Archive for the ‘Breaking Habits’ Category

The Ugly Side of My Spiritual Gift

Have you ever taken a spiritual gift inventory?

Very often they can be a helpful tool in pinpointing exactly how God has specifically designed you for His purposes.

Moses being inspired about a new blog post?

On many spiritual gift inventories, I’ve scored high on the gift of “prophecy.” That doesn’t specifically mean that I have the urge to go around preaching damnation to every hooker on the corners of all busy inner-city streets! But it certainly means that I’m drawn to “the truth” of God’s Word and want to share that “truth” in many ways with others—hence, my blogging takes on a whole new meaning.

But along with every “gift” or “talent” that God gives us, there’s this other-side of that same coin, that can be negative, even hurtful.

And the negative, hurtful side of being a truth-teller is an inability to have compassion or extend grace.

I’m not saying that I can’t have both in my life at the same time, but it is often a difficult balance for me to strike. I have to really lean into God, asking for His grace, when I am feeling a conviction rising up within me (especially when that conviction involves perceptions about other’s wrong-doing!).

God has been showing me this area of weakness for a lot of years. And although I think I’ve softened somewhat over the years, I still tend to err to the side of cold, hard truth. There isn’t anything that can get my blood boiling more than when a lie is being believed/propagated or when an injustice is being committed.

But when it comes to having compassion for those who make those same mistakes, I often fall short.

One way that I’m trying to work on this weakness in my life is by biting my tongue. I’ve realized that I’m not the only person in the world who can recognize God’s truth. I’ve realized that God often uses my love and compassion to influence others toward change more than my harsh words of challenge. I’ve realized that God is a lot more active than I give Him credit for. It’s not just up to me to set the wayward straight. The Holy Spirit’s got that gig down already.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I should never confront someone.

But I think I tend to feel that God cannot reveal a sin to someone without my help!

How arrogant is that?!

Which leads me to my next way of dealing with this weakness—I release the person/situation through prayer to God. I pray that God would convict, provide, direct, whatever for that person and trust God to do just that.

If I’m still in doubt about whether I should say something, I pray that God would strongly urge me to take a specific step perhaps of confronting. But then I always need to “speak the truth in love.” It’s a delicate balance that I hope to have figured out by the time I’m 90 or so!

So, what spiritual gift has God given you that sometimes trips you up?

And, how do you positively deal with that hurtful side when it emerges?

Today’s post is linked to Faith Barista and answers the question – What has God been saying to me in my time alone with Him?


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5 Ways to Make Your Resolution Stick

It’s easy to make a New Years resolution. The tough part is being able to make it last. So I thought I’d offer a few suggestions that have worked for me.

1.  Commit your resolution to God to help you stay on track

Willpower, shm-illpower! There’s no human way to persevere in our own strength.  And I hate to disrupt the enthusiastic flow of your January juices, but no one is the Energizer Bunny either. Just remember:

“But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.” –Romans 7:17-19 (MSG)

And . . .

“No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” –Matthew 19:26 (MSG)

2.  Put your commitment in writing

Write up a contract and sign it. Or make up a chart and post it where you are reminded daily of your goals. It may seem silly, but it really helps.

3.  Make your resolution measurable

This simply means you can’t say, “I want to lose ten pounds” without spelling out specific, concrete goals that help you reach your ultimate goal.

For example, you might want to eat healthier foods like lots of veggies and whole grains. You might want to cut out any sweets, fried foods and soft drinks from your diet. You might also include a specific exercise plan. All of these mini-concrete goals can help you to get to your ultimate goal. (So sorry for the food imagery in that last sentence. I hope I haven’t sent any of you dieters rushing out to Dairy Queen!)

4.  Seek accountability

This is simply another way to establish your commitment. You might commit to giving a daily update of your Facebook or Twitter status by posting your latest efforts. Or even better, you might enlist the help of a friend to ask you each day how you’re doing on your goals. I promise, if and when you do, you’ll be much more inclined to fend off any temptation to go rogue.

5.  If at first you don’t succeed . . .

Yes, we all blow it from time to time. Often this is when most resolutions go in the slush pile until the following January. But if you set out with the expectation that when you fail, you will “try, try again,” you’ll find that success is not far behind. After all, perseverance isn’t the absence of failures, it is the using of failures as stepping stones on your way to success!

Three Level’s of New Year’s Resolutions

Many of us are making New Year’s resolutions. Basically, all we’re doing is making a choice to do something different in 2011 than what we’ve been doing 2010. Many times we find ourselves reverting back to our 2010 ways before the end of the first week of 2011! Sometimes that’s not a big deal. But other times, it makes all the difference in the world—this one and the next!

