This is a picture my friend took last week when I was showing her how to do a Turkish get-up in the local coffee shop. The purposes of this exercise is to improve ability, strengthen the shoulder & probably make a person look super silly. I say this because whenever I do them, I feel not just a little goofy.
Sometimes, our spiritual development can feel to our flesh like a Turkish get-up. Growing spiritually doesn’t always make our flesh feel comfortable & svelte. But growing spiritually helps us to go through life’s ups & downs with more agility & this also helps to strengthen our core self, grounding us in prayer & the Bible.
Don’t minimize the importance of doing the daily disciplines of prayer & Bible time that foster spiritual growth!
I like to improve in whatever I do. So when I was learning to snowboard, I took lessons to get better. When I was cooking skewers, I wanted my veggies to be as tasty as the meat, so I learned to marinate the veggies & not just the meat. I think life should be an ongoing improvement process & that can be fun!
And sometimes not.
Sometimes the process for improving includes correction & that’s a tricky path to navigate. It can be difficult for lots of reasons, but how we receive correction is an essential ingredient for growing & improvement. Here are a few helpful ideas about receiving correction
Choose to see the input as an investment rather than a put down
Don’t deflect correction – process it & get the best out of it
Change – correction without change is wasted energy
Sometimes my thoughts are poisonous. For example, I’m currently writing a book & from time to time I think that what I’m writing is a garbled mess & worthless. There are times when I get in a group of people & I get frozen with insecurity. Occasionally, fear creeps around my thoughts leaving little whispers of doubt.
All of these things are poison. If I let these thoughts run lose in my mind, I turn into a shriveled little person, ineffective & irrelevant.
I would speculate that you might have your own versions of poisonous thoughts so let’s help each other out & agree to pass on the poison. How can we do this? Here are a few suggestions:
Take captive every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of God – refuse to let these poisonous thoughts run amuck in your mind
Replace the poison with probiotic verses – Gods word is alive & effective so let’s allow it to firmly root & flourish in our thoughts!
Take a walk – sometimes it helps to clear the cobwebs when we get some physical exercise.
No matter what, let’s actively choose to pass on the poison!
We are on the homestretch with this lovely Christmas season & this makes me happy, today. There have been years when I found myself wrapping packages at 11:30pm on Christmas Eve, on the verge of an emotional meltdown, feeling overwhelmed with the work I still had to do and no time. Sometimes I can struggle with some procrastination challenges – hmmmmmm
Final countdown modes can help us be hyper-productive. But I think there’s better value in steady and consistent work than massive bursts of energy with stress and pressure.
Here are some things to think about for steady and consistent:
Let’s be consistent with love, particularly with the people who get on our nerves
Let’s be steady with healthy daily routines: eating, working out, drinking water, etc
Let’s stay consistent with growing and improving ourselves in wisdom
The most important thing for our consistency is maintaining our daily Bible & prayer time – nothing keeps us from drowning or being a victim to devotion than this discipline
The other day, one of my kids accidentally shot me in the eye with a rubber band. I wasn’t injured but I was most definitely not happy & immediately proceeded to give this offspring a piece of my mind – not a high quality piece, to be sure. I gave this person a piece of my mind but I had no peace of mind.
Sometimes there’s good value to venting some thoughts & emotions. But let’s be clear that the peace we often seek is more often a consequence of our fellowship with the Holy Spirit rather than an outpouring of our fleshly feelings & words. Have a happy Wednesday!
Presently, I’m trying to work on researching & writing a few sermons in the middle of the roofers at our house almost crashing through the ceiling – at least that’s how it sounds, even with noise cancelling headphones on!!! Holy BUCKETS! So much for the concept of listening to the “still, small voice”!!!! And this is precisely what I totally LOVE about God: God knows exactly what it takes to get our attention & the appropriate volume that will be effective. So thanks to our lovely roofers replacing our hail damaged roof, I’m getting to practice my focus & discipline, paying high grade attention to what God wants to say through me and with the Helper’s assistance, I get to tune in to God’s voice & presence with great intensity and focus. The truth be known, I need this discipline & exercise not only today with the roofers at my house, but also in my everyday, common living. This discipline plus coffee can yield some really awesome divine fruit ,)
There was a catchy pop song in the 80s, “you spin me ’round” that still occassionally gets some play time in my brain. The song reminds me of when I was little and would spin to the point of getting so dizzy that I’d fall down – ring around the rosie (but that’s for another blog). I used to be really amazed at ice skaters and ballerinas who would do the spinning top trick, always wondering how they could do that without falling down. Then I learned their secret – focal point. They spin without falling because they keep their eyes on a main focal point (dancers have an easier time doing this).
