Roll with the punches

Yesterday I wrote about my morning routine and of course what happens this morning?

  It all fell apart.

I stayed up too late last night talking with friends who are sleeping in my office.  So this morning, I woke up late and realized that my bible was resting peacefully with my sleeping friends.

Two lessons learned – I need to be careful in proclaiming my spiritual practices to the world as if I’m some kind of master.  Nope – just a regular guy who loves Jesus and is struggling along.

I also learned that I need to roll with the punches.  Missing one morning of bible reading because I forgot to prepare the night before is not the end of the world.   God’s grace is real for people like me who can’t even live up to their own standards let alone God’s standards.

Thank God for that.  And now to go get my bible.




Morning decisions

I got up this morning.  Yep – just like you, I woke up this morning as I do every morning. As I stumbled out of bed, there was a decision to be made.

Actually, it wasn’t much of a decision because I have the same routine almost every morning.  Normal human relief, make coffee, check email on my phone while coffee is brewing, and open my bible to the place I finished reading yesterday.  I then spend the next 30 minutes or so reading and praying through the scriptures.  Different reading plans over the years but same morning routine.

My decision for what to do this morning was made 30 years ago.  It was a struggle in the early days.  I wanted to be like my Dad whom I saw reading his bible every morning so I started out.  Missed some days.  Missed some weeks.  Maybe even missed some months. But a habit was finally set in place.

Spiritual disciplines are just habits we have chosen to undertake for the purpose of becoming more like Jesus.  Nothing magically.  Nothing really that exciting.  But as our routines are set deeper and deeper in place, the Spirit will be at work.  Daily decisions don’t need to be made.

Space is freed up for our hearts and minds to be touched by the Spirit.

What decision will you make today?

Starting over

I heard a preacher a few years back state that the great thing about the new year is “that we get to start over.”  I didn’t think much of the comment at the time, but over the years, that one comment has simmered in my brain.   God shows His grace in giving us a time to begin again.  The new year is, of course, not the full expression of God’s grace.  In fact, it is such a small reflection of His grace that we usually overlook it.  

There is something valuable, though, in rebooting our lives at this time of year.  We can laugh about how all the exercise and diets plans have gone down the tubes by February 1st, but the fact remains that in our culture, the new year is a time to reassess our lives.   Most of us do live in a time and a place in which we have the opportunities to develop new habits.  To set new goals.  To dream new dreams.

The fact that we can change our lives points to the fact that we are not robots driven by our past, our family history or our biological impulses.  Years ago, there was pastor who tried to reconcile a father with his son.  The effort failed as the father remarked, “My son is a drug addict.  That’s what he is.”  The father’s pain had blinded him to the work of grace in his own son’s life.  Change had come, but he refused to see it.

By God’s grace, change in this life is possible.  Not easy.  Not quick. But possible.

The new year does bring hope.  We do get to start over.

2012 reading plan

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”                                                                ― Harry S. Truman (33rd President of the US)

Over the holidays I pushed myself to finish up two books I had started earlier in the year.  I find it helpful to set goals for my reading as it keeps me focused and pushes some of my competitive “buttons” – even if the challenge in only internal.  Over the years, I have made it a habit to write down the name of each book I finish which has given me insight into my reading/thinking patterns over the years.

This year I’ve committed to reading 3 books a month, although it would be great to hit 40.  I usually read a few books at a time sometimes as many as 6 or 8.  My goal for 2012 is to read in four basic categories: history, theology, practical theology and fiction.

You can’t say that“, which is Ken Livingstone’s memoirs, is my current history book.  Livingstone was the former mayor of London and is running again this spring.  In the theology category, I’ve started Dan Doriani’s commentary on Matthew.  Doriani was my professor at Covenant Seminary and writes in a devotional style so I’ve been reading a chapter each morning.  N.T. Wright’s “Virtue Reborn” is my current choice in practical theology and Flannery O’Connor’s “The Complete Stories” is the fiction book next to my reading chair.

The Steve Jobs biography was a Christmas gift so that’ll be next on the history list.  Wright’s “Simply Jesus” and Stetzer’s “Viral Churches” should be mail – purchased with a Waterstone gift card. Plenty of books on the shelf waiting to be read as well.

Got a reading plan for 2012?

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