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Category Archives: Life

The Jesus Life

John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, makes things simple for us. He writes:

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
(1 John 5:12)

The logic here is indeed simple. Jesus equals life. No Jesus, no life. While the logic is not hard to follow, the challenging question is this: what is this life John talks about? Jesus himself said he is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). What is this life we have in Jesus? What is this life Jesus embodies? This eternal life, everlasting life, abundant life, resurrection of life, bread of life, Spirit-giving life, light of life, self-giving life, what is it? There are obviously those around us who do not “have the Son,” they do not acknowledge Jesus in any form, and yet they have some form of life. They at least have biological life, intellectual life, a social life, etc. So what is this life Jesus talks about?

I tried to take a stab at understanding this Jesus life in my book on the Apostles’ Creed, as I reflected on the last line of the creed, “I believe….in the life everlasting.” Here is my attempt at making sense of the subject of life:

Although we may lack the ability to clearly define life, we can see it when contrasted to death. We clearly understand the finality and termination of death. Whenever any animated person or thing loses animation, we say it is dead. Death is the end of existence. Batteries die; toys die; dogs die; people die. If death is the end of existence then life is the presence of existence. We can nearly all agree we avoid death because it is bad. Humanity continues searching for an existence free of death, a life everlasting, because death undermines everything we consider important and precious. (Primal Credo, pg. 153)

Life is the “presence of existence,” but it is more than mere existence. We can find some help from the world of Greek philosophy. Aristotle used a word, which for him was the goal of human existence. The word was eudaimonia. It is difficult to translate into English. It used to be translated “happiness,” but a more accurate translation may be “human flourishing,” that is, “reaching your full human potential.” What Aristotle called “human flourishing,” Jesus called “life” and it is only available in Christ. He is the full embodiment of this life, so we can rightly call it the Jesus life. It is the ability to become fully alive and reach one’s full human potential physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, etc.

The bigger question on most people’s mind may not be “what is life?” but “how do we experience it?” The best way to answer that question may be in the form of a mathematical formula. The Jesus way plus the Jesus truth equals the Jesus life. In other words you have to both confess the truth about Jesus and walk the way of Jesus in order to experience the Jesus life.

The truth about Jesus is that he is God’s son and our Lord. This truth we confess in the Apostles’ Creed. Jesus is God’s Son, God’s only son, eternally begotten of the Father. As the Son of God he is the “spittin’ image of his father.” He is not another god or a created god, but he is fully God. He is God’s son and his is our Lord. We do not make Jesus Lord by any act of prayer or confession on our part. Rather God made Jesus Lord when he raised him from the dead. God made Jesus Lord (which means boss, master, ultimate authority) over the entire planet. When we confess this to be true, we are pledging our allegiance to Jesus.

Some people want the Jesus life by only confessing the Jesus truth. They wrongly assume if they just say a prayer or cry out to Jesus that BOOM they begin to experience the Jesus life all at once. But this is not true. Confessing the Jesus truth is not enough to experience the Jesus life, because the Jesus way plus the Jesus truth equals the Jesus life.

It is easy to accept the Jesus truth. It is hard to walk the Jesus way.

The Jesus way is the trail Jesus blazed for us. It is the new way to live as a human being. The trail head is the two-fold command to love God and love neighbor and the signposts are the beatitudes he proclaimed in Matthew 5. While the Jesus way includes all Jesus taught, you could sum up the Jesus way in looking at Jesus’ most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 5, 6, & 7. In this sermon we could describe the Jesus way like this:

The Jesus way is the way of peace, not anger.

The Jesus way is the way of purity, not lust.

The Jesus way is the way of marriage, not divorce.

The Jesus way is the way of integrity, not begging people to trust you.

The Jesus way is the way of non-violence, not getting back at those who hurt you.

The Jesus way is the way of generosity, not taking advantage of people.

The Jesus way is the way of love, not hate.

The Jesus way is the way of authenticity, not hypocrisy.

The Jesus way is the way of prayer, not empty ritual.

The Jesus way is the way of forgiveness, not bitterness.

The Jesus way is the way of fasting, not pigging out all the time.

The Jesus way is the way of giving, not hoarding.

The Jesus way is the way of trusting, not worrying.

