Tuesday, January 26, 2016

HABITS (part 1)

This is the first part of a series of lessons I recently taught my class of 18-25 year olds on the subject of Habits.
The word "habit" comes from a Latin word which means to "hold" or "live in". A habit is some way of acting, which because of repetition becomes a normal part of our lives.
All of us have habits, all kinds of habits.  nail biting, knuckle cracking, clicking your nails, chronic coughing, or throat clearing, grinding your teeth, sucking your teeth, procrastination, overspending, swearing, constantly running late… all habits.
regular exercise, daily bible study, 3 healthy meals a day, showering every evening, morning pot of coffee, regular sleep patterns...all habits.
How in shape or out of shape you are? A result of your habits.
How happy or unhappy you are? A result of your habits.
How successful or unsuccessful you are? A result of your habits.
How spiritual or unspiritual you are? A direct result of your habits.
What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.


Habits are behaviors wired so deeply in our brains that we perform them automatically. This allows you to get up and walk everyday, without having to relearn it every morning...or to follow the same route to work every day without thinking about it, liberating your brain to ponder other things, such as where to go on vacation or what to make for dinner.
However, the brain’s executive command center does not completely relinquish control of habitual behavior. A new study from MIT neuroscientists has found that a small region of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, where most thought and planning occurs, is responsible for moment-by-moment control of which habits are switched on at a given time.
Every habit you have — good or bad — follows the same 3–step pattern.

  1. Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
  2. Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)
  3. Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)

Some substances like drugs, alcohol, cigarettes can create physical dependencies. But those cravings only last as long as the substance is in the body.

Here's some examples:
Alcohol stays in your blood about 24 hours.
Cocaine stays in your blood about 12 hours.
Marijuana stays in your blood up to 2 days.
Meth stays in your blood about 24 hours.
Vicodin stays in your blood about 3-4 days.

Now granted, these substances could stay in your saliva and/or on your hair for up to 90 days!!! But they leave the blood in just hours.

What does that really tell us?

Many of the lingering twinges we think are addictive are really behavioral habits asserting themselves.  You could crave a cigarette after breakfast a month after your last one NOT because you physically need it, but because you remember vividly the feeling you got when you did it.
Thereby, you are controlled by your brain feeding you the information that -it is time for your habit.
In that case you must attack the behavior which is the habit.

When a study was done on a woman who had changed many of her habits over a one year time period, ie: overeating, smoking, drinking... they found that as she exercised, lost weight and quit smoking, that new brain activity formed around the part of her brain responsible for retaining information regarding habits. Technical name: basal ganglia.
The old activity was still there, but new activity had formed!

I myself used to smoke. I smoked for several years before coming to the Lord. That habit activity is still remembered in my brain to this day. I could easily pick up a cigarette, light it, and inhale and exhale it. I remember exactly how to do it.

But my new Christian walk helped me develop new habits. The old man passed away...new things came to surface. (2 Cor 5:17)
I became a new person with new habits. I read my Bible. I pray. I fast. I go to Church, etc...
Some habits have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as you progress.  Choosing to drink more water could in turn cause other healthy habits to evolve.
Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits.
Once you are aware of how a habit works you are halfway through changing one!

The brain can be reprogrammed!
Habits cannot be eradicated but they can be replaced!
(Stay tuned for part 2!)

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Giving our best: Is 99.9% good enough?

 The question was once asked, “If you were in charge of quality control of a factory, what percent of errors would you tolerate?”    “None,” I responded. “I’d be unhappy with anything less than 100 percent quality.”
To the person who would tolerate quality errors of one-tenth of one percent, he showed a list with the heading:   

If 99.9 %  is Good enough, then:
  • Twelve newborns will be given to the wrong parents daily.
  • 114,500 mismatched pairs of shoes will be shipped this year.
  • 18,322 pieces of mail will be mishandled in the next hour.
  • 2.5 million books will be shipped with the wrong covers.
  • 315 entries in Webster’s dictionary will be misspelled.
  • 800,000 credit cards in circulation will have incorrect card holder information on their magnetic strips. 
  • 2 million documents will be lost by the IRS this year.
  • 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions will be written this year.
  • 291 pace maker operations will be performed incorrectly.
giving our best/www.keepersofhome.com

Giving our best is a constant reminder to us that the God we serve is truly great, and is WORTHY of my best effort!
 Giving our best keeps God elevated to his rightful place in our lives, our hearts, and our homes.

