Category Archives: Goals

Preparing Our Heart and Mind for Lent 2014

Journeying with Christ to the cross
Journeying with Christ to the cross

Ah yes, the second biggest “event” of the church calendar is fast approaching. Lent (for non-Orthodox) begins next week on Ash Wednesday March 5th and ends Thursday April 17th, the day before Good Friday.

I wish I could say the Easter season was about decorated eggs, fake chocolate, baked hams and turkey, but it’s not (but they are certainly fun and d’lish).

Lent is a time for believers only. It is a time to identify with Christ in his sacrifice and resurrection. We have it easy, we are only asked to abstain from certain hindrances and luxuries for 40 days and even then it becomes too much of a hassle for some Christians.

I don’t believe that Lent should be something dreadful or feel as if it is punishment. Lent isn’t meant to move us towards guilt feelings. Lent is a time to grow closer to God in remembering the sacrifice of His Son, the living sacrifice, Jesus. 

Lent 4

I wish to encourage you, especially those who are not participants in mainline denominations, to take some time to prepare for Lent by opening your mind and heart to seeking where God wants to lead you during this time.

Have you had any nagging feelings about certain areas of your life?

  • Eating habits, lack of exercise, serving others, decreasing how much you volunteer/work, etc.

Is there a Spiritual Discipline that you feel you have neglected or are interested in practicing?

  • Prayer, various styles of prayer, consistently reading the bible, church attendance, meditation, etc.

What about habits? Are there any habits that are getting in your way of having meaningful one-on-one time with God?

  • Poor time management, too much socializing, spending too much time on social media, the time you go to sleep and wake up, bitterness, anger, etc.

Whatever it is that might be affecting your walk, I can assure you God will reveal it to you. Because we have a graceful, merciful, and loving God, He doesn’t blast our sinfulfulness and spiritual slackness in our face. When God’s children get off track, we may not consciously notice it for quite some time, but God’s Holy Spirit is always alerting us. God doesn’t allow us to sin or become distant without providing us with signs and the nudging of the Spirit. The decision to pay attention and respond always rests with us. Our love for God and our desire to follow His ways are entirely left up to us to choose. God loves nothing more than to see His precious creation choose to have a heartfelt relationship with Him.

Throughout Lent and up to Easter Monday, I will have daily Lenten blog posts, however, I won’t be placing it on the main pages of this blog, beginning March 1st there will be a link provided for those who would like to engage in these short readings and reflections. I will only be posting my regular reflections and One Word 2014 articles on this main blog.

The Blessing of Self-Discipline

2014
2014

The Blessing of Discipline

I’ve enjoyed incorporating the One Word 365 philosophy into my daily life. There hasn’t been a day where I haven’t stopped and considered the word and experience of Blessing (my chosen One Word for 2014).

God's blessing brings goodness to your life, not trouble
God’s blessing brings goodness to your life, not trouble

This week an area where blessing has resonated with me is: Discipline. Throughout my life I haven’t always been a well disciplined person, however, once I entered my mid-thirties, discipline was no longer a choice for me, it became a requirement. Having ADHD resulted in a life of disorganization, confusion, distraction and running around in circles. My life was filled with starts and stops along with many unfinished tasks and uncommitted responsibilities. Thankfully, in my later thirties I learned through the help of an ADHD Academic Strategist many helpful techniques for managing various areas of my life. For any adult with ADHD, I highly recommend investing in an A.D.D. Coach. A.D.D. cannot be “cured” because it is not a disease, but it can definitely be managed.

This is NOT discipline!
This is NOT discipline!

I can’t think of too many people who enjoy discipline or having to get into the habit of developing new disciplines. I wish I could say it is easy work, but it isn’t. I’ve come to accept that discipline must be a part of my everyday life in order to function. I now consider discipline a blessing.

