Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Week 3 Review

Week Three Results

There were times during this last week when I definitely felt discouraged. I felt like my connection to God and dedication the opening myself to serve him was growing dimmer by the hour. These discouraging periods are probably common who seek a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. They remind us that we are human and that no matter how dedicated we are or how persistently we seek God’s perfection, our inclusion in his holiness is an act of grace. Professor Paul Chilcote provides the metaphor of us chasing after the train to heaven, but never quite being able to catch up with it. According to Chilcote the moment we fall down in genuine exhaustion is the moment of grace when God picks us up and places us on the train to heaven.

There were also electrifying times of goodness and peace, times when I felt like I was at the core of what God wanted me to be doing on earth. Examples include being able to read Bible Stories with my son, having good prayer and conversation with my wife, playing with my children at the park and being in deep fellowship with my small group.

Good Habits:

Intercessory Prayer: I’ve become more disciplined, having a list that I start with each morning, rather than just praying as certain people come to mind.

Times of prayer that open me to serving God: As I mentioned last week, I’m having trouble in engaging in deliberately set aside periods of time every hour. I do think that deliberately opening myself to God and asking him how I can serve him is becoming more engrained in the way I’m living my life. I am particularly aware of this phenomena when my wife and children are asking my for something. It seems like my habitual instinct to say no or limit what I will give is gradually melting away. I am also mindful of it during my intercessory prayers, asking God to open paths for me to love and serve him through loving and serving others.

Uncharted Prayer: This is the kind of pray in which I am not speaking, or just repeating one word, like “Father” over and over again. This is a type of prayer that I don’t plan. It just comes upon me, often when I’m praying for someone else or in worship. Here I receive images and insights, in the presence of the Lord.

Bible Study: Finding time for devotional reading outside the Gospel of Mark, which I wrestle with in all my writing has been challenging for me in these last few years. Last week I took the suggestion of my small group leader and spent some time with Proverbs 3. That time was fruitful.

Fasting: There have been two times in this last week that I have felt a call to fast. Both of these calls have occurred when I got up early in the morning and immediately started to pray and write. The first time I lost my way and started eating as much out of habit as out of disobedience. Today, I am hoping to fast till my family’s evening meal. When I was a young man I spent a summer volunteering at a missionary training camp in North Eastern Alabama. I got in the habit of fasting from sundown on Saturday till the evening meal on Sunday night. During that summer, I learned that fasting creates a void for God to fill. It was perhaps from this perspective that Jesus Christ said, “my food is to do the work of him who sent me and to complete his work”(John 4:34). Perhaps God will give me the grace to complete this day’s fast. (Fast Completed Feb 28)

Exercise: Last week was the first time that I exercised five times during the same week in a very long time. It felt very good.

Cleaning: I was not as consistent in my habit of cleaning this last week as I would like to be. It was actually a prayer of opening that spurred me to complete my goals.

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