Archive for the ‘TeamOC’ Category


A certain young man is currently attending basketball camp on the campus of Oklahoma Christian University. He is staying in a dormitory named Warlick Hall. The young man’s given name is Alexander. There are six degrees of separation, at the most, and multiple degrees of “interconnectedness”, to say the least, between young Alexander and
Mr. Warlick.

The 1st degree: On November 2, 1992, Oklahoma Christian president Dr. Terry Johnson announced the dedication of the Henry E. Warlick dormitory. Warlick’s daugher, Mrs. Zada K. Tull of Norman, Oklahoma, gave a major gift award that was used as part of the three-year, $3 million student housing renovation project.

“My father was one of the founders of Oklahoma Christian when it was at Cordell. The school has been near and dear to my heart, and I felt that it was something that I needed to do,” Tull said in an endearing address to the student body at the dedication.

“Mrs. Tull’s gift is a tangible demonstration of her desire to perpetuate Henry Warlick’s zeal and commitment to Christian education,” Dr. Johnson said.

Source: (http://blogs.oc.edu/ochistory/index)

I should add here that Mr. Warlick was a traveling preacher, a minister of the Gospel. More on that in a moment.

The 2nd Degree: Kerry Newell Pope. Kerry is a niece of Zada Tull, who was the sister of Rowena Newell, Kerry’s mother. Kerry attended Oklahoma
Christian as a student in the 70’s.

The 3rd Degree: Max Pope. Max is married to Kerry, who he met as a student at Oklahoma Christian. Max came OC originally on a baseball scholarship to play for Coach Max Dobson. Max is the younger brother of Linda Pope Bingham.

The 4th Degree: Jeff Bingham. Jeff Bingham is the son of Linda. Jeff and his siblings, fellow OC alums Julie Bingham Titlow and Jennifer Bingham Connally, were introduced to OC by Max being a student there before them. Jeff is currently the CFO for OC.

The 5th Degree: Sherry Bingham. Jeff met Sherry after graduating from OC and moving to Texas. They met in the Church (West Berry Church of Christ) in Fort Worth where Jeff’s parents grew up. Sherry was introduced to a relationship with Jesus and is a faithful Christian today because of the influence of Billie Fry Alexander, her grandmother.

The 6th Degree: Billie Fry Alexander is the mother of Gary Alexander, who is the father of Sherry Alexander Bingham, who is the mother of our Alexander, the young man currently attending basketball camp on the campus of Oklahoma Christian University.

How does this all tie together, you may ask? Well, Billie Alexander was introduced to a relationship with Jesus at a gospel meeting preached by a young man named Henry Warlick.

Are you beginning to see the bigger picture? I stand amazed…


Read Full Post »


It’s an old family joke. When one of the “A” girls would see the romantic interest of a guy they liked, the response would be “she’s no prize”.

Sometimes, oftentimes maybe, do we say the same about ourselves?

An athlete, I am not, but I am getting repetitive. And I want to be a winner. Not to win, mind you, but to run with purpose, and therein win the prize.

I Corinthians 9:22-27: When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.


Read Full Post »


Have you ever witnessed a marathon, much less participated in a part of one? It is a litter-phobic’s worst nightmare. Paper cups, banana peels, oranges, and those nasty “fuel” packets. Whomever thought up Vanilla Bean flavored GU should be jailed and never released. Nasty stuff, but I digress.

Runners discard other stuff, as well. Nice stuff. Gear. Hats, gloves, jackets, and shirts litter the by-ways of the race. For some opportunistic observers, it is like an athletic apparel grab bag Christmas. And there is good reason for the littering. The good runners know what they are doing.

Hebrews 12:1-2: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

I am not very good at casting off weights that encumber, or at letting go of what so easily trips me up, but I’m working on it.

So, what’s say we litter the landscape? It will help those who run behind us to learn the importance of letting go, and of pressing on toward the prize, regardless of “cost”.

Read Full Post »


In this era of royal wedding celebrations, beginning a blog with Elton John lyrics seems highly appropriate.

Today was the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. It is a great event, and has had a defining impact on the sense of community in OKC. In a sad realization, my running today and all the good of this event is memorializing one of the most tragic events in our history.

Taking in the day, the event, and the wealth of human experiences going on around me, several analogous moments and thoughts emerged.

First, just the act of running is strange to me. As expressed before in this space, an athlete I am not. And yet, I am running better, faster, and stronger at 45 than arguably at any time in my life. What, you may ask, prompted the change? Well, I guess I would say I’m trying to be more like the person who I am hoping to influence to be somewhat like me. Make sense? Of course, we are talking about number one son.

