Top Ten 2012 Blog Posts


    As promised, here are my top ten blog posts of 2012.  There are a few interesting points that I will note along the way, but among these is just the growth of this blog.  While it is still pitifully small compared to some of the mainstream “big name” bloggers with tens of thousands of subscribers (I have five), there is a marked difference between 2011 and 2012.  In the last year, the number of readers has grown enough that of all the posts included in last year’s list, only the number one post from 2011 would have made this list and even then at number eight. Hey, while you’re here, why don’t you click on the “Subscribe to Blog Updates” link in the right hand column?
    In any case, the readership of this blog, however small, has doubled in one year, and for that, I am both humble and grateful.  I hope that my musings make you think, regardless of whether we agree or not.  This year’s list is reversed, David Letterman style, with number ten presented first, so that you have to scan the whole list to see the most popular.
10) As was the case in other multi-part blogs I have written, “Part 2, Politicians, Rape and Bad Theology”, was less popular than Part 1 (which comes in at number 7).
9) In, “Is It Time to End Spousal Benefits?” I pondered the injustices of the way that many employee benefits as well as Social Security and other Federal benefits are calculated.  Several comments showed me that that my thinking was not as clear as I would have liked and made me think that I may need to think this through a bit more and revisit the subject sometime down the road.
8) “Why I Stand With the Catholic Church” discusses why I agree that our federal government is overreaching in its demand that church agencies be compelled to pay for contraception and abortion inducing drugs despite in a clear violation of their religious beliefs.
7) Politicians, Rape and Bad Theology (Part 1) is the first, and most popular, of my reaction to some seriously dumb things that were said by politicians.  Honestly, I sometimes think that this happens every day, but when these same politicians begin to justify their dumb stuff by saying that it’s God’s fault, I have to say something.
6) In John Wesley’s Crazy Rules?, I list the rules that the early Methodists had agreed to live by.  Today, most all have been abandoned and most church members would panic if we even suggested bringing them back.  On the other hand, under these rules the church grew and under ours we’re shrinking.  Perhaps something in this list we ought to learn from?
5) Why is Homosexuality an Argument Instead of a Discussion? Isn’t even my blog post, but a link to a post by Dr. John Byron, one of my seminary professors.  Here we wonder why everyone wants to demonstrate and shout from their polarized positions, but not have an honest discussion about the issues.
4) The blog entitled, “Just How Many Homosexuals Are There?” was taken, by some, as a political post even though I made some effort to deliberately distance myself from making any overt political statements.  The unfortunate truth, as we’ve seen in other posts, is that anything regarding abortion, homosexuality and a few other topics automatically become argumentative instead of the opening of a discussion.  Here, I simply found statistics that indicated that nearly everyone has a dramatically wrong idea of what we are talking about whenever we begin such an argument.
3) What’s the Big Deal About Sex? was written after it was discovered that several Secret Service agents and military personnel had been cavorting with prostitutes during a trip in which they were to be guarding President Obama.  While what they did was immoral, I wonder why all the fuss?  These folks aren’t monks?  Clearly there are national security concerns, but otherwise, in a culture that values sex and money above all else, what do you expect?
2) Censorship is never the answer.  The beauty of our freedom of speech here in the United States is that it allows atheists to blaspheme my religion and my God, but it also allows me to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.  In Christians are Wrong; Atheists are Right I argue that when Christians lobby for censorship to protect them, they really undermine the most important protection of all.
1) This is the one that makes me smile.  I first wrote, Ahimaaz – Patron Saint of Cross Country Running? , about a man known to King David who loved to run.  When it was written, almost no one read it.  For months afterward… almost no one read it.  And then something interesting happened.  Because I suggested that Ahimaaz ought to be a patron saint of long distance runners (clearly, being Methodist, I have no inside track on this), this blog started to turn up in Internet searches for patron saint of cross country and track.  As track season came closer it began to get a few, but regular, hits each week.  By the end of the year, just like the story of the tortoise and the hare, slowly but surely, this blog had become the most popular of the year (and continues to grow).

Ahimaaz – Patron Saint of Cross Country Running?

    I have two children who run.  Not just a little, they run a lot.  During this time of the year my son and daughter are training for the upcoming Cross-Country season in which they will race other students and other schools in races that are 3.2 miles long.  Each day they can run six to eight miles during practice and often, added to that, they work out in the weight room or do yoga core exercises.  They make me tired just hearing about their workouts.  This past week, as I prepared for Sunday’s message I discovered a man who is, perhaps, the first cross-country runner named in the Bible. 
    Of course there were many runners before him.  Before cell-phones or radio, the way that battlefield commanders communicated with their kings and their armies was by sending runners or riders.  In the time of Samuel, Israel wasn’t known for having many horses so they would send runners back and forth carrying important messages and news.  In 2 Samuel 18, as the king’s armies pursue David’s traitorous son Absalom, David’s General, Joab captures Absalom quite by accident (Absalom’s hair got snagged in the low lying branches of a tree) and plunges three javelins through his chest despite David’s orders to treat him gently.  
    A man by the name of Ahimaaz son of Zadok volunteers to carry the news to David but a Cushite runner is selected to carry the news instead.  Undeterred, Ahimaaz again asks Joab for permission to run to Jerusalem saying, “Come what may, please let me run behind the Cushite.”  Joab the general is puzzled by this and asks why Ahimaaz would want to go especially since this is not good news and there will be no reward at the other end.  To this Ahimaaz replies, “Come what may, I want to run.”  At this Joab allows the young man to run but Ahimaaz, despite giving the Cushite a significant head start, runs a different route and arrives in the king’s court first.
    The notable thing about this story is not only that Ahimaaz liked to run and was evidently pretty good at it, but that he honors Joab and despite arriving first, does not announce the news of Absalom’s death.  The official message was given to the Cushite and Ahimaaz allows him to give the news to David.  When he is questioned about the welfare of Absalom, the king’s son, Ahimaaz says only, “I saw great confusion just as Joab was about to send the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was.”
    The patience and self-control of Ahimaaz shows, I think, a stark contrast from the impatience and self-importance of Joab.  Joab heard the king’s command not to harm Absalom, and one of Joab’s lieutenants even reminded him of their orders but Joab insists that he is not going to wait and kills David’s son immediately.  Ahimaaz is known as a good man by the watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem and he shows it through his obedience, patience and self-control.  
    I think that it is fitting that Ahimaaz is perhaps the first man in the Bible who is said to love running.  Cross Country is not a quick dash to the supermarket.  Cross Country athletes often train all year long, they run miles and miles every day and their races often take 20 to 30 minutes to complete.  Cross Country is a sport that requires an abundance of patience and self-control and Ahimaaz, I think, is a fitting role model.