Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Nehemiah was such a planner. In November/December BC 446, he hears of the troubles of Jerusalem. Over the next 4 months, he prays about the problem and works out what might work. In March/April BC 445, Nehemiah's king (Artaxerxes, also his boss), asks him why he's so sad. Nehemiah answers, and the king comes back and says, "What do you request?" This tells me that either the king knew that Nehemiah would have a plan or that the king just wanted to do something for someone. The latter is basically a nonfactor, considering he was not afraid to kill whomever he wanted (Nehemiah was afraid [2:2-3], see also Esther 4:11 and 5:1-3). So it must have been the former: Artaxerxes knew that Nehemiah would have a plan--after working for years for the king, Nehemiah had established his reputation.

Nehemiah answers the king's question with a plan including traveling to Jerusalem, a set time to be gone, and a request for letters to specific people for specific materials. The king granted everything he asked for (according to the good hand of the Lord upon them).

Once Nehemiah goes to Jerusalem, he rests (plans), surveys the land (alone with his mount), returns, approaches the city leaders with a plan to rebuild, and receives their approval and agreement. Despite the opposition, Nehemiah's planning pays off, and with the help of his subjects (he was the governor), they rebuilt the wall in 52 days! The good hand of our God was upon him the whole time.

That is the most important thing. I can plan all I want, but if what I plan isn't in the will of God, I likely wouldn't succeed. Not that the outcome couldn't mirror what I had in mind, but the success wouldn't bring glory to God.
  • It came to pass in the month of Chislev
  • I asked them concerning the Jews
  • When I heard these words, I sat down...I wept...I mourned for many days...I was fasting...I was praying
  • It came to pass in the month of Nisan
  • Now I had never been sad in [the king's] presence
  • The king said to me, "What do you request?"
  • So I prayed to the God of heaven
  • I said to the king, "I ask that you send me that I may rebuild it"
  • I sent him a time
  • Furthermore I said to the king, "Let letters be given...and a letter...and timber...
  • And the king granted them to me
  • The good hand of my God [was] upon me
  • Then I went to the governors and gave them the letters
  • So I came to Jerusalem and was there 3 days
  • Then I arose in the night
  • I told no one what my God had put in my heart
  • I went out by night
  • I viewed the walls and its gates
  • I went to the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool
  • I viewed the wall
  • I turned back
  • I entered by the Valley Gate
  • I returned
  • The officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done
  • I had not yet told the Jews, priests, nobles, officials, workers
  • Then I said to them, "Let us build the wall."
  • And I told them of the hand of my God
  • They set their hands to this good work
  • I said to [the enemies], "God will prosper us"
  • So we built the wall up to half its height
  • The people had a mind to work
  • We made our prayer to God
  • We set a watch against them
  • I positioned men according to their families
  • And I looked...and arose...and said to the people, "Do not be afraid...Remember the Lord...Fight for your families"
  • God had brought [the enemies'] plot to nothing
  • All of us returned to the wall
  • Our God will fight for us
  • So we labored in the work
  • There was a great outcry of the people
  • I became very angry when I heard these words
  • After serious thought (I took counsel with myself), I rebuked the nobles and rulers)
  • Then they were silenced
  • Then I said, "What you are doing is not good...Please let us stop this...Restore [them] now to them"
  • So they said, "We will restore it...We will do as you say
  • Then I required an oath from them
  • All the assembly said, "Amen!"...praised the Lord...did according to the promise

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Love to Learn

I love to learn; learning will be the main theme here. Every month, I'd like to find one thing that either I know nothing about or I know very little about and then learn as much as I can about it (and experience it if possible). The list will be a fluid list—if I decide to change it or add to it I might, but if I'm in the middle of the month and decide that I don't like whatever it is I'm into, I'll still keep learning. Sometimes you don't like everything you have to do.

