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

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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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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Questioning the Just War Assumption: A Response to Daniel Heimbach

The following is my response to Dr. Heimbach’s blog “For the Record (Daniel Heimbach): Why I am Not a Pacifist.” In his post, Dr. Heimbach summarizes his thoughts concerning the affirmation of the “Just War Theory” over “Pacifism” as a superior Christian ethic. For those who are on the outside of this classic ethical debate among Christians, let me offer a quick working definition of these two theories:

Christian Pacifism: the belief that any form of violence is morally incompatible with the Christian faith

Just War Theory: the belief that under certain circumstances armed military combat is both necessary and morally justifiable

I am neither a pacifist or a just war theorist. Unlike Dr. Heimbach I am not an ethicist in the professional, vocational sense. I am a pastor and I am the son (and grandson) of veteran. I have not served in the military. I have not worked in the service of any political official. Like Dr. Heimbach, I too am a follower of Jesus Christ and I seek to form ethical positions based on the life and teachings of Jesus. I do not claim to have found a clear resolution in the tension between Christians who hold a pacifist position and those who hold a just war position. I do not have a stock pile of answers to all the “What about….?” questions. I offer this response to Dr. Heimbach’s blog in an attempt to wrestle with these weighty issues.

Dr. Heimbach’s foundational reasoning for rejecting pacifism is rooted in his conviction that Jesus was neither a pacifist, nor did he teach ethical pacifism. My initial response is neither did Jesus teach what we understand as the just war theory, an ethical theory developed initially by Augustine in the fifth century. There were a group of Jews in the day of Jesus who approved of justifiable violent (military/militia) action to establish the kingdom of God in Israel. These were the Zealots. Jesus was not one of them. He did not join their initiative to take Israel back by the armed combat. What Jesus taught was enemy-love, an ethical love he demonstrated on the cross when he offered a prayer of forgiveness instead of violent retaliation.

Dr. Heimbach further believes the Bible as a whole does not teach a pacifistic ideology, but that “God expects, and in fact requires, morally responsible rulers sometimes to use deadly force to defend weak and innocent people against unwarranted aggression….” My assumption is his conviction of God’s so-called requirement of political nations to use deadly force is rooted in the Romans 13 passage speaking of rulers who “do not bear the sword in vain.” He doesn’t mention this passage specifically, but I am not sure where else in the New Testament we see a reference to both rulers and violence. It seems to me that Romans 13 is speaking of the Christian’s relationship to the ruling authorities as citizens under the jurisdiction of the ruler. Nothing in the text mentions military action between ruling nations (i.e. war). Furthermore, the context of Romans 13 is Romans 12 with its commands to “live peaceably with all,” “never avenge yourselves,” “feed your enemy,” and “overcome evil with good.” Shouldn’t followers of Jesus be modeling and teaching this kind of living with civic peace to ruling authorities? Shouldn’t we be calling ruling authorities to submit themselves to Jesus and his teaching on enemy love?

Dr. Heimbach describes the non-violence of pacifism as unattainable and impossible in the world in its current arrangement without the full rule reign of Christ. I understand his concern here. We believe the kingdom of God (i.e. the rule and reign of God through Jesus on the earth) is here, but we also believe it is coming. We believe Jesus is presently the true ruler over all other political authorities and yet his kingdom is coming. It is not here in its fullness, but shouldn’t we be living according to the values of this coming kingdom? Shouldn’t we be living as if Jesus is Lord now, pledging our allegiance to him and observing his teaching now? Shouldn’t we be living now in light of this coming kingdom where “nations shall not lift up sword against nation” (Isaiah 2:4) and “every boot of tramping warrior…will be burned as fuel for the fire” (Isaiah 9:5)? I agree with Dr. Heimbach that do indeed live in a world filled with wicked people, but does the presence of wickedness and evil automatically create the need for war?

