Bicycling Magazine Omits Facts

In their recent piece about the deaths of two Zombie Zone cyclists, Bicycling magazine left out important facts regarding one of the cases.

In May 2015, Hinkel was at mile 99 of the region’s premier event, the Horsey Hundred Century, when a pickup truck crossed the centerline and hit him head-on. Witnesses called 911 immediately. The driver, 29-year-old Odilon Paz-Salvador, who had a history of substance abuse and was allegedly drunk at the time, continued three miles down the road until police pulled him over at a mobile home park—as Hinkel lay bleeding on the truck’s bed cover. Emergency responders found Hinkel there and rushed him to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Here are the rest of the facts:

(a) Paz-Salvador is an illegal immigrant.

(b) Paz-Salvador had at least three prior aggravated DUIs, one of which had his blood alcohol level at 0.3.

(c) Paz-Salvador’s deportation orders had been sitting in bureaucratic Hell for more than a year.

(d) Paz-Salvador was not “allegedly” drunk: he was bombed off his arse. He confessed to smoking marijuana and had beer in his truck.

(e) After hitting Hinkel head-on, Paz-Salvador was fleeing the police.

That he was even in the United States, let alone allowed to walk the streets or–worse–drive on them, is a travesty.

Like Hinkel, I rode Horsey Hundred 2015. My group was finishing when he got hit; we were three miles ahead of him. (We started long before he did; elite riders like Hinkel often start later whereas groups like mine–who are intentionally slow–start earlier.)

Hinkel was very likely enjoying the last couple miles of what was a long but pleasant ride. He no doubt had enjoyed a root beer float and other goodies at the Bethel Church rest stop, which was the final rest stop before the finish. The hardest parts of the ride were over, and, at mile 99, it was relatively flat the rest of the way. He had one more turn to make, then he’d be riding into Georgetown college where he would finish, check in and get credit for the Kentucky Century Challenge, and then knock down some nice food.

That all went to crap when Paz-Salvador showed up, struck Hinkel head-on at a high rate of speed, and then tried to flee the police with Hinkel–badly wounded–in the bed of his truck.

Guinness Survives Close Call in North Korea

Guinness, eager to prove his bona fides with the 1st Feline Battalion, went on a solo reconnaissance mission in North Korea. Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication, he ended up a hundred miles away from his planned drop zone.

Almost immediately, he came under heavy enemy fire. Thankfully, the North Koreans can’t shoot very well. Guinness, in spite of a tremendous pursuit by North Korean Special Forces, managed to escape. Miraculously, he made it to a safe house near the border with China. Four days later, he was rescued by Allied troops.

No more solo missions for him.

Abortion is Murder

If I trigger anyone, then fine. I can’t find a single shit to give this morning. Here is one of the reasons why.

If you had an abortion, and you were not under force at the time, then you are a murderer. Don’t like that? Fine. Calling me names won’t change that fact, because I didn’t create the reality.

You made it yours when you chose to kill your baby.

#TeamAbigail: Dramatic Exit from ECMO

For five long days, Abigail remained hooked up to the ECMO machine. On the third day, they added a dialysis machine in order to relieve the 33% weight gain due to fluid buildup that is characteristic of babies on ECMO.

While her numbers had improved steadily, ECMO carries inherent risks that are unending. In the words of a perfusionist:

Every day you are on ECMO, it’s an opportunity for things to go terribly wrong. Every time that pump cycles, that is an opportunity for something to break. It is an opportunity for a blood clot. It is an opportunity for infection. It is an opportunity for internal bleeding.

That was the reality for five days.

Every morning, I showed up at 8AM, as the docs made their rounds. The entire team taking care of Abigail–neonatologists, critical care docs, pharmacists, nurses, residents, and medical school students–would spell out their strategy for the day for Abigail. They would begin with a recap of the situation, they’d list out the vitals, they’d list all the medications–including exact dosages–she was on, they’d list all nutrition, all the most recent test results, anything of note from the nurses. Some of it was for the purpose of teaching the students and residents, some of this was due to the complexity of these ICU situations: it really did take a team effort.

