One of the most famous martyrs in church history, Polycarp was burned at the stake around A.D. 155 for refusing to reject the Christian faith. According to the story, though, the Romans were a tad surprised when the fire didn’t hurt him at all. So the executioner had to stab him instead.
In addition to his martyrdom, Polycarp is best known as one of he last people to have direct contact with the apostles. Several early authors report that Polycarp was a disciple of John the Apostle in his youth. Combined with his long life–he was approximately 86 when he died–Polycarp thus served as an important point of connection between the New Testament church and the church of the second century.
In honor of Polycarp’s life and faithful death, here is the prayer that he his reported to have prayed right before his death.
Sadness and excitement. Some emotions fit well together. Others, not so much. I can be happy and nervous at the same time (e.g. at my daughter’s piano recitals). And holding anger and fear together is pretty easy too (e.g. my usual reaction when reading You Tube comments). But sadness and excitement? It’s hard to do both of those simultaneously. Instead, you jump back and forth between them like a middle schooler struggling with adolescent mood swings.
To be honest, I’ve been that middle schooler for the last few weeks.
Yesterday I announced that this would be my last year as Academic Dean at Western Seminary. That announcement contained only excitement. (Well, to be honest, there was a lot of joy, exuberance, and impatient anticipation in there as well.) Today’s announcement comes with much more mixed emotions. And, although the title of this post makes the actual announcement somewhat unnecessary, here it is anyway:
I’ve accepted a position at Wheaton College (Associate Professor of Theology), where I’ll be teaching mostly in their M.A. and Ph.D. programs.
As you can anticipate from an announcement like that, the sadness comes from what we’re leaving behind, and the excitement from what lies ahead. Let me explain.
I spent a while trying to figure out what to call it when you stop being a dean. Have you been un-deaned or dis-deaned? At first I liked the latter, but once I realized that the former looks like undead (which is cool) and the latter sounds like disdained (which is not), the choice was clear. So here’s my big announcement:
This is my last year as an Academic Dean.
Some of you understand why this is a big deal, others are less certain, and quite a few stopped reading as soon as they saw the word “dean.” For those who are left, let me explain.
Some of you are also probably wondering what the opening picture has to do with being a dean. Answer: not much. But I liked the idea of a dean having the magic power to fling color from his fingers to splash paint on a drab world. Kind of like being a life vandal. Of course, being a dean is nothing like that, but that’s besides the point.
It hardly seems necessary to introduce Martin Luther, the famous German reformer, theologian, pastor, and inventor of many fabulous insults. So I’ll just say that tomorrow is the anniversary of his death (February 18, 1546). And in honor of his amazing life, here is one of the prayers that he wrote reflecting on the Lord’s prayer.
O Father, it is indeed true that we cannot be strong by our own power. How can we stand before your might if you do not yourself strengthen and comfort us? Therefore, dear Father, embrace us, accomplish your will in us, that we may be your kingdom to your praise and glory. But, dear Father, strengthen us in this life with your holy word. Give us our daily bread. Establish in our hearts your dear Son Jesus Christ who is the true bread of heaven. Sustained by him, we may gladly bear and suffer the breaking and the dying of our own will and the fulfilling of your will. Give grace to all your churches. Send us educated pastors and preachers who will not give us the crumbs and chaff of foolish fables, but who will teach us your holy gospel and lead us to Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, with the holidays and a couple of conferences, I haven’t written very much lately. But we’ve still managed to come up with at a least a few posts that people enjoyed, including a couple of videos, a good quote from Barth, some excellent life-advice from Gandalf, and a post on the importance of understanding Christ’s priestly work. Enjoy!
- Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail: A new study explores what happens to students who aren’t allowed to suffer through setbacks.
- Leaders can increase their emotional IQ: Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others…and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.
- The Internet Is Not Killing Organized Religion: if the internet is killing the churches, it’s because churches gave it the means to do so.
- Children and the culture of pornography: ‘Boys will ask you every day until you say yes’: Never before has girlhood been under such a sustained assault – from ads, alcohol marketing, girls’ magazines, sexually explicit TV programmes and the hard pornography that is regularly accessed in so many teenager’s bedrooms.
- Time to ditch ‘evangelicals’? A national survey found that 53 percent of college faculty have negative feelings toward evangelicals–more than any other religious group. Of Americans age 16 to 29, just three percent had a favorable view of evangelicals in 2007. Young Americans-raised in the evangelical heyday of the 1980’s and 90’s–identified the group’s top three traits as “anti-homosexual,” “judgmental,” and “hypocritical.”
- Why I Changed My Mind about the Millennium: I distinctly recall the horror (trust me, “horror” is by no means an exaggerated term to describe the reaction I received) in my church when I made it known that I could no longer embrace a pre-tribulation rapture. More than a few were convinced that I was well on my way into theological liberalism! But when in the early 1980s I abandoned premillennialism in all its forms, public reaction was such that you would have sworn I had committed the unpardonable sin.
- Spiritual, but not religious? A dangerous mix: The prevalence of mental disorders among those who ‘do God’ alone is an indictment of churches’ failure to meet their needs.
- There’s More to Life Than Being Happy: Research has shown that having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. On top of that, the single-minded pursuit of happiness is ironically leaving people less happy, according to recent research. “It is the very pursuit of happiness,” Frankl knew, “that thwarts happiness.”