Monday, January 14, 2019

The SET Method for Goal Achieving

Goals are essential for bending the future to fit our sense of calling, our dreams, and our desires. Goals empower us to be self-directed. I’ve been a generic goal setter for decades but in late 2013 I began to set better goals and my life has changed. I’ve written more books, essays, reviews, and blogs in the last five years than in my previous 15 years as a professor. I’ve gotten fitter. My relationships with family and friends are richer. I’ve even increased my income by 50%. 
Without goals, time will pass and we will wake up wondering where the years went. Without goals, the agenda of others becomes our agenda (and others frequently don’t have much planned for us other than helping them achieve their goals). Without goals, we will expend the majority of our energy and time on tasks that don’t bring true satisfaction and growth. Without goals, the dreams that we have deep within will lay dormant and whither.  

What do you truly want? What do you deeply sense you were created to achieve? What are God’s dreams for your life? 

In this post, I will introduce you to the SET Method for setting and achieving goals. In coming weeks, I will breakdown the process more deeply and offer hacks to help you gain exponential results.

The SET Method  is a three step process:

S: State your goal as a positive target. What do I want?
E: Explain the "why" behind it. Why do I want to achieve this goal
T: Take Action. "What can I do NOW to move forward?"

First, State your goal as a positive target. Ask: What do I want to achieve? Establish goals for different parts of your life: family, finances, spirituality, work, fitness, and fun. It is critical to set goals for what we really want and not merely what we should want. We must also not settle for goals that are easily achievable. I used to make the mistake of making my goals for the next year more of a “to do” list of my obligations than a true set of targets that when achieved would lead me to true growth as the person I was created to be and bring deep satisfaction in my life. Go for the moonshot rather than aiming for getting 10 feet off the ground. Don’t just look for 5% improvement. Be audacious. When we shoot for the moon, we may not make it but we’ll likely be much higher off of the ground than if our goal was simply to attain lift off.

So what do you truly want? Write these targets down using positive language. In other words, don’t set targets to avoid or flee from; set targets that pull you forward. For example, if you are presently deeply in debt, don’t state your goal merely as “I want to get out of debt.” If you achieved this, you would only have made it to $0. Instead, focus on achieving financial abundance. Be specific and include the date when you’ll achieve this. For example, I want to increase my income by 50% by Dec 31. Increasing your income would take care of your indebtedness and help you build a more robust future.

Now we are ready for step two: Explain the “why” behind your goal. Too many of us make the mistake of trying to figure out the “how” of achieving a goal. The “why” is perhaps more critical because it is the “why” that will drive us to discover the “how.” Think about our above goal of increasing income by 50%. What is the “why”? Perhaps its to provide a better life for one’s family. Perhaps its a desire to have more wealth to fund a non-profit. Find your “why” and write it down. It will become the inspiration that motivates you to achieve the goal. But make sure that you are descriptive and multi-sensory in describing your “why.” See your children smiling and laughing while enjoying a family vacation paid for in cash with the increased resources. Feel your own joy in having a more secure financial footing with a positive net worth. 

Last, Take action. You’ll know that you’ve nailed the “why” when you are chomping at the bit to move to the final step. Our “why” inspires us to find the “how.” We do this by taking actions that move us toward the goal. Immediately work out an initial plan of action. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Sketch out daily/weekly/monthly activities. Then, review your goal and your “why” and take action daily. If your initial plan doesn’t seem to work, revise and keep moving forward. Focusing on our sample goal of increasing income by 50%, here are some possible actions: ask for a raise, request overtime, start a side business, begin studying a new skill or topic that will allow you to earn more over time. Focus daily on the “why” to keep yourself energize. If your initial plan does not pay dividends, make revisions until you succeed.

This is the SET Method in its basic form. Stay tuned for more specific breakdowns and tips regarding each of the steps.

© 2019 Brian D. Russell

Friday, January 11, 2019

Best Reads of 2018: Spirituality/Theology

2018 was a year of substantive growth for me. For the last couple of years, I've been doing a deep dive into spiritual formation. This has helped me to serve my students and readers better, but perhaps more importantly it's given me new insights and resources for growing deeper in grace. I'm grateful for all of the learning that I gained from the reading that I did as well as esteemed friends and colleagues who recommended and discussed these books with me over the course of the past year.