So here’s my point: keep Jesus as your focal point so you don’t dizzy & fall down in life 🙂
This Summer, I’m undertaken the adventure with my children of training their weekly domestic organization skills, translation: house cleaning. To make progress on this adventure, I’ve organized some checklists so that it will be clear to the responsible individual when they’ve adequately completed their assignments. Needless to say, the checklists aren’t popular & sometimes, they don’t even like the domestic organization adventure, imagine that ,)
All of that is to say that I guess it’s not really that strange on occasion that we may not like some of the things that God does. At bare minimum, Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines us because God loves us. Discipline, correction and training aren’t always pleasant but most of the time, we like the outcomes, just not the process. So let’s stay in love with Jesus, keeping walking with Him through various processes, training and development. For me, staying in love with Jesus helps make everything better, even training my kids through the exciting domestic organization adventure 🙂
I was reading this morning in Hebrews 12 about how God corrects, just like a loving father corrects & disciplines his children. I used to hate the whole idea of correction & being disciplined. If the truth be told, there has been an arrogance in me about receiving correction. In the past, I had the mindset that I did things so well that I didn’t need correction – which of course set me up for some very serious confrontations and painful corrections. Being corrected & discipline isn’t fun. It hurts. But here are a few points in Hebrews 12 that have helped me about receiving correction:
correction is evidence of love – Heb 12:6; no love, no correction :/
God’s correction is for our benefit – Heb 12:10
when God corrects you, decide to endure & change: don’t faint when God corrects you – Heb 12:5
God’s correction yields good fruit in our lives (peaceful fruit of righteousness) – Heb 12:11
Very few of us like correction. I hated getting corrected when I was a kid – so I tried to be pretty good, or at least sneaky enough not to get caught ,)
We all receive correction regardless of our age. We get corrected at work through performance appraisals, at school through our grades, by the police when we are speeding, etc. The real issue about getting corrected isn’t how we get corrected but rather how we receive correction. Here are some ways to receive correction:
with gratitude or grumpiness
reflection or rejection
soft and tender or hard and brittle
receive or deflect
change or get callous
Let me suggest that we can maximize the correction that we receive by how we receive it. Or, we can wash, lather, rinse and repeat until we make some adjustments 🙂
I made a comment this morning on my fb page about how it helps to hear God when we are still & quiet. I wanted to follow up on this comment because I think that for many of us, it’s difficult to be still & quiet. We live in a really busy, loud, active & demanding world. Between our smart phones, the internet, twitter, conventional media, family schedules & demands, etc, it can be seemingly impossible to find quiet & still. Furthermore, when we do get a moment to catch our breath, our mind is usually racing trying to organize schedules, figure out what we need to do next, hum a favorite tune, etc. Still & quiet seem like elusive & ethereal ideals for people that have lived in a different era or even a different planet.
But for me, still & quiet is essential and it takes some intentionality. For me, I’ve found it super helpful to get up early before everyone else to acquire some stillness before the demands of the day hit the fan. Furthermore, I am also intentional about when & how much music & external stuff I listen to, focus being the operative word.
When I’m still & quiet, with God’s help, I focus my attention toward God with the intent of giving the Trinity my undivided attention (without distraction, interruption or competition). I need to wholly be with my Creator & yes, this requires discipline, some failures & some successes. But the rewards of greater intimacy & fellowship with God are indescribably worth the efforts & discipline – indeed, living water, breath of life & more.
When I think about the word “strong“, I automatically think about muscles, weight lifting, eating protein, endurance, some pain & my gym. It’s interesting that I don’t immediately associate strength with teamwork, honesty, growing, change or time. But when I think about it, these words are also essential ingredients for the word “strong”.
On a somewhat deeper level, I think it’s critical to consider where strength comes from. Where does endurance, discipline, cooperation, patience & the like come from? For me, the short & ultimate answer is God.
Without God in my life, my endurance is like exercising with Halloween candy for fuel.
Without God in my life, the strength of my will power is like trying to swim a lap in a 50m pool without taking a breath – the effort burns my lungs & obscures my thinking
Without God in my life, cooperation & teamwork becomes disguised dysfunction (abusive, neglectful, manipulative & selfish acedia)
When I look to God for His strength in my life, the contrast of His strength versus my strength, helps me appreciate how truly weak I am without Him. Be strong!! 🙂
Since it’s Mother’s Day, it seems fitting to celebrate our moms & their various contributions to our lives. My mom invests in my life in a multitude of different ways, but something that I always appreciate about her is the power of routine. Despite lots of travels & massive demands on her schedule, my mom is very consistent with her routines. She consistently exercises, makes healthy eating decisions, memorizes the Bible everyday and maintains healthy sleeping patterns. My mom is the Queen of Routine. And here’s what is so powerful about the whole routine thing, she’s done this for almost all of my life. So when people ask me about my mom & the secret to her success, of course God is the number one source for all success, but I’d quickly add that her consistent routines throughout the years have positioned her for the successful living she enjoys today.
