"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Running Under HIS Grace!

This past weekend at the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon I had the pleasure of running from about mile 11 - 13 of my half marathon with Cheryl Murdock. She is an amazing lady.
I've known Cheryl for quite some time as a runner, as a member of TEAM 413, as a sister in Christ. But, as we ran along, I learned more about her amazing life. Hopefully, one day I will be able to share the entire story. I listened intently -- her story touched my heart -- I heard her emotion straight from her heart -- I felt her pain -- I shared tears with her. It was one of those moments that I'll never forget. She shared the story of her life with us.
As I started toward the finish line of my half marathon, Cheryl continued on her journey of the full marathon. This was to be her 199th OR 200th marathon! You read correctly! Unfortunately, she is not sure! So, she is going to count it as her 199th and will run number 200 soon! She has completed the 50 states marathon tour! She has run thousands of miles! She has run many miles as a part of our ministry. Every mile has been to God's glory!
Cheryl exemplifies "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." She embodies the mantra of TEAM 413 that we wear on the front of our running shirts ... "one more breath, one more step, one more mile, finish line!" Her story is one of God's amazing grace!
Please join me in praying for Cheryl as she continues her journey across the country sharing the good news with so many along the way! We are with you, Cheryl!
Under HIS Grace...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

TEAM 413 - Knoxville 2010

After a weekend off for my daughter's wedding, we'll be back on the road again next weekend at the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. Kiki and I will be at the TEAM 413 Expo booth on Saturday, March 27 from 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM. Please make sure you stop by and say hello if you are going to be in Knoxville.
I've had the opportunity to be a part of the Knoxville Marathon several times in the past. They put on a great event. The expo is well done and the race course is unique in that it runs along the streets of Knoxville, through a greenbelt, and then ends at the 50 yard line of Neyland Stadium. You can even check yourself out on the huge Jumbotron as your finish your journey. It's one of those races that's really a "must do."
I'll be speaking at the expo seminar at 10:00 AM on Saturday. Being the first speaker of the day always makes me a bit nervous! I'll either have a big crowd OR no one at all! Our plan is to talk about common running injuries for a few minutes and then share about some of our experiences with TEAM 413. Combining COMMON RUNNING INJURIES and FAITH ON THE RUN will be a unique opportunity. We'll leave time for questions at the end of the presentation. I'll also be signing copies of our book, GRACERUNNER - FAITH ON THE RUN, at the end of my talk and at our TEAM 413 booth all day.
Please pray for us this week as we deal with some tough circumstances. We know that God will be glorified and that TEAM 413 will be used in a mighty way in the days ahead.
See you on the road!
Under HIS Grace...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Beautiful Bride

Ashley & This Very Proud Dad
Ashley's wedding was beautiful but not as beautiful as the bride! My little girl was stunning! I was fine until I saw her and then saw the look on Donald's face when we started walking down the isle for me to give my blessing of this marriage. It was one of those emotional moments that you only have a few times in your life -- It's a good feeling that you just can't explain.
The reception was fun as we celebrated with family and friends. Lots of food and fellowship was the culmination of the day. But, there was also lots of music and dancing. I had my "father-daughter" dance to 'I LOVED HER FIRST' and didn't fall flat on my face! I think that was more nerve racking than the walking down the isle part. We pulled it off without looking too out of place and the fun continued. It was truly a special evening!
The bride and groom will be on their way to Jamaica for their honeymoon early in the morning. Please join me in praying for them as they begin their life's journey together.
Under HIS Grace...

For Everything There is a Season

Ecclesiastes 3: 1- 15

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.


Today is Ashley's wedding day and I'm certain that I feel like every father who has given their daughter away on this very special occasion. I look forward to this afternoon and dread it at the same time. Yet, I know that today is a great day!

We go through life and really don't pay attention to the things that matter. We tend to forget that God has blessed us with so many gifts of His amazing grace. I feel so blessed to have a wonderful family who shows unconditional love each day. I am also thankful for those family members who are no longer with us and celebrate in Heaven today. Through the good times and not so good times in life, I have been blessed beyond measure and my heart is full. I am so thankful for God's provision for our family.

This is Ashley and Donald's day and we will celebrate with them as they start this life journey together. My prayer is that God will give them days filled with dreams come true, glorious moments of hope, and blessings beyond their imagination.

