Highest Honors

Welcome to the Omniallinfinitude™ Blog Experience.

Start your Journey here.

 

Highest Honors is the first of the twelve Omniallinfinitude™ Journeys.  Each Journey is presented through 16 blog posts.  Even though we are now blogging live a different Journey,  we highly recommend you proceed through this Blog Experience starting with Journey 1 – which is right here!

Each Journey is made up of Journey Elements – you can view this list in its entirety,  like a Table of Contents,  on the right sidebar.  You can also view or download the PDF version of this Journey by clicking the Highest Honors graphic at the top of the right sidebar.

 

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Read each blog post in the order they were posted.  Some of these blog posts will be longer than what you would expect to find in a normal blog – but then again,  this is not a normal blog….so make sure you take the time to read the whole blog post.
  2. Complete the Journey Elements contained in each post.  Each Journey covers one attribute group and one spiritual practice.  All of the Elements relate to these in some way.
  3. Return to the Blog Post – we encourage you to comment based on the specific assignment.  Read other’s comments and engage in an online conversation.  These posts and comments are ongoing.
  4. For more information see How Does This Work on the Main Omni page.
  5. Then move on to the next post.  You can access the individual post pages from the top menu bar under Journey Elements,  or by or by clicking the links below in this post.
  6. When you complete a Journey – move on to the next Journey.  The format and Element structure will be the same in all the Journeys.
  7. Each Journey will also have its own blog,  and each post will have its own page,  in addition to appearing in the complete blog.  This will make it easier to complete the blog at your own speed,  as well as for others who start later.   We will eventually have 12 active blogs with people participating in all of them at the same time.

 

Complete the Blog Posts below in this order:

Click on the links to go to the individual blog posts with their respective comments.  Once you click to the Journal pages, scroll up to get to the beginning of the blog post.  Each Journal post will also appear on the Journey Element Page that it follows.  For example, Journal 1.1 will appear on the same page and directly under Remember and Read.

 

Highest Honors 1: Remember and Read

Highest Honors 2: Journal 1.1 – Proof of Life

Highest Honors 3: Analyze – Color Coding

Highest Honors 4:  Journal 1.2 – Full Disclosure

Highest Honors 5: Investigate – Most High and Glorious and 10 Things

Highest Honors 6: Journal 1.3 – The Problem with The Most High God

Highest Honors 7: Practice: Solitude and Silence and Why?

Highest Honors 8: Journal 1.4 – Wrong Thinking

Highest Honors 9: Inventory – Your God History

Highest Honors 10: Journal 1.5 – Right Thinking

Highest Honors 11: Adventuring – On Assignment

Highest Honors 12: More Cool Stuff – Math and Music

Highest Honors 13: Lyrics

Highest Honors 14: Journal 1.6 – Glimpses of the Most High God

Highest Honors 15: Journal 1.7 – Nitty Gritty

Highest Honors 16: Closure

 

While we encourage you to leave Comments, we totally understand if you want to participate anonymously.  This format also works well for small groups meeting in person. It’s ok to print out the PDF – just remember to keep a copy on your computer so you can use the links.

 

Credits for quotes,  music,  lyrics and videos appear in the Credits section in the back of the PDF.

Omniallinfinitude™ material may be reproduced as long as credit is given.  There is no fee for using this material.

 

Enjoy the Journey…..take your time….but take the Journey!

Highest Honors 1: Remember and Read

 

 

You are in the right place!

Welcome to the Omniallinfinitude™ Blog Experience.


…….a few housekeeping details before we get started.

 

Highest Honors is the first of the twelve Omniallinfinitude™ Journeys.  BlogEach Journey will have its own blog and each post will have its own page,  in addition to appearing in the complete blog.  This will make it easier to complete the blog at your own speed, as well as for others who start later.  We will eventually have 12 active blogs with people participating in all of them at the same time.

 

You can access the individual post pages from the top menu bar under Journey Elements  and you can also view or download the PDF version of this Journey by clicking the Highest Honors graphic at the top of the right sidebar.  You can also access the other Journey Blogs from the list on the right sidebar.

