New Habits for a New Life

Is there any area of your life that your wish was better?  Perhaps it’s a relationship that you would like to be strong and positive, but today is less than great.  Or maybe you are carrying a few more pounds of belly fat than you’d like.  Maybe your financial situation is a struggle, and you dream of days where you can go shopping for shoes and clothes without feeling guilty.  Whatever the area that you’d like to improve, there’s a simple and extremely effective recipe for attaining the thriving life you imagine.  It’s simple, not always easy, and requires faith and perseverance, which is why few people employ it.  Consequently, few people enjoy the harvest, and remain wishers.  But not you! Read on to hear how this timeless principle can work for you.


WHO knows?

The first step toward developing success in your desired area is to find someone who already has success in that area.  If you want a strong and healthy marriage, think of people around who have great marriages.  Offer to take them out for a cup of coffee and ask them what they do to keep their marriage healthy.  If you want to live healthier and get in better shape, find someone who’s already doing it and ask what they do each week to get healthy and fit.  This person is your WHO.

WHAT habits?

Ask questions of your WHO in order to discover the WHAT that will get the results you want.  Many great books are available as well, which contain excellent information on the things you need to get from where you are to success in any given area.  Again, make sure the author has credibility in the subject at hand (the author should have success himself in the area he’s giving you advice in), and study to identify exactly what you will need to do to succeed.  Hint:  this will involve doing something different than what you’ve been doing.

Now the key

Ok, we’ve done the two easy parts, now all that’s left is the hard one.  Finding credibile sources is relatively straightforward.  Reading and asking questions of your experts to determine what to do is pretty simple too.  And many many people do these two things, and yet do not achive the results they want.  In many cases, it is for the simple reason that they did not stay the course.  You see, there must be consistant right action for period of time, a period during which the results of the new habit are not visible.  Take a new workout regimen for example.  How much different do you look after your first workout?  Sweaty, I know, but I mean after your shower!  Not much different.  What about after three workouts? Four?  Fifteen?

Right action, repeat, right action, repeat

You see, you may have a great workout program that will move you exactly in the direction you want to go.  If you sought advise from a credible expert to obtain the program (e.g. you have been following the ThriveFit regimen), your program is perfect for you.  But if you look back during week two to check your results, you’ll likely find little but disappointment.  You’ve been working hard, you’re supposedly doing the right things, but you still weigh ten pounds too much!  What gives?!  You think, “All this hard work, all this study and dedication, and I’m not getting any closer to my goal!  I should just give up and stay where I am.  At least then I’d have more time to relax and watch TV or something….”

Don’t Give Up!

And here is where we separate those who succeed from those who only dream and wish that things were better.  I’m all for dreaming of a better life, and I encourage you to do so.  But I would further challenge you to take your dreams and find a WHO, who will tell you the WHAT that you need to reach your dreams.  And finally, I challenge you to commit to doing that WHAT cosistantly, persistently, for a long period of time.  Do not be disuded by the non-winners and non-experts who try to take you off course.  Understand that your results will come in time, and have faith in the process.  Two paths are before you today:  right action toward your desired result, or life as usual.  Which will you choose?

Keep Your Goal Before Your Eyes

Imagine your ideal life—how would it be different than what your life is like today?  Spend a few quiet minutes thinking on this, and you’ll find the key areas where you’re ready to set a goal.  Make your goal bigger that what you think you can do, in order to stretch you and challenge you.  This exercise can be inspiring, motivating, and exciting, but soon comes the hard part of getting it done!


Can You Keep Going?

You can achieve the big goals that are currently out of reach, and the path there is simpler and more straightforward that you think.  But one thing is required:  consistent right action.  Take a physical example:  losing weight.  In order to drop that ten pounds, all you have to do is lose half a pound a day for twenty days.  How?  Increase your energy output and reduce your calorie intake—it really is as simple as that.  But, here’s the hard part—on day three, when you’re hungry and your body is sore, will you continue with the consistent right action of eating healthy and exercise, or will you take a break and let your goals fade into memory?