(2 Sam 24)
David was to purchase a threshing floor (large surface area used to beat wheat) and wanted to turn it into an altar for the Lord. Araunah loved the idea, and offered to build the altar for David and offered to bring the wood and the oxen for the sacrifice. As good as that sounded to have what you want without any effort on your part, David’s reply was a bit shocking.

“How can I offer that which cost me nothing?”

Giving should cost us.

What does “giving our best” look like?
First let’s address what it is not.

It is not leftovers.
It is not “if” I feel like it.
It is not “when” it is convenient.
It is not 5 minutes before bed every night.

It is NOT mental or physical exhaustion!
It is NOT a depleted bank account! 
(God would not ask you to give more than you are humanly possible to give!)

But it is priority.
God is first.
God is above all else in our lives.

As much as we love our children…God is still first.
As much as we love to work and make money and buy pretty things…God is first.
As much as you love your spouse…God is before that love!

God is priority over all our possessions.
Its letting go of more things than it is holding on to.

It is giving what is right instead of giving what is left.
It is honor. Giving God firsts.
2 Chron 31:5) As soon as the command to give was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the firstfruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field. And they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.

Amos 5:21-24(AMP)

21 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will not smell a savor or take delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 Though you offer Me your burnt offerings and your cereal offerings, I will not accept them, neither will I look upon the peace or thank offerings of your fatted beasts.
23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
24 But let justice run down like waters and righteousness as a mighty and ever-flowing stream.

We cannot bring God something He does not want!
We cannot assume that God accepts what we bring
-especially if its not our best!

Malachi 1:10  Oh that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar!

Useless: of no use. Not our best.

Malachi 1:6-14 If then I am your Father, where is my honor? And if I am your Master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, But you say, ‘How have we despised your name? (And the Lord says) By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ (And the Lord says) When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts.

This is not a condemning message!
We have to understand that God requiring our best is for our own good!  God cannot put his favor on feeble attempts!

It's now 2016.
Everybody seems to want the easy road.
It's the 
"Don't get my face and tell me to do!
Don't preach at me!
Stop asking me to do more!" age.

Well here is the bottom line, like it or not...
Just because you may have chosen to give and do less 
does not mean God will accept less!

Besides what we give…its also in how we live!
Giving our best is learning to be happy and content with what we have. It's not in killing our husbands to work and provide for more of our every little wants or whims.

It’s living within our means, as to show our thanks to God and to be good stewards of his blessings.

The Jewish Sabbath (Holy day) is celebrated on Saturdays. But they begin preparing for it on Friday evening at sundown because the preparation for their best worship begins the night before!

We should prepare to give our best.

Participation needs to be whole hearted not half-hearted. Our best worship is sincere not just simply going through the motions.

We are not just attending church-we are the church!

Our best effort is proper motivation. We come to church not always to get, but to give. It’s not just loving God through the good times, it’s loving God, all the time!

Our best is not contingent on the type of day we had.
Or the type of mood we are in.

Our best is daily commitment.
Simple day in and day out unwavering commitment!

God's best to you and your family this New Year!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oh Sleepy Christian, Awake!

It’s been said that you never know who you had in your life until they are gone. And that you never really realize what you had until its gone.   

I hope to stir a little appreciation for what you have and who you know today!
     What are the signs of sleep?

     What are the causes of sleep?
 Why should we awake?

“Someone said, “If a man remains motionless on the lounge for three or four hours, we can assume he is asleep. If he should continue in that motionless condition for three or four days, you should assume him dead.”

If a Christian does nothing for Christ, lying motionless on a pew, you could assume he is asleep. If he persists in his course of uselessness, it is a fair presumption that he is dead.

The Christian and uselessness should absolutely be on 
opposite sides of the spectrum!

People walk and talk in their sleep, but it is all to no purpose. 
Their talk is incoherent, and their walk is without aim. 
The same can be said about sleeping Christians.
You might walk and talk but your lifestyle has no aim.
A Christian who is actively involved in winning souls, reaching out to others, teaching bible studies, praying and studying will not go to sleep.
His activity will keep him awake!
As long as you are moving you can’t sleep.