I love you Ash & Donald!

Under HIS Grace...


Friday, March 19, 2010

A Very Proud Dad

Ashley & Her Very Proud Dad!
Donald Binkley & His Very Proud Dad-in-Law (soon)
Well, the rehearsal and the "pre-game" meal are done. Both went off without a hitch. No problems were encountered. We had a great time getting together with family and friends as we celebrated the marriage of Ashley and Donald tomorrow afternoon at 5:00. My Ashley is less than 24 hours from changing her last name from mine to that of her husband to be. She seemed anxious to get all of this preliminary stuff over with, but the smile and laughter of my little girl were still there. I was honored to have my wife, Kiki, on my arm -- my daughter, Morgan celebrating with us -- and my step children, Gerrit and Hanna, all dressed up and proud to be a part of the main event! I was an extra proud man tonight!
Tomorrow will be a special day for a lot of reasons and I plan to write about that later. On the eve of her marriage, I can think of no greater tribute to my daughter than to make sure she knows how much I love and respect the man she is about to marry. Donald Binkley is a very fine young man. He is going to be my son-in-law. However, I would have been blessed to have a son like him. I have no doubt that he will take care of Ashley through the good and bad times in life. I know that he will be there through the thick and thin moments. I'm certain that he loves her with all of his heart ..... and, I've seen his heart.
Donald asked me for permission to ask Ashley to marry him on the day of my Mom's funeral back on April 20, 2008. We went back to my folks' home after the service. I was sitting in the living room alone reflecting on the events of the days that surrounded her death. Donald came into the room and sat down with me. I'm certain that I'm paraphrasing here -- he told me that he would be honored to be a part of our family and that he wanted my blessing before he asked Ashley to marry him. Of course I told him that I approved. On that day when we celebrated the life of my mom, I also celebrated the fact that my little girl had found a good man. This good man will stand true to his promise -- of this, I am sure!
A father's dream is to make sure that his children are safe, happy, and loved. I know that I did my part to take care of most of these things during the time that God entrusted Ashley to me. I was blessed to be part of shaping her into the wonderful person she is today. There is no doubt that she learned much good from me and she also learned from my many mistakes. Now, I am able to pass along that duty to a truly wonderful man. Nevertheless, she will still be my little girl and I am so very proud of her! Ashley and Donald have a bright future ahead and I look forward to being a part of their lives for many years to come.
I love you, Ash & Donald!
Under HIS Grace...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Daddy's Little Girl

It's hard to believe that Daddy's little girl is getting married on Saturday. My Ash has grown up and it's going to be both difficult and a blessing to give her away at 5:00 PM on March 20. Much has happened in our lives through the past 10+ years, but one of the things that has remained constant is my love for Ashley and her love for me. She has stood by me through so much and now it is my turn to give back to her by standing by her side on her wedding day.
Ashley is a breath of fresh air, a sun ray of hope, and a shower of love all wrapped up in one package. She is a blessing to so many people, but especially to this very proud dad. We've laughed together and cried together. We've played together and worshiped together. We've loved life together and wondered "why?" together. The bottom line is we've done these things together!
I will always cherish those"together moments" and praise God for my little girl -- the funny little girl who made me laugh --- the kind little girl with a big heart who made me cry --- the little girl with the big soul who showed me unconditional love no matter what. But most of all, I thank God for the little girl who has grown up to be a beautiful young lady with those same wonderful, childlike characteristics. She is a gift!
I love you, Ash!
Under HIS Grace...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ashley's Week - G'nore Me!

It is almost impossible to believe that my little girl, Ashley, is now 23 years old. It's even more impossible to believe that my little Ashley is getting married this Saturday to a great guy, Donald Binkley. Donald is a very lucky man! But, Ashley did good too!
The years have passed by quickly and my sticky, sweaty, fly by the seat of her pants Ashley has grown into a beautiful young lady. Oh, she still is a "trickster" and can dish it out as well as she can take it, but she is a wonderful person. I'd say that even if I weren't her dad!
There are so many stories to tell about Ashley and I plan to share them between now and Saturday. The first comes from my book, GRACERUNNER - FAITH ON THE RUN. Here you go:


It’s hard to believe that my daughters, Morgan and Ashley, are now in their 20’s! It seems like yesterday that they were running around as little girls looking for ways to stay busy. Now, they are two wonderful, talented, beautiful young ladies with bright futures ahead. However, one thing has not changed. In my mind, they are still Daddy’s little girls.

