Archive for the ‘Virtues’ Category

Over the course of this last year I’ve been amazed by the depth of the friendship within the world of blogging. I’ve developed some great friendships with some highly intelligent and socially well adjusted folks. Who would have thunk it, eh?! So it is about time I gave back to them, and linked to their blogs with a little snippet of appreciation for their friendship and all their kind comments along the way.

My only regret is that since I began this journey so many have given up on the blog world and moved on. So for all of them, you are missed, and I hope all is well.

But for those who remain, he is a tribute to you.

Bridget (A.K.A. Helvidius Pachyderm). Her posts are always intelligent and well-researched, her comments witty and enjoyable, and her affect amiable yet strong-willed. She is the first name on this list because in quality her blog is tops, in quantity her posts consistent, and in personality she is exemplary of the kind of warm-hearted atheist who makes Capitalists look like a positive force in this world. And maybe it warms her atheist heart to know I hope God will bless her so abundantly she can’t help but reconsider her position on his existence.

Her only flaw? Well if I must think of one, it is that she doesn’t comment on my blog as often as I would like.

Neil. He is nothing less than a great man who has completed more good in this world than I have ever thought of attempting. His theology is consistent, his blog a welcoming atmosphere even to those who consistently disagree, and his actions exemplary of how a Christian man should conduct himself. Here’s to you Neil!

Diana. Indeed, she is a woman whose beauty is only excelled by the depth of her compassion and love for God’s creation. Her blog is a poignant look into the struggles and joys of a daughter of God.

My various political allies and friends include: Debbie, Matthew, CavMom, Angel, Tammi, Velvet Hammer, and others I’ve unfortunately forgotten.

My non-political friends include: Tammy, Abarclay, Rachel B., Isaac, PinksandBlues (three very beautiful women who run a business) and others I regretfully forgot.

Religious friends include: The Epiphinator (A marathon running, discipling, beauty), Kiki, Timothy, MLBAH, and others I regretfully forgot.

Weight loss friends include: Israel (a recent friend, but he admires my work so he is obviously a man of refined and exquisite tastes), Lady Rose, and many others who haven’t commented on this blog in a bit so I couldn’t find a link to their blog. See the benefit of commenting often!

And don’t forget to check this out

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Create Goals, Engage Focus, and Gain Desire

Setting realistic goals isn’t just an exercise in penmanship. When you set goals you engage focus and gain desire. Without focus desires will run your life and send you in a thousand different directions- which usually amounts to going nowhere fast. You need goals to engage your focus, to center on that point on the horizon where you want to be. Your focus will breed desire to get to that point, to be that person, to live up to your potential.

How: Take today to create three goals, and harness your desires to become a better person.

Apply Honesty, Gain Perspective

Honesty usually isn’t hard when dealing with other people, but when dealing with our own actions and bad habits most have a habit of taking a less than honest approach. Too often we look at our failures and blame others, we look at our success and take all the credit. Can you be honest with yourself? If you can be honest with yourself, you will gain perspective. Perspective is the unique ability to look into your own life and see what you are doing right and wrong without resorting to the defense mechanisms of blame, excuse, and rationalizing.

How: Take some time at the end of the day and review your choices and decisions. Ferret out any excuses and rationalizations, assign blame or responsibility appropriately. Think about the causes and effects of your actions. In addition, find friends, family, and co-workers who have a vested interest in you and are willing to be honest with you.

Discover Core Values, Gain Traction

While your goals are limited and focused, you need to have core values that are open and broad in perspective. For example, while a good goal might be:

Lose 10lbs by September 30th, 2007,

a good core value might be:

To live a healthier lifestyle in how I eat, exercise, and how I handle stress.

Your core values create a checkpoint for future actions. Is that food something you want to eat? Should you be sitting on the couch or out running? Run these situations past your core values and you will find that you now have a light to guide your path. Core values and goals go hand in hand.

How: Look back on your life. What do you regret? What are your proud of? Find your core values and write them down, commit them to memory. Bring them together with your goals, and begin living a life with conscious direction.

This will be a new series similar to my old posts on patience and pride.  I still stand behind my old posts, but I think enough remains to be written that I won’t have to repeat myself.  Each day (if the Lord is willing and the schedule open) I will post on one of the below virtues.

Each post will follow the same rough outline.  I will identify a vice, name the virtue which can diminish that vice, and then list the benefits of that virtue.   It isn’t realistic to expect a total absence of vice in your life, but that doesn’t mean you have to let your vices control you.

And if you think virtues aren’t for you because you aren’t a religious person, think again.  These four virtues cut across all aspects of life: body, mind, and spirit.  For example, holding on to anger and refusal to forgive can cripple the spirit, preoccupy the mind, and have adverse health impacts on your body.

1. Flee Pride, Pursue Humility, Find Contentment

2. Flee Impulse, Pursue Patience, Find Calm

3. Flee Excuses, Pursue Honesty, Find Perspective

4. Flee Bitterness, Pursue Forgiveness, Find Peace

Whether it is finances or fitness, we often dig our own hole.  We dig it with one shovel full of dirt at a time.  We almost never see the whole until we are looking up and it seems we are so deep down that there is no possibility of escape.

