GO. Day 13 of Lent. Wisdom from Dr. Seuss.

GO. Day 12 of Lent. Wisdom from Dr. Seuss.

oh the places you'll go

Remember what Dr. Seuss taught us all in Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

The story begins with the decision of the unnamed protagonist to leave town and take a journey. The protagonist travels through several geometrical and polychromatic landscapes and places, eventually encountering  “The Waiting Place”.

..for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or a No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite  or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.  Everyone is just waiting.

This last book by Dr. Seuss was written in 1990. And I wonder if today the phraseology wouldn’t have been, “The busy place” for people just busy. Busy on cellphones or tablets or laptops, we’re all busy tweeting or skyping or instagraming, watching our Netflix and following blogs, drinking our StarBucks and GPSing in cars, busy going here and taking us there, glorifying busy, busy everywhere.

Busy is never an excuse for procrastinating and not “going” where God calls us. Good things are often the enemy of God’s best and waiting always serves a purpose in our journey.  It produces anticipation and provides time for planning.  No one naturally wants to wait so the task requires sacrificing our selfish desires and placing our trust in God’s timing. Waiting can be a protection and waiting patiently indicates maturity.

The lessons I always come away with in this story are:

You have to start to finish – “You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”

God provides what you need– “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

Stay balanced to succeed “So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act.

Persevere through fear -“All Alone!  Whether you like it or not,  Alone will be something  you’ll be quite a lot. And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance  you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.”

Gratitude lifts the spirit-“When you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”

Waiting is the mean time of faith-“You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…”

 

Get your copy of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Kingdom. 7th day of Lent. The Kingdom of God is like…

Kingdom. 7th day of Lent. The Kingdom of God is like…

kingdom_of_god #lent #lentphotoaday

 

We often come from the perspective that life started with us-
our story is our frame of reference.
We know the family tree, maybe back three generations, and we’ve been schooled with world history to know antiquity but our existence is perceived through our own history.
Our story. Our story world. Once upon a time, I was born and lived like this. It’s what I know, it’s from where I see and hear and experience life.  It’s my perspective.

And the word KINGDOM today reminds me that too often my perspective is incomplete, faulty and at times wrong.
The KINGDOM is God’s perspective on life.

The Kingdom of God is the experience of blessedness, like that of the Garden of Eden, where evil is fully overcome & where those who live in the kingdom know the eternal ALIVENESS and undefinable FULLNESS of God that is exemplified in his vast attributes like love, power, peace, joy, and righteousness.

The KINGDOM is the message Christ proclaimed.
There were two bookends of his good news message.
He would start his teaching this way, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…”
And he would end it like this “If you have eyes to see then see and ears to hear then hear.”
He warns us at the end, don’t miss what I just said to you.
You might hear and not hear. See and not see.
Huh?  That’s right. All of our faces housed the big question mark.

For years that’s what ‘The Kingdom of God’ did to me too. I would listen. Hard. I would hear. But I couldn’t get it. What this kingdom was about. Had it come with Jesus? Was it coming back? Where was it? How did I reach out my hand and touch it?

In Matthew 3, John the Baptist proclaims, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Repent. Is that how we get the Kingdom ‘in hand’? John was calling out the religious and today some of the religious need to be called out to bring forward the fruit of repentance too. For the religious, self-effort people we hear in these words, “Straighten up, God is coming and when He gets here he is going to be really ticked.”  It’s like when mother used to say, “Straighten up and wait till your father gets home.” We totally understood ‘the hand’ that was about to reach out and touch us of discipline because of our crooked living that went on while he was away.

But wait. I remember this truth… “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” John 3:17

It’s like we see things up-side-down. 

So if Christ came to help, to put the world right again, I have to go back to my definition, the Kingdom of God is the experience of blessedness, like that of the Garden of Eden, where evil is fully overcome & where those who live in the kingdom know the eternal ALIVENESS and undefinable FULLNESS of God that is exemplified in his vast attributes like love, power, peace, joy, and righteousness.

Suddenly my definition of ‘repent’ isn’t working besides my definition of Kingdom. Again, I’ve made Repent about behavior that occurs when I change the CONTENT of my mind, and switch the direction of my behavior. Instead I need to redefine Repent to be about my spirit.  Renewing my mind I think differently about how I’m seeing things. Think differently afterwards because “the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

Keep reading on in Matthew and chapter 4 we read, “From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

John the Baptist grew up in a corrupt religious system and the forerunner was warning us to prepare ourselves. To get ourselves ready. The Kingdom of heaven is at hand, has come near.
Jesus has come near. Jesus the ever existing one didn’t grow up in a corrupt religious system. The King of this Kingdom is I AM.

