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WolfDreamer

Wolfen Goes Back to the Source

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Good day.

 

My name is Wolfen, and although I call the Adventurers guild my home, I felt that since my focus for this challenge is more spiritual than usual and my goals are to increase time studying scripture, praying, and meditating, that it would be great to join the Druids for this challenge.

 

Below is a quick bio that will add some context to my reasons for this challenge. You can skip it if you want to go straight to my challenge goals.

 

Spoiler

I am a Christian. I grew up in church, attending with my grandparents from childhood until my teen years when I rebelled against mostly because my life was falling apart around me, and church often made it worse. Church also did not provide many of the answers to the questions I had, and many members of the church discouraged the types of questions I was asking. So I stopped going. Years later, I would start to study scripture on my own, pray privately, and read books written by Christian authors, and many of the questions I had were answered. After I got married, we started attending church together, and this continued until our family grew decades later, our life has become very busy, and our presence in church has been rare. Along with this, I have slipped in my time in scripture, prayer, and meditation. Within the past few months, I have noticed long-dormant habits and addictions creeping up. I have also noticed I am more irritable and testy, especially around my wife and daughters.

 

I recently picked up a book titled Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ. As if the title itself wasn't convicting enough, this line in the first chapter arrested my heart and had me in tears: "God is not so much about fixing things that have gone wrong in our lives as He is about finding us in our brokenness and giving us Christ. When Christ is not central and supreme in our lives, everything about life shifts out of orbit and moves out of kilter. So for Christians, our first task is to know Jesus. And out of that knowing, we will come to love Him, adore Him, proclaim Him, and manifest Him" (Sweet & Viola, 2010).

 

My life has shifted out of orbit and has been moving out of kilter for a little while now. And I know why. I've been doing too much, joining challenges and watching videos and reading books and listening to podcasts, when what I really need to do is pause and look for Jesus. Scripture even says to direct our hearts to the love of God and the "steadfastness of Christ." (2 Thessalonians 3:5). I'm not saying that challenges and videos and books and podcasts are bad, but if my goal is to consume them for the sake of just consuming them or if I'm hoping for some revelational knowledge or insight, then my focus is on the self rather than on the one who made me who I am: Jesus Christ. Proverbs 3:6 says to "seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." 

 

So why do I want to read more scripture? Why do I want to pray and meditate more? Is it for some experience or feeling? No. It is because I believe these three things will help bring me closer to knowing Jesus. My sole personal goal for this challenge is to "restore the supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus Christ" in my life. If reading scripture helps with that, I'll do it. If prayer and meditation helps with that, I'll do it. If a book brings me closer to knowing Christ, I'll read it. If a podcast episode or a Youtube video or a song brings me closer to Christ, I'll enjoy them, as well.

 

My main goals for this challenge are:

  • Pray the Lord's prayer every morning, as well as a more personal prayer.
  • Study scripture daily; this includes journaling as I study.
  • Meditate daily after studying scripture; this should be a balance of quiet time and contemplative prayer

Bonus goals:

  • WHM breathing during meditation time
  • cold showers daily
  • 100 bodyweight movements/day
  • continue running regularly (see past challenges, especially Wolfen Runs for His Life and Wolfen Hits the Trails)
  • read at least one book about Jesus; title suggestion to be posted later
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11 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Have you plugged back into a church again yet? 

 

Not yet, no. We plan to be moved into our new home by spring/summer 2019, which will put us closer to a church. I am hoping and praying this will help. There are some other issues we can discuss later that have dampened my wife's desire to go to church. I'm praying about that, as well.

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1 hour ago, Wolfen said:

 

Not yet, no. We plan to be moved into our new home by spring/summer 2019, which will put us closer to a church. I am hoping and praying this will help. There are some other issues we can discuss later that have dampened my wife's desire to go to church. I'm praying about that, as well.

I'm always available for PMs if you want to discuss things more privately.

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8 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

I'm always available for PMs if you want to discuss things more privately.

 

Thank you. We're also FB friends, so I may take you up on that. :)

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Update:

  • 0510 wakeup
  • Said the Lord's prayer, as well as a more personal prayer of gratitude for the day and for opportunities to be blessed by the love of Jesus and God's glory
  • Read from the Youversion Book of Common Prayer reading plan, which follows the Daily Office Lectionary used by Anglicans and Episcopalians. Today's reading was from Psalms 80, 146, 147, 2 Samuel 7:18-29. Galatians 3:1-14, and Luke 1:57-66. I really like this reading plan because it is not a devotional but rather scriptural readings meant for prayer, meditation, and study, and even though traditionally there is supposed to be a schedule to follow the scriptures are still affecting.

