Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Glass of Water

Today marks my 365th day of drinking nothing but water.  That's right!  For the past year, I have had nothing but water to drink.  I never had pop, juice, milk (except on cereal because water on cereal would be gross), coffee or tea.  That's a lot of water.

When people asked me why I was doing it, there were a number of reasons for my choice.  One was I get a lot of acid reflux and my doctor had told me years ago that laying off of acid filled drinks would help.  Another reason was it was healthier for me.  Given the copious amounts of sugar I ingest through candy intake, this was a wise decision otherwise I would have probably been a few pounds heavier.

Have you ever decided to do something but found it difficult to do?  What were the rewards or benefits?  Did you give up?  Did you think to yourself, "I will never ever accomplish this?"  How many times in life do we give up on what we are trying to do because we just think we cannot do it?  Maybe you're trying to quit smoking.  Maybe you're trying to read more. (I should probably do that.)  Maybe you're trying to lose weight. (Given the candy intake, I should probably do this too.)  Maybe you're just trying to be a better person in general. (We should all do this!)

But do you give up?

There are a lot of things that I would love to change about myself but have often thought that I just cannot do it.  That right there is the biggest struggle that I face.  My thoughts tell me that I cannot do it, so I give up and accept failure.  I've been defeated before I've even started.  I had to change my thinking before I could even hope to achieve what I was hoping for.  However, the road to completion wasn't easy.  There were times when I wanted a cup of coffee more than I thought I would.  There were times when I just wanted to stop into a Starbucks and pick myself up a Cinnamon Dolce Latte.  But it was my goal to not do it and I am glad to say that I didn't.

The author of Hebrews talks about these kinds of struggles.  In a single verse he talks about the struggle, but also the benefit of overcoming that struggle:
"No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way" (Hebrews 12:11, NLT).
It isn't easy saying no to yourself.  It isn't easy to deprive yourself of something that you really think that you want, but the benefit is that, not only do you achieve your goal, you also have trained yourself to know that you can do it again and again and again.  You are preparing yourself for what you might think is the impossible.

So why did I choose to give up all forms of drinks except water for an entire year?  The answer is really that I wanted to train myself to be disciplined.  I wanted to prove to myself that if I set my mind to something, that I could attain what I was striving for.  It may have seemed silly to some.  It may have seemed ridiculous to others.  However to me, it was a battle of the will to win.  I have a family, a job and most importantly, a living God that needs me to be self-disciplined.

I am happy to report that I have won this battle.  I am also happy to report that I will continue to win because I KNOW THAT I CAN!!!  I have proved it over this past year and I will continue to discipline myself in the future.  I want to change to have "a peaceful harvest of right living" in my life.

Here is the great news ... YOU CAN DO IT TOO!!!  If you determine in your mind that you will succeed, you will.  You might have struggles along the way, and at times it might seem next to impossible, but you will be victorious if you set it in your mind that you're going to do this.  Start training yourself.  Maybe start with something small and exercise your discipline until you see the results you're looking for.

I started with a glass of water.  What are you going to start with to train yourself to be self-disciplined?

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Imperfectly Perfect

Tonight I celebrated Christmas Eve with my family.  It was much like most Christmas Eves in the past.  We eat, we open presents, we go to church, we eat and then we go home.  But what stood out tonight to me caught me off guard.

Part of our yearly tradition is going to church together as a family.  This year was no different and when I got there, I was asked to play the drums for the service.  My nephew was even asked to play the bass.  A little rusty, we both agreed to step into these roles and have a front row view of the service.

It was your typical service.  There was some carols, special music, a message and a reminder about what the season is all about.  But what stood out to me was a young girl who played silent night on her keyboard.  For some reason, in that moment, I was lost in what Christmas was all about.  Her playing wasn't perfect, but it was a reminder that in our imperfections, we still can worship God for who He is and what He has done for us.  I'll get to that in a second.  At the end of the song, she missed a chord but was able to perservere through the minor mishap and finish the song.  She went back and sat beside her mom visibly upset because she hadn't done it quite the way she wanted.

After she had finished, another accomplished piano player also played another Christmas medley.  He was very good but he too, missed a few chords but perservered through and finished a beautiful song. It was as if the whole night was about missing things.  I too, missed the cymbal at one point which brought a chuckle from both my nephew and myself.  

When Mary and Joseph showed up in Bethlehem, there was no room for them in the hotel.  They had missed getting a room for the night.  However, they persevered in a stable.  They saw it through to the finish that their Son was born just the way He was supposed to be.  He came imperfectly perfect.  It is not how most of us would imagine a king being born, but God saw it fit that the King of kings was born in a stable on a cool winter's night.

How many times do we find ourselves trying to do things 'just right' only to be disappointed with the outcome?  We strive for perfection but often make mistakes.  The truth is, that sometimes, it is those mistakes which bring about the best results.  Tonight, a young girl brought me into the presence of a King and reminded me that He never asks us to be perfect, but He just asks us to come and worship Him for who He is ... Jesus Christ ... a Saviour ... Emmanuel.

So, this Christmas, if it isn't perfect, don't sweat it.  As long as you give your best God will take what is imperfect and make it perfect.

