Discipline and Creating New Habits -Part 1

Summer is a time where many of us have that little bit of extra time in our schedule to do with as we please. For me, that means I finally get around to all of the things I have been wanting to do, but simply did not have enough time for during the rest of the year. AKA Goals, aspirations, book lists, exercise habits, eating habits, money budgeting, the list is endless. It seems like every day I find another thing to add to my summer goal list. The hard part, however, is actually creating the time and space to accomplish those things and do what you want to do. Life happens, you get tired and want to veg on the couch or sleep in that extra five minutes, and before you know it, the summer is over and it is back to a packed schedule and shorter days.

This summer, I am stepping up and not letting the long days pass me by. But, I did not realize how hard it is to form new habits. Sleep seems so much more vital in the morning than when I set my alarm the night before, and it seems so much easier to watch a quick show on Netflix (or maybe two, or three) than to read a couple chapters of that book, or my Bible.

Thankfully, quite a long time ago, I wrote this verse on a notecard and placed it on my wall. Normally I walk right past it, but today I paused and read it over again and thanked God for his sovereign timing and wisdom.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:11(NIV)

I would encourage you to read Hebrews 11 and 12 in their entirety to fully understand the context and direction of the entire passage. Chapter 11 speaks of all the great people throughout the history of the Bible and chapter 12 goes on to encourage those in the present day to not give up. Now the content of this particular passage in chapter 12 discusses discipline as discipline in the form of hardship or similar to that of a father disciplining his child. Discipline is a part of training a child in the way he or she should go, meaning it is not always an act when the child misbehaves or makes a mistake, but a constant presence guiding and directing the path of that child to help him or her learn and grow to one day become a mature adult.

Sometimes God can give us the direction or desire and it is up to us to obey and take those steps of forming the habits that will set us up for success in what he wants to do in us and through us.

How are we able to do this?

Verses 2 and 3 tell us to look at the life of Jesus for our example of someone who did not give up and lived a life devoted and disciplined, because his eyes were focused on the joy set before him.

What is the result?

Like verse 11 above says, discipline produces a harvest of righteousness and peace.

Maybe the discipline you are experiencing is in the form of a trial, or maybe it is in the form of creating new habits to take you to the next level in your relationship with God or his call on your life. Whatever it may be, I encourage you to keep pressing on and take a look at the two verses following verse 11:

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NIV)

The discipline, that leveling of the paths for your feet, is worth it, the harvest of righteousness and peace is coming!

to be continued

 

 

This blog post is one of a two-part series about discipline and creating new habits.

Not All That Glitters is Gold

Not All That Glitters is Gold

Las Vegas, the glittering, wild and lively city. Full of billboards promising fun times and streets teaming with people looking for something. Casinos promising some big money, with people dumping their own money in to buy the dream. The strip looks like you can travel the world in a day, from Egypt to an Excalibur castle, New York to Paris, and Italy. 

But, like much of the city, it is all illusions and empty promises. Thus the saying rings true, 

“All that glitters is not gold.” -Shakespeare 

While my recent visit to Las Vegas was full of fun sightseeing, attractions, shows, and food, I was left knowing there is more in store. 

People packed on the strip, everyone trying to sell you something, promising something. Everyone is looking to make a buck, and if you’re lucky, you may walk out with a few left. If you don’t spend it all on gambling, the food, shopping, and entertainment will surely get you. 

Nonetheless, in the midst of it all, as we were walking down the strip one afternoon, I heard a Christian song playing from one of the restaurants. I’m not sure who was playing it, or how long it was played, and I do not even remember the song, but I got the message. I received that glimpse of God’s love and mercy for “sin city.” His desire to redeem it and bring it from death to life. 

Thanks God for your little glimpse of hope, that pure gold of your truth and love in the midst of the world. 

—– 

Right as we were walking to our last brunch before leaving, the song “back to life, back to reality” came on and I couldn’t help but laugh and think to myself, yes, and I am glad to be going home, because, as much fun as it was, my life and reality are so much better than these past few days in Vegas

I have a community that is committed to being better together, united by a common goal and purpose, determined to change the world. I have a family who loves and cares for me and encourages me to live out my purpose each day. Jesus has given me eternal life to which this life cannot compare and a purpose for while I am here on earth. I’ve found something of true value, pure gold, and when you can find that, when your reality is better than fantasy travels, it is golden. 

Do not click like…

  Approval. Likes. Shares. Favorites. Retweets. The list goes on. With our social media crazed world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of approval and trying to please others to gain compliments or attention. I just started reading a book called The Well-Balanced World Changer and in the first section it has two quotes. 

The first is from Bill Cosby: 

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”

The second is from Bob Dylan:

“What good are fans? You can’t eat applause for breakfast.”

Wow. Way to really hit it close to home God. Thanks. For a lot of my life I have been a people pleaser who thrives on people’s compliments and accolades. However, thankfully, I have learned and am still learning the power that we give others when always seeking their approval. We can get caught up in the momentum of the like, but realize we may not even like ourselves. Some even go as far as being paralyzed with fear because of a decision they will have to make that may have the possibility of making someone unhappy. 

Taking it a step further, what about God?! In John 5:44, Jesus says, 

“That’s why it is hard to see how true faith is even possible for you: you are consumed by the approval of other men, longing to look good in their eyes; and yet you disregard the approval of the one true God.”(Voice)

Looking for approval on the human level, cramps creativity, and sets yourself up for a lifetime of chains and defeat. Looking for Godly approval brings both creativity and freedom back into our lives because we have the ability to live out his purpose and plan for our lives.