The Jesus way is the way of mercy, not judging others.

The Jesus way is the way of asking God, not living in despair.

The Jesus way is the way of the Golden Rule, not selfish ambition.

The Jesus way is the way of discernment, not ignorance.

The Jesus way is the way of knowing God, not playing religious games.

The Jesus way is the way of building life on the Rock, not building on sinking sand.

This Jesus way sounds difficult. I know. It sounds hard. I know. It sounds like a lot. It is, but this is why the Father pours out the Holy Spirit through the Son upon the Church so we may have a Helper who can empower us and shape us to live the Jesus life. It is a difficult way to navigate, but God gives us the Scriptures to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It is a difficult way, which is why God has called us to the Church where we can make friends who can encourage us along the Jesus way.

It is a tough, uphill climb, walking this Jesus way, but the summit is the Jesus life.

And the Jesus life is measured in love.

The capacity by which we love is the capacity by which we experience life.

We love because God first loved us. He initiated by sending his Son. We respond by faith and love. We walk the Jesus way by love. If we lose our way along the trail, we return to the trail head of loving God and neighbor. This Jesus life we all so desperately want is measured out in the love we receive and the love we give.

The Jesus way plus the Jesus truth equals the Jesus life.

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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Life, Theology

 

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My Day After Election Day Prayer

Our church happily participated in Election Day Communion, sort of. We decided to offer (Day After) Election Day Communion because we have a regularly scheduled prayer and communion service every Wednesday at noon. We offered communion the day after the election for the same reason churches offered communion the day of the election: we feel partisan politics are dividing Christians and we believe this division deeply grieves the Holy Spirit. I certainly understand that Christians deeply committed to Christ are simply not going to agree on who they vote for. I accept this. What I do not accept is the hate, mockery, acrimony, and hostility experienced in the church over political ideologies. When we enter the voting booth (or sit at a table with our ballots as I did at my polling station), we may divide into categories: blue/red, liberal/conservative, Democrat, Republican, but we cannot bring that division into the body of Christ.

The solution: communion.

At the Lord’s Table, when we come to partake of the body and blood of Christ, we are united. We leave all of our distinctiveness behind when we come to the table. We come to Jesus’ table to find our unity, which is in him. We do not divide into righteous and sinful people, when we come to the table. We come as sinful people to the only Righteous One. At the table we find what unifies us is not policies, candidates, or political platforms, but Jesus Christ himself. In receiving communion we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes; we proclaim our true hope is in the Crucified King who is ruling now and will come again.

In our (Day After) Election Day Communion service, I was asked to read John 17 and pray a prayer in response to this reading. I was planning on praying something spontaneous, but 10 minutes before the start of the service I wrote the following words. I offer this as a prayer for Christians the day after the 2012 Presidential election:

A Day after Election Day Prayer

Holy Father,

We are grateful to be your children, invited into your family, called by your name. We believe you have sent your son, our Lord, Jesus Christ who has defeated sin, death, and principalities and powers through this death, burial, and resurrection. We thank you that while Jesus humbled himself in his incarnation and remained obedient even unto death that you raised him up and have exalted him to a position of power and authority over the nations.

May his rule and reign by known here and now among all of us who are baptized into his name. May his prayer for us be answered by you. May we who live in this fallen world be made one, just as the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit are one. May we no longer be divided by race, gender, class, or political ideology  but may all of those who put faith in Christ be made one, united in faith and love, that the world may see the glory and beauty of King Jesus.

For the glory of God the Father, by the power of the Spirit, and in the name of Jesus we pray.

Amen.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Life, Ministry

 

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Stanley Hauerwas’ Response to September 11, 2001

The following is from Stanley Hauerwas from Duke Divinity school. (It was originally posted here.) I am providing the entirety of Hauerwas’ response because I think it is an important Christian response to 9/11. It is important because, there is an alternative to the “war on terror.” I offer this for those who have ears to hear.