 

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Read each blog post in the order they were posted.  Some of these blog posts will be longer than what you would expect to find in a normal blog – but then again,  this is not a normal blog….so make sure you take the time to read the whole thing.
  2. Complete the Journey Elements contained in each post.
  3. Return to the Blog Post – we encourage you to comment based on the specific assignment.  Read other’s comments and engage in an online conversation.
  4. For more information see How Does This Work on the Main Omni page.
  5. Then move on to the next post.
  6. When you complete a Journey – move on to the next Journey.  The format and Element structure will be the same in all the Journeys.

You can participate anonymously – it’s ok – we totally understand.  This format also works well for a small group who meets in person.  It is ok to print out the PDF – just remember to keep a copy on your computer so you can use the links.

Any questions?  No?

Let’s get started.


Each Journey covers one attribute group and one spiritual practice.  All of the Elements relate to these in some way.

We always begin with a freeform poem.

 

Highest Honors

 

What comes to your mind?

Achievement,  accomplishment,  victory
Bravery,  sacrifice,  service,
Competition,  being the first,  the best
Position,  mastery,  expertise……..
Winners,  highest scores,  the ability to overcome obstacles
Make an impact,  leave your mark….

 

From valedictorians to warriors,  to priests and kings,
From sports champs to Nobel Prize winners,  humanitarians and local heroes
We accord them Highest Honors,
No one does it better,  they’ve graduated magna cum laude

 

Sometimes what they accomplish is beyond our imagination
We wonder how they did it.
They must be smarter or stronger
have more money
more talent
more help.
We use words such as Superior!  Magnificent!  Brilliant!  Exceptional!  Impossible!
We shake our heads in disbelief,
Stand and cheer and applaud in amazement,  appreciation and respect.

 

And sometimes we are them,
The best of the best,  continually striving for even Higher Honors.

 

But, beyond all this,  higher than the highest skyscraper and mountain,
farther out than the farthest star –
beyond all that man could ever achieve or imagine…
Is the One who truly deserves Highest Honors,
The One known as the Most High and Glorious.
The One behind it all.

 

remember

Psalm 145:3

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise, his greatness no one can fathom. NIV

 

We begin by memorizing the above theme verse for this journey (including Book,  Chapter and Verse).  This will be the first element in every journey.  Think of this as the necessary foundation for future excellence – like practicing scales on the piano or doing wind sprints or swimming laps, or taking your vitamins,  or eating your vegetables.

What is that I hear? – OH NO!  Not memorization….

We actually recall or remember all kinds of things we’ve memorized without really even trying.  Can you think of any?

How about your phone number,  email address,  street address,  zip code,  social security number,  birthday,  names of your family,  how to get to work,  how to drive a car,  that secret recipe….or how to spell or multiply,  song lyrics,  movie scenes,  jokes,  what someone was wearing,  what car they drove,  sports statistics,  what chocolate tastes like, what the ocean smells like,  and on and on.

That’s why we call this element Remember – it’s the remembering that is important.

 

Why do we remember what we remember?

Actually,  recollection is just the tip of the memory iceberg.  Within our marvelous and mysterious brain the memory works in collaboration with us and the world – it uses all our senses and emotions. We associate smells,  colors,  places,  rituals,  symbols,  landmarks,  even people,  with memories and when we sense the trigger,  we remember.

For now you will just have to take my word for it – there are tremendous spiritual benefits from Remembering Bible verses:

  • Strengthens our faith
  • Shapes how we view the world
  • Makes God’s Word immediately accessible
  • Guards our minds

And that’s just for starters.

Experts say that we will forget more in the first hour after our memory event than in one day,  and more in the first day than the first month…What we remember for one month,  will probably stay with us…..so the idea is to remember regularly for one month and we’ve got it.

Here are some hints to help you get started.  We all learn differently – so don’t be afraid to try some of the more unusual methods.  Plus – some of them are just plain fun.  Not only do we need to remember the verse,  we need to remember to work on remembering the verse….double whammy!

Write the verse on several post it notes or index cards and put it where you will see it such as the car,  the bathroom mirror,  the kitchen sink,  a bulletin board,  your computer screen saver,  your cell phone,  your Facebook status,  by your bed…..Or use one of the many Scripture Memory APPs now available for phones and tablets.  Scripture Typer is one of our favorites.

