Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sometimes my prayers issue forth

As leaden ice cubes that drop in the sand at my feet
And the crabs scurry to take them away.

Sometimes my prayers are butterflies
That flutter away only to live a day in their brightly colored ephemeral existence
Like fragile bones that are unable to support any weight.

Sometimes my prayers are bright hard diamonds
That drift up and embed themselves in the velvet darkness above my bed.
Cold and distant like stars
Suns that I cannot touch and cannot warm me with their power.

Sometimes my prayers are ocean liners
Huge steel behemoth that go where they want
Plowing the water aside carrying great cargo
Impossible to steer.

Sometimes when I pray my attention wanders
And I get entangled with the small tedium of the day
And I hope
My lack of attentiveness is not repaid in kind.

Sometimes I pray in my dreams
The frontier between consciousness and reality recedes
And I drift like a fetus in a womb not of my making
Not sure if my prayer is a dream or the dream a prayer.

Sometimes I can’t pray
The words won’t come and I can only sit in silence
Feeling the exquisite pain of solitude
A symphony of reclusion and stillness
Enfolded in God’s great silence.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Financial Planning Comparisons Continued

Scott Adams of Dilbert Fame as found on Motley Fool
  1. Make a will.
  2. Pay off your credit cards.
  3. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support.
  4. Fund your 401(k) to the maximum.
  5. Fund your IRA to the maximum.
  6. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it.
  7. Put six months' worth of expenses in a money market account.
  8. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker, and never touch it until retirement.
  9. If any of this confuses you, or if you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues), hire a fee-based financial planner.
Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps
  • $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
  • Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
  • 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
  • Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
  • College funding for children
  • Pay off home early
  • Build wealth and give!
Crown Financial's Roadmap
  • Emergency Fund
  • Pay off Credit Cards
  • Pay off Consumer Debt
  • Save for Major Purchases
  • Buy a Home and Begin Investing
  • Home Mortgage Paid Off
  • True Financial Freedom
John Wesley
  • We ought to gain all we can gain but this it is certain we ought not to do; we ought not to gain money at the expense of life, nor at the expense of our health.
  • Do not throw the precious talent into the sea.
  • Having, First, gained all you can, and, Secondly saved all you can, Then "give all you can."
I tried to put this in a nicely laid out table for comparison, but Blogger didn't like my table. Scott Adams makes it clear that he does not like stocks -- in fact this Motley Fool article says:
Adams' passion for personal finance is matched only by his utter disdain for stocks. That's right, this keen observer of business and management trends believes that most people, himself included, cannot beat the market buying individual stocks -- especially when the companies behind those stocks are run by drunk chimpanzees.

So that's what went wrong with AIG and Bear Stearns. Too many drunk chimpanzees.

Spiritual Disciplines for a Tuesday

I also know that spiritual disciplines are more than attitude.  They are actions.  It's one thing to sit in prayer and another to BE in prayer.  Letting your prayer have hands and feet.  Doing as well as being.  They are not a character attribute -- "he's SO spiritual!" They are not an emotional feeling -- "she feels so spiritual!!" They are things that you DO.  Like be in prayer while washing the raisins, reading the Bible, fasting, receiving communion, being totally with another person as they share their pain, visiting those in prison, burying the dead by actually using a shovel at the end of the service. You can do them for good reasons or even bad ones, but at the end the spiritual disciplines make you more like Jesus.  Period.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Spiritual Disciplines

I have really no idea what exactly constitutes a spiritual discipline.  I used to think that I knew -- but now, not so much.  I know it's prayer, both corporate and personal, but what exactly constitutes prayer?  I preached about it this Sunday, but I still wonder what Paul meant by praying continuously.  I know it's praying all the time, even when doing ordinary things like washing the raisins. (The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery. By Henri Nouwen.) Attitude is more important than anything else. So today, I am spending time washing my own personal raisins -- which includes dishes and laundry and floors and bedding. Housekeeping as a spiritual discipline.

Oh, and for spiritual food -- chicken and dumplings.