Tag Archives: change

A Change Of Pace

It has been two years since my wife and I made the decision to relocate to the Midwest from Southern California. It was actually a decision that came fairly easy, because we were both ready for change. We thought about it, prayed about it, and things fell into place quickly.

We set the move date, loaded a moving truck up with our belongings and sent it on its way across the country.

We arrived at the farm on July 1, 2015.  It was the first time I had ever seen it – the place where my wife grew up. A farm that had been in her family for over a hundred years.

I had two things on my mind. The first was to unwind after the long drive, and the second was finding a gym where I could train martial arts. A friend of my wife’s family stopped by that day and invited me over to his farm the following weekend to help butcher broiler hens.  I was trained on the spot and soon our freezer was full of delicious farm raised chickens.  I hadn’t realized that you raise some chickens to eat, and another kind to lay eggs.  There was so much more to learn.

After googling local MMA and Jiu Jitsu gyms, I found one nearby and headed over to check it out. That day was the first time I thought maybe I had made a mistake moving to the Midwest.

I introduced myself to the man who ran the gym, and asked if I could train.  He invited me back for a Jiu Jitsu session later that night.  When we returned, he was extremely rude to both my wife and I.  I didn’t realize what had changed in the past few hours until he confronted me about being “a rat,” and told me that I wasn’t welcome in his gym.  This was after he made me wait an hour to speak with him.  Apparently, he had googled me and felt I wasn’t worthy of his gym based on my past.  What a welcome to my “fresh start.

It turns out, that was the best thing that could have happened to me.  It forced me to rethink about the things that were really important. It took me out of my comfort zone, but looking back now I can see how much I was forced to grow.  

The next week I found a great gym with talented fighters who were not interested in my past, but in how I trained as a fighter.  They have always treated me well and I like the guys I have gotten to know there.  

My wife had a clear vision of what she wanted to accomplish and she headed back to school.  I knew deep down what I wanted to do – open my own gym and write- and in reality, I could do both wherever I was located.  

I have been passionate about three things in life consistently: Martial Arts, fitness, and writing.

The word passion is overused a lot today, so I will explain what I mean by it. To participate in each of the arts I love I was willing to put in the years it takes to become proficient in them.  To me one of the greatest attributes of all three “hobbies” – Martial Arts, writing, and fitness – is that you are never great, you can always improve.

I was introduced to Martial Arts in the 1980’s when I had just turned 13 through David Miller and Ted Lucaylucay. David owned Musashi Martial Arts Supply which was an equipment wholesaler. He also taught kickboxing to a few people at his warehouse. I met Ted through David and I was soon taking Jeet Kune Do at Ted’s Dojo in Huntington Beach.  In those days I would ride my bike to both places which would take over an hour.  I had to settle for boxing after David and Ted stopped teaching because there was no other place to train back in those days.

Throughout my teens, twenties, and early 30’s I trained sporadically when life wasn’t too crazy.  I later started training Mixed Martial Arts and I found out I really liked Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In 2005 when my life stabilized after two decades of craziness, I began training Jiu Jitsu twice a day.  I came to the conclusion that I wanted to take it up a notch, so I started training with the fight team at Joker’s Wild in Orange County. It was there that I met a lot of future world champions.  During that time of my life I would get to work by 4:30am so that I could leave to train at noon and again at night.  I never turned down an offer to train with any fighter, because I knew that was the way to improve. When I entered the gym I would look around. Whoever was the best, that was who I would train with that day.  I cannot begin to count all of the black eyes, bloody noses, bruises and injuries I have had over the years, but I never quit.

I have a lot to say about a lot of things so writing has always intrigued me. There is nothing better than a great storyteller who can bring you into the world they are writing about.

I never took the time in school to learn anything useful about writing, so I had to do it the hard way.  I started writing a blog around the year 2000. It was called Crimeman and it almost cost me my life.

After that, I used to write on legal pads and in binders, but it was just thoughts with no direction.  Once I decided to really tell my story, it took about four years of hard work to get the book Breakshot into a form that could be further shaped and edited.  That book was rejected by publishers close to a hundred times before it found a home.

Breakshot brought me into Hollywood where I learned to write screenplays. I wrote seven over a period of years and to date I have only sold three.