  • Make plans to spend five minutes,  twice a day (usually as you get up and before bed) to review.  Review often…..
  • Say it slowly, 15 times in a row, emphasizing each word.
  • If you have already learned it in another translation,  review that one.  Once you know it in one,  look it up in a couple of others to see what is different.
  • Review it when you are waiting in line,  or on hold on the phone.
  • Sing it – make up a tune to go with it,  or say it with an accent.
  • Rap it,  paint it,  draw it,  doodle it,  or diagram it like in Pictionary
  • For extra credit,  add the verse before and the verse after.

I like to think of this remember process as Texting or Tweeting My Brain and then having my brain Text or Tweet me back.

 

Also, remember there is a downloadable PDF available for this Journey – click on the graphic at the top of the right sidebar.  You can download it and save it on your computer where it will link to the online Bible,  a dictionary,  the videos and the songs for this Journey.  You can also type into it and of course you can print it out.  We highly encourage – however you chose to record your discoveries and experiences – everyone to periodically comment online and read each other’s comments.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post.)

When you COMMENT on this Element – share methods that worked well for you,  and any impact this process is having on any part of your life.  Also for fun – Share two or three of your best memories.

How to Comment:  Go to the top of this blog and click Responses/No Responses.  The first time you comment,  you will need to enter your first and last name and your email address.   Type in your Comment and Submit.   All comments will be posted after they are reviewed by the Moderator,  so you might not see it post right away.

 

read

Genesis 1-3, John 1

(you can change translations after you click the blue chapter links to read these in other translations)

 

Please read through these four chapters in one sitting, on three separate days; once from a modern translation, once in a modern paraphrase, and then finally with a pad and pencil by as you record your thoughts and observations. It is also helpful to read the selections aloud.  As you read, underline words that describe who God is or the names He is called.  The blue Bible Chapter links above will bring up an online Bible and you can change the translation to whatever you want.

This element is about reading what it says – try to put aside any preconceived ideas about what you think it says, or what you may have concluded based on other studies or classes.  We are not saying those ideas are wrong, but for this Element, we just want to read it as if for the first time. Please read for the storyline – and see if you can then faithfully retell it in your own words.

Since you cannot type into this blog – we suggest you record your answers in a journal or download/print the PDF version.

 

First Reading: Modern Translation – which one did you use?

Second Reading: Modern Paraphrase – which one did you use?

Third Reading: Reading Notes

Genesis 1:

Genesis 2:

Genesis 3:

John 1:

Descriptions of God:

Names used for God:

 

COMMENT:

 (In your own journal, the downloadable PDF for this blog, or in the Comment section for this post.)

Share with us any names or descriptions of God you discovered. Also share any personal observations or experiences from just reading to see what it says.

Our next blog post will be Highest Honors 2 – Journal 1.1 Proof of Life.

Highest Honors 2: Journal 1.1 – Proof of Life

I was Here 1

 

How would you convince someone you exist?

Where would you start?

What if they were blind, or deaf, or both?

What if they didn’t speak your language or understand your culture?

What if they had a learning disability or were of lesser intelligence?

What if they were physically far away from you?

 

How would you convince them you were real?

 

You would need to provide them some Proof of Life in a way they could understand.  Kidnappers and terrorists provide proof of life as a means of obtaining ransom.  They may send a picture,  make a phone call,  post a video or worse…..usually including news of the day to provide a time stamp.  Then once the ransom payer is convinced the person is still alive,  the deal can be completed.

 

In our daily lives we are required to show proof we were born and then again when we die.

We’ve left clues of our existence all over the place,  from school,  medical,  payroll,  banking,  driving and phone records.

Our travel is traced through our passports,  GPS and credit cards.

Our internet usage is tracked through chat rooms,  text messaging and buying habits.

We meet people along the way and they remember us,

they are witnesses to our lives,

they have personal experience with us.

We leave a trail of proof that we were here – everywhere we go.

 

 

And so does the Most High…..But He has to reveal Himself to us because we could not have imagined Him otherwise.  Everything we know about Him,  we know because He has disclosed it to us.

 

 

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post.)

List some of the things that prove you exist.

Do you believe George Washington was the first President of the United States? Do you believe that 1 + 1 = 2?

Why?

Remember to continue working on the Remember and Read Elements from the last post and post your comments there.

Our next blog post will be Highest Honors 3 – Analyze: Color Coding.

