Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

keep-calm-and-finish-strongI’ve been very goal oriented the past two years in publishing on this blog very specific goals in the categories of body, mind and spirit. The goals for 2013 were many and I was glad to accomplish nearly all of them. I started down a similar path at the beginning of 2014, but soon felt burdened by so many time-consuming goals outside of work and volunteer endeavors. By my March update I had reduced the goals a little bit, and by May I had decided to take a few months off from a couple of them entirely. My brain and my spirit needed a rest from the physical activity goals more than my body did. I still continued work on most of the goals, but filed a couple under “not gonna happen” and went on with life.

Now that we’re in the final third of the year and the end is in sight, I’m back in gear and ready to finish out the year completing those goals that are most important and putting aside officially those that aren’t. I’m already looking forward to a very different approach in 2015 which will not  have me listing all kinds of goals for body, mind and spirit. I’ll talk more about what it will include when the time comes.

With that background, here is where I stand with the original goals for 2014 and what my plan is to close out the year with each:

BODY

  • Average at least 10,000 steps per day every week. After taking the second quarter off from this, I’m back on track. My company has a 100 Day Dash going on right now until late November where we’re on teams recording and tracking steps daily. My goal for these 100 days is to never get less than 11,000 steps per day and so far I’ve done that. I’ll end the year strong and will keep at this pace until I reach our company’s top rewards program level which should happen around the end of the year.
  • Do a stretching routine daily. I started the year doing this faithfully but took a break after hurting my back. I never got back into the routine and don’t intend to for now. I’ll stretch before and after running, but not otherwise.
  • Run 365 miles for the year. I haven’t run 10 miles this year. I walk 5-6 miles a day between work and walking the dog, but I just haven’t gotten back into running. This goal will not be met. Walking will have to be good enough.
  • Average 7.5 hours of sleep a night. My average is more like 6.5 hours per night year to date. That isn’t enough. My body is calling for more and I have to find a way to make it happen. Of course, the 6.5 is more than years past, but I need more than years past.
  • Average no more than 45 hours per week for work. For the first year in the 11+ I’ve had with my company where I’ve tracked hours, I’m actually staying within the 45 per week limit. I’ve learned to adjust some things and manage my days differently to get to this point.

MIND

  • Author or co-author a book related to enterprise social networks. Now that we just completed the first year of the weekly Twitter chat I lead on enterprise social networks – #ESNchat – I’m planning on putting together a free e-book PDF that contains the first year’s chat archives plus a little background info on the experience. It’s the one and only book I’ll be responsible for this year, but I’m pretty proud of what it should be.
  • Write 100 blog posts. Earlier in the year I changed this goal to average one post per week instead of 100 for the year. Making that goal should not be a problem.
  • Set up Pinterest boards and pins to coincide with my blog categories and posts. In the interest of time, I abandoned this goal earlier in the year.
  • Reserve at least one hour per day for unstructured, unplanned time not related to any tasks or goals. I don’t track this and I know I don’t always accomplish it either, but I’m certain I’ve been better about allowing myself guilt-free free time this year. There is still room for improvement here, though.

SPIRIT

  • Finish reading The Apologetics Study Bible. I should be able to do this just fine. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve read Genesis – Isaiah so far, taking this one in order cover to cover.
  • Read these three major theology books: (1) Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem, (2) Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Gregg Allison, and (3) Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. To date I’ve completed the third book and am about 2/3 through the first one. I should be able to complete this goal as planned. I have to say that Grudem’s book is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. I’ve love to take part in or lead a one-year study of the contents of this book with a group of people.
  • Have a daily Bible reading and devotional time. I’ve missed days from time to time which is disappointing. Nothing should crowd this from my schedule. There is really no excuse for that. I must do better.

So there you have my goal update for mid-September 2014 – on track with some things, abandoned a few and modified others. At least I’m in that mode now of seeing the finish line for the year ahead of me and I’m working hard at a number of the goals to finish strong those that are most important.

What about you? How are you coming on what you set out to accomplish this year?