The good news is, you can escape.  the bad news, it will take time.

We dug our bad debt hole over three years.  We started off in our marriage with four credit cards.  Each of us brought two cards with respectable balances (about 35%-40% of the max) into the marriage.

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I was originally going to title this post, “How to Leave Your Church.” However, the title fell far short of what I wanted this post to convey. While this post will address the right way to leave a church, this post is much bigger than that. I want to speak to our western world view and how it plays into our actions within the church and as a body of believers.

Take that phrase, “body of believers,” and think on it.

Paul refers to the “body” often in his various epistles. But can we understand what he means? Is our frame of reference able to comprehend the gravity of that word?

Living in a Constitutional Republic, each of us is accustomed to knowing and exercising our rights. Even those ignorant of the Constitutional specifics know that they have rights. Those rights don’t belong to certain groups, but to the people. They are individual rights that each member of society is capable of exercising without seeking permission or blessing. And while this has been a political blessing, it has also served as a spiritual curse.

As a result, we feel entitled even in the church setting to seek comfort, to go after what pleases us, and to find our own happiness. Just think of how many times you’ve heard the phrase, “How can I grow in Christ” compared with the phrase, “How can we grow together in Christ.” Sadly, church has become an individual exercise of weekly attendance. Where is submission? Where is sacrifice? Where are the shared burdens?

To make matters worse we use or freedom to avoid growth.

Too often, as members of the church we take offense, and instead of confronting our brother, we simply move on to another congregation. Instead of letting these kind of conflicts lead to stronger bonds of brotherhood and friendship, we seek the immediate comfort of avoidance. But in doing such you haven’t solved a problem, you have merely carried your own problem to another church- where it is destined to arise again at some point.

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“God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6: 7-9.

How often do we (to use a Covey phrase) begin with the end in mind? How much would our lives improve if we thought about the possible outcomes of our actions? Not just the big ones, but our daily attitude, perspective, and actions.

Too often we sow all kinds of harmful seeds without even realizing our actions. It might be harmful habits like smoking, unhealthy eating, and excessive drinking. These actions build up and snowball over time. But what will you sow?

A life of hard drinking can lead to small things at first, things like simple regret over saying the wrong thing. In the end, after a longer season, the results can be much worse- losing your family, home, and even your life. A life of over eating can at the least lead to sluggishness and poor self-image. But given long enough over eating can bring you to the horrors of clogged arteries, heart disease, etc.

You can change this though!

Start sowing new seeds today. Live a deliberate life, think out your choices, fully contemplate your actions. This is your choice; this is your life. Take control.

“…in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Life changes take one day to begin, and a lifetime to complete. But if you persevere you will reap a reward. If you change your unhealthy eating habits today, down the road you will reap a bountiful harvest.

Take my transformation challenge as an example. After only a week not only had my weight declined, but my resting heart rate and my blood pressure improved. In two weeks the drop in my resting heart rate and my blood pressure was significant. After a month I weighed was almost sixteen pounds less, and my waist was almost two inches smaller.

And now, here I am three months and two days later. When you see these numbers, don’t think of how far I’ve come, think of how much YOU COULD DO in just three months.

Weight then 206.3 lbs

Weight now 175.6 lbs

Waist then 41 1/2 inches

Waist now 36 inches

Body-fat Percentage then 27.8%

Body-far percentage now 19.7%

BMI then 29.7

BMI now 26.

I am not special in this regard. You can do this too. Just follow three simple steps.

  1. Visualize and write down your goals honestly and specifically.
  2. Start taking the necessary steps to achieve your goals.
  3. Persevere! Persevere! Persevere!

Change is difficult, change is hard on the nerves, and change is perhaps the single most important incentive to growth. Sometimes the only certain thing in our lives is change. We can encounter that change and cower in fear, we can simply roll with that change (letting it overpower us), or we can use that change to transform us for the better.

When I started this process in early February, I noticed a change in myself.

I had become intellectually lazy (I had almost stopped reading completely), I had become spiritually empty (my prayer life was practically dead), I had become financially lazy (engaged in a cycle of spending beyond our means on non-essential items), and of course I had become near hopelessly fat (my stomach jiggled when I brushed my teeth).

These things hadn’t happened over night. Each occurred gradually, the result of a long string of poor choices and bad decisions.

I took a look at myself that February day and said, “This need stop now.” I haven’t been perfect since then, I have spent money I shouldn’t have, missed bible study dates, and eaten deep fried food and calorie dense snack food. However, for the most part, 95% of how I live my life in all those areas has changed. Why did I do that?

Because I looked ahead and I saw an unwanted change coming. I looked to my financial future and I saw bankruptcy; I looked to my spiritual future and I saw the wide path that led to destruction; I looked to body’s future and saw heart attacks and diabetes. I didn’t like any of what I saw. So the choice was clear, wait for change, or begin the process of change (transformation) myself.

The process has been at times a bumpy road and at times quite difficult, but it has also been rewarding. I would advise anyone else seeking to transform their life that the change is worth it- the chance is worth it.