The Slight Edge Principle

Setting goals is important.  But alone, the activity of setting a goal may not bring you what you want.  Once you set a goal, you must commit to it, and keep the goal in front of your eyes.  Like many principles of success, this important step is easy to do.  But easy to do is also easy not to do, and oftentimes we skip this important step, to our own peril.

How to Keep the Goal in Mind

What does it mean to keep a goal before your eyes?  Well, first it means that your goal must be written down.  Have a number and a date (for example, run a mile in seven minutes by December 15, 2013) so you have a clear idea where you are going.  Next, find a way to bring your goal to the front of your mind every day.  Some helpful ideas here include writing your goal and taping it to you bathroom mirror.  Some people ask others to help keep them on track towards their goals by checking in with them every few days, or even pursuing a similar goal at the same time.  One idea that I found strange at first was to actually speak your goals out loud every day.  What at first felt very silly became a valuable tool in training my mind to see and take action toward my goals every day.  Whatever method you want to use, the main key is to keep your mind on your goal.

Your Mind Working for You

Your mind is an amazing thing, and if you take the time to focus it on your goals, you will be astounded how it starts seeing opportunities around you every day.  Stay committed, stay steady, and start down the path toward living the thriving life that’s waiting for you!

Respond or react?

What do you do when you negative things come your way?  When a friend disagrees with you and puts you down, do you lash out?  When your brother cancels your poker game at the last minute for the third time in a row, do you yell at him for being so irresponsible and unreliable?  What about when a coworker belittles your ideas and makes you feel small?  Do you react by gossiping about her behind her back?


Your Choice

When people are unkind to us, we have two choices.  We can respond or we can react.  Reacting means doing what we naturally feel and allowing our emotions to choose our words.  In contrast, when we choose to respond to a negative situation, we use our mind and heart to overrule our emotions.

Is It Even About Me?

Often, when we are wronged, we incorrectly take the negative actions of another personally.  People are sometimes rude and inconsiderate, but many times this has nothing to do with you.  First off, if they are habitually rude, that has everything to do with them, and little to do with you.  In other instances, a person may not be habitually negative, but something negative has just happened in their life and they let their disappointment get the best of them.  In a few instances people are truly mean to you because they want to be.  But even in these cases, the right road is to respond, not react.

Forgive First

Each one of us has shortcomings, and as such we are bound to rub each other the wrong way.  When someone hurts you, can get mad and let your feelings boil over into harsh words against the wrongdoer.  Or you can choose to forgive them.  You can forgive, assuming they meant no offense; you can forgive assuming they let their emotions get the best of them, and you can even forgive in cases where it’s clear they were intentionally malicious.  You need not wait for their apology—forgive anyway.  If an apology comes, great!  If not, no big deal.

Create an Opportunity

If you will make the choice to live this way, and act with your will, mind, and heart rather than your emotions, your reward will be peace unknown to the masses who fail to respond and allow themselves to react.  Not only that, but those around you will notice your unusual behavior. They may even ask you why  you live so differently.  Can you think of a better opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ?

The Well-Kept Secret

Those who are financially free are those who know, and have applied, something that the rest of us don’t.  In fact, not only wealthy people, but every person who has success in any area of life has learned and applied a secret principle.  Although these people are not shy about sharing their secret formula with others, the principle remains elusive for most people.  And of those who know this principle which guarantees success, a great many people refuse to employ it to affect the result they desire.


The Action Component

It’s been said that knowledge is power.  This is almost correct:  applied knowledge is power.  The difference between knowledge and applied knowledge is this well-kept secret known by all who possess success–be it financial, physical, or in any other realm.  You must know what you want.  You must know what actions are required to obtain what you want.  But with these two pieces only you cannot succeed.  You need the third piece: consistent daily action.

