Time: Number Your Days

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Psalm 90:12:Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

I even wrote a YouVersion note titled “This verse can change your life — if you’ll let it!” on it.

I know some people may think:

“Numbering our Days” is a nice catch phrase, but what does the ‘doing’ look like.

I’m going to tackle various aspects of numbering our days, such as:

  • Thinking about: “Why am I here? What is my purpose? What do I dream about?”
  •  Setting up routines
  • Choosing top priority tasks for the day
  • Task management
  • Other time tips

Break Through: When to Give In, How to Push Back by Dr. Tim Clinton

I was fortunate to get a review copy of “Break Through” by Dr. Tim Clinton from Worthy publishing. This is a blessing, since I don’t think I would have picked it up on my own and I really would have missed out on an amazing gem of a book.

Since this blog is about being on a journey to change: continually improving, without a destination (except eternity). One area we all can improve on is relationships. I think everyone has at least one difficult relationship in their life that feels out of control and you are not really sure what to do next. This book deals with this very subject in a very practical way by showing another path by taking full responsibility for our lives; it guides us on the portion of the relationship that we can impact. Although, I don’t recall this verse being mentioned in the book, the book is a guide on how to apply Romans 12:18 in a balanced and responsible way recognizing that sometimes improving the relationship may not be possible, but we should still do our part.

Romans 12:18 NIV – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

The book is about relationships with others, but I also found it to be profoundly helpful in the area of my relationship with God (and seeing more clearly who he is).

This is a great explanations of what the Gospel is all about from pg. 102-103. I’ve read it over and over and each time it fills my heart with gratitude for such a tremendous gift:

In the gospel of Christ, God offers the attachment for which the human heart longs: we are wonderfully made, tragically fallen, deeply loved, completely forgiven, and warmly accepted in Christ. When we accept Christ’s death as the payment for our sins, we experience the joy of freedom from guilt and shame. We also enter into a rich relationship with God as his children and heirs.

The book is also about freedom in relationships (from pg. 156-157):

The journey to freedom begins by recognizing where you are and how you got here, redefining what love is and isn’t, and then learning to love and exercise healthy limits.

Things I found very practical and helpful for later reference (and practice) are, below:

pg. 210-215,  Principles for Speaking the Truth

pg. 232-233, “REACH Forgiveness”

pg. 247 – 249 – “Step Back for a Clearer View” – As I went on in the book, I was wondering if this topic of getting away from the enmeshed relationship for some time period would be mentioned, because I think it can be critical. Yet at the same time, I felt challenged and encouraged by the fact that the emphasis of the book isn’t running away (which all of us don’t need to be taught), but instead about being an active participant in the relationship.

pg. 267, “Break Through to Great Parenting” – although I really think this topic deserves to be a book of its own, I’d eagerly read it. My son is only7 months and I’m like a sponge, soaking up as much information as possible on how to raise him as unto the Lord. I would love to know more tips, information, etc. on developing good relationships from the beginning (hint hint!).

To sum up, who should read this book? Every Christian and everyone who is in any sort of relationship, which is all of us. Even if you don’t think it applies to you, many people come from broken homes and are hurting deeply, so read it to be equipped for ministering to them.

Here’s a video about the book from Dr. Clinton.

Review: Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas

Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas (ISBN: 978-0-310-29081-0)

Note: I don’t usually cross-post identical content on both the Journey Deeper / Journey to Change blogs, but this book has an impact on both our spiritual growth and temple (physical bodies). 

I had the privilege of getting a review copy of Gary Thomas’ latest book Every Body Matters. I was eager to read this book, since Thomas is the author of one of my all-time favorite books “Sacred Pathways”.

Since, 66% of the US population is overweight (and many more struggle without being overweight), this is a very timely message that needs to be discussed. The very real battle in maintaining our temples has profound spiritual implications. This book in many ways is the start of a conversation, asking “Have you considered the spiritual impact of your diet / fitness habits? “Are you engaged in the battle to present your best self to be used by God?” “Do you believe that God desires to use you for noble purposes?” “Where should health / fitness be on our priority list?” As Christians, we should wrestle with how the answers to these questions should impact our daily routines / habits.

Mr. Thomas passion for this topic is penetrating, it practically jumps off the page screaming “Please Listen — your temple matters, start the journey, begin to fight, don’t give up, God wants to use you!” This is not the kind of book you should just read, nod your head in agreement and go on with your day. No, it’s a book that asks you to wrestle with the topic and start fighting the battle on a daily moment-by-moment basis. God’s spirit can use this message to encourage, convict and empower the reader.