September 11, 2001: A Pacifist Response
By Stanley Hauerwas

I want to write honestly about September 11, 2001. But it is not easy. Even now, some months after that horrible event, I find it hard to know what can be said or, perhaps more difficult, what should be said. Even more difficult, I am not sure for what or how I should pray. I am a Christian. I am a Christian pacifist. Being Christian and being a pacifist are not two things for me. I would not be a pacifist if I were not a Christian, and I find it hard to understand how one can be a Christian without being a pacifist. But what does a pacifist have to say in the face of terror? Pray for peace? I have no use for sentimentality.

Indeed some have suggested pacifists have nothing to say in a time like the time after September 11, 2001. The editors of the magazine First Things assert that “those who in principle oppose the use of military force have no legitimate part in the discussion about how military force should be used.”1 They make this assertion because according to them the only form of pacifism that is defensible requires the disavowal by the pacifist of any political relevance. That is not the kind of pacifism I represent. I am a pacifist because I think nonviolence is the necessary condition for a politics not based on death. A politics that is not determined by the fear of death means no strong distinction can be drawn between politics and military force.

Yet I cannot deny that September 11, 2001, creates and requires a kind of silence. We desperately want to “explain” what happened. Explanation domesticates terror, making it part of “our” world. I believe attempts to explain must be resisted. Rather, we should learn to wait before what we know not, hoping to gain time and space sufficient to learn how to speak without lying. I should like to think pacifism names the habits and community necessary to gain the time and place that is an alternative to revenge. But I do not pretend that I know how that is accomplished.

Yet I do know that much that has been said since September 11, 2001, has been false. In the first hours and days following the fall of the towers, there was a stunned silence. President Bush flew from one safe haven to another, unsure what had or was still to happen. He was quite literally in the air. I wish he might have been able to maintain that posture, but he is the leader of the “free world.” Something must be done. Something must be said. We must be in control. The silence must be shattered. He knew the American people must be comforted. Life must return to normal.

So he said, “We are at war.” Magic words necessary to reclaim the everyday. War is such normalizing discourse. Americans know war. This is our Pearl Harbor. Life can return to normal. We are frightened, and ironically war makes us feel safe. The way to go on in the face of September 11, 2001, is to find someone to kill. Americans are, moreover, good at killing. We often fail to acknowledge how accomplished we are in the art of killing. Indeed we, the American people, have become masters of killing. In our battles, only the enemy has to die. Some in our military are embarrassed by our expertise in war making, but what can they do? They are but following orders.

So the silence created by destruction was soon shattered by the need for revenge—a revenge all the more unforgiving because we cannot forgive those who flew the planes for making us acknowledge our vulnerability. The flag that flew in mourning was soon transformed into a pride-filled thing; the bloodstained flag of victims transformed into the flag of the American indomitable spirit. We will prevail no matter how many people we must kill to rid ourselves of the knowledge Americans died as victims. Americans do not die as victims. They have to be heroes. So the stock trader who happened to work on the seventy-second floor becomes as heroic as the policemen and the firemen who were doing their jobs. No one who died on September 11, 2001, gets to die a meaningless death. That is why their deaths must be revenged.

I am a pacifist, so the American “we” cannot be my “me.” But to be alienated from the American “we” is not easy. I am a neophyte pacifist. I never really wanted to be a pacifist. I had learned from Reinhold Niebuhr that if you desire justice you had better be ready to kill someone along the way. But then John Howard Yoder and his extraordinary book The Politics of Jesus came along. Yoder convinced me that if there is anything to this Christian “stuff,” it must surely involve the conviction that the Son would rather die on the cross than for the world to be redeemed by violence. Moreover, the defeat of death through resurrection makes possible as well as necessary that Christians live nonviolently in a world of violence. Christian nonviolence is not a strategy to rid the world of violence, but rather the way Christians must live in a world of violence. In short Christians are not nonviolent because we believe our nonviolence is a strategy to rid the world of war, but rather because faithful followers of Christ in a world of war cannot imagine being anything else than nonviolent.

But what does a pacifist have to say in the face of the terror September 11, 2001, names? I vaguely knew when I first declared I was a pacifist that there might be some serious consequences. To be nonviolent might even change my life. But I do not really think I understood what that change might entail until September 11. For example after I declared I was a pacifist, I quit singing the “Star-Spangled Banner.” I will stand when it is sung, particularly at baseball games, but I do not sing. Not to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” is a small thing that reminds me that my first loyalty is not to the United States but to God and God’s church. I confess it never crossed my mind that such small acts might over the years make my response to September 11 quite different from that of the good people who sing “God Bless America”—so different that I am left in saddened silence.

