Jurek, Eat & Run

A friend of mine read this book by ultra marathon runner – and winner – Scott Jurek and suggested it to me. Jurek writes about how he ended up becoming an extreme runner and, in the process, became a vegan as well. So, when I saw it at the local library I picked it up and loved it! It’s a great story, an easy read and really encouraging.

I tend to think that I would love to run a particular distance and go out and run as far as possible, over-train and end up hurting. Jurek’s first advice on running to readers makes a lot more sense, “Go 50 yeards if that’s all you can handle. Tomorrow, you can go farther… Don’t worry about speed at first or even distance. In fact, go slow…Do a combo of running and walking if needed. Don’t be afraid to walk the uphills.” (p.15)

One hard part of the book is learning about how Jurek’s marriage fell apart. He is open and vulnerable, and it’s such a raw part of the book. I am constantly reminded of how those whose lives are consumed with some expression of greatness struggle to lead and keep their own families. It’s a sad reality that is far too common. It really makes me even more amazed at great men and women who achieve in life – and keep their families a priority.

If you run, you will love this book, if you don’t, this book could be a fun inspiration for you. He isn’t asking all of us to run ultras and become vegans; he encourages us to go further than yesterday. and live healthier than yesterday. Things that all of us can do today!

 

Brooks, World War Z

One of the reasons that you, I and Brad Pitt are all the same is that we were all disappointed with the way that the movie adaptation of this book played out. Pitt probably the most, since he invested years into the project. You and I because we invested ten bucks and two hours. The action was too limited in scope, the zombies just weren’t scary, and the tone was just too timid.

Right now, in western culture, there is nothing more fad than zombie. (Who knew that vampires and werewolves would be passe so fast?) I always enjoy a good apocalypse yarn; when people are faced with inevitable doom, it seems to give them more freedom to be honest with themselves. It’s probably strange for a pastor to be reading zombie fiction; I read it for more than just enjoyment though – cultural and social leaders do well to know the postmodern zeitgeist and its influences on emerging thought. You can know where we are going by what we are fascinated with and laughing at today.

The book, all the same, is a load of fun! It is a fictional account of the extra source material from the narrator, who wrote a technical history report of the world wide zombie apocalypse. According the the book, this is all the material from the interviews that was too emotional, more than simple facts that would be helpful in a report.

It then traces the World War Z from its beginnings to the rebuilding of society all around planet earth. Really creative stuff, and some fun twists in the end. I liked this book not just for its fun apocalypse, but for its creative approach, which I had never seen before. I always love it when I find something new that nobody else is doing.

Great summer escape reading!

 

13.1 Things I Learned Running My First Half Marathon

A couple weeks ago I ran in my first half-marathon, The inaugural Albany Half-Marathon, knocking that off my little bucket list from a couple years ago. Much thanks to Bryce Bennett and all the volunteers that made it so much fun. It was a really cool experience getting ready and teaching my body to do more distance. I managed to do it in two hours, which is what I hoped for and I am most definitely going to do that again, after I rest my shin splints and learn to ramp up my training slower so they don’t come back. So, after a little reflection, here’s 13.1 things I learned!

  1. Even if you get a smashing deal on a great pair of running socks, they are no good for my feet after 6 miles. I picked up a pair of “special” Nike running socks and got a couple feet full of blisters for my race. I had run in them before, but not more than about 6 miles. It’s back to super thin socks for me. I’ll use those running socks for much shorter distances.
  2. If you can find someone who knows what they are doing and can run at a steady pace, you can just turn off your brain and stay with them. It worked for me, I followed an older guy for about 5 miles. It was awesome.
  3. When they guy you have been following stops to pee behind a tree, stop following him. Do not pee next to him. Find someone else to follow. Don’t ask me how I know this.
  4. There are some people who don’t run their hardest so that they can have a “kick” at the end and pass all the gassed people during the last mile and a half. It’s OK to hate these people. It’s not OK to trip them as they pass.
  5. If you are going to start slow, you are going to end up having to listen to the talkers. I don’t really need to know about your relationship with your father, your business plan, or your general running expertise when you are running in the back of the pack.
  6. If you are going to pass someone who looks like a talker on about mile 7, resist the vacuum they create. I had a talker try to convince me that we were friends. We weren’t, and he tried to slow me down, convince me away from my goals. It’s really difficult to get out of those conversations when there is no where to run off to and nobody bigger than me to hide behind.
  7. Running doesn’t have a lot of really big dudes. There were some tall ones, but not a whole lot of guys with mass. Apparently races are more of a lean man’s game. At least until they start allowing tackling.
  8. Stopping is really difficult. At the end, when they guy is trying to cut off your timing chip, standing still for 10 seconds is brutal. I was fighting as hard as I could to not fall over from the dizziness – after shuffling along for two hours, a sudden stop does not do the equilibrium any good.
  9. Someone who doesn’t look like they should beat you, is going to beat you. They are going to beat you by a lot. It’s because they did the work beforehand and you didn’t. The race is just a display of the miles that you have worked through in the months leading up. You cannot fake the training – this is the big difference I noticed between the half, and the 5K’s I’ve done. I can get up off the couch and finish a 5K; I can’t do that with a half.
  10. For someone else – you are that person that doesn’t look like they should be doing so well. If you finish ahead of anyone then someone is looking to you as their next inspiration.
  11. If you finish last, you are ahead of all the people who never started. For whatever reason, most people on this planet won’t take on a challenge that is too difficult for them. Most people want ease of life, not adventure of life. So, even if you crawl your last place behind across the line as they are cleaning everything up – you finished. That rocks.
  12. My favorite runners are the slow struggling runners. Before I ran regularly, I used to think the slow, out-of-shape runners were the worst. The truth, however, is that they were faster and more in shape than me, but I wasn’t willing to take step one, in order to get to step 26,201. Now, I love runners who are working hard – fast or slow, old or young. Moving forward is the point.
  13. You think that’s enough Vaseline, but it isn’t.