 We can freely be ourselves and let others learn who we are when we stop trying to impress them or gain their like. 

“How then can we, we who try to embody the way of Jesus in the modern world, claim to hold God so high and yet still put so much worth on the words of humans?” -Sarah Cunningham (The Well Balanced World Changer)

If you like this, then don’t click the like button and forget about this, live it out and evaluate how and from whom you seek approval. 

Wisdom and trials

Wisdom and trials

James is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Over the years, I have had the privilege of doing a few in depth studies on the book, which have only grown my love. 

Recently, I was given a copy of the Voice translation of the Bible and decided to read James. 

One part in particular really stood out to me in a way that I had never been able to read it before. On asking for wisdom in chapter 1, this is what we are to do: 

The key is that your request be anchored by your single minded commitment to God. Those who depend on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused. 
James 1:6-8(Voice) 

I italicized the last sentence because that point screams loud and clear, that if you are not all in, if you are riding the fence, trying to please all parties, you will only be left dizzy and confused. In the verses before, James speaks of how trials produce patience in us, and make us more mature. We have the opportunity to ask God for wisdom and he will give to anyone who asks. BUT, the key is the single-minded commitment to God. God often uses our trials to get us to that point of complete surrender. 

James is not my favorite book because I love trials–I’m not sure if anyone loves them. However, I do love what trials produce. Maturity and completeness, patience and other godly characteristics that would not be there had it not been for a trial. 

That is why I am thankful for James, and I am thankful for trials. Because I am reminded to look at the complete picture and the end result, not just the moments of pain or sorrow. 

Puzzling over Puzzles

Blue-Puzzle-Piece-Free-HD

Sometimes, life is like a puzzle. This analogy may not make sense if you are not familiar with doing the big 500 or 1000 piece puzzles, but my grandma, mom and many other family members love big puzzles. We have our systems down and share the box to see the big picture, celebrating with each other when we find the right fit.

Most of the time, we start on the boarder, this is the easiest part because all of the edges are straight, there is not much of a need to even look at the box, because the process is in place and we know the routine. It is the rest of the puzzle where the guide of the bigger picture is a necessity.

Similarly, early on in life, you just live it, without many decisions to make because the steps are all laid out for you. You eat, cry, learn to crawl, then walk, potty train, and feed yourself. As we get older, there are more decisions to make and often we can start to think about the bigger picture of our lives.

Recently, I feel that God has shown me the box, the big picture. However, I only get a glimpse before I’m right back at it, looking at this little puzzle piece, trying to figure out where it fits. Once I get that piece, I can move on to the next. Sometimes, I will examine a piece for a time and put it down, because it is in a section of the puzzle not even started yet.

I am thankful that God shows me a glimpse of the big picture sometimes because it gives me a hope for my future and direction for where the next piece of the puzzle goes. Puzzles, like life, take patience. Sometimes we are surprised with how easy a piece fits or we know exactly where it goes. Other times, we search and search and try all of the different options, only to give up and try again another time.

I am also thankful for a God who is patient with me. He knows the whole picture with each and every minute detail that I have yet to discover. He celebrates with me when that piece that I have struggled with over and over finally goes into the right spot!

Life is a process and God is a patient God. In the meantime, we are called to “Pray continually, rejoice always, and give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thes. 5:18-19) This is one of my favorite verses because it is such a great reminder of what I can always do even if I am not sure what else to do.

Slowly, piece by piece, the bigger picture is coming together. I keep pressing on because I know my Puzzle maker, and he lovingly created me for a purpose, and the result will be a beautiful picture of a life complete. It is in the struggle where we begin to become complete and mature (James 1). What is your piece of the puzzle that you are examining currently?

Tuesday Morning Tea

This lovely Tuesday morning has been off to a beautiful start. First there was the sunrise. Then the love that I received from my Heavenly Father, and now the tea that combines all of my favorite flavors into one. Trader Joe’s coconut green tea with lemongrass and ginger. Could there be a better combination? Today I am thankful for the little things. Today I pray that there can be less of me and more of You, God. Today I am, my Father is the Great I AM. He needs no other name but has countless others. His majesty and glory are on display for the world to see, we simply need to awake and arise out of our slumber. That is all for this morning. Renewing my mind and my spirit, resting in God alone.

IMG_3175-3.JPG

Roots of truth

IMG_2281

The whisperings of the wind

Flutter and surround my being.

I often get caught up in this whirlwind

And sometimes stop thinking.

I stop knowing,

Knowing the truth.

The constant, steady tree with roots.

Roots that go down deep

And spread out wide.

That will always keep

Me still inside.

Peace

That flows like a river.

Sometimes the breeze makes me shiver.

I want the truth with deep down roots instead of the wind

making the air increasingly thinned,

all of its noise fills up my ears, with little room left to think or to speak,

I hopelessly feel like I’ll slip because I’m weak.

Those roots, and that river, that steady slow growth,

remind me I’m loved and give oh so much hope.

Father, Please help me!

To remember your truth,

Not forgetting the words that I memorized as a youth.

I pray that I will forget the words of this world,

That strangle and poke at this weak little girl.

May your truth reign in my life and over this earth,

So people may see and know of YOUR worth!

 

Poem by Ella Stewart