How to Ride a Dead Horse

Recently, I read this short article. I thought it was funny enough and applicable to my daily blog posts and my recent declaration.

How to Ride a Dead Horse

Ancient Rabbinic wisdom states that when you discover you are riding a dead horse (or camel), the best strategy is to dismount. However, church boards and committees often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following:

  1. Buying a stronger whip.
  2. Changing riders.
  3. Saying things like “This is the way we always have ridden this horse.”
  4. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
  5. Increasing the standards for those who ride the dead horse.
  6. Appointing a committee to study the dead horse.
  7. Waiting for the horse’s condition to improve from this temporary downturn.
  8. Providing additional training to increase riding ability.
  9. Passing a policy declaring, “This horse is not dead.”
  10. Blaming the person who sold you the horse.
  11. Acquiring additional dead horses for increased speed.
  12. Declaring that “No horse is too dead to beat.”
  13. Providing additional funding to increase the horse’s performance.
  14. Commissioning a study to see if lay-leaders can ride it cheaper.
  15. Removing all obstacles in the dead horse’s path.
  16. Taking bids for a state-of-the art dead horse.
  17. Declaring the horse is “better, faster and cheaper” dead.
  18. Revising the performance requirements for horses.
  19. Saying the horse was cheaper than one that was “alive.”
  20. Asking for increased donations (any excuse will do).

And if all else fails:

21.Declare that resurrecting the dead horse is the congregation’s primary mission.

Recently, I tried to resurrect the notion of daily blog posts. [And I still like the idea, because I believe in daily blogging as a good habit.] But it is currently a dead horse and I just need to dismount.

So, this post is me admitting that I am not currently able to commit to daily blog posts; that I will not be spending time answering the question, “how do you feel about how you spent your day?”; and I’m going to write whenever I like on whatever I like until I decide differently.

[plus, I have well over 60 new notecards to address when school lets up… and the old ones I still haven’t gotten to. #oneday #ihope]

Post for June 26, 2017

How do you feel about how you spent your day?

I feel mostly good, with a twinge of angst followed by a rebuke of privilege.

I feel mostly good, because I enjoyed the day. There was nothing unethical or questionable or harmful to me or anyone especially close to me. There were occasions of true connection and love with God and people I am close too. So, devoid of extreme stimuli (which I prefer), the day was mostly good.

I feel a twinge of angst followed by a rebuke of privilege because “to a ship with no destination, no wind is favorable”. Because I do not firmly accept any current calling on my life, it’s difficult/impossible to judge whether the day was profitable or not. On a ship heading east to Lisbon, a day might feel good going north or south, traveling at an uneventful steady pace slightly drifting west and in fact be bad! But if the same ship does not know where it is going, no days -regardless of feeling- are truly good or bad! They are meaningless.
On a side note, this meaninglessness is one of the tragedies of the naturalistic/atheistic worldview as without any mind for the eternal, the worldview has no choice but to rob its adherents of any meaningful existence.

Just after experiencing angst regarding my day yesterday, I realize and feel the rebuke of knowing that it is privilege that I can even feel the angst I do. So, that takes a shot at my pride moves me down a few rungs and leaves me confused, but still angsty.

May we all come to accept the current lot we have been given and live it out in a way that glorifies the God whose name we bear.

My last assignment and thoughts on the future

This past fall and spring, I was taking Greek as a seminary student. Greek both semesters lasted the duration of the semester, making it an anomaly since most of my courses last half a semester as online intensives. In addition to Greek, I took four or five other courses. Of course, fall Greek was easier than spring Greek. Unwisely, I signed up for five courses in the spring instead of the fall. Thus, in the semester with the harder base language, I found myself taking a larger course load with one half especially unbearable.

So, thinking ahead, I planned to take Hebrew in the upcoming fall and spring semesters. Hebrew is much harder to me than Greek. Wisely, I determined that I would only take four courses each semester beyond Hebrew (so that I was never taking three intensives plus Hebrew, which would be dreadful). In order to succeed in that goal in the upcoming fall and spring, I had to take seven intensives this summer.

This first half of summer has been super fun with regard to school as I’ve attended an exciting tour and taken three courses that are on subjects I really enjoy: denominational history, leadership, practical ministry. But I have one paper I failed to write on time. It was due on the 20th and five days later I still haven’t come close to finishing.
Hopefully, I can do it this afternoon and tomorrow morning and turn it in before it is an entire week late. But the irony of turning in a leadership paper on time management is not lost on me.

So, that’s the last assignment for the two classes that I took on tour. The other one course will end this Thursday and I suspect that I will have no difficulty finishing its assignments on time since I have been faithful to keep up with the coursework so far.

The second half of the summer semester has already begun though and this half, I will be taking four classes, so I’m a little nervous about that. I pray the Lord will be with me and will keep life calm as we finish the other side of the duplex (to move someone in by August), participate in church life and work, and as I devote myself to my education and other longer-term goals.

One thing that I have determined to give my heart rest about is where we will go upon graduation. I don’t know where we will go and often I am overwhelmed by anxiety or dread regarding the lack of decisive vision. But recently, I have decided to rest in that tension and not be worried. I plan instead to work hard on school, still striving to finish early. And then devote the season after graduation to recalibrating with the Spirit and my ambition in light of those I love. A large variety of options are on the table and I plan to sweep them into a box and close the lid cutting a small hole to receive future ideas, but not to be examined until the time is right. Grant me patience and peace as I trust the process and live temporarily without long term vision.