 

Highest Honors 3: Analyze – Color Coding

analyze

Color Coding

 

In each Journey we will present different methods of Bible study and analysis to provide you with tools to study the Bible on your own.

This method color codes similar words and ideas to assist in discovery of the meaning and context of the passages presented.  The words have already been color coded based on common characteristics.  Because the colors stand out,  it is easier to see the relationships and commonalities between the two passages.

 

Read the two passages below.  These two passages are known as the Creation passages…one from the Old Testament,  and one from the New Testament.  Then record your answers to the questions that follow in the PDF version of this journey or in your own journal.

 

GENESIS 1

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.   2 Now the earth was formless and empty,  darkness was over the surface of the deep,  and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

26 Then God said,  “Let us make man in our image,  in our likeness,  and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air,  over the livestock,  over all the earth,  and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  27 So God created man in his own image,  in the image of God he created himmale and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them,  “Be fruitful and increase in number;  fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  NIV

 

JOHN 1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,  and the Word was God.   2 He was with God in the beginning.  3 Through him all things were made;  without him nothing was made that has been made.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among usWe have seen his glory,  the glory of the One and Only,  who came from the Father,  full of grace and truth.

18 No one has ever seen God,  but God the One and Only,  who is at the Father’s side,  has made him known. NIV


What do the different colors reveal or describe to you?

Green:

Orange:

Blue:

Purple:

Pink:


Read the passages again and answer the following questions:

  • What happened in the beginning?  Who was already there?
  • What do you learn about God from these passages?
  • What was the purpose of the Word?
  • What do you learn about man from these passages?
  • What are some of the common elements or ideas that appear in both passages?

 

Word Study

Another way to gain more knowledge and understanding of a Bible passage is to look up the original meaning of the words used by the actual writers.  The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic and the New Testament was written in Greek.  John uses “Word” for Jesus in John 1:1.  We can gain some insight as to what he meant by looking up the Greek for “Word” which happens to be logos or ho logos.  You can find these definitions in a Bible Concordance or a Bible dictionary.

 

LOGOS (Grk. ho logos, “the Word”)  A term used by the apostle John describing the mission of Jesus as the revealer of the Godhead (John 1:1, 14).  Words reveal the thoughts and intents of the mind to others.  In the Person of the incarnate Logos,  God made Himself fully known to man.  All man can know about God is disclosed by the incarnate deity.  Christ as the Word constitutes the complete and ultimate divine revelation.


COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post.)

Please share what you discovered by using this method and answering the questions.

Remember to continue working on the Remember and Read Elements……

Our next blog post will be Highest Honors 4 – Journal 1.2 – Full Disclosure.

 

Highest Honors 4: Journal 1.2 – Full Disclosure

 

It’s all here, and there, and everywhere…..

 

…..all the Proof of Life we need – that the Most High is real and true.

The totality of creation is enough to blow our minds – the universe displays its beauty,  detail,  balance and complexity.  Ever advancing technology has allowed us to peek in amazement at subatomic consistency,  design and order – beyond anything we could ever have dreamed or imagined.

 

From the natural laws of physics and chemistry to the marvels of DNA and quarks,  facts that were once thought impossible – are now accepted without a second thought.

 

Such a marvelous creation only reveals an even more marvelous creator,  The Most High and Glorious.

He has also imprinted our souls with Proof of Life – as we are His greatest creation of all,  stamped with His very own image.  This drives us to develop and enforce Moral Laws,  which in turn determine right and wrong behavior. Without these we could not live together in community and benefit society.

 

It seems there are some things we know are just good for us – things like life,  procreation,  knowledge,  good health,  hard work,  family,  reasonable conduct,  justice,  peace,  beauty.

Things like the Moral Laws contained in the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.  We intuitively know these are true,  and that they benefit us – all additional proof of the stamp of His image.

 

And there’s even more Proof

  • Math and Music and Miracles,
  • The creation and survival of the Bible and the Church
  • The fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy
  • And last but definitely not least – there is Jesus Christ!
  • But we’re jumping ahead…..more to come on these.

 

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post.)