That difference, moreover, haunts me. My father was a bricklayer and a good American. He worked hard all his life and hoped his work would not only support his family, but also make some contribution to our common life. He held a war-critical job in World War II, so he was never drafted. Only one of his five bricklaying brothers was in that war, but he was never exposed to combat. My family was never militarized, but as Texans they were good Americans. For most of my life I, too, was a good American, assuming that I owed much to the society that enabled me, the son of a bricklayer, to gain a Ph.D. at Yale—even if the Ph.D. was in theology.

Of course there was Vietnam. For many of us Vietnam was extended training necessary for the development of a more critical attitude toward the government of the United States. Yet most of us critical of the war in Vietnam did not think our opposition to that war made us less loyal Americans. Indeed the criticisms of the war were based on an appeal to the highest American ideals. Vietnam was a time of great tension, but the politics of the antiwar movement did not require those opposed to the war to think of themselves as fundamentally standing outside the American mainstream. Most critics of Vietnam (just as many that now criticize the war in Afghanistan) based their dissent on their adherence to American ideals that they felt the war was betraying. That but indicates why I feel so isolated even among the critics of the war in Afghanistan. I do not even share their allegiance to American ideals.

So I simply did not share the reaction of most Americans to the destruction of the World Trade Center. Of course I recoil from murder on such a scale, but I hope I remember that one murder is too many. That Americans have hurried to call what happened “war” strikes me as self-defeating. If this is war, then bin Laden has won. He thinks he is a warrior not a murderer. Just to the extent the language of war is used, he is honored. But in their hurry to call this war, Americans have no time for careful discriminations.

Where does that leave me? Does it mean, as an estranged friend recently wrote me, that I disdain all “natural loyalties” that bind us together as human beings, even submitting such loyalties to a harsh and unforgiving standard? Does it mean that I speak as a solitary individual, failing to acknowledge that our lives are interwoven with the lives of others, those who have gone before, those among whom we live, those with whom we identify, and those with whom we are in Christian communion? Do I refuse to acknowledge my life is made possible by the gifts of others? Do I forsake all forms of patriotism, failing to acknowledge that we as a people are better off because of the sacrifices that were made in World War II? To this I can only answer, “Yes.” If you call patriotism “natural,” I certainly do disavow that connection. Such a disavowal, I hope, does not mean I am inattentive to the gifts I have received from past and present neighbors.

In response to my friend I pointed out that because he, too, is a Christian I assumed he also disdained some “natural loyalties.” After all he had his children baptized. The “natural love” between parents and children is surely reconfigured when children are baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul says:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.2

Christians often tend to focus on being united with Christ in his resurrection, forgetting that we are also united with him in his death. What could that mean if it does not mean that Christians must be ready to die, indeed have their children die, rather than betray the Gospel? Any love not transformed by the love of God cannot help but be the source of the violence we perpetrate on one another in the name of justice. Such a love may appear harsh and dreadful from the perspective of the world, but Christians believe such a love is life-giving not life-denying.

Of course living a life of nonviolence may be harsh. Certainly you have to imagine, and perhaps even face, that you will have to watch the innocent suffer and even die for your convictions. But that is no different from those that claim they would fight a just war. After all, the just warrior is committed to avoiding any direct attack on noncombatants, which might well mean that more people will die because the just warrior refuses to do an evil that a good may come. For example, on just-war grounds the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were clearly murder. If you are serious about just war, you must be ready to say that it would be better that more people died on the beaches of Japan than to have committed one murder, much less the bombing of civilian populations.

This last observation may suggest that when all is said and done, a pacifist response to September 11, 2001, is just one more version of the anti-American sentiments expressed by what many consider to be the American Left. I say “what many consider” because it is very unclear if there is a Left left in America. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the support to the war on terrorism given by those who identify as the “Left.” Yet much has been made of the injustice of American foreign policy that lends a kind of intelligibility to the hatred given form on September 11. I am no defender of American foreign policy, but the problem with such lines of criticism is that no matter how immoral what the American government may have done in the world, such immorality cannot explain or justify the attack on the World Trade Center.