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  • Sat in stillness and quiet for about ten minutes after reading.
  • Took my dogs outside while I was barefoot and shirtless to enjoy the cold air (34F); worked through some stretches and movements to wake up my body
  • Got dressed in running pants, shirt, and a Reebok pullover, slid on my beanie, headlamp, and safety vest, and went for a run before sunrise. I managed 3.1 miles in 30:30 with an average pace of 9:41/mi.
  • Went up to check on and feed my friends' dogs (two huskies) and cat; made a cup of coffee and relaxed with the dogs.

 

  • Took a shower as soon as I got home (2 minutes warm, 4 minutes cold).
  • Joined my wife and daughters as we visited my in-laws for Thanksgiving lunch. I ate the turkey neck, liver, gizzard, and heart, as well as some ham, deviled eggs, macaroni salad, mashed potatoes, and finished off with some blackberry pie.
  • Walked both of my in-laws' dogs around the neighborhood; the nearby cafe was actually open, so I bought a cup of coffee and wished everyone working a Happy Thanksgiving and thanked them for being open for those who might now have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving.
  • Took a 20 minute power nap as soon as we got back home (thank you tryptophan).

national-nap-day-animals-hedgehog-dpaf.g

  • Took the little ones to check on my mentor's chickens. For those who don't know, my mentor is an 86 year old retired principal and a building contractor who still builds houses for a living. He was my junior high principal, and by coincidence I moved near him and now help him around his house (including caring for his chickens) as well as with some of the building. So far I have helped with the construction of three houses, often doing much of the heavy lifting that he is unable to do.
  • Also took the little ones to visit my mother and stepfather while my wife and oldest two daughters went "Black Friday" (or whatever they call it now) shopping. My brother and his wife were there with their new baby, whom I met for the first time today because she was premature and kept mostly at home for fear of illness.
  • Read a few more pages of Jesus Manifesto. Best takeaway from today's reading: "Grace gives us what we do not deserve; mercy delivers us from what we deserve."

jesus-manifesto.png

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Today is my first day back to work after Thanksgiving break. I got up as soon as my alarm went off at 0445, feeling excited to start my spiritual journey. I walked into the living room, and saw that one of my dogs had gotten into the trash and had left me a little gift in the floor. I could feel my anger rising, but I sighed and cleaned up the mess. Then, I knelt next to the couch and said the Lord's Prayer, as well as a more personal prayer of gratitude to the Heavenly Father for my being awake and alive and to ask Jesus to help me to walk in His love and for the Holy Spirit to strengthen me in times of doubt and worry.

 

I read the following passages from the Book of Common Prayer: Psalms 45 and 46, Galatians 3:23-29 and Galatians 4, and Matthew 1:18-25. I used the SPACE method to journal after reading the passages:

S -- What sin do I need to confess? ---> I confessed to some anxieties and doubts about my marriage that are through no fault of my wife but rather my own insecurities and fears and asked Jesus to remind me that He is my refuge and strength in times of trouble.

P -- What promise of God do I need to claim? ---> God has promised to always be with us, even in times of doubt and fear

A -- What attitude do I need to change? ---> To know and remember that Jesus is "the most excellent of men," that His lips have been "anointed with grace" (Psalm 45:2), and that He is clothed "with splendor and majesty" (Psalm 45:3).

C -- What command do I need to obey? -- "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10)

E -- What example do I need to follow? -- The example of Joseph in Matthew 1 who was obedient to the angel of the Lord's command to not be afraid and to take Mary home as his wife. The scripture says that Joseph "did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife." (Matthew 1:24b)

 

Yesterday evening, my wife admitted to being stressed out because our house was a mess. Both of us have been busy and exhausted, and our daughters have not been much help keeping the house clean. So, while my wife took our youngest, Arabella, and drove our oldest daughter, Aryanna, back to Marshall University, I entertained Gracelynn with Disney Junior while I cleaned the living room, hallway, and kitchen. And I'm not just talking a bit of straightening up; it took about three hours to deeply clean all three areas. But I felt like a weight had been lifted, and I knew she would be ecstatic when she returned. I tell you this because I equate my urge to clean in order to ease my wife's stress with the feeling of ease and peace that I felt after prayer and studying scripture this morning. I ended my time with two Wim Hof Method breath rotations and during the holds I repeated in my head the word "Abba," which is an intimate and personal term for "father," or more specifically "my Father."