List the most important proofs for you that God exists.
If you don’t yet believe or know someone who doesn’t – what kind of proof are you/they looking for?
Make sure to complete the Remember, Read, and Analyze Elements.
The next post will be
Highest Honors 5: Investigate – Most High and Glorious and 10 Things

 

 

 

Highest Honors 5: Investigate – Most High and Glorious and 10 Things

investigate

Most High and Glorious

 

Define:  Please write a brief definition for each word below in your journal or the PDF using a regular dictionary, not a Bible dictionary.

(Click on any word to link to dictionary.com for the word’s definition)

 

∞     Transcendence                         

∞     Incomprehensible                     

∞     Incommunicable                      

∞     Unimaginable                         

∞     Spiritual                                

∞     Triune                                   

∞     Supremacy                             

∞     Majesty                                 

∞     Greatness                               

∞     Glorious                                

∞     Most High                             

 

Now write your own definition for Most High and Glorious.

Share it as a COMMENT.


Review:  Meet those who saw God.

Read each reference below and note what kinds of things each person saw and their response to it.

(Click on any scripture reference to link to an online Bible)

Moses:  Ex. 33: 15-23

Isaiah:  Isaiah 6: 1-8

Ezekiel:  Ezekiel 1

Daniel:  Dan. 10: 4 – 11

Peter, James and John:  Matt. 17: 1–9Mark 9: 2-9,  Luke 9: 28-34

Mary and Thomas:  John 20:10-29

Saul/Paul:  Acts 9: 1-15

John:  Rev: 1: 9-18;  Rev. 4: 1-6


According to the references below,  in what ways does God reveal himself to man?

Eccl. 3:11

John 1: 14, 18

Acts 17:22-28

Romans 1:20Psalm 19: 1-4

1 John 4:12


Conclude:
  Compare the two references below:

What are the similar attitudes and motivations and what did God do as a result?   Do you see this happening today?

Genesis 11: 1-9

Isaiah 14:12-15

 

COMMENT:

(In the PDF,  your journal at home, or in the comment section below)

Please share your definition of Highest Honors/Most High and Glorious as well as any new insights from the Review and Conclude questions and references above.


10
things

Most High and Glorious

 

  1.  El Elyon is the Hebrew name translated God Most High.  It emphasizes that God is the highest in every realm of life and cannot be matched.  This transcendent quality was first used in relation to Melchizedek,  the King of Salem,  who was also called, “the priest of God Most High” in Genesis 14:18-20.
  2. God has to reveal Himself because we could not have imagined Him otherwise.
  3. You can’t grow beyond what you know.  Knowing God is different than knowing about God.
  4. A. W. Tozer – “The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts that are unworthy of God.”
  5. Martin Luther – “Your thoughts of God are too human.”
  6. God is not a triplex,  but a triunity.  Instead of 1+1+1=3, think 1x1x1=1.  The trinity cannot be proved by human reason,  but just because it goes beyond human reason does not mean it goes against human reason.  God has one essence (What) and three persons (Who).  The three Who’s each share the same What.
  7. David Hocking – “If Jesus is not God,  then He can’t save us.  He is merely a man.  If he was a perfect man,  he could only substitute for one person.  Only God could substitute his infinite life for the sum total of all who believe in Him.”
  8. A. W. Tozer – “Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms.  We want to get Him where we can use Him,  or at least know where He is when we need Him.  We want a God we can in some measure control.”
  9. Mankind was created in the image of God.  We must not then remake God in our image.  Man can only know of God what God has reached out and communicated about Himself to man as truth.  The climax of this revelation,  including creation,  mighty acts in history,  and the scriptures,  was in the person of Jesus Christ.
  10. C. S. Lewis – “If Christianity was something we were making up,  of course we would make it easier.  But it is not.  We cannot compete,  in simplicity,  with people who are inventing religions.  How could we?  We are dealing with fact.  Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.”

References for the above quotes can be found in the back of the PDF version of Highest Honors.

 

COMMENT:

(In the PDF,  your journal at home, or in the comment section below)

Pick one or two of the above quotes or statements and share any insights or challenges it presents to you.

Continue to review the Remember Verse and make sure you are up to date on all the prior postings. There are some great conversations going in each blog post Comment section – so don’t forget to stop by and check them out.

Our next blog post will be Highest Honors 6 – Journal 1.3 – The Problem with the Most High God.

 

Highest Honors 6: Journal 1.3 – The Problem with The Most High God

 

The problem with the Most High God is….