2008: Bible in a Year, finish "New Evidence that Demands a Verdict"

January: Hockey

January is over now, but my theme this month was hockey. I never really knew anyone who played hockey (at least seriously), and I met someone late last year who could definitely play in the NHL (or NFL, as I so naively called it once) (I say definitely, but I've never seen him skate, I just know his attitude and work ethic). I knew absolutely nothing about the game, which I didn't know until I started researching it. To learn all that I could (which still leaves a lot to be desired) in such a short time, I read tons on the Predators' website and had a coworker draw me a rink diagram and review some of the major rules/infractions with me. This weekend, I'll be going to a game. Unfortunately, neither of the other two I'll be going with in incredibly learned about hockey, but if I enjoy the game, I hope to return to the rink with someone who knows the game and to keep learning.

January Recap:

I went to the Predators/Coyotes game Saturday, February 2, with my aunt Lucy and friend Allison. It was so much fun, the Preds won, the game went into overtime, and I felt like I really knew what was going on. It took me a couple periods to figure a few things out, and I still had questions, but as for measuring the month, I'd say it was a success. Good times, good friends, good start! I would DEFINITELY return to watch the Preds play.

Read: Genesis, Exodus, most of Leviticus, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 and 2 Timothy (59.5 books to go), “I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah,” “Why I Believe,” the first five books in the Chronicles of Narnia series

February: Cisco CCENT Certification

I've been at my current job for nearly a year. This week, I got a green light to pursue the certification of my choice. I'm inclined to choose the Cisco Certified Network Administrator certification, but I may lean more toward the Microsoft Vista certification. I pretty much have to decide tomorrow. I suppose a little background may be in order here: I work at a company that produces preparation exams for different computer/technology specialists. We try to base our exams on the real exams that the specialist will take. I have taken a few tests, so I know what to expect, but I have never been allowed to pass the test. The fun thing about this is that I will get paid to study.

My time line for this is within 90 days. My goal is to pass the exam. My path to success is to read the textbook (573 pages), study the flashcards (1,400), take a beginners' subnetting class from my boss, read tons, take our own practice exams, ask our in-house experts, and read a few relevant library books (if I can find anyone).

I got an encouraging response from a coworker this morning, who reminded me that I may be able to do more writing (as opposed to only editing/proofreading) after I pass the exam.

February Recap:

I completed my textbook (and read ALL 573 pages, including the indexes) and definitely know more now than I did when I started. However, I still have a lot to learn, since I’m finding that as I have begun reviewing, I have forgotten a few things that I learned at the beginning. However, I’ve improved on a few things as well and I can now make it to Level 6 of Cisco’s binary game and Level 2 of Cisco’s subnetting game.

Read: the rest of Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Acts, Hebrews, James, Philemon, Proverbs (52 books to go), the 6th book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, Cisco textbook

March: Cisco and Baking

This was supposed to be my bike racing month, but I’ve moved that to April because we will be having a team training camp that month. So I’ve had to do a few different things so far.

I'll still be studying/continuing February's task, and this month involves reviewing the book I just completed and continuing to work through the flash cards. I think I’m making good progress so far.

Cole suggested that I bake all my own bread this month. Since I’m not much of a chef, nor am I too adventurous when it comes to foods, I’ll try a few easy recipes and then try a few that may be a little more difficult. Fortunately I have the helpful Betty Crocker cookbook, and I will be relying heavily on the information within.

Also on my list of things I want to do is go back to a Preds game. I’ll be joining my cycling team at a game this month and am so excited to be able to watch a game (instead of just listening, which is what I have been doing) and hopefully know more this time than last time (although, of course, the more I listen to the games the more I realize I don’t know). So I can cross that off the list!

March Recap:

I continued studying the Cisco stuff—I reviewed some of the early chapters and went through all of the flash cards (not that I know all the information, I just have at least read everything).

I had fun making my own bread. I started with super easy breads (no yeast, no kneading), borrowed a bread maker from Allison (in which I made some good eats—cinnamon raisin bread, which was by far the best loaf all month; pizza dough, which made for some good pizza; honey wheat bread, which required that I add honey to my pantry; French bread, which didn’t turn out too well because it didn’t rise correctly; oatmeal bread, which required that I add molasses to my pantry), and actually made a real bread recipe that required mixing, kneading, letting rise, kneading, letting it rise, and finally baking and then resulted in some very tasty orange rolls. Fortunately bread freezes well, so I still will be able to enjoy the grain products.