To the young lady who played Silent Night ... thank you for allowing me to worship ... perfectly!

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Balanced Life

It has been a long time since I've put anything up here. To say that I've been distracted from blogging would be an understatement. With my current job and a new baby, my life has been very occupied with doing. 

My social life has taken a back seat as well. I'm very much a social butterfly and because life has got busy, I haven't really invested the time that I use to in my friends. Meeting for breakfast, grabbing a coffee or even a quick email has been dropped for work and then time at home with my family. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret spending time with my family or doing a good job at work, but maintaining the balance hasn't been well achieved. 

Unfortunately, my personal walk with God has also been neglected because of all my busyness in my life. My devotional time has been hit or miss at best. Spending quiet time with God has been a quick conversation in the car or shower but there hasn't been a lot of one-on-one time with a close friend.  The scales of balance are definitely weighted the wrong way in my life. 

Maybe if you're reading this, your life is out of balance as well. Maybe you have allowed things to distract you or command your attention while other things get neglected. I understand your struggle but maybe this blog today will help you take a look at your schedule and see where you can bring things back into a balanced life. It might not not be easy, but if you commit yourself to being attentive to it, you're going to see a change. 

For me, I'm spending more time with a God that loves me. If He truly is a priority for me, then I need to make time for Him. Work still needs to get done and I enjoy what I do, but if I don't have Him as number one, then the job isn't worth doing because the job is not eternal. Also, when I spend time with God, He leads me in my job. He helps me make the right decisions and shows me how to treat the people that I work with. He also helps me be an example of His love and grace.

So today, I choose balance. What do you choose?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Get It Right?

I heard a song in the car today while I was driving that really got me thinking.  Although the song is not the most famous song on the radio, or even a number one hit, it is definitely a favourite of mine. 

A few years ago, I was going through some very difficult times. No matter what I did, nothing just seemed to go my way. It seemed like the more I tried to make it better, things just kept getting worse. Life just continued to get more difficult, and despite my best efforts, I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into a state of depression. Now, if you know me, you would know that I'm a fairly positive guy. I always try to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, in this case, the light was fading and fading quickly. 

How many times have you found yourself struggling to get ahead only to find yourself farther back then where you started? Maybe your career is not where you want it to be. Maybe your relationship is a constant struggle and no matter how hard you try, you don't feel good enough in it. Maybe you desire a relationship but just can't seem to find the right person to connect with. Maybe you're struggling with habitual problems that are holding you back. My hope out of today's blog, is that you leave with a sense of hope. That despite how tough life gets, you continue to get back up after you've been knocked down, wipe the dust off and continue to fight no matter how difficult the situation is. But how do you keep going?

I don't know how many times I tried to get it right, but I do know that eventually my situation turned around. However, the turning around wasn't done by myself. My faith in God has always been my support in the darkest of times and although there were moments when God seemed far away, I now know He was closer then I could possibly imagine. He gave me hope. He gave me the motivation to keep going and when I was at my lowest, He was always there to help me through. He was and is my Light at the end of the tunnel.  

The funny part in all of this is there are still times when I find myself trying to get it right and yet, I fail miserably. Does that mean that God isn't with me? Nope ... Not at all. It just means that He wants me to keep trusting Him and keep pressing forward. 

About that song. It isn't a 'Christian' song, but it does remind me of where I've been and where I am now. I'm just thankful that I have a Heavenly Father that abounds in grace and helps me 'get it right' despite my failures. Here's the song with lyrics. I pray that you look to God to get it right. http://youtu.be/qfjp9tqgrHk

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Dog's Life

 I was doing my morning devotions outside this morning as the weather was gorgeous and I looked up and saw my wife's dog sprawled out on the grass sleeping in the sunshine.  I thought to myself, "MAN!!!! I wish I could do that!"  Of course, my mind was persuaded that if I did, the owner of that dog wouldn't be very pleased with me, and honestly, I probably wouldn't be pleased with me either.  It's laziness at it's best.  I have to admit though, it would be nice to just lay there and not have a worry in the world.

However, there are times in our lives that we get so busy that we forget to stop and just "be".  We have so many things to do that we forget to cherish the moments that we are in.  We get caught up with having to go there, or having to be here and forget that sometimes you just need to stop.  That doesn't mean that you don't get things done, but there has to be a time of rest.

Then I got thinking some more about our furry little friend soaking up the sunshine ... how many times do we stop and take time to be with God?  In the hustle and bustle of life, how many times do we stop?  Even in our personal devotions, often we find ourselves drifting off to the to-do lists of the day or week and not really focusing on our time with God.  Maybe it is just me.  I have been sometimes labeled as A.D.D. but I'm sure there are more people out there like me.  

When I first started dating, my wife showed me a quote that she had posted on her fridge and it has stuck with ever since.  It goes like this

Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know
Be still
Psalm 46:10

Today I am choosing to live a dog's life.  I am choosing to stop all that I am doing and just calm myself in the Sonshine of my Heavenly Father.  It isn't easy (especially for this A.D.D. kid), but I am going to make time to spend some uninterrupted time with God.  I still have my to-do list, but I am going to make God a priority on that list.