American imperialism, often celebrated as the new globalism, is a frightening power. It is frightening not only because of the harm such power inflicts on the innocent, but because it is difficult to imagine alternatives. Pacifists are often challenged after an event like September 11 with the question, “Well, what alternative do you have to bombing Afghanistan?” Such a question assumes that pacifists must have an alternative foreign policy. My only response is I do not have a foreign policy. I have something better—a church constituted by people who would rather die than kill.

Indeed I fear that absent a countercommunity to challenge America, bin Laden has given Americans what they so desperately needed—a war without end. America is a country that lives off the moral capital of our wars. War names the time we send the youth to kill and die (maybe) in an effort to assure ourselves the lives we lead are worthy of such sacrifices. They kill and die to protect our “freedom.” But what can freedom mean if the prime instance of the exercise of such freedom is to shop? The very fact that we can and do go to war is a moral necessity for a nation of consumers. War makes clear we must believe in something even if we are not sure what that something is, except that it has something to do with the “American way of life.”

What a gift bin Laden has therefore given America. Americans were in despair because we won the cold war. Americans won by outspending the USSR, proving that we can waste more money on guns than they can or did. But what do Americans do after they have won a war? The war was necessary to give moral coherence. We had to cooperate with one another because we were at war. How can America make sense of what it means for us to be “a people” if we have no common enemy? We were in a dangerous funk having nothing better to do than entertain ourselves with the soap opera Bill Clinton was. Now we have something better to do. We can fight the war against terrorism.

The good thing, moreover, about the war on terrorism is it has no end, which makes it very doubtful that this war can be considered just. If a war is just, your enemy must know before the war begins what political purpose the war is to serve. In other words, they need to know from the beginning what the conditions are if they choose to surrender. So you cannot fight a just war if it is “a war to end all wars” (World War I) or for “unconditional surrender” (World War II). But a “war on terrorism” is a war without limit. Americans want to wipe this enemy off the face of the earth. Moreover, America even gets to decide who counts and does not count as a terrorist.

Which means Americans get to have it any way they want it. Some that are captured, for example, are prisoners of war; some are detainees. No problem. When you are the biggest kid on the block, you can say whatever you want to say, even if what you say is nonsense. We all know the first casualty in war is truth. So the conservatives who have fought the war against “postmodernism” in the name of “objective truth,” the same conservatives that now rule us, assume they can use language any way they please.

That Americans get to decide who is and who is not a terrorist means that this is not only a war without clear purpose, but also a war without end. From now on we can be in a perpetual state of war. America is always at her best when she is on permanent war footing. Moreover, when our country is at war, it has no space to worry about the extraordinary inequities that constitute our society, no time to worry about poverty or those parts of the world that are ravaged by hunger and genocide. Everything—civil liberties, due process, the protection of the law—must be subordinated to the one great moral enterprise of winning the unending war against terrorism.

At the heart of the American desire to wage endless war is the American fear of death. The American love of high-tech medicine is but the other side of the war against terrorism. Americans are determined to be safe, to be able to get out of this life alive. On September 11, Americans were confronted with their worst fear—a people ready to die as an expression of their profound moral commitments. Some speculate such people must have chosen death because they were desperate or, at least, they were so desperate that death was preferable to life. Yet their willingness to die stands in stark contrast to a politics that asks of its members in response to September 11 to shop.

Ian Buruma and Vishai Margalit observe in their article “Occidentalism” that lack of heroism is the hallmark of a bourgeois ethos.3 Heroes court death. The bourgeois is addicted to personal safety. They concede that much in an affluent, market-driven society is mediocre, “but when contempt for bourgeois creature comforts becomes contempt for life itself you know the West is under attack.” According to Buruma and Margalit, the West (which they point out is not just the geographical West) should oppose the full force of calculating antibourgeois heroism, of which Al-Qaeda is but one representative, through the means we know best—cutting off their money supply. Of course, Buruma and Margalit do not tell us how that can be done, given the need for oil to sustain the bourgeois society they favor.

