Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sermon: Run Forrest Run

Running is my addiction. Many of you already know that. For some reason it has caught ahold of me and I just do it. I don't do it very well, but I do it. I run all over my neighborhood and sign up for races and do them all. I enjoy the races.  

Did you know that the word race in Greek means agony.......isn't that ironic.

There are many times that I wholeheartedly feel the agony.

Forrest Gump: That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I'd just run across the great state of Alabama. And that's what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.

For most of us running like Forrest Gump doesn't come quite that easy. It certainly doesn't for me. It looks like a huge feat when we hear about the distance he ran. We can hardly getter head wrapped around something like that and how far and how hard it must be.

- 1,169 Days Forrest runs (Or, as he put it, 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, 16 hours)

- 19,024 Miles Forrest completes during his three-year run

- 16 Average miles Forrest runs per day, based on my Google map calculations

There was a couple in Australia that ran everyday last year.....each day the distance of a marathon. That is over 9500 go around the entire country......and they were in their 60s........Forrest was 35 and a fictional character.

We don't think about the over all task when we start.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

How do you run a marathon? One step at a time.

When I run.....because I am so slow.....I have a lot if time to think about things. All sorts of things. I've designed a project or two in my head, I've thought about all the things I should do.....all the things I shouldn't do. I've solved many problems in my head while running, created several too. I've sang a one around me don't worry I didn't scare anyone. I've cried....thinking about my mom and dad. I've laughed thinking about the joy of finishing my next challenge.


January was my first marathon ever. 26.2 miles. I had only ever ran 17 miles once and then 20 miles. But I have added up a bunch of shorter runs to prepare. I started keeping track December of 2011. During 2012 I ran only 50 times. Only five were 10 miles or more. That December I hurt my Achilles and could hardly run the first part of the entire year.  2013 I ran 66 times. Ten of those runs were over 10 miles but not until September. This year I have already run fives times over 10 miles.

A total of 136 runs for a total of 760 miles;

144 hours and burned 115,000 calories. 55,727 steps.

This year's goals are 6 marathons, 6 half marathons + the other little races =1000 miles. 2,126,984 steps

One step at a time.

Paul compares the Christian life to running a race. There are a lot of semblance.


1 Corinthians 9:24-25

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

So how do we insure the way that we run the race in our Christian life to insure we receive the prize.You want to finish your race and receive your prize. There are heavenly rewards that will be given for faithful service and sacrifice on our journey.


In running a marathon, pace is so important. At the starting line, you are all charged up and ready to go. Adrenalin is flowing and the natural tendency is to go all out and give it everything you have. You have to practice constraint and pace yourself for the long haul.

Going into the marathon, I knew what pace I needed to do in order to finish. I started out with that pace even though I could have done a faster pace at the start. Going slow at the start and taking my time, paid off at the end. In the last six miles, I passed many people that were walking and some limping. They did not pace their self. They started out too fast and didn’t have it in them to finish at the end.

Beloved, we are in this for the long haul. We don’t want anything to cut our mission off short. We want to accomplish everything that we have been placed on this earth to accomplish.

The race is easy when you are surrounded by friends. When you're running past the bands or the water stops or the crowds cheering you. But what about the times when you are alone? When you are on the back highway and there isn't anyone near by? There will be times when our journey is dark, is difficult, is painful.

By mentioning this in this manner, it implies that just because you signed up for the race or start it doesn't mean that you will finish it.

Matthew 7:21

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

SIGN UP for the race

Sounds a little bit over simplified but you cannot just show up to one of the events and just run......okay you can but it doesn't count. So if you don't "SIGN UP" to be a Christian then your race won't count. The second part of Matthew 7:21 is those who do the will of My Father.



You will need to put your bib on and wear it on your front. Everyone will know you are part of the race. So don't you also need to wear your Christianity Bib? Showing everyone that you are a Christian? However it isn't a jersey. It is your light.