Dr. Heimbach and I both worship Jesus as the Prince of Peace, but unfortunately Dr. Heimbach limits this peace to primarily “the peace of reconciling sinners to God.” Didn’t Jesus also make a way for reconciliation (and thus peace) between people? Paul in Ephesians 2 describes the death of Christ as a place where the dividing wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles has been broken down. These two people groups have now become one new humanity. He has made peace between groups of people by reconciling them to God, and thus “killing the hostility” between Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:16). Why do we assume justifiable war is all we are left with when God in Christ has killed the very hostility that leads nations to war?

In Dr. Heimbach’s reading of the New Testament, “peace” is not normally a reference to civic peace. However Jesus lived and taught in a world where violent revolution lay just under the surface. So while modern readers cannot read civic non-violence into every appearance of the word “peace” in the New Testament, we can certainly not remove the notion of non-violence from statements like, “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Sermon on the Mount or “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!” when Jesus drew near to Jerusalem weeping. The context of both of these references to peace implies the restraint of physical violence.

Dr. Heimbach does see civic non-violence in Jesus statement to his disciples: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on the earth, I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). However implying that Jesus did NOT come to bring civic nonviolence from this verse is a gross misreading of the text. Jesus is clearly using hyperbole in his instructions to his disciples describing to them the possibility of the violent persecution they will receive for testifying to the truth of Christ. Jesus is not literally bringing the sword of violence, but rather the sword of persecution and division will fall in light of their fidelity to the truth Jesus is bringing. Dr. Heimbach further assumes far too much in his reading of Jesus’ description of a king going out to war (Luke 14:31-32). Jesus is using this description as an example of counting the cost in order to follow him. He is not making a comment about the justifiability of war. Dr. Heimbach’s proof text of Luke 14:31 makes his argument seem forced and contrived.

In the final section of his blog, Dr. Heimbach appeals to the unity of the character of God as revealed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament as evidence that Jesus did not teach pacifism. His reasoning is based in the God-sanctioned wars of the Old Testament. I do agree that the Old Testament and New Testament tell the story of the one and same God. (Although in strict Trinitarian terms, I would say the God of the Old Testament is the God and Father of the Jesus of the New Testament, but I do not mean to belabor this point.) Dr. Heimbach’s logic could be stated in the following syllogism:

Premise 1: The God of the Old Testament sanctioned just wars.
Premise 2: The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament without change in his character.
Conclusion: The God of the New Testament cannot prohibit just war.

The weakness of this argument is found in the assumptions behind Premise 2. The assumption is for God to prohibit war he would have to change his character. This is not true. God in Christ did not change who he was, rather he gave us a fuller revelation of who he is. This fuller revealing of his nature did not change who God was, but it did change how God was going to relate to humanity. God in Christ changed how he expected humanity to relate to him and each other. The Sermon on the Mount is the clearest picture of how Jesus changes things. He said time and again, “You have heard it written, but now I tell you….” Jesus was not declaring a change in the character of God, but he proclaiming a change in how we would live as the covenant people of God. One of the changes included no more “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth,” no more retaliatory violence, no more killing enemies in the name of God. Jesus, in no way, announced a change in who Yahweh is. He did not say, “You thought Yahweh is like this, but really is he someone altogether different.” Jesus did say, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, a new covenant between God and humanity is coming. With this new covenant comes new commandments including the commandment to love one another (including your enemies).

Some would ask, “But isn’t this a command for followers of Christ and not civic ruling authorities?” Enemy love is just one of the commands we are called to teach people (including those in civic authority) to observe in our work of making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). The command to love our enemies is one that continues to challenge me as a pastor and a follower of Christ. As I stated in the beginning I do not have all the answers to questions like, “What about Hitler? What about militant Islam? What about drug lords, serial killers, and slave traders?” I do believe that ruling authorities have the responsibility to protect their citizens and enforce laws that maintain order, but is deadly force the answer? I pray God gives us a renewed imagination to work for peace-making solutions without the use of war. If God has put the sword in the hands of ruling authorities then we should echo the words of Jesus to Peter saying, “Put away the sword.”


