Bible study without Bible experience is pointless! ~ Bill Johnson
Two of the most powerful words in effectively marketing a product are, “Fast Acting.” Everything today is about speed and more speed. Relief and quicker relief. Go the the local supermarket pharmacy department and see how many of the labels use the words, “Fast Acting.” As a matter of fact…if you are still reading this article, you are not in the average.
The average “web based reader” is on the move. They will give you 10 seconds to make your point and prove your observations are worth any more “seconds” of their valuable time…or they “bounce” outta here to “surf on.”
We are a speed, convenience, quick relief culture. In and of themselves, that’s not all bad.
- Speed has its advantages
- Convenience has its virtues
- Quick relief has its values
But not in the same sentence with faith.
Instead of Biblical Christianity influencing culture, culture has re-shaped issues of Christianity.
Our culture evangelizes the notion that faster is better. Even nature proclaims the opposite at many turns. In fact much of the natural world around you demonstrates that faster is weaker.
The word faith can be either a verb or a noun. Both are required, feed, and define each other.
- Faith is an action (Verb)
- Faith is a spiritual lifestyle (Noun)
Unfortunately, we’ve come to allow our actions and lifestyles to be fashioned and molded on the potters wheel of our media marketing. We’ve decided our verb faith is only true if it gets fast results, otherwise there is something wrong with us or how we are trying to “do the verb.” And, our lifestyles have fallen prey to bigger, better, sound byte, pat answer, no sweat, no inconvenience, high entertainment value noun faith.
The critical problem: We’re riding an out-of-control train careening at break neck speed along the fragile track of life.
It’s not a vehicle of God’s design and we have to slow this bad boy down in some determined, relentless ways, or our spiritual lives will be splattered all over the mountainside. Here’s the rub: It will take courage….relentless courage.
As John Ortburg said, “For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted, rushed, and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of really living them.”
We must ruthlessly work to eliminate hurry from our lives!
HOW WILL YOU GO ABOUT THAT? PLEASE COMMENT.
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By default, babies have a “Mama” or “Dada” setting when “the train jumps the tracks” in their little worlds. What’s your default setting when life sucks?
My default is, “Abba.” (Daddy). Abba is the familiar form of “Father” in the Hebrew language. In fact, “Abba” is what you will most often hear as children address their fathers in many Jewish families, today…especially in Israel.
My default is, “Abba” when the “heat is on”…and it often is… because Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation…” (John 16:33). The Apostle Peter said, “My friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through as if something strange is happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)
My default is, “Abba” when I’m tempted to think that if I could just find the right answer, I could solve my current perplexity.
My default is, “Abba” when the serpant sizzles in my brain, “You’re just a loser. This is never going to get any better!”
My default is, “Abba” because that is the same as saying, “No matter what…I trust you!”
My default is, “Abba” when everything reasonable mocks me as I make my way toward the goal of faith through the valley of patience.
In fact, My default setting is, “Abba” in good times and bad. I don’t waste so much time thinking (worrying) when stuff hits the fan; because I have a default setting.
Like the helpless infant whose eyes are fixed, in dependence, on its strong, loving, capable parent, my eyes are fixed on my “Abba.”
A few years back, the Lord spoke to my heart, “Do everything you can and I’ll do everything you can’t.” At the time, I thought my side of the equation held the highest percentage…then He’d pick up the final few that were impossible for me.” Then one day I discovered (and still am discovering) that I can only do justice to about 2% of any issue or project.
Maybe it’s just me…but I think we struggle with that simple thought more than just about anything else in our faith walk. It’s just too good to be true….that He honestly…truly…for reals…I mean for really reals….wants us to realize He is more than willing and capable of handling the weight! In fact everybody would be better off – not to mention ourselves – if we’d make a lifestyle of defaulting to, “Abba.” After all isn’t that an image that best pictures what we are called to do…TRUST?
Maybe another way to put it would be, “Get over yourself.”
Another observation I am becoming increasingly convinced of is that, with many, “faith” has become something other than faith and more resembles “works of the law.”
Here’s today’s challenge. Just for today, default to “Abba…I trust You!”
If you agree, comment. If you have an a good example from your own experiences, please share!
If you aren’t convinced that routine has great power in your life, then let’s put it another way. It’s the very power of your routine that is either blessing your life or punishing it. The reason that it may have been so difficult for you to “follow through” with good resolutions you’ve made…is the negative power of your established routine. Some people blame their environment, their mates, their kids, their jerk boss, or “the devil made me do it (or kept me from doing the right thing).” Poppycock!
More often than not, a person’s lack of positive progress in their spiritual (or any other kind of) life is the personal (non demonic) gremlin of negative routine.
The good news: Routines can change.
How long will it take? That pretty much depends on how convinced you are that it’s your routine (habitual patterns) that need to change. Next start a simple process. In other words….dumb it down! Don’t make it complicated. Start something simple for 15 minutes a day. Find something with an established pattern…like a simple bible reading plan.
Regarding a physical routine, I found that getting on my stationary exercise bike and punching the button for one of the pre-set programs worked well.
The point is…K.I.S.S. it. Keep It Simple Stupid. Do repetitious things that you can do almost mindlessly. Remember the point: Establish a routine. Once a routine is established (normally within 21 days) the new routine will begin taking over.