The plan was to keep Abigail on ECMO for 7 days. I wanted her off sooner, as I wanted ECMO-related risks off the table. I figured that, if other complications are subsiding and her numbers are otherwise good, why keep her on ECMO any longer than necessary? I didn’t bother the docs about it, though: I figured they knew what they were doing. That’s why they are the docs and I’m a lowly IT professional rooting for my baby girl to kick ECMO’s ass.

On the fourth day, I noticed some external bleeding where the cannula line entered her neck. It seemed more than you would expect. I asked the nurse on duty about it, and she said it was no big deal. But she was a trainee. So I asked one of the docs.

The doc said that some external bleeding is normal, but this was more than usual. They gave her an extra stitch, and dressed it better. For most of day five, it didn’t seem like a problem, given that Abigail’s numbers otherwise looked good. But that external bleeding was increasing, and that just didn’t seem right.

The lead critical care doc decided that this was more than usual, but said it didn’t seem emergent. Still, she said it was worth keeping a lookout.

Then, at around 7:45, her blood pressure dropped like a paratrooper having a very bad day.

She was losing too much blood. You don’t have to be a doc to put two and two together on that one.

The doc said that they’d get a team in right away to check that out. She also decided to give Abigail some more blood. She told me to go for a run. “It’s not emergent.” Looking back, I’m thinking she just wanted to get me out of there. She liked both MrsLarijani and me, but she probably didn’t want both of us around at the same time for what was coming down. And she knew I had my gym bag with me.

So I went to the stairwell and started running stairs. I wore my phone just in case anything changed.

About 20 minutes into my run, my phone started going off.

It was MrsLarijani.

“You need to get back here now. They’re shutting down the PICU. They’re taking her off ECMO. They’ll tell you why when you get here.”

As I ran back to the PICU, I was optimistic and nervous at the same time. On one hand, she’s coming off ECMO. I WANTED that. But if they’d planned on keeping her on ECMO for 2 more days and now they’re abruptly pulling her off, then the defecation has crashed into circulation at a high velocity.

When I got there, the doc was waiting, with two computer monitors showing two different X-rays.

The one on the left showed the cannula line position when Abigail was initially put on ECMO. The one on the right showed a cannula line that had clearly shifted. That was the cause of the bleeding.

And they couldn’t simply re-insert the cannula without risking infection. So the decision was made to pull the ejection handle on ECMO.

—–

And so we were shuttled out of the room in PICU–the surgery was happening right there–and into the consult room. I locked the room so I could change out of my sweaty clothes, and a doc came in, twice, while I was in the middle of changing in order to brief us. (It was comic relief: every time she knocked, I had to quickly throw my sweats on. It provided a couple of light moments on what was a very stressful time.)

MrsLarijani was extremely worried. So was I. Yeah, I wanted Abigail off ECMO, and–for better or worse–I was getting what I wanted. The issue was whether she was ready to come off ECMO. Personally, I was cautiously optimistic. My pucker factor was a 5.

MrsLarijani, however, had been through the ringer. From the news of the birth the previous Saturday, to nearly a week on last-ditch life support, and now emergency surgery, she was worried that we were being punished for something.

I must admit, her concerns had rational basis. I mean goodness…NOTHING had been normal about this. At every turn, our attempt to have children, first by conception, then by adoption, had run into major roadblocks. And now, after being picked, we had to hurry up and wait for a month, and now we are facing the possibility that Abigail might not come home with us.

While I said we would pray about that angle, I also brought up the dynamic of deliverance that God provided the Israelites. At so many times, even when they had re-assurance, things sometimes got worse: Pharoah cracked down harder, they had an army chasing them, they spent long times in the wilderness wondering where their next meal would come from. At every turn, God effectively said, “Hold my beer and watch this.”

But yes, we prayed for deliverance for Abigail. We prayed as hard as we ever have as a couple.

Because the situation had become emergent, the NICU folks put us in a room that had a bunk bed. This saved us from having to go back to the Ronald McDonald House.

Once we got into the room, I crashed out and managed to get some good, quality sleep.

At about 1AM, we had a knock on our door. The surgeon said, “Abigail is now off ECMO, and she is doing excellent.” In my daze, I gave him a thumbs-up and said thank you.

Abigail was off ECMO.

She’d just spent her first week on this earth establishing her badass bona fides.

That’s my girl!