Post for June 23, 2017

How do you feel about how you spent your day?

I feel wretched. I hate that at the end of the day I felt like it was wasted. The whole of the day was meaningless. At least I’m writing. That way there is some record and maybe I can process and grow through it.

Days that feel meaningless are not always meaningless and days that feel meaningful are not always meaningful. Most days are somewhere in between: having some meaning.

Today feels meaningless because I did not do anything I wanted to do. I did not exercise my autonomy and authority to do that which I value. I was rather subject to insecurity and fear and feelings of unworthiness as I did nothing I esteem to do.

Lord, if you are merciful, please give me another day. And help me to number my days so that I will gain a heart of wisdom.

Post NOT for the end of ‘post for’ posts

I haven’t written since the beginning of June. Part of why I have not written is because there have been other more pressing matters that have kept my attention. But a deterrent has also been knowing that the format I have set up expects a post a day that coincides with a survey a day. Because knowing that system is in place means that I either need to make amends for past shortcomings (type old post for posts) or scrap them and move on from the day of return and scrapping is harder for me although probably wiser.

Why was I using that format and why am I giving it up for a little bit?
The format was there to help my partners in accountability keep me accountable. I am the chief person keeping myself accountable and this format does succeed in keeping me accountable. So, although I began this post expecting to be a farewell to the format, I am instead going to use it in its unedited version as a revitalization.

I’m not going to give up answering the question, “how do you feel about how you spent your day?” because I am still convinced that it helps me hold myself accountable to standing guard at the door of my mind and engaging in the pursuit of my values.

So, moving forward, I’ll probably give a brief summary of past seasons and then get back to writing a daily post for post (M-F) and then writing about things that interest me – of which there are stacks of notecards! For now, thanks for reading whoever it is that is reading.

knowing I have played my part well

I wrote the phrase that is the title of this post in this one. And when I did, I knew I needed to comment. You see, even though it is my heart’s desire to enter eternity and here from God, “Well done my good and faithful servant”, I realize that I cannot hope to succeed in that. I am not a good and faithful servant. I try to be good. I try to be faithful. But I fail in both aims. Jesus succeeds in both aims and if ever I am to hear from God, “Well done my good and faithful servant”, it will be because of the work of Jesus in me. Any and all good and faithful behavior is the result of Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit working in me to make Christ manifest and the Father glorified by my life.

So, it is my prayer and I hope it is yours that the Holy Spirit will continue to minister to us and bear fruit inner lives so that the name and work of Christ can be made much of and the name and glory of the Father be enjoyed forever to ever increasing degrees.

My White Board at Church

Some of you know that I am a seminarian full time. In fact, my primary occupation is that of a seminarian. Recently, I was feeling insecure about how I spend my time and wanting to better use my time and resorted to listing the obligations of certain roles that I fill. There are of course roles I neglected to write about – hopefully someday I will consider those as well and craft an exhaustive list by which I can measure my behavior (hopefully resulting in the peace of knowing I have played my part well).

The reason that I am writing down the list before it is complete is because I need the space. When I wrote it, I used the white board at church but now I need that space for something else. I still want to keep the lists as a good starting place for this project to be addressed later. Thus, here it is:

  • Because I am a Christian, I should lead a healthy…
    • spiritual lifestyle by praying, fasting, reading, considering, serving, memorizing, and loving well.
    • physical lifestyle by eating, sleeping, exercising, and doing hygiene well.
    • intellectual lifestyle by reading, writing, and talking well.
    • financial lifestyle by striving to live on less than I make, intentionally considering each recurring cost to ensure they reflect my values, considering major purchases to ensure they reflect my values, saving for future expenditures I can imagine incurring, investing the margin wisely, keeping good records, and giving generously.
    • social lifestyle by maintaining a relational schematic and honoring the social roles that I have agreed to fill.
    • mental/emotional lifestyle by seeking out and investing in therapeutic practices/relationships, vacationing/honoring the sabbath and tending to self care to prevent burnout.
    • romantic lifestyle by insisting on defined romantic relationships and functioning faithfully as a lover within defined boundaries.
    • vocational lifestyle by regular considering how to spend my time, regularly tending to my habits, and regularly create and manage goals and aspirations.
  • Because I am a seminarian, I should…
    • watch my faith and practice closely; live as a healthy Christian.
    • pursue my certification through diligent, faithful, academic work.
    • prepare for the pastorate by:
      • considering what it means to pastor
      • developing my systematic theology
      • developing my historic theology
      • developing my biblical theology
      • develop my understanding of ecclesiology
      • practicing discipleship
      • practicing evangelism
      • memorizing God’s Word
      • fostering relationships that will be useful to future ministry endeavors
      • engaging in the languages of the original scriptures
  • As I consider what it means to be a pastor, I have determined that a pastor should…
    • watch his faith and practice closely; live as a healthy Christian.
    • teach his flock, which requires:
      • having a developed theology
      • expositing God’s word regularly
      • creating or sharing resources
    • shepherd his flock, which requires:
      • having a developed ecclesiology
      • arranging for regular preaching of the word
      • arranging for discipleship of membership
      • arranging for church discipline
      • modeling and teaching Christian service to persons in and outside the flock
      • raising up and empowering elders, deacons, and members to the calling of the Lord on their lives
    • equip the saints to protect and manifest the gospel
    • develop or maintain a healthy duplicating church