We really don’t know Him or think rightly about Him.

Perhaps we would be farther along in our journey with Him if we could stop,  take a second to look around….and consider the Proof of Life He has already provided us.   Instead it seems we find it easier to simply view Him in our image – a bigger,  more beautiful version of ourselves.

 

Some of us think we need to understand it all first,

That the Most High One needs to answer to us,

Fit into our box, meet our requirements,

Get on board with our plans.

 

We believe if we can’t understand something – it can’t exist.

Perhaps,  we think a little more highly of ourselves than we ought.

Our brain ends up becoming the determiner,  setting the criterion for all things and all truth.

 

Where do we get this stuff?

Sometimes we simply make it up and hope it’s true.

We indulge our own wishful thinking,  worship our own private idols.

Or we might build our own designer god by picking and choosing the parts we like from various religions.

 

Then we incorporate whatever the newest fad is from popular culture.

Or we just do what the family has always done or what the national cultural tradition dictates is appropriate.

 

In the end it simply boils down to this –

we want God….

to be anything but the Most High God.

 

COMMENT:

(In the PDF,  your own journal,  or in the the Comment section for this post.)

In what ways have you ever created a “designer god”?

What are some of the reasons man struggles with coming to an accurate understanding of who God is?

How do you struggle with this?  Any private idols you want to share?

Keep reviewing the Remember Verse and make sure you are up to date on all the prior posts.  We encourage you to read some of the comments and leave your own.

Our next blog post will be Highest Honors 7 – Practice: Solitude and Silence.  Enjoy the journey…..take it one step at a time.


Highest Honors 7: Practice – Solitude and Silence and Why?

practice

Solitude and Silence

 

The Spiritual Practices put us in a place where we are better able to interact with our environment and God,  a place where He can touch our spirits and transform them.  Just as our body needs to eat,  breathe,  exercise,  drink,  and sleep,  we need to also make sure our spiritual self is being sustained,  cared for,  and trained.  The results include spiritual growth,  a life controlled by the Holy Spirit,  evidence of the fruit of the spirit,  and the ultimate goal,  living life like Jesus did.

The Spiritual Practices are not:

  • Meritorious laws that earn favor with God
  • A way to show how spiritually mature we are
  • Unpleasant or difficult

Instead, they are:

  • Intentional
  • Activities we do that when practiced will eventually allow us to do activities we cannot now do.
  • Adaptable to work with our temperaments and gifts
  • Adjustable according to the rhythm and seasons of our lives

 

There are two kinds:

Practices of Abstinence –  This is when we stop doing something that is perfectly normal,  in order to allow ourselves to focus more on God,  His Word,  and growing in godliness.  These also help us resist our tendency toward sins of commission  (when we do something we shouldn’t do).  We withdraw to breathe in all that God can provide to us,  breaking the hold that the world has on our lives.  Practices of Abstinence help ready us and create room for the Practices of Engagement.

Practices of Engagement – This is when we do certain activities that help us grow in Christ and obey his commandments.  The Practices of Abstinence have opened up the time and broken up the preoccupations so we are now free to learn of,  focus on,  and practice those things that God commands us to do.  These assist in keeping us from our tendency toward sins of omission  (not doing the things we should do).  We engage to breathe out all that God commands us.

 

As their name implies,  the Spiritual Practices are not one time events,  but skills to be learned and developed over time.  So don’t be discouraged in the beginning if you struggle with them or find them difficult.  Make them a regular part of your life.  In our Journeys we would rather emphasize the actual practicing of the Practices and not so much the reading about them….and let you discover the benefits as they appear in your life.

 

Solitude

SolitudeSet aside 30 minutes of time to retreat to a comfortable,  quiet place where you can be alone and uninterrupted.  This will be your “desert” or “closet”.   Put your gadgets on silent mode.   Set a timer.   Turn off any music or television.   You may take some paper,  something to write with and a Bible.   Many people find early morning or late evening the easiest time.

 

  1. Spend time alone with your thoughts and God.
  2. Let the cares and busyness of your life settle.  Breathe deeply.
  3. Mentally converse with him.
  4. What does He bring to mind?
  5. Listen – what do you hear?
  6. Write down any thoughts that intrude so you can deal with them later.
  7. Record what you hear and your reaction to this experience.
  8. Make this a regular part of your spiritual journey.  Solitude should be scheduled in short periods in daily to weekly intervals and then in larger segments  (half day to multiple days) a couple times a year.

