The Ballad of the White Horse

The Ballad of the White Horse is an epic poem by G. K. Chesterton.

The poem narrates how King Alfred (in England) was able to defeat the invading Danes at the Battle of Ethandun with the aid of the Virgin Mary. The Danes are (hopeless) pagans, and king Alfred is (a faithful) Christian.

I consider this a hard poem to read (I’m not an English literature major), but it was highly recommended on Twitter. I found a fun way to listen to an audio reading, and read it simultaneously, while I was folding Christmas boxes.

My strategy: For each chapter (‘book’) I read a short synopsis/summary from, for example, Wikipedia. (This wonderful story does not have a tricky, plot.) Then I would have two browsers open, one with the audio reading, and one with the text. See the screenshot.

“The poem in its fullness is a masterpiece about the perfect, objective, and eternal light that must be preserved by civilization from the slow creeping weeds of [pagan] darkness ever looming and threatening to overtake the light.”

The total amount of time needed to listen to it is about 114 minutes. Under two hours. Make a pot of coffee or tea.

I like a good story with a Christian message. (Having it read by a professional was a lot better than trying to render the poetry myself.)

LibraVox. Gutenberg.

Breathing, Mindfulness, and God

I put the following into ChapGPT: How can Christians use Transformational Breathing to grow closer to God? Please tell me the steps. I don’t need to have the benefits reviewed. I just want to know how to do it.

The response:

Transformational Breath can be incorporated into a Christian’s spiritual practice as a way to enhance their connection with God through mindfulness and deep breathing. Here are steps on how Christians can use Transformational Breathing to grow closer to God:

  1. Set the Intention: Begin by setting a clear intention for your Transformational Breath session. Your intention can be focused on deepening your connection with God, seeking guidance, finding peace, or simply being present in God’s presence.
  2. Prayer and Meditation: Start with a short prayer or meditation to center yourself and acknowledge God’s presence. You can use a Bible verse, a Christian mantra, or a personal prayer that resonates with you.
  3. Find a Quiet Space: Choose a quiet and comfortable place where you can sit or lie down. Ensure that you won’t be disturbed during your practice.
  4. Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing: Begin with deep diaphragmatic breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise, and exhale slowly through your mouth. This initial phase helps you relax and prepare for the Transformational Breath.
  5. Circular Breathing: Transition into circular breathing, where there’s no pause between inhalation and exhalation. Breathe in deeply through your nose, followed by a full, relaxed exhale through your mouth. Maintain this continuous, flowing breath.
  6. Conscious Connected Breathing: As you continue with circular breathing, make each breath conscious and connected. Focus on the sensation of the breath and your intention to connect with God. You may visualize God’s presence or imagine inhaling God’s love and exhaling any distractions or worries.
  7. Mindful Awareness: Throughout your Transformational Breath session, maintain mindful awareness of God’s presence. Invite God into your breath and heart. If distracting thoughts arise, gently acknowledge them and return your focus to your breath and your intention to connect with God.
  8. Gratitude and Surrender: As you breathe, express gratitude for God’s presence and surrender any worries, fears, or doubts. Trust that God is with you and guiding you in this practice.
  9. Silent Listening: After several minutes of conscious connected breathing, transition into a silent, receptive state. Listen for any insights, messages, or guidance that God may provide during this time of stillness.
  10. Closing Prayer: Conclude your Transformational Breath session with a closing prayer, expressing thanks for the opportunity to connect with God through breath and seeking God’s continued presence and guidance in your life.
  11. Reflect and Journal: Take a few moments to reflect on your experience. You may want to journal any insights, feelings, or messages you received during your practice.
  12. Practice Regularly: Consistency is key. Incorporate Transformational Breath into your regular spiritual practice to continue deepening your connection with God.

Remember that Transformational Breath is a tool to enhance your spiritual journey, and it can be adapted to align with your Christian beliefs and practices. Always approach it with an open heart and a desire to grow closer to God in a way that resonates with your faith.

Biblical inspiration from Zig Ziglar

Dripping with Christian positivity.

“I would like to be remembered as a man who loved the Lord, loved his wife, loved his family, and who did everything he could for his fellow man.

Zig Ziglar includes lots of biblical inspiration.

What’s the biggest piece of advice Ziglar has for someone?

“I would say continue to learn. One of the great psychiatrists in our nation’s history, and he worked with Norman Vincent Peale for many years, he discovered that any individual, regardless of age, he never met one who suffered from any kind of mental dementia who did three things: they stayed active physically, they were continually learning new things, and they developed a genuine interest in other people. That is the secret right there.”

Zig Ziglar

A tweet by @coachajking had this:

“Success isn’t owned, it’s leased. And rent is due everyday.”

JJ Watt

In the forward of his book, Zig, Ziglar states this on his faith and his confidence.

From his book titled See You at the Top

Intellect, the Bible, trust, and pride

R C Sproul said, “ you don’t have to give up your intellect to trust the Bible. You have to give up your pride.”

Raising the next generation to be faithful is a challenge, but our calling

I found this article, titled 7 challenges of generational Christianity, to be interesting and thought-provoking.

I think these are real and actual challenges that Christian parents need to be aware of.

It is my prayer that my children and grandchildren would be raised so that they may become, and grow, faithful Christians.

There are tendencies of our secular world and our own natural human tendency to sin can, and do, pull people away from God. Specific manifestations of these tendencies are given in the article.

John 10:10b states that Christ came to the earth so that man would have life and have it abundantly. Interestingly, John 10:10a is A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. This section of John 10 is about Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

Humans are like sheep, easily wandering astray. Jesus, the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), is the important foundation of faith (for children, teens, and adults). Also critically important are parents, acting as shepherds, here with boots on the ground. (Jesus rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven, leaving Christians as his representatives.)

Comment on Challenge 3: Unprepared for the secular world. Many parents want to bubble wrap their children, to protect them from society. However, children need to gradually learn about the realities of life in this world, and how to deal with them from a Christian perspective, and with gods grace.

Humans are naturally egocentric/self-centered. (This is the root cause of sin.) I think challenges #4-7 all point out how the self centeredness of our children can result in them falling away from the faith.

The spiritual disciplines are an antidote. Here’s a good article on the spiritual disciplines:

On the Sanctification of Believers by John Owen

John Owen (1616 – 1683) was an English Nonconformist church leader, theologian, and academic administrator at the University of Oxford.

Real fathers don’t kick their sons out.

You think about that by Steve Brown. audio

The Battle Hymn of the Republic

Check out these wonderful lyrics and an explanation.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

Good poem – “To be of use”

I had a colleague shared a poem with me I’d not seen before. Good one, by Marge Piercy in 1973, “To be of use.”

To be of use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

  Marge Piercy – 1973

The Decline and Renewal of the American Church

The Decline and Renewal of the American Church by Tim Keller