100 Questions – How do Trains Pull So Much?

Maybe this is just a guy thing but… In the city I live in we have a train that passes through town several times a day, usually stopping me going somewhere important! As I watch these, sometimes long, trains with multiple engines facing both forward and backwards… Made me wonder?

How does a locomotive ever get moving without its steel wheels just spinning out? How does it ever get any traction? And what’s up with the locomotives facing forward and backwards? We’ll it was time for me to solve this childhood mystery as part of my 100 Question Challenge.

The answer was a lot simpler than I had ever imagined… It all had to do with the difference between kinetic and static friction. Static friction has everything to do with the friction created between the wheels and track. While Kinetic friction has everything to do with the motion of two surfaces working together. In the case of a train this would be couplings between the locomotive and each car.

In an easier explanation… All the locomotive needs to do is to get the first car started. Then the power of the locomotive and the first car creates the energy to get the third car moving. So, at that point you have a powerful locomotive, plus another fully loaded car creating momentum to just pull one car. So that domino effect just continues. So, by the time the last car starts rolling it has the power of an entire train needing to get just get one car started… That’s why there is space in between the couplings. This allows each car to get a little momentum to help pull the next car. Theoretically, if all the cars were tightly connected the locomotive alone couldn’t generate enough momentum to pull a long train. In that case the wheels might just spin out if it could get them turning to begin with.

Now for the locomotives going both forward and backwards. As it turns out, the way the locomotives are designed it doesn’t care which way it’s facing. It seems to have the same amount of power regardless.

Due to the physics involved, it’s harder for a locomotive to get 5 cars moving than an entire train.

As an added bonus, how do they stop? Easy, each car has brakes. But even with brakes, it takes a long time and distance to stop all that momentum.

If you want a more scientific explanation then read more here.

Spiritual Formation Part Eight – Meditation

Meditation often gets a bad rap! Why? I believe that many associate it with other religions and never realize that Christian meditation has been around for ages. And may be the one Spiritual Discipline that changes your life!

To quote Nathan Foster (The Making of an Ordinary Saint), “The main distinction of Christian meditation is a focus on filling rather then emptying.” (of the mind)

Christian meditation is often done in silence and solitude where you can just be still and listen for God’s often quiet voice and sometime loud scream!

Here are some great quotes from Richard Foster on this meaningful spiritual discipline: “Prayer is the interactive relationship we have with God about what we and God are working on together. Christian meditation is the listening side of this interactive relationship. God speaks and teaches and we listen and obey.” “Christian meditation is the spiritual discipline that helps us to listen well and to hear correctly.”

Christian meditation has become one of my most meaningful spiritual disciplines that I practice. At first it was a struggle. You would think that just sitting in silence and solitude would be easy. But oh how the mind can wander. At first I struggled with just settling my mind down from whatever was happening in my day and redirecting it to the listening of Christ. At times it was like the old saying – it was like trying to heard cats! I would be in a sweet spot of listening to Christ when all the sudden a stray thought would take me somewhere else. But with all the disciplines, the more I practiced the easier it became. Now when I sit to practice Christian meditation it doesn’t take long to settle in. Now don’t get me wrong, I still have my days when my mind will wander, but nothing like it once was.

With all the spiritual disciplines you may go through seasons on what works and what doesn’t. With some spiritual disciplines you not give them the due time to let them work for you – they are called disciplines after all. So don’t write any of them off until you’ve really worked through them.

I would highly encourage you to give Christian meditation a serious look as it may do wonders for your spiritual formation.

100 Questions – How do Water Towers Work?

Last summer I enjoyed riding my motorcycle on a local country road. Part of that ride would take me past a water tower that was being repainted. I was mesmerized by the men who were slung over the side of the tower repainting it. Never thought much about the tower itself. But recently I realized that they seem to be all over the place – I practically have one in my backyard. I’ve heard rumors that they just hold water but it has to be move sophisticated than that. So I’ve added that to my 100 question challenge – How do water towers work? My research proved that it was a little more interesting than being just a storage tank. If you want to watch one of the most informative short videos on how the towers work then look no further – just click here!

100 Questions – How can I become a better resource to my adult kids?

This is part of my 100 question challenge. If you’re not familiar then I’d encourage you to stop and read why I’m trying to answer my 100 questions in 2019 here.

