2017 Goals Week 10

2017 Goals Week 10

Week 10 of 52

9)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

“If it is coincidence, I sure have a lot more coincidences when I pray than when I don’t.” Unknown man quoted by Don Whitney in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, p.96.

Bible reading, meditation and prayer are the “holy trinity” of a Christian’s life. They mark a person who believes there is more to life than 80 years on earth. I disciplined myself to pray this week as I disciplined myself to daily walk. I don’t get “feels” off prayer, usually. Prayer is simply a way I prove I believe to myself. I found it a relief to chat with God about daily annoyances and worries. And, there were little answers/”coincidences” as well.

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

wp-1489429406514.jpg

My second class this semester starts this week. It is Church History to the Modern Age – squeal!

7)   Connect with one person a week.

6)   Complete writing a 12-week Bible study.

I worked on Week 4.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

The donkey is in progress, and I started on a Faun.

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

Accomplished!

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

Nothing new.

January: Hike to Twin Falls.

Who’s your mother?

Who’s your mother?

The most-loved title that Jesus uses for God is “Father.” God, who is not male, chose this designation to describe the protective care that is provided to all God’s children. It was an apt symbol for a patriarchal society that confirmed all relational, legal and public authority on the male head of households. But does the use of the title of “Father” negate the metaphor of God as “Mother?” Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we find motherly metaphors of God. This article looks at the role of Mother in the life and teaching of Jesus.

Jesus was born of a woman.

In Genesis 3:15, God prophesies that Eve and Eve’s descendant will defeat the serpent with whom she is at war. The promised one is the seed of Woman. Thousands of years later, we learn the fulfillment is found in the birth of Jesus, son of Mary.

“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1 NIV)

It was Mary, recognizing the promise to Eve, who said, “May your promise be fulfilled to me.” And it was. Mary’s virginity meant that Jesus was not fathered by a man, but was supernaturally the Son of God. Jesus’s birth has its roots in God’s promise to Eve. The one born to woman would defeat the enemy. In Galatians 4 , Paul cements this fulfillment further.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman… (Gal. 4:4 NIV)

Because Jesus was born from a woman, he is human. Because Jesus was born of a woman, he uniquely fulfills the ancient prophecy that the seed of Woman would destroy the evil one. Jesus’s mother was as important as his Father in providing an atoning sacrifice for humanity. Without the humanity he inherited from Mary, Jesus would have no kinship with us to save us.

Jesus teaches that Supernal Parents are critical.

Father

As a son born under illicit circumstances – by an unwed teen mother – Jesus was particularly enamored with paternity. “Father” was Jesus’s favorite title for God. He used the Aramaic term “Abba” to reveal his close relationship with God as “Dad.”

Jesus famously argued with the Pharisees over paternal descent, (which was their way of subtly discrediting him as a bastard) accusing them of devilish origins. “But our father is Abraham!” they protested. Jesus agreed that they were literal descendants of Abraham, as he was, but he points them beyond the physical heritage to their spiritual heritage. Jesus teaches that the proof of heavenly patronage is belief. Those who believe Jesus’s  words, have God as “heavenly” Father (John 8). Those who do not believe his teaching are “fathered” by The Liar.

God becomes Our Father when we believe the words of Jesus.

Mother

But, maternal origins are as important as paternal descent throughout the Bible. And, we find our Supernal Mother is just as important as our Supernal Father in the gospel.

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:12-14a)

Katherine Bushnell points out in God’s Word to Women, that in these verses, the children of God are not born of three things:

  • natural descent (genetics)
  • human decision – (sexual desire)
  • a husband’s “will” (ditto)

In this discussion on Godly birth, one thing is left out of the options involved in a birth… The mother. The mother’s birth-role is not excluded.  This is because we are birthed from God as our Heavenly Mother, like Jesus became flesh through Mary as her earthly son: without the aid of a husband’s “will” or carnal passion. This motherly metaphor ties our spiritual birth with Jesus’ fleshly birth -The Word became flesh- to illustrate how through Jesus, we become children of God.

The seed of Woman is Jesus, but it is also those who have received Jesus and believed in his name. We are born of God, like Jesus was born of a woman.

You must be BORN…again.

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. John 3:5-6

Who gives spiritual birth to us? The Spirit, our Mother. We are the fruit of Her womb. Unless we change and become like little children, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Mat 18:3). Unless we are born of our Heavenly “Mother,” we have no right to call God our “Father.”

Who’s your mother?

