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Five for Friday

Drat. Missed the end of Friday. But, I’m just going to pretend that I’m writing this from Fairbanks, Alaska where it still is Friday. If I can pretend, then so can you. Get your parkas and wool hats, and read what I’ve been reading this week…

Can Jesus Heal Mental Illness?  This is part one of what is (so far) a 4-part series by Heath Lambert of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. The remainder of the series is worth your attention as well.

Expressing our emotions. Another series of posts. The one I have linked to is the 6th (and final) post of a large series on emotions by Dr. Bob Kellemen on his RPM Ministries site. This post has all of the links to the previous posts, so you’ll be able to get caught up. Dr. Kellemen helps us to understand our emotions biblically. If you have emotions of any type, give these a good, long look.

40 Joys through Jesus. When your heart needs some cheering up. I really appreciate folks who do the research I typically avoid! This is devotional material here folks. You could read through it quickly, but I’d encourage you to take it in slowly.

Millenials and the False Gospel of Nice. “There is anecdotal evidence that seems to indicate a robustly orthodox evangelicalism is growing among the young.” A counter-argument to the narrative that orthodoxy is causing young evangelicals to leave the church.

The importance of the right running shoes, and proper fit. This is a slideshow of what can happen if you make a mistake on either. Not pretty. Downright ugly, if not nasty. If you have a weak stomach, maybe skip this one.


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Noble plans in the mist

I’m likely not breaking any new creative ground with this post today. I can only presume that across the blogosphere, many are projecting into the new year with plans, goals, ideas, etc. For the record, this is not a “resolutions” post, for two reasons. The first is that I began to write a resolutions post, with the intent of providing perhaps a different look at what that means, when it struck me that what I was typing sounded similar to something I had written before. A quick check confirmed that indeed, I did write it before on an old blog, then reposted it to this blog the following year. So, I’ll skip re-writing it, and link to my post “Resolved” instead.

The second reason is because there exists (at least in my mind) a tension. Projecting into the future brings to mind two different verses:

 But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands. – Isaiah 32:8 (ESV)

And…

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. – James 4:13-14 (ESV)

So, there is wisdom in making plans, and it would appear there is also wisdom in not holding too tenaciously to those plans. Fortunately, James helps me out, and reminds me that there is a resolution (ha, I’m punny) to the tension when he follows up with verse 15 – “Instead, you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” I have to be reminded of this every year – the actual tension is not between the verses, it is between my will and God’s, and since God says “I will accomplish all my purpose” (Isaiah 46:10, ESV) it would serve me well to joyfully submit to and accept His will.

The self directed counseling session has now ended.

All of this leads up to, what, if the Lord wills, I would like to do in the coming year. In the past, borrowing a page from another pastor, I have come up with goals for myself for the year, one goal for the number of years I have been alive. The pastor I learned this from has incredible self-discipline. He would say that writing out his goals is what makes him disciplined – my humble opinion is that it is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. I’m debating whether to take that approach to goal writing again this year. My success rate with that strategy is not very high, which tempers my enthusiasm a bit. For now, I’m putting forward (and public) just a few. Continue reading


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Covering great distances

It seems I am repeatedly, throughout every day, thinking about the word distance. If I’m not just thinking about it, I am planning for distance, or traveling some distance, or attempting to craft ways to either eliminate or shorten distance. There are three arenas that distance perpetually appear in my thinking.

First, I have the privilege of coaching the cross country team at North River School just down the road from us. The junior high team runs 1.5 mile races, while the high school team runs 3 mile races. Part of my responsibility as coach is to get my team to the point where they can cover those distances. Somehow though, my team is surprised when I tell them how far they will be running in practice on any given day – I have to remind them that: a. cross country is a running sport, and b. running two laps on the track is insufficient to get them ready for meets. Instead, we need to run longer distances. So far, we have topped out at 4 miles, but I’m hopeful by the end of the season that we will get in one long run a week of 8-10 miles. For those of you wondering, yes, I do run with my team, though I am tempted to coach them running on the road from the comfort and ease of my vehicle.

The second arena that distance is becomes a considerable thought is everyday life. As a reminder, we are in a fairly remote part of the country. Certainly there are other places far more remote, but for two raised-in-the-city-with-every-convenience-within-minutes-of-us folks like myself and the beautiful bride, this is remote, nearing isolation. From our driveway, it is 18 miles to a grocery store. 16 miles to a gas station. Three miles to a visible cell tower (the tower is still far off – three miles is the distance from our home before you can actually see it) – that makes sending and receiving calls a challenge. Some of you might be aghast to know that we are 19 miles from a Starbucks. We are around 60 miles from Target or Costco. When we run out of things, we have to think whether our need for that thing is greater than the distance we would need to travel to get that thing. More times than not, we choose to go without that thing. That was a hard adjustment for the guy who used to be able to walk to Fred Meyer at 10:30 at night to get the needed thing, and be done getting it by the time the store closed at 11. Our remote location has often caused me to wonder – what would happen if I ordered a pizza to be delivered to us? Would they even come? If they did, would my pizza still be warm? Would the delivery fee be twice the amount of the pizza? I may test this one day. Stay tuned.

Some days, thinking about either arena of those distances is an unpleasant task.

“Do I really have to run this far?”

“Why can’t somebody have enough vision to put a gas station closer to us?”

“If we go into town for that needed thing, we might as well get the rest of all our needed things, and that is going to take us all day.”

“How hard is it to put up a cell tower?”

I’m not proud of having those thoughts, just telling you what the thoughts are. Usually though, those thoughts diminish with two other thoughts.

Continue reading


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Running and rewards – #1

A journey of 26.2 miles begins with…what in the world am I doing? I began training two weeks ago for another marathon. I have started and completed two, and am hopeful to complete my third in June. My willingness to participate in this activity is against the protocol of my nature. My body desires ease and comfort. My flesh deems it unnecessary to make long term commitments. My mind repeatedly reminds me that I’m not particularly fond of running. If there is a proper and expected posture to take prior to taking on a marathon, I have its opposite. So, why do this? One word sums it up – reward.

To be clear, I’m not a gifted runner. Those who hold records in marathon events and those who would aspire to hold records in marathon events should have no fear of me claiming their spot. I will not be coming in first or the top 10. Based on registrations for this upcoming marathon, I will not be in the top 5000. Sponsors will not be knocking down my door. Monetary gifts will not be issued to me. The closest my name will get to being noticed is if someone (likely a family member or friend) takes the time to scroll through the list of finishers and finds my name towards the back of the pack, and likely at the bottom of my age group.

My rewards are less tangible. After 16 weeks of training, 5 days a week, in sun (maybe), rain (definitely), wind, and profuse amounts of sweat, I will get to race day. When I cross the finish line, I will have put 506.2 miles on my legs over those 16 weeks and I will be given a medal. The medal will not have a place embossed on it, rather “finisher”. That medal will cost the race organizers about two dollars, but to me, its value is much higher.

At the suggestion of a group of writers I meet with monthly, I’ll be coming back to this topic (hence the “#1” attached to the title line above) periodically, with the intent of developing and unfolding the list of rewards I either am experiencing or expect to experience. Striving to do it weekly. There are clear parallels that can be made between running and a commitment to Christ, and prayerfully I’ll be able to draw those out.  Pastors hither and yon like to make the illustration that the Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint, so I am not necessarily breaking new illustrative ground. The difference is that while many of those pastors talk about it, I’ll actually be doing it (not trying to be prideful, just making an observation). I hope that it will be of some use and encouragement to you.