I went back to a Predators’ game and enjoyed it just as much and of course learned a few more new things about hockey. I also figured out that since I still don’t know all that much about the game, I prefer to listen to the announcers talk about what’s happening while it’s actually happening.

Books read: Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, Ecclesiastes, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Animal Farm (Orwell), The Christmas Thief (Clark and Clark), The Painted House (Grisham), Charismatic Challenge (Napier), CCNA Flash Cards and Exam Practice Pack (Rivard and Doherty)

April: National and International Geography, Bike Racing

This will be my first year competing in road races (8th season of triathlon racing, 2nd season of criterium racing). My cycling team (Team Reliant Bank/Harpeth Bicycles) will be taking a road trip training camp adventure to north Georgia. I am going along, and I hope to gain as much knowledge from seasoned riders as I can. I wonder if I can count this as Georgia in my effort to compete in at least one race in every state?

Yes, I studied geography in 2nd grade. No, I am not smarter than a 5th grader in this.

My goals are:
Relearn all the states' locations and capitals.
Learn a different country's location and capital every day. I'll start in Europe.
Learn the mountain ranges in the States.

My cousin Lauren will be joining my in part of this endeavor. She and I will be learning the state capitals. We’ll do two per day, learning the states in alphabetical order. I’ll actually find them on a map, but I told her that no action was required on her part—she just needs to read the emails that I send her.

April Recap:

I did not achieve every goal for this month. I guess I sort of treated it as a recovery month. So basically the load was a little lighter but I still accomplished a few things.

I did relearn the state capitals and shared them all with Lauren, but that’s as far as I got on my geography. Maybe I’ll postpone the rest until June, since I currently don’t have anything pressing for that month.

I did go on the team trip to Georgia. It was so much fun to climb in the mountains; we did six mountains and approximately 10,000 feet of climbing one day. The other two days we did three climbs each. Riding with my teammates was a lot of fun, and they all shared various insights into cycling. There were not necessarily structured learning times as initially had been planned, but the team dynamics made up for that loss.

The first race of the season was this month: The Music City Marathon. I finished in 4:16, a personal best by 6 minutes and a course best by 25 minutes. Needless to say I am pretty happy with the result. All I need to do is get down under 4 and I'll maybe be able to contend in IMs.

The cousins also had a dance performance/art display this weekend, and I enjoyed a little of it. It did make me want to learn how to dance, but the Fellowship School of Dance only offers adult classes for ballroom dancing, for which one needs a partner. Maybe eventually. My sister and her husband are taking swing dancing lessons—I’m jealous!

Books read: 1 and 2 Kings, Song of Solomon, Obadiah, Hosea, Titus, “Who Made God” (Zacharias), “The Last Battle” (Lewis) (completing “The Chronicles of Narnia)

May: James

I started memorizing this (in Spanish) while I was in college but never finished the book. My timeline for this is one chapter per week (in English). My goal is never to forget it once I've learned it (which basically means continual review). My version of choice will be NKJV, because I have a study Bible that will allow me to learn about the culture, author, recipients, and more as I memorize the Scripture.

If I finish the book early (i.e. more than a chapter a week), I'll move to Romans 5 and Romans 8.

May Recap:

Well, I fell a little behind in this summary and am writing this at the end of June. So to be short and to the point, I accomplished my goal of memorizing James. My plan of attack was this:
  1. Figure out the number of verses in the book and divide that by weeks; learn the requisite number each week.
  2. Write out each chapter on my white board.
  3. Write out all verses on flash cards as I needed them.
  4. Turn the radio off on my drive to work and read and recite the verses, always starting from the beginning of the book no matter how far into it I was.
  5. Carry my flash cards with me on my lunch time walks and recite all I had memorized multiple times.
  6. At the end of each week, write out everything I’d learned up to that particular point.
The only thing I have yet to accomplish is to quote the entire book to someone. Any listener volunteers? It’ll be like AWANA all over again, only it will probably take around 10–15 minutes.