2017 Goals Week 9

2017 Goals Week 9

Week 9 of 52

9)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

“I haven’t the foggiest idea what prayer does. I do know that I can’t get through my day without praying.” Frank Schaeffer p 33

This month is prayer. I recently read Why I am an Atheist who Believes in God by Frank Schaeffer. I highly recommend this book for someone who has grown up a Christian, but now struggles with apathy or doubt. Schaeffer prays every morning as he walks down his steps. Each step is for a different  person he loves. “The Lucy step” is for his granddaughter, and she asks him daily about his prayers for her as he came downstairs. He also prays for God to take care of his dead friends and parents. He doesn’t have an explanation, but in doing so, he feels a connection to those who have passed on through God’s care.  He wrote the quote at the head of the paragraph, which struck a cord with me. I don’t know what prayer does either, but sadly, I can get through my day without it. This month, I am intentionally praying every day with a journal, and my with my steps.

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Working…

7)   Connect with one person a week.

6)   Complete writing a 12-week Bible study.

I haven’t worked on this in four weeks! Gah!

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

Hagar is coming along. Her hair and lips need work. Does she look pregnant? (She is supposed to.)

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

wp-1488816553394.jpg

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

I missed Wednesday and Thursday, but I was active both days.

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

Nothing new.

January: Hike to Twin Falls.

I Go to Church

I Go to Church

I have always gone to church, but I almost quit. In fact, I almost quit every week. I spend many Sundays wondering what the point is? Many times I don’t really enjoy it. I doubt if I’d be missed. Intellectually, I know God is not found in a building. In fact, I often wonder if God is to be found at all? I don’t feel especially close to anyone there. I don’t experience elation or a spiritual high.

I was seriously contemplating becoming a “None.” I know a lot of Nones. I know why they became Nones. I feel like I’m always on the verge of becoming a None, too. Because, really. What would happen to me if I quit?

My answer to that question changes. Today, I think I go to church because if I didn’t, I might loose what little faith I cling to. Going to church, for me, is worship. I depend on the concept of worship to weekly define and bolster my faith in the Big Idea that there is a Divine Soul who loves me.

All people worship.

Worship has been a part of human existence for a very long time. Depending on the century and culture, a worship experience looks different. But, the basic gist or functions remain the same no matter where or when it occurs. There is an idea that sparks deep emotion, breeding loyalty to a ritual that reminds us of that ideaThese components are found in all religions and even in non-religious activities that are formed around an idea that inspires and practices routine.

worshipillustration.jpg

For instance, millions of people travel to Disney to experience worship. Even me.

img_20170210_195522_651

The idea: Wishes have the power to make dreams come true. (Listen to this sermon, and tell me you don’t feel like glorying! Disney Wishes Firework Show, Disney Magic Kingdom) Ask anyone over the age of 12 if they really believe that idea, and you’ll get a negative. But, the idea inspires nevertheless. The idea that births worship doesn’t necessary have to be true or even be believed to be true. The idea just needs to breed intense emotion. Disney has many ideas, but hallmark Disney is: dreams come true. We can all achieve a happy ending.

The emotional value of Disney’s core idea is undisputed. It is the happiest place on earth! Blessedness is an important emotion to worship, but other emotions can promote worship as well, as long as the emotion is profound. Fear is often the emotion felt as a result of religious ideas, and it is often a more powerful motivator than enjoyment. Disney delivers great emotional value.

Loyalty is bred in many different ways. Profound attachment, zeal, faith, and even duty play a part in being committed. Sometimes we are loyal because we want to be, and sometimes we are loyal even when we don’t want to be. The idea of loyalty in worship introduces self-determination to the component of worship. Ask any Disney fan why they keep returning to Disney Parks, and you’ll get many different answers. People commit for many different reasons. But, loyal fans keep plunking down their money to partake in the rituals surrounding the experience of Disney.

Rituals surrounding Disney are too many to name. Taking a  yearly trip to Disney Theme Parks has been compared to medieval religious pilgrimages. The discipline involved to save money for the excursion, the repetition of themes, the physical participation, the spending, and the  imaginative exercises remind us of religious habits that have been formed to remind us of the Big Idea. In ritual, we experience something physically, with repetition, so that the idea that started the whole experience is recalled and refreshed.

Disney has all the components of a worship experience. Hence, it is filled with meaning for millions and it inspires deep commitment.

Church without worship is pointless.

As I reflect on my Disney worship experience, I also reflect on why I still go to church. Why haven’t I become a None, when I empathize so much with them?  And perhaps if you are a None, you will find the reason in your answers to one of these questions.

Do I believe in the Idea? I struggle with unbelief every minute, but I hope with my whole being the Idea is true. That is my experience of faith. I believe, so I sort it out accordingly. I doubt, so I sort it out accordingly.

Do I experience emotion from the Idea? Oh yes, but the emotions that come to mind first are annoyance, frustration, even dread. The church has been a disheartening place. But, it has also been a place of encouragement, hope, and love. It would be unfair to focus on the bad without recalling the good. Church is also a consistent place that I can focus on the Idea and give it space to elicit emotion within me.