Christians are not called to be heroes or shoppers. We are called to be holy. We do not think holiness is an individual achievement, but rather a set of practices to sustain a people who refuse to have their lives determined by the fear and denial of death. We believe by so living we offer our non-Christian brothers and sisters an alternative to all politics based on the denial of death. Christians are acutely aware that we seldom are faithful to the gifts God has given us, but we hope the confession of our sins is a sign of hope in a world without hope. This means pacifists do have a response to September 11, 2001. Our response is to continue living in a manner that witnesses to our belief that the world was not changed on September 11, 2001. The world was changed during the celebration of Passover in a.d. 33.

Mark and Louise Zwick, founders of the Houston Catholic Worker House of Hospitality, embody the life made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus. They know, moreover, that Christian nonviolence cannot and must not be understood as a position that is no more than being “against violence.” If pacifism is no more than “not violence,” it betrays the form of life to which Christians believe they have been called by Christ. Drawing on Nicholas Berdyaev, the Zwicks rightly observe that “the split between the Gospel and our culture is the drama of our times,” but they also remind us that “one does not free persons by detaching them from the bonds that paralyze them: one frees persons by attaching them to their destiny.” Christian nonviolence is but another name for the friendship we believe God has made possible and constitutes the alternative to the violence that grips our lives.

I began by noting that I am not sure for what I should pray. But prayer often is a form of silence. The following prayer I hope does not drown out silence. I wrote the prayer as a devotion to begin a Duke Divinity School general meeting. I was able to write the prayer because of a short article I had just read in the Houston Catholic Worker by Jean Vanier.4 Vanier is the founder of the L’arche movement—a movement that believes God has saved us by giving us the good work of living with and learning to be friends with those the world calls retarded. I end with this prayer because it is all I have to give.

Great God of surprise, our lives continue to be haunted by the spectre of September 11, 2001. Life must go on and we go on keeping on—even meeting again as the Divinity School Council. Is this what Barth meant in 1933 when he said we must go on “as though nothing has happened”? To go on as though nothing has happened can sound like a counsel of despair, of helplessness, of hopelessness. We want to act, to do something to reclaim the way things were. Which, I guess, is but a reminder that one of the reasons we are so shocked, so violated, by September 11 is the challenge presented to our prideful presumption that we are in control, that we are going to get out of life alive. To go on “as though nothing has happened” surely requires us to acknowledge you are God and we are not. It is hard to remember that Jesus did not come to make us safe, but rather he came to make us disciples, citizens of your new age, a kingdom of surprise. That we live in the end times is surely the basis for our conviction that you have given us all the time we need to respond to September 11 with “small acts of beauty and tenderness,” which Jean Vanier tells us, if done with humility and confidence “will bring unity to the world and break the chain of violence.” So we pray give us humility that we may remember that the work we do today, the work we do every day, is false and pretentious if it fails to serve those who day in and day out are your small gestures of beauty and tenderness.

Notes

1 “In a Time of War,” First Things (December 2001).

2 Romans 6:3–5.

3 New York Review of Books, January 17, 2002, 4–7.

4 “L’arche Founder Responds to Violence,” Houston Catholic Worker, November 16, 2001.

The South Atlantic Quarterly 101:2, Spring 2002.
Copyright 2002 by Duke University Press.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Life, Theology

 

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My Couch to 5K Training Plan

I started running two years ago, some 18 years after high school when I ran track. I have remained somewhat active through my 20s and 30s, but I wasn’t in very good cardio-vascular shape until I started running. A friend told me about a “Couch to 5K” training program where you can go, quite literally, from sitting around on the couch to running a 5K (3.1 mile) race in 10-12 weeks. I found a training program online and tweaked it a bit. I know a number of people who have found success doing this, so if you are interested in becoming a runner here is a good training plan to get started.

