Reflections on Running My First 5K

I don’t normally post on weekends any more but today I thought I would make an exception since this is a personal note. If someone had told me six months ago that I would be running a 5k I would have said, “You don’t know me very well, do you?” The last time I ran was when I was in the Air Force (that was a long time ago) and I hated it then. I had problems with shin splints and only did the minimum that was expected. But today I ran a 5k. What changed? A lot actually.

In early May my doctor told me I had Type 1 Diabetes. My A1C was 11.5 (it’s supposed to be under 7!). My weight was 191. He gave me three tasks: lose 20 pounds, go on medication, go to diabetes classes. I went to the classes which gave me insight into my new life-long diet. I was not going to try any fad diets. This was going to be the way I eat from that day forward. I also started walking at night. I gradually started running part of the way and then I found myself running more and more. No problem with shin splints and I was starting to enjoy it. Go figure! When I followed up with my doctor I had lost 25 pounds and my A1C was 5.8! He was stunned and said he had never seen anyone lower their A1C by half in just 4 months time. I was happy that he was happy. A couple of my coworkers started challenging me to run a 5k. I thought they were crazy but I eventually surrendered to their pleas and today was the result. It was a 5k sponsored by Cornerstone University and it was fun. It was cold as we started (around 45 degrees) and it has been a while since I’ve run outside. I could immediately feel the difference between running on cement as opposed to the treadmill. But I originally started running outside so it just took some adjusting. I quickly warmed up and was glad I opted for short sleeves and shorts. Before you know it I was approaching the finish line. I thought I would give a burst of speed at the end but the course was harder than I anticipated and I was not out to set any records–just finish. My unofficial time was about 32 minutes which is really good since my goal was 35 minutes. [Update: My official time was 28:49.0! Way past my wildest expectations.] My daughter (Bethany) met me at the finish line. She ran to me and gave me a big hug saying, “I’m so proud of you.” It is a moment I will cherish forever.

My total weight loss to date has been 37 pounds! I can’t believe it myself. I started with a 40 inch waste and now I’m down to a 32. The biggest downside (if you can call it that) has been I’ve spent a lot more time away from reading (which explains some of the gaps in my blogging). I cook more, run more, and had classes to attend which occupied several of my nights.

I did title this post as running my first 5k. Yes, I think I’ll do another. You guessed it–those same coworkers are starting to talk about a 10k. Where does it end? Only a few of you knew of my diagnosis and I’ve appreciated your encouragement and prayers as I’ve walked/run this new path.

In Store Now: “Psalms” by Tremper Longman III

This week we received a new commentary on the Psalms by Tremper Longman III in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (TOTC) series. I know what some of you are thinking. Didn’t Derek Kidner write the commentary on Psalms in that series? Yes, he did. Is it out of print? No, it’s not. And I’m very thankful for that since I love Kidner on the Psalms. Kidner’s commentaries are now part of the “Kidner Classics Commentaries” along with his commentary on Jeremiah. This is certainly a win-win situation. The TOTC gets a nice updated edition on the Psalms and the classic set by Kidner is still available for those who have grown to love him and, like me, enjoy introducing him to others.

Here’s an excerpt from Longman’s commentary on Psalm 23.

“Verse 4 envisions God’s guidance through a time of utmost distress. Continuing the path metaphor, the psalmist imagines the path leading through the darkest valley or, according to another translation, ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’ The latter more traditional rendering derives from splitting the Hebrew world ṣalmāwet (deep darkness) into two words: ṣēl māwet (shadow of death). The former rendering has been considered more likely, however, since a cognate word was found at Ugarit. The traditional rendering continues, though, because the psalm is often used to console those who are nearing death. Of course, the translation ‘darkest valley’ simply broadens its application, certainly not excluding the difficult time of facing death.” (135-36)

“The NIV renders the final colon of the psalm: I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. The house of the Lord, of course, is the temple, and no-one actually lived there. The temple, though, was where God made his presence known among his people. The psalmist thus proclaims that he will live in the light of God’s presence.”