1) James K. A. Smith You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit 

This is Smith's most accessible work to date. His academic background is philosophy. You Are What You Love makes a provocative statement. Smith argues essentially that we may not love what we think we love. We are shaped consciously (and unconsciously) by liturgies. Liturgy is one of Smith's favorite words. The challenge for Christians today is learning to deconstruct and subvert the secular liturgies that desire to shape us into consumers rather than God's holy people. I like and dislike Smith book. It is certainly worth reading because he does (I think) make a correct diagnosis: Our loves/desires are likely more shaped by culture than by the Gospel. Having offered this diagnosis, Smith does not provide (in my mind) a radical enough antidote. His hope is in the rekindling of a robust liturgical movement within the Church. I think that this is certainly part of the solution, but once Smith opens the pandora's box of the human unconscious, he is going to need more resources for renewal than merely renewing Christian worship. Smith is one of the most engaging thinkers in recent years. This is a book worth reading.

2) Murchadh O Madagain Centering Prayer and the Healing of the Unconscious
I've been practicing Centering Prayer for several years now and it has been truly formative for my spiritual growth in God's grace and love. This book was recommended simultaneously and independently by two colleagues to me. It was profoundly helpful for my thinking and personal growth. Madagain explores the history of Centering Prayer and judges it to be orthodox and a means by which God may transform a believer. Madagain dialogues with the desert fathers, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, The Cloud of Unknowing as well as 20th century authors Thomas Merton and Thomas Keating in order to show how centering prayer fits into the stream of historic Christianity. It offers mature reflection on centering prayer and draws clear contrasts between its practice and meditation practices in eastern religions (as well as Western new age spirituality). I rank this text as one of the most important books on spiritual formation that I've ever read.

3) Peter Scazzero Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It's Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature

Scazzero is a gift to any Christian who struggles with integrating one's past wounds with a robust spiritual life. All of us have "shadow work" to do as we allow God's grace to integrate painful aspects of ourselves into the new person whom God creates us to be. He writes transparently of his own struggles with overwork and conflict in relationships despite serving as a pastor and being fully committed to the work of the Gospel. He also shares many anecdotes of other Christians with whom he's served or counseled. This book is helpful because he does not merely diagnose a problem; he also offers tools. One of the best is the creation of a family genogram. It allows us to map out our family of origins and reflect on the strengths/weaknesses of our family tree. This is a particularly powerful tool for couples as they bring much history into their relationship. If you haven't read Scazzero this is the place to start, if you are familiar with his work and particularly if you are a pastor you will also find his The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World helpful.

4) Richard Rohr Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

This is one of Rohr's finest books. Falling Upward is a Christian reading of the Jungian idea of a middle passage or midlife crisis. We spend the first half of life building a house; we spend the second half of life learning to live in it. Problems arise when we discover that we may not have erected the proper home and begin asking questions such as "Who am I apart from my history and the roles that I fill?" Rohr offers rich insights into growing in grace on the other side of midlife. Maybe its because I'm turning 50 in 2019, but I really enjoyed this book.

5) Augustine On Christian Teaching

Augustine penned this thin volume (for him) of meaty reflection on the interpretation and teaching of Scripture. It remains relevant and helpful to us in the 21st century as we face anew some of the same the challenges faced by the early Church when it struggled to communicate the Gospel clearly in a world that did not yet know the Christian God.

6) Dallas Willard The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives by Dallas Willard (18-Apr-1991) Paperback 

Willard offers profound reflection on the importance and role of spiritual disciplines in the Christian life. Cultivating the habits of spiritual formation is critical for preparing ourselves to be fully present in the world ready to embody the Gospel to those around us. 

What were your favorite reads in spirituality or theology for 2018?

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Best Reads of 2018: Fiction

I intentionally read more fiction in 2018. I've grown intrigued by the power of narrative to shape and form us. Early in the year, I finally read Joseph Campbell's seminal work The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell). Campbell traces two primary narrative arcs through the literature and mythic lore of the world. First, he describes what he calls the hero's journey. This is the call to adventure that transforms the individual into a person of honor and influence upon the return to his community of origin. Most famously, George Lucas credits Campbell's study of the hero's journey for inspiring the plot of the Star Wars movies.  Second, Campbell studies the Cosmogonic cycle. If the hero's journey focuses on an individual place and growth with in the world, the cosmogonic cycle explores meaning of the universe from its inception to transformation to dissolution. Campbell uses a Freudian and Jungian reading as the means to understand the mythic soul beneath the cultures of the world. Campbell's reading of world literature intrigued me so I began exploring some class works of fiction.