Looking back my life has been a rollercoaster ride because I was always in search of the next thing. Once here in the country, life slowed down there were fewer distractions.

I knew I had to rededicate myself to my endeavors. I began to write every day on a schedule that I set for myself.  The words began to flow from within and I realized that I no longer wanted to write about criminals and their world. It no longer held my interest.  In fact, it brought me down. So I began to write about what it takes to make changes in your life, and other topics that did hold interest for me.

Training people in Los Angeles was easy for me. If a client did not meet my standards I could always find another.  In the gym, we had a constant stream of new clients. In Illinois, I had to rethink my approach and learn some patience when working with people.

It was in this process that I learned a lot about myself and what I really like to do. I found out that while I enjoy training people that fight or want to fight, it is those people who will never fight that I enjoy training the most. I found that I can help those people change their lives through their experiences in the gym.

It seems like so much more than two years have passed since I have started over in the Midwest.  I have grown and learned a lot.  My wife says I have changed a lot (for the better).  I have truly witnessed what God can do in my life.  I have seen God close some doors and open others.  I have worked hard and have met great people. I am looking forward to my future.

Ephesians 4:22-24

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

 

Self-Discipline

DCIM102GOPRO

Every dream, goal and plan comes down to being self-disciplined enough to get through the rough parts and the ability to stay committed until completion.

Self-discipline is our unique ability to control our urges, wants, desires and our emotions in order to reach our goals. It is a mindset that must be built upon so that we make the right choices daily to guide our lives in the direction that is best.  It means we must give up small momentary pleasure in order to gain lasting happiness.

I was thinking about where I learned self-discipline.  One place I am sure I learned it was when I was at Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, California.  The morning wake-up bugle call reveille would sound at 6:15am.  Your bed had to be made, you had to dress with shined shoes, brass for inspection.  I used to get up at 5:30am so I could shower with plenty of hot water and take my time.

I was never in a rush to get ready and out to the quad for formation.  There really is something special about being awake while the world around you slumbers.  I committed to waking up early at a young age, and it has followed me through my whole life.

When I lived in New York I used to walk two miles every morning at 5am, then get two newspapers and a coffee before I came home.  This would set the pace for my day. I felt like it let me get in front of the day before others were awake.  I also feel like I have been able to get more finished in my life with this “extra” time.

People always talk about how they do not have any extra time.  Why not find that time before the day starts?

Many people feel that being self-disciplined will mean that they will have to give up much of what they feel is good about their lives.  There is no doubt that when shifting towards a more disciplined lifestyle your life will change.  It does not have to be bad or painful.  Examine your life and decide what is important to you.  If eating and drinking whatever you wish with no limits is what is important then look at the inevitable outcome.  You get to live with obesity, heart disease, and a host of other ailments.  How about staying up late to surf the internet or binge watch your favorite show? You must accept being tired at work or school the next day, and not performing well.

What if instead, you choose to eat food that is filled full of nutritional value.  Drink more water, keeping yourself hydrated. How would those choices harm you? Eating healthy foods does not mean a diet, it just means choosing the right tasty things to fuel your body. How about choosing to read a chapter of a book each night before bed and get to sleep at a reasonable hour?

Everyone has heard the phrase, “You just have to do it.”  It is much easier said than done for the average person with years of bad habits ingrained in their life.

So start small with something that you can do very easily.  If you need extra time in your day, how about waking up an hour earlier?  If you would like to lose weight, how about starting with a walk every morning before breakfast without fail.

If you make a commitment and stick with it, no matter what, it will translate into other areas of your life.  That means you must throw out all the excuses of the past… the  “I’m too tired,” “I have no time,” “My alarm did not go off,” or “I’m not feeling well.”

Once you make a habit of the first small change for a month, it’s time to commit to another small change. After a few months of these small victories under your belt, you can clearly see the changes that have come from your new found self-discipline.

This is something that you cannot buy.  There is no magic pill.  You have to be committed and work on it a little bit every day.  Think about this for a minute: why does the diet and self-help industry bring in billions a year?  They know that people do not want to put in the hard work necessary for lasting change.  A lot of people are looking for the easy way because we all hope there is a way.