 

HeavenIsForRealI watched the movie Heaven is for Real Friday night. I have not read the book like some others in my family have. I knew about the story line of a young boy, the son of a pastor, who has a near-death experience and then stuns his family and others with descriptions of what he saw while on the operating table. My wife tells me the movie followed very closely the book, so I assume that to be true.

Having read several mixed reviews of the movie months ago when it was released, and having read or heard the positive reactions of friends and family to the book and/or the movie, I entered into watching it with mixed expectations. I feared that even though the overall movie was positive, uplifting and affirming of the eternal realities of my Christian faith, it would lack in some significant ways in terms of the completeness of the message delivered – especially theologically – which is critically important.

To perhaps oversimplify my reaction to the movie, here are some quick thoughts about it – first three positives and then three more substantial negatives:

The Positives:

  1. Watching a movie on this subject is far better than watching so many others that fill the big screen that are littered with violence, foul language, gratuitous sex and nothing of any real redeeming value.
  2. The movie can serve as a discussion starter about the idea or reality of heaven and what must happen in this life in order to live in heaven for eternity.
  3. The movie is based on a true story which can (but doesn’t necessarily) lend credence to the experience.

The Negatives:

  1. There was a gigantic missed opportunity in that the movie asserts that heaven is for real, yet it never presents the basics of the Christian gospel message which answers the question of how one gets to heaven. So the message becomes, “Yes, heaven is for real, and I sure hope you figure out how to get there because we’re not telling you in this movie.”
  2. The one authoritative source of information about heaven is the Bible. We can be assured that whatever the Bible says of heaven is true, and we cannot be certain about any other beliefs about which the Bible is silent. I choose only to believe with certainty what the scriptures teach about heaven, and to take with a grain of salt anything else from other sources.
  3. Neither Christians nor anyone else should give an automatic pass to someone’s near-death or other experience as true just because someone claims to have experienced it. As the psychologist in the movie pointed out, people of different faiths may have very different near-death experiences. Who, then, are you going to believe? It might make for good entertainment, but it isn’t a valid basis for theological belief unless it is supported with scripture. And if anything in one’s “experience” is contrary to what is taught in scripture, then it is to be rejected as false.

HeavenIf you want to know if heaven is for real, and if you are curious about some aspects (though not all) of what it is like, look to the Bible. If you want a very thorough, complete, and well-reasoned look at all that the Bible says about heaven, then read Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven. It is an amazing treatment of every bit of scripture that addresses the topic and will both encourage the reader while also clearing up misconceptions that have their genesis in places other than scripture.

There’s nothing wrong with seeing the movie Heaven is for Real or with reading the book. It is wholesome and far preferable compared to the overwhelming amount of filth produced by Hollywood. But a Christian evaluation of it must begin and end with how it measures up to what the Bible teaches about the subject. We cannot base our faith or theology on what makes us feel good – movie or otherwise.

I may sound like an old curmudgeon who is taking the theological aspect of watching the movie too seriously, and it isn’t my intention to discourage anyone from seeing the movie or reading the book. Just do it alongside the Bible and perhaps Randy Alcorn’s book to make sure that you come away with a clear distinction between what is soundly scriptural and what is unknown this side of heaven. God has revealed in His Word to all of us what He deems important for us to know for the present about heaven. Stories, books and movies that suggest other glimpses may be interesting and thought provoking, but we should not require them to affirm the scripture’s teaching nor to fill in the blanks of what God has yet to make clearly known to all.

Progress ReportOn January 1 I listed a number of goals for 2014 categorized into the areas of body, mind and spirit. This is the same categorization I used for 2013 and it seemed to work well, so I thought I’d stay with it again this year. After two months of 2014, I want to give a progress report and share some thoughts on the plan, along with some modifications.

When setting the goals, I wrote: “I have a little apprehension about the above goals – a slight fear that cumulatively I’m not cutting back enough from 2013’s sense of overload. I will reserve the right to adjust the above goals if I find that they’re too ambitious.” Having lived the past two months with these goals in mind, I’ve concluded that a shift is needed if I am to do a couple of major things well. So my review of the original goals below will, where applicable, note changes in the plan going forward.