First, I thought about ways that my wife and I have already been a good resource:

  1. We taught them to be debt free except for their house.
  2. We made them pay for half of their first car. Whatever they saved we matched.
  3. We had a rule that nothing good happens after 10 pm. So there was no just hanging out after 10 pm. without a reason and permission. This was not as appreciated as I thought it should be! 🙂
  4. We taught them to give 10% of their income to the church.
  5. We taught them that church attendance and serving are uber important. You’ll never regret either.
  6. Being polite will go a long ways with others.
  7. Have a great work ethic.
  8. Paid for their college – undergraduate. One daughter went to grad school but on her dime!

But all that happened before they were adults – and it paid off! But, as part of my 100 question challenge I wondered how I might continue to be a resource for them and their husbands now that they are adults and married… So the search began…

Psychology Today noted in a post that you need to be careful about not becoming a codependent parent… How can you tell if you’re a codependent parent? Here are 3 red flags according to Psychologytoday.com:

“Psychology Today’s Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, who has written about the topic several times, says the question of whether you are a codependent parent is a topic that sparks heated debates. The three red flags he says you should look for are: (1) shouldering debt for an adult son or daughter caught up in a pattern on non-productivity, (2) their habit of borrowing money from you because they can’t sustain consistent employment, and (3) disrespect is the rule and not the exception to it, but you use the excuse that your grown kid has “problems” — giving you the leeway to let them off the hook. In the real world you would never permit another grown adult to treat you similarly.” You can read the rest of the article here, if you think you might be a codependent parent. Or in denial….

Sounds like a great answer but it was only the beginning… After doing a lot of “Googling” I realized there wasn’t a ton of info dealing with being a positive resource for your adult children. Most were related to dealing with problem adult children. Well, that ‘s what we’re trying to avoid – right?

So I decided to go with my gut. My wife and I seemed to have had a pretty good start at preparing them for life, so I began to think, and here are a few things that I came up with.

  1. Create an atmosphere where they can come for opinions but understand they are adults and capable of making their own final decisions. Even if it’s not the one I would’ve made.
  2. Help them in understanding the importance of financial investments early in their careers. Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest men, was once credited with this conversation: When asked what his secrets of financial success, replied, I lived to be old and compounding interest! Teach them about compounding interest.
  3. Even Einstein is rumored to have weighed in with this statement : Albert EinsteinCompound interest. Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.
  4. Encourage them to live within their means and resist the temptation of competing with the “Jones'”
  5. We have always encouraged “weekly date nights” and family vacations and continue to encourage them to do so.
  6. Always have insurance on the important stuff in your life.
  7. Always be in the process of learning something new. You’ll never regret it.

Well these are just the start of ways that I hope to be a better resource for my kids.

If you have one you’d like to share then please do so in the comments.

100 Question Challenge

So another “life experiment” begins… If you’re not familiar, I periodically try something new in my life as an experiment – just to test myself to see how things shake out. This time it’s more of a mental experiment.

So let’s tee this one up before moving forward… I once read that over time, as adults we lose our curiosity. As small children we seem to be curious about everything. We are constantly asking questions – “What is this? How is that made? What does that taste like? What does that mean? How are babies made? Who is Santa? Where did God come from? Why can’t I wear that? Etc…” Insert your own childhood question – we all had one, or 1,000!

But over time we seem to lose the curiosity of those questions that once mesmerized us, and engulfed our lives. Some of those questions we simply figured out, while recently…. Recently I was challenged with this thought – somehow as we grow older we seem to lose our curiosity. We no longer ask the questions thus we fail to seek answers…

So, recently I decided to take a 100 question challenge. The book I was reading challenged my curiosity again. The challenge was to write 100 questions in one sitting about ANYTHING you were curious about. So I did!

I will be posting those questions and answers as another life experiment. Some may be incredible boring while others will be things you’ve also considered but never sought answers. I will mostly reference other material while providing my own commentary.

In the meantime consider the challenge yourself. Write 100 questions in one sitting and inspire your curiosity once again.

Consider leaving one of your 100 questions in the comments.

Spiritual Formation Part Seven – Fasting

As I write this, Christmas is fast approaching. Christmas brings with it a lot of traditions. One of those traditions is FOOD. And we tend to eat a lot of it. No diets are started in December by any sane person – just my opinion! Many devise creative ways to rationalize the quantities we’ll devour.