“The translation for ever gives a wrong impression, at least when the psalm is read in its original Old Testament context. The phrase is literally rendered ‘for length of days’, that is, for the duration of the psalmist’s life. After all, the teaching about the afterlife developed during the late Old Testament (Dan. 12:1-3) into the intertestamental period and blossomed in the New Testament. Reading Psalm 23 in the light of the New Testament indicates that it is true that the psalmist and others who put their trust in God will live in his presence forever.” (137)

For a defense of the traditional rendering and interpretation of verse 4 see Derek Kidner.

Psalms by Tremper Longman III is from IVP Academic. It is a paperback with 479 pages and sells for $18.00.

Tremper Longman III (PhD, Yale University) is Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He is also Visiting Professor of Old Testament at Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and adjunct of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. He lectures regularly at Regent College in Vancouver and the Canadian Theological Seminary in Calgary.

Longman is the author or coauthor of over twenty books, including How to Read Genesis, How to Read the Psalms, How to Read Proverbs, Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation, Old Testament Essentials and coeditor of A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible. He and Dan Allender have coauthored Bold Love, Cry of the Soul, Intimate Allies, The Intimate Mystery and the Intimate Marriage Bible studies.


Around the Web

Here’s just a few things I found of interest.

Roger Olson suggests “Leaving Behind ‘Left Behind’” He writes, “Seeds of doubt about the rapture were planted in my mind by a book that was supposed to offer biblical and theological support for it—Things to Come by dispensationalist theologian Dwight Pentecost. I read it when I was nineteen or twenty and sensed something was wrong. Why would it take hundreds of pages of convoluted exegesis and argument to establish something so simple? I thought the book’s case for the “secret rapture” was weak and yet it was supposed to be the most scholarly case for it yet published!”

Tim Gombis has an excellent post on Exegetes at Church. “Biblical exegesis is all about critical analysis of the details of a text and critical scrutiny of other exegetes’ work.  Several times after intense and involved class discussions, someone has commented that it must be tough to go to church.  If you’re analyzing the nitty-gritty of a text so closely, emphasizing each feature as crucial, how do you put up with sloppy preaching?” (Emphasis mine.)

Fr. Stephen Freeman asks “Has Your Bible Become a Quran?” “Thus, at the outset I will state:

  1. The Bible is not the Christian Holy Book.
  2. Christians (and Jews) are not People of the Book.
  3. Submission to God is not a proper way to describe the Christian faith

Further, any and all of these claims, once accepted, lead to fundamental distortions of Christianity. An extreme way of saying this is that much of modern Christianity has been ‘Islamified.’ Thinking critically about this is important – particularly in an era of renewed contact with Islam.”

With all the hoopla over the Catholic Church’s Synod on the Family Fr. Barron says “everyone should take a deep breath.” “John Thavis, a veteran Vatican reporter who should know better, has declared this statement ‘an earthquake, the big one that hit after months of smaller tremors.’ Certain  commentators on the right have been wringing their hands and bewailing a deep betrayal of the Church’s teaching. One even opined that this report is the ‘silliest document ever issued by the Catholic Church,’ and some have said that the interim document flaunts the teaching of St. John Paul II. Meanwhile the New York Times confidently announced that the Church has moved from ‘condemnation of unconventional family situations and toward understanding, openness, and mercy.’ I think everyone should take a deep breath.”

What did J.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald Have In Common?

They were all great writers of fantasy. True, but there’s something more. In reading Devin Brown’s latest book, Tolkien, I discovered something deeper that ties them together. He explains,

“When he [Tolkien] was twelve, he and his younger brother suffered yet another great blow, this one even more devastating. [The first was the loss of his father when Tolkien was only four.] On November 14, 1904, Mabel Tolkien died of complications resulting from Type 1 Diabetes–two decades before the insulin treatment we know today would become available. She was thirty-four.”