We started the race together, but the sheer volume of runners took him away from me. We agreed to run at our own pace until we got away from the crowd and then get back together, but with 26,000 participants, we were never away from the crowd. And there is an analogy: life and the world separates us from those we want to be close to, and we long to be near them again. In this case, I knew I “had his back”, following from the rear and from afar, and he knew as well. After a time, I decided we might not see each other again until the end of the journey. And yet, I was comfortable. He was in good company, he was self confident, and he was blessed with natural ability. And, maybe most importantly, he was confident that if he got into trouble, he could simply slow down or stop, and that I would not be far behind. As we reunited around mile number 6, we were able to share our independent experiences and observations from the journey thus far. Then, around mile 10, he said it: “Dad, would it be OK if I go on ahead and meet you at the finish line?”. Analogous moment number two: who could not hope to reach this same place in real life with our kids; to see them go on ahead and succeed, knowing confidently that we can meet them in the “reward tent” that awaits at the finish line.


Second, this was my first half marathon, and even though it was my fourth race in the past 12 months, I have never really done any successful disciplined running my whole life. Why now? Again, it comes back to relationships, with my son and with others. You see, when I “run with purpose”, it seems to make me a better person to be around.

But let me just say, as in life, there were several “what have I gotten myself into?” moments. You see, as I neared the first mile and one half mark, another large hill loomed, I had lost my running partner, and the rain was falling, and falling hard, at that. They say “in every life some rain must fall”, and who has not found themselves in similar circumstances: running alone, lost in a crowd, wondering why exactly they are doing what they are doing, and wishing the rain would let up, even if only for a while. I stopped under a bridge, I took the picture shown above, and adjusted my equipment and my expectations for the 3 hours that lie ahead, and the hardships that might occupy those hours. And I adjusted my resolve. I would endure, and I would finish this race.

My finishers medal from today says “Honor Celebrate Reach Unite”. What a great summary and symbol for what this race symbolizes and seeks to accomplish every year. People from all walks of life. People from all over the world. People who are not blessed with the health I am able to possess. Those who suffered loss on April 19, 1995. Those who did not lose that day, but wish to honor those who did.

I was passed today by those running to honor those they lost from their lives that day. I was passed today at the 8 (half m) 22 (full m) marker by a cyclist who could not walk and was pedaling their special trike by hand. And they had already been 22 miles to my 8.

At that moment, I looked at my son, and I felt both the pain and the strength in my legs, but I could feel them, and I was thankful. I then watched my son strongly run on ahead to the finish line before us, and I was thankful. I told myself that I would finish strong, rain, cold, and pain, or not, and I was thankful.

We ran to remember, today. And, Lord willing, we plan to do so again. But, as we conclude in analyzing this journey, the map above points out the final life analogy of this post, that simply being that the race does not end in the same place as it began. The race loop circuit actually takes you to another place, as does life.

Circle of life, indeed. And a wheel of good fortune, to boot. And we are thankful.

Read Full Post »

I am preparing to participate in the upcoming OKC Memorial Half Marathon.  This will be a first for me.   I’ve gone from not exercising in years to participating in two 5k events during the past year, and my training has taken me up to about the 7 mile mark twice in the past two weeks. It feels good.   It has not only been life changing on the health front, but a has provided great time for reflection and clearing my mind.

Life is not a short sprint, it’s a marathon. I’m beginning to try out new ways to finish the race without getting injured or fatigued along the way.  But simply finishing the race is not a sufficient objective; “running (walking) with style and purpose” is.    

1 Corinthians 9:23-25 says: I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.   Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

In focusing on the long distance, I need to be aware of the landscape and the fellow runners inside each virtual mile.

So as I was training the other day, a few “walking moments” from my past came to mind, and I thought I’d briefly share what each has meant to me:

1) Plunking with Granddad – Howard Pope was legendary for his walks. My favorite ones were spent “plunking”: throwing rocks down into the deep creek across the street from his house and waiting to hear the splash (the “plunk”). It has been 35 years, but I can recall those moments like it was yesterday. Good memories.

2) Dove hunting with my Dad – in the “early years”, we lived out in the country and could simply walk across the street and go bird hunting. I’m not much of a hunter or fan of dealing with guns, but those were good times. Listening to my dad talk about things, watching our Fox Terrier plow thru the fields in search of game, and seeing the birds fall from the sky after my Dad spotted them and fired all replay in my mind’s eye. My son wants to learn to be a hunter. Gun lover, or not, it seems that these random walk moments may begin a new round of filming soon.

3) The stroll out to the fields with Coach Jackson – ever since I was about 12, I began walking fast everywhere I go. It’s called getting in a hurry, and it’s not always a good thing. Productivity of the mind and feet comes at the expense of seeing the sights going on around you. It was my 10th grade football coach, the man who got me started as a trainer or “athletic program assistant” (underpaid grunt who loves the game that he can’t play) who first pointed out that I walk “too fast”. “Slow down: you will get there. The game won’t start without us”. Good advice, and I still struggle with walking too fast today.