Important Tips for New Runners
1) Buy a good pair of running shoes
2) Wear a digital watch with a stopwatch feature to monitor your time
3) Drink plenty of water before you run, especially if you are training in the summer
4) Stretch before you run to prevent injury
5) Always end your run with a cool-down walk (and warm up with a walk in Week 12)
6) Do not worry about your speed (pace) or distance, just focus on the time you are running or walking
7) Feel free to repeat a week if necessary, but don’t skip a week
8) If you are struggling to breath on a run try to inhale for three steps and exhale for two; slow down if necessary
9) Don’t over train, your muscles need rest days to repair and rebuild, so rest in between your sessions
10) Depending on how hard you push yourself, it may take 4-6 weeks before you do not feel sore after your run/walks

THE TRAINING
Each week in the training has (1) a run/walk interval, (2) the total number of intervals to do in one session, and (3) the number of sessions to do each week. The intervals are to be done consecutively without a break. Only do one session a day. Week 5 and 8 may present the most challenge. Week 5 is the first week you will be running more than walking. During Week 8 you will be running/walking four days a week instead of three days a week.

Week 1: 25 minute walk :: One interval (25 minutes total) :: Three sessions

Week 2: 6 minute walk / 1 minute run :: Four intervals (28 minutes total) :: Three sessions

Week 3: 5 minute walk / 2 minute run :: Four intervals (28 minutes total) :: Three sessions

Week 4: 4 minute walk / 3 minute run :: Four intervals (28 minutes total) :: Three sessions

Week 5: 3 minute walk / 4 minute run :: Four intervals (28 minutes total) :: Three sessions

Week 6: 2 minute walk / 5 minute run :: Four intervals (28 minutes total) :: Three sessions

Week 7: 2 minute walk / 8 minute run :: Three intervals (30 minutes total) :: Three sessions

Week 8: 2 minute walk / 9 minute run :: Three intervals (33 minutes total) :: Four sessions

Week 9: 1 minute walk / 10 minute run :: Three intervals (33 minutes total) :: Four sessions

Week 10: 5 minute walk / 20 minute run / 5 minute walk :: One interval (30 minutes total) :: Four Sessions

Week 11: 3 minute walk / 30 minute run :: One interval (33 minutes total) :: Four sessions

Week 12: 33 minute run :: One interval (33 minutes total) :: Four sessions

After Week 12 you should be ready for your first 5K race.

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Life

 

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Video

N.T. Wright Sings Dylan’s “When the Ship Comes In”

I am a huge fan of Tom Wright. I am a huge fan of Bob Dylan. So this video pretty much blew my mind!

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Life, Ministry, Theology

 

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Looking for the World to Come

The formation of the Christian faith has been built on creeds, the summation of certain beliefs. Some Christians claim to have “no creed but Christ, no book but the Bible,” but this of course is a creedal statement. It is a creed against other creeds! All Christians are able to sum up their beliefs in some way or another. Every Christian has a creed and the foundational, the most ancient creed is the Apostles’ Creed. (I talk about this creed with some detail here.) The Apostles’ Creed has a mysterious beginning and there isn’t a universally-agreed-upon version of the Apostles’ Creed used by the entire church. The church did not formally agree on an exact creed until 325 AD at the First Council of Nicaea. The result was the first version of the Nicene Creed.

In 381 AD, church leaders met again and revised the Nicene Creed at the Council of Constantinople. The creed we know today as the Nicene Creed is the 381 version. This creed is the most unifying and ecumenical of all the Christian creeds. The Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and most Protestant Churches hold up the Nicene Creed as an orthodox statement of Christian belief.

These two creeds do not disagree with each other. The Nicene Creed adds theological reflection and clarification to the Apostles’ Creed. So we could call the Nicene Creed a fully developed version of the Apostles’ Creed. For example where the Apostles’ Creed says, “I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord…” the Nicene Creed says:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father.

The Nicene Creed sought to give a fuller explanation of who Jesus was in relation to God the Father among other things, including explaining what “the life everlasting” means.

The Apostles’ Creed ends with: I believe….in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen.
The Nicene Creeds ends with: We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

So the “life everlasting” mentioned in the Apostles’ Creed is not going to heaven when we die. Popular opinion has been that “life everlasting” or “eternal life” (from the ever-famous John 3:16 verse says “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”) is another way of talking about an eternity spent with God in heaven. While this popular vision of heaven appeals to our desire for hope after death, “the life everlasting” we confess in the creed is NOT living forever in a disembodied heaven, but living in the life of the world to come.

