How To Develop Self-Discipline

July 26, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Discipline is freedom. You may disagree with this statement, and if you do you are certainly not alone. For many people discipline is a dirty word that is equated with the absence of freedom. In fact the opposite is true. As Stephen R. Covey once wrote, “the undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites and passions”. And in the longer term, the undisciplined lack the freedom that comes with possessing particular skills and abilities – e.g. to play a musical instrument or speak a foreign language.

Self-discipline involves acting according to what you think instead of how you feel in the moment. Often it involves sacrificing the pleasure and thrill of the moment for what matters most in life. Therefore it is self-discipline that drives you to:

  • Work on an idea or project after the initial rush of enthusiasm has faded away
  • Go to the gym when all you want to do is lie on the couch and watch TV
  • Wake early to work on yourself
  • Say “no” when tempted to break your diet
  • Only check your email a few of times per day at particular times

In the past self-discipline has been a weakness of mine, and as a result today I find myself lacking the ability to do a number of things which I would like – e.g. to play the guitar. But I have improved, and I can say that it is self-discipline that got me out of bed this morning at 5am to run and then write this article. Believe me, I would love to be curled up in bed right now, but this desire is subordinated by my inner sense of purpose.

If you struggle with self-discipline, the good news is that it can be developed. For example, it is only in the past two years that I have trained myself to wake early. The following are what I have found to be the five traits of self-discipline:

1. Self-Knowledge

Discipline means behaving according to what you have decided is best, regardless of how you feel in the moment. Therefore the first trait of discipline is self-knowledge. You need to decide what behavior best reflects your goals and values. This process requires introspection and self-analysis, and is most effective when tied to written expression. I highly recommend taking the time to write out your goals, dreams and ambitions. Even better, write out a personal mission statement. I found that writing such a statement gave me a greater understanding of who I am, what I am about and what I value. Dr. Covey has an excellent Mission Statement Builder on his site.

2. Conscious Awareness

Self-discipline depends upon conscious awareness as to both what you are doing and what you are not doing. Think about it. If you aren’t aware your behavior is undisciplined, how will you know to act otherwise?

As you begin to build self-discipline, you may catch yourself being in the act of being undisciplined – e.g. biting your nails, avoiding the gym, eating a piece of cake or checking your email constantly. Developing self-discipline takes time, and the key here is you are aware of your undisciplined behavior. With time this awareness will come earlier, meaning rather than catching yourself in the act of being undisciplined you will have awareness before you act in this way. This gives you the opportunity to make a decision that is in better alignment with your goals and values.

3. Commitment to Self-Discipline

It is not enough to simply write out your goals and values. You must make an internal commitment to them. Otherwise when your alarm clock goes off at 5am you will see no harm in hitting the snooze button for “just another 5 minutes….” Or, when initial rush of enthusiasm has faded away from a project you will struggle to see it through to completion.

If you struggle with commitment, start by making a conscious decision to follow through on what you say you’re going to do – both when you said you would do it and how you said you would do it. Then, I highly recommend putting in place a system to track these commitments. As the saying goes, “What gets measured gets improved”.

4. Courage

Did you notice the sweat dripping from the man in the picture at the start of this article? Make no mistake, self-discipline is often extremely difficult. Moods, appetites and passions can be powerful forces to go against. Therefore self-discipline is highly dependent on courage. Don’t pretend something is easy for you to do when it is in fact very difficult and/ or painful. Instead, find the courage to face this pain and difficulty. As you begin to accumulate small private victories, your self-confidence will grow and the courage that underpins self-discipline will come more naturally.

5. Internal Coaching

Self-talk is often harmful, but it can also be extremely beneficial if you have control of it. When you find yourself being tested, I suggest you talk to yourself, encourage yourself and reassure yourself. After all, it is self-talk that has the ability to remind you of your goals, call up courage, reinforce your commitment and keep you conscious of the task at hand. When I find my discipline being tested, I always recall the following quote: “The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret”. Burn this quote into your memory, and recall in whenever you find yourself being tested. It may change your life.
This article is from http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/self-discipline/#qlBuLbSgSVSYXEmj.99 and is acknowledged here.

Don’t Quit

July 11, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
 Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit -
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
~Unknown~

Freedom of Religion & Freedom of Worship

June 30, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Today (06/30) the Supreme Court of the United States rendered a verdict in the case of Hobby Lobby et. al. While the decision was not comprehensive it did strike a blow for the Freedom of Religion.

I want to distinguish between the Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Worship.

The Freedom of Religion, protected by the First Amendment, guarantees the free exercise of religious conviction in The Marketplace as well as in the privacy of a church, school or private home.