After-Action Report: Redbud (Makeup) Ride 2017

I had originally set my sights on doing an Ironman triathlon this year. But The Battle of NICU blew a 2-month hole in my training schedule. So that will probably happen next year.

But I decided to sign up for the Kentucky Century Challenge. This will be my 4th year doing it. This year, the format is different.

(1) There are five “century” (100+ mile) rides, not 4.
(2) Doing 4 rides earns you the free jersey.
(3) Doing all 5 rides earns you a free pair of bike pants to boot.
(4) The rides for this year are:

  • The Redbud Ride (London, KY), Apr 22
  • The Horsey Hundred (Georgetown, KY), May 27
  • Bike Morehead (Morehead, KY), June 17
  • The Bourbon and Bluegrass Ride (Owensboro, KY),August 5
  • The Hub City Tour (Elizabethtown, KY), September 9

—-
It seems that, in odd-numbered years, the Redbud Ride gets hit by nasty weather. 2013 and 2015 were nasty. (I did not do the ride in 2013, as I was not aware of the Century Challenge at the time.) 2014 and 2016 were excellent.

This year, we got the odd-numbered weather: suckola. Cold weather, rain, and thunderstorms forecast for most of the day.

As a result, the Century Challenge team gave everyone the chance to “make up” the ride, provided they had been registered for the Redbud. It had to be a verifiable completed ride–with witnesses–or with evidence from a GPS unit (such as data from a Garmin device).

Since I now have a Garmin 920XT, I figured this would be perfect.

What I decided to do, though, was use this opportunity to get a baseline for my performance at 100 miles on a flat course, complete with heart rate, calorie burn, and split times. And I wanted to do it with minimal caloric intake during the ride.

As a result, I picked Beckley Creek Park in Louisville, and decided to ride the entire 100 miles on the Egg Lawn. At 0.8 miles per loop, that would require 125 loops.

On its face, this would seem like a boring ride.

For calories, I had 200-calorie jugs of Gatorade of various flavors, as well as a 1300-calorie bag of potato chips. I picked the latter because it had three things I wanted: carbs, fat, and salt. My diet has been increasingly ketogenic, and I am ratcheting back carbs progressively. This was my opportunity to see what that would do for me on a century ride.

My plan was to break for hydration/nutrition/bladder relief every 20 miles.

I started out very strong, probably too strong. The weather was very pleasant: temp was 55F when I started, and winds were light. I stayed aero most of the way.

Average speed exceeded 17mph for most of the first 50 miles. I was killing it by my standards. I finished the half-Iron distance (56 miles) inside 3:30, which was a 45-minute improvement over my Toughman Indiana bike time last year (and that was on a flat course as well, albeit with epic headwinds).

After mile 50, I began to slow, as the winds picked up and my legs started getting tired.

At mile 60, my quads were starting to hurt.

On one hand, a flat course might seem easy, but the downside is this: on a flat course, you cannot stop pedaling, whereas on a hilly course you get relief on the downhills.

Also, my bike mechanic screwed up the settings on my bike when he test rode it. Ergo, my bike-fit is whacked, and that probably is what put too much stress on my quads.

At any rate, I was unusually sore.

On the bright side: I was not tired, even though I was going harder than I normally do on my century rides. I finished the first 50 miles in just north of 3 hours, and that included pit stops. The lower calorie approach was working.

On the front 50, I used very little Gatorade, using water for my primary hydration source. I used Gatorade at pit stops only. But on the back 50, I switched to Gatorade, as I figured I would need the extra carb support.

As it turned out, I was well-hydrated throughout the ride. Where I had planned to only stop at 20 mile intervals to pee, I had to stop at mile 70 and mile 90 to do that.

At mile 80, my legs were KILLING me.

At that point, I had 25 laps remaining. I knew I was going to finish, but–dang!–it was going to hurt. Still, I was on track to finish at a 15 mph pace (including pit stops).

At mile 90, I hit the wall. Fatigue was setting in, and my legs were really hurting. But I knew I had the finish. Just 12-and-a-half laps to go.

I slogged it in from there, getting my miles in. Total mileage: 100.4. Including pit stops, my total pace was 15 mph. Not including pit stops, I was at 15.7 mph.

Total calorie burn was just south of 2,100. If that is accurate, then i only expended about half of what I thought I would. (I was expecting a calorie output closer to 4,000.)