 

The impact of Solitude in our lives

  • Practice of Abstinence – we are refraining from normal interaction with others in a quiet place.
  • Fundamental and most necessary practice of abstinence
  • Frees us from societal forces that tend to squeeze us into their mold – we are breaking the world’s hold on our time,  preoccupations,  striving,  and busyness.
  • Allows us to concentrate and listen to our soul and to God.
  • Refocuses our perspective – we see more clearly through God’s eyes
  • Scripture: Gen. 32: 24, Matt 4:1, 14:23, Mark 1:35, 6:31, Luke 4:42, 6:12, Acts 9:9

 

Personal Reflections on Solitude:

  1. Solitude is the most important practice of abstinence.  Why do you think it is so hard to accomplish?
  2. What excuses or rationalizations did you come up with to put it off or not do it at all?
  3. What does solitude free up in your life?  How does it benefit you?

 

COMMENT:

(In your PDF or journal,  or in the Comment section for this post)

Share your experience with this practice as well as your answers to the above reflection questions.

 

Silence

Pick at least a couple hours (or a day) and try to not to talk at all.  Instead, listen,  observe and pay attention to people.  Do not initiate conversations or phone calls,  and let your phone take a message.  Only return emergency calls or those that are absolutely necessary.  Speak as little as possible.

 

We are treating this as a separate Spiritual Practice from Solitude.  Solitude by definition will include the lack of speaking and noise.  For our purposes,  we will practice Silence separately from Solitude in order to experience the listening and understanding components.  As you practice Silence,  make sure you are engaged in activities that would normally call for casual conversation.  The emphasis is not only on being surrounded by quiet,  but on ourselves being quiet.

Also,  refrain from email,  texting,  or social media,  as these are also forms of communication.  Do not read or write any emails or text messages for one day.  Record your experiences.

 

The impact of Silence in our lives

  • Practice of Abstinence – we are retreating from all sound and speaking
  • Allows us to listen to God and others,  taking the focus off ourselves.
  • We can hear because it is quiet,  we can understand because we are not thinking about what to say next.
  • Commonly practiced together with Solitude
  • Scripture: Psalm 4:4, 131:2, Isaiah 30:15, Eccl. 3:7, Lam. 3:6, James 3: 1-12, Rev. 8:1

 

Personal Reflections on Silence:

  1. The practice of Silence is not just about the absence of noise.  What does it accomplish in your life?  How does it benefit you?
  2. What was the hardest part of this exercise for you?  Did you miss anything during the silence?
  3. What did you enjoy about silence?  Did you hear some things you might otherwise have missed?
  4. How do you think silence could improve your personal relationships?

 

COMMENT:

(In your PDF or journal, or in the Comment Section for this post)

Share your experiences with this practice as well as your answers to the above reflection questions.

 

why?

Solitude and Silence

 

Richard Foster – “The purpose of silence and solitude is to be able to see and hear.  Control rather than no noise is the key to silence…..we learn when to speak and when to refrain from speaking.”

Dallas Willard – “The normal course of day to day human interactions locks us into patterns of feeling,  thought,  and action that are geared to a world set against God.  Nothing but solitude can allow the development of freedom from the ingrained behaviors that hinder our integration into God’s order.”

John Ortberg –“Solitude is the one place we gain freedom from the forces of society that will otherwise relentlessly mold us.”

Henri Nouwen – “In solitude I get rid of my scaffolding.”

Jesus began his ministry with 40 days of solitude in the desert and concluded it with one night of solitude in the garden.  In between he often withdrew by himself and encouraged his disciples to do the same.  He is our model.

Much of God’s glorious creation is only truly appreciated in silence and solitude.  We must stop and look and listen.

Solitude not only allows us to see and experience God as He truly is,  it allows us to see how He is changing us.

Clearing your head,  sharpening your focus,  seeing the big picture,  catching your breath,  realigning your priorities,  calming the emotions,  relocating your foundation,  greater sensitivity to others,  as well as connecting with God,  all are results of time spent in silence and solitude.

Solitude to your life is like a tune up to your car.

Solitude is like resetting your clock when it gets five minutes slow.

