Friday, August 1, 2014

WhO Dat taLKiNg BAcK? Habits Help

A couple weeks ago I was confronted by the very person who brings about my downfall on a regular basis. I know this guy a lot. We've been through thick and thin, and yet, every time I want to do something that will help me out in the long run, he tries to convince me otherwise. I am sure anyone reading this would be like, "Dude, just leave your friend. Why keep him around?" Well you see, this guy is...me!

Yup, on a regular basis I find myself to be the cause of my own demise. So I was going to my continued education workshop, Good Leaders, Good Shepherds. Yeah, I was a little excited to go, a little not excited. Hahaha, well who wants to feel like they are in school again? *Ahem* Well, I kind of do...but I digress. So in preparing for pastor-school, as I have dubbed it, I was looking into seeing if there was a gym nearby. Yeah yeah yeah...go ahead, make fun of me, but I've been really digging this new lifestyle. It has helped me out in other areas of my life.

So there I was, day two of the week of the conference. Day two of getting up earlier than the other guys. Day two of driving 5 minutes to the gym...and I parked in front of the gym. I sat there tired --- traveling zonks me out --- and looked at the doors to the gym. The thought came, "You know...you could just exercise later. You can head back, sleep some more, feel rested, and exercise this afternoon." Hmmm...he does have a point, doesn't he? I mean, my workout wouldn't go well because I'm real tired...maybe I should


Then out of nowhere it was like the "real me" realized, "WOAH! WHAT IN THE WORLD?!? What are you saying?! You won't do it later!! You have already decided to do this a long time ago. You are in it for the long haul! You are already here!!!! Get out now and ignore that other guy! Let's do this!"
Brandon Phillips. Photo: Shaun Cleary:
Maybe it was the devil or maybe it was the old habits coming back, either way I had to grab the bull by its horns. Nothing is more difficult than going against those excuses and that nagging "logical-sounding-other." And yet it must be done.

Walking the Christian life is a difficult one. We may find ourselves completely invested during that initial phase but its when the rubber meets the road that you have to come back to the reason why you started. If your reasons were superficial, then any difficulty will have you running for the hills. This reminds me of the seed that fell among the rocky ground. Matt 13:20-21 There is no root, so when the dry arid heat comes, when persecution comes, when difficulty of standing up for your faith or getting up to work out confront you, we wither up and run away.

So how do we stand firm? How do we grow strong roots in rich soil? How can we go against ourselves when the excuses come? By building up habits, good habits, i.e., virtue. Habits would be the everyday life experience of what we do when we workout...we slowly work on weight lifting to be able to be strong and equipped to lift heavier. We slowly work on creating habits to do the right thing so we can be stronger and quicker to do it when things get tough. It's all about the small actions, the small victories, the constant and continual little action to do the right and good thing. If we build these habits, even when we don't want to, we will be able to persevere when it is difficult; we will be able to do the right thing regularly without thinking; we will be able to live out our faith with greater courage; and we will be able to speak to the broken part of ourselves that desires complacency and have them rise to be greater.

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