Large group turned out on a rainy day; what a powerful testimony to the power of F3 in the PAX, as would have been too easy to roll over and go back to sleep. As our 6’4″ knuckle-dragging friend tweeted yesterday, yes there was prior knowledge by some that Urban Jungle would be held indoors this morning, but most of the PAX were unaware and showed up prepared to get soaked from more than sweat. I looked up Au Pair in Slovak and it means Smart A_S! Regardless, YHC does indeed Love my Neanderthal friend. Following up on Au Pair’s hattag, today’s attending PAX did chip in and purchase him a Pedicure Gift Certificate at Primp Salon, and they threw in a Manzilla (male version of the brazilion) that may (or may not) be appreciated by Mrs. Pair.

Wilson started today’s workout leading the warm-up as follows:

SSH x 20
Windmills x 20
Ski Abs x 20
Sir Fazio Arm Circles x 18
Indian run twice around the bottom level parking deck

The Thang:
Orwell’s 2.0 “Bulls-Eye” suggested we do an exercise we saw in the movie “Facing the Giants” called “The Death Crawl” (side note…take 8 minutes and view this movie clip….is powerful in many ways and I hope you can watch it). Some may remember the last time Bulls-Eye suggested a new exercise..stair suicides at The Forge several months ago. Was a butt kicker also, and it dawned on me after today’s F3, that on both instances Bulls-Eye failed to attend either workout….appears he is headed to the political arena with this type talent. YHC set 50 yards as the goal for completing The Death Crawl, with a FlapJack to return. Should have been 25 yards, as with the exception of Cinderella (who isn’t human in his physical stamina anyway) who completed with Country Wide on his back, and two FNG teenagers (Ricky Bobby & Turner), most PAX made it closer to 25 yards before they were done. The Death Crawl is indeed a tough one, maybe too much for F3 older guys like myself as it works shoulders, elbows and backs mighty hard.

Next was another new entry called “Sweet 16”. This exercise starts at 16 Merkins and 16 WWII Situps, then 15 Merkins and 15 WWII Sit-ups, etc. down to 1. An added bonus to this today was it allowed every attending PAX to take a lead on learning/improving his cadence count, as we transferred exercise Q from each repetition to the next PAX in the circle. YHC critiqued throughout the exercise, not as a criticism tool, but meant to show how Raleigh F3 is working to become an individual workout unit on each F3 workout. Improvement in the Cadence structure and count was very much evident as we went around, counting down from 16 to 1, and every attending PAX got a chance to lead.

Next was the Fountain of Youth at the back entrance to JC Penny. What was planned for a double jump up for half the group, with the other half doing DIPS, had to be abbreviated due to YHC losing track to time. We did one 10 count of Double Jump Ups, with the Cadence count transferred between 10 PAX, as another way to continue to improve in this most important area. We then ran back down to the lower level for Wilson to take the Mary Lead as listed below:

American hammers x20
Freddie mercuries x 15

Prayer requests were many, to include:
Geddy’s friend who has a return of cancer
Praise for Man Ram’s M, who came through yesterdays surgery successfully.
We lift up Howard as he waits to find out what the Lord has in store for him
Praise for Dufresne……Cinderella confirmed Dufresne is attending our Christmas Party!

Higgins led us in a Devotion he prepared. I have attached his original Devotion, as at my request he abbreviated it for this morning. Suggest you find a quiet time to read, ponder and reflect on Higgins words here…..they are powerful!

Higgins Devotion

Consider how an F3 workout (i.e., “The Thang”) serves as an excellent allegory of our individual walk with God. Men of different age, race, physical fitness and all the rest converge in the early gloom not knowing what to expect, only that it will be difficult. Yet we follow the Q to the best of our ability. Maybe we don’t finish each exercise perfectly (either in form or number of reps), but we pick ourselves up and push forward after each pause or stumble. Is this not the same with God? We come into the faith not knowing His will for us (at least not in detail), but He has told us that it will be difficult. We will not fulfill His will for us perfectly, but we should try to as hard and harder than we do at any one of our F3 workouts. When we slip, get up and press on. Recall the words of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, which read:
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

With apologies to C.S. Lewis, he writes in Mere Christianity that it is certain that perfection of any Christian virtue will not and cannot be attained by mere human effort. We must ask for God’s help. After each failure, we should ask for God’s forgiveness, pick ourselves up, and try again (Is this not the same as what Paul expresses above?). Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. And this is a critically important point to be made. For no matter how important any Christian virtue may be, this process (of always trying again) trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection (or perhaps the pursuit of perfection since this will only be attained in our eternal communion with God).

Again, this is Christian ideal is so beautifully expressed during our F3 workouts. We need not despair when we cannot complete each exercise or as quickly as the man next to us. We need only to try again. The encouragement we receive from one another to press on as we exercise together does wonders for the soul and should be emulated in all other aspects of our lives. Back to C.S. Lewis, he also said that every time you make a choice you are turning a central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. When we choose to do one more merkin, it turns us into something a little stronger than before. When we choose to follow Christ in other situations, it turns us more into the servant He has called us to be.

One more thing that sets F3 apart from most other workouts is the welcome of each man as he is. As noted earlier, we come into F3 at different states of physical fitness. For some completing 10 burpees may be a greater accomplishment than completing 20 by another. In much the same way, the decisions that one man may make (such as teaching Sunday School) may not be a great an accomplishment as another that holds his tongue rather than argue with another or some other seemingly minor achievement. This is why Christians are told not to judge because we only see the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. All we can do is encourage each other in the faith to push the boundaries of their limits, whether they be physical, mental or spiritual, to do the best they can and move ever closer to the man God has ordained us to be.

Country Wide then led us out with a powerful Prayer!

footnote: In this season of Thanksgiving, I am so very thankful for F3, and the men God has put in my life through this that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. You guys have, and continue to be such a Blessing to me.