The Freedom of Worship is an entirely different matter. That simply means that the Market Place is off limits for such expressions. This language was used by Hitler and Stalin to suppress and deny the Freedom of Religion in Germany and Russia. Millions lost their lives as a result of the capitulation of such deception by Pastors and the church. The time to rise up against such distortion of language is at the first moment it is spoken.

Both the current occupant of the Oval Office and the former Secretary of State who wants to occupy that office use ‘Freedom of Worship’ in their speeches. Lies pure and simple.

I issue a call to all Pastors to rally against this distortion. Teach your people this distinction. Teach the historical consequences of acquiescence to such nonsense. Proclaim with all authority the Truth. Pray earnestly. Prepare to suffer. Never ever give up!

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

 

The Power of Purpose

June 12, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Purpose brings focus. The absence of focus leads to petty conflicts and energy invested in activities that are utterly and absolutely unproductive. This leads to the establishment of territorial turf. Then the perpetrator must defend their territory out of a sense of ‘duty to the Truth!’

How sad and descriptive of much of what passes for ‘ministry’ in local churches.

When everyone owns a purpose that is defined and developed by the mandates of Scripture the myriad of petty turf wars is diminished if not eliminated.

Purpose is characterized by:

1.  Unconditional surrender to Jesus Christ as LORD.

2.  Embracing as your ‘first principle’ the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

3.  Engaging each day with a passion to fulfill the tasks God has equipped you to accomplish.

4.  Understanding that the church is the Body of Christ.

5.  Living life “In Community”, putting others before self.

6.  An objective Metric by which effectiveness is evaluated – you did or did not accomplish the tasks.

7.  An Integrated life. All aspects of life are fulfilled with excellence.

So – - do you have PURPOSE?

Churches & Birds

May 12, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

We have a wide variety of birds that grace our lawn and the feeders we provide. They like the place.

Why are there so many and why do they frequent our lawn so often? Simple. There are ample trees and shrubs for nesting and protection. There is always food available. There is a constant supply of water for them to drink, Like I said – SIMPLE!

Now for the church. When people attend, do they discover a safe place where they are fed with accuracy and passion the unadulterated pure Word of God? Can they drink deeply from the riches that are Christ Jesus. Like I said – SIMPLE!

Want to see your church grow? Protection & Safety, rich portions of God’s Word accurately exegeted and delivered with passion and a constant supply of living Water. Like I said – SIMPLE!

He Is RISEN!

April 13, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an established fact, a fact that shapes all of time and eternity. Do you know Him? Have you come face to face with the Living God and surrendered unconditionally to Him? Take the time right now to examine what the text of Scripture says about Jesus Christ and about the eternal importance of surrender to Him. You will be eternally thankful you did.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,  2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain.  3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,  5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.  9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.  11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.  12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.  15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.  16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.  17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.  20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.  24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.  25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.  28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:1-28

The “Grey Tsunami” & The Church

March 28, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

The ‘Grey Tsunami’ is the economic, ecological and social effects that the baby boom generation is creating as it gets older.

COLUMBIA, SC — Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell warned lawmakers Wednesday that a failure to prepare for South Carolina’s oncoming “gray tsunami” will cause a budget crisis and human tragedies.

RICHMOND, VA news – Gray and Howarth are part of a booming demographic colloquially dubbed the grey tsunami. According to Statistics Canada, in 2011 Richmond’s seniors population – those over the age of 65 – was 26,000, representing about 14 per cent of the population. In 10 years, that rate should be about one quarter as baby boomers reach retirement age. By 2040, roughly half the population will be over age 55.

The ‘Grey Tsunami’ is a major factor in considering the health and future of the local church. I am working with a church of 370 people. 47% of them are over the age of 70. 15% of them are over the age of 90! Only 15% are 30 or under.

The implications of this are obvious to anyone with even modest intelligence. But, churches deny this reality with impunity. Entire States, yea entire nations are alarmed and taking action to address the ramifications of this reality.

The church – not so much. The Median Age of the population of the United States is 39. The Median Age of the church in the United States is 58. The church will be swept away by the Grey Tsunami if they do not take immediate and significant steps to reach young people.

After all, isn’t that the mandate of the Great Commission in the first place?

By What Standard?

February 25, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

TRUTH – is Revealed, Propositional, Transcendent, Authoritative, Incarnate and Transforming.

The past decade has seen seismic changes in the culture of the United States of America. Conduct viewed as normative today was virtually and properly condemned as practically and morally reprehensible just 10 years ago.

What single issue has changed that makes such a dramatic ‘student body left’ transition possible?

Abandoning our fidelity to Truth!

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37).