Our hope is not leaving the earth and going to heaven. Rather our hope is the “world” we know as heaven is coming to earth. Certainly those who die in faith are “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8 ESV), but this business of being away from the body is such a strange and awkward place in which to be. God has made us humans as whole beings comprised of a strange mixture of the dust of the earth and the breath of God. We were created to be both body and soul, both material and immaterial. We shouldn’t be too comfortable with this separation of body and soul, because we were created to be whole creatures, body and soul. To be a soul without a body is to be “naked” (2 Corinthians 5:3 ESV). Isn’t that a common nightmare? The one where you find yourself (in your dream) back in high school and you look down and you nearly naked, wearing nothing but your underwear?

While we delight to be with God after death, we are incomplete without our bodies. So we do not look forward to going to heaven forever while our bodies waste away and decay. Rather we are looking forward to the world that is to come, a world were the God of heaven dwells with humanity on a newly created earth. In this new world, we do not live a “spirit-beings.” No, we live as fully human beings, body and soul, after our physical bodies experience resurrection.

This is what I believe.
This is what the Church believes.
This is what the Church has always believed.

Here are some further reflections on the ending of the Nicene Creed from Luke Timothy Johnson:

What we “look forward to” then, is the full revelation of God’s power as creator and ruler of the world. God seeks to share the fullness of life through creation and re-creation. We do not hope simply for some kind of survival after death, as the logical consequence of heaving an “immortal soul,” or (even sadder) the perpetual repetition of moral life through reincarnation. Survival is not salvation. Persistence in mortality is not glorification….This final proposition of the creed serves as a rule of faith for the way we conduct our lives as Christians. We live as those aware that God’s work in the world is not yet finished, that the transformation of humanity itself and of creation is not yet complete, and that each of us and all of us still face judgment and resurrection.

FromThe Creed: What Christians Believe and Why It Matters, 292-293

We are talking about this very subject at Word of Life Church. Our current sermon series is entitled Hope, Heaven, and Resurrection. Check it out in our Podcast & Audio Archives or if you are in the St. Joe area, check us out on a Sunday morning at 9 or 11 AM.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Life, Theology

 

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Reading Ideas for Lent

Ash Wednesday is tomorrow! We are just about 12 hours away from beginning our 40-day journey through Lent. I have been spending the day getting ready for Ash Wednesday. We are hosting services at Word of Life Church at 7AM, Noon, & 7PM in our Upper Room Prayer & Worship Center. We are using the Book of Common Prayer as our guide, a prayer book dating back to the time of the English Reformation. In reading through the instructions for Ash Wednesday in this prayer book, I was reminded that we observe Lent “by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.

Lent is not just a season of prayer and fasting, but it is also a season of reading, spiritual reading, holy reading. As you join us on this Lenten journey, I encourage you to read in addition to fasting and prayer. Here are some reading ideas for Lent:

1) Scripture
Our pastor has complied 40 Meditations on the Holy Week. This guide gives you Scripture reading from the last week of the life of Jesus in the gospels, a short passage for each day during Lent.

2) Books by N.T. Wright
It has been my tradition to a read book about Jesus during the season of Lent and two out of the last three years I have read a book by N.T. Wright who is perhaps the most important living theologian writing and lecturing and preaching on the person of Jesus Christ. This year I am reading Simply Jesus.

3) The Church Fathers
During my first Lenten journey, I read selections from the writings of the Church Fathers, who were early church leaders in the first 300 years or so of the Church. The wonderful people at ChurchYear.net have created an easy to follow guide through the writings of the church fathers. I suggest you follow the “New and Shorter Alternative,” the “LITE plan” as they call it. You can download the complete text here.

4) Other Good Christian Books
There are numerous other books you can read in addition to what I have mentioned above, but adding another book may make your reading list a bit long. In addition to Scripture, and N.T. Wright’s book, I will be reading The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll. This book was published in 1994 and has been on my reading list for a long time. I picked it up yesterday, so it has been added to my Lenten reading.

May God bless you on your Lenten journey this year.

This is the prayer I am offering tomorrow at the end of our Ash Wednesday Service. It is from the Catholic Church’s International Committee on English in the Liturgy:

Father in Heaven,
Protect us in our struggle against evil.
As we begin the discipline of Lent,
make this season holy by our self-denial.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in Life, Ministry, Theology

 

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