Favorite novels that I read in 2018:
(1) Albert Camus, The Fall. Originally published in 1956, this was Camus final novel before his tragic death in a car accident. Camus uses a second person perspective to craft this novel that unfolds through a series of confessions by the narrator to a French lawyer whom he meets in a bar in Amsterdam. By using this style of direct address, Camus subtly entices the reader into his web. The Fall articulates a post-World War 2, post-faith understanding of human lostness. 

(2) Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Dover Thrift Editions) Conrad's 1899 novella about a journey deep into the Congo serves as a critique of colonialism with a biting portrayal of the human capacity for evil. Conrad's original remains a potent investigation of the human heart that in the 1970's served as a vehicle for the iconic Vietnam war film "Apocalypse Now." 

(3) George Orwell, Animal Farm. I first read Animal Farm as a senior in high school. It remains one of my favorite novels. Its thinly veiled critique of Marxist Leninism/Stalinism serves as a healthy antiseptic to utopian political fantasies of all eras. I've always found the slogan in the book's closing scene to be an ironic explanation for much that occurs politically/organizationally/socially within alleged systems that espouse equality of outcome: "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others."

(4) Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage (Plus). I've long considered a trip to Spain in order to walk the "El Camino de Santiago" ("The Way of St. James"). This is an ancient pilgrimage that ends in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in NW Spain. Coelho pens a story of a man who must face his own demons on the road to the Cathedral. The narrative is imaginative and more fantasy than a realistic portrayal of the pilgrim's path. It's spirituality is less Christian and more Gnostic themed.

(5) Herman Hesse, Siddhartha (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition). This was perhaps my favorite novel that I read in 2018. Hesse's Siddhartha is not about the Buddha. The main character Siddhartha does indeed meet the historic Buddha, but Hesse's focus is a tale of enlightenment told through the lens of a deep reading of Carl Jung. It's timeless message warns of the danger of self-centered spirituality, the allure of riches, power, and sex, and the potential to find oneself fully in unexpected places.

What were your favorite works of fiction that you read this past year?

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Seven Key Ways that the Old Testament Continues to Shape the Christian Story and Mission

Many readers of the Bible struggle integrating the Old Testament into their understanding of the Christian life and mission. Even recently Andy Stanley a prominent Christian pastor preached about the need to "unhitch" the Gospel from the Old Testament. Time will tell how far Stanley intends go with this line of thought or whether this is indeed a form of "Marcionism." Regardless, his remarks illustrate the problem that many Christians have with the Old Testament despite the New Testament's heavy use of Israel's Scriptures and the prominent role that the Old Testament played within the preaching and teaching of the early Church.

In fact,  Israel’s Scriptures are ripe with insight for understanding God’s mission and role of God’s people in it. In this essay, I will sketch out seven key takeaways from Israel’s story to help guide us as we follow Jesus today.            

(1) Genesis 1–11 set the stage for God’s mission by describing the universe as God intended it and by acknowledging the profound lostness of people and brokenness of Creation due to human rebellion/sin.
Israel’s creation accounts (Genesis 1–2) describe God carefully and deliberately crafting a very good creation. Humanity stands at the pinnacle of God’s creative activity and at the center of God’s missional plans. In God’s original plan, humanity was to fill the earth and serve as the invisible creator God’s visible representatives. Men and women were to live as a community that embodied God’s character and served God’s mission of caring for God’s world.

In Genesis 3–11 human sin ruptures creation. Humanity is lost and creation itself is broken. Paul aptly summarizes Genesis 3–11 in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory….” The iconic narratives of the Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah’s Flood, and the Tower of Babel serve as warnings against humanity’s hubris and injustice by demonstrating the costliness of sin.

Genesis 1–11 is crucial for understanding the rest of the Bible. It sets Israel’s story in the context of all nations and as part of God’s answer to the brokenness of the world.