Richard Foster – “The tongue is our most powerful weapon of manipulation.  A frantic stream of words flows from us because we are in a constant process of adjusting our pubic image.  We fear so deeply what we think other people see in us that we talk in order to straighten out their understanding…silence puts the stopper on self justification.”

Silence teaches us how to truly listen and understand.

References for the above quotes can be found in the back of the PDF version of Highest Honors.

 

COMMENT:

(In your PDF or journal or in the Comment section for this post)

Pick one or two of the above quotes or statements and share any insights or challenges it presents to you.

Our next blog post will be Highest Honors 8 – Journal 1.4: Wrong Thinking.

Highest Honors 8: Journal 1.4 – Wrong Thinking

 

We all know we’ve done it.

How did we get so confused?

It all sounded so good,  we all agreed,  we voted,  majority rule – doesn’t that make it ok?

Sometimes it’s so hard to turn around and start to undo everything our confused,  wrong thinking has accomplished.

But if we never start,  we never get started.

So let’s start…… start undoing our wrong thinking about the Most High God.

 

If we’re honest with ourselves,  we will admit that at some point we have wished or tried to manage the Most High – to further our own purposes,  dreams,  provide for all our needs,  right now.  This is so much easier for us to get our head around.  We believe in God,  or at least the idea of God,  isn’t that enough?

 

But our god is often too much like us and not at all like the Most High.

So we end up with a god in a box – and we don’t want to let him out.

Here is a list of many of the popular misconceptions about God in modern society today.

    • Santa Claus – Giver of gifts,  but only if we’re good
    • Super Hero – When we’re in need of assistance whether good or bad
    • Wizard – Supernatural power provider
    • King – Sovereign manipulator
    • Ruthless Warrior/General – leading us to battle,  giving victory over our enemies
    • Judge/Sheriff – law maker and enforcer
    • Banker – Keeper and provider of the allowance
    • Divine Repairman/Deliveryman –  at our beck and call
    • Force – Divine energy to master for our own use
    • IT– somewhere out there doing whatever
    • Grandpa – Comforter and Treat provider
    • The Man Upstairs – watching and waiting to drop the other shoe
    • Puppet Master – controlling our every move for his entertainment
    • Bigger projection of Ourselves – in all our glory
    • Taskmaster – Big Boss in the Sky
    • User friendly cosmic Puppy Dog – gets stuff for us,  lets us pet him and adore him
    • Scapegoat – someone to blame when things go wrong
    • Lifeguard – plucks us from danger at the last minute

And they all come in their own boxes.

 

And so we continue……. with our journey of discovery,

The journey to thinking rightly about God.

Fortunately,  we are all in this together.

 

COMMENT:

(In the PDF,  your journal, or as a Comment to this post)

What three popular misconceptions of God (listed above) have you ever considered or acted as if they were true?

What did you base your belief or actions on?  Did you realize you were doing this?  Where do these misconceptions come from?

Make sure you are up to date on all the prior posts.  Check out some of the comments that have been made and leave some of your own.  The next post will be Highest Honors 9: Inventory – Your God History.

 

Highest Honors 9: Inventory – Your God History

inventory

Your God History

 

Take some time to answer the following questions about your own personal God History.  You may not have answers to all the questions right away – so take some time to think about them.  Answers will come to you over time. Remember there are no wrong answers,  only honest answers.

 

What was your first sense that there is a supreme being?Warehouse

 

How old were you?  How did it make you feel?

 

Did this cause any reaction or response from you towards God?

 

When you think about God,  what mental image pops into your mind?

 

Has your concept of God changed over time?  In what way?

 

Have you ever been angry at God?  What happened?

 

God created mankind in His image.  We easily fall into the trap of creating gods in our image…gods like us.  In what ways do you view God in your own image?

 

What things do you find hard to understand about God?

 

What freaks you out about God?

 

What do you love about God?

 

What do you hope is true about God?

 

 

COMMENT:

(In the PDF,  your Journal,  or in the Comment section of this post)

We would love to read any answers to the above questions you are comfortable sharing.

Continue reviewing the Remember Verse – it should get easier every day.  Make sure you have completed all the prior posts and leave some comments as you go.  The next post will be Highest Honors 10: Journal 1.5 – Right Thinking.