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Creatures of Habit

29 Jul

OOPS!

This post appeared earlier today (unfinished)! Sorry about that, if you wondered. I was planning it for September, but accidentally clicked on the wrong button, so I guess I’ll send it out today! (I’m a creature of habit … which really makes this funny, with the title.)

Anyway, before we get started …

My friend Janet Baker, a secretary for her church Bible study in Georgia, sends out a simple newsletter each week with reminders about the upcoming study session. She said at the end of almost every email, she adds a LOL from the LOL with God book to brighten the ladies’ week. Thank you, Janet! That’s being creative as well as encouraging.

And now for our LOL …

The driver screamed! He lost control of the taxi, nearly hitting a bus. He drove up the sidewalk and crashed into a store window.

After a few seconds of total silence, the driver yelled at his passenger.

” You scared me half to death!” he said.

The stunned passenger apologized and said he didn’t realize a little tap on the shoulder could scare him so much.

“You’re right,” the driver replied. “I’m sorry. It’s not really your fault. Today is my first day as a cab driver. I’ve been driving a hearse for 25 years.”

That driver was responding out of his experiences over many, many years. We do that too. We are creatures of habit.

The good thing about habits is that we can leave some things to our subconscious. Patterned grooves in our brain allow us to remember important things like phone numbers, our locker combination at the gym, our spouse’s birthday, etc.

The bad thing about habits is that we can succumb to nasty stuff just because we always have.

Psychologists tell us we need to get precise (very specific) when we want to change a habit. We need to think about the specific habit we want to change. Then we need to expect that it’s going to be difficult. After all, there’s that groove in the brain thing. And finally, we need to plan what we’ll do when we get tired of making positive changes, because changing habits are hard and everything in us will resist change.  We need to figure out what we’ll do when we feel most vulnerable.

We face our habits in many ways. We might rationalize our behavior. We might not really want to change. Or we might be trying and failing.

The truth is, it takes proactive choices to change habits. It takes positive replacement (Romans 12:1-2). We might temporarily change a habit, but more often than not, it takes more than will power; it takes the power of God.

Romans 8:2 explains that the struggle with bad habits (sinful or hindering habits) that captivate us (Romans 7:22-23) can only be conquered by the power of the Holy Spirit within us … the law of the Spirit working in us to overcome the law of the flesh. When we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17).

Have I arrived? Have I conquered all of my bad habits. Certainly not. But I’ll tell you … there’s been some real breakthroughs! And I’m glad, because God didn’t rescue and redeem my life so I could live a “normal” life. He changed me so I can live a supernatural life.

Here are some things that are helping me get rid of bad habits in my life:

1. I’m getting in the habit of yielding my life (every part of it) in prayer to God’s control, and asking Him for guidance and strength (Romans 6:1-14).

2. I’m getting in the habit of recognizing and confessing every detour (sin) into areas where God doesn’t’ want me to live (1 John 1:9).

3. I’m getting in the habit of thanking the Lord for the power of the cross and Jesus’ resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

4. I’m getting in the habit of praising God for every victory ~ a God-ward focus (1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 Peter 2:9).

5. I’m getting in the habit of believing God for not only the ultimate victory (never experiencing the presence of sin in heaven), but many powerful-right-now victories as He conforms me to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

Think about your habits today. What characterizes your life? What do you do on a regular basis? What are you known for?

You ARE a creature of habit ~ either habits that pull you away from holiness and pleasing God, or habits that make you a better Kingdom Servant, bringing joy to the One who loves you.

May we all be godly creatures of habit … living out the life the Creator designed for us.

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Be a ‘Happy to Do It’ Christian

15 Jul

Ever ponder some of these serious questions in life?

  • If a man speaks in the forest and there’s no woman to hear him, is he still wrong?
  • If a parsley farmer is sued, do they garnish his wages?
  • Do fish get cramps after eating?
  • What do little birdies see when they get knocked unconscious?
  • If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

OK… those aren’t so serious. But one of the questions Randy Draper asks in his book,* Happy to Do It: Get Your ‘Snap’ On! IS serious … a basic attitude check.

He asks, “Will you have an attitude of service today, or will this day be an ‘all about me’ day?”

“Every day, either consciously or otherwise, each of us is faced with the opportunity to either be ‘Happy to Do It’ or ‘Hacked to Do It,'” Draper wrote.

The spirit of living sacrificially for others, he said, can be summed up in four simple words ~ Happy to do it! ~ and it’s a perspective that can be developed. We can condition ourselves to have a serving “Happy to do it” attitude as simply as developing an attitude of gratitude or forgiving others. It’s all about making the serving choice and conditioning ourselves to have a new habit.

Draper says he likes to snap his fingers when he says “Happy to do it” to someone’s request, “because it mentally ‘snaps’ me into this conditioned mindset.”

“Not only will you serve with gladness,” he said, “but soon you’ll also get to the point where you don’t’ even realize you’re doing it! What’s more, you’ll actually begin to look for opportunities to live out Christ before others.”

Attitudes shape us, and this kind of serving with joy attitude wells up from within, not dependent upon circumstances or how others respond. “Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever your circumstances ~ attitude is everything,” Draper said. He echoes the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4 and 11-14, and again in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

“This rejoicing mindset has got to be the default, not the attitude of convenience,” Draper said.

Scriptures like these challenge us to stay positive when it’s easier to enjoy a pity party or when we’re asked to do the tough stuff … to serve when it’s unpleasant or hard. And they remind us to trust God and be thankful in all circumstances ~ a sure cure for worry.

“Think of these three attitudes ~ the ‘rejoice regardless’ attitude the worry-free attitude, and the attitude of service ~ as a kind of trifecta of living like the Lord, Draper says. “Don’t expect to wake up tomorrow and have them all mastered. It’s a day-by-day thing, kind of like exercise…. Keep your eyes on the Lord and your heart before God and the attitudes will come in their right time.”

I have to admit that sometimes I don’t serve with a happy face. And an unhappy face comes from an unhappy heart that hasn’t fully learned to be content and joyful in service. Maybe I need to “snap” to it! How about you?

Do you struggle with a “Happy to Do It!” serving attitude? How have you learned to serve with joy?

* quotations from Randy Draper, Happy to Do It: Get Your ‘Snap’ On! (HeartSpring Media, 2012)

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