 

I know that not every morning will be as successful and some may be even better, but this morning taught me something already: I needed this challenge.  

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5 hours ago, Wolfen said:

"Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalm 46:10)

One of my favorites. 

 

Keep on keeping on, brother!

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17 hours ago, annyshay said:

One of my favorites. 

 

Keep on keeping on, brother!

 

Thank you! And welcome!

 

Update:

 

It's the first accumulating snowfall of the season, with a beautiful light dusting on the ground, cars, and houses, and this morning I woke up before my alarm, but I lay in the bed, snuggled close to my wife, and waited for the alarm to ring. When it finally went off, I stood up, stretched a bit, and knelt by out bedside to say the Lord's Prayer, as well as a more personal prayer for guidance and for healing for my wife and protection for my daughters. I gave thanks for the day and walked to my living room to read my Bible. Today's readings were Psalms 2, 85, 110, and 132, Micah 4:1-5, 1 John 4:7-16, and John 3:31-36. First, I want to say that Micah is an under-appreciated prophet. I think he gets outperformed by the big guys like Isaiah or Daniel, but Micah's book is seriously good and unexpectedly hopeful. Anyway, here's my SPACE:

S -- The Psalms readings today (as well as the Micah passage) all dealt with the nations turning from God and of God restoring them through forgiveness and restoration by reclaiming his sovereignty and then bringing peace among the nations. I asked forgiveness for the sin of doubting there will ever be peace and for forgetting that Jesus is sovereign even in these dark times in which nations fall apart, and there will come a time of peace and restoration when Christ returns.

P -- God has promised his people blessings and restoration: "Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven. Yes, the Lord pours down his blessings..." (Psalm 85:10-12a).

A -- Even though many of these passages point out that nations have rebelled against God and that God's wrath is imminent, there is also great hope and trust in the Lord's promises to restore His people and bring peace. In 1 John 4, John lays out that one of the ways God rescued His people is by sending Jesus: "God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love--not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." (1 John 4:9-10). John goes on to say that since God loves us this much, we should return that love by loving others and that "if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us." (4:12b)

C -- "Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other." (1 John 4:11)

E -- In John 3:30-31, John the Baptist has been approached by some people who are complaining because Jesus is also baptizing. John could do what a lot of other religious leaders of the time did and feel envious or skeptical, but he knows Jesus is the Messiah, so with great humility he says, "He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else." This bold proclamation is an inspiring example of the humility it takes to really proclaim faith in Jesus: He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less."

 

After reading and journaling, I sat in quiet for about five minutes, breathing in and out to the mantra, "Abba," on the inhale and "I belong to you," on the exhale, an exercise suggested by Brennan Manning in his book The Ragamuffin Gospel. Then I took a shower (2 minutes warm, 4 minutes cold) and soon after my wife and kids alarms also went off and it was time to start the day.

 

This journey is making my mornings more meaningful. I don't think it is a coincidence that I woke up before my alarm because some part of me is looking forward to these quiet moments of solitude and prayer.

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14 hours ago, LittleTurtle said:

Hi and welcome to the Druids!  I hope you find what you seek here.  

 

:frog:

 

Thank you.

 

I don't mean to soil such a warm welcome, but I have some sad news. I just found out this morning that another iconic man from my life, my grandpa's brother Blackie, passed away in his sleep sometime last night. If you knew this man you would love him so ridiculously. Amongst the six brothers, he was the goofy one, the silly one who always made us laugh. He was never ashamed or embarrassed to tell a bad joke or wear a silly hat if it made someone smile. He called people silly names like "bucket head" and loved to collect happy meal toys and candy to give to his nephews and nieces. He was also never ashamed to share his love for Jesus or to remind us how much Jesus loves us. The only person I ever remember singing country hymns more than my uncle Blackie was my grandmother, who used to sing me to sleep singing "Jesus Loves the Little Children." Blackie visited my grandparents often, staying for hours just to spend time with us, eating dinner with us. Even after my grandfather passed away, Blackie still stopped by at least three times a week just to sit with the family and keep everyone company. This continued until his wife passed away last month. The family is sure this was the beginning of the end of his life since he didn't seem himself after her passing and rarely left the house.

 

I'm heartbroken because this is the third loss from the six brothers, and I cannot stress enough how much of an impact my grandpa and his brothers have had on me as a man. I have learned so much from them, and as I have said in a previous post I would not be the man I am today if not for these gentlemen.