Part of the plan change has to do with the idea that the original goals were solely focused on me. A few days into the year my pastor preached on the subject of our goals for serving others. It dawned on me that I needed to be more specific about goals for service for others and that to do so may require reducing some of the other original goals. Also, apart from adding items about serving others, I think the first two months have proven the original list to be too ambitious, so rather than charge ahead stubbornly and wear myself out or get too frustrated, I’ll make some changes two months in to try to balance out my time.

There are some major daily things that I do that aren’t recorded in these goals because they are a part of my routine. That doesn’t lessen the time required to complete them, however, so I’m mindful of the amount of time those daily disciplines take in addition to the other goals listed.

With that intro, then, here is a progress report on my goals for the year:

BODY

  • Average at least 10,000 steps per day every week. I’m glad to say I haven’t had a single day of less than 10,000 steps since last September sometime.
  • Do a stretching routine daily. I did this daily for over a month and then have taken a break for a bit due to some back pain that I probably inflicted on myself from bad form in stretching. I’ll resume again this week and see what happens.
  • Run 365 miles for the year. Most of this running will happen in nicer weather which is not what we’ve had in Louisville, Kentucky so far this year. I’m keeping a record and will have time to achieve this once spring weather arrives.
  • Average 7.5 hours of sleep a night. I’m disappointed in my record here. I’m only averaging 6.5 hours per night – a little better than last year but not enough. That’s another sign I have too much on my plate and need to adjust because this is too important to ignore.
  • Average no more than 45 hours per week for work. Believe it or not, I’m so far successful in doing this in 2014. I can’t remember the last year I worked less than in the mid-50s per week for work. I’ve kept a daily record, though, and have kept the average so far at 43 per week. That’s good.

MIND

  • Author or co-author a book related to enterprise social networks. I made the first move in February to collaborate with a number of professionals in my line of work to write a handbook on our profession. The idea was well received and I’ll be following up later this week with others interested in being involved. I’m excited about the potential for this. It will be very time consuming, but worthwhile.
  • Write 100 blog posts. Even though the 100 figure is a lot less than either of the last two years, I’m going to reduce it effective immediately to one blog post per week instead. I’ve only written 11 posts this year, but it’s felt good to be at a less frequent schedule and to start writing for some other websites in addition to my own blog. Changing the goal to one per week with a couple of those a month being for other websites seems reasonable, especially in light of writing and/or editing one or two books this year.
  • Set up Pinterest boards and pins to coincide with my blog categories and posts. Given a lot of time, this would be fun to do, but I’m going to remove it from the list in light of being behind on more important goals. Maybe next year, Pinterest.
  • Reserve at least one hour per day for unstructured, unplanned time not related to any tasks or goals. I haven’t done this every day, but I’m also sure I’ve done it more days in each of the first two months of this year than was typical last year. That’s improvement, right?

SPIRIT

  • Finish reading The Apologetics Study Bible. This is going very well. I’m ahead of schedule on this and may cut back a bit in the number of chapters I’m reading daily for the month of March.
  • Read these three major theology books: (1) Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem, (2) Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Gregg Allison, and (3) Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. The first of these I’m reading is the third one listed. It’s the shortest of them all and I’m nowhere close to finished. It will probably take a vacation week of reading to help catch me up.
  • Have a daily Bible reading and devotional time. This has been a goal I would not allow to slip, so I’m glad to say this is on track. Except for one night in a power outage with no electricity, I’ve done this daily.

As mentioned above, it occurred to me early in the year that I should be more explicit in having goals in service to others. So a goal added in January beyond the list above was to spend at least two hours per week assisting with communication needs at my church – primarily social media via the church’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. I’m pleased to say that I’m working with these daily and thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in my line of work for the good of my church. It’s going very well and is where I find myself drifting in moments of free time because it seems like such a good fit for me. I know I’m giving more than two hours a week to it, but that’s OK.