On the positive side:

  • I now have a baseline for my performance at 50 miles, 56 miles, and 100 miles.
  • This was my fastest completion of any century distance.
  • I have a tangible picture of my capabilities at races such as Toughman Indiana.
  • I only consumed half the bag of potato chips.
  • I only consumed 400 calories of Gatorade.

Total calorie intake during the ride: about 1,100. Not bad.

After the ride, I went to Wendy’s and had a small chili and a small chocolate Frosty.

The only negative: my leg soreness. I’m not sure if this was due to (a) my lack of training due to NICU Hell, (b) my bike fit, (c) the fact that my legs got no relief due to it being a flat course, or (d) some combination of the above.

I might have to take my bike in to get it re-fitted. This is money I did not want to spend, but it may be necessary.

Overall, however, a very good ride. 100 miles “in the zone”.

And, with my Garmin, I now have the data online.

Dr. Iain Campbell, Reformed Leader Caught in Scandal, Kills Self

In all honesty, I had never heard of Dr. Iain Campbell until his suicide was reported by TWW.

Initially, his colleagues provided a sympathetic assessment of his suicide.

FWIW: I generally am very skeptical of such assessments. Suicide is a big honkin’ deal. I can understand a younger person–acting stupidly in a dark moment–doing it, but when a grown adult does it, what you have is either (a) a profound case of trauma (e.g. PTSD) or (b) a serious mental illness or (c) an attempt to evade or atone for one’s sins.

Apparently, Campbell got caught–proverbially with his pants down–in at least seven extramarital affairs, allegedly with at least one of those affairs producing a child. Other accounts suggest that he confessed his infidelities to his wife, then killed himself, then she found the details.

At any rate, Campbell, a revered leader among hard-core Reformers, was living a double life.

On one hand, he was a highly-respected Church historian and communicator for the Reformed perspective.

On the other hand, he had more in common with Donald Trump in the morality department, than he had with the Apostles.

Like the folks at TWW, I find it galling that others would blame his wife, even remotely, for his demise. If he had a bad home life, then he had no business being in any leadership capacity in the Church, as his house was clearly not in order. (That is a Biblical requirement for any would-be overseer.)

I don’t care if his wife was Jezebel incarnate; he is responsible for his own life before God.

There is no pretty way to spin this. Campbell, from what we know to be true about his life, was almost certainly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Did he teach unsound doctrine? I don’t know. I do not classify Reform theology as unsound doctrine. But false doctrine is not the only marker of a wolf. Wolves can teach otherwise sound doctrine while sowing discord through immorality and other practices. You can preach a 5-star sermon on Sunday while carousing in private.

But here’s the thing: you will never outrun your character. It will ALWAYS catch up with you. Your comeuppance may be private, but, in the case of sexual sin (particularly adultery) it is almost always public.

The Bible says it plainly: “your sin will find you out.”

The best thing you can do is address those matters BEFORE you enter the ranks of leadership. 1 Timothy and Titus present a set of requirements that, on balance, call for spiritual mileage.

Spiritual mileage is not about having “zero defects” in your life. What it entails: a track record of being a student and practitioner of Scripture, rightly dividing the Word of Truth, giving sound counsel, living it out in your own life, falling down often, getting up more often. It means working for a living, working through crises, dealing with personal failure, dealing with being wrong and being wronged, being honest and transparent.

If you’re married, it means having the kind of marriage that reflects Christ’s love for the Church. If you have children, it means that they comport themselves in a way that testifies to your faithfulness in both grace and discipline.

And, if you don’t remember anything else, I am going to hit you with two fundamental truths:

TRUTH #1: CHARISMA IS NOT CHARACTER!!!
TRUTH #2: A CREDENTIAL IS NOT CHARACTER!!!

I don’t care if you have an MDiv from SBTS. I don’t care if you have a PhD, a DMin, or ThD. I’ve known excellent pastors who had no college education; I’ve known some very damnable ones with high marks from the most respected seminaries.

As for charisma? Puhleeeeze. That’s actually a hallmark of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. The better one’s charisma, the more you ought to be on the lookout for BS. Fact is, the most evil people in your church–the child molesters, the serial adulterers, the fraudsters–don’t “look” evil. In fact, they are often the most likeable people in your church.