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Apologies that I haven't updated the past few days. I slept in Thursday and today because I've been exhausted, and since early morning is usually when I study scripture that didn't happen. I did, however, say the Lord's Prayer as well as a personal prayer for my wife and daughters and for my family after the passing of my uncle.

 

Permit me to post something that will give you an idea of the kind of man he was. First off, you need to know that his real name was Charles, but to the entire family he was known as "Blackie." In fact, there are some members of the family who still don't know his real first name. We all called him Blackie. I never learned how he got the nickname, but that's how we all knew him. Anyway, the scene from Singin' in the Rain below will give you an idea of the kind of man he was:

 

 

Cosmo's silly sense of humor, his ability to make Don laugh even when he's feeling down, his shameless and unapologetic antics, anything to get his buddy to laugh... this was my Uncle Blackie literally every time I saw him. He was either telling a joke, making silly faces, wearing a goofy hat, or he was talking to me about Jesus. To this day he represents the silly side of the godly man that I sometimes forget exists amongst the seriousness of many Christian men. He was the kind of man who felt the Joy of Jesus in his heart and so he shared that joy with others through laughter and song and love.

 

In other news, I have freaking pink eye. My eye was irritated yesterday morning, but I thought maybe it was allergies. When I returned home from work, I took some Zyrtec and then before bed I took a Benadryl. When I woke up this morning the swelling had gone down a bit, but my eye was still irritated and there was crusty stuff around my eye. I called in sick from work and went to the doctor. The nurse practitioner took one quick look and in less than a second said, "Yep, that's definitely pink eye!" She sent in a prescription, and I spent most of the rest of the day working on my graduate coursework. I also took my car to get a new inspection sticker.

 

I have a big day planned tomorrow, so I'll be up early again and back to studying scripture. I have been listening to The Liturgists podcast recently, and although I do not agree with everything they discuss (which is kind of the point), I appreciate the gracious and open-minded tone of their discussions. They challenge some things that I've always believed (which again is kind of the point) and encourage asking questions rather than accepting answers as absolute truth. I found out through this podcast that Michael Gungor (one half of the group Gungor) has another musical project called On Earth, which is all glorious instrumental pieces, perfect for meditation and relaxation. It may be the perfect companion to my meditation time. I plan to find out for certain in the morning.

 

I appreciate your patience with me. I hope you'll stick around as I tend to get quite pensive when I am working through grief. If you were with me following my grandfather's passing, you know this to be true.

 

Until tomorrow, stay authentic, my friends.

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Update:

 

Slight change of plans. I learned about the Pray As You Go app, an excellent app with prayers pulled from the Pray As You Go website. I like it because it offers daily audio prayers and follows a structured format. It begins with an introduction of the day and if it is a special day of note (for example, today is the Feast of St. Francis Xavier and the first week of Advent). Then the sound of church bells ringing, followed by introductory music that is specially selected to bring the listeners heart and head to the theme of the prayer. It is through this app that I came across the group Salt of the Sound and this amazing version of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel":

 

 

The prayer then continues with the scripture reference for the day and then the reading of the scripture. After this, it asks questions for reflection, with a long pause after each question. Then it repeats the scripture reading of the day, with encouragement to reflect on your answers to the discussion question as you listen to the scripture again. Then there are some final questions and an invitation for further discussion. The prayers are Ignatian in nature and are written by Jesuits. Even though I am not Catholic, the tone of the two prayers I have listened to so far really brings me to a peaceful place, and the questions help me develop points for my journal.

 

I listen to the entire recording with my eyes closed in a meditative posture, sitting upright with my eyes closed. Today's scripture reading was from Mark 16:15-18: 

And then [Jesus] told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

 

The song was "Shine so Bright" (also by Salt of the Sound). The narrator even mentioned the song, saying, "You might like to make this your own prayer today; that you would shine brightly for the Lord." I listened to the lyrics and let them sink in as I sat in quiet stillness. When the song and the prayer discussion was completed, I grabbed my journal and worked through my SPACE journaling:

 

S -- I asked Jesus forgiveness for not being more open about my faith and sharing his love with others; I admitted that fear often stopped me, and even though I am a friendly person and talk to strangers all the time, I struggle to share my faith and to tell them about how much Christ loves them. I struggle to "go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone..."

