Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Fork or A Bottle

May I share a pet peeve of mine? 

It drives me crazy when I'm watching a biblical sermon and the person sharing says, "I am going to read scripture XYZ but don't worry about turning there in your bibles..." 

REALLY? Oh, I do know some of the rationalizations. We project the verses on-screen for the ease and convenience of those who forgot their bibles, for guests, or to save time. Some say it's for the elder who can no longer read a bible due to their failing eye sight. Well, maybe...but overall, should we really be encouraging others not to read along in their bible? Yeah, that makes this 'Berean' cringe! [Acts 17:11]

Most of us have heard lessons where the believers are encouraged to spiritually eat solid food and not just milk. [1 Cor. 3:2, Hebrews 5: 12 & 14] But then instead of handing them a "fork" to dig in for themselves, believers are handed a "bottle of milk," fed on-screen scripture and a canned sermon created by some other guy. (no need to pretend like we can't tell when a message has no new, original thoughts on the scriptures... anyway, I digress.)

This opinion is simply drawn from my personal observations that those who are the most spiritually happy and continually growing over the long haul are people who activity engage during their relationship with God. [Whether at home or at church during service] 

If statistically, around 65% of the population are visual learners, 30% auditory, and 5% learn kinesthetically, should we really streamline one of the engaging parts, like reading in your own bible? And no matter what, let's not just sit back and let someone plop a bottle in our mouths! Maybe we should be patient and encourage people to turn to the scriptures themselves? I mean, it is important we know where to find them, right? And if a guest or fellow Christian does not have a bible with them, can't we offer to lean over and share ours? Do we really consider this courtesy too old school? And even if someone says, "you don't have to turn there in your bibles..." maybe you should really TURN THERE IN YOUR BIBLE or your electronic device! :)    

Anyway, by definition, this pet peeve is technically a minor annoyance but it is something I was reflecting on during my drive to work so, who knows, it may be a topic others want to reflect on as well.
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In case you are curious, here's an interesting table on Dominant Learning Styles:
Characteristic Learn by
Instructors should use for emphasis Instructor should use for reinforcement Action words
Visual (about 65% of the population) Visual learners need to see what they are learning Watching, Reading
Charts, bold colors/patterns, outlines Writing notes, concept maps, graphics See, look, draw
Auditory (about 30% of the population) Auditory learners need to hear when they are learning Listening, Discussing
Key ideas through voice inflections, tones Speaking aloud Hear, say, speak
Kinesthetic (about 5% of the population) Kinesthetic learners need to move around while learning Doing, Being physically involved
Analogies, anecdotes,  examples Writing on flip charts and simulating tasks Feel, do, demonstrate

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spiritual & Personal Retreats

Then Jesus said, "Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile." Mark 6:31


Retreat. In a spiritual sense, a retreat is not only a place of refuge, seclusion or privacy but also the very act of withdrawing for safety and security. In about a month, myself and a small group of friends are going on a mini-retreat. We will travel to the country to rest, have starlight devotions, sunrise prayers, fellowship and will spend some time teaching one another. I'm excited to get away to a quiet place for some refreshment. I found some thoughts on a site called Travel Soul Therapy - Discover Your Freedom, that shared how to get prepared for a retreat and how to actually be on retreat. I thought I'd share bits and pieces below. Enjoy!


How To Prepare For Transformative Retreat.
  • Clear Intentions.
    As you set out to go for a holistic retreat, consider your intentions for it. Attempt to respond clearly to why are you going. The clearer you are, the more you will be receptive to change — the results you are looking to get. It is like preparing the soil. It doesn't matter whether you are going to simply relax and recover from pressures of ordinary life or you're going for a spiritual nourishment and training. By setting up clear intentions for personal retreat, you eliminate wondering and confusion while in it.

  • Take Self-Nurturing Essentials.
    With understanding the purpose of the retreat, take the essentials that support your movement in that direction. It would be counterproductive to take alone anything that would be a distraction from your experience of simplicity. Choose your inputs carefully. It could be a nurturing book, guided meditations or relaxing music if silence feels a bit extreme. It is good to remember that whole purpose of retreat is to minimize input that keeps us distracted. Take a notebook to record your realizations and insights.

  • Suspend Attachments.
    Before you are going on retreat prepare the world for your absence. You could set up automatic vacation email responses. Announce on the Facebook that you will not be available. Let your clients, employees and all people in communication with you know that temporarily you will not be available. This is important for the purpose of minimizing outside interference with the retreat process. It is like a surgeon preparing to perform an operation: he changes clothes, sterilizes hands and puts gloves on, engages attention and so on. If she gets interrupted with business outside the operation, it would be a detriment to the outcome of a procedure.

How To Be On Retreat.
  • Relax.
    Put a foundation for a personal retreat — relax. Tell your mind to disengage from habitual treadmill of doing. Gently allow yourself to move into simply being with yourself. Slow down in all mundane activities; from brushing your teeth to biting into food. Turn your attention to immediate environment and sensations of your body.

  • Spiritual Practices.
    Use spiritual practices to effectively support your internal transformation in retreat. As much as you allow yourself practice immersion into silence. Silence is the environment in which it is much easier to observe your own perception and its effect on relationship with the world.To further increase personal transformation on retreat and to bring relaxation to mind overstimulated by tasks and fears generating compulsions and anxieties, you may want to implement a regular practice of meditation. 

  • Recognize Insight.
    Remarkable quality of retreat is its progressive increase of mental clarity. In time some realization is bound to happen: you might notice that the way of being you left when you went for retreat is not something that you would like to return to. You might see much clearer what is more valuable to invest your energy. You may be encouraged to change some priorities or you may desire a completely new life vision.

These are such great reminders for me! If you would like other inspirations, quotes and ideas about retreats, then check out my Pinterest page: Personal Retreat Ideas.