J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

I Ran I Ran So Far Away – Thunder Road Marathon Musings Part 1

I’m finding it hard to process the whole marathon experience.

It was June when I declared to Amy, “I’m going to run a marathon.” I’m glad I was so resolute in the pronouncement because had I known all that was demanded of me, I don’t know if I would have gone through with it.

18 weeks of training, and then one morning, the whole thing comes and goes.

The morning of the race was strange. My buddy Harry and I always ran at 5:00am, so a 7:50 am race time was late. We usually don’t eat before running, but we pretty much had to with so much time to kill before the start of the marathon. This being my first race of any sort, I didn’t really know what to expect at the beginning.

The check in and pre-race was fascinating. There were so many folks going through their rituals and a million people trying to go to the bathroom. I loved watching everyone. Folks were talking to themselves or listening to their ipods with their eyes closed. Most everyone looked like seasoned runners, but despite my relative inexperience, I still felt like I belonged.

My eyes were full, and I was like a kid at Christmas. I couldn’t believe the moment was finally here.

After going through about 5 variations of layers, I finally decided on what clothing to wear, and Harry and I ventured out. We stood in the 32 degree weather for about 20-30 minutes waiting for the opening gun, and I must admit that I started with a huge grin on my face.

The first couple of miles were just me taking in all the sights. Every inch of street was covered in well-wishers to cheer us on. Our friend, Wendy Mays, greeted us early with her two sons cheering us along at the one mile mark. I knew that we were running much faster than our usual pace, but I figured we would settle down into our usual cadence once the traffic cleared out. However, a few miles in, we were still blazing.

I remember at one point around the 8 mile marker that we came up on huge climb. We tried to train on hills, but none of them compared to this one. It was the first true test of our endurance. At the top of the street was a DJ blaring the Black Eyed Peas’ “I’ve Got a Feeling,” and I must admit, the joy of the moment nearly brought me to tears. That moment on the run was euphoric. I still can’t fathom all my feelings during that portion of the race, but it made the entire experience worthwhile. I was running, running strong, enjoying myself, and things were good.

As we approached the half-marathon marker, I was still feeling strong. We were running a good minute and half per mile faster than usual, but I felt like even with a second half drop off, we were going to finish strong.

And then I saw my family. Amy and the girls were alongside the road yelling and cheering for me, and it was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. I ran up to Amy, gave her a kiss, and yelled, “We ran the half in under 2.”

The moments of exhilaration and quick pace were few and far between for the second half of the marathon.

Tune in tomorrow for the second half recap…

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner. Read it there and help me earn a penny.

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

There is No Such Thing as a Higher Standard

higher standardWhile contemplating Godly church leadership and preparing for the upcoming Sovereign King series, “Lead, Follow, and Getting Out of the Way,” I’ve bumped into a few myths about Godly leadership.  In fact, what I want to do is dispel one commonly held myth – one in which many of you might hold.

As we look at those 3 categories of requirements 1 Timothy 3 (Holiness in Personal Life vss 2-3, Godly management of one’s household vss 4-5, and Spiritual maturity vss 6-7), we need to understand this:  elders and overseers, pastors, and deacons are not held to higher standard than anyone else in Christianity.  They are held to the very same standard to which every believer is held.  Let me explain.

There is no such thing as a higher or lower standard or higher or lesser righteousness Biblically.  God has commanded us how to live in the scriptures in accord with His character.  So, there can be no higher obedience than what God has commanded.  If there was a higher standard, then that would be what God commanded.

Let me use the most common example to illustrate how people think about this…drinking alcohol.  Scripturally there is no evidence whatsoever that a drink of alcohol is sinful.  In fact it is commanded by Paul to Timothy, exemplified by Jesus, and even commended in Proverbs 31.  Now some folks will say, “Well drunkenness is a sin, so I’m never going to drink alcohol.”  That is a perfectly fine application, and I support it wholeheartedly.  Rock on.  But that application is not a higher righteousness.  If not drinking at all was the level of righteousness that Jesus wanted, He would have commanded us to not drink at all.

People have this impression of officers though.  They think they should be held to some fictional higher level obedience.  Folks, obeying what God has commanded is hard enough.  Obeying any extra rules is impossible and even counterproductive.  No, the elder, deacon, pastor, and overseer are judged presently for their character whereas most people in the church are not judged at all for their character unless their actions rise to the level of church discipline.

The officer though lives their Christian life for the world to see and evaluate.  In essence, the occupation of the church officer is the occupation of being a believer.  The job of an officer is to be a Christian.

Essentially, in nominating, training, and ordaining officers, you are looking for people who are radically being changed into the image of Christ.  They are not meeting an ever moving higher standard than the rest of the Christian world.  They are living up to the standard to which all believers are called to live.  Find those men within the context of your church’s mission and theological convictions, and you will find your officers

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner.

Related article:  Lead, Follow, and Getting Out of the Way

October 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 6 Comments