Books read: “Prince Caspian” (again) (Lewis)


June Recap:

The sad thing is that I didn’t really have a plan for this month. My dad always says, “If you have nothing for your goal, you’ll be sure to achieve it.” Well, that definitely happened this month, and I didn’t really learn much of note. I had hoped to read a little about Helen Keller and figure out how to communicate well with blind and/or deaf people (not that I know any, but if I ever meet any I want to be prepared), but somehow I got tapes instead of CDs from the library and ended up not even driving to WI so couldn’t have listened to them either way. Maybe I’ll add that later on, or maybe put it off until next year.

I did learn that if I go into a bike race with no plan, I will probably not do well. When I have a plan, and dictate the race as much as I can, I definitely do better. I also learned that although the whole family may be together for as many as 5 days, it’s possible not to find any time to sit down and actually talk to them. My sister got married this month, and I was looking forward to the time at home with everyone who would be there. Unfortunately, there was definitely not enough time to just sit down and talk and find out how everyone was doing. We did get to do a meal or two together, though, which was really nice. Some good life lessons if nothing else.

Race results:
Green Bay Olympic Triathlon: 3rd overall female; age-group winner
Nashville Cyclist Crit: 2nd
Soto Kilo-TT: 4th
Soto Crits 1 & 2 (Music City Motorplex): 3rd and 5th
Soto Crit 3 (downtown Nashville): 8th
Soto Crit 4 (Maryland Farms in Brentwood): 3rd
McMinnville Sprint Triathlon: 14th overall female; age-group winner

Thanks to Michelle for supplying me with two of the books I read this month, even though the “Most Important Year” book was a chore for her to get. However, I’m now sending it back to her so she can learn something from it, too.

Books read: “The Most Important Year in a Woman’s Life” (DeVries and Wolgemuth); “The Most Important Year in a Man’s Life” (DeVries and Wolgemuth) (I know, kind of a strange read, but it was the other side of the “Woman’s Life” book); “The Comedy of Errors” (Shakespeare); “Don’t Waste Your Life” (Piper); “The Cross Examination of Christ” (Singer); “The Truth War” (MacArthur); Isaiah, Matthew, Psalms

July: Romans

For something real to learn this month, I think I’m going to go back to memorization. There’s something to be said about turning off the radio and speaking the truth—it convicts me, encourages me, and makes me want to know God more and tell others about Him. So, I’ll go back to Romans, where I’ve made it through the first six or so verses already. I’ll be honest: memorizing Scripture makes me want to go back to school and get my masters in theology.

Additionally, I have a lot of books on my to-read list this month, because I’ll be taking a road trip to NY and have already been to library to get a few good books on CD. It should be a fun trip, and will be awesome to actually be able to spend time with my sister, her husband, our former roommate (and current friend), and our aunt. Fun times and good reads!

I’d also like to learn how to run faster in shorter races. I definitely have a good pace down for long runs, but I’m having trouble translating that to shorter races. You wouldn’t think it that hard to do, but I’m definitely struggling. This is obviously measurable, because all I have to do is look at results and I’ll know if I’m succeeding. It’s attainable, too, because I know I can run faster when I have to (I am a sprinter, after all). So the problem is getting there. I know that I have been getting faster, because I recently did a 5K that I had also done last year. My time this year was 20 seconds faster than last year’s time and 10 seconds faster than a 5K I did in February. I just have a long way to go.

I’ll start by continuing to run with my new friend Hollyn. She ran cross country in college and knows a lot about running style and strategy (running negative splits, for example). Then I’ll just get out there and run fast. I have a GPS that tells me my pace and mileage, so I’ll use that a lot more than I have been recently and hopefully it will help.

The problem is that I have a Half Ironman this month, so that will definitely not help my goal of running faster (I know I can’t do a half marathon in much less than 1:52 [8:31 pace], and that is NOT after a 1.2-mile swim and 56-mile bike). So, maybe this will have to carry over into the rest of the year (yes, this is something I will probably have to keep working on forever).