13.1 If you are wondering when the next race is, there’s always fliers in your goodie bag!

 

Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Northwest Christians love Don Miller because he’s one of our own and he writes like one of our own…and he’s just about the most honest Christian author you can find. His books are slices of his life that are easy to identify with and draw you in so that you feel motivated to live more and be a better, a more Christlike, you. I read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story on the recommendation of a friend, who told me it was about Miller’s process of turning his hit “Blue Like Jazz” from a book into a movie. Since we just featured that movie at The Grove on Sunday, it was helpful in my preparation.

Miller’s voice is so helpful for young adult Christians who are navigating an increasingly complex western world as they come of age and come to identify themselves with Christ as their Lord for life at the same time. It’s not the same world it was a couple decades ago, so I really appreciate Miller’s honesty and willingness to be a fellow traveler with the readers, as they try to figure out how to live – and how to do so to the fullest – in the current age. So, if you are young, or you are new to putting your faith in Jesus, this book will be so helpful to you and will bring life to you!

Here’s some fun words:

  • p.13, “And it only snows a few days a year in Portland, so people drive slowly and on the sidewalks thinking it might be safer. People who moved here from Boston come out of the woodwork to tell the natives they don’t know how to drive in snow.”
  • p.89, “I told God no again, but he came back to me and asked if I really believed he could write a better story – and if I did why didn’t I trust him?”
  • p.100, “People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.”
  • p.177, “The reward you get from a story is always less than you thought it would be, and the work is harder than you imagined.”
  • p.179, “I think this is when most people give up on their stories. They come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people bu office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover it was harder than they thought. They can’t see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees behind them are getting smaller and none of the tree ahead are getting bigger. They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story.”

Hatmaker, Barefoot Church

I picked up this book on missional church ministry after hearing about it from a new church planter in my town. He’s planting a church that is a lot different from The Grove, in a style from which we have got to continue learning from in order to be the gospel in our post-(modern, church, God, etc.) and help people come to know Jesus in a saving way and become a disciple of Jesus.

Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture is written by Brandon Hatmaker, who is a pastor at Austin New Church down in Texas. He works in missional organizations and helps the church move into efective ministry in our day.

I liked the book because of his stories and the authentic voice through which the book is written, but I can’t help but think of the many other church leaders and church planters who’ve had similar dreams and haven’t experienced the success that Hatmaker has. It’s a complicated little thing, Christian ministry and success…

Anyways, if you are a church leader and would love to help your church move in an authentic missional direction, this little book could be a great help to you. I know that we are going to be walking through some of these ideas at The Grove, with the hope of restoring people (and all creation) to relationship with God.

Just for a spot of humor, here’s a little quote about arriving in heaven that had me just rolling because it’s so true and so beautiful:

p.164, “And I cannot imagine the thoughts that will be going through our minds as God speaks his first words to us. However, somehow I feel as if I can identify a few of the things that he won’t say.

  • ‘I was really disappointed with your attendance last Sunday.’
  • ‘The problem was that your lobby wasn’t big enough.’
  • ‘I’m glad you never took a Sabbath. I invented those for the lazy.’
  • ‘Wow, you gave waaaaaaay too much to missions.’
  • ‘I wish you would have put more effort into your website. Seriously lame.’
  • ‘Yup, you were right all along…poor was totally a metaphor.’