So here’s my closing thought: let’s make the routines of our daily living conform to our priorities 🙂
My kids have a list of things they don’t like to do: wash the dishes, pick up their room, fold the laundry, homework before playing, . . . . So when we grow up, what happens to this list? Hopefully, we get good at the tasks we didn’t like doing as kids so they’re not such an issue. Or maybe we just suck it up & do these things anyways since we don’t like the negative results if we neglect to do the things we don’t like doing.
I’ve been thinking about doing the things I don’t like to do – maybe as an attempt to avoid doing them ,)
But here are some things that are rolling around in my thoughts:
if I only do what I like to do, what talents & areas in my life would remain dormat from such neglect?
character development – I still think these words should be in the “four letter word” category, along with the other cuss words I avoid
love: a good “four letter word” that also includes doing things I don’t want to do (I love God, love my family, love my friends, . . . . )
Jesus endured the cross & decided to do what He didn’t want to do because of the joy on the other side of the cross. Could there be more joy on the other side of the work than my dislike & procrastination?
These are just some ideas I’m considering when I think about doing things that I don’t like to do – like I’m now wrapping up this blog so I can go to the Dentist 🙁
What are your thoughts? I’d be keen to hear your ideas, insights & observations 🙂
We recently watched the movie, “How to Train a Dragon” & we really enjoyed it – lots of laughing & fun! After the movie, my kids & I were talking about how the guy worked to train Toothless, his dragon. One of my kids said to me, “Mom, are you trying to train me?!?” I busted out laughing because it was a really cute & innocent question, making me smile in my heart 🙂
This question also started me thinking about the idea of “training” & what it means in various contexts – physical training, educational training, etc. To understand the training process, we need to think about how training is achieved – through discipline, education & direction. So lately, I’ve been thinking about the idea of soul training. If we think about our souls as the combination of our mind, will and emotion, then soul training would be the training of our mind & thoughts, the training of our emotions and the training of our will. So with this idea of training, it begs the question, “Who does the training?” For me, I’ve decided that the training of my soul is through the Holy Spirit, using lots of different tools including the Bible, people, situations, etc. I don’t want to be a victim of my emotions or my thoughts or my will. I want to be trained by & domesticated to the Holy Spirit. I find that soul training is less painful when I cooperate rather fight the process.
Routines can be boring. They’re by nature repetitive & can get VERY dull. When i was growing up, we used to have a trampoline & i would practice my trampoline routines (like a gymnastics routine) to where i had like 3-4 routines i could do whenever we had guests. I was kind of proud of these routines bc some of them were kind of tough. What i discovered was that when i would practice the routines, i stayed sharp & wouldn’t make mistakes. When i wouldn’t do them for a day or two, or even a week, my routines would get sloppy & sometimes i even hurt myself.
I find that the lessons i learned from practicing trampoline routines stay w me even now when i’m an adult. My daily performance is intricately connected to my daily routines. Furthermore, my daily routines are an integral part of the success or failure of my future. What i practice today, is what i’ll be ready for tomorrow.
i’m trying to get better w my routines – especially w my kids. My personal routines include going to bed at a reasonable hour so i can get up early, have some solitude & God time so that i can go into each day w some Divine. Utlimately, i find that every day needs the Divine & routine can help increase my awareness of God’s involvement in my daily living. How are your routines?
Over the summer, i’ve instituted “grow charts” for my kids. Here’s the general vibe: each child has their own weekly to-do list they’re supposed to work on everyday. The plan has been for every box they check, they get 10cents. At the end of the week, we count up the boxes & they get somewhere between $1-$3 / week for their grow charts. They’re supposed to save their money every week, after tithing & at the end of each month, we deposit their money in their kids bank by my hair salon. So far, this has worked pretty well over the summer. The key to the success of this is consistency on my part.
Today, i ramped it up a notch. I circled about 3-5 “tasks” that are required everyday (brush teeth, clean room, etc). For every circled task that is not completed for each week, i take away 10cents. So far, i think this is working pretty well. Its teaching my kids to importance of daily work & discipline, its giving them a constructive incentive to earn money, teaching them the importance of saving money (they compete w each other to see who has the most in the bank) & its teaching them the value of everyone pitching in to help & contribute to our family. Personally, its helping me to work on being consistent w my kids. With all of this planning & structure, i don’t really see a downside, especially if i stay consistent.