P -- Although there are some who would say that the miraculous signs Jesus promises in these verses (casting out demons, speaking new languages, handling snakes, and drinking poison, healing the sick) refers specifically to the twelve disciples, Christ promises in the Book of John, "You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father." I know there have been believers in Christ who have performed "miraculous signs" in His name, so while it may be tough to believe in some of them, the promise is there, and His promises are true, "For all of God's promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding 'Yes!' And through Christ, our 'Amen' (which means 'Yes') ascends to God for his glory." (2 Corinthians 1:20)

A -- I need to be more faithful when it comes to talking to others about my faith in Christ, and I need to believe that Christ will be with me and that I can achieve great things to glorify God in Christ's name.

C -- "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone."

E -- Although no one is specifically mentioned in this passage as an example, I know that the disciples become obedient followers of Christ and they "go into all the world." The daily prayer also mentions St. Francis Xavier, who was an obedient missionary that traveled from Europe to India, Japan, and hoped to reach China. I wonder and imagine what I could accomplish with faith strong enough to carry me that far.

 

So the Pray-As-You-Go app is my new go-to for daily prayer, meditation, and journaling.

 

Bonus:

  • two rotations of WHM breathing: 2:12 and 2:24; listened to more Salt of the Sound during my breathing sessions
  • 4 minute cold shower; listened to some On Earth during my shower
  • took the dogs outside while I was shirtless and shoeless
  • worked through some movements and stretches to wake up my body
  • helped my wife get my daughters ready for school
  • hugged and kissed my wife and daughters before leaving for work
  • started listening to another episode of The Liturgist Podcast
  • walked across campus to East Hall to sit and read a chapter from The Heroic Path by John Sowers
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I had a bit of a breakdown yesterday after my uncle's funeral. I didn't follow the family to the cemetery because it was further out of town, but I drove to the cemetery where my grandpa and grandma are buried. I parked in the area where I know they are buried, but I couldn't find it. I walked around the area for at least ten minutes, and after a while I became very emotional, crying and saying, "I can't find you. Why can't I find you?" This went on for a few more passes around the area, but I still couldn't find them. I finally walked to my car and drove to the front office. A nice gentleman was able to get a map and a directory and show me where they were located. I drove back to the area and found it in less than a minute. I laughed as I realized I had passed by that spot several times. I laughed until I was crying again while looking at their names etched on the tombstone. I told them both how much I love and miss them and that Christmas has not been the same since they passed. Losing one of them was bad enough, but without either of them the holidays are just not the same. And now to realize I'm not going to see Uncle Blackie's goofy smile or hear him call me "buckethead" and tell me he loves me. It hurts. Why do these kinds of things seem to happen so close to the holidays?

 

I know they're all celebrating an eternal holiday with Christ, and I know that one day I'll join them. But for now, it hurts and I miss my mamaw and papaw.

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12 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Wish I was there to give you a hug.

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Thank you, my friend. I really appreciate it.

 

Update:

 

This morning's prayer message was from Isaiah 11:1-10: 

 

1 Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
    yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 He will delight in obeying the Lord.
    He will not judge by appearance
    nor make a decision based on hearsay.
4 He will give justice to the poor
    and make fair decisions for the exploited.
The earth will shake at the force of his word,
    and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
5 He will wear righteousness like a belt
    and truth like an undergarment.

6 In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
    the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
    and a little child will lead them all.
7 The cow will graze near the bear.
    The cub and the calf will lie down together.
    The lion will eat hay like a cow.
8 The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
    Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
9 Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
    for as the waters fill the sea,
    so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.

10 In that day the heir to David’s throne
    will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The nations will rally to him,
    and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.

 

The featured song was a beautiful piece by the Kyiv Chamber Choir titled "In Thy Kingdom." 

 

 

The passage is often referred to as the "peaceful kingdom" or the "peaceable kingdom." It is a Messianic prophecy of Christ's rule in the forthcoming Kingdom of God, and it presents a beautiful image of the world as it should be, the world as it perhaps was before the fall. The narrator of today's prayer asked the question: Does it sound like the kind of place you’d want to live? If so, what do you find most attractive about it? If not, what puts you off? Of course it does, but the only thing that puts me off is the idea of the animals not behaving in a way I might consider "natural" (e.g. predators hanging out with prey, lions eating hay, etc.). My mind struggles to conceive of this, and I can't figure out if this is more or less wild, the idea of all life forms living together in perfect harmony and peace.

 

S -- I confessed that I have not done enough to help build this Kingdom of peace that the prophets spoke of and that Jesus spoke of in the Gospels.

P -- This entire passage is a Messianic promise of a Kingdom in which Christ "will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited. The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked. He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment..." and that "nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord. In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place."