I got a lot out of this book, both in encouragement and motivation to continue on my life journey closer to Christ. I thought the most important starting place is asking ourselves:
Do I believe God when he says he has a plan for my life? Do I believe He wants to use me for noble purposes? What is my part in making myself a more usable instrument? Our temple is a great starting place to show that we are faithful stewards of our lives (body, mind and spirit).

Thomas talks about this point on pg. 20 saying:

Christians who don’t take their health seriously don’t take their mission seriously. What we’re saying by our action is, “My life doesn’t really matter.” But because of the ability of God to work powerfully in any repentant sinner’s life, every body does matter.

There were many good points and takeaways that can be directly applied to ones life, such as:

Gain a future mindset: (Pg. 96)

Bad habits provide instantaneous gratification vs’ the slow reward of good habits. This is the challenge that this battle is fought in the moment, but the rewards (weight loss, energy, clarity of mind, spiritual depth) may not be observed for many months later. That’s a lot of fighting, stress, battle when the reward for giving in to temptation is immediate. So, we have to focus our minds on the hope of the future reward.

Take advantage of positive momentum in building new habits: (pg.162)

Most of us when attempting to wrestle with our health struggles — try for a couple weeks with new healthy habits (perhaps as part of a new years resolution) and then give up accepting the fight can’t be won. However, if we had just persevered for a few more days or weeks to make the 3 or so week threshold the fight will get easier. Positive momentum will begin to build as the new behaviors are no longer struggles but habits on auto-pilot. The battle is not over, but is considerably lessened.

Create Boundaries around New Habits: (Pg. 162)

Don’t go more than two days slipping into old behaviors (skipping exercise, overeating, excess snacking, etc.) or you will be on the road to making them daily habits. The longer you slip into old patterns the harder it is again to break free.

Begin the Process of “Sin Killing”: (pg. 178-180) (I thought this was very helpful regardless of what the sin is. ).

Taste the Bitterness of Sin
– Think and feel the remorse, shame, pain and bitter ugliness of sin.

Examine the Deceit behind sin
– Ask yourself the question: What is the lasting value in Sin? We are deceived into believing that the instantaneous gratification is better than the lasting value of obedience.

Consider the circumstances of your sin?
– What scenario makes it more likely that you’ll be weak / vulnerable to a particular sin? Is it how you feel? Your circumstances? Time of the day? Then become prepared for this inevitable battle, before it defeats you — again!

Use the exposure that sin provides to gain a more accurate view of the conditioning of your soul
– Gain an accurate assessment of yourself based on the sinful behavior to fully recognize how contrary it is to what God wants for us.

Consider the strength of your sin
– Did this sin occur in a rare weak moment or are you out of control in this area (and risk being destroyed by it)? If this is a very strong sin in your life seek help to make the chance for freedom greater.

Find a Holy Substitute
– Replace the sin with a positive alternative. Being prepared with an alternative activity, food or approach will make winning the battle easier.

Fortify your soul
– Adopt habits that will nurture your soul, such as spiritual disciplines, meditating on scripture, listening to sermons, reading books, etc. Create a “spiritual workout” for your soul.

—————————-

I ended up with many quotes and tips captured in my notes from the book; I think this book makes a great reference on the topic of our “temple”. Some of the takeaways for me were simple actions, like memorizing 2 Timothy 2:20-21 and 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 to adding in new boundaries in my life through the “Sin Killing” process, such as: I won’t use the internet until I’ve completed my Bible Study and Exercise for the day, since I could see that was an area I could waste time in instead of using my time more wisely. I also have been careful not to miss more than 2 days in a row in my new habits, because I can see more clearly how that creates a trend of bad habits.

If you read this book and are willing to make an honest assessment of your life, I think you too will find it has many practical applications that will prove to be life changing.

———–
I received a review copy from the publisher, Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Isn’t it TIME for a change?

©2012 – ToniVC

After prioritizing deliberate time with God the next area that needs to be in control before moving on the journey is how to spend your time.

We can’t work on any new habits, skills or projects if our schedules and time management is out-of-whack.

I recently wrote a post on YouVersion on Psalm 90:12, which I passionately believe in and I”m going to repost it here, I hope it challenges you to consider wrestling with how to best spend your time:

This verse can change your life — if you’ll let it!

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
A simple verse, hidden in Psalm 90, but what is the point???

The point is that every single day counts and when added up we have a life — but how did we choose to use that life?. If you recognize that in every “Now” moment you have a choice to make good use of that instant of time. The cumulative effect of thinking about how you should spend your time will result in — spending that time better.

 How do you make good use of your time?

Begin by wrestling with the question of what ‘good use of your time’ should look like. Dream, Meditate and Pray about the answer to this question.