“Exactly what the childhood loss of a mother has to do with writing extraordinarily captivating and heartrending fantasy literature later in life can only be speculated, but it seems something more than coincidence that it was a loss three of the world’s greatest fantasy authors each suffered. C.S. Lewis, who would become Tolkien’s close friend and supporter, was nine when his mother died. George MacDonald, whose writings had a major impact on both Tolkien and Lewis, lost his mother when he was eight.”

“Motherless characters would be even more numerous in Tolkien’s fiction than fatherless ones–among them we find Sam, Boromir and Faramir, and Eowyn and Eomer. In addition, Arwen and her two brothers are without a mother, as Celebrian has left Middle-earth and passed over the sea to the Blessed Realm. Most significantly in the Family Tree found in the Appendices at the end of The Lord of the Rings, we learn that Frodo was twelve when his parents died in a boating accident, leaving him an orphan at exactly the age Ronald [Tolkien] was when he lost his only surviving parent.”

“Later in life, Tolkien wrote that with the death of his mother, he felt like ‘a castaway left on a barren island under a heedless sky after the loss of a great ship.’ C.S. Lewis turned to a similar metaphor to describe his own loss, writing: ‘With my mother’s death all settled happiness, all that was tranquil and reliable, disappeared from my life. There was to be much fun, many pleasures, many stabs of Joy; but no more of the old security. It was sea and islands now; the great continent had sunk like Atlantis.” (19-21)

Tolkien is from Abingdon Press. It is a paperback with 192 pages. I’ve read three other books by Brown (all listed below in his bio) and have enjoyed them all. He is a great writer. It was actually reading his book Inside Narnia (Baker Books) that first attracted me to read The Chronicles of Narnia. So I was a late comer to The Chronicles but I owe a huge debt to Brown for whetting my appetite to read these children’s classics.

Devin Brown is a Lilly Scholar and a Professor of English at Asbury University where he teaches a class on Lewis and Tolkien. He is the author of Inside Narnia (2005), Inside Prince Caspian (2008), and Inside the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010). He has spoken at Lewis and Tolkien conferences in the UK and the U.S. Devin has published numerous essays on Lewis and Tolkien, including those written for,,, and Devin earned a PhD at the University of South Carolina and currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky.



George Ladd’s Impact on Biblical Scholarship

I’m reading Scot McKnight’s new book Kingdom Conspiracy. McKnight talks about the enormous influence that George Ladd had on him as a student and a scholar. He describes Ladd’s book, A Theology of the New Testament, as “a transformative book in [his] life.” (40). But he notes that he’s not alone.

“In 1984 Mark Noll did a survey of evangelical professors and found that most of them fell into three major groups: the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), the Institute for Biblical Research (IBR), and the Wesleyan Theological Society (WTS). One of his questions was about who was most influential in their thinking. The ETS group listed first John Calvin and second George Ladd; IBR members listed George Ladd first and F.F. Bruce second. Within ten years Ladd’s Theology had exercised a profound influence on major segments of evangelicalism.” (40-41) “Predictably,” he adds, “the Wesleyans listed O. Orton Wiley and John Wesley at the top; Ladd was not on their list.” (264n.25)

This is important to note since McKnight will contend that Ladd was wrong, yet very influential, in some of his ideas regarding the kingdom. In particular, Ladd reduced kingdom to the “reign” of God and said it should not to be equated with the church. McKnight argues that “kingdom in Jesus’ world would have meant ‘a people governed by a king.'” (66) He continues, “Any suggestion, then, that ‘kingdom’ means only ‘ruling’ or ‘reigning’ cannot satisfy what the Bible explictly affirms.” (70) Indeed, so tightly does McKnight tie the kingdom to the church that he boldly affirms “there is no kingdom now outside the church.” (Emphasis his. 87)

I’m still just scratching the surface of McKnight’s book but he’s already pulling apart some of the threads on my concept of kingdom which, like McKnight and many others, has been highly influenced by Ladd.

George Ladd

George Eldon Ladd (1911 – 1982)