I AM has a Kingdom perspective.
I AM is the eternal ALIVENESS and undefinable FULLNESS of God exemplified in his vast attributes like love, power, peace, joy and righteousness.
I AM has come near.  And in Him was LIFE.
“Aliveness” was near.
Aliveness, filling the atmosphere of the kingdom of God.

BEFORE creation- there was a Kingdom- filled with everything that makes things work. Imagine power and love and peace, joy and righteousness were the atmosphere soaking this place.

Jesus wants to tell us about this so he starts teaching this way-
The Kingdom of heaven is like…
Not telling us how to do earth- telling us about a reality that exist spiritually-  of aliveness- the atmosphere the fullness of God.

This Kingdom is upside-down. It’s contrary to what we think we know most of the time and totally contradictory to what the world would have us believe.  We have to have the Spirit to help us perceive it properly to know Christ is at hand. He is near to us. Not pointing a judging finger but offering his hand. And what does he want? Right behavior?

Oh, please get this.
He wants a relationship. With you.

Spirit speaking to spirit. Aliveness. Fullness. At hand. Near. Yes.
The Kingdom of God is the experience of blessedness, like that of the Garden of Eden, where evil is fully overcome & where those who live in the kingdom know the eternal ALIVENESS and undefinable FULLNESS of God that is exemplified in his vast attributes like love, power, peace, joy, and righteousness.

 

PROCLAIM. Day 2 of Lent. What is your priority?

Proclaim. Day 2 of Lent. What is your priority?

crowns laid down

There’s that question linked to this religious season;
“What did you give up for Lent?”

give up list for lent

It makes many evaluate how they’re doing 7 weeks into the New Year. Did those resolutions stick? Are they habits? 
Ugh. But grace.
Lent gives us a chance to return.
Remember, we’re dust. Fragile, frail, flesh.
Grace is ready to give us a re-do, a re-start.
Just get the list out and re-prioritize.
Remember the goals. The action plan.
Those priorities-

 dos

The problem is there’s a list. The word priority is singular. One.

One thing that is regarded as more important than another.
One thing that is treated as most important.
Our prime concern.
Our most important consideration.
The primary issue that proceeds everything else before it, and takes precedence in our time, to our treasures and through our talents.

One priority. New answers. 

What are you giving up for Lent? Self.

What is your one priority. Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ.
The first before anything else.
The center of life.
Take a lesson from Martha and Mary (Luke 10:42)
Lay it all down and abide.
“Only One thing is needed-Christ”

Take the Lent list – the things you are fasting not to do and the duties you are committing to do- and restructure it.
Remember, as Bob Hamp says, “Freedom isn’t the absence of something- caffeine, sugar, sleep, alcohol, social media.
Freedom is the presence of Someone, Jesus Christ.”

Change the way your are focusing your energy off the priorities and onto the Priority. Lay your crowns down.

christ as priority

And crown Him the priority of your life.

Proclaim your priority today.

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Curious? a black and white God in a 50 shades of grey world

CURIOUS? A black and white God in a fifty shades of grey world.

Curious? don't be. Give #50dollarsnot50shades campaign

Curious? Aren’t you.

The ads are everywhere 3000 times a day someone is trying to get you to buy into the 50 shades of gray World system.  And lately the lead line is- Curious?

Four years ago a friend whispered during lunch, “Have you read that new book, Fifty Shades of Grey?” I hadn’t heard about it yet, but within a month there were stacks of paperbacks in Sam’s and I was seeing it in high school girl’s hands and the buzz was building past the beauty salon and gym.

I read it because I was curious.

Christian women were asking me about it and I didn’t have a ready answer or a segue to bring the gospel into a conversation with unbelievers. So I used that for a righteous excuse to read a dirty book. It wasn’t the first book with sex in it that I had read, I’ve read the #1 best seller, the Bible, and it has a lot of sex in it too. God doesn’t give us the titillating details but from the steamy stanzas of the Song of Solomon to the threshing floor with Ruth and Boaz sexual sparks are kindling into fire throughout the Bible. Some forget God designed sex (Gen2), God commands sexual intimacy for the married (1cor7) and God warns us about the destruction of lust (romans 1). He also records all the varied ways Biblical characters, many of them the heroes of the faith, failed in this area and we read stories about rape, incest, homosexuality, infidelity, abandonment and abuse.