I believe, there are three levels of choices or resolutions that we make. The first level is made up of simple and, for the most part, neutral preferences or options. It’s called:

Insignificant Choices

  1. To quit drinking coffee and only drink green tea
  2. To finally schedule time to paint that spare bedroom
  3. To join a book club

The second level of choices/resolutions that we make goes a bit deeper. These involve more important choices and tasks, but they only reap physical rewards. This level is called:

Significant Choices

  1. To work-out regularly instead of using that time to catch some extra zzz’s
  2. To commit to moderating or improving our diets instead of indulging
  3. To improve the organization of our houses instead of burying our heads in a massive pile of laundry

The third and final level is the most important and has lasting, even eternal, implications. It is called:

Eternal or Missional Choices

  1. To make ourselves accountable to trusted friends instead of keeping things only between us and God
  2. To control our negative thoughts instead of being controlled by our greed, lust, jealousy, anger, and/or fear
  3. To practice patience in the mundane challenges of each day instead of feeling entitled to let our anger boil
  4. To make time to listen actively to our spouses/kids instead of listening like a couch potato to the television
  5. To face our fear by sharing our faith instead of wasting our days stuck in our “comfort zone”

Although this list is not all inclusive, I believe that these “Eternal or Missional Choices” either draw us closer to God’s mission for our lives or further away. There is no middle ground—no happy medium. We must be either choosing to do them or we will be missing our calling as Christ-followers.

Not convinced? Here’s some of what Jesus has to say on the subject:

“No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” Luke 9:62 (MSG)

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Rev. 3:15-16 (NIV)

Okay, okay, I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty as charged!

I want to accept Jesus’ challenge to pursue a higher calling every single day of the year–not just in January! Are you with me?

For those who are interested in learning more about the eternal impact of our choices, check out this past weekend’s message at Metro Community Church.

7 Steps for Kicking a Bad Habit

I’m going to let you in on a secret . . . I have had a really embarrassing bad habit for many years.  It’s one that is so disgusting and perhaps dysfunctional that I hate to even talk about it.  In fact, it is so rare that I don’t think there’s a name or category for it other than it might be considered compulsive, and oh so dirty.  Now if there were any way to avoid this humiliation I would, but for the sake of your enlightenment, I feel it is necessary to bare my soul.  So here goes . . . I . . . compulsively . . . collect . . . dirty . . . Kleenexes.

I told you it was strange!  You see this disgusting and rather annoying habit, especially in my husband’s opinion, goes all the way back to my childhood.  First of all, you have to know that my dad was a huge penny pincher.  And one day he found me being frivolous with a tissue I had just sneezed into by actually throwing it away after just one blow! That’s when I remember him jumping into thrifty thumping mode!  He reprimanded me for being so wasteful with my dirty tissue, and in so doing, set into motion a bad habit that hounded me decade after decade until just a few years ago. 

Understandably, my husband had a gut reaction to all the tissues I would leave on my nightstand or on my side of the bathroom sink.  In a phrase, they “grossed him out.” I never even thought about it when I brought that nasty old habit into my marriage.  I just thought everyone saved their dirty tissues for another blow or two.  Besides I thought I was fulfilling my father’s grand commission to save the earth, save a penny, save the snot! Look at that!  I was going green, in more ways than one, before it was even fashionable!

The bottom line was that I felt like I was doing my daughterly duty!  But marriage has a way of opening our eyes to habits we would have never sneezed at before. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)  At some point, I woke up to the reality of just how demented and sick my habit really was.  I saw it in all of its ugliness and I felt like a woman of unclean wipes.

Fortunately, keeping my dirty tissues hasn’t been such a tough habit to kick.  I don’t really get any huge pay-off from hanging onto those crumpled snot-rags.  Pardon just one more pun, but it’s been no skin off my nose!

Let’s get serious.  Many bad habits are devastatingly difficult to shake.  In fact, the problem with bad habits is that they usually get worse over time, often degenerating into a compulsion or worse, an addiction.  So what should you do to deal with them?  Below are some steps you could take that would be a good starting and continuing point:

  1. Honestly admit your lack of control to God and others – Proverbs 3:5-6, James 4:7 and v. 10, 1st John 1:9
  2. Submit to God’s control – James 4:7, Luke 22:40 and 22:46, Matthew 14:38
  3. Confess and repent of your sin continually – James 4:8-10, Isaiah 55:7, Psalm 34:18 and 51:17
  4. Evaluate and work through any unfinished business in your life that keeps you stuck – James 1:19 – 20, Matthew 5:23, Psalm 139:23, Proverbs 25:2, Jeremiah 17:10, I Chronicles 28:9, Psalm 7:9,  2 Corinthians 2:10-11, Hebrews 12:1-3
  5. Daily take thoughts captive – Joshua 1:8, Job 4:8, Ps. 63:6, Proverbs 22:8, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Galatians 6:8, Philippians 2:5
  6. Structure your life to support new habits – Exodus 34:12, Joshua 23:13, Proverbs 22:25, I Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 4:14, Ephesians 6:13
  7. Fill the void – Ezekiel 36:26, John 12:24-25, Romans 15:13, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 5:15 – 20, Philippians 3:7-14 and 4:4-8, 2 Peter 1:3-8

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Proverbs 26:11 (NLT)

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