
The grass withers, the flower fades, 
      But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:7-8 NKJV

27-31Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
   or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
   He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
   He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
   And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
   gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
   young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
   They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
   they walk and don’t lag behind.  Isaiah 40:27-31 The Message

10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
11 “ Behold, all those who were incensed against you Shall be ashamed and disgraced; They shall be as nothing, And those who strive with you shall perish.
12 You shall seek them and not find them— Those who contended with you. Those who war against you Shall be as nothing, As a nonexistent thing.
13 For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’
14 “ Fear not, you worm Jacob, You men of Israel! I will help you,” says the LORD And your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
15 “ Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; You shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, And make the hills like chaff.
16 You shall winnow them, the wind shall carry them away, And the whirlwind shall scatter them; You shall rejoice in the LORD, And glory in the Holy One of Israel.   Isaiah 41:10-16 NKJV

1-4 But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
   the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
   I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
   When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
   it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
   The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
   all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
   That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
   trade the creation just for you.  Isaiah 43:1-4 The Message

 

 

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 Everyone knows that the future of the church and the world is in the hands of today’s youth.  So it is fairly important that teenagers are involved in and impacted by “church” and more broadly Jesus.

They can also be a hard group of people to target and disciple because of their busy schedules, school, homework, sports, work, family time, and church.  I remember those days.  But for me personally church was a priority that I tried to find time for and enjoyed doing.  Churches are trying almost anything to keep teenagers coming to their programming.  Some even host Halo parties (Halo is a much loved video game) in their church or ministry centers.

It is important to understand what teens want from their “church experience.”  According to Barna teens want

  • “to worship or make a connection with God” (45% described this as very important),
  • “to better understand what I believe” (42%),
  • “to spend time with close friends” (34%),
  • “to get encouraged or inspired” (34%),
  • “to volunteer to help others” (30%),
  • to learn about prayer (26%),
  • to listen to religious teaching (26%),
  • to participate in discussions regarding religion and faith (23%),
  • to be mentored or coached in spiritual development (21%),
  • to discover the traditions of their faith (20%),
  • to participate in a study class about faith (19%), or
  • to study the Bible (18%).

Because you are reading this it shouldn’t surprise you that the same research showed that

…one out of every four teenagers (26%) had learned something about their faith or spirituality online in the last six months. This was true of two-fifths of born again Christian teenagers (39%). Furthermore, one-sixth of teenagers (16%) and one-quarter of born again teens (25%) said they had “a spiritual experience” online where they worshipped or connected with God.

David Kinnaman, the lead researcher and president of the Barna Group, has a new book coming out called unChristian which looks at the differences between teenagers and Christianity. In a concluding statement he says:

“Helping them [teenagers] connect with God, learn about their faith, and serve others, in a loving and relational environment are their top desires from a church. Keep in mind that young people are not spiritually transformed merely by attending a church, knowing a few Bible stories or being friends with the youth pastor. It takes addressing teens on a much deeper, personal level – such as developing their intellect and vocational passions as well as cultivating their curiosity for the complexities of life.”

I think that is what we are trying to do at The Bridge Student Ministries.  We are very relationally focused, but it is so much easier just to plan games and a short message each week.

 

 

*pictures are from our 2005 fall kickoff event!

 

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I was recently encouraged by this article to write about the blogs I read and share why I read them, with you my readers. So here it goes!

This is a fairly new blog on my list but I’ve been hearing it for awhile.  It is read weekly at EndurancePlanet.com on their podcasts.

Bad Ben is a fairly well known trail runner from Kansas City.  When most people think of a runner they think about people who run local races or marathons.  Well, Bad Ben does some of that, but is probably most well-known for running the longer ultra-marathons. He also has quite a sense of humor and knack for story-telling.

Here is a sample from his “About Me” section:

I find ways to enjoy life as much as I can. Also, life’s too short to treat people poorly. I’m into long runs in the park, consuming salt, popping blisters, eating roadkill & tree bark, and burying whiners in shallow, unmarked graves. I also enjoy designing trail race courses that would make the Marquis de Sade blush. A fun time for me would include banging muddy shoes together, setting broken bones with a machinist’s vise, and duct-taping-down any part of my body that is bleeding or just flopping-about uselessly. What helps me to be an active trailrunner and grandpa? My secret: 1) Daily sponge baths with bovine stem cells; 2) Copious amounts of delicious & nutritious homebrewed beer; and 3) My secret elixir…Bicarbonate of Figleaf.

If you have an interest in running or are a “Trail Nerd” this blog should be on your list! His blog includes stories from runners, race reports, and rambling thoughts, such as a recent post about T-shirt Etiquette!