Posted by on May 4, 2012 in 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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The Comforts and Commands of Christ

Jesus rose from the dead. We believe it, but now what?

We are now in the second week of Easter. The celebration known as Easter is not just one day, but it is a season, a seven-week celebration of living life in light of the resurrection. We celebrated on Easter Sunday. We got dressed up. We went to church. We sang songs about the empty tomb. We reflected on resurrection Scriptures. We met the living Jesus through communion. We went home, ate our chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps (my personal favorite). We rightly celebrated on that one day, but where do we go from here?

In Matthew’s account of the resurrection of Jesus, the two Marys met the resurrected Jesus after they saw the empty tomb. Jesus instructs them to go tell his disciples to meet him in Galilee. When Jesus appeared to his disciples there, they worshiped him and he said:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

After his resurrection, Jesus tells his followers to go. This command answers the “now what?” question for us, his followers some 2,000 years removed from his resurrection. Once we have celebrated, it is time for us to go and do.

Jesus intended there to be movement in the new community he was building. He has declared to us that he has received all authority in heaven and on earth. This authority is not spiritual power, but civic power, not religious power, but political power. In raising Jesus from the dead, God has made him Lord and King. Jesus is now the planet’s new reigning ruler. The first bill he signed into law in his new government was one to get his citizens up and moving and “back to work.” And the work we are called to do is to make disciples. This call and command to make disciples is not for a select few ministerial professional; it is for all of us who are following Jesus. It is for all of us basking in the light of the resurrection. We have entered into the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus through baptism. We have experienced (and are experiencing) forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, healing, and all the other benefits received from this resurrection life, but we cannot receive the comforts of Christ without following the commands of Christ.

Jesus commands us to make disciples, but he doesn’t stop there.He even helps us with how we are we do carry out this disciple-making mission. We go and make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them. Baptizing and teaching become the two pedals propelling our disciple-making mission forward. We baptize people into the Jesus story of death, burial, and resurrection. We baptize people not just IN the trifold name of God, but we baptize people INTO the life of God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God himself is a holy community of persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. When we baptize people, we are immersing them into a community of self-giving love, which is why we celebrate at every baptism. We are celebrating and welcoming people into the life of God (Trinitarian community) and the life of the church (humanitarian community).

Following baptism we teach. Certainly, we do more in church life than teaching, but the ministry of teaching is foundational to making disciples. We are to teach the newly baptized to observe everything Jesus has commanded. We do not teach in such a way to help people “apply things to their lives.” Jesus did not ever say that he was giving us “biblical principles” that we are to teach so people can apply them to their lives. He gave us commands; he gave us proclamations; he gave us descriptions of the kingdom of God, and then he told us to go and do. His teaching does not have application, but it does have motivation. We are not to try to figure out how we can fit his teachings into our lives, but we are called to adjust our lives and orient ourselves around his teaching. This uncomfortable re-adjustment we call repentance is not merely an intellectual exercise, but it implies action, rethinking things in order to live differently.

In the end, Jesus gives us a promise. He does not just give commands, but he gives commands with a promise. He promised to be with us, to help us, to guide us. Every Sunday we gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. He is present as we gather in his name. He is present as his word is proclaimed. He is present at the table in the bread and in the cup. He promises to be with us by his Spirit, so we have power to carry out his command. So we as the community of faith living in the light of the resurrection carry out his instructions by make disciples. We do this by his empowering presence in the light of his resurrection.

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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Ministry, Theology


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Why I Have Started Reading Fiction

Check out my blog post on, where I explain Why I Have Started Reading Fiction: In the post, I describe how the call to read fiction both shocked me and helped me as a Bible reader and a Bible teacher.

In the post I talk about reading Wendell Berry’s That Distant Land, a collection of short stories. I finished it this week and it certainly did not disappoint. I am finishing a few other books (non-fiction books, but keep that on the down low…I don’t want Eugene Peterson to find out!), but when I finish those, I plan on reading Berry’s novel Jayber Crow next, probably over the summer.