So there you have it – my first goal update for 2014. Overall, I’m mostly pleased, although I’m behind on a couple and will permanently change or remove a couple more to make sure I have time for sleep, rest and serving others. The addition of doing social media daily for my church is a major addition not originally planned but of enormous importance to me, so I’ll adjust other things as needed to do that well.

What about you? How are you coming on your plans for 2014?

rattlesnakeSome of you may have heard about the Appalachian snake-handling pastor who died several days ago from a snake bite. Here are my thoughts on the matter…

While I applaud the exercise of faith in any professing Christian, there is a difference between exercising faith and laying down on the railroad tracks and daring a train to come by. Surely God expects us to use our brain and accumulated knowledge in matters clearly known (such as the fact that poisonous snakes can kill you) and not waste our time putting God to some magic genie test. In fact, Matthew 4 tells Jesus’ response to Satan’s temptation where Jesus was basically asked to prove himself by jumping off the pinnacle of the temple without getting hurt. Jesus replied, “Do not test the Lord your God.” So those who center their faith around such silly tests are not only misguided in their focus, but are, in fact, not following the example and command of Jesus.

Also, while it may make the heads of some of my fellow conservative Christians explode, it is thought by many biblical scholars that Mark 16:9-20 which contains the snake handling passage was not originally part of Mark’s gospel. That is why several translations either omit it completely or place it in brackets to note its uncertain origin. To center one’s faith and practice around some of the very few disputed verses in the Bible is woefully misguided.

And if the passage was considered to be authoritative and taken literally, don’t you think there would be some history of that happening in the first 1900 years of the church rather than strangely appearing in Appalachia a century ago? Here’s a clue, folks: when practices and beliefs emerge a couple thousand years after the history of the church has done otherwise, it is inevitably the new divergence that is astray and not the countless generations that came before.

If the pastor was truly a man of Christian faith – and I have no reason to believe otherwise in spite of our very different take on snake handling – then I believe he has passed from this life to an eternal one in the presence of his Lord. However, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus’ first words to him after death were “What were you thinking?”

Happy New Year 2014I set a number of goals for 2013, most of which were achieved as reported in this end-of-year progress report. After careful consideration of what worked and what didn’t last year, and after determining some directions I’d like to go in 2014, I’ve settled on the following personal goals for this year, not including those for my work. Like last year, I’m categorizing them as related to body, mind and spirit, although there are a few that might cross over to multiple areas or not necessarily fit well into any of those categories.

One thing I learned in last year’s pursuits is that some goals can become such daily habits that you no longer really need to call them out as goals and bother with tracking them. A few that are like that for me now are keeping my weight at or below 145 pounds, reviewing weekly the 100 Bible memory verses that I chose several years ago to burn into my brain and heart, and writing handwritten letters to my sons twice a year. So even though I’ll still be doing those, they won’t be recorded and reported here. I want the public goals I share to involve pursuits that add a new challenge and interest.

After feeling like I tackled too much in 2013, I’m setting some goals this year that reflect a desire to have a little more down time and rest. To do so, that time has to come from somewhere, meaning I have to do less in some areas than I did in 2013. Here, then, are my personal, non-work-related goals for 2014.

BODY

  • Average at least 10,000 steps per day every week. I’ve averaged more than that since getting my Fitbit Flex in September, but 10,000 is an easy-to-remember goal and the threshold for earning maximum rewards from the HumanaVitality program offered through my company’s health insurance plan. That’s the equivalent of five miles per day, so that’s a healthy, reachable number that takes about an hour less per week than I’ve been doing the past four months.
  • Do a stretching routine daily. I have a nice set of stretching exercises that I do before and after runs that I’ve done for years, but I feel the need to do them daily for the value they bring, whether or not I’m running.
  • Run 365 miles for the year. I haven’t run regularly for a few years. I walk a lot and occasionally jog some while out with the dog, but I want to do better at running this year. I don’t care how these miles are spaced out throughout the year. I won’t try for one mile every day. Some weeks will yield more miles than others, and that’s OK. All of these steps are included in the 10,000/day in the goal above, and actually save time since I run about twice as fast as I walk.
  • Average 7.5 hours of sleep a night. My 2013 goal for sleep was six hours per night – more than previous years, but my body is telling me I need more. This will be very difficult for me to do because the time to do this has to come from elsewhere. Tracking it accurately with the Fitbit is easy, though, and I’m determined to work at it.
  • Average no more than 45 hours per week for work. I can’t remember the last year I worked less than 50-55 hours per week on the average, so this will be a serious challenge for me. I’ll have to be better at letting some things go and at training and delegating other colleagues and volunteers to make sure all still gets done. I’m placing this goal in the body category since consistently working too many hours takes more of a toll on my body and time available for other things than it does on mind or spirit due to how much I love my work.