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While mother nature was setting records with temperatures soaring into the mid-90’s and the humidity levels equaling that, almost 10,000 runners (wisely?) failed to show up to what proved to be a horrendous Chicago Marathon. It became so bad that race officials eventually canceled the race rerouting people at the half-marathon mark back towards the finish area. According to the Chicago Tribune 1 person died (they are still determining cause of death), and 315 runners were removed by ambulance. Twenty-five people remained hospitalized this morning with 9 still in critical condition.

Let me share about volunteering then I’ll comment about the rest of the experience.

VOLUNTEERING

This was my first experience of any kind at a major marathon or any marathon for that matter. I was staying in Chicago with a friend out in the suburbs. Each year his high school cross country team travels in to the race and volunteers (the school gets some $$ for helping). We met at the school at 5am and drove in and helped at Aid Station #2 which was at the 5K mark.

We received instructions and information from our Aid Station Captain and began setting things up. At this point the roads weren’t closed so we were dodging early morning traffic and setting up our 8′ tables.

The entire aid station consisted of 13 Gatorade tables and 16 Water tables, it also included a medical station, and port-a-potties. I was at the 5th or 6th table on the right hand side of the road passing out Gatorade. We were told that each table had approximately 1,000 cups and that due to the heat they were adding an additional 10,000 cups per aid station over last year. We were also told that we were not to refill our tables, but once empty to tear them down (I guess it is too chaotic to try and refill the tables).

It was great to watch the caravan of vehicles, the wheelchair athletes, the elite runners, and then everyone else come through. The wheelchair athletes didn’t want anything from us and the elite athletes have their own bottles setup before the aid station so they didn’t either. But once the first runners started coming through it was complete chaos and craziness for about 30 minutes.

Being at the 5K mark is great because all the athletes are through the aid stations in just over an hour, since they aren’t spread out too much. Our table ran out of Gatorade within the first half hour, with the aid station slowly running out of everything within the next 10 minutes or so. This left quite a number of athletes without any hydration available out our stop. At some point some volunteers went to the BP on the corner and purchased a ton of water bottles and started handing them out.

According to the Chicago Tribune

“The water stations were really depleted,” said Nestor Benanidez, 40, of Maryland. “As much as they might have planned, it wasn’t enough.”
Erin Johnson, 24, of Kansas City, Mo., said the first several water stations “were out or really low” and that she ran with her wax cup because competition for fluids was so fierce.

“You’re running thinking, ‘Oh my God, I really need this water to get through this,’ ” she said.

But race officials said they found no such problems. Each of the aid stations was outfitted with 50,000 to 70,000 servings of water and 37,000 servings of Gatorade, said Shawn Platt, a senior vice president of LaSalle Bank.

As the runners went from packs to small groups to individual runners again, we started tearing down the aid station and had it completely torn down, streets swept, and ready to be opened to traffic within 30 minutes. The marathon had a crew that followed behind the last runners tearing the entire course down as they traveled. The efficiency of the entire operation was amazing.

I really enjoyed volunteering, most of the runners were very thankful and appreciative of our work and told us so. It was an honor to serve people who were laying it out on the line. I understand those who didn’t get any hydration who were quite upset and swore at us. I know it wasn’t personal and I’d be very upset too. You are important and I would have given you water if I could.

I would definitely volunteer at another marathon.

THE REST OF THE STORY

Knowing that most of the second half of the marathon runners didn’t get water at our stop and probably wouldn’t at much of the stops coming up I knew it was NOT going to be a good experience for many of them. But who would have realized the race would be canceled. The group I volunteered with went back to the ‘burbs, but I wanted to stay and watch the marathon and cheer on local runner, Brian Rayl. So I made my way towards the finishing area and saw fourth place female Liz Yelling of Great Britain finish and others around her at the 2:40ish mark. At this point there weren’t crushing crowds so I wandered around and ended up at the 25.80 mark at the corner of Michigan & Roosevelt (the next to last turn in the course, at this turn you go up the bridge before turning for the finish straight).

This was a great place to watch the race and enjoy being part of the crowd. It was great to see the athletes respond to the cheering of the crowd. Several runners stopped to stretch or take care of cramps and the crowd would cheer for them and reach fever pitch when they decided to run again.

At this vantage point I saw one guy staggering and luckily a fellow runner grabbed him before he went down. But the runner had to hold him for at least a minute before the police officer standing at the corner walked over and grabbed him so the “hero runner” could continue. They then laid him down and got the medical personnel there. They proceeded to take him by wheelchair to the medical tent. Shortly after that someone else went down. This individual was eventually taken away by ambulance.