The bottom line is that every journey begins with that first step and then continuing to step even when you don’t feel like it.

You must decide what it is you want in the long term. Once you have the goal in mind it will help you push aside the many distractions that will inevitably arise. You may feel discomfort along the way, but knowing that is part of the process makes it bearable. It is time to make decisions that benefit you for the long term.  Surround yourself with other people who are self-disciplined and cheer each other on.

Hebrews 12:11

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Proverbs 5:21-23

21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. 22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. 23 For lack of discipline they will die,  led astray by their own great folly.

 

Failure

There is no escape, no way to hide.  It will find all of us at one point or another during our lifetimes.  It has been said that a book of failures would be a great book to read, so that we could learn from other’s mistakes.

Have you ever noticed that there are never any “failure seminars”?  There are plenty of speakers on the topic of success.  You can catch a motivational seminar online or in a conference room in a hotel most any weekend.

I have failed at so many things I could not even list them all here.  The good news is, I took a valuable lesson away from each one.  One of the best thing about pushing yourself hard and ultimately hitting your goals, is that our minds tend to gloss over the periods of heartbreak and failure, focusing instead on our successes.

One day I decided to take up a new hobby: prospecting for gold in the mountains and deserts of California.  I really did not know much about it at all, but when my wife and dog and I hiked in the mountains we had seen several people panning for gold in the streams and it got me interested.  I started reading everything I could about gold prospecting and the history of the gold bearing regions in California.

The next weekend, instead of heading off on our usual hike, we packed our lunch, a few shovels, and some tools we had picked up for gold panning.  We headed to the East Fork of the San Gabriel River.   We parked our car and hiked a mile or so up a path along the river.  We found a giant boulder and I started digging out buckets of dirt and passing them to my wife who would pan it out in the water.  We dug for hours and found nothing, not a trace of that elusive gold.  We did have a great time! Our dog fished in the river, we enjoyed the sunshine, cool water, amazing scenery and our hike.

We went back to that river many times.  Each time we dug deep holes and found nothing but black sand and tiny gold flakes in our pan.  One day, an older prospector came by our hole to chat.  He told me where I should dig based on his experience.  Later that day we found a small “picker,” which is what you call a tiny gold nugget that is big enough to pick up with your fingers.

We were doing almost exactly what the 49ers did during the gold rush.  Instead of iron pans, we used plastic pans, and unlike them, we were not trying to make a living from it.

It turns out that most of the gold is still there, undiscovered.  The early miners took the easy gold that they could find near the surface. It is back breaking labor with little payoff to keep digging and looking for the deeper gold. I enjoyed it because it was a challenge and a treasure hunt.

We graduated from panning to setting up a sluice in the water. The next stage was learning how to metal detect in the Mojave desert – which meant getting out there in the early hours before the temperatures rose.  Hunting for gold nuggets in the desert with a metal detector is called “nugget shooting.”  We joined the Prospector’s Club of Southern California, which gave us access to claims all over the region.  Then I graduated to operating a dry washer in the desert.

I learned to love the peace and quiet of the dry, desolate Mojave desert.  We started finding “color” almost every time we went out.

I wanted to find a good sized nugget with my metal detector before I left California, but it was not to be.  On my last attempt before moving, a solo trip early in the morning, I saw some fellow prospectors find a gold nugget just a few yards away from where I was looking.  I guess you could say I failed because I never found that fist-sized nugget I was seeking.  Instead, I would say that I gained some useful knowledge and made some great memories.

Prospecting mirrors so much of what we do in life.  Each one of us is seeking some kind of treasure.  There’s no guarantee you will find that big nugget.  Successes and failures: they all come with valuable lessons.  I look back on the hours I spent digging dirt holes and wandering the desert not as a failure, but as some of my favorite memories.

My friend Mark and I spoke about the topic of failure this past week.  After a successful high school and college wrestling career at Oklahoma State, where he was a two time All-American, Mark began his mixed martial arts career with the WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting).  He did well enough to be picked up by the UFC when they bought the WEC.

When I first met Mark, I noticed that he carried himself differently than most of the guys I knew, and he was open about being a Christian.  Mark was not pushy with his faith, but he was setting an example by the way he lived and he was always ready to lend a hand to anyone who needed one.