Sadly, as we are learning, Dr. Iain Campbell was a phony.

The purpose of his life, in retrospect, is a warning to YOU.

Class dismissed.

TWW, TGC, Joe Carter, and Broken Wolves

Fair disclosure:

(1) I have both praised and excoriated Joe Carter from these pages.
(2) Ditto for Deb and Dee of TWW.

I don’t view either one of them as all good or all evil. I am skeptical of much of the NeoCal world–I don’t fawn over the celebrity preachers, and have serious reservations of Calvinism as a dogmatic model (while supporting Calvinism as a hermeneutical model). TWW, in turn, assaults their credibility by attempting to spin every abuse into their War on Patriarchy when in fact the real issue is a culture where leaders are, like the pigs in Animal Farm, “more equal than others”.

Recently, Joe Carter posted an insightful piece on “Broken Wolves”. I personally don’t care to read the comments section, but the post–at face value–is spot-on.

I did not have any problem understanding what he wrote, nor do I see him singling anyone out.

In fact, I have seen exactly the “Broken Wolves” he describes. Many theological liberals come from those ranks. They include feminists of all stripes, but they also include at least as many men.

Some of them have had real abuse experience, and oftentimes from within the conservative ranks. Some of them grew up in churches within the Deep South, whose members included Klansmen, and whose leaders tacitly ignored immoralities, racism, and even murder. Some of them were raped and/or molested by said “leaders”. Some were drowned in hardcore legalism at both home and church. Some of them grew up in households where parents were “highly-respected” in the church, but who were complete jackwagons–sometimes abusers–who lacked any semblance of compassion behind closed doors.

The abuses they suffered do not make them “wolves”. That is not their sin.

When they use their abuses and dysfunctional upbringings as a pretext to ditch sound doctrine and undermine God’s Word, that is what makes them wolves. That Carter calls them “broken wolves” is simply descriptive. In Scripture, there were many types of wolves: some of them were Gnostic, some of them were Judaizers, some of them were libertine.

The same is true today. Carter is merely describing a particular type of wolf, one that appeals to a large swath of the Christian world.

So to make a long story short, I do think Deb and Dee doth protest too much. I did not see Carter aiming at them, nor did I remotely have them in mind when I read his piece. The element he is describing is something completely different, at least from my vantage point.

OTOH, I do think that Deb and Dee undermine their credibility every time they toss proverbial Molotov cocktails every time Piper, Mohler, Keller, or others in the NeoCal world speak on an issue.

Repentance

Abuse is a word that is itself terribly abused in our culture. Our culture has so warped and misused the term that it has weakened and almost demolished its truth. Still, there is real abuse in the world. Bad things really do happen. We live in a depraved and sinful world. It’s life as we know it.

When I was in therapy all those years ago, I had to be convinced that what my parents did to me was, in fact, abuse, and wrong. I was told that what they did was akin to Chinese torture. I’ve never experienced Chinese torture, so I’ll have to take that therapist’s word for it. I was also told that people who grow up as I did often develop Multiple Personality Disorder.

Those are some pretty harsh statements. I don’t want them to be true, but what I want doesn’t change truth. I have worked to overcome all that yuck and not to allow it to excuse me or my behavior. I’m not perfect here, but it’s certainly been my goal.

Sometimes there are things that happen to us, big things, once-in-a-lifetime things. Bad things. And good things. They’re not part of our everyday lives, but they affect every part of our everyday lives.

Recently I got a phone call from my Mother. It’s been years since I’ve talked to her. It’s simply not been possible to have a relationship with someone who lives in a false world when you live in reality. But this call was one of those once-in-a-lifetime, Big Thing, changes. For the first time ever, my Mother confessed that she was a terrible mom, that she did terrible things to me, and that she feels great guilt and remorse, and that she wishes she could go back and change it all.

Repentance requires one to own their own stuff, to make it theirs, to not blame anyone else for one’s behavior, to take responsibility for one’s choices. I have to be very honest, I never, ever, ever would have guessed, in all my wildest dreams or fantasies or imagination, ever, that my Mother would repent and confess and own her sin against me. She is very smart and has creatively blamed her behavior on so many things that it’s become laughable.

