Archive for the ‘Focus’ Category


II. MONITOR YOUR HEART

 The Bible says in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart for it affects everything you do.”  Enduring change in your life it starts from the inside and works itself out.  You don’t focus on your behavior.  You don’t focus on willpower.  You don’t even focus on your emotions at first.  You focus on what’s causing those emotions.  It always starts on the inside.  If you really want to break a bad habit you need to stop today and do an EKG of your heart.

  1.  What is your physical condition: Am I more physically exhausted or am I more energetic and in shape?
  2.  How about emotionally?  Am I emotionally discouraged about my life?  Am I pessimistic about my future?  Or am I more encouraged and optimistic about my future? 
  3.  How about mentally, the third one.  Am I right now mentally bored or discontent with my life, my job, my relationships?  Am I bored and discontented?  Or am I more challenged and contented in my relationships, my job, my career?
  4.  How about spiritually?  Right now, am I spiritually dry and empty?  Or am I more spiritually growing?  I’m on the cutting edge.  I know things are right with God.  Where are you between spiritually dry and empty and spiritually growing and on fire with God? 

Notice what the Bible says in Ephesians 4:27 “Do not give the devil a foothold.”  What is a foothold?  It’s when the devil finds a crack in your life’s security system.  He hangs on to the space so he can grab more because he wants to control your life.  It’s like soldiers in a war taking over an island.  They first establish a beachhead.  They just barely get on to the shore, but once they’re there they just keep pushing, pushing, pushing to capture more and more of the island.  And the devil wants to establish a little foothold in your life once he’s got something there to hold on to.

What is the number one foothold that Satan gets in your life?  It’s any negative emotion – when you’re physically exhausted, when you’re discouraged, when you’re bored, when you’re spiritually dry, when you’re insecure, when you’re deeply wounded, when you’re secretly bitter, when you’re sad, when you’re alienated.  Any of those things can allow the devil to get a foothold in your life. 

Let’s say you’re worried and insecure and angry and hurt.  The devil’s going to come along and start saying things like this, “You deserve a little pleasure in your life.  You deserve a little comfort in your life.  I know this isn’t right but there are so many bad things happening in your life you need something for comfort, for relief.  You deserve a little excitement.  You need something to calm you down.  Because everything’s bad in your life right now you really need just a little bit of good pleasure.” 

He doesn’t tell you it’s only going to make it worse in the long run.  You have to know the condition of your heart.  “Guard your heart,” the Bible says.  If you allow these emotions to dam up in your life you are more apt to say “yes” when you should be saying “no way!”

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Advertisements

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Joshua Becker of becomingaminimalist.

 

“Only in quiet waters do thing mirror themselves undistorted.  Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.” – Hans Margolius

It’s no secret that we are bombarded everyday with countless messages. In America alone, advertising is a $412 billion/year industry that is constantly telling us what to watch, where to go, and what to purchase. Their messages fill our televisions, radios, computers, newspapers, magazines, and morning commutes. Industry gladly spends this money because they know that over time, they will shape our minds, hearts, and spending habits. Add all of the political pundits and experts filling our airwaves telling us how we should think… and it becomes increasingly clear that we are bombarded nearly every moment of our lives with messages that others want us to hear and believe.

All of these messages inevitably begin to shape our lives. Our heart and mind is indeed influenced by the messages that enter through our eyes and ears. And our life is slowly whittled away and re-formed by the loudest voices that get through (it’s no reason they are shouting so loud for our attention).

Whether you are pursuing a “less is more” lifestyle or just trying to find more health and fulfillment in your life, you will find countless benefits from embracing a discipline of solitude.

Solitude provides opportunity to rediscover our lives. By ”electing to intentionally withdraw from human relationships for a period of time,” we are able to remove the shaping influence of others and recenter our hearts on our deepest values. We are able to evaluate the assumptions, claims, and messages of our culture. Often times, we realize that these shaping forces have been incorrect all along. And we have lost our lives because of them.

Consider that when we embrace solitude…

  • We intentionally remove the influence of others for period of time.
  • We intentionally remove the expectations of others.
  • We are able to hear our own heart speak.
  • We find rest and refreshment.
  • We discover that others can live without us.
  • We find that the world does not rest on our shoulders.
  • We can adequately reflect on our past and chart our future.
  • We break the cycle of busyness in our lives.
  • We become better equipped to show patience with others.
  • We feed our souls.