I trained with Mark for his first fight in the UFC, which he lost.  It was a bad loss, but he was back to training within a week.  Mark Munoz went on to have a long UFC career and while he never won the belt, he always left the ring a winner.  He was voted as “the nicest guy in MMA” by the UFC.  I learned from Mark that in MMA, a loss does not equal failure.  When you keep fighting, improving and moving forward, you are succeeding, regardless of what the outcome of any one fight may be.

Mark told me that if you have a fear of failure you will fall backward.  If you embrace it, you will take away a valuable lesson.  We all fail.  We have to learn from it and keep moving forward.

Resilience, Adversity, and Desire: A real champion in life, whether you are fighting in a cage, prospecting for gold, or trying to get a promotion in your job, is the person that shows resilience even when they fail.  Adversity is something to use to make us better, not break us down.  We will all face it, but how we view it and push past it will define us.  Desire is what will make you get up each day with determination: study harder, work harder, train harder.

Mark also reminded me that what we speak about every day is what we become, so choose your words wisely.

 

Romans 5:3-5

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Proverbs 24:16

For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

Luke 6:45

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

 

Lessons from a Dojo

Martial arts have been a very big influence in my life.  When I was in sixth grade I heard about Red Dragon Karate, and wanted the chance to learn it.  Instead, I found myself in Military school.  After that, I ended up in Irvine, California. There my father found a place for me to learn Martial Arts.

That place was a Martial Arts Supply company in Santa Ana named Musashi Martial Arts.

The owner, David Miller, was ahead of his time. He was a former kickboxer who had written a book about the business of Martial Arts. He held kickboxing, Kali and Jeet Kune Do classes in his warehouse.  

One of the teachers was a man named Ted Lucaylucay.  He was the first student from Dan Inosanto’s school allowed to teach Jeet Kune Do.  Dan Inosanto was very close to the founder of Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee – and he had learned directly from the source.

I loved every class.  I followed Ted from that school in Santa Ana to a place in Huntington Beach, where he opened up his own little studio.  I trained with him until he moved away to Washington.  I have never forgotten any of David or Ted’s training.  My problem was that I didn’t always implement their instructions.

After Ted moved away, I began to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an offshoot of Japanese Jiu Jitsu, which has been around in various forms since the 1400’s.  It was brought to Brazil in the early 1900’s as “Kodokan Judo”  where it was taught to the  sons of Gastao Gracie by a Japanese man named Mitsuyo Maeda. The Gracie brothers modified it and adapted it to its current Brazilian form.

In the art of Jiu Jitsu there is no immediate payoff. You will get tapped, also known as “submitted” many, many times during every practice.  Unlike other martial arts that teach form against mitts or pads and often without any opponent at all, Jiu Jitsu is always taught against an opponent.  As a beginner, everyone you train against is better than you. This taught me humility, patience and how to relax when faced with crushing strength.

I was already trained to relax when punches and kicks were coming at me – but the oppressive grinding, smothering claustrophobic hold of a Jiu Jitsu opponent is another thing entirely.

You cannot learn one move and expect it to work on everyone you train against.  You have to adapt it to your body style and to your opponent. It is a game of human chess and in order to excel, you must think many moves ahead.

In Jiu Jitsu, technique prevails. I had to learn to let go of my anger, because there is no place for it on the mat. Strength is important, but not as much as technique.  You will always encounter someone bigger and heavier.   It is an art where there is no room for “I know but..” You have to listen to your coaches or you will not progress.  You must be able to perform, there is no faking it on the mat.  Those who do not put in the work fall behind.

When I walk into a gym or a Dojo for the first time, I always look for the best person and that will be who I work with first.  In order to become a better fighter you must go against those who are better than you, and learn from them.

Jiu Jitsu has a belt system of promotion.  Belts are blue, purple, brown and black, each of which represent an advancing stage in your training.  I never trained in a commercial gym where they had monthly belt tests, we always trained until our coach felt we were ready, and only then were we given a new belt.  In a real Jiu Jitsu gym, a belt acknowledges that you have put in the time and hard work necessary to be at a certain level.  Each belt represents years of hard work and daily practice.