One way to start is to think and pray about what an ideal day would look like:

  • What things should you add to your life?
  • What should you take away?
  • What things if you completed them on a regular basis would give the greatest personal satisfaction or long-term impact?

Taking time to ponder what you want to accomplish with your life and what daily steps would be required to get there are an important first step in using your time better.

Also make sure to ask the tough questions on your current use of time, such as:

  • Are there clearly identifiable areas that could be improved upon (most of us have quite a few, I know I do).
  • How could this time be better redeemed?

For example, perhaps some time spent using a screen (i.e. TV, PC, Video Gaming, etc.) could be better spent in one of the following ways:

  • Personal Time with God
  • Exercise
  • Spending Time with your family (spouse / kids)
  • Completing Household Chores / Maintenance
  • Volunteering
For me, I can easily waste time on the internet reading inane articles or watching worthless videos or checking my email (again). So, I made a simple rule that I can’t get on the internet at home until I’ve finished my bible study, exercise and most important task for the day.  In addition I keep alert to the amount of time spent online (a timer runs). Pretty simple, but an area that was a real struggle has become a quick victory. Now I’m able to get more important things finished and I’m aware of how my time is being spent, so I don’t lose track of it, like was the case before.

Of course, this example may not apply to you, but it’s still worth prayerfully asking the question with an open heart and allowing God’s Spirit to guide your thoughts:

Father God,

Please help me to number my days. I desire your wisdom on how to spend my life. Show me weak areas where I need to use my time better. Help make it clear to me what I should be doing instead. Please continue to clarify your vision and purpose for my life and what the best daily habits / tasks should look like.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Discovering Your Purpose

©2011 – GodServ

Like most people, I’ve struggled with and desired greater clarity on “What is my purpose in life?”

Not a general, vague purpose — but a more specific, concrete, actionable purpose.

I’ve always loved the following verse from the Bible:

Psalm 138:8 – The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.

I have it taped to my desk and would often see it and wonder, so what is it? I understood both intellectually and experientially God’s power to work in our lives, but often felt stumped at the question of his specific purpose for My life.

I found the following resources beneficial for not only getting clarity in God’s Purpose for my life, but also for accepting my past experiences and appreciating the gifts and abilities I DO have. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we lack and not be satisfied — and grateful for what we do have.

Chazown: The Chazown Experience is a free interactive tool that takes into consideration Past Life Experience, Core Values and Spiritual Gifts to develop a personal Purpose Statement.

I couldn’t possibly tell you how valuable I found this resource to be — plus at Chazown.com — It’s Free. It’s a personal journey and no two outcomes will be alike, because no two people are alike in past experience, interests and aptitude.

The following are the main outputs I got from the exercise:

Purpose Statement:

  • To guide others on a journey to God-sized change by loving them with Christ-like love, teaching Godly Wisdom, and encouraging them to dream, believe and live anew.

Personal Mottoes:

  • ‘joie de vivre’ = joy of living
  • Dream – Believe – Live

Spiritual Gifts:

  • Faith
  • Encouragement
  • Writing
  • Wisdom
  • Teaching

Core Values:

  • Wisdom
  • Knowing God
  • Joy
  • Encouragement
  • Discovery
  • Discipleship
  • Creativity
  • Authenticity

To Buy the Book: Chazown: Define Your Vision. Pursue Your Passion. Live Your Life on Purpose.

Other Helpful Resources:

The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life by Laurie Beth jones: This book makes a nice compliment to Chazown. It has a process for discovering Core Values, Purpose and Mission Statements. It gives examples from Mrs. Jones’ life and the lives of others on how getting clarity on your mission leads to purpose, focus and direction in all of life.

 

 

Living the Life You Were Meant to Live by Tom Paterson:  This book gave me clarity on how God uses all of our experiences for his ultimate good. It shows that living the life God intended for us is understanding how we are made — and how our past experience highlight our strengths, passion and calling.

“In order to see where you are going, you need to gain a perspective on where you have been and what you have been gifted by God to be,” says Paterson. “There are times when we each need to go to the ‘mountaintop’ to be able to see the terrain below.”

Creating a Life Plan by Michael Hyatt: The link is to his Blog Post. A Free ebook on Creating a Life Plan is available when subscribing to his newsletter. I just downloaded this today and look forward to the insights from Mr. Hyatt. It’s a step-by-step guide through the life planning process. What I liked right away is that it’s not just blanks for the reader to fill out, but he gives example answers from his own life. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what to say with a blank sheet of paper in front of us. But, with guidance and examples it’s easier to make progress.