When Morgan was about 5 and Ashley was 3, they had a very unusual relationship. Ashley tended to want to make sure that Morgan always knew that she was there! No matter the time or place, Ashley was doing something that would just about send Morgan over the edge. The words would always come from Morgan, “DAD! Ashley is bothering me!” My response remained the same through the dozens of time that I heard this phrase. I would tell Morgan, “Ignore Ashley. You know how she is.”

This ritual continued for quite some time and finally, one day while we were traveling and the girls were buckled in their car seats, Morgan uttered her famous phrase, “DAD! Ashley is bothering me!” Before I could get the words out of my mouth, I heard Ashley proclaim, “Well, G’NORE me! You know how I am!” This story lives on in infamy in our family. It’s truly one of the funniest things that I’ve ever heard a kid say.

G’nore me! You know how I am!” Have you ever said that to God? I think we go about our days and forget about God. When we do something that we know we shouldn’t or we don’t do something that we know we should, I think we probably go into “G’NORE ME” mode. We want God to be there when we want Him. Yet, we really don’t want Him there all the time. We don’t want Him to control our lives. Instead, quite frankly, we ignore Him. What we want is to control how God intervenes in our lives. We don’t want God to be involved in our day-to-day activities. We just want him to be there when we need Him. “G’nore me! You know how I am!”

It just doesn’t work that way. We can’t have it both ways. We need God to be involved in ALL things in our lives. Turning over our lives in total surrender is what God desires – but He gives you that choice. What is your choice? “G’nore me!” or “Change me!”


Under HIS Grace...


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


After this past weekend in Dallas, I needed time to reflect on so many things. It was a hectic week and then this event was upon us! Kiki drove 10 hours on Thursday evening and got into Dallas at 4:00 AM! I had to stay behind because of another commitment and then flew in on Friday evening. I know, I know, KIKI is my HERO too!!!
Lesley Toops and Mariann Burris helped Kiki at the expo on Friday (Kiki got about 3 hours of sleep) and then I worked the expo on Saturday with Lesley and Mariann. They were great and I appreciate their efforts so very much!
We met wonderful people in Dallas and, as usual, we were reacquainted with a lot of our old friends. Lots of folks stopped by to talk, learn about the ministry, buy a shirt, pick up a copy of our new book, and other TEAM 413 fundraising merchandise. But, once again, it was all those stories that captured my heart --- "I saw someone wearing one of your shirts in ___________ and they helped me finish the race. Now I want to help someone else!" Man, that makes me feel so humble and so proud of those folks who are all over the country representing our Lord through TEAM 413.
The expo was great but the race was better. UNBELIEVABLE day! God decided to show off big time with the weather. It was one of those days that you'd like to "bookmark" and pull out when you need a perfect spring day! During the race I was never out of sight of a TEAM 413 shirt. I started the race with twins who were wearing red TEAM 413 shirts, I ran along with three ladies with light pink shirts on, I ran the last few miles along with Penny -- who wore a white tank, I finished with a bubble gum pink shirt in front of me, and Penny right along with me. I heard John Bingham call out several TEAM 413ers within the next 10 minutes of my finish. Then, I talked to at least a dozen folks out in the finishing area & family gathering area who represented us in Dallas. We celebrated God's goodness and provision in allowing us to finish.
Although my race was slower than I used to run prior to my health problems, I am starting to see improvement. I don't run like the wind, but feel like I'm at least running like a breeze for a change. I actually ran a negative split for the first time in a very long time! I got into a groove and was able to finish strong. I actually felt stronger as the race went on. It was special even though I was slow!
We'll be off this weekend as my daughter, Ashley, is getting married on Saturday. I'll write more about Ashley by the end of this week. It's going to be a special week for our family. Please pray for this dad!
I stand in awe of the wonders of God's goodness!
Under HIS Grace...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Faith on the Run