(2) God’s answer to the chaos and tragedy of Genesis 3–11 is to call a new humanity to serve as his missional people to reflect his character to the world.
God calls Abraham and his descendants to be agents of blessing to all people (Genesis 12:3b). After the deliverance from Egypt, this calling becomes embedded into God's vision for his liberated people (Exod 19:4–6): they will serve as a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation." God’s actions in saving God’s people are for the purpose of extending blessing to all nations. This gives us a critical perspective for understanding Israel’s story. God is for Israel for the sake of all people rather than against all people for the sake of Israel. God continues to call God’s people to serve as embodiments of grace to the world. Jesus the Messiah is the climax of this new humanity. His life, death, and resurrection bring justification, reconciliation, and new birth in anticipation of the New Creation.

(3) God is faithful to his promises and powerful to save.
This theme reverberates from God’s interactions with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Exodus from Egypt, settlement in Canaan, protection from enemies, and the return from Exile.  Israel’s story is one of audacious hope. The future is ultimately secure because the Creator God has a mission to bless the nations and restore creation. This future does not depend on human ingenuity or power, but on God alone. This is good news.

(4) God’s faithfulness and grace is the final word.
God’s people repeatedly act unfaithfully in the Old Testament but this does not negate God’s ability to advance his kingdom in advance of the arrival of Jesus the Messiah. Exile to Babylon was well deserved, but it was a longtime coming as God’s mercy and patience prolonged its arrival. Even when exile came in 587 BC, it lasted only 50 years before God led God’s people a second time to the promised land. Israel’s story testifies to a hope and restoration on the other side of sin and judgment.

(5) Faithful obedience is the proper response to God’s grace and faithfulness to God’s people.
How do God’s people respond to grace? Israel’s story teaches us that it is with faithful living that reflects the character and mission of God. Israel’s obedience is not the precondition of relationship with God, but the result of the experience of salvation. Faithful living is the means by which God’s people witness to the nations the goodness and greatness of God.

(6) Israel’s story demonstrates the potential and snares of living as God’s people among the nations.
The key takeaway is the necessity of faithfulness as God’s people embody a missional holiness for the nations. When we read Scripture’s portrayal of Israel, we are often struck by the repeated failures of Israel to practice faithfulness. This stands in contrast to the mission that God has called Israel to embody for the sake of the world. Israel’s potential and failings serve as a witness to God’s people today.

(7) Idolatry and injustice are the principal impediments to faithfulness. 
God’s missional people must be vigilant against all practices that negate their witness by obstructing their love for God (idolatry) and love for neighbor including a love for creation (injustice). Israel’s story focuses on the ongoing danger of idolatry and injustice for God’s people. As we seek to live faithfully as God’s witnesses in the world, the temptation to elevate “gods” over the one true Creator and Savior remains as does the human tendency to practice injustice to elevate our own sense of power, influence or importance.

© 2016 Brian D. Russell, Revised May 2018.

For more exploration of missional readings of the Bible, see my books (re)Aligning with God: Reading Scripture for Church and World (Cascade, 2016) and Invitation: A Ten Week Bible Study (Invitation, 2015). 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Self Awareness and Growth

Link to Peter Rollin's Original Telling of the Parable of the Four Pints

Books Mentioned:
Peter Scazzero,Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It's Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature 

Scazzero,  The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World.

The Arbinger Institute Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box.

Lolly Daskal The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness.

Links to Myers-Briggs Type

After you learn your type, you can search for it on Google/Bing/etc to learn more about yourself. For example, as an INTJ, I can search "INTJ" "INTJ relationships" "INTJ at work" "INTJ leadership"

 Subscribe to my YouTube Channel and never miss a new video: Your Professor for Life

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Models for Christian Living: Lessons from Surfing and St. Paul

What kind of person do I need to become to serve as a model of Christlike character for others?

A Lesson from Surfing
I took up surfing the year before I turned 40. I’d been watching surfers from the safety of the seashore for many years. I figured it was now or never. My daughters were elementary school age at the time and they eagerly took up the sport with me. My progress was hard won. It took well over a hundred attempts before I ever caught my first wave. My youngest daughter showed me up on her first attempt. She was seven years old. She was petite for her age. She was small enough that she didn’t even need a full sized surf board. I taught her using a four foot body board.