Am I loyal to the Idea?  I am. And this is the strongest reason I still go to church. If I believe the Idea, then I must act like it. I proclaim my faith every Sunday when I go to church. Even when that faith is faltering.

Does the ritual still remind me of the Idea?  Sometimes all the things I don’t like about church get in the way of the Idea. Christian ritual, for me, is a disciplined practice of faith. I attend church, take Jesus’ body and blood, witness baptisms, and serve others to bolster the hope of the Idea. Religious practices without thought are pointless. Going to church without using that time to remember the Idea is useless.

Because of the Big Idea of a Divine Soul who loves me, I go to church. I worship at church because I make a point to. If I became a None, I know I would loose the little faith I have without the ritual to remind me that I am loyal to the Idea that sparks great emotion within.

This year, I am tracking my journey of worship by going to church. See my pictures each week with #Igotochurch on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Join me?

 

2017 Goals Week 8

2017 Goals Week 8

Week 8 of 52

9)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

This month’s spiritual discipline is Bible intake in the form of meditation on the Word.  I have been translating and exegeting the book of Galatians for my class this semester. This week, my meditation has been on Galatians 2-3. Specifically, on the purpose of morality for justification.

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Working…

7)   Connect with one person a week.

6)   Complete writing a 12-week Bible study.

I haven’t worked on this in three weeks.

 

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

wp-1488148273478.jpg

Little sheepies. 8 of 25 done!

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

I walked every single day.

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

Nothing new.

January: Hike to Twin Falls.

2017 Goals Week 6 & 7

2017 Goals Week 6 & 7

I took a quick trip to Disney World last week! So fun.

Week 6 & 7 of 52

10)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

This month’s spiritual discipline is Bible intake in the form of meditation on the Word. These last two weeks, I have completed my daily meditation maybe 1/3 of the days. Disney knocked me out of the habit of reading my 2 chapters, and so I lost momentum. I did meditate on Ecclesiastes quite a bit on my bumpy, I am falling-out-of-the-sky flight to Orlando, though. The man next to said he didn’t think we’d make it. I meditated on “death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.” And, “For the living know that they will die,” and “Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come.” I was ready. 

9)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Working…

8)   Connect with one person a week.

wp-1487457999588.jpgMy trip to Disney was with two of my nieces and a friend of theirs. We had great conversation, laughs and adventures! I also hung out with a friend over lunch this week. I enjoyed the peace and quiet of home after Disney, though!

7)   Complete writing a 12-week Bible study.

I haven’t worked on this in two weeks.

6)    Submit 6 articles for publication.

I’ve evaluated the feasibility of this goal. It is causing more guilt than motivation. The desire to get it done is lacking. I’m also concerned my second class, which starts in a few weeks, is going to add extra writing time that will only increase my stress of not working on this goal. So, I’m cutting this one off the list, and my goals for 2017 are reduced to 9.

5)    Learn how to needle felt and create 25 sculptures. 

wp-1487460142947.jpg

Hagar and giant sheep, as I’m calling the tutorial sheep I started and didn’t realize would be so large in size, are on hold. I’m working on a trio of little sheep, that are the proper proportion for the human figures I want to make. Obviously, this is just the beginning.

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

wp-1487458944210.jpgThis lamp was poorly designed and a wire was cut about a month after we installed it from over-zealous kids turning it round and round. So, its been collecting dust for more than a year. Stephen decided it wasn’t able to be taken apart, and the cut in the wire was in a place completely inaccessible. So, this Saturday, I decided to see if I could do whatever it took to get it apart and re-wired. I figured I had nothing to loose, since we’d have to buy a new one anyway. Three hours later and one trip to the hardware store, I had it working! I won’t bore you with details, but it was a trial. And the kids have been warned not to touch it.

We’ve also been making small steps toward designing, ordering and installing the iron railings for the front steps and patio. We found a local welder, and now I have to settle on the specifics.

I also ordered seeds!! I’m excited about this flower, and I’m trying carrot seed tape for the first time this year. The dirt is calling.

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

I moved a lot at Disney, and succeeded in moving every day after the trip, except for one.

2)   Fix my teeth. 

wp-1487458335047.jpg

Invisalign was installed five days ago. Along with the plasticy trays that completely cover my teeth and do the work of aligning, small buttons were glued to a few of my teeth. If you look closely, you can see the things that look like warts on my teeth. These are like little shards of glass when I remove the trays. Imagine eating with shards of glass on the front of your teeth! My cheeks and lips are damaged. After doing a quick browse on-line of invisalign problems, I decided I’m going to give my ortho a call next week and see if I can get them smoothed and polished out. I knew I would have sores from getting used to things, and that my teeth would ache as they move, but the buttons are pretty painful. I suspect the assistant who installed them was a novice.

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

Nothing new these two weeks.

January: Hike to Twin Falls.

wp-1485750929885.jpg