A -- As I read this passage, I long to have an attitude that helps build and shape this Kingdom, and I find characteristics in the description of Christ in this passage, the spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear of and obedience to the Lord.

C -- Even though there are no direct commands in this passage, in the Gospels, Jesus speaks often of the Kingdom of God, the same Kingdom described in some aspect here, and in Matthew 6:33 he says, "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."

E -- As mentioned before, the characteristics of Christ mentioned in this passage serve as strong examples of the kind of man I can be to help bring forth this Peaceable Kingdom.

 

BONUS:

  • said the Lord's Prayer as well as a more personal prayer of gratitude, for guidance, and for my wife and daughters to be blessed and to be a blessing to others.
  • three sessions of WHM breathing: 2:11, 2:35, 2:30; listened to a playlist I created for meditation/contemplative prayer time
  • cold shower (2 minutes warm, 4 minutes cold) while listening to On Earth
  • took the dogs outside while I was shirtless and shoeless
  • stretches and movements to wake my body up
  • helped get my kids ready for school; hugs and kisses before leaving for work
  • continued listening to an episode of The Liturgist podcast
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Update:

 

Today's prayer/meditation was based on Psalm 23, a familiar scripture at funerals and perhaps the most well-known Psalm. Today's song was "Fallen Into You" by Karen Money:

 

 

Today's prayer encouraged me to think of the verse differently and hear it with fresh ears rather than just in the context of death and funerals (which is really an unfair connotation for this Psalm; it's very hopeful and affirming of the Lord's presence, protection and guidance in the here and now, not in the afterlife). I won't retype it here since so many people know it. Upon hearing it again, I meditated on the strong image of being led by a shepherd through lush, green pastures, next to still waters that reflect the light of the sky, and feeling safe and cared for, even if I stray and find myself in dark places. It can be both comforting and off-putting to think of myself as a sheep because of the negative connotations our culture places on that term. But with Christ as the shepherd, I don't feel this way at all; I feel free to roam if I want rather than blindly follow, but the good shepherd will always be there as a beacon of safety and love. But the Psalm also shifts to a more "human" image of what Christ has prepared for us (a feast in the presence of my enemies) and the blessing he has bestowed on us ("You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings."). And of course, I love the hopeful promise that closes the Psalm: "Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever." This image of Christ's goodness and mercy "pursuing" me reinforces the image that Christ presented in his parable of the lost sheep when he describes a shepherd who leaves his 99 sheep behind to find one lost sheep.

 

S -- I asked forgiveness for the times I have gone astray, even though I know the good shepherd has everything I need and that he is there for me to keep me safe, and even though the paths he leads me on are right and my strength is renewed when I am with him.

P -- "Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever." (6)

A -- I need to have the attitude of a sheep who knows the shepherd and wants to follow him, not because he is forced to but because of the love, guidance, and goodness that is promised there.

C -- No direct commands here, but it brings to mind all the times Christ says, "Come, follow me," in the Gospels.

E -- As I said above, the image I see here is that of a willing follower of Christ (the shepherd), who does so not out of obligation or force but because of the love and goodness offered with him.

 

BONUS:

  • 0440 wakeup
  • said the Lord's Prayer, as well as a more personal prayer of protection for my wife who had to travel to an appointment this morning (pre-admission testing for surgery next week--prayers appreciated).
  • three rotations of WHM breathing: 2:15, 2:24, 2:32; listened to my Meditation/Contemplative Prayer playlist during the exercise
  • took a cold shower (2 mins warm, 4 mins cold) while listening to On Earth
  • took the dogs outside even though I was wearing only shorts and it was snowing (with about an inch on the ground)
  • working at the movie theater later, so the plan is to do 10 burpees for each theater I clean (which is 12, so...).

 

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Due to schoolwork keeping me busy, I won't post info about the prayers for 12/6 and 12/7. Just a bulleted list for now:

  • 0530 wakeup yesterday, 0440 wakeup today
  • said the Lord's Prayer as well as a more personal prayer
  • listened to the daily prayer on the Pray As You Go app
  • no SPACE journaling either day
  • no WHM breathing yesterday, but three sessions today: 2:19, 2:43, 2:31
  • cold shower both days (2 mins. warm, 4 mins. cold)
  • took the dogs outside, and I was not wearing a shirt or shoes
  • worked through some stretches and movements
  • picked up a few books from the library yesterday
  • finished all of my assignments for the semester, other than commenting on some discussion board posts

I leave you with my favorite song from On Earth. It's called "Lost."

 

 

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