She caught her first wave just south of Port Canaveral, Florida. We were about thirty yards offshore. She was light enough that she balanced on the body board while I held it steady as we awaited the next set of waves. The perfect one approached. I pushed the board into the wave. My daughter kept her balance and glided down the face of the wave. At this moment, she did something extraordinary. She was so proud of her triumph that while she surfed the wave she began sharing her joy with everyone within shouting distance. She cried out, “Look at me! Everyone, look at me!”

I remember chuckling to myself at her lack of humility and thinking that she’d grow out of this. Yet, while reading Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Paul’s exhortation in 3:17 reminded me of my daughter’s words. Paul wrote, “Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.”

Paul’s Challenge to the Philippians
In Philippians, Paul calls believers to live as citizens worthy of the Gospel of Christ (1:27–30, 3:20). Paul writes to empower the Philippian Christ followers to serve as witnesses of the good news for their city. Of course the principal model for the Christian life is Jesus himself (2:1–18). Yet Paul offers Jesus as the first model of four that he includes from 2:1–3:16 as examples of what a citizen worthy of the Gospel looks like.

The issue in Philippians was the status of the believers within the Roman world. Many of the Christians in Philippi (like Paul himself) were Roman citizens. Roman citizenship offered substantial privileges within the Empire and was not common in the provinces. The city of Philippi was a Roman colony so Philippi enjoyed a standing within the Empire that other cities outside of Rome did not.

A fundamental insight in 1:27-4:1 is this: the status that one embraces sets the limits of one’s capacity to reach others with the Gospel. Roman citizenship is a set of privileges that one enjoys and is able to exploit for his or her own benefit. Gospel citizenship is a privileged relationship with God that unleashes one to lay aside personal benefits for the sake of God’s mission and for the good of others. 

Paul begins with Jesus. The hymn in 2:6–11 captures the core message of Gospel citizenship. Although (or perhaps because) Jesus shares equality with God, Jesus did not exploit this status for his personal gain (2:6). Instead, Jesus renounced the status of divinity and embraced the status of a slave (2:7). This was a profound subversion of the Roman social ladder. Slaves were at the bottom far below the gods (and well below the status of a Roman citizen). In fact, Jesus embraced his slave status to the extent that he was obedient to death on a cross (2:8). Don’t miss the significance of this statement. Jesus could have died in a variety of ways to atone for sin. He took up the cross in part because crucifixion was reserved only for those of no status such as slaves. Yet what happened to Jesus (2:9–11)? God highly exalted him and gave him the name above all names.

This is the first model for citizenship. The Philippians are to work out their salvation (2:12) in light of Jesus’ life and shine as stars within their generation (2:15). But it is easy to point to Jesus as the model because Jesus is no longer physically present. His story is aspirational, but Paul offers something profoundly incarnational. 

Paul moves to include three humans whom the Philippians know intimately as contemporary examples of Christ like character and action: Timothy (1:1, 2:19–24), Epaphroditus (2:25–30), and himself (1:1–26, 3:1–16). Timothy demonstrated a genuine other centered outlook in the way that he ministered among the Philippians. Epaphroditus was a member of the Philippian community. He faced death in order to serve in the mission of the Gospel when the Philippians sent him to help the imprisoned Paul. Paul himself suffered in prison (1:12–26) and modeled the reality that knowing Christ Jesus as Lord was a greater gain than any mere human accomplishment (3:1–16).

The Philippians knew these men. Paul couldn’t distort their character. Paul took this risk to teach us the importance of our personal lives in the advance of the Gospel. Paul could say with integrity, “If you want to see what the Christian life looks like, look at me as well as the lives of my co-workers Timothy and Epaphroditus.” 

Implications for Living
This text calls us to remember and give thanks for the women and men in our lives from whom we’ve learned how to live out the Gospel. Who are yours?

More importantly, it challenges us to recognize the necessity of nurturing personal holiness as an integral part of how God advances his mission in the world. Who is watching and learning from me?

As I think about Paul’s words to the Philippians, I see and hear my daughter surfing and crying out, “Look at me! Everyone, look at me!”

What kind of person do I need to become in order to serve as a model of Christlike character for others?

