Author Archive

Further Questions of Ourselves For Guidance for the New Year

January 7, 2022

A couple of days ago, I asked a number of questions to guide us toward health for the new year. Let’s take it deeper with some questions from today’s reading in the Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community.

  • Why do we call impossible what God calls possible?
  • Why do we call unforgivable what God has forgiven?
  • Why do we compromise with what God calls sin?

How we need to know God’s heart, and reach out in His love and wisdom to others.

Maybe those are questions we can write on a note card to place on our desk to remind us daily. Especially when we are discouraged. Or when we are judging others harshly. Or when we are tempted.

How Can I Improve My Overall Health, Part 2?

January 6, 2022

I asked many questions yesterday for us to consider regularly to keep us on a healthy spiritual, intellectual, physical path. Today I’ve compiled a list of suggestions from a number of sources. They are all good, but way too many to implement all at once. Just consider them as suggestions. Pick one or two deficiencies and begin a habit to correct them.

Longevity and Mindset

  • Prioritize sleep
  • Build muscle mass, begin resistance weight training
  • Move (walk, run, bike, swim)
  • Minimize sugar intake
  • Socialize more
  • Adopt a diet more rich in plants (Eat food, not too much, mostly plants)
  • Practice gratitude daily
  • Find your passion and purpose
  • Consume optimistic and future optimistic content (turn off TV news and other negative sources)
  • Practice data-driven experimentalism
  • Take ownership of your health decisions
  • Practice simple habits
  • Practice change as lifestyle

Drink water

  • After waking up
  • After workout
  • Half-hour before a meal
  • Before going to bed (this has been a great change for me)
  • When you’re feeling sick or tired
  • When surrounded by sick people

Work smarter

  • Have a weekly plan
  • Focus on what you’re doing
  • Get organized
  • Have a routine (but be flexible)
  • Take breaks
  • Turn phone off
  • Prioritize

Hope you find some good ideas within.

How Can I Improve My Overall Health This Year?

January 5, 2022

Four questions for the year.

  • How can I improve my spiritual health this year?
  • How can I improve my physical health this year?
  • How can I improve my intellectual health this year?
  • How can I improve my emotion health this year?

Rather than goals or resolutions this year, how about beginning each week with a series of questions and answers?

Each week as part of our weekly review of projects and tasks, we can devote five minutes to answering each of these questions for the week:

  • What one thing will I do for my spiritual health?
  • What one thing will I do for my physical health?
  • What one thing will I do for my intellectual health?
  • What one thing will I do for my emotional health?

I hope you have completed an annual review of where you’ve been and where you’d like to go this year. Monthly reviews help you stay on track or make course corrections as necessary. Weekly reviews bring it home. You can look at the week and see the days you’ll exercise, the pattern of study and meditation, and so forth.

For me, I need to learn to ask better questions.

Be More Like Jesus

January 4, 2022

This thought is not original with me, but I endorse it and encourage us all to adopt it as this year’s lifestyle.

This year I would like to be more like Jesus

  • Hang Out With Sinners
  • Upset Religious People
  • Tell Stories That Make People Think
  • Choose Unpopular Friends
  • Be Kind, Loving, and Merciful
  • Take Naps on Boats

Wisdom, Or Be Careful What You Ask For

January 3, 2022

Solomon as an adolescent knew he would be king after his father, the famous King David. He talked with God, who told him he would grant a wish. Solomon asked for wisdom.

I often recommend reading the book of Proverbs in the Hebrew Scriptures (Christian Old Testament) during the month of January in order to set off the year with good momentum. It’s the writings of Solomon’s wisdom teaching. 31 chapters—31 days in January. Read a chapter a day.

But, the story of Solomon didn’t turn out well. He lived a dissolute life. Many of his wives brought pagan gods into Israel. His son was barely king when he caused a split in the kingdom due to his lack of wisdom. The huge kingdom was gone in an instant.

Think about this. What if…what if he had asked God to help him act wisely instead of just to have wisdom.

We can know a lot, but we can still act like a fool. We can be a couple of lengths short of a PhD, yet we can live wisely.

I don’t care how much of the book of Proverbs you have memorized. What matters is what you do after you rise from bed tomorrow morning. Ask God to help you live wisely and with kindness this year.

Happy New Year, We Hope

December 31, 2021

Welcome to the last day of 2021, or maybe the first day of 2022 depending upon when you get this. We hoped 2021 would be an improvement over 2020 when we had the shock of the first major pandemic perhaps since the Spanish Flu of 1918. It has caused immense changes in how we live and interact.

Still, a year end is an ideal time for reflection and gathering ideas for change in our lives–and maybe our thinking. We, the people, seem to be woefully short on reflection. Since most people have a few days left of holiday, use yours to set aside a few hours to just sit and think. That is called reflection.

What good did you do last year?

Where could you have done something and didn’t? No guilt. No excuses. Just a short list.

Who did you lose track of, perhaps due to Covid or not?

Where did you grow last year?

Then we can project into the new year.

What one thing can do in 2022 to grow intellectually, spiritually, or in relationship? What trigger can I set up to encourage it? For example, setting out workout clothes at night so that in the morning they are right there to be put on getting you in the mood of exercise.

What good can I do in 2022?

I stopped doing New Year’s Resolutions many years ago. I think of what kind of person I’d like to be and what changes I can make in my daily life to assimilate it.