So I’ve chosen the spiritual discipline that my be the most despised but perhaps one of the best – Fasting! Fasting is the spiritual discipline of limiting food intake as a way to focus on Christ. Ever been hungry and deprived yourself of food? You will  get focused quickly. But due to our addiction to eating we may neglect this powerful spiritual formation tool of fasting. As we continue to explore this discipline it’s important to note that if for any reason you feel you need to see a doctor before trying this then by all means do so.

Now before you freak out and think I’m suggesting that you starve yourself, just stick with me. What many are unaware of is that there are many different forms of fasting.

Regular Fast – Refrain from food but still drink liquids. You pick the duration but be careful if you choose an extended period.

Partial Fast – Refrain from certain foods and still drink liquids. Shorter in duration.

Intermittent Fast – This one is probably my favorite. It seems to work for me. This, as the name states is, well, intermittent. For instance, skip lunch and supper and break the fast with breakfast. Or skip and entire day but break the fast the next day with breakfast or lunch. Experiment with what works best for you.Click here to read a recent Harvard Medical School article on Intermittent Fasting.

Goggle search for even more fasting possibilities.

But food isn’t the only item you can fast from. You choose what might work for you. You can even try fasting from these: Cell phone, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, News, Fast food, Favorite T.V. series, etc…

Whatever you choose to do, remember the goal as one definition stated is:

a. Fasting is when we voluntarily choose to sacrifice something of value for the purpose of seeking God with more intensity. b. Usually it’s food because for most people food is the most difficult thing to give up.

Again, choose a spiritual discipline that works for you. But don’t let the harder ones scare you away. They can all be hard to start with. But with a little practice the harder ones could become the best spiritual formation tool for your spiritual growth. Remember , it’s a discipline!


Deathbed Clarity as a Way of Life

In my opinion, most people would say that life should be about what really matters. As I was reading something Tim Urban wrote I was challenged with something he calls his Epitaph Test. He notes “When he finds himself with an opportunity, I ask myself whether I’d be happy if my epitaph had something to  do  with this project. If the answer is a clear no, it probably means it’s not actually very important to me.” He notes, that while as morbid as it is, it’s a great way to cut through the noise.

He says for his “Social life “yes” list, a similar test could be called the Deathbed Test.” This test focuses on the studies related to what people on their deathbed regretted most with their life.

We all know the one thing that never makes the list is, “I wish I had spent more time in the office.” We can all insert something else other than “office”.

As a minister I have been beside many deathbeds. But the one thing I’ve never heard is, “I wish I hadn’t spent so much time in church.” You’ll never regret time spent in church with family and friends.

Life is short. Enjoy it more by getting engaged in your church. Not just on Sunday but in other ways too.

That’s something I don’t think you’ll ever regret.

Something I hope you’ll think about.

Spiritual Formation Part Six – Spiritual Burnout

Whenever we talk about  spiritual formation it’s wise to address spiritual burnout and what to do with it…

I was reminded of this as I read about Cary Nieuwhof’s well known burnout described in  his latest book,  Didn’t See It Coming – Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.

He had some thoughtful insights on how to come back from burnout that I thought I’d share in random soundbite fashion.

  1. “Because God seems silent doesn’t mean he’s absent.”
  2. “I never gave myself permission to  quit my faith.”
  3. “I just kept reading Scripture, praying, and trusting even on bad days.”
  4. “Lean in and lean hard. (on God) Even if you feel nothing.”
  5. “Eventually the feeling of intimacy returned.”
  6. “Just because you can’t feel  God’s love doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.”
  7. “So don’t give up.

 

Hopefully this  will help you now  or in the future.

Leave a comment if you’ve ever been spiritually burned out and how you made the comeback.

Spiritual Formation Part Five – Solitude?

Hopefully you’ve already digested the 4 posts  that precede this…  If  not I’d encourage you to  dig into those first then return… Start here.

So let’s dig into the spiritual discipline of solitude.

As I write  this I’m home alone on a holiday, in which I am off work,  but my wife is not. The rain is  creating a mesmerizing melody outside my study where I often write.

So it seemed to me in the stillness of my day, with the rain coming down, while I’m home alone, that I should begin with Solitude.

In these times finding solitude can be quite challenging.  Just finding a space where there are no people can be a challenge and when  we do… cell phones, Email, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest… You get it – right?

So solitude must be intentional.

