I’m a big fan of routines and daily habits because I’m entirely convinced that success can often be the result of daily habits added together over extended time. I know this to be true from my dentist telling me to floss everyday, from making it a habit to write everyday and lots more!
At the same time, a routine can become mindless and mechanical muscle memory because of familiarity and practice. This is the monotony quagmire where we get caught in the habit without getting our desired results.
The defining difference between mechanical muscle memory (monotony) and culminated success is attention and presence. Just because we do something repetitiously doesn’t mean that we’re going to be successful with that activity. I would suggest that we endeavor to be wholly present and attentive with our daily habits so they can have maximum impact and success. To this end, let’s be careful to cultivate both intentional presence as well as daily habits!
There are lots of factors that are important in our lives, such as our IQ, Emotional Intelligence, time management, financial wisdom, etc. Sometimes the stuff that’s not so measurable or obvious doesn’t get the same attention as the stuff I just listed. I would propose that being steady is one of those less sexy or noticeable factors but massively important nonetheless.
I say this because of what steady can accomplish:
less cavities with steady brushing and flossing
better weight control with steady exercise
deeper intimacy with steady presence
more awareness of God with steady / daily quiet times
better cooking skills with steady practice
As I write this and think about the value of being steady, it makes me wonder how many things in my life would be improved if I were more steadfast in my attention and energies in various areas. Our daily routines / habits can predict our future 🙂
It’s nice to have a few minutes of unexpected pause, when you’re having a busy day. If you’re a Hugh achiever, these unexpected pauses can be wonderful opportunities to get more stuff done! And of course, that makes us feel good & it’s wonderful to be highly productive!
But here’s another possibility to consider for an unexpected pause: an invitation to tuck away with Jesus for a few minutes. In these moments, it can be very helpful, soothing & even healthy to take some minutes to engage with Jesus. Here could be some ideas for briefly engaging with Jesus in such pauses:
gratitude – express thanks for something real-time in that pause;
acknowledge: “Jesus, I know You’re here & im present with You;”
help!! consider that a pause could be a time to re-fuel with Jesus for what’s coming next 🙂
“Shalom Sabbath!” Having recently returned from Israel, the whole Sabbath thing, taking a day of rest once a week to honor God, is relatively fresh. In Israel, the Sabbath is super important! They organize their elevators to comply with Sabbath regulations, there’s meal guidelines, work closes down for a day & it seems like the entire nation takes a pause. I found the whole experience to be curious & refreshing.
So yesterday, I experienced kind of a “command Sabbath.” We had a really big snowstorm here in Denver, so my kids were home from school & I rested for much of the day. Since I don’t often pause for an entire day, it was an interesting experience. I appreciated getting some extra sleep, along with forcing my mind to disconnect from work stuff. It was nice to enjoy some quiet reading and even catch a great college basketball game!
The “command Sabbath” reminds me that what I do is never as important to God as who I am. And having a day of rest makes me want to be all the more productive today!! 🙂
In Israel today, we visited Masada, where 900 Jews kept a 3year stand off against 25,000 Romans. At the end, the Romans built a massive ramp & stormed the top of the desert plateau only to find there were no Jews alive with all the supplies & resources destroyed by fire.
This is a very sobering site to visit, recognizing the resolve of these Jews to die free rather than live in slavery & abuse.
To this end, I’m challenged to make my life count & to live full on, not half empty. Here are some things that we could employ to help us live full:
Be grateful for the small & not just big things
Be compassionate without requiring reasons to understand
Be helpful in little ways every day to cultivate a helpful mindset
“Caught in the very act!” These were the words of the Jewish leaders when they interrupted Jesus’ teaching with an adulterous woman. Ultimately, Jesus told the woman that He didn’t condemn her, to go her way & sin no more.
“We don’t have enough bread to feed this mass of people.” These were the words of Jesus’ disciples when He told them to feed the crowd. Ultimately, Jesus asked what they had, started with that & multiplied from there.
“Jesus wept.” This was Jesus’ response to seeing the intense grief and mourning from Lazarus’ death. Ultimately, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, after conversing with his sisters who were deep in the throes of loss.
The Jesus Way, which we would do well to follow, includes these things:
the absence of judgment and the abundance of forgiveness
bless the provision instead of cursing the lack
being present in grief and pain rather distracted or numb
Let’s do the Jesus Way in our daily living, which is ultimately the Way of Genuine Love!
Once Jesus rose from the dead, I think the disciples maybe had less anxiety for a few reasons. And maybe we could pick up a few pointers that could be helpful, since anxiety could be a challenge for a few of us.
Jesus raising from the dead changed the game because death didn’t get the final say – and nothing is impossible in our lives!
Jesus is in the future – this helps me to relax knowing that Jesus is timeless
Jesus is about the individual & not only the masses – the Prince of Peace was intentional to seek out individual encounters to resolve questions, doubts & reconciliation.
When I think about getting in shape, it crosses my mind that pears and grapes are viable options in contrast to the idealized hour-glass shape. I also think that I can get in shape for swimming, but be out of shape for running. This holds true for snowboarding, weightlifting & a plethora of other physical exercises.
Indeed, let’s go beyond the physical and cardiovascular concepts and think about our mental and spiritual shape! Keeping fit in our minds and emotions requires exercise and usage since the old adage, “Use it or lose it!” holds true.
And let’s be certain that we don’t neglect our spiritual shape when we consider what it means to be healthy. I’ve met plenty of people who are physically and mentally healthy, but whose spiritual lives are anemic on a good day. And I’m learning that if I’ll keep my spiritual health as a top priority, it’s often easier to be physically and mentally healthy. To stay spiritually healthy, here are a few helpful suggestions:
Read your Bible daily
Purpose to have prayerful conversations with God throughout the day
Connect with spiritual communities (church, small groups, Bible study, etc)
No doubt that heaven rejoices to welcome Billy Graham & earth looses a longstanding hero. The reasons that Billy Graham is such a hero are innumerable, but some of the standouts include: moral integrity, consistency & letting Jesus be the rallying cry of his life.
The things that Billy Graham accomplished across the span of his life, will be accentuated & applauded for quite awhile. And his epitaph is extremely powerful!
Let’s live each day as if we’re writing our epitaph so that when we die, the world around us has been improved & Jesus is exalted!
I’m really good at impulsive & sometimes that isn’t always a prudent thing. So learning to be intentional is very helpful. It seems to me that Moses was impulsive when he killed the Egyptian slave master, but he learned to be intentional. I say this because of his dialogue with God at the burning bush.
The upside of being impulsive is that we can be willing to take risks. The upside of being intentional is evaluating the risks & using wisdom to navigate the possible hotspots. I think the best way to be intentional is to walk with the Holy Spirit rather than letting our flesh make dumb decisions for us 🙂
I’m easily distracted & that can be very challenging. There are always external distractions like the phone alerts, watching people get upset about small stuff, podcasts for listening, multiple books I want to absorb, tasks undone, etc. Then there’s also the internal distractions – feelings that can be challenging, creative ideas that could be fun, stress from impending deadlines, etc.
Thankfully, I met a new friend this morning on my way to catch a plane. She was studying Philippians 4:7-8, which talks about keeping our thoughts focused on constructive & beneficial stuff. For me, this means that I stay intentional about not getting distracted. It also means that I keep my thoughts grounded in the Bible so I don’t mindlessly roam away from God. Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit gives us sniper focus so that we live a life that hits the mark & overflows with divine purpose.