Around the 3:50 mark Police Officers gathered at the corner and started telling the athletes that the marathon was canceled and they should walk the remainder of the race. First, I was a little surprised the race had been canceled, but they kept doing it, become a little over-zealous almost trying to forcing the runners to stop. I couldn’t believe with less than a half-mile to go they were trying to get them to stop. It didn’t make any sense. I realize that they didn’t want anyone else getting hurt, but at that point, LET THEM FINISH!

The event website later read:

Attention Participants and Spectators:

Due to the rising heat index and higher than expected temperatures, LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski and Medical Director Dr. George Chiampas, in cooperation with city officials, have implemented a contingency plan, as a precautionary measure, to effectively close the Marathon course at the halfway point. Runners who have not reached the halfway point by approximately 11:30 a.m. will be diverted back to Grant Park via Halsted and Jackson. Jackson will be closed to automobile traffic and the participants will be provided with additional support along this route. Participants who crossed the halfway point prior to the shut-down will continue to be fully supported along the standard course to the finish line. Participants are asked to take advantage of medical personnel, cooling buses, runner drop out buses, water, Gatorade and other means of support en route back to Grant Park.

My wife came into Chicago and met me at the 25.80 mile mark. After watching for a while and realizing what was happening we took off and headed back to the Reuniting/Finish Area. We managed to make it through the crushing, hot, and sweaty crowds. We had to cross the path of the now diverted runners to make it to Buckingham Fountain’s recovery area. I’m happy to say we found Brian and his wife and he was doing fine given the circumstances.

I say a hearty congratulations to everyone who started the race and gave it everything they had. I know it is very disappointing to those who weren’t allowed to finish or who were forced to walk if they didn’t want to, but congratulations on your attempt and best of luck if you decide to try another one.

Results here. It looks like anyone who crossed the finish line has results, but there are no rankings.

OTHER STORIES ABOUT CHICAGO

UPDATED: Death was not related to heat. So that is good news. The same article continues with the race director’s saying there was plenty of water available, but that we (volunteers) didn’t refill aid stations “fast enough.” We were told not to refill and that water is usually wasted at the end of the event.

Cross-posted at Run Central Indiana.

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Gaming a Life: How Much is Your Existence Worth? is a game produced by Jubilee USA. It took me a long time of playing this game to actually be able to help the Hatian family live.  I wasn’t able to help them live and get an education, yet…

Test Your Knowledge about Health in the Developing World over at Care2. I only got 2 of the 5 correct, yikes!

See if you can pass the new Citizenship Test (pdf) from an article in the New York Times. I only got 7 of them correct out of a ten question sample. See pdf copies of the redesigned Civics Test and a comparison of the two tests. Learn about the whole immigration/naturalization process at the US Citizenship & Immigration Services.

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The Dream for Darfur Campaign launched its Olympic Torch Relay on August 9, 2007 (with Mia Farrow), one year before the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. The Dream for Darfur effort will coordinate events in the United States and around the world to urge China to use its unique influence on Sudan to protect civilians in Darfur.

The U.S. torch relay launched in New York on September
9, 2007. It will then travel through more than 20 states, ending in December at the Chinese Embassy in Washington. The U.S. relay is co-sponsored by Dream for Darfur, the Save Darfur Coalition, and STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition. The message is simple.

“China Please: Bring the Olympic
Dream to Darfur.”

The goal for the Indianapolis Torch Relay is to create a community event that joins diverse citizens together for Darfur and to garner significant press attention. We hope to elevate awareness of the important role that China can play in ending the genocide in Darfur.

The Indianapolis Relay will take place on Sunday, October 14th at IUPUI’s campus. This event is a torch lighting and relay ceremony. The relay will be comprised of students, people who represent groups who have been affected by oppression, and others who want to carry the torch for Darfur. During the relay, there will be a torch lighting ceremony and program.

The program will provide an opportunity for impassioned speeches by local community leaders and a Darfurian refugee. The program will also feature performers, African musicians, and Young Ballet Troupe performing “The Cleansing” a self-written ballet, and there will be opportunities for those attending to take action at our social justice information tables. While the event will provide an opportunity to bring members of the Darfur movement together, the focus will be on generating significant media attention on China’s ability to help Darfur.

Those taking part in this torch event will be joining with many others from our country and countries abroad.

The Indianapolis event is between Wood Plaza and the ES and BS buildings on this map. Parking is available at the Natatorium (PE).

Visit the official event website.  Please help spread the word by posting and passing out flyers.

 

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I didn’t get this until after I had already posted the Christian Carnival link.  Go to Free Burma to find out more.

Free Burma!

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