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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in Ministry, Theology


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Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him

It is day 26 of Lent. We are more than half-way through our journey to Easter. During this Lenten season I have done a lot of thinking. In a curious sort of way, I have been thinking about thinking or the lack thereof in many pockets of evangelical Christianity. Perhaps my thinking about thinking was sparked by Mark Noll’s scandalous opening to The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, where he writes: “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” Or maybe it was Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible (I have added this book to my Lenten reading list) that has been challenging me to think about how I view Scripture. Maybe this thinking about thinking has come from N.T. Wright who is causing me to think about Jesus in his historical context in Simply Jesus. Or maybe it is because Lent is a time to reflect (thinking backwards) on the suffering of Jesus.

Maybe it is just me.

I admit that I have an intellectual bent. It is the sacred pathway I feel most comfortable walking down. Loving God with my mind stands out in the command to love God with all of our heart, soul, MIND, and strength. I have a bias towards an intellectual approach to the Christian faith; I admit it. I like books. I like books with footnotes. I like books with footnotes and big words that I have to look up in the dictionary. I like being challenged with thoughts that undermine my assumptions. I like connecting ideas in a new way. Engaging the faith with intellectual fervor is natural for me, but it is also a necessary component in following Jesus Christ. We are challenged in Romans 12 to allow our minds to be renewed:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Paul was not a detached, professional theologian disconnected from the life of the church or the life of the Spirit. He experienced spiritual gifts such as the ability to speak in tongues, but he said he would rather speak five intelligible words in the church so those who worship Jesus could mature in their ability to think:

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. (1 Corinthians 14:20)

All of this talk about thinking is not simply to make people smarter or more educated, but to make people more devoted to Jesus Christ:

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)

So here are my somewhat disconnected, somewhat related, thoughts about thinking.

• Thinking about God is the Christian art of meditation, an ancient Christian practice.

• Thinking about our own soul is subordinate to thinking about God. When we think about ourselves we do so with a lowly mind. We think of others as more important than ourselves. We call that “humility.” And humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.

• As our minds are renewed by the Spirit, we begin to change our way of thinking. The Spirit enables us to set our minds on things above where Christ is seated.

• The 17th century German astronomer Johannes Kepler wrote, “I was merely thinking God’s thoughts after him. Since we astronomers are priests of the highest God in regard to the book of nature, it benefits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but rather, above all else, of the glory of God.”

• Thinking good thoughts about God is not worship; worship is something we do. However worship proceeds from and leads to fruitful thinking.

• Thinking is an internal monologue, a way we talk things out within ourselves. Is this a reflection of God’s inner dialogue within himself, the eternal conversation between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Maybe.

• Our ways of thinking form a worldview, a lens by which we interpret the world around us. When we awake to our thought life we can begin to understand the difference between perception and fact, and begin to see things from another person’s point of view.

• “The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” – Wendell Berry

• When we think in reverse we tap into our memories. When we think forward we tap into our hopes.

• When listening to others we can choose to accept the information we are receiving, but this requires little thinking. We activate our thinking when we ask questions, when we challenge assumptions behind what they are saying, when we weigh the merits of the evidence they offer to make their point.

• Jesus challenged us to think with his oft-quoted phrase: He who has ears to hear, let him hear. He very easily could have said: He who has a mind to think, let him think.

• Thinking allows us to sort out truth from rhetoric, that is the “way things are” from the “way we would like things to be.”

• To grow in your capacity to think requires you to expand your vocabulary. Learning new words increases your ability to think and understand. This is hard work.

• “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness is giving creates love.” – Lao Tzu

• There are limits to our thinking, no doubt about. We are finite beings dependent upon the Infinite One to reveal truth to us. Our thinking can only take us so far, but it can take us much farther than self-assured ignorance.

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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Ministry, Theology


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