July Recap:

This was a good month as far as racing went (see results below). I also learned that I can run faster when I run with someone faster and don’t necessarily know how far I’m going (thanks to my cross-country running friend). Something not on my list of things to learn but what I came away with this month (thanks to my hockey-playing trainer friend): I now know how to eat better than I have been in the past. Some things still seem counter-intuitive, but eating more protein and fats and less carbohydrate- and high fructose corn syrup–laden foods has definitely been better for me. I still have the rest of August to figure out what will work for me as far as nutrition goes for IM Louisville (IMLoo), but as of now I have a written plan for hydration and nutrition for the day. I’ll be incorporating a few more calories this year than last year at IM Wisconsin (IMoo), but last year I didn’t really have a plan and so therefore didn’t follow it. This will definitely be better.

Race Results:
Nashville Cyclist Crit: 1st place
Firecracker 5K: 7th in age (23:29)
Nashville Cyclist Crit: 1st place
Musselman Half Ironman: 5:56:11; 7th in age and 259 overall; 40+ minute PR
Nashville Cyclist Crit: 4th place (teammate Lisa won)
SCCC Alabama State Championship Criterium: 7th (1st in both field sprints for primes) (teammate Lisa won)
Nashville Cyclist Crit: 2nd place (teammate Lisa won)
Inversion Amazing Race: 4th place with my team (Allison, Jesi, Hollyn, and me)

Books Read: Jeremiah, Mark, Luke, 1, 2, and 3 John (45 down, 21 to go), Aesop’s Fables (I don’t think you’re ever too old to read those!); “What Every Man Wants in a Woman” (J. Hagee); “What Every Woman Wants in a Man” (D. Hagee); “The Drums of Fore and Aft” (Rudyard Kipling); “The Man Who Would be King” (Kipling); “The Appeal” (John Grisham); “A Tale of Two Cities” (Charles Dickens)


Ironman Louisville falls on the last day of this month. My goal for this race is to finish under 12 hours. You should be able to follow the race at, where a live video feed of the finish line should stream starting around 3 pm (I hope to finish around 7 pm). See my individual-event time breakdown below:

SWIM: The swim will likely not be wetsuit legal (that means that the water will be too warm for us to wear wetsuits), and that will hurt me since I don’t float well and get cold easily (last year, with a full-body wetsuit in water that was not wetsuit-legal for the pros, I started getting cold halfway through the last loop). Wetsuits, especially the full-body one that I have, help keep swimmers buoyant and warm. However, people who did IMLoo last year said that it was one of their fastest IM swims. Last year, I did the IMoo swim in 1:22:42. I’m aiming for 1:10:00 for IMLoo; that is completely attainable, considering that I have been swimming more this year, am measurably and markedly faster, and the Ohio River has a good current. Projected time saved: 12 min, 42 sec.

BIKE: The bike has a few hills, but not the three stepsisters (each of which we did twice) that IMoo has. I am aiming to finish under 6 hours; 5:59:59 will do, although the farther from 6 the better. Last year, I finished in 6:11:22 and averaged 18.1 mph. An average of 18.6 will put me at 6 hours. Projected time saved: 11 min, 22 sec.

T1 and T2: This year, I will have to keep some food in transition instead of on my bike. This might add time to each transition, but hopefully I can set it up well enough beforehand (putting what I’ll need in my pockets or race belt or fuel belt, for example) that it won’t add too much. Also, I think that I’m comfortable enough with the clothes that I have that I will not need to completely change in T2. This will definitely save time. Last year’s transition times were: T1—00:07:39; T2—00:05:05; Total—00:12:44. Obviously a lot depends on how the T areas are set up. Last year, we had to run up the helix to get to the transitions; I don’t think IMLoo has that same setup. Although I’ll try to be even faster, I’m aiming for an average of 00:04:45 per transition (00:09:30). Projected time saved: 3 min, 14 sec.

RUN: This year, I’m aiming for closer to a 4-hour marathon than a 5-hour marathon. Last year, I walked a significant amount of the final 13 miles and finished in 5:04:43; I couldn’t really find my running legs until mile 6 and lost them around mile 14. I’m hoping that eating more and better on the bike will alleviate that difficult transition. If I have followed my schedule up to this point, I’ll be at 1:10:00 + 00:04:45 + 5:59:59 + 00:04:45 = 7:19:29. To finish under 12 hours, I’ll have 4 hours, 40 minutes, and 30 seconds for the marathon. My fastest marathon to date is 4:16:50; I don’t think I’ll beat that, but I’m aiming for 4:15:00. Projected time saved: 49 minutes, 43 seconds.

