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31 Days of Discipline

31 Days of Discipline- {Day 31}

Well…..I can’t believe it, but I’m done!  31 days of writing, about anything, seemed a daunting task at the beginning of the month.  Yet, here I sit, writing my very last post for this series!  Perhaps this has been the greatest effort in discipline I have had to make! Today, there is one thing I would like to leave you with regarding discipline:

Discipline is a means to an end.  Ultimately as believers in and followers of Christ, our end is His greatest glory.  There is nothing magical about any of the disciplines we have discussed.  Honestly you could spend your whole life doing each of them perfectly and still fail to bring God the glory He deserves.  Doing any of the things we talked about out of a self-righteous or prideful heart will not bring Him glory.  Doing any of the things we talked about because you think it might gain you favor with God, or with other people, will not bring Him glory.

However, a person who believes that the most important thing she can do in her day is spend time with her savior, and counts the cost so that she can have it……brings Him glory. 

A mom who believes that the only way change will happen in the lives of her children is through the Holy Spirit working, so she prays…..brings Him glory. 

A college student who knows that time alone to hear and understand what God says is the first step to obedience, so they don’t go out to the bar on Thursday night, they choose solitude….brings Him glory.

The young couple that tithes and gives every month, because they believe that God can provide….brings Him glory.

Allowing God to empower you to eat well, and exercise regularly in a world that tells you to either binge or purge as a way of life…..brings Him glory.

Lazy, uncommitted people, being driven by the Holy Spirit to live a life of discipline, because in disciplining ourselves we make our default mode God’s word, His ways, and His thoughts….brings Him glory.

So, as this series comes to a close, I ask that you would examine your heart, and pray with me. Pray that we would continue to live a life of discipline, not in our own strength, but as those who truly abide in Him, the One who gives us His strength.

Lord, I pray that You would help us to seek You with our whole heart, to love You above all else, and to place you above all other priorities in our lives.  I pray that we would spend time with You regularly reading, talking, listening, and waiting, so that we might live in a more intimate relationship with You.  I pray that we would view our money as yours, and that we would give back to You, and to those in need around us.  I pray that You would help us to treat our bodies as the temples that they are.  I pray that we would use the minds that You have given us, and that we would continue to sharpen them, not so we would be puffed up, but so that we would know You more, and love You with a greater love.  I pray that we would live lives of discipline that bring You glory.

Woohoo!  That’s it!  Check out all of the 31 Days of Discipline series here!
I would love to hear how God has grown you in discipline, 
or in what ways you are asking Him to grow you!…
Share below in the comments so we can pray for one another!

31 Days of Discipline- {Day 30}

We are almost at the end of our 31 Days of Discipline series.  
Check out the rest here!
Also..please head on over to One Million Minus One for an awesome adoption giveaway!!!

Thinking without prayer, without the Holy Spirit, without obedience, without love, will puff up and destroy (1 Cor. 8:1). But thinking under the mighty hand of God, thinking soaked in prayer, thinking carried by the Holy Spirit, thinking tethered to the Bible, thinking in pursuit of more reasons to praise and proclaim the glories of God, thinking in service of love–such thinking is indispensable in a life of fullest praise to God. (John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God)

Teaching ourselves to think, and engaging our minds regularly is a discipline in life.  The importance, I believe is that God has given us minds (as he has given us bodies) that can reason higher and deeper than any of his other creations.  He has allowed us to think deeply, so that we might understand Him more fully.  However, I believe that mind is similar to the muscles in our bodies. Our minds are made up of neural pathways.  Without getting all crazy, and scientific, the neural pathways are forged when we learn something new.  The more that we do, or use that information, the deeper the pathway becomes, and the more connections it makes to other pathways.  The deeper and more connected the pathway, the more fluent we become in using that skill or information. So, just like our muscles, if we don’t exercise our minds they may atrophy as well :)!

