Saturday, January 14, 2017

My Half Marathon Journey

This morning I completed my second half marathon. I spent most of my life mocking  runners, so I’m as surprised as anyone. I grew up playing sports which kept me in decent shape, then college happened, then seminary happened, then life, ministry and kids happened, and I look up and I’m 34 years old and close to 260lbs. That was four years ago. When we moved to Florida, I decided it was as good a time as ever to reform my lifestyle. It’s been a long journey that’s far from over. Somewhat reluctantly, I’ve decided to do a short write up in hopes to be an encouragement. Truth be known, I’m not all that good at being healthy. But if my story encourages a few who may be in a similar position and tired of feeling junky, read on, you may find a push in a good direction. 

My journey started with finally saying enough. It was time to join the gym. I went to the closest gym to my office and took a look around. I discussed goals with the trainer and toured the facility. When it came time to sign on the dotted line, I balked at the price. We went back and forth, I got a few bucks off but still was hesitating. The trainer looked at me and said, “What do you want? You want to go home and gain another 30lbs?” I don’t know if he uses that tactic with everyone, but for me, it was what I needed. Time to make some changes. 

So I started running. I never got so out of shape that I couldn’t run at all, but running a mile  was intense at that point. Slowly I built up and decided to try a half marathon. I needed a challenge. So in November 2013, I ran my first half. It was miserable, in almost every way. I woke up the morning of the half with the flu. I didn’t realize how sick I was at the time. I came home and Mindy had cooked me a big breakfast, I couldn’t even eat, I showered and crawled in bed for 3 days. Looking back, it’s amazing I actually did it with a 102 degree temp, but I had paid the money and I wanted to finish what I started! My time was 2:39 — hardly a land speed record. I had dropped some lbs over the year, but not what I was hoping, I ran the race at right at 240lbs. In terms of my excess weight, the issue was my diet. I wasn’t eating all that differently, I had just added some running. Minus soft drinks, and opting (occasionally) for the grilled sandwich and fries, I was still eating a lot of garbage. You can’t run enough to lose weight if you’re overdosing on processed carbs. 

After the half, I got away from running for a little while and started using my gym time to lift and do HIIT cardio. Running got me exercising initially, but I started using the whole gym, not just the treadmill. Running probably isn’t best for all around fitness, but I enjoy it. If you really want to hit your fitness goals, resistance training is an important piece of the equation and diet of course! I stopped planning so many lunch meetings and hit the gym during lunch hour. 

In 2015, I decided I wanted to try and get a better time for my half. I trained pretty hard and felt good, then 4 days before the October race, my grandfather passed away. I was gone for the funeral so that race never happened. There are only a few halfs in J-Ville, and Sunday races don’t work for me. There was not another option that year.

In 2016, I registered for the Marine Half in October, again. This time, we had this little storm called Hurricane Matthew that weekend. The race was moved to the next Sunday. I was out.

After that, I decided to shoot for the one in January 2017. Now, having something “bad” happen 3 out of 3 halfs for me, I was fully expecting something to go wrong, but it didn’t! This morning I completed the race, running about 15lbs lighter (225) and 31 minutes faster (2:08). As runners tend to do, I now have an ongoing competition with the stopwatch. It’s amazing what goes through your mind running a distance. About mile 9, I thought, “Why in the world am I doing this to myself?” At mile 11, I’m thinking, “They moved the line. This is a cruel joke.” Then I crossed mile marker 12 and think, I’m gonna do this! I glanced at my race time and and realized I was on track to have a much better time than 2013. The last half mile, I was thinking back on the race and how I could have broken 2:00 if I had pushed harder early! So maybe I’ll get that 2:00 barrier in the fall, anybody want to join me? 

If you’ve been on the fence about getting a handle on a healthier lifestyle, let me promise you two things: it’s not easy and you won’t regret it. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Psalm of the Week - Psalm 23

Psalm 23.4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Lord, thank you for such beautiful Psalm that has encouraged mutlidutes of your faithful followers for thousands of years. I’m grateful that you are the good shepherd who cares deeply for your sheep. Even if we find ourselves in a dark place, maybe even fearing of death, we know that you are there with us. We think about our brothers and sisters around the world who live today in the valley of the shadow of death. Give them the comfort that comes from knowing you, the Good Shepherd. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Psalm of the Week -- Psalm 22

Psalm 22.1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

Lord, this Psalm reminds us of the plan from long ago for your own son, Jesus Christ to die on a cross. Jesus himself quotes this Psalm as he bears my sin on the cross. I will never be forsaken because Jesus was forsaken on my behalf! Remind me today of the high price of forgiveness. Remind me that it was my sin that deserved your judgment. May I be gracious with others today as I remember that you are gracious to me. You are an infinitely holy God who makes yourself accessible through the priceless sacrifice of Christ!