“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 cor 10:11-3

Curiosity is a clever little word. It’s tricky. It lures the mind and shows you ‘the door’ concealing what’s really behind it. It asks with a bit of a hissing lisp, “Don’t you want to see what’s inside?” It even reminds you as you glance at the door, “Remember, the rules, “Thou shall not open that door.  Good people don’t even touch that door.” But ‘rules are made to be broken’ because fear is imperfect and desire is powerful and we all have a little rebellious attitude in our fallen DNA that makes us sneak our hand into the cookie jar. The television, the radio, the internet and the ‘in’ crowd remind us that the door is still there. And we are outside it, left out. We are enticed. Curiosity now helps you scheme, a way to sneak really, justify, rationalize, find an excuse. And a way. The secret passage. In the dark our hand is on the door. And we open it ultimately to find it wasn’t curiosity at all. We got conned in a system as old as time called temptation.

“The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” James 1:13-15

Curiosity doesn’t just kill the cat, it kills our innocence.  We know now. More than a loving God wanted us to ever experience. We know. Now. Our eyes are open. And there is a kind of death that happens inside of us. We can’t go back. We have seen, we have heard, we have experienced, what God wanted to protect us from.

Reading Fifty Shades of Gray, my curiosity had opened a door into a story world of domination. Terms were like a foreign language and though I knew the writer was plotting out a redemptive love story with very compelling characters there was nothing romantic about the intimate partner violence (IPV) in nearly every interaction between the two main characters. The abuse included: stalking, intimidation, isolation as well as other forms of physical abuse none of which are the foundation of a healthy relationship or could be in any way twisted to define love. God is love and He defines the way of love in 1 Cor 13 as being patient, kind and unselfish, caring more about others than self.

I read Fifty Shades of Gray over memorial weekend at our family’s lake house and remember my college age niece seeing the book and saying, “I read that. All my friends have read it.”  I closed the book and cried.  Fully convicted. Fully convinced that our culture had opened a door and behind it was devastating deception and destruction to God’s truth about love. I loved my niece. She was young and impressionable and innocent and her Millennial generation’s Cinderella story had a new name, Fifty Shades of Gray.

That’s the problem we should have with 50 Shades of Grey – not just the sex, but the acceptance of the deception of the truth and the introduction of domination and sexual submission, of absolute power and acceptance of abuse in a relationship as the new norm in our culture which was founded on freedom.

Don’t be tempted by your curiosity. Knowing the truth will set you free and love, not fear, will commit you to overcome your curiosity and not open the door. There is a way out of this curious romanticized lie, stand for the truth, for love and for women. Know the facts and tell your friends.

Twenty-five percent of women are affected by intimate partner violence (IPV) romanticized in Fifty Shades of Grey.

Twenty-five percent.

1 in 4 women live Fifty Shades of Grey as their real life story with no happy ending.

Instead of spending $50 dollars to see this movie that romanticizes abuse, help those already affected by intimate partner violence (IPV) by joining the #50dollarsnot50shades campaign.

Spread the news. Encourage your friends to skip the movie and donate $50 to shelters and agencies that support abused women.

I donated to Shared Hope International but I know the time you spend to search for a charity in your area will be personally beneficial to you and a blessing to others. Live Loved.

The Joy of Giving- 7 reasons why giving brings you Joy

The Joy of Giving- 7 reasons why giving brings you Joy

Adding. One thing. To. Another. Proverb 7:27

 

God has a way of connecting the dots. “Look,” says the Teacher, “this is what I have discovered: “Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme (a plan of action to follow) of things— (Prov 7:27)

Adding. One thing. To. Another. God gives us a plan of action for joy.

In this advent season study the parting words of Paul to the Ephesians elders (Acts 20) and you might be reminded of the bold charge the apostle makes on Christian leaders in his ending summation, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

More divine favor rests upon us when we give than when we get and here are 7 reasons to reminds us why that is true. 

  • Giving draws me closer to God. Matthew 6:21

If you want to care more deeply about something, give to that cause.

Money is a magnet of the heart. Put your money first where you want your heart concerned and your devotion will be drawn toward it. It sounds backwards but if you give first, your heart will follow. It’s a pattern of giving Christ outlines this way, “For where your treasure is, your heart will follow.”

Want to increase your concern and affection to a cause, give to it.