My first opportunity to tell the TEAM 413 story to the students, faculty, and staff of Samford University came at a convocation on Thursday, March 11. The topic was entitled "Faith on the Run." Individuals across our campus knew of our ministry, but this was the first time that I've been able to speak to them collectively. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
I didn't sleep much on Wednesday night as I tossed and turned the entire evening. I rarely get nervous prior to a speaking engagement. This was different! I didn't have butterflies --- I had eagles! This event had been scheduled for many months and it had simmered in my heart and soul all throughout that time. The day arrived and emotions overwhelmed me. It hit me how special this day would be. Having been employed at the university for 26 years, this was family. This opportunity was a God given dream come true.
Traffic on my commute to campus was awful. A 25 minute drive turned into more than an hour and I was running late for our audiovisual check. Nevertheless, we got it done and the students started to arrive. We had a great crowd and many members of the Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Department faculty came to hear our story. Matt Kerlin, the pastor to the university, opened with prayer. Then, Dr. Jim Angel, my friend, confidant, mentor, and role model for more than 25 years introduced me. He told a lot of really good lies! Our new TEAM 413 video produced by Mark Starner of Good News Films began to play on a HUGE screen and it was absolutely awesome!
Now, it was my turn. As I stood and looked out over the audience, the nervousness went away and I shared my personal story and then the story of TEAM 413. I spoke of the people who make up our ministry. I told stories of God's matchless grace along our seven year journey. For about 35 minutes, God grabbed my heart, mind, and mouth! He gave me the words to say. During this short time we shared the hopes, dreams, and vision of thousands of individuals involved with the TEAM 413 ministry. I've never felt so much peace while speaking to a group and I had so much that I wanted to say. It was a celebration!
As the day went on I received dozens of comments, emails, and phone calls from those who attended. God had touched their hearts through a simple message by a simple man. I am humbled to be His servant!
Later in the day we had a book signing of my first book, GRACERUNNER - FAITH ON THE RUN, at the University Bookstore. Lots of friends stopped by to pick up a book, share a story, or just talk. Faculty members, who are parents of some of my former students, came by to purchase a book for their son or daughter. That was very special to me personally because it meant that we might have been a positive influence on some kids at some point in their life.
I will cherish this day for the rest of my life. It was one of those "time stand still" moments. It was a dream come true to tell the good news of Jesus Christ and how He has changed the landscape of the running community through TEAM 413.
Thanks to all of you who came to the event or who prayed for us during that time. The message will be on Podcast soon and a video was made. I will alert everyone when we post the links in the near future.
God bless y'all!
Under HIS Grace...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Simply Forgiven and Redeemed

I haven't written much in my GRACERUNNER JOURNAL over the past few days because I've had so much going on that I've not had the time to sit down and write from the heart. Days seem to fly by and I want to get so much done, but I just run out of time! I'm certain that all of you have been in those shoes before!
The events of the past week have been amazing. TEAM 413 had two great events last weekend in Little Rock, Arkansas and at Seaside, Florida. People from all over the world got to hear about and see the ministry of TEAM 413. I appreciate so much the generosity of our volunteers this past weekend and can never do justice to their efforts with the exception of saying THANK YOU!
Our volunteers make TEAM 413 continue to grow at an unbelievable pace and we've only just begun in 2010. We've got so much more work to do and we'll need lots of help. We're most likely coming to a city near you soon. We'll be in Dallas this weekend. Then we'll follow up over the next few weeks with Knoxville, St. Louis, Boston, Nashville, Cincinnati, and Champaign. Please let us know if you want to volunteer in one of those cities. We typically can use help if you plan on being at any of those races.
I've heard countless stories of God's grace during the past few days and I'll eventually share many of those via GRACERUNNER JOURNAL. However, one part of an email that I received from a young lady really got my attention last night. She bought a shirt from us at the Disney World Marathon back in January and ran the Princess Half Marathon this past weekend down at Walt Disney World. Here's the excerpt from her email that grabbed me by the heart:
"I cannot tell you the amount of women who passed me and touched my shoulder and said they loved the shirt. One woman said her sister had just emailed her the verse the night before. It doesn't seem like much but I'm usually just a face in the crowd and to know that your shirt may have touched or inspired a complete stranger filled my heart to overflowing. All I could say to them was "Thank you" but praised God every moment for, one, breathing this Scripture into life, second, for laying it upon your hearts to create Team413 and, third, for drawing me into your booth to purchase your shirt. God Bless You!"
God breathed the Scripture into life! Wow, that's a great way to explain God's Word! The gift of God's grace to create TEAM 413 humbles me beyond measure each day. I feel so inadequate but I know that it's what God wants me to do. Please pray of us as we continue to lead the TEAM 413 ministry in to a time of growth that we cannot comprehend! People are drawn to the message of our ministry because it allows them to share their faith. That's what our ministry is all about. We share a simple message for simple people to share with other simple people on common ground! God is not just good --- HE is Great and worthy of our praise!
Simply forgiven and redeemed!
Under HIS Grace...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Big Weekend Ahead - Big God in Charge!