Years ago I used to lead spiritual retreats in Gatlinburg, Tn. As part of the retreat I would ask the participants to follow me on a short hike up Rainbow Falls trail. Once we hiked a few minutes I’d ask that everyone to put away their phones and watches. We were about to practice solitude.  I would then ask them  to continue up the trial and each peel off wherever they’d like, and practice solitude and silence while never looking at their watches or phones. I would never tell them how long they’d be  sitting in the forest alone.

I would usually go 45 minutes to 1 hour. This is somewhat extreme if you’ve never done it. At the end of our  time we would come back together and discuss everyone’s experiences. Of course they varied…. Some thought it was never going to end while others thought the time had  been much shorter. But all agreed that they benefited from the practice.

But we all know the odds of anyone practicing it once they returned home was slim. That’s the frustration with the disciplines. Life happens. That’s why we must practice them just as one would learning how to play the piano or guitar. The disciplines require training as one would to run a 5k or play any sport. It must be intentional! You must work at them.

Then there is the personality factor. Introvert or extrovert. Oddly enough I think both struggle with silence and solitude but in different ways.  It’s hard….

So, let’s dig into the actual practice.

At its most hard core level I think it’s being alone in silence thinking about God and perhaps other spiritual  things. It’s also about listening. So you’ll want a balance. When we remove many external factors that compete for our time we’ll be surprised how it stills our being and our heart.

At another level, solitude could take on many forms and accomplish the above… Being at home alone. Hiking on a trail. And for the really hard core you can try a silent retreat by yourself at a national park for a day or more.

At a lesser level of solitude you could combine it with just a day alone at your home with your normal cleaning activities, minus Youtube, the computer, your phone,etc…

Remember it’s about solitude and silence.

It’s not a one size fits all. What  works for one person may not work for you. I’d suggest you start slowly – remember it requires discipline, training  and practice with all of the spiritual  disciplines. Maybe try practicing this discipline for 15 minutes a few times a week.  See how  it  goes. See if you don’t feel spiritually refreshed. Mess around with times and locations. Just see if it works for you.

When all is said  and done, we need to remember why we call these disciplines. They aren’t always easy. Also remember that this  one may not be your cup  of tea for your spiritual  formation. But be sure you give it its due before abandoning it, as I have found this  to be one  of my favorites – and I’m an extrovert.

Ultimately you must be intentional if you want to grow spiritually. It doesn’t happen on its own and no one  can do it for you.

If you’d like to know 8 benefits to  solitude and silence click here.

Now go out and be alone, and be silent while you’re at it! You never know what God may do while you’re there!

 

10 Ways to Become a Happier Person

We all know people who seem to be happy about 99% of the time – right? Surely they can’t be as happy as they seem. Well maybe and maybe not…

But what it they know something you don’t? What if they know that happiness is a choice.  That, within itself doesn’t solve anything. But what if they know it’s not just about  the choice but it’s the execution that matters?

For me it’s all about a morning routine. I try to do things that will set my day and mood up for success.  Here is a sample of my routine…

  1. I begin with prayer before getting out of bed. I give that day to Christ.
  2. I make my bed – just a discipline thing that I teach and practice.
  3. I get my coffee going.
  4. Then I read for about an hour or so – some days a little more, others a little less.
  5. Then I exercise – powerlifting or running.
  6. Morning prayer.
  7. Check my calendar.
  8. Create a  “to do” list of my day.
  9. Head to work.
  10. Try to help someone laugh at least once every day.

You may have never thought about morning routines assisting  in your happiness, but I think it’s uber  important. Just Google “importance  of morning routines” and see what highly successful people have to say about them. You may be surprised at how many list making your bed an important part of their day.

But there are more traditional options as  well. But again, in my opinion it all starts with the morning routine. But for the traditionalists that may have found themselves here…

Here are  some suggestions from Psychology Today…

  1.  Be with others who make you smile.
  2. Hold on to your values.
  3. Accept the good.
  4. Imagine the best.
  5. Do things you love.
  6. Find purpose.
  7. Listen to your heart.
  8. Push yourself, not others.
  9. Be open to change.
  10. Bask in the simple pleasures.

If you’re interested in the specifics of these 10 then click here.

Remember, happiness is a choice, only you can control how you feel.

Share your routine, or the most  important part in the comments.

Hope you have a HAPPY day!