In today’s world we are bombarded with information.  There is nothing we can’t find out via internet.  We accept beliefs of this world, because we haven’t fully thought through or deepened our understanding of the things of God.  And, I believe that truly to live out a Christian worldview, one needs to know and understand not only the things of God through His word, but the things of the world, and where they come from.  We need to be educated about the things currently happening in our world so that we can look to God’s word and what He says about those things.  All of this requires exercising our minds, so that they will know how to think critically when it is necessary.

As a teacher, I truly believe that everyone can learn.  I know (as a Special Ed. teacher) that learning can be harder for some than for others.  However, where ever you are starting from, the mind is one of God’s most precious gifts to us…so let’s talk about some practical ways to use it.

Duh…you say!  Well, I mean more than just reading a happy little novel. I don’t think those are wrong, or bad, and they do often cause a great deal of thinking (I have read both Little Bee and The Help in the last 6 months).  Fiction causes you to use your imagination and make sense of non-literal language.  But, I do believe that we need to be reading more than just make-believe stories. I think that as believers we need to read books that challenge our thinking on theology, and current events.  It helps keep your mind working, deepening those neural pathways, and making sense of what you believe.

Here are a couple of my go-to authors (all but Malcom Gladwell are Christians):

  • John Piper
  • Kevin DeYoung
  • Mark Driscoll
  • Malcom Gladwell
  • Timothy Kellar
  • John McArthur
  • D.A. Carson

Obviously I love writing.  The reason I like writing is it forces you to condense your thoughts, and make some sort of sense of what floats around in your mind.  It is a synthesis of what those neural pathways!  It also gives you something to go back to later on, to look at where you were, and what God was teaching you at certain times in life.  Writing forces you to process what you are thinking about, and I think that is super valuable.

Here are some ideas of how to write:

  • Blog
  • Journal
  • Private Blog (that never gets read by anyone but you)
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Letters
  • Notes (short ones) in a notebook

Staying up on Current Events.
God’s word speaks to the world and culture around us.  He has given us all that we need for life and Godliness IN THIS WORLD.  However, in order to accurately view the world, or respond to it with God’s world, we need to know what is going on in it!  News sources are the best way to do that! Here are some that I think give a good picture of what the world believes, and what happens day to day.

  • CNN
  • BBC
  • E! News 
  • Time Magazine
  • Newsweek
  • National Geographic
  • People

**I am sure that you think I am crazy to list People and E! News, but if you want to understand the culture you live in…these are absolute experts on it!**

Listening to Podcasts, Discussions, Debates.
There are thousands of these, but it is always good to hear people discussing certain issues making points that support their beliefs.  It helps you to process where you fall, and which lines of logic make the most sense!

There are tons of Podcasts on iTunes, and I like the round table discussions at the Gospel Coalition’s website!

Study History.
There is great understanding when you know the history behind a certain place, or event.  When you are reading about a person, place or event, look up it’s history.  It often gives you great insight into things that are happening currently.

What do you think?  What helps get your brain working???

Lord, I pray that You would help us to use our minds well. To seek deeper understanding of both your word, and the world around us.  I pray that in so doing, we would not become puffed up, but that as we study more, we would be more enthralled by who You are, and more desirous to share Your truth with a lonely, sinful world.  Sharpen our minds, that we might judge rightly. Thank you for giving us the ability to think, help us to use it well, and to glorify You with it!

31 Days of Discipline-{Day 29}

Today we are going to finish talking about the discipline of eating well.  This is really something I struggle with greatly, and so I have really been praying through what changes might need to be made in this area.   I do believe that our bodies should be treated well, and nourished and strengthened.  However, I used to want to control what I ate so that I would be skinnier….prettier….or more desirable.  As I have asked God to deal with some of the heart issues that still remain in regards to how I eat, I have been working on exhibiting some discipline too.  Here are a few ways I have done this:

Less soda. 
I love coke.   In fact, I could give up any food in the world, but would never want to give up coke.  I am not a stress eater, but there is nothing that relieves some tension in my life like a coke will!  However, there is nothing good for my body in a coke.  Not only is it filled with all kinds of grossness, there is no benefit to my body from drinking it.  So, I have stopped buying coke for our home.  I no longer have sodas in the house (which is good for our whole family).  I do allow myself, and my kids to get some cokes when we go out to eat, but other than that…we try to stay away from them.  At first…this was soooooo hard for me, but it is becoming much easier.  I won’t say that I don’t still love it…I do, but I have gone from 2-3 a day, to about 2-3 a week!