I found that it’s helpful to link a couple of routines goals together. For me it was spiritual and physical. The two together seemed to cross-support each other.
How did it work? The only way I know to answer is like the blind man, “I once was blind, and now I see.” Beyond that I’m not sure. The technical explanation is above my pay grade. But, it works. Negative routines will progressively take you to a bad, fruitless, depressing place. Positive routines will lift you like the wings of an eagle.
For a long time…a lot longer than I care to admit…I couldn’t seem to convert good intentions into consistent actions. The resulting lack of consistency kept me locked into immaturity on many levels…especially in my relationship with God.
I tried this. I tried that. I bought e-courses. I turned over a thousand and one new leaves (okay a million and one). I was disgusted and discouraged with myself.
<oh, yea…and I threw in healthy doses of blaming other people, circumstances, and a boat load of ridiculous excuses.>
Then I discovered…
Routine (habit) has miraculous power to help you do the things that “get you where you want to go” each day with more and more consistency with less and less effort (I don’t think that’s good grammar…but you get the point).
There are three areas of my life that I decided I wanted routine to master:
- My Spiritual Health
- My Intellectual Health
- My Physical Health
So, here is what I started doing…knowing that a pattern could be established in an average of 21 days if kept simple enough. I also knew that, all things considered, each of the succeeding days would get easier. In other words, routine would start carrying the load.
So, in simple terms, this is what I do:
- My Spiritual Health: In some form, I read (or listen to) the Word of God…especially the Psalms…for about 10 minutes. In the process of reading (or listening) I give it my full attention and connect with what I am reading. I continue to think about/pray over/praise over what I’ve read (or heard) for another 5 minutes or so. I also communicate with the Lord…normally praying in the spirit (tongues) for several minutes.
- My Intellectual Health: I mostly read blogs I’ve subscribe to. Sometimes I also catch up on world news for a few minutes.
- My Physical Health: I ride my stationary bike for at least 10 minutes (sometimes 15 or 20)
<btw…I always set my coffee maker so that I get a fresh hot cup as I head for my office>
Details can change. In fact you should be creative or it all gets a bit boring. But, take 3 areas. Make a plan. Set a simple routine. Start doing it every day. You’ll discover that it sets a frame of mind and heart that is nearly magical/miraculous.
You feel better about yourself, and your relationship with God gets increasingly richer. And routine keeps you on track. Eventually, you don’t even have to make yourself take care of the three areas. You just keep doing them…like breathing.
Amount of time spent: The first hour of my day.
What have you found helpful from your life…please comment
What kind of things would you do…learn…enjoy…if you just had more time in your day? How much more connected would you be to family, friends, or God?
It’s safe to say that most of us think we would have more enjoyment in life, if there were more hours in a day.
Afterall, “lack of enough time” is the real culprit, right?
I’ve said (or at least often thought), “I just don’t have enough time to do everything I’d like to do!” On the spiritual development side I’ve also said, “I could spend more quality time with God, if I didn’t have to spend so much time doing the things that help others find more quality time with God.” <That’s me manifesting a spirit of stupid>
But let’s be honest, haven’t you given some similar sounding excuses? Come on…tell the truth.
Then I read one of my favorite blogs, “MEN WITH PENS.” The latest entry was a wake-up call for me.
Do yourself a favor. Take 2 minutes to read it. (right here)
Frustrated? Kiss a dog! Okay, maybe not literally. As I was looking for a picture to illustrate this third post on the subject of beating frustration, I saw this and it tickled me….then, I went and vomited in my wastebasket. <but I digress> I actually have a helpful point to make….so please read on…
Here’s the deal dude. You have to “lighten up” a little….maybe a whole lot. One of the big causes of your frustration is taking everything too seriously.
“But what’s going on in my life IS serious,” you say. Okay, let me fine-tune what I said a smidge. Ready?
One of the big causes of your frustration is taking YOURSELF too seriously.
Here are some facts:
- Your way isn’t always the right way.
- Your opinion isn’t always the right opinion…or even the truth.
- Success in this thing (you fill in the blank) doesn’t really depend on you having all the answers
- Success in this thing (you fill in the blank) doesn’t depend on you doing all the work
- Everyone else but you are not incompetent or uncommitted
- God isn’t expecting everything from you that you are expecting of yourself
That’s just a starter list. What do you think could be added to that list? Please comment.
The point: It’s been too much about you for too long. You’ve become friends with the spirit of stupid and it’s giving you an ulcer and keeping you locked in a prison of frustration.
Simple Solution (although it will take a lot of practice and refocus on Whom (that would be God) that you are actually trusting for your life:
- Intentionally off load the weight of your trust from your own shoulders to His.
- Intentionally honor those around you…all of them…(at least in your heart, but also verbally) with anything and everything that can be honored and appreciated.
Actively and intentionally trusting God is a HUGE thing. In fact the degree of frustration you feel is a good meter on where your honest trust is placed. And, purposely looking for good and honoring it in those around you is far and away
more important than you can imagine. You may be surprised how much power it has to quench your frustration and release their potential.
The time to start is now….unless, of course, your way has been working out for you.
Btw…this includes your approach to spiritual growth because too many Christians take themselves too seriously regarding their spirituality. And, that’s not spiritual…it’s religiosity. But, that’s for another article.
FIND PLAY IN YOUR DAY