We have a big weekend ahead. Mark Eldridge and his crew are in Little Rock, Arkansas for the Little Rock Marathon Expo. Kiki and I leave tomorrow evening to work the Seaside Half Marathon Expo on Saturday. The next few weeks are crazy busy and God will be working in the hearts of people all over the country through the ministry of TEAM 413.
Please pray for our ministry to continue under God's grace and to have the strength to get through the weeks to come. We have eight events out of the next 10 weekends and some of them are huge. I'll be sharing more in upcoming editions of GRACERUNNER JOURNAL. In the meantime, pray for our group when we come to your mind.
God is doing some unbelievable things in our ministry right now. The remainder of 2010 will be the biggest year in our history. We are so excited to see what God does next!
Under HIS Grace...

Monday, March 1, 2010

My Heart is Full!

There were so many miracles of God's goodness and grace that were evident in New Orleans this past weekend at the Mardi Gras Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. Once again the truth of 1 Corinthians 15:58 was proven: "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
Words cannot adequately express the way I feel about the weekend we had in New Orleans. To say that it was a successful event would minimize all the things that happened. To say that it was a great event would not do it justice. Simply stated, the weekend was a turning point for the ministry of TEAM 413. We are about to go down a road that we have prayed to travel for several years. We are about to enter the Audubon of growth that we have asked God to give our ministry. This is going to be the ride of our lives!
Thousands of people filed by our booth at the Mardi Gras Marathon Expo. However, some extra-special folks stopped by. I had the pleasure to meet many of our Facebook friends and followers of GRACERUNNER JOURNAL. Meeting, sharing, and talking with them was priceless! Thanks for stopping by!
TEAM 413 runners from all over the country stopped by to say hello, buy a new shirt, get a book signed, or just visit. These folks are the heart of our ministry. They are the feet on the street who help spread our message and plant seeds of faith all over the world. It's been a long journey for many of them as it has for us --- but, they persevere. They keep pushing forward and standing tall in the midst of unimaginable circumstances. These folks share their shirt stories with me via email, phone calls, or talking with us at expos. These "billboards of grace" inspire me each day. God bless all of you who run the race and share your faith in words and actions! Keep the faith and the path!
I received one message from a TEAM 413 friend who said that she saw more of our shirts on the New Orleans course than at any other race that she has attended. I'm not sure how many people wore their faith on their back on Sunday, but it was in the hundreds. John Bingham, the Penguin and PA announcer for the Competitor Rock 'n' Roll Series, gave me a shout out at the start of the race and said that the number of TEAM 413 shirts were too many to count. He gave out our website address over the PA and then I was interviewed from the corral for everyone to hear. TEAM 413 runners were validated at that moment. A goal of our ministry is to become a more visible and viable entity in the running community. The events of this past weekend helped us toward that goal!
Finally, there was Kiki. My wife and best buddy is amazing. In my book I share a story about Kiki. I share what kind of person she is and how much she has done for me through the past five years. Yet, I go on to share about her athletic ability and the way she will take on a challenge. When we registered for the race, I wrote down that she would run a 1:45 half marathon. This put her in corral #2. The reason that I did this was to place her in a position to run the pace that she can run! She has been through many injuries during the past year and suffered an illness which set her back a great deal. Just as we were about to part to go to our corrals, I kissed her and wished her luck. Then, I whispered, "run 2 hours! I challenged her and she went out there and pushed herself like I knew she would. Her finishing time after all that she has been through 2:02:55! Outstanding effort and I am so very proud of her.
New Orleans was outstanding but we have so many great events coming up. Please join us as we move forward under God's grace. We'll be in Seaside, Florida and Little Rock, Arkansas this weekend. Check www.team413.org for our other events coming up during the next few months. We are most likely coming to a city near you!
Under HIS Grace...