More water.
Our bodies need water for a million reasons, but I never used to drink any.  However, since giving up coke at home (and at school btw), I have had to replace it with water.  I actually am beginning to love a tall glass of cold water.  It has taken a while, but my body is beginning to crave it more and more, and I am enjoying it more and more!

I used to skip breakfast, have lunch out (Chik-fil-a, Tokyo Grill, Moes, etc.) and then make something at home for dinner.  I realized that my body was not getting a whole lot of vitamins, or proteins.  So, instead of skipping breakfast, I usually stop by Starbucks and get a coffee and an Oatmeal, or Artisan Sandwich (yes, this is budgeted in….my little bit of fun money mostly goes there, and it is worth every penny!), and then have a protein shake for lunch, and dinner at home.  The protein shake gives me a bunch of vitamins, and a good amount of protein for the day.

I am learning to control the portions I eat. Not restrict myself from eating anything, but eating good foods (both in taste, and nutritional value) in appropriate portions.  If we are having macaroni and cheese for dinner, I am not going to not eat it at all, but I may just have a small helping and some veggies.  I am still working on this, but have been doing a whole lot better.

I am sure there are millions of other things that could go on this list.  I love Laura’s suggestions here.  The point of exercising and eating well, is that we were given these bodies by God for a purpose.  The temple in the Old Testament was treated with the utmost respect and kept undefiled on every level.  If we really believe that our bodies are  God’s dwelling place through His Spirit, then we will treat our bodies differently.  We can’t do this in our own strength.  We need to ask God to give us the desire to avoid temptations, and to give us eyes to see the way out of them.  Find a friend, or your husband and ask them to keep you accountable in this area.  Just like spiritual disciplines, if we don’t consistently work towards them, asking God to work in us, we will grow weary!

Lord, I pray that you would help us in this area of our lives.  Lord, may we view our bodies the way You do.  May we have eyes to see clearly the importance of caring for this temple you have given us, without obsessing over numbers, or outward appearances.  Lord, help us to make wise decisions about what to put in our mouths, and how to be more active.  Lord, help us to do this for Your glory and not our own, so that Your name might be praised, and not our own.

31 Days of Discipline-{Day 28}

This is day 28 in a 31 day series entitled 31 Days of Discipline! 
If you missed any of the other days, check them out here!
So, the flip side of exercise is obviously what you eat!  Again…I am no expert in this, so I got some help.  Chris’s wife, Laura is a certified nutritionist, and was so kind to share some of her thoughts about the foods we put in our bodies!  Come back tomorrow for some more talk about ways to discipline ourselves in how we eat, and some of what I have done in the last few months regarding this! But for now, here’s Laura…..
Through years of learning and teaching about physical health, two basic truths remain constant regardless of the fat of the day.  The physical body needs a healthy, balanced diet in order to grow and thrive.  Additionally, the body needs physical exercise in order to become stronger and healthier.  The same is true of our spirit.   
We need to consume a steady diet of scripture in order to grow spiritually.  Additionally, we need to exercise our faith in order for it to become strong to withstand the trials of this world.  Just like only being a “Christian” on Sunday, if you are only being healthy while you are in the gym, then you will not reap the rewards planned for you. 
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?  (NIV) Galatians 3:3

So often we try to do everything on our own and forget that God says to come to Him no matter the size of the problem.