  • Giving breaks the grip of materialism. Matt 6:24

The definition of materialism is to overvalue material things. We like stuff. And most of us are caught up in a cycle of the world’s kind of joy called ENJOYMENT. We are too easily satisfied by stuff, until it loses its flavor and then we’re back out there buying the next thing we want to enjoy. We need to practice believing a simple truth. Our net worth of stuff does not equal our self-worth in Christ. To break the cycle of get, get, get and more, more, more we have to give, give, give. Giving is an eternal joy and it can become a new and improved enjoyment as you see the value of others instead of the value of stuff.

  • Giving strengthens my faith. 2 Cor 9:8

Too many of us are full of ourselves. We’re self sufficient and secure in our ability to provide what we need. We live by sight and its short sighted.

Giving creates space for God to show up.

When we tithe first and give sacrificially, we give God room to show up and show off in our financial lives. Is God more powerful than money? Do you act on it by giving God room to bless you as you bless others?

  • Giving promotes God’s sanctification. Luke 18:22

Giving not only promotes God’s work through us but also God’s work in us—our sanctification. Giving sets us apart. Especially when it’s sacrificial. It pains us because it comes at a cost to us and requires self denial.

Every act of giving breaks our sinful and selfish nature and allows more of God’s grace to spread in our heart.

Money leaves our pocket but sin also leaves our hearts. That’s a priceless exchange. Giving helps us keep growing up in Christ.

  • Giving secures an investment for eternity. 1 Tim 6:18-19

You can’t take it with you. There are no pockets in funeral clothes and no UHauls behind the Hurst. We can’t take material things with us to heaven but we can send treasure on ahead.

How we use our time, treasure and talents for God’s honor and glory is storing up for us eternal treasures in heaven.

  • Giving blesses you in return 2 Cor 9:11

We all like rewards. And there is a certain payoff when we give. Don’t you just feel better when you do something nice. You open a door for someone and it just feels good. You give to a worthy cause and get a letter back from the child you helped, it feels good.

Giving cheerfully brings a smile to God’s face too.

And there’s that added bonus, when we give there is that responsive ‘thank you’. God is glorified.

  • Giving reflects Christ sacrifice for me Rom 12:1

“I appeal to you brothers, in view of God’s mercy…” Need motivation to give, look to the cross. It is the view we should always remember. Calvary that place where wrath and mercy meet and Christ took on one to give us the other through his perfect sacrifice.

In view of this great gift we should live to imitate it and be givers like Christ.

“for the joy that was set before him He endured the cross,” (Heb 12:2)

There is a Joy set before us.

An invitation to enjoy this holiday like never before.

A call to work in this way and be blessed.

Give.

 

Remembering what God has done prepares us for thanksgiving

Remembering What God has Done prepares us for thanksgiving

Memories link our past to our present and weave yesterday into tomorrow.  But in the middle of today, in the really good times and the very hard times, how often do we forget what God has done for us. We are called in the Hebrew tradition to ‘Make present God’ accounting for his presence and building altars to serve as a signpost of memorial that mark “God showed up here”.

Remembering is a crucial part of thanksgiving.

In Deuteronomy. 6:12 Moses issued a final warning to Israel just before they entered the promise land, “beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt…”

In our prosperity we are warned in Proverb 30 to pray and ask “give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’

Moses built an altar and named it “The Lord is my Banner” Exodus 17:15.

Joshua was charged to have the 12 leaders of Israel build a memorial from the stones of the Jordan Joshua 4

He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”

Samuel, set up a monument to remind Israel of God’s strong hand in victory naming the pillar Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us”. This stone pillar called God’s people to recall, and remember often, the time when God turned things from bad to blessed. Seeing the stone they remembered God’s help in the past, God’s presence relied on today, and God’s hope assured for tomorrow. The Ebenezer was a “picture” of the Lord’s readiness to hear their cries and save them, and it served to remind them where to turn for their strength and power—and whom to thank for their deliverance.

The psalmists built a similar monument with songs. Songs help us remember words. Many of the Psalms chronicled the history of God’s people and their Great God by helping people remember what God had done. They praised God for his faithfulness, deliverance victory and forgiveness.  They prompt us to recount things that really happened. Don’t you remember, God lead you out of bondage in Egypt? Didn’t he feed you in the desert and keep doing so, even though you grumbled and complained? How many times has he forgiven your repeated idolatry and wandering? Victories, don’t you recall all the times God won for us and overcame the enemy? And if he did so much for you in the past, can’t you depend on him to do as much, if not more, for you today? And why are you worrying about tomorrow? Won’t he still be there for you, hearing your pleas for help, acting on your behalf? Psalm 78 tells us “I will utter hidden things, things from of old, things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us to help you remember … to remind you of God’s power … to give you trust and confidence in him … to teach you to lean on him … to be your Ebenezer for as long as you live until heaven.