But a repentant and contrite heart is hard to disguise. And I am extremely leery of all things regarding my Mother. Yet, I believe her. I believe her. I believe she is deeply sorry. I believe she is contrite. I believe she has owned her sins. And I believe she has or is in the process (and it’s a long one for stuff this big) of repenting.

I have not begun to digest this and its effect on my life, but I do know this much … it’s a total game changer. It’s bigger than winning the Super Bowl or the World Cup or the World Series. It’s bigger than Big.

Forgiveness has been asked and given. Trust will take time. But neither could begin without repentance, and that was on her. And she did it.

#TeamAbigail: “Your Baby Lived, God is Good”

Recently, as I announced to our Facebook friends that we were finally, after 7 weeks, taking Abigail home, a friend of mine–a former pastor’s wife–chimed in: “Abigail lived. God is good.”

The statement bothered me a bit. After all, the survival of a NICU baby is hardly a referendum on the goodness of God.

And Scripture tells us as much. Jesus was very clear that God causes it to rain on the just and the unjust.

Good things happen to good and bad people; bad things happen to good and bad people.

In Matthew, no small number of mothers in Bethlehem had to watch as their babies–from newborn to two years–were sliced and stabbed to death by Herod’s thugs. Their weeping and wailing could be heard all the way in Ramah.

This all happened as God, who so loved the world, had delivered Jesus to provide atonement for sin. In fact, the slaughter was Herod’s attempt to snuff Jesus in the crib. He wanted to share his throne with no one, not even the King of Kings.

Likewise, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego understood the goodness of God, even as they knew that they were not entitled to deliverance from the fiery furnace. They were devoted to serving God, and had faith that God could deliver them from the fire. In perhaps the closest thing to telling someone to do something anatomically impossible recorded in Scripture, they told Nebuchadnezzar:

O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.

These were godly men who, long before Stockdale came along, understood his paradox: they had the faith that they would prevail in the end–as that was a function of the promises of God–even as they were sober enough to realize that things could get a little warm before that happens. Sometimes, the only victory you have will not be of this world. They understood that.

I have friends who have had to bury young children. I have friends who have buried their wives. I have friends who lost one or both parents when they were children. God is good, but this world can suck.

Fact is, we live in a world that is cursed, broken, and dying. Jesus said it himself: “Heaven and earth will pass away.” In Revelation, we are told that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus promised that He would go and prepare a place for us, and that He would return and take us to Himself. He did not promise to make this world good; He promised he would prepare a place for us. In fact, He said it plainly to Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world.”

Sometimes, God intervenes in the natural order and delivers miracles. Jesus cleansed lepers; Jesus healed a paralytic; He restored a man’s withered hand; He healed a woman with persistent bleeding; He raised a couple people from the dead; He healed deaf and blind people. In the Old Testament, God drowned an entire army; He delivered military victories against great adversity; He provided healings, even raised people from the dead. And He delivered three men from a furnace, and another from a den of lions.

But good people still suffered: Naboth was stoned to death because of Jezebel; Jeremiah was not delivered from captivity; good priests were killed on occasion; good men died in battle due to the sins of others; most of the Apostles died horrific deaths for their faith.

As MrsLarijani and I prayed for Abigail, we understood that God was not obligated to heal Abigail. This was not a mark against God, but rather an acknowledgement that He is King and we are not. “Blab it and grab it” is theological tripe manufactured in Hell. In my seminary days, a friend of mine and I developed a term to describe such viewpoints: buoyancy. That is because dung floats. It was our humorous way of calling bad ideas “a pile of ****”.

And make no mistake: Word of Faith theology is highly-buoyant.

Equally buoyant, however, is the premise that God is somehow not able to interrupt the natural order, or that He gets some thrill out of seeing His people suffer.

I have an idea, granted it’s speculation but I’d call it an educated guess based on what we know to be true from Scripture.

Ultimately, Satan and his legions will get their day of judgment for the evil they have wrought.

Every tragedy, every death, every instance of human suffering–even the sufferings of Jesus–will stand as a witness against Satan on the day of judgment. On that day, Satan and his legions will suffer from the mountain of evidence against them. While Hell will be ugly all the way around, it will be far worse for them than for anyone else. This is because THEY are the perpetrators of “original sin”. Remember: original sin did not start with Adam and Eve; it actually began with Satan and those angels who chose to abandon God and follow him.