Matthew 5:14-16

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

We show others and proclaim Jesus & the truth by our light & our good works.


Do you think we can just wake up one Forrest Gump.....and run a marathon. I'm a bit OCD when it comes to dressing and preparing. I did it in football by making sure everything was perfect for the tape on my ankles or gear or knee wraps. I still do it for a race. Socks are just right, knee wrap isn't wrinkled. Everything just right to avoid distractions. (Remember the distractions part...I will come back to that later.)

Ephesians 6:14-17

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

When you look at the front line of those getting ready to don't see a guy dressed in a snow parka, boots and a backpack full of sodas a Twinkies for the journey!

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.


First we have all those saints before us cheering us that have finished the race.


People are along side the race, from volunteers to strangers just watching, calling your name, telling you that you've got this. It's a good run. They don't know me but they call out my name because it's on my bib.

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Just the coming together here this morning and other times is an encouragement.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 & 14

11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

WATER STOPS ( along with encouragement)

Our nourishment is God’s Word and prayer. God’s Word strengthens and sustains us throughout our journey. Prayer is where we refuel and receive the supernatural power and healing that we need to continue.


At mile 16, I got a rock in my shoe. I tried to ignore it, but it started in my heel and worked its way to the bottom of my foot. I had a decision to make. If I stop to take my shoe off and get rid of the rock, I lose time. If I keep running with the rock in my

shoe, my foot would become raw by the time I finish and it may stop me from finishing. I stopped, took my show off and got rid of the rock. It cost me some time, but I finished the race.

Disney, 25,000 runners, Shamrock 3,500. Disney there were too many people that were walking. Made me feel it was okay to walk. It was okay to be like everyone else.

In our journey, there will be many hindrances that will endanger our finish. We will have decisions to make. Decide to get rid of anything that will hinder your mission. It's those distractions that I talked about before. You may be struggling with a hindrance right now; something that will keep you from fulfilling your mission in life. Get rid of it. Finish the race.


Around mile 22, I took a wrong turn and by the time I figured out that I was going down the wrong path, I added two tenths of a mile onto my distance. Now two tenths does not seem much, but after you have run 22 miles, believe me, two tenths is a lot. When I reached mile 26.2 and should have been done, I wasn’t. I had to press on because I added extra distance on to my marathon.

In life there are many opportunities to take wrong turns. If we take those turns, it will add distance to our journey and increase our struggle to finish. Be cautious. Stay on the path that Jesus has set for you. Jesus is The Only Way to the finish line.


I do everything possible to remain focused during a run. Music to zone out, I don't really hear the words. Just background noise. I focus on the path in front of me. I would really enjoy looking up and seeing my surroundings......but I seem to look down the ever passing aggregate. One rock at a step at a time.

On our Christian walk, there will be pain and suffering along the way. To endure, we must stay focused on the purpose of our walk. Our purpose is to continue the ministry of Jesus. To stay focused, we must fix our eyes on Jesus. Jesus will get us across the finish line.

Peter took his eyes off Jesus and started sinking into the water.

Hebrews 12:2 NIV back to this scripture

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I can’t adequately describe to you the feeling of crossing the finish line. 5:51 later. As I approached the finish line in Florida, "Our God is an Awesome God"  as I crossed the 26 mile marker last week......100 yards to the toe felt like it exploded. Pain shot through my body.....from my little toe! Fear shot through my body that I might not be able to make it! Wait it's a little toe. So I thought about the scripture in Matthew 18 KJV

8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

......right then, my pinky toe offendeth I sprinted with a little gimp. As I crossed the finish line I was able to hug family and give my body much needed rest. It felt so good when they placed the medal around my neck. I had finished the race and received the prize.


Beloved, run the race to receive the prize.

Your reward for Christian service is great.

1. Pace yourself for the long haul.

2. Get rid of anything that hinders.

3. Watch out for wrong turns.

4. Stay focused on Jesus.

Finish the race.

