Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Glass of Water

Today marks my 365th day of drinking nothing but water.  That's right!  For the past year, I have had nothing but water to drink.  I never had pop, juice, milk (except on cereal because water on cereal would be gross), coffee or tea.  That's a lot of water.

When people asked me why I was doing it, there were a number of reasons for my choice.  One was I get a lot of acid reflux and my doctor had told me years ago that laying off of acid filled drinks would help.  Another reason was it was healthier for me.  Given the copious amounts of sugar I ingest through candy intake, this was a wise decision otherwise I would have probably been a few pounds heavier.

Have you ever decided to do something but found it difficult to do?  What were the rewards or benefits?  Did you give up?  Did you think to yourself, "I will never ever accomplish this?"  How many times in life do we give up on what we are trying to do because we just think we cannot do it?  Maybe you're trying to quit smoking.  Maybe you're trying to read more. (I should probably do that.)  Maybe you're trying to lose weight. (Given the candy intake, I should probably do this too.)  Maybe you're just trying to be a better person in general. (We should all do this!)

But do you give up?

There are a lot of things that I would love to change about myself but have often thought that I just cannot do it.  That right there is the biggest struggle that I face.  My thoughts tell me that I cannot do it, so I give up and accept failure.  I've been defeated before I've even started.  I had to change my thinking before I could even hope to achieve what I was hoping for.  However, the road to completion wasn't easy.  There were times when I wanted a cup of coffee more than I thought I would.  There were times when I just wanted to stop into a Starbucks and pick myself up a Cinnamon Dolce Latte.  But it was my goal to not do it and I am glad to say that I didn't.

The author of Hebrews talks about these kinds of struggles.  In a single verse he talks about the struggle, but also the benefit of overcoming that struggle:
"No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way" (Hebrews 12:11, NLT).
It isn't easy saying no to yourself.  It isn't easy to deprive yourself of something that you really think that you want, but the benefit is that, not only do you achieve your goal, you also have trained yourself to know that you can do it again and again and again.  You are preparing yourself for what you might think is the impossible.

So why did I choose to give up all forms of drinks except water for an entire year?  The answer is really that I wanted to train myself to be disciplined.  I wanted to prove to myself that if I set my mind to something, that I could attain what I was striving for.  It may have seemed silly to some.  It may have seemed ridiculous to others.  However to me, it was a battle of the will to win.  I have a family, a job and most importantly, a living God that needs me to be self-disciplined.

I am happy to report that I have won this battle.  I am also happy to report that I will continue to win because I KNOW THAT I CAN!!!  I have proved it over this past year and I will continue to discipline myself in the future.  I want to change to have "a peaceful harvest of right living" in my life.

Here is the great news ... YOU CAN DO IT TOO!!!  If you determine in your mind that you will succeed, you will.  You might have struggles along the way, and at times it might seem next to impossible, but you will be victorious if you set it in your mind that you're going to do this.  Start training yourself.  Maybe start with something small and exercise your discipline until you see the results you're looking for.

I started with a glass of water.  What are you going to start with to train yourself to be self-disciplined?

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Imperfectly Perfect

Tonight I celebrated Christmas Eve with my family.  It was much like most Christmas Eves in the past.  We eat, we open presents, we go to church, we eat and then we go home.  But what stood out tonight to me caught me off guard.

Part of our yearly tradition is going to church together as a family.  This year was no different and when I got there, I was asked to play the drums for the service.  My nephew was even asked to play the bass.  A little rusty, we both agreed to step into these roles and have a front row view of the service.

It was your typical service.  There was some carols, special music, a message and a reminder about what the season is all about.  But what stood out to me was a young girl who played silent night on her keyboard.  For some reason, in that moment, I was lost in what Christmas was all about.  Her playing wasn't perfect, but it was a reminder that in our imperfections, we still can worship God for who He is and what He has done for us.  I'll get to that in a second.  At the end of the song, she missed a chord but was able to perservere through the minor mishap and finish the song.  She went back and sat beside her mom visibly upset because she hadn't done it quite the way she wanted.

After she had finished, another accomplished piano player also played another Christmas medley.  He was very good but he too, missed a few chords but perservered through and finished a beautiful song. It was as if the whole night was about missing things.  I too, missed the cymbal at one point which brought a chuckle from both my nephew and myself.  

When Mary and Joseph showed up in Bethlehem, there was no room for them in the hotel.  They had missed getting a room for the night.  However, they persevered in a stable.  They saw it through to the finish that their Son was born just the way He was supposed to be.  He came imperfectly perfect.  It is not how most of us would imagine a king being born, but God saw it fit that the King of kings was born in a stable on a cool winter's night.

How many times do we find ourselves trying to do things 'just right' only to be disappointed with the outcome?  We strive for perfection but often make mistakes.  The truth is, that sometimes, it is those mistakes which bring about the best results.  Tonight, a young girl brought me into the presence of a King and reminded me that He never asks us to be perfect, but He just asks us to come and worship Him for who He is ... Jesus Christ ... a Saviour ... Emmanuel.

So, this Christmas, if it isn't perfect, don't sweat it.  As long as you give your best God will take what is imperfect and make it perfect.

To the young lady who played Silent Night ... thank you for allowing me to worship ... perfectly!

Merry Christmas!!!