Unlike the commemorative Biblical memorials, your Ebenezer—your stone of help— your banner or signpost, requires you gather not stones but memories together and recall the many and varied victories God has given you. You might begin by remembering the gifts of life-parents, siblings, mentors and coaches, Youth leaders, camp counselors, pastors, teachers-all those God surrounded you with to grow up. Your memories could include the blessings of education, friends, a profession and your communities of faith that disciple you. Especially recount certain events in your life—times of celebration and success and times when God turned what appeared to be disaster and turned them into an unexpected opportunity, or times of failure when he rebuilt you and times of hardship when you gained maturity. This year’s highlights, the season of transformation you are currently moving in and what God has done most recently. Making present God turns you away from fear, doubt, and disbelief today, because you realize once again how many times in the past God has forgiven, protected, helped and healed you and the hope you have in tomorrow’s provisions.

The meaning of the Hebrew word for memorial is “to remember.” Today our “Ebenezer” stone is Christ. In the form of His cross, your Ebenezer-Thus far the Lord has helped me- stands as an eternal memorial that God has given you the victory of all victories! He has overcome, making all things new and is with you always. Through the cross, Christ has won atonement and redemption, and eternal life with him. His cross assures that past sins are forgiven completely and sins of today and in the future will be forgiven as well. We stand in Christ, righteous.

Remember your very best days and your worst failures. And see God there.  Memories reveal God’s presence, even if you didn’t realize it at the time. God was with you, there. There are no coincidences. God is governing this world.  Thus far the Lord has helped me-He is sovereign. He is Immanuel- with me God.

Just as God has been with us yesterday, memories remind us of what God has done. His presence is our peace in each moment to help and strengthen us so renew your commitment to live for him today.God has forgiven and restored us yesterday, worked in us with sanctifying power today, and He is our hope in the future for glorification.

Remembering what God has done prepares our hearts to live a life of thanksgiving.

 

Enough.

“The leech has two daughters.
‘Give! Give!’ they cry.
“There are three things that are never satisfied,
four that never say, ‘Enough!’:
the grave, the barren womb,
land, which is never satisfied with water,
and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’ Proverb 30:15-16

Enough (def) occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations in or to a degree or quantity that satisfies or that is sufficient or necessary for satisfaction : SUFFICIENTLY

Enough. It’s my key word right now. A complex idea that can go down a lot of rambling rabbit trails. I’ve said it selfishly and sinfully when my flesh is screaming. I’ve prayed for it, needy and poor in spirit when I’ve found humility. I’m soul sick because I have more than enough of what really doesn’t matter and not enough of what I know I need. I’ve debated it aloud, on paper and spiritually silent. Enough…have you been there?

“ENOUGH!” screamed with authority tells us all we need to know about another person’s limits, they’ve reached them. They’ve had all they can take of something. It’s the irritated proverbial cry, ‘Uncle’ that’s gritted out or gasped depending on the ‘something’.

“Haven’t you had enough?” The tone in the question inquiries of our greed. Do we really need still more? Haven’t we been satisfied yet? I mean look at all you’ve had. Will it ever be enough?

“Is it enough?” is the query that seeks balance. A little more to gain-a little less to give. Enough salt in the stew. Enough off the top. More wine? Less stress.

“I have enough!” is the exclamation of joy when we’ve done enough to pass the test. We made the grade, found our way, paid the debt.

“There might not be enough,” is the warning that reminds us to hold back and only take the portion that we really need. We give up our seat and stand. Our rights for God’s glory.

“Am I enough?” is the question poised after we’ve performed. Have we personally shown the mastery sufficient or necessary to satisfy the demand. Will we get the job, make the team, earn the promotion.

“Will I have enough?” is the accounting inquiry to determine that inputs will satisfy the outputs. Enough money. Enough strength. Enough resilience. Enough endurance.