Receive the prize.

Hebrews 12:1 "the race that is set before us."

I try not to dwell on how slow I am or rather how others are faster than me. It's my race....I try to better myself each time. 21 min 17 secs better.

1. We each have our own race to run! That is, you cannot run in my lane and I cannot run in yours!

2. We are not in competition, but we are on the same team! My job isn't to outrun you, my job is to run for Jesus, the race that He has planned for me.

3. Our course has been individually designed! The race you are running has been prepared just for you. The best thing we can do is run our race to the best of our God-given ability.

INVITATION: Are you prepared for the race? Have you taken the steps?


Time is our enemy. Sometimes we push aside what we know is ever pressing towards us. No matter how prepared or unprepared, We never know when our race stops:

The first marathoner.....ran from Marathon Greece to Athens died after delivering the message from the battlefield that the Persians had been defeated.

Cameron Gallager age 16 from Richmond trained nine weeks with her best friend. They ran side by side the whole race. Parents saw her finish with a smile from ear to ear. 50 yards past the finish line she collapsed.

The self-discipline that we need in our service to God and others is given to us by the Spirit of God that resides within us. 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Our Dream Home

As an architect I am able to define what a dream home consists of when you mention those words. Often you might envision a castle or maybe a house on the beach or in the mountains. Typically it is a house made perfect and everything is in order.....perfect order.

Truthfully, It doesn't have to be expensive. It doesn't have to be large. It doesn't have to be on a huge piece of land. It doesn't necessarily need to be in an ideal location like near the ocean, stream, mountian etc. although that would be nice. It doesn't require a maid, a cook or a gardener, although those would be nice. It doesn't require a pool or a hot tub, although those would be nice.

What I think a dream home should be is someplace comfortable, someplace enjoyable, someplace familiar. It doesn't need to be just needs to be home. As architects we make families you make them into HOMES. That is where the dream lies.

As an architect I have often dreamed of what I would live in. What I would design. What I would have built. Unfortunately dreams are not reality often times. Time has afforded me the opportunity to appreciate what I have and not necessarily make me jealous of what others have. Even the ones where I have designed their houses. I have lived in many dream homes and just not realized it.

My first home in Bartlesville OK was on Seneca Street. I don't remember much of it since we moved when I was only 5. Later it was torn down.....or fell down. Now an empty lot remains in the old neighborhood.

The house on Jennings Street was where I grew up, went to school and then moved away. It will always be "home". Although when I go back it is not the same. It is sad. Sad that all the happy memories have began to fade. Us kids are all older. My parents are now gone. When we recently went back for my mothers funeral.....moments of joy were captured of days gone by. I choose to freeze those times in my head and recall them when needed. It was once a dream home.

The house in Stillwater has special memories but I think it really was really just a destination to get through college. It was my first ownership, my first child was born there, my first renovation was there. It was fun.

Several places in Pennsylvania. One can be called a dream home and that was a one room school house outside Allentown. 150 years old and still with the bell in the tower, our family began to grow there. The house set next to a stream on two and a half acres next to a game preserve. It was tiny. One bedroom where the boys slept. The loft above the bathroom was only four feet high and that is where my wife and I slept. We could only "climb in bed" like some sort of bunk. Some great memories and great times. It certainly wasn't large but is was HOME. Sadly we only rented, but we enjoyed it.

Once we moved to Virginia we had a few houses we rented until we finally bought a home. My second. We had four kids and bought a two bedroom house......what were we thinking? Well it had an entire second floor that was open to a loft space. All the boys could sleep up there together. Sound nice but at first it was an open loft. Open to the living room below. The rest of the second floor was unfinished space. Not sure how long that lasted until we finally 'finished' it. Nothing is really ever finished.