4) Trips across campus – not a lot to say on this one. As a college student, I fell in love with the OC campus on beautiful weather days, but I also recall enduring long distances in high winds and driving rain. Great metaphors for life. I still love the campus, and am blessed to walk it every day.

5) Singing in Europe – thank you, Ralph Burcham, for the draft notice.     The walks over several weeks in that summer of 1988, the time after college ended and before “life” began taught me several things:   a love of and fascination for Europe, the knowledge that there is life outside these United States, that we don’t have the monopoly on the world that I grew up believing, and that, quoting the later years words from “Finding Nemo”, we need to Just Keep Singing.   (OK, it was swimming, but it fit in nicely here)    The good Lord may not have given all of us a voice, but all of us have a song.     Whether you are tired, hungry, or “your feet are stained” (there’s a long story behind that phrase), you need to just keep singing.

6) Courting the girl – Ah, yes.  TCU.   Life on a real college campus.   That’s what she used to call it, anyway.     The academic bastion of the Southwest, I think it was?    Anyway, I digress.      Many a walk under the beautiful old oak trees, surviving a near skunk attack, and maybe even a kiss or two (shocking, I know) preceded the inevitable proposal to spend a lifetime together.     Fun times to remember.

7) Spatting with the girl – Yes, we have had a tiff, a time or two(shocking, I know) , but such is inevitable when spending a lifetime together.    Kind of like surviving a virtual skunk attack, not ever admitting who’s the skunk and who is the victim?    I’ll never tell.     Anyway, I digress.   The point is, when disagreeing, sometimes it is a good idea to step away from the “conversation” and go take a walk.    Clearing your head, understanding where you were wrong, and making a case for why she should let you back into the house are all good by-products of a nice walk on a cold winter’s night.

8) Strolling with baby(ies) – Yes, I have done this a time or two, as well.    I remember the first time like it was yesterday.     Baby H was screaming and hollering and would not settle down late at night, and after giving up on all other potential remedies, mom politely “suggested” that I take Baby out for a walk in the stroller, despite the fact that it was after 11:00 pm.     After about 20 minutes of strolling and her crying, the strangest thing happened.   She began to laugh.    I have a hard time remembering that babies do laugh, on occasion, but not this time.    I can still hear it, even now, 18+ years later.     I think she was laughing at me.     Years went by, and many a stroller walk, both the old “single” and the later “double” followed.     Maybe one day I’ll push a stroller again, this time with a GK instead of a simple K, and it will be OK if they laugh at me.

9) Working – I call 200+ of the best acres anywhere home between 8 am and sometime later than it should be every day, and I love it.   It comes with stress, but it also comes with joy in the challenge.   Academic bastion or not (and I would argue, it is, thank you very much) it’s my university, and I want it to succeed.     And yes, I do still tend to walk too fast in the course of a day.

10) Climbing Colorado – “Everybody needs a little time away…from each other”.     Those famous lines from a tune by Chicago, while taken out of context here, ring true in terms of the need for vacation and recharging.      And, I will argue, there are few places better to get away than the high altitudes of the mountains of Colorado.     “The girl” and I went there together after our wedding, and we are blessed to go back every couple of years with a group from church.     It’s an amazing part of God’s creation, and is often best enjoyed in the cool moments during sunrise.

So, back to the Memorial Marathon for a moment.   The theme for the marathon is “We Run to Remember” , and preparing for the event has helped me to do just that.     A few shout outs and thank you’s are in order here.    You see, I mentioned not having exercised in many years, and it was taking its toll on me, physically and mentally.    One day about this time last year, good friends and coworkers Neil, Sonya, and Darci showed up in my office on a Friday afternoon and said “we are not leaving until you sign up for TeamOC.   So I did.     When telling others of my commitment to the upcoming event, my friend  Ted said “don’t do it, you will only injure yourself”.     I owe those four a big thank you for getting me out of the chair and onto the treadmill, and subsequently on the streets walking and occasionally running.      I don’t know why I did not do it earlier, and it’s been a blessing.

As I was out doing a 6.55 mile outdoor prep one morning a couple of weeks ago, the path took me past the Baptist church whose longtime pastor had just been killed in a motorcycle accident.    It helped me to remember, mostly that life holds no guarantees, at least this mortally confined life, that is.

As I close up this marathon of memories today, the desire to just keep singing is there.    And an old song from the younger days is in my head.   Maybe it is the song I’ll be singing when it is too hard to do much walking.    If so, it should be a fund ride….Roll the Gospel Chariot along, and we won’t tag long behind…


Read Full Post »