MIND

  • Author or co-author a book related to enterprise social networks. It’s time I wrote a book. I would like to create an e-book related to my profession because I don’t think there is enough in print to help guide others whose roles are similar to mine. The weekly Twitter chat I lead on the subject – #ESNchat – is an incredible source of information and knowledgeable contacts, so by the time I’ve led that for nearly a year in September, 2014 I should have a wealth of information to write or collaborate with others to write a very helpful guide for those that manage enterprise social networks. I’ll probably just give it away online when written to get the info out there. I’m not planning on writing it for profit. Making a positive impact on the profession and perhaps getting some conference speaking engagements as a result will be adequate reward.
  • Write 100 blog posts. For 2012, I wrote a post a day – 366 of them. In 2013 that went to one every other day. For 2014, I’ll back that down once again to one every 3-4 days. Since I’ll be writing some substantive posts for other websites in 2014, those will take more time than I typically spend on posts for my own blog. To account for that added time, I’ll write fewer posts on my this blog, although I’ll post a notice and link here to posts I write elsewhere.
  • Set up Pinterest boards and pins to coincide with my blog categories and posts. I’ve wanted to do this for a long while, so I need to make it a public goal to hold me accountable for getting it done. With over 70 categories currently on this blog, the plan is to create one Pinterest board per category and then pin all relevant blog posts to each board. Once caught up with all posts going back to this blog’s beginning in 2011, pinning new blog posts will be a part of the publication process for each post in order to keep the Pinterest boards current. I’m thinking about devoting one of my vacation weeks in 2014 for this task.
  • Reserve at least one hour per day for unstructured, unplanned time not related to any tasks or goals. This may seem like an odd goal, but it’s tied to feeling like I didn’t allow myself enough down time last year. By making a goal of giving time to not working on some goals, I’m forcing myself to have more down time and enjoy some spur-of-the-moment activity. (Of course, not having structured time is actually working on this goal, but you get the point.) I’m putting this goal in the mind category since its purpose is to give me more mental breaks.

SPIRIT

  • Finish reading The Apologetics Study Bible. I started reading it late in 2013, but still have 95% of its 2000+ pages to read in 2014. Each 1-2 years I pick a different version or study edition of the Bible to read through. This is the current one I’m working on which will be my first complete read of the version called the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).
  • Read these three major theology books: (1) Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem, (2) Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Gregg Allison, and (3) Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. All together, these three books total 2,400 pages of material that along with The Apologetics Study Bible will be a fantastic theological and apologetic emphasis for the year.
  • Have a daily Bible reading and devotional time. I’ve been too hit and miss with when I do my Bible readings and prayer. I want to develop the consistent habit of doing so daily without fail.

Some of the goals above save me time compared to similar efforts in 2013, while other new goals will, of course, require time not dedicated for those things in 2013. Cutting back my work hours to something more reasonable will go a long way toward finding the extra hours needed, as will taking advantage of the many weeks of vacation time I have or will have accumulated by the end of 2014. I also suspect the TV will need to be turned off more frequently in my man cave.

I have a little apprehension about the above goals – a slight fear that cumulatively I’m not cutting back enough from 2013’s sense of overload. I will reserve the right to adjust the above goals if I find that they’re too ambitious. I’m determined to make sure I have the free time and added sleep needed, so other things will have to go if necessary. Until then, I’ll proceed with the above goals and will report back here quarterly (not monthly as I did last year) on my progress.

What about you? What are you going to tackle this year?