Living a life of purpose – Guiding Principles

©2011 – Christian Guthier

Like most people I spent most of my life pondering the question – Is there a purpose and plan for my life? If so, How do I find out what it is?

My struggle with the question of purpose, led me to ask the basic question of direction. It’s been almost 10 years ( in 2002) that I started to develop a simple list of  “Guiding Principles” for my life. These would be resolutions that I’d want to be headed toward irregardless of what season of life I was in, what city or state, what career — these principles should remain my focus and point of my existence.  When my life drifts and I’ve lost my way, these principles should whisper to my heart what I know to be true that my primary purpose is obedience to Christ–Not what I achieve during my brief stay on Earth.

Below are the guiding principles that I came up with, I’ve tweaked and added to them over the years, but the core message has remained the same:

Guiding Principles:

I resolve . . .

to live a life pleasing and honoring to the Lord.

to consider my time, talent, treasure, temple and toil as a trust to be a good stewart over.

to grow closer to the Lord – continually – and become a mirror of Christ to reflect his love, grace, truth and wisdom to others.

to keep a close reign on my tongue – use it to love, encourage and teach others; always regulated by God’s grace balanced with His truths.

to take all thoughts captive in order to maintain a pure and sound mind.

to understand others, to listen, to love, to encourage and give to others; let my service to others be a light for Christ to shine through.

to keep an eternal perspective and use every day to the fullest in prepartion for “that day”.

to avoid comparison with others and fear of man, but live focused on seeking the approval of the Lord!

———

‘To Do’ for You:

Take some time to come up with your own guiding principles. Mine are based on areas that I will forever need to improve and keep on target.

This simple exercise has been important in my growth and sincere desire to become more Christ-like.

Remember: Guiding principles are not destination based, but instead a direction for the journey.

 

 

Trust

©2010 – Margaret Taylor 2010

I think anyone who’s made tremendous changes in life realizes it’s a journey. You don’t just suddenly wake up one day and everything is different. However, one of the critical factors I’ve found for life change is God’s continued work in my life. This sounds like a trite oversimplification of the change process, but I simply cannot deny God’s amazing power to enact change in areas that I’ve tried time-and-time again to change on my own. This is why the first and primary change area is TRUST.

As I’ve grown to trust and depend more on God, ask and believe that he can do the impossible, change blossoms forth from this small seed of faith.

The start of change for me has been this very simple 3 step process:

ASK – Transparently come before the Lord and let your requests be known. Even if you’ve never expressed your deepest hidden desires to another soul, talk to God, he knows and desires for us to come to Him.

BELIEVE – As we ask, often we are overcome by doubt and unbelief. Confess this to God and ask Him to grow your belief. Spend time with Him to believe that He has the power to overcome even the most deeply-rooted stronghold. You will grow to trust God more as you begin to exercise your believing muscle.

LIVE – Live anew. Begin the new life God has for you —  in his power walk a new path. This involves many practical steps:  new routines, habits, goals and skills that will equip you to live a new life in God’s Power.

This blog will be focused mainly on the third component of living a new life. Tips and ideas that may help you on a new path.

The area of Trust in God is so important and pivotal that I created a blog to focus on the personal Journey Deeper in Christ to know him more, setup personal devotional time and submit more and more areas of life to Him. I encourage you to visit that blog in parallel with this one, because your personal relationship with God is the powerhouse that will make the living anew possible.

 

Journey to Change

The concept of “Journey to Change” began in 2005 out of my personal devotional time. It was the name I gave to the 40-day Spiritual Journeys that I felt God leading me to incorporate in my life.  This was a 40-day period where I cleared off as much excess from my schedule; I focused my time on embracing a new spiritual discipline and making improvements in a primary life area.

These were not ‘perfect’ times where I met all my goals or didn’t have stress. They were journeys . . . I walked with the Lord (spending extra time with Him). I discussed what areas I needed him to help me improve upon. I honestly evaluated where I currently was in that area and came up with an action plan of habits to begin incorporating. This whole process was covered in prayer and God truly provided clarity and wisdom.

Too often as Christians we think change is one of two extremes:
Something we strive for in our own effort and exhaust ourself when God is not leading the way.

OR

We sit back and wait for God to make something happen . . .  Waiting . . . waiting . . . still waiting.

I truly believe that change is in-between these extremes, which is why every journey balanced the Spiritual (keeping a check on God leading) and the Practical (habits / routines to incorporate each day / week).

Hopefully in our time together, you will be encouraged / challenged to adopt a “Spiritual Journey” or similar discipline to grow closer to God and change your life.

The main point of this blog is give you lots of practical ideas to consider adopting in the 7 main life areas:

Talent, Time, Treasure, Temple, Together, Trust, Toil

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