Jesus’ response to Pilate posited for all time and eternity that TRUTH is the standard by which all men and nations are measured. He is righteous and God’s Word and God’s Son reveal Truth to Power.

The lead banner on this article posits terms that characterize Truth. They are:

Revealed – No one would know God apart from His self-revelation. He has made Himself known to us and that knowledge is rooted in history and recorded in Scripture. The Greeks saw God from a perspective we label Deism. God created all things but has no participation in the unfolding of events. John tells us that when we want to know God we need only look at Jesus. In His coming He has exegeted, put on public display, led out into the open for all to see this Sovereign, Holy and Loving God.

Propositional - The Ten Commandments are not suggestions. Moral Law applies to all people of all time in every place. Have no other God’s before Him. That applies today. Who is your God?

Transcendent - The Scripture declares that TRUTH is forever settled in heaven; Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. (Psalm 119:89). The only objective source for a discussion of heaven or hell is the Word of God. All else is hypothetical speculation.

Authoritative - Philosophical systems endeavoring to describe and explain reality are multitudinous. All except Christian Theism lay on the ash heaps of history. Truth endures in the Special Revelation of God and the Person of Jesus Christ.

Incarnate – Truth is not merely a philosophical football. Truth is embodied in the Person of Christ. In His 33 years he lived a sinless life. Through the redemption purchased in his death mankind is enabled to live in freedom from the penalty of sin.

Transforming – History is replete with those who came to the Bible to prove that is was merely a collection of myths and legends. As they studied it’s pages to refute the truth-claims expressed, they were transformed. For any who would challenge the propositions I present in this article, get a copy of the Bible (English Standard Version) and read it. Warning – you will either yield to Jesus as LORD or put it down, deny Truth and by doing so seal your eternal destiny.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

God In The Whirlwind – A Review

February 10, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

This is the sixth (6th) title by Dr. David Wells in this series. This title summarizes the issues posited in the first five (5) titles and provides ‘a way forward’ for the evangelical church that is effective yet avoids capitulation to the ever declining cultural norms.

Highly recommended for any Christian seeking an approach to evangelism that is both compassionate and true to the message of the Gospel.

Building on years of research, writing, and cross-cultural ministry, renowned author and theologian David Wells calls our attention to that which defines God’s greatness and gives shape to the Christian life: the holy-love of God.

In God in the Whirlwind, Wells explores the depths of the paradox that God is both holy and loving, showing how his holy-love provides the foundation for our understanding of the cross, sanctification, the nature of worship, and our life of service in the world. What’s more, a renewed vision of God’s character is the cure for evangelicalism’s shallow theology, with its weightless God and sentimental gospel.

Written by one of evangelicalism’s most insightful minds, this book will help you stand firm in your faith despite the changing winds and raging storms of the modern world.

Endorsements

“Rich, deep, and faithful—God in the Whirlwind invites us to come before the very heart of God. No theologian understands the modern world better than David Wells, yet no theologian uses the modern world more powerfully to wrench us back to truths that are foundational and never to be superseded by the latest anything. To be read slowly and with prayer.”
—Os Guinness, co-founder, The Trinity Forum; author, The Call

“In this important book, David Wells begins the process of bringing his influential critique of late modern culture and the church down into practice. Here we have a ‘practical theology’ for conducting the church’s life based on the reality of a God of ‘Holy-love.’ This particular way of understanding and preaching the doctrine of God, Wells believes, protects the church from either being co-opted by the culture or becoming a ghettoized subculture. Decades of teaching theology is boiled down here into accessible, practical chapters. I’m glad to recommend this volume.”
—Timothy J. Keller, Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City; author, The Reason for God

God In The Whirlwind

January 31, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

David F. Wells (PhD, University of Manchester) is the Distinguished Senior Research Professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  In addition to serving as academic dean of its Charlotte campus, Wells has also been a member of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and is involved in ministry in Africa.  He is the author of numerous articles and books, including a series that was initiated by a Pew grant exploring the nature of Christian faith in the contemporary, modernized world.  Building on years of research, writing, and cross-cultural ministry, renowned author and theologian David Wells calls our attention to that which defines God’s greatness and gives shape to the Christian life: the holy-love of God.

In God in the Whirlwind, Wells explores the depths of the paradox that God is both holy and loving, showing how his holy-love provides the foundation for our understanding of the cross, sanctification, the nature of worship, and our life of service in the world. What’s more, a renewed vision of God’s character is the cure for evangelicalism’s shallow theology, with its weightless God and sentimental gospel.

Written by one of evangelicalism’s most insightful minds, this book will help you stand firm in your faith despite the changing winds and raging storms of the modern world.

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