“God is enough.” The statement of trust in the grace and sufficiency of God. “My grace is sufficient for you” 2 Cor 12:9

I am often the leech’s daughter, crying, “more, more”. I want more. I also want Peace. Wisdom. Intimacy. I want to know Christ, more. I understand the poverty of riches and the riches of poverty. I have enough peace when I abide in the presence of Christ. I have all the wisdom I need when I seek the mind of Christ in His words. Loving Christ, here I am satisfied sufficiently. I like John Adams words, “The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.”
And yet I doubt and look and pout and seek. And I found this from Chuck Palahniuk,
“That if you could acquire enough, accomplish enough, you’d never want to own or do another thing. That if you could eat or sleep enough, you’d never need more. That if enough people loved you, you’d stop needing love.”

So it’s back to balance. Hunger is good because it makes us seek nourishment. Discipline is needed because it will make my choices most beneficial and it guides me to the point of ceasing before I tip into greed. Grace is a necessity because this world is full of glutinous people just like me. And there is one truth I keep rehearsing, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Why? Because God’s grace is sufficient.

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A mass of habits

“All of our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.” William James 1892

Habit: An an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until is has become almost involuntary

Resistance.  I began to feel it the minute I decided to get intentional.  It felt like a wall.  A powerful force field—the kind you find when you’re hiking back from the lake at night and you walk through a spider web.  The head to toe kind of massive sticky-icky spider web that makes you jump back.  And shiver and shriek and brush yourself off madly.  And you believe the spider and its minion are all over you.  And you dance, not out of joy but from the invisible ick you can feel on your hands and face and something is definitely crawling on your neck.  And that makes you move.  Furiously fast.  Then you find yourself all the way back at the lake.  Right where you started.  Now you’re wet and cold and totally uncomfortable.  And you see the porch light shining like a lighthouse because the night is suddenly darker.  And you go a little slower.  With your hand sweeping ahead like a blind man’s stick.  And the incline of the little hill feels like Everest.  You map the distance between point A & B and it looks like a marathon.   And the lingering mental-itchy after effect makes you realize the well-worn path you’ve always walked might not be the best bet.  And you’re done with spider webs. Sweeping the terrain you stop and realize.  You’re in a prison.  Locked down and caged in.  The good news is the bars are sticky not steel.  But they’re still spider webs and you just decided you’re not going to wash-rinse-repeat that experience again.  You are done with blindly walking into spider webs. Your free-spirited-stroll-through-life isn’t going to get you where you want to go—that’s my little illustration on the ah-ha moment.

I want to learn to live life with intention.  What to do?  I prayed.  And God answered.  I found a book.  And it changed my life.  “The power of habit-why we do what we do in life and business” by Charles Duhigg.   The author gave me a truth, we’re not creatures of choice (intention) but creatures of habit.  I prayed out of habit.  I needed to know what to do, how to solve this problem, how to change and stop glorifying busy and living intentional.  God showed me the truth we are up against.  Duhigg says, “Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision-making, but they’re not.  They’re habits…each means relatively little own its own, over time, the meals we order, what we say to our kids each night, whether we save or spend, how often we exercise, and the way we organize our thoughts and work routines have enormous impacts on our health, productivity, financial security and happiness.”

An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary is a habit.  Habits occur inside our brains in a 3 step loop. First, there is a cue– a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode.  Second, there is a routine– which can be physical, mental or emotional. Third, there is the reward– the payoff which aids the brain in remembering this particular loop is worth it. Overtime the loop becomes automatic: cue-routine-reward.  Then the cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges and a habit is born.  When a habit emerges the brain stops fully participating in decision-making.  It stops working so hard and diverts focus to other tasks.  So unless you intentionally fight a habit, unless you find new routines when you get that craving/anticipation-cue/reward, the pattern will unfold automatically.

Another truth is habits are not destiny.  They can be ignored, replaced and changed when you understand the truth of how habits work.  Figuring out the cue-routine-reward of the structured loop of a habit makes it easier to control.  So the beginning work of changing habits is to break the habit into their components cue-routine-reward to fiddle with their parts.

Just like pain is necessary or we’d endanger our body’s health, without habits, our brains would shut down too overwhelmed by the details of daily life.  At the same time the brain’s dependence on habits can be dangerous.  Habits can be a curse or a blessing.  Walking blindly from the lake to the house by habit is a good thing until you run into a spider web.   But that could be your ah-ha moment.

If you want to read this life changing book & learn more about the components of habits follow this link

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/081298160X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=081298160X&linkCode=as2&tag=jlke-20&linkId=E424BZQGLC5UGYSQ