Discover Your Dream

Imagine your dream life.  If you could have anything, anything at all, what would it be?  Whatever it is, let’s represent it as a large tree.  You have an axe and must chop down this large tree.  Each swing of your axe gets you a little closer to your goal.  Find a mentor who has a life closer to your dream life than you do.  Ask him what actions he took to achieve the level of success he has attained.  These actions are your axe swings.

Five a Day, Every Day

Now for the application of the secret principle:  Take these actions; every day.  Not some days, not for a short period, but every day.  Here’s what I know:  if you swing your axe five times per day, every day, every day, every day, eventually the tree will fall.  No matter how big the tree, no matter how great or terrible you are at swinging, the tree will fall.  You must know what you want, you must know the right activities, but many people who have these things right still do not succeed.  Too often, we give up to early, or fail to take daily consistent action.

Persist Until Victorious

Do not let failure beat you in this way.  Discover your dreams, find what your axe swings are.  Then commit to doing them every day without fail for the next 2, 5, 10 or how ever many years are required to get there.  Success is never comfortable or easy; it is, however, worth it!

Your Surroundings

Imagine I had a very valuable and powerful computer, capable of extraordinary things and able to make me healthy, happy, and wealthy.  What should I do with this incredible machine?  If I asked you who I should have program it for me, who would you recommend?  Should I allow random coworkers, family members, or friends to load whatever content they want into my computer?


Your Incredible Mind

Guess what—you do have a very powerful computer that can get you anything you want in life.  It’s called your brain!  Scientists are continually amazed at the incredible complexity and capability of the human mind.  And, just like a computer, your brain can be programmed.  In fact, your brain is being programmed whether you realize it or not!

The problem with most of us is that we are simply not intentional about what we allow to program our brains.  We often let the foolish words of well-meaning people invade our minds and keep us from growing to the heights we’re capable of.  One may try something great, fail, and accept failure as part of his life.  He then spreads his bile to those around him, discouraging others from pursuing their dreams, simply because he has failed, given up, and accepted defeat.

Filtering What Goes In

You have a choice.  You can spend time around the failure of a man described in the previous paragraph, letting his rotten ideas and programming spoil your mind.  Or, you can intentionally limit your time around such people and develop a filter for the junk ideas they spew.  Turning positively, you can seek out successful people, people who have achieved what you want and are seeking to improve themselves further still, and allow them to speak positive ideas into your mind.

Choose Your Associations Wisely

Success always requires hard work and sacrifice.  You can decide to accept your status quo as it is now and fill your life with distraction and entertainment.  Or, you can get around people who challenge, inspire, and motivate you.  The company you keep and the advice you follow will create the path and future of your life.  Will the path you’re on today lead to a thriving life?

Our Latest Blessing

My wife Michelle and I were greatly blessed yesterday to welcome our third child into the world!  Hannah was born happy and healthy at 7:15 in the morning, and mom and baby are both doing great!


Our other two, Lydia and Nathan, were excited and intrigued to meet the newest member of our family! Michelle was such a trooper all through the labor and delivery, and all the nurses fawned over how tough she was and for her positive outlook and attitude. I’m married to a pretty amazing lady!


God’s hand is so apparent in the experience of seeing a baby being born. God has made our bodies with such complexity and ingenious design, and the mysterious process of birth is an incredible sight to behold!

Even with this being our third, I found the beauty and excitement woven into Hannah’s birth transformational. Even as I left the hospital and drove along our familiar street, I felt that I saw the world around me differently. A new child has entered my life, and depends on me for physical, emotional, and spiritual support.


Through parenthood, we get a small picture of the love God has for us. Like little children, mankind is dependent on God for life and existence. He gives to us great blessings, blessings we don’t deserve, out of his gracious love for us. Though Hannah may slip, make mistakes, fall, or rebel, my love for her will remain. So it is with our Father in heaven. Though we may break his Law, reject His ways, and refuse his Son as Savior, He remains patient with us, and gives us another breath and another chance to turn from sin and accept the Lord Jesus. Praise God for the love he bestows on us, and we thank Him for the precious gift He has given our family this week!