I started this blog in 2008 as a service to my local church with another person. She left to go to seminary. The pastor was transferred to another place. I changed it in 2009 and then took it seriously a year later. Eleven years and 2,600+ posts later, it’s a part of my daily discipline. The blog never caught on to the tune of hundreds of thousands of readers. But I only promote it on Twitter. I seldom try to hit a “click bait” issue to trick people into clicking. And still there are a few thousand readers. If you care to pass it on, I’d appreciate it. I have no income from this. It’s as much for me to organize some thinking as anything.

I Choose Health, and Other Things

December 30, 2021

It happened many years ago. I remember lying on the bank of a creek in the warm spring sun watching otters play. I pulled out a cigarette. Back then I had taken up that disgusting habit for no apparent reason. The feeling of deep incongruity overcame me. How could I feel at one with nature and yet put such unhealthy stuff into my body? I stopped.

I learned to drink coffee with milk and sugar at university. And tea with sugar. One day grabbing a coffee in the break room at the manufacturing plant where I worked I became aware of the spoonfuls of stuff I was putting into my body (they used artificial creamer, of course). I stopped adding stuff to my coffee and tea–well, unless I have a cappuccino or, as I am now, having a chai tea.

I chose health.

Today, when faced with food or lifestyle choices, I have already chose. Or, if I choose to deviate, it is a conscious decision without guilt while knowing I will have to make up for it.

And I wear a mask and am vaccinated, because I’ve already made the choice for health. I understand those who fear needles or don’t want to “give in to authority”. I don’t agree, but I understand. I undertook a several year study into brain science and other physiology in order to understand. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say that the famous Descartes saying, “Cogito, ergo sum” was wrong. Reality is “Sum, ergo cogito.” For the Latin deprived, I am not a person because I think. Rather, I am, therefore I can think.

This is the week for New Year’s Resolutions. Or, does anyone make those anymore? Looking at the new year with a break in normal activities naturally leads to thinking of the future. I suggest choosing whom you will be. Not a resolution such as “I will lose 25 lbs.” which you will never do. Better are statements such as “I choose health” and “I choose to exercise every day.” Or, you can say, “I am the type of person who eats healthy and nutritious meals” or “I am the type of person who gets some exercise every day” or on another area “I am the type of person who gets up and writes three pages every day” or “I am the type of person who carries a sketch book and looks for interesting things to sketch every day.”

The Whole Thing and its Parts

December 29, 2021
Entrance to Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Gardens

We visited Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Gardens last evening. Various artists transformed groves of plants and trees into light and music experiences.

We had our first significant snow of the year yesterday. Even with temperatures above freezing (38F or 3C) causing some melting, the vestiges of the white snow perfectly enhanced the experience.

The highlight for me was a laser light show across a small lake. Dancing lights to a festive piece of music. In contemplation just in the moment, I de-focused my eyes and absorbed the experience. Yet all the while part of my mind was thinking of the technical intricacies of the lights themselves and the programming required.

Listening to s symphonic orchestra is the same experience. I listen to the whole piece while also noticing the work and movements of each instrument and how the composer and then conductor has brought them altogether for a beautiful whole piece.

Similarly, one should read a great book including Scripture. You must absorb the whole of the main argument of the writer while yet enjoying the parts. One errs by picking out sentences while yet missing the whole thought.

Yet, how often readers of spiritual texts do just that. And not only Christians. Check out how often you also see that trait in the Hindu and Islamic traditions. A human trait, this is, as Yoda might have put it.

And a human trait we can learn to overcome with awareness and practice.

Just don’t think so much that you miss the beauty of the whole.

The Mind Needs Many Precepts To See

December 28, 2021

I sat here this morning to type a thought remembering something I read in number 94 (XCIV) On the Value of Advice from Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic. I prepared the quote and then noticed quotation marks. The quote I remembered was not from Seneca but from a rival called Aristo whom Seneca was refuting.

There was a writer popular in the early 70s. I read his brief, popular book. It was a good story, but it was also a little light on understanding some things that I had studied deeply. But enough was there to cause me to buy his next book. This was an explication of the Christian Bible book of Hebrews. I had gone maybe two of his chapters into his book when I had a feeling nagging at the back of my brain.

I pulled out a Bible (actually a couple) and read those translations along with the book. There was only a slight resemblance between two generally accepted translations of the book (actually it’s more like a sermon) and the author’s own translation.

I discarded that book and never read anything from that author or his colleagues.

I feel that that author made a translation to fit his theology. I felt a dishonesty at work. But, had I quoted and explained the thought as if it were Seneca rather than his rival Aristo, would I not also have been guilty of a dishonesty? Even if it were just sloppy research.

There is a lesson or more.

Read more carefully.

Check your memory.

If you have read incorrectly, be prepared to change your mind.

Prove Christmas In Your Own Life

December 27, 2021

“We are called to prove in our own lives that Christ is born.”

I came across that challenge in my reading during Advent. Some people think that all you have to do is say you believe aloud and that you will be saved and all is good. You would not find that in any definition of discipleship.

Jesus challenged us to live as if God were right there with us. Live in the kingdom of God, he called it.

There used to be a phrase making the rounds—if you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

That is looking at that thought from the outside in. If someone followed you around, like say in a spy novel, taking notes of what you did and how you acted, would they suspect that you were a follower of Jesus?

We have passed through Advent and are living the twelve days of Christmas. We celebrated in our own way the commemoration of his birth. Have we once again brought that into our lives from the inside out? Will people we meet and people observing us say, “That person proves there is a God in the way they acted”?

It’s not the megachurch pastor saying good words to thousands while masking a sordid life. It’s each and every one of us through our daily random acts of kindness that prove the birth of Jesus.