"If we want to read and to pray the prayers of the Bible and especially the Psalms, therefore, we must not ask first what they have to do with us, but what they have to do with Jesus Christ." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Rethinking the Love Chapter

Paul's classic love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 provides needed definition and substance to the idea of love. What is easy to forget is where 1 Cor 13 is located. It's after chapter 12 and before 14. (I know, brilliance). This chapter was not written to give ministers something to read at weddings, though it's certainly not a bad choice. Chapter 12 gives instruction about the body of Christ, the church. Each member is different but significant. One member cannot be more highly esteemed based on function. All parts are important. You realize the importance of your toe when you stub it on the coffee table. Chapter 14 centers on guidelines for the corporate gathering. The meeting should be done with respect for one another for the purpose of building up one another. Sandwiched between these chapters is chapter 13. What keeps the body members from waring? What keeps the corporate gathering from self-centered chaos? Love. Genuine love for God and others.

Here are the descriptors of love in verses 4-7 with a contextual reminder.

Love is patient and kind in the church
love does not envy or boast in the church
it his not arrogant or rude in the church 
It does not insist on its own way in the church
it is not irritable or resentful in the church
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing in the church
but rejoices with the truth in the church 
Love bears all things         in the church
believes all things in the church
hopes all things            in the church 

endures all things in the church

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

One Anothering

At SCC, we are currently in a mini-series on the doctrine of the church. This week, we are going to look at some of the one anothering passages in the New Testament. I put together this chart of the verses that include a "one another." Some of you may find it helpful.

Let me know if I've missed some.

One Another Verses

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Psalm 19

“The more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I have encouraged us all to pray through the Psalms. Each week in our corporate worship service, we will read the next Psalm. I would recommend you to take the Psalm for the week, read it daily, and pray through the Psalm. I plan to start sending out a brief meditation early each week on the Psalm for the week. Here is a simple prayer based on just one verse, Psalm 19:1.  
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Lord, your world declares you are glorious. The sheer size, beauty, complexity, and uniqueness of the heavens declare day after day that you are the incomparable creator. The creation never stops carrying out it’s task of proclamation. You have also called people to proclaim your glory. May we join the chorus of creation today, taking every opportunity to tell of your glory. 
Grace and Peace,

Friday, March 25, 2016

More than Access: The tearing of the veil as a sign of judgment

When Jesus died, spectacular things happened. There was an earthquake, there were tombs raised, the world went dark, rocks were split, and the temple veil was torn from top to bottom. 

The tearing of the veil is typically viewed as something positive, noting that believers now have access to God. That’s good news, right? It is true, particularly as explained in the book of Hebrews that there is a veil through which we now have access, namely the body of Christ (Heb 10.18-25). But access to where? We have access to the new holy place, the new temple, the true temple, the Lord Jesus himself is our temple. The former things were shadows. The reality is Christ. 

Jesus and the Temple: Only one shall stand! 
Back to the tearing of the veil at the crucifixion. Why was the veil torn when Jesus died? You will remember that Jesus said early in his ministry that he would tear down the temple and rebuild it (Jn 2.19). This was of course memorable, after it took 46 years just to remodel this temple. But Jesus is speaking on a different level than what they understand. The scoffers remember Jesus talking about the temple at the crucifixion, they jeer him in Mt. 27.40 for saying he would tear down the temple. He was about to die and could not even save himself. He hardly seemed up to the task of dismantling a building. Yet, only a few verses later, “behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” (Mt 27.41) Maybe he was up for tearing down a temple, even on the cross.  

Theologically, here is what I think is going on. The point is not so much, “Man can go in or God came out.” The point is God in essence saying, “I’m at a different address.” God is no longer accessed via a brick and mortar (or curtain) temple, he’s accessed through the new holy place that is under construction, to be revealed 3 days later, the man, Jesus Christ. There is a debate in John 4 with the woman at the well about where to worship God. Jesus answers her question and reveals that one day “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. (Jn 4.23)

Imagine being a first century Jew who suddenly had clear sight into the Holy Place. They had been told the stories. If you enter there, God will strike you dead, like Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10).  Their charade is exposed. The emperor(s) are exposed as empty peddlers of a system not true representatives of God.  

The Bigger Story: Way back in Exodus, God instructs the people to construct a tabernacle. They do. He comes down and dwells there in his glory-cloud (Ex 40). Years later, Solomon builds the permanent place for God, the Temple. He prays and God’s presence comes down (2 Chron 7). Years later, the glory-presence of God leaves prophetically depicted by the prophet Ezekiel (chs 8-11). Israel would be deported from the land, Jerusalem lost and the temple razed. Eventually, they would return from exile and rebuild the temple. But guess what never shows up in the new temple recorded Ezra-Nehemiah? The glory presence. 

It is prophesied in Haggai 2:9 that the glory of this (rebuilt) temple would be greater than Solomon’s temple. How so? It wasn’t in terms of appearance nor in terms of the glory-presence. Yet this is the temple (a remodel later) in which Jesus walks, the one who radiates the glory of God shows up in the temple, but the glory is now found in a man, Jesus Christ, not in the glory-cloud (Heb 1.3).

The glory has a new house, in the God-Man, Jesus Christ. He is the true temple. The tearing of the veil demonstrates the old way is now obsolete. Access is granted to a new and true holy place.