We must exercise our mental, moral and spiritual limbs or we will get sleepy! We will become lethargic!

(1 Th 5:6) "Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober."

Apostle Paul is giving us a spiritual 'wake-up call'. 
He is telling us to wake up, don't be caught sleeping! -to keep alert.

Oh, Sleepy Christian, Awake/ www.keepersofhome.com

Why is it so important to stay awake? 
Because our lives and the lives of others depend on it!
When a person is asleep he is insensitive to his surroundings
 -Oblivious to what is going on.

The majority of robberies occur at night when people are asleep. 
Robbers know that most people sleep deep and sound making it possible to slip in and out without waking them up.

When a person gets sleepy, his sense of judgment is foggy 
-You compromise details because -you are too tired to think

Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. Jn 4:35

Sleepy soldiers are of no good to the camp.
Sleepy soldiers are easy prey.

Zechariah 1:10-12

10 And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.
11 And they answered the angel of the Lord that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.
Sleepy Christians tend to be more carnal -I’m tired. Leave me alone. 
I don’t care who or what calls, I’m tired I want to sleep!

Some of us are like Jonah, who was spending his time sleeping in disobedience in the hold of the ship, running from God’s call to work 

in Nineveh, when he should have been rushing to the harvest

Jonah 1:5

 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.
The disciples fell asleep in the garden at the most critical hour of Jesus earthly ministry.
If they had been in tune at all it would have been obvious that Jesus was struggling with something in his spirit. 

He asked them to pray with him, but they were sleepy…they did not feel his burden, they didn’t recognize the heaviness in his heart, 
they sensed no immediate danger.

Dwight L. Moody, by his own admission, made a terrible mistake on the eighth of October 1871 -- a mistake he determined never to repeat again.
He had been preaching in the city of Chicago. That particular night drew his largest audience yet. His message was "What will you do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?" By the end of the service, he was extremely tired. He concluded his message without an alter  call but wrapped up his presentation with a concluding statement:
 "Go home. Take a week to think over what I’ve asked you.And when we come together again, you will have opportunity to respond."
It was 9:00 p.m. A soloist began to sing. But before the final note, the music was drowned out by clanging bells and wailing sirens screaming through the streets. The greatest fire ever to hit Chicago was engulfing buildings, homes and lives.
It burned for 3 days. Hundreds were dead and over a hundred thousand were homeless.
He vowed to never end another message without giving an alter call.

We must stay awake. 
We must answer the call. 
We must sound the alarm.

In 1740, A man named George Whitefield traveled to America, where he preached a series of revivals that came to be known as the "Great Awakening." He became perhaps the best-known preacher in Great Britain and North America  during the 18th century.  
About 80 percent of all American colonists heard him preach at least once.

Though only 25 years old, the evangelist took America by storm. 
Whitefield’s farewell sermon on Boston Common drew 23,000 people—more than Boston’s entire population.
 It was probably the largest crowd that had ever gathered in America.

In his search for God before his conversion, Whitefield fasted to the point that he broke his health and, under doctor’s orders, 
was confined to bed for seven weeks.

Whitefield preached at both Harvard and Yale Colleges
At Harvard it was reported that “The College is entirely changed. 
The students are full of God.”

Brutal mobs often attacked Whitefield and his followers 
-throwing everything at him from rotten food to rocks.
Whitefield received three letters with death threats, 
and once he was stoned until nearly dead.

Whitefield usually awoke at 4 A.M. before beginning to preach at 5 or 6 A.M. Whitefield preached more than 18,000 sermons in his lifetime, an average of 500 a year or ten a week. Because of his passionate boisterous preaching many churches closed their doors to him, forcing him to preach outside.
Whitefield was a man with a remarkable gift and a 
relentless energy for preaching. 

After preaching several times one day, he went to his room and prepared for bed. Then someone came and asked him to speak one more time because a crowd had gathered outside. Although very tired, he picked up a candle and said he would preach until it burned out. An hour later the flame flickered and died, and Whitefield closed in prayer and went inside.

The next morning he was found on his knees beside his bed -- the flame of his earthly existence had glimmered and died.  (He was 55 years old)

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awaken out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed. Rom 13:11

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