2017 Goals Week 11

2017 Goals Week 11

Week 11 of 52

9)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

March is the month for prayer. In Mark 13:18, Jesus commands those who are listening to his signs that the end of the age is near to “Pray that it might not be in winter.” I find inspiration in his words.  Jesus taught that God knew the exact time of “the end” already (Matthew 24:36), yet he compels his listeners to pray for a specific time anyway. The verb Mark chooses to use when he writes Jesus’ words into Greek is a verb of uncertainty, of probability. “It might not happen” means that there is potential for the time to change. Our prayer influences the time that God has set.

Jesus was certain that our little old requests might persuade the mind of God. Isn’t that rather stimulating?

 

8)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Working…

7)   Connect with one person a week.

My course load is taking a lot of my spare time, so that’s my excuse for not working on the study this week.

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

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

Accomplished! This is getting easier and easier. My favorite walk is to climb the hill behind our house. It gets my heart pumping and I can do it while reading, so double-tasking wins!

2)   Fix my teeth. 

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

Nothing new.

January: Hike to Twin Falls.

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.

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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.

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.

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

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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2017 Goals Week 5

2017 Goals Week 5

Follow my progress this year toward meeting 10 goals!

Week 5 of 52

10)   Practice 12 spiritual disciplines.

If you want to get warm, you have to linger by the fire. The failure to linger is the reason why many fail to remember or find their hearts warmed by the fire of God’s Word. ~Don Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, p 49

The spiritual discipline for February is also Bible intake; but where January was reading and hearing God’s Word daily, February is memorizing, meditating, and applying Scripture. I will continue reading a chapter a day, and I will add a meditation technique Whitney recommends. For instance, rewriting a portion of the text in my own words or think about an illustration for the text. What picture would describe it? I am in Ecclesiastes, so it makes for great meditation. I also spent time in Ps 119.

9)   Complete 12 credits toward MDiv.

Yep. Working away. If you’re curious – which I suspect most of you aren’t- here’s the way Greek sounds by an amateur. I have to read 3 verses aloud each week as part of the grade.

8)   Connect with one person a week.

I met with a church minister this week to discuss a possible teaching gig. I felt connected, but the meeting wasn’t really about that.

7)   Complete writing a 12-week Bible study.

Painful.

6)    Submit 6 articles for publication.

Nothing. I knew this would be the hardest one.

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

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I am working on a pregnant Hagar and a sheep,but they aren’t completed yet.

4)    Complete 12 house/yard projects. 

 

Sigh. It started snowing again, so its hard to get motivated when everything is freezing or drippy. We have a few furniture re-doing projects started, but its too cold to sand and definitely too cold to spray paint.

3)    Move at least 15 minutes a day.

I did, except for Thursday. Thursdays fill up quick.

2)   Fix my teeth. 

Waiting for a call from the ortho.

1)  Hike to 12 new places.

Not this week.