© 2017 Brian D. Russell

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Danger of Scripture as an Object for Study

As we engage Scripture we must constantly be on guard against the subtle temptation to reduce the Bible to an object of study. The iconic temptation scene in the Garden illustrates this danger. In Gen 3:1, the Serpent begins by asking, “Did God really say….?” Bonhoeffer called this the “first conversation about God.”[1] In the previous chapter, God had enjoyed unfettered fellowship with the first humans and conversed with them. Now at a pivotal moment, God’s previous command becomes the object of study and reflection rather than a natural part of a subjective ongoing relationship with humanity. Imagine how this story would have turned out if the woman had said, “Great question. Let’s invite God into this discussion.” 

The distinction between subjective and objective in the study of Scripture flows from first family’s objectification of God. Philosopher and writer Peter Rollins tells the story of an infantry unit preparing to launch an attack during World War One. As the battle opened, the men hunched down sheltered by a trench. As the moment arrived for them to join in the assault, their commander yelled out the order, “All right lads. Over the top!” The men failed to follow the order. A second time he bellowed, “Lads, over the top!” Still there was no movement by the troops. Finally, a third time the commanders yelled out in a deep guttural tone, “All right lads. Over the top!” The men looked at each other, looked at the commander, and said, “What a wonderful voice he has! What a wonderful voice!”[2] Clearly the commander expected a response to his order rather than commentary on its delivery.

This comical anecdote reminds us that the interpretation of Scripture for the Church can never remain merely an objective or descriptive task. Action by the reader is required. The goal of interpretation is to understand the message of the Bible and respond to its teaching and the expectations it has for our lives. In short, Scripture desires to convert us in every encounter that it has with us. In his classic Eat This Book, Peterson wrote, “Exegesis is simply noticing and responding adequately (which is not simple) to the demand that the words make on us, that language makes on us.”[3]

As interpreters, we must use all of the skills and techniques honed throughout the history of biblical interpretation. This means learning to define terms, navigate ancient cultures and customs, and understand classical genres and rhetoric. But observing, translating and transmitting this information is never enough for the nourishment of God’s people. Pastors and commentators must avoid merely teaching their audiences interesting facts about the Bible. Scripture desires to shape us by molding our thinking, changing what we care about most deeply, and driving us to action in God’s mission. Of course, our subjective response to Scripture must be rooted in our objective study. But Scripture desires to craft and unleash God’s holy people as a missional movement to share good news across our planet.

How do we achieve a robust conversation with the Bible that is both objective and subjective?

First, as interpreters we must remain open to astonishment. Thomas Merton wrote, “There is, in a word, nothing comfortable about the Bible–until we manage to get so used to it that we make it comfortable for ourselves. But then we are perhaps too used to it and too at home in it. Let us not be too sure we know the Bible just because we have learned not to be astonished at it, just because we have learned not to  have problems with it.”[4] I’ve found it helpful to begin by praying, “Lord, astonish me anew with the riches of your word. Speak to me I am listening. Amen.”

Second, let us remember that the goal of interpretation is not to master the text but to open ourselves to the text mastering us. We must be the first convert to each text before we share its demands and message with others. If we remain only engaged objectively with the text, our attempts to share its subjective demands with others will lack bite.

Last, take delight in the work Scripture does in our lives and share it with the world. Psalm 19 ends memorably with a prayer, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer” (v. 14). How does this prayer relate to the rest of the psalm? It flows from the psalmist’s recognition of the profound prescriptive power of the Scriptures in vv. 7–13. Unlike the witness of the heavens (vv. 1–6), Scripture alone contains the Instructions of the Lord and is capable of bringing about transformation in its hearers. This transformation leads the psalmist to join in God’s mission by speaking the good news to others. This mission remains ours as modern readers of the Bible.

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3 (Translated by Douglas Stephen Bax; Ed. By John W. de Gruchy; Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, 3; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004), 111.
[2] accessed August 2, 2017.
[3] Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 20060, 51.
[4] Thomas Merton, Opening the Bible. With an Introduction by Rob Stone (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1986), 37.

The SET Method for Goal Achieving

Goals are essential for bending the future to fit our sense of calling, our dreams, and our desires. Goals empower us to be self-d...