  • If your problem is discipline; pray for strength! 
  • If you struggle with cravings; fill each of those cravings with a prayer.   
  • Sign a written agreement with God that you will not put any junk in your body (or as He refers to it “His Temple”).  Place that contract on your refrigerator and think about it every time you crave something that is not going to feed your body well!
Make your body your slave this week by controlling what you eat.  In order for you to achieve your goal, you have to feed your body correctly.  Eat at least four to five times each day.  Include fruits, whole grains, fresh vegetables, and appropriate proteins.  Reduce your fat, sugar, and starch intake. 
Give it your heart, soul, mind and strength.  You’ll be amazed what you can do, and how good you’ll feel when you’re done!
Start keeping a daily food log so you can keep track of what you eat.  Your good and bad eating habits might just surprise you.  And having a written log will make it easier for you to make better planned choices as well as avoiding spur of the moment poor decisions.  
Have an awesome week,  enjoy the temple He has given you and respect it!

Laura Wooten M.P.H.
Certified Nutritionist Bodyshop Athletics

31 Days of Discipline-{Day 27}

Today is Day 27 in this 31 Day series on Discipline. 
If you missed any of the other days, you can check them out here!

Today we are going to look at some resources to help us get exercising!

While I really like working out, I have learned a few things about the type of workouts that are best. For instance, I know that I need to workout with a group. If I try to work out on my own, I will end up doing about 10 pushups, and 15 sit ups, and call it a day.  But in a group of people (all of whom are way more fit than I am), there is a much higher likelihood that I will do most if not all of the exercises!  Plus, whoever is leading the class will totally call me out, and tell me to stop messing around and get busy, when I start to fade! But that’s just me!  
I have several friends who love to run, which is awesome!  I personally hate it with a deep and true passion!  But, if you can do it,  awesome!  It is free, and can be done anywhere!  
Maybe, you like your privacy.  If so, videos at home are the way to go, and there are tons of great ones out there!  
There are sooooooooo many ways to exercise, so think about what suits your body, and personality best!  Do you love to dance, try Zumba!  Do you want some quiet time away from the house?  Try a gym where you can get on the treadmill and watch some tv.  Do you love the outdoors?  Go on a bike ride!  The options are a plenty, but it is up to you to get busy! 

Here are some great resources for getting off the couch and getting active:

  • Pinterest has lots of great work outs…here is a sample of one that I found:
                                                      Source: via Danielle on Pinterest

  • Here are some videos that I have used in the past.  The ten minute solution series is awesome, because you can do a 10 minute work out if that is all you have, but you can mix them together and do 30-50 minute work outs as well.  Here are my faves!

  • In to running? Want to start?  Here is a great site with a plan to go from the couch to a 5k in 9 weeks!

Some keys to making this a true discipline:

  • Find something you like, and that is realistic for your lifestyle. I hate running, so no matter how great of a workout it is….I NEVER want to do it.  However, the bootcamp classes we go to are so fun for me (usually after I am done is when I think they were fun!).
  • Get some accountability.  Esteban and I both go to the gym together twice a week.  Honestly I would love to do one more day, but at this point I can’t fit it into my schedule.  However, it is great to have someone who will help get me out of bed on the days that I don’t want to go.
  • When you feel like you want to quit, do a few more reps, or run a little further.   It is a good practice to push your body a little more than what it tells you it can do.  Don’t go crazy with this, if you are in some kind of pain (not sore muscles but joint pain/pulled ligament pain, etc) then let your body rest. But when you are too tired to keep going…do 5 more, or a couple of minutes further!
  • Exercise is one of the ways that we can keep our “temples” of the Holy Spirit healthy.  It gives you more energy, makes you stronger, and, if you find something you like, can be really fun!  

Lord, help us to honor you with our bodies!  Thank you for how you have made them, and the variety of ways you have provided for us to use them well!  I pray that you would help us take the time and make the effort to strengthen them and utilize them well.  Lord, thank you for this opportunity, and I pray that You would be glorified in and through us as we seek to honor you with our bodies!

What do you do to stay in shape? 
What is your favorite form of exercise?

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