Those not covered by the blood will also be punished, some more severely than others. Their punishment will also be eternal–there is no “Get Out of Jail”, free or otherwise, in Hell–but some will have it worse.

With them, as with Satan and his legions, their record of evil will stand as a witness against them: every widow forsaken, every orphan who starved, every rape victim who was violated and in many cases denied justice, every murder victim, every act of torture, every act of fraud and deceit, every rejection of God.

But human suffering, it will be a witness on the day of judgment.

And for many of us, that may be the only vindication we ever see.

But here’s the thing: while God will definitely make all things fair on that day, “fairness” will be very devastating. In comparison to those who will be welcomed into eternal life, the ranks of Hell will be staggering.

For those of us who have received Him, who are children of God, the words “well done good and faithful servant” will be the most important words for all eternity. It won’t matter if you’re the toilet scrubber in Heaven, you’ll have it better than the richest people–combined–ever had it on earth.

I had a friend from my seminary days–who had been raped in her teen years–tell me, “Nothing I can get from God will restore what I had.” Many years after graduating, she was still very angry with God. This is what drove her theology leftward.

I told her: “You’re aiming too low. Jesus didn’t come to give you what you used to have; He came so you can have something newer and better than you ever had, that will never be taken away.”

I, for one, don’t want what I used to have. Even in my best years of fitness, that young body is still perishable.

Fact is, there is nothing material that you have on this earth that can’t be taken from you. I don’t care how rich you are; I don’t care how powerful you are; I don’t care how many friends you have. Government can seize your property; natural disaster can wipe out your possessions; banks and insurance companies can fail, leaving you broke. Disease and age can steal your health. I believe it was Spurgeon who said it: “Death is the Great Equalizer.”

If you are in Christ, however, you have something no one can take away from you. Jesus said it in John 10: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My father, which gave them me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my father’s hand.”

I once had someone, in a time of grief, tell me, “When I get to heaven, I’m going to have all kinds of questions for God!”

I told her, “I think I’m just going to settle for having the tears wiped from my eyes.” At that point, all of those questions are probably going to be petty.

For now, we rejoice that Abigail is recovering well and is home. We are thankful that God delivered her from near-death.

But His goodness was not contingent on that deliverance.

This life can suck in ways that few in the West can comprehend.

But God is still good.

Boston Marathon 2017: Another Serial Cheater Gets Busted

I’ve run 8 marathons, an ultramarathon (50K), 7 half-marathons, 6 10Ks, and God-only-knows how many 5Ks. That doesn’t include two triathlons (a 70.3 and an Olympic) and 13 century (100+ mile) bike rides. I’ve completed the Kentucky Century Challenge three years in a row. I also have a 2.4-mile open-water swim event in my resume. That doesn’t include the two DNFs: Ironman Louisville 2015 (missed a cutoff time on the run) and Tri Louisville 2016 (mechanical failure). I’m not particularly competitive–several of my finishes are DFLs–but I know what endurance is. I also have great respect for those who fight hard to qualify for prestigious races.

In all of the triathlons, we wore straps with timing chips. I never missed a split.

In all but two of the runs, there was some sort of chip, strap, or bib-based timing device that every runner wore. I only missed a split in two of those races–the 20104 Air Force 10K and Half Marathon. What happened? I wore both bibs at the same time, because the races were back-to-back. And because I had both bibs on, the mats did not record my split times. As a result, the Air Force folks had to go back to photographic data to verify that I indeed ran the course, and they were able to verify it.

I say that to point out that it is very, very hard to miss a timing mat in multiple races, let alone the same race.

Keep that in mind when you read this.

What really pisses me off: much like the Julie Miller Ironman case, these Boston cheaters are stealing the slots that others have earned.

Like the Ironman World Championship at Kona, the Boston Marathon is exclusive: you have to run a “qualifying time” to earn a slot. (Either that or you can run as a “charity runner”, but you have to raise a ton of money.)

Runners often train and race for YEARS before earning qualifying slots. And in some age groups, even if you run a qualifying time you still could be denied a slot. This is because some age groups are so competitive that you have to run well under the qualifying time to actually get a slot.

In other words, in these endurance events, cheating is the equivalent of “stolen valor”.