FINISH: If I indeed succeed in finishing in my projected times, my final time should be 11:35:59, which is goal number one. Goal number two is 11:59:59. Projected time difference from IMoo 2007: 1:15:30 or 00:51:30.

My other plans for the month include: continuing to make sure that what I eat as I ride/run actually works and doesn’t make me sick, doing every workout (which I already have been, but since this is the taper month, I’m more excited about it), continuing to study Romans, having fun with my sis when she comes to visit, and more. Also, have I mentioned that I want to learn how to dance? Fortunately the Fellowship School of Dance is having one-night potluck and dance lesson and I will be attending. Not sure how much I’ll take away from the one-night class, but it’s better than nothing and promises to be exciting!

August Recap:

Dancing: The class was really fun. Allison and I were supposed to go with a couple guys who backed out at the last minute. So, we were slightly unsure how everything would work out and were anticipating awkward situations. That pretty much happened. We met a few people at the potluck dinner and then headed inside for the class. We lined up with the ladies on one side and the guys on the other; I ended up across from a 50- or 60-something guy whose name I had to ask him to repeat 3 times because I couldn’t hear nor understand him. Allison ended up across from an at least 60-something guy who knew about as little as I but was having a grand old time. After we learned each set of dance steps (the basics of waltz, ballroom, swing, and meringue), we were supposed to switch partners a few times to make sure we could actual follow and the guys could actually lead.

Then they opened up the dance floor. It turned out that my partner actually knew what he was doing and for some reason had the idea that I was “a ringer” (i.e. that I knew what I was doing but was just in the “These are the basic steps” class for fun). Hah! Little did he know that I had no idea what I was doing outside the basic steps we had just learned. But I had fun and tried to follow him. The only problem for me was that he wasn’t really helping me learn, because he assumed I knew and didn’t tell me where he was going. Ever. Oh well. I ended up out there with a few others, too. One was really good and at first thought I knew what I was doing, too. I must have had a false air of confidence or something. Once he realized I had no idea, he actually slowed down and told me what he was expecting and where I was supposed to go. I definitely did better that way. Allison’s partner didn’t know what he was doing but was really trying on the basic steps. I think Allison was the real ringer; she didn’t need the “These are the basic steps” class that I did.

Here’s what I took away from the class (not all was new, so I didn’t necessarily “learn” all of the following):
  • The man leads, the woman follows. The woman starts with her right foot, because the woman is always right.
  • Waltz: right back, left side, right to next to left, left up, right side, left next to right (basically making a square); quick 3-beat songs
  • Merengue: step right side, slide left side, moving in a counterclockwise circle
  • Ballroom: right back slow, left side quick, right to next to left quick, left up, right side, left next to right (basically making a square and similar to waltz); 4-beat songs
  • Swing: right march, left march, right back (rock step); 4-beat songs
Well, unfortunately I learned way too many lessons from IM Louisville to post them all here. But 2 of the major ones are 1) don’t listen to other people’s race reports and 2) focus on the race, not external circumstances that worry won’t change. Definitely not lessons I wanted to learn, but ones I’m glad I’ve learned this early in my career. From now on, doing it right and conquering the mental battle are the name of the game. On to next year and hopefully more success than this year!