The house was a repo so you know it had issues. All these years later we add up over thirteen different water leaks. Most of them due to quest water lines. Start and stop of repairs, upgrades, painting and repainting, work on this and before we move on the next we need to replace it again. But, our kids grew up here. Played football in the side yard until it was a mud pit. Several dogs have come and gone. We have had Super Bowl parties, Christmas parties, church gatherings, sleepovers, a wedding rehearsal dinner and our garden sanctuary. This is our HOME. It always will be even though it is a money pit.

So if I had the opportunity I would still have a dream home of sorts. A vacation home in the mountains. Just a get-a-way. Crabtree Falls has been a retreat that we have enjoyed. Remote, distant, silent, quiet, peaceful......and beautiful. I envision a tree house in the mountains. Skinny structure that sits on the hillside in stark contrast to the colorful falls colors or lush green would be white.

Large glass panels and patio overhangs peaking through the trees. Four maybe five floors winding up through the tree tops. Each floor a different room.. Other than those things......just a cabin. Maybe one day. That could be a DREAM.


I had to say retirement because who knows when it could possibly be....or if. How about a beach bungalow in Barbados? Our 20th anniversary trip could be another dream. It would nothing fancy. Just the opposite. It would be a rural beach house. Not much more than a thatched hut. A simple structure that open out right onto the beach.....that spilled out into the royal blue waters. A grill outside to cook most of our meals on. Maybe a small garden to grow some vegetables. Of course a hammock strung between two spiraling coconut trees. That could be a dream.

Be continent with what you have......but still allow yourself to dream my friends.
Home is where the heart is.

Eugene Thompson
ET This I Believe

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Monuments Men

My wife and I took advantage of a lazy afternoon this Saturday (which rarely ever happens......lazy that is) to take in a movie in the afternoon. We had heard the Monuments Men was a good movie so that was our choice. I won't tell all the details so as not to SPOIL it if you haven't seen it yet, but basically is was about the collection of art during Hitler's reign. 

First the collection by Hitler. He had the Germans gather up every piece of great art from paintings to sculptures including books and jewelry to be displayed in his own massive Fuehrer Museum. First is was taken from the Jews. Then everywhere else including churches and museums as they marched thru each country and each city. They destroyed anything they could not take.

The second was the RE-collection by the Monuments Men to insure that the Germans didn't destroy it all before the end of the war as they were loosing. Their task was to get it back to the previous owners unlike the Russians who were collecting also but for their repercussions from how much they lost during the war.

A very interesting movie based on much of the true story. But it made me angry......actually sick to my stomach. Seeing part of the movie where the Germans were retreating they burned many of the storage vaults/mines where all the art was stored. Just burned it because they couldn't have it. Great works of art by great masters gone forever. 

It is so sad when war or natural disasters cause damage and things like this get ruined but to just plain burn it is senseless. Sickening. Many of the works created you don't know if they are still lost someplace or were destroyed by the Germans. Again, senseless act of selfishness. Even if I have never known or seen these great pieces it makes me sad to know that me and everyone else will never be able to experience the beauty. I can imagine some of those Monuments Men who had actually seen the works previously......and then saw the ashes. I'm sure it made them sick too.

Brings to me the one artwork I know and very much appreciated growing up that was destroyed. Shin'en kan by Bruce Goff. The private residence of Joe Price who had hired this creative architect to create a piece of architecture artistry. One of a kind unique home that was burned down because the new land owner wanted to build his NEW house one the same spot......supposedly. 

I had visited the home many times and when my mother sent me the newspaper clippings of it destroyed and the loss I was devastated. Sick to my stomach. A senseless waste that now cannot be appreciated by so many others. The Monuments Men reminded me of this event and brought to mind how cruel and irresponsible people can be.

It just goes to show that things on this earth are here for only a short time and that we should learn to appreciate them while we can. Before they are gone. Forever. That goes for art, architecture, cultures and most importantly PEOPLE.

Go visit a museum today my friends!
Or a friend! Don't wait until tomorrow.

ET This I Believe
Eugene Thompson