In Judaism, a blessing involves the drawing down of spiritual energy from God. The purpose of “Berakhot” is to acknowledge God as the source of all blessing and to turn everyday experiences into religious experiences and as a result increase awareness of God. In becoming a disciplined person I see and experience God’s blessing “Berakhah”, a gift from God. It would be difficult to live God’s calling on our lives if we do not have discipline. One could not become a doctor without daily study, an athlete without daily exercise, or a musician without daily practice. I cannot become the best “me” without the gift of discipline and “you” cannot become the best you without this gift either.

Discipline creates strength
Discipline creates strength

Discipline as a blessing produces the following in your life:

  • Self control
  • Perseverance
  • Ability to prioritize your life
  • Becoming a man/woman of your word (you do what you say you will)
  • The reward of having completed something (fulfillment of dreams and goals)
  • Development of your God given skills and talents
  • Time to enjoy doing things you enjoy
  • Overcoming habits that are of no benefit to you
  • Being able to continue working on something long after the initial excitement has ceased
  • Increased boundaries
  • Growing closer to God as you draw on His strength while you go about your daily responsibilities

discipline chart

May your discipline be a blessing in your life!

Question:

Think of areas in your life where you see discipline as a blessing. Praise God for these disciplines and what it has produced!

Application:

Pray and ask God to reveal areas in your life where you lack discipline; ask Him for help in making changes.

2014: God’s New Year’s Resolution

2014Target

2014 Spiritual Resolutions         

Happy 2014!

I hesitated on starting the 2014 with a blog post about the new year or the traditional topic of new year’s resolutions. I felt guilty about writing on the subject of creating goals and making resolutions, because 2014 began completely off track for me.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I no longer believe in them. I used to start each year with a list of habits I was going to change, goals I was going to achieve and everything else I had expected to successfully accomplish that year. Each year I failed to commit to my resolutions and any of them that were achieved happened by chance, and were not intentional.

By February of each year, I had usually forgotten what my resolutions were to begin with.  During my undergraduate years, I developed a habit of reviewing my goals and commitments every September, January and May; the start of new semesters in our school calendar. With each review I realised how much I had failed to accomplish what I had set out to do.

In December 2013 I sat at my desk each day reading multiple business books, time-management books, books on life management for adult ADHD and books on S.M.A.R.T. goal achievements. Multiple Amazon purchases later, I realized that what was missing from my goal planning was God.

Proverbs 16: 2-3 (NIV)

“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”

I naively made my plans, not realizing that all our plans need to be surrendered to God and offered for His blessing.

God Has A Plan

I’m not going to give you tips on how to make and keep New Year’s resolutions, but I will encourage you to give all your plans and goals to God, no matter what time of the year you make them. Seek first and foremost the will of God and remember the individual gifts, talents and callings He has blessed you with. Let these be your guide when you make goals for yourself.

  • Start with prayer, asking God what He would like you to accomplish for this year.
  • Ask God’s Holy Spirit to speak into your life as a guide to where you should be headed with your life.

Pray for a revelation of what might be preventing you from being able to achieve your goals. Could it be poor time management, envy, discouragement, laziness, disorganization, not caring about life, waiting for luck to find you? Are you waiting on God to make some miraculous cloud separating, thunder n’ lightning bolt revelation? Well you might be waiting for a while, because God rarely works with this method. You are more likely to be able to discern God leading you when you take time to be in His presence; praying, quietly and patiently as you follow his promptings.

APPLICATION:

When it comes to spiritual discipline and personal development; I firmly believe that each person has to find a method that works for them. We all have different learning styles, personalities and life circumstances. Thankfully there are plenty of resources available for Christians who want to develop their spiritual formation and make personal changes. Gathering books and DVD’s can become costly after only a few purchases, so if you are not in  a financial position to own a library of material, there are other options. Free resources are available at your local public library, your church library, joining a small group study at your church, and free resources from websites.

“You cannot fulfill God’s purposes for your life while focusing on your own plans. ” 
― Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

My prayer for you, is that 2014 will be a year of inviting God to be a part of all your goals, hopes and dreams. Blessings!

2014