Race Results:
Allanti Road Race: I finished. That’s about how much I enjoyed it, too, considering that it started over an hour late and at 1pm, 95*, and 50% humidity.
Allanti Crit: I finished. Another one where that’s about how much I enjoyed it. We started almost half an hour late, at 11am (so it was slightly cooler), and I was still in the TT/triathlon mindset that I couldn’t hold a wheel. I did win a sprint, though.
Nashville Cyclist Crit: 3rd place
Nashville Cyclist Crit: 3rd place
Nashville Cyclist Crit: 1st place; 1st place overall (won the series)
Ironman Louisville: 13:46; 26th of 57 finishers in age and 916 of 1788 finishers

Books Read: Ezekiel, Daniel, Malachi, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians (52 down, 14 to go), “The Faith” (Charles Colson)


I don’t really have a plan for this month. Not having a plan has never worked out well for me, and I’m hoping I don’t lapse into the mentality that there’s nothing more for me to learn. Because that’s definitely not the case! If you have a particular hobby that you only wish someone else would learn so they could enjoy it with you, let me know and I’ll think about learning it!

September Recap:

Symphony; 2,000 pushups

Books Read: Amos, Nahum, Romans, “Same Kind of Different as Me” (Hall and Moore); “One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven” (Cahill), “The Book of Virtues” (Bennett)


How to use the Dvorak keyboard
Negative splits (HR—keep it up especially when I start to settle in or increase it every 5 minutes or so)


Yamuna body rolling (Aunt Judy at Thanksgiving)


I'm open to any suggestions. If you're an expert in an area, and wish more people knew what you know, please share! I hope to be updating this more than periodically. (If for nothing else but to add the books that I've read.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Church Attendance

I started reading “Charles Stanley’s Handbook for Christian Living.” When I got to the following section in the chapter on church attendance I thought of you, because I know you’ve been struggling with where to go/what to do. So I just thought I’d share it.
If you attend a church where you are not encouraged and spurred to action and continued faithfulness, you may need to consider looking for a new church. After all, if the church you attend does not accomplish the primary thing it was designed to do, what is the point in going? If you are like many believers, you feel guilty when you miss. But easing your conscience is not a good reason to go.

If attending your church of Sunday school class has the same effect on you as showing up at the garden club or the athletic club, you are fooling yourself. For all practical purposes, you have abandoned the spiritual stimulation of assembling yourselves together. Form without function is more dangerous than no form at all. You are lulled into thinking that everything is okay. After all, you’re in church.

There must be a spiritual dynamic. If the teaching and fellowship do not challenge your character and behavior, it may have church in its title, but it is not functioning as a church. We are to be involved in order to be encouraged and held accountable. From God’s perspective, to participate in a church that does not accomplish His purposes is not to have gone to church at all.

Attending a church that does not encourage you to remain faithful and hold you accountable in your walk with God is like joining and attending a health club but not exercising. What good does a health club do you if you attend three times a week to have coffee with a friend? Sure, you are in the building, but nothing is happening that will benefit you physically. No one could fault you on your attendance, but your health is not affected. You are in no better shape than when you joined.

“But wait,” you say, “aren’t you being a little hard on my church? We sing together, and our pastor always brings a well-reasoned sermon.” Yes, but does being there, with that group of people, encourage you to cling to the hope that is in you? If not, I recommend you visit another church. Keep in mind, however, that there is no perfect church. Find one that accurately presents Scripture and practically demonstrates God’s love. Remember, too, you have a responsibility to actively use your spiritual gifts for the benefit of other believers.

I encourage you to carefully consider how God can use you in your present church. You may be so intent on having your needs met that you are overlooking how powerfully God can use you to help others. God may have you where you are, even if far less than ideal, for some significant ministry purpose. Try volunteering in an area in which you are comfortable, and your attitude may become the primary thing that changes. (pp. 13-14)
As I was writing this out, I remembered a conversation that I had with the youth/assistant pastor at my previous church, Plymouth. Joel was a recent grad of Moody, so he definitely had the education and knew where I was coming from, having graduated from a Bible college. I was not growing from the messages that the pastor at Plymouth was preaching. However, I had some amazing friends, and we had a good Bible study among us “young adults.” In this conversation, Joel reminded me that there were other people in the church who likely needed to hear exactly what the pastor was saying; he also gave me a little insight into the pastor’s preparation and knowledge of the congregation. It made me decide what was more important at that time: learning from the pastor during Sunday mornings, or cultivating friendships with my peers and learning in different ways from them. I stayed at the church and found excellent teaching on the radio. Eventually I left the church to move here, but I made friendships that will probably last a lifetime.