Are You Busy?

We are busy people.  If you’re like most of us these days, you fill your plate to overflowing with activities, work, fun, family, church, sports, and many many other things.  Often, these things bring benefits to our lives, although they can sometimes make us feel overwhelmed.  Worse still, we’re not always too accurate in our estimation of how many hours a new commitment will require, and this can lead to a schedule packed full of activities that might not quite line up with our dreams, desires, and priorities.  Is there any way to gain control of our schedules?


Money and Time

Just as it is with money, time often gets away with us.  Without intentional planning, the loudest cries for our attention get our time and money first, leaving other, more important priorities lacking.  A telltale sign of this is when we fine ourselves saying, “Oh, I’d love to do something like that, but I just don’t have the time!”  It doesn’t take too much reflection to realize how preposterous this statement is.  As if any person is given any more or less than 24 hours each day!  We all make choices each day how we will spend our hours.  It’s ok if you don’t want to prioritize a fitness regimen in your life, but don’t fool yourself by saying you don’t have time to go to the gym.

Be Real with Yourself

Think of it this way:  you, just like the rest of us, have 168 hours each week.  Typically, work will consume something like 45 of them and if you sleep 8 hours a night, that’s another 56.  So, how will you spend the other 67 hours?

Just as with budgeting money, budgeting our time will help us elevate our highest priorities first, and let the things that matter least fill in the gaps.  Instead of spending 24 hours watching TV this week, why not reduce it to 20 and invest those 4 hours into growing your marriage or relationship with another important person in your life?

You Can Have It; Are You Willing to Pay the Price?

It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of wistfully wishing for things we’d like in our life, but failing to take any action in pursuit of those things.  What do you really want?  Can you make a decision today to spend three hours next week pursuing it?  Maybe all you can do during those three hours is some research.  But guess what?  The following week, you’ll be armed with the info you need to take the next step, then the next one, on and on until you reach the place you want to be.  The journey to success may be long, but what’s that to you—you’ve got time!  😀

True Spirituality

What does it mean to be spiritual?  Does a person with a strong spiritual life simply keep all the rules?  And what’s the point of living in true spirituality anyway, when it seems like all you get for your sacrifices is some undefined goody-goody feeling?  Today we’ll explore these questions and more, and learn what the world’s greatest teacher had to say on the subject.


Actions Speaking Louder

Many of us have had less than positive experiences growing up around Christian people.  Even within the church, it’s all too common to see people talk about all kinds of good things, but then when we see how they live, the disparity is enormous.  What good is it to talk about the right things one ought to do, and then go out and live completely the opposite?  Seeing people living this way can make us jettison the whole idea of Christianity:  who wants to follow a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites?!!

Not Based in Duty or Behavior

Jesus’ picture of spirituality, as contrasted with the heresy described in the previous paragraph, has nothing to do with activity.  Rather, true spirituality is walking in a loving relationship with our Father God.  You see, while we were sinners, alienated from our Creator because of our sin, God sent his son Jesus to come, live a perfect life, and die the death we deserved.  When we respond to this truth and turn from our sin and to Christ as Lord, God grants us new life. Just as God saw our sin placed on Christ at the cross, He now sees Christ’s perfection in us.  No longer are we estranged from our Creator – we are His sons and daughters!

Living in Response to What He Has Done

True spirituality, then, is living in response to this truth, to this great gift of salvation we have received.  When we understand what Christ has done for us, we respond in the only way possible—by loving Him, loving what He loves, and desiring His will.  How do we know what He loved?  In the Scriptures we hear from God who He is, what He has done, and how He desires we live.  Christ taught us that the first commandment is to love God above all else.  The second commandment is to love our neighbors. On these two commandments hang all the teachings of the Law, and if you think about it, sole direction one needs to live as a blessing to those around him.  Though living this way is not easy, and even as followers of Christ we often fall short and sin, this is the way to true spirituality and eternal life:  accept the gift of salvation Christ offers, and devote your life to following Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  He is gentle and humble of heart, and will lead you, protect you, and invite you into His heavenly kingdom.