While anyone can practice solitude at any given time by just finding a quiet place to sit for an extended period of time, I have found these tips to be particularly helpful in developing a discipline of concentrated solitude:

  1. Give yourself enough time. If you are just starting, try 30 minutes. Typically, the first 15 minutes are filled with a busy mind still running fast. But after about 15 minutes, your mind will slow down enough to offer you deep reflection. And the longer you give it, the deeper it will go.
  2. Schedule time. If you are just hoping for an extra 30-45 minutes to show up in your day for solitude, it’ll never come. Time for solitude must be desired, scheduled, and created.
  3. Find a calm location. Your surroundings will make a big difference. Avoid “fast-paced” locations such as offices, kitchens, or any place that reminds you of work. Also keep in mind that you’ll find solitude more fulfilling if your space is uncluttered.
  4. Take as little as possible with you.
  5. Just allow your mind to wander. There are no set rules concerning what you should be thinking about. Just let your mind wander. As I mentioned, it will skip around at the very beginning. But eventually, your mind will settle in on something that your heart has been trying to tell you all along.
  6. Don’t quit just because you don’t like what you find. The journey into our heart is not always a pretty one. Sometimes when we start pulling back the layers of our heart and realize our deepest motivations, we don’t like what we see. This can be difficult for some and cause even more to stop altogether. But, don’t. A richer, fuller life is just around the corner.
  7. Don’t worry if you fall asleep. While solitude is different than napping, if you consistently find yourself falling asleep during these quiet periods, your mind may be trying to tell you something. And you should probably listen.
  8. Pray. If you are spiritual, certainly use this time to connect with God. If you are not spiritual, solitude just may put you more in touch with God if you are open to it. Because God often speaks with a small voice that is drowned out by the world’s noise, we can’t hear it until we intentionally listen for it.

Give solitude a chance. You’ve got nothing to lose. And your life to gain back.


A third way you can create a significant life is…

3. Look for eternal significance in all you do.
Three brick-workers were asked what they were doing. One said, “I’m laying bricks.” Another said, “I’m making $17.50 an hour.” The third said, “I’m building a cathedral for the glory of God.” All three were doing the same job, yet all three had a different perspective about it.

The key to significance–to living a satisfying life without regrets–is in recognizing the eternal value of the little things you do.

Steve May, a pastor to whom I give much credit to for this series, punctuated this truth. He said a young widow told him “It was about a year after her husband, Tim, had passed away. She and her family were having Thanksgiving Dinner and everyone was saying what they were thankful for. Her 8-year-old son said ‘I’m thankful for the days that Dad went outside and played catch with me.’ The woman said, ‘Tim’s office was at the house. Whenever a client missed an appointment, he would take Michael outside to play catch. He did it to defuse his anger over the client missing a session; he had no idea he was creating a memory that would last a lifetime.’ Then she said, ‘If he had realized how significant it was, I’m sure he would have done it more often.'”

Every day matters, even the mundane, are filled with eternal significance. It may seem to us that we’re just killing time, but we could be strengthening the bond of a relationship. It may appear just small talk to us, but we could be saying something that will change someone’s life forever. We may think we’re just laying bricks, but we could be building a cathedral for the glory of God. Look for meaning in the little things.

We see this principle in the life of Christ again and again. He would be having a meal with a friend and turn it into a life-changing experience. He would be walking along the road with his disciples and see a tree, and teach his disciples a lesson in faith.

Do you want to create a life without regrets? Remember this: There are no throw-away moments. Every day matters. Look for the eternal significance in your work, your words, your relationships, and your actions.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


I am writing this week about how to manage your life in a way that will help you reach your goals and accomplish things that last far beyond your lifetime. Maybe you wasted yesterday—maybe you wasted all your yesterdays—but today is yours. Today you can take charge of today, and begin doing things to ensure that you get the most out of today, and in the process you will make your future what you want it to be. Over the next couple of days I want to humbly offer three things you can do to build a life without regrets. First of all…

1. Make up your mind what kind of person you want to be–and do something today to make it true.

What kind of person do you want to be? If someone were to speak at your funeral, what would you want them to be able to say truthfully about you? What values are most important to you?

As we read the writings of Paul the Apostle, it is obvious that he placed a great deal of importance on consistency and faithfulness. Near the end of his ministry he wrote… “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Earlier in his ministry Paul said… “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” (Acts 20:24)

If you were to ask Paul the question “What do you want to be true about you?” he would most likely say, “I want to be faithful to the very end.” How did he make sure that it happened? He knew what kind of person he wanted to be, and everyday he did something to make it true. That’s why he said… “I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

Paul is obviously using a metaphor in this verse. The point he is making is in order to be found faithful at the end of his race, he had to be faithful today. He lived everyday like it has eternal significance.

Do you want to live a life of significance? Do something significant today. Do you want to be generous? Give today. Do you want to be known as a kind person? Be kind today. Whatever you want to be true about you, do something today to start making it true. In fact, I would like to give you a little homework assignment to work on this week. Think of the three most important character qualities you would like to develop over the course of your life. For the rest of this week, do at least one thing each day that will move you in the direction of making that character quality a reality in your life.

For example, if you want to be a caring person, then for the next seven days go out of your way to be caring AT LEAST ONCE each day. This seems simple, but it works. People who live lives of significance don’t get there by accident, they get there by effort. The Bible says… “A prudent man gives thought to his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15)

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine