Habits are the best of servants

The Best of Servants

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 6:8-9)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.

No, I strike a blow to 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 9:24-27)

As Good as a To-Do List

As Good As a To-Do List

Many people, if not most, navigate the day with some kind of prepared agenda:  a to-do list. It’s an essential element in getting things done, keeping you on target and on track throughout the day. And, of course, nothing feels better than marking through each item, one by one.

I love a to-do list, and here’s a twist on the idea that works just as well.

I’m talking about the To-Don’t list: Itemized reminders of the things I will not do today. Such as…

• Today I won’t eat sugar.
• Today I won’t watch TV.
• Today I won’t camp out on social media.
• Today I won’t raise my voice.
• Today I won’t engage in self-pity.

Sometimes the list will consist of actions that might be OK on other days, but this day you’re taking a break, such as putting down your phone for the afternoon or taking a day off from your hobby.

Other times the list is made up of actions and attitudes we must always avoid, and today you need that special reminder to steer clear of temptation: I will not think these thoughts, I will not say these words, I will not entertain this idea.

In Psalm 101 King David declared:  I will set no worthless thing before my eyes. (Psalm 101:3 NASB)

In Psalm 119 it became his prayer: Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word. (Psalm 119:37)

Here is where we discover the power of the list. Avoiding the don’ts gives us more time for the greatest to-do of all: seeking God’s greater presence through the life-sustaining gift of his Word.

health benefits of meditation

The Health Benefits of Meditation

I’m always fascinated when I read about the health benefits of spiritual disciplines, such as meditation.

Recently I came across a study from UCLA’s Laboratory of Neuro Imaging that suggests that meditation literally increases gray matter — that those who meditate show less age-related brain atrophy. Though more research is needed to confirm the study’s conclusions, UCLA professor Eileen Luders says that “meditation appears to be a powerful mental exercise with the potential to change the physical structure of the brain at large.”

What does this mean for you and me?

If a secular method of meditation is beneficial for one’s health, imagine how much more beneficial sacred meditation can be — for one’s physical health and spiritual well-being.

Meditation is not difficult at all. In fact, it’s as simple as sitting down and deciding to think about God for five minutes. (Five minutes is a really long time for me.)

God has commanded that we meditate on him, on his Word, on his goodness, on his mercy, on his love. So take some today to do nothing but think about God; it’ll do you good.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. (Psalm 119:15)

This post originally appeared at PreachingLibrary.com


Success is never final

Success Is Never Final

Failure isn’t final.

I don’t know who said it first, but every inspirational speaker since has said it at least once. That’s because it’s true. Failure is neither final nor fatal. You can make a comeback.

Today, however, I want to talk about the other thing that is never final.

I’m referring to success. It lasts such a short time. Maybe only a day. And then it’s time to go out and do it all over again.

It happens every time you finish a project. Or close the deal. Or reach your target weight. Or mark an item off your to-do list. Or get through the day without falling apart. Yes, it’s a cause for celebration, a personal pat on the back, but then tomorrow you’ll need to pick up where you left off and keep moving on.

Some pursue success as if it’s a destination, thinking that once you get there, you never have to leave. As it turns out, it’s just a short visit. You’re there for merely a moment, and then you’re back on the trail.

This is especially true in the Christian life. The battles won yesterday were yesterday’s battles. Today a new challenge will arise. That’s why Jesus reminds us that the disciple’s journey is day-to-day…

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

Failure is never final, thanks be to God. Each new day brings with it a new opportunity to do things right.

Let’s also remember that success isn’t final either. It’s never a destination. It’s always a daily process.

John Wooden: Today is the only day.

Today is the Only Day

Today is the only day. This means we shouldn’t fret about tomorrow:

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34 The Message)

And it means that we need to let go of the past:

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)

Today is the only day.

wandering mind

A Wandering Mind

An archived article in Science Magazine reports a study done several years ago regarding the effects of a wandering mind. The article states:

Many philosophical and religious traditions teach that happiness is to be found by living in the moment, and practitioners are trained to resist mind wandering and “to be here now.” These traditions suggest that a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Are they right?

The conclusion? Yes, the traditions are right.

The study revealed three facts:

1.) People’s minds wander frequently.
2.) People are less happy when their minds wander.
3.) What people think is a better predictor of happiness than what people do.

This is why the Bible puts so much importance to our thought life. Life is better — more fulfilling, more meaningful — when we remain focused in the moment on what really matters.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. (Psalm 119:15)

This post originally appeared at PreachingLibrary.com