The Heart of a Fan

Do you know any, or would you perhaps consider yourself to be, a football fan?  How do you know that this person is a fan?  Do you have to search hard for clues in order to determine that they love the game?  Do they keep a checklist of duties, such as buying tickets to games, talking about football for a prescribed number of minutes per day, or reading football blogs and magazines?

Husker Fans

What Drives Action?

If a person doesn’t do these works out of duty or off of a checklist, what does cause them to spend their time in such ways?  It is this:  they simply love the game.  Perhaps it is the thrill of victory when all seems lost, or maybe the sounds of a roaring crowds and clashing helmets.  But whatever the origin of their love of football, that is the driving force behind their actions and activities.  Their cubicle walls are plastered with team memorabilia and they talk of their favorite team at every opportunity precicely because this sport is their passion.

The Long-Term Investment

Now, what does all this have to do with living a thriving life?  We just described devotion to a fun and enjoyable activity, but consider this: what is the ultimate end of this pursuit?  One hundred years from now, all the players we idolize now will be dead and gone.  All of the games will have been forgotten, save perhaps an entry in a museum.  While all this distraction occupies our time, the One who made the earth, grass, and sky under which the game is played stands by ignored and forgotten.  Oh, perhaps every now and again we’ll toss a “good work” his way, maybe out of guilt, duty, or in order to check it off our list, but like Cain’s sacrifice, our Lord does not find these things pleasing. But imagine if we were to commit ourselves to Jesus the way so many commit themselves to football!  What if we loved Him the way fanatics love the game?

An Overflow of the Heart, Not a Checklist

You see, God does not want a checklist of works from us.  Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died a gruesome death in order to pay the penalty that our sin created for us.  He is the one who has done the good work, not us.  Our responsibility is only to accept the gift of grace he freely offers, turn from our sin and turn to Jesus.  In so doing, God will confer upon us new life, and a new self capable of loving Him every bit as much as the most committed fan loves football.  It is from this place that our good works will naturally flow, just as a true fan naturally buys tickets, watches games, and talks about his team.  Will you decide today to turn from your own way and follow Jesus?  Commit your whole heart to Him, and watch as he transforms every area of your being from death into life.

What Are You Pouring In?

In my garden out back of our house, I planted tomato, pepper, and squash plants this spring.  I did not plant only a single seed of each, but many seeds of each type.  What would you think of me if I say I am disappointed today that I have no apple trees, cactus plants, or strawberries growing?  Would you think me foolish?  What if I went further to say that I am frustrated that so many tomato, pepper, and squash plants are growing?  Surely then you’d think me strange, right?


What Are You Growing

While we might think this sort of behavior foolish, we tend quite often to act this way when it comes to what we plant in ourselves.  We desire to have good things happen to us, to have a life full or rich relationships and success, but how can these things grow if they haven’t been planted?  Take this past week for example:  how much time did you spend around positive, excited winners?  Did you learn things directly from leaders or mentors of yours by listening to their wisdom as they poured their experience into you?  If not, how can you expect the plants of success to grow?  There are no seeds to even start with!

Conversely, how much time in the past week have you spent letting negative messages pour into your head?  Have you listened to others around you complain about things they don’t like or blame others for the situations they find themselves in?  Have you spent many hours letting the TV be your teacher?  Are the shows than you watch filled with positive messages of overcoming difficulty through persistence and teamwork, or are they overly-sexualized sitcoms that display selfishness, destruction, or belittling others.  If the latter, what do you think these seeds will grow into within the garden of your mind?

Understand the Connections

Our lives are in much more of our own control than we often realize.  Wise men make the connection between what’s poured into the mind today and the situations we find ourselves in tomorrow. Will you take the step of intentionally pouring in an shielding yourself from the bad?  Put distance between yourself and the habits of the masses, and watch your life of success grow and flourish!