I have met many people over the years that I would not have met if not for Jiu Jitsu.  The mat is not about winning a match, it is about you and what you can do to improve yourself. It teaches you that you can overcome any obstacle in life with hard work and determination. I have learned that it does not matter what you do, where you came from or where you are today.  If you are willing to put in the hard work you will see results.

I’ve heard it said before that some Christians believe that martial arts are not compatible with Christianity because of the involvement of Eastern Mysticism in the past.  I firmly believe that God used Martial Arts, and Jiu Jitsu in particular, to bring me back to Him.  I cannot tell you how many Christians I have trained with over the years.  Their words, lives and actions all served as a testimony to me.  Whether it was sitting me down to talk about faith after practice, saying a team prayer before a match, or just being an example in the way they carried themselves.

Now, I am the one one ready to share the Good News on and off the mats.

In today’s instant gratification society it is not normal to commit to training in a sport or an art for many years. For me, Martial Arts has been a lifelong pursuit that has had an effect on every aspect of my life.

What is the special thing that motivates you? What do you have a passion to become great at?  Are you willing to put in the hours, days, weeks and years of training?

1 Corinthians 10:31

Therefore, whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27

Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

Seasons

DCIM100GOPRO

Fall

I realized this week that our second winter on the farm in Illinois is quickly approaching and I am looking forward to it! Living most of my life in California, I never experienced the changing seasons or the beauty of fall in the countryside.  When I lived in Brooklyn and Manhattan I would just get on a plane and head back home to California for a week each month when it got cold.

I never dreamed that I would be living on a farm with chickens, honey bees, ducks, dogs and acres of corn and beans. The chicken breasts I bought in the grocery store always came wrapped in plastic. I’ve learned that they do not start that way.  

It has been a period of learning.  I have learned about another way of life and I have also learned a lot about myself.

My life has been a series of small changes that have taken place very slowly because I was afraid of change. God wanted to heal my stone heart, but I resisted it along the way.  Looking back I have to laugh at myself because all of this could have been much easier.

 I took the long way.   How many of you resist change?  I did for so long because I wanted to hold on to some vague idea I had about myself.  I was a slave to ideas and thoughts that kept me in various states of the same place in life.

Today, I want to work on everything in my life that I feel could change for the better.  I want to do it all at once, but I know that I have to work on one thing at a time.  Trying to move fast or working on too many problems at once will just lead to failure. Do you try to accomplish so much at one time that you end up getting nothing finished?

I think about where I am now in life and I feel this is where I should be at this time.  It is another learning stage where I will be until I have grown and am ready for the next stage.  Have you ever thought about the stages we go through and what purpose they serve?

Growing up we had a small lawn that took me at most a half an hour to mow.  When I was older I just hired a gardener like everyone else.  Mowing the grass on the farm takes me four to six hours and at some point it in the seasons it may even need to be done twice a week. There are days that can be so hot that I’m drenched in sweat or it can be so cold that I have to cover every part of my body to stay warm.  I enjoy mowing, it gives me time to think about everything.  It is a little like hitting a heavy bag with music blaring.  The rest of the world does not matter.  I am concentrating on a simple task, from start to finish.  Do you have anything in your life like that?

Living in Los Angeles I used to wake up at 4am so I could hike with Phoenix (my dog) every morning.  It was a perfect time when the city was quiet and dark.  I loved being up in the hills of the park when it was dark.  Here there are no hills but there is plenty of open space and lots of stars to see. I had to change things up after we adopted Henry (our other dog) so that I had more time in the morning. 3am is my new time to hit the road with the two dogs.  I am often asked how I do it at that time.  It is easy because it is my regular schedule.  I am committed to take out my dogs for a walk every morning no matter what.  Do you value your commitments?  Will you keep them even when it is hard or the weather is bad?

There is an added benefit with the early walks.  I get to see a lot of wildlife that most people never get to see.  I have seen coyotes, skunks, a bobcat, lots of raccoons, owls, a bald eagle, and many deer.   I get to learn about the land and what it supports.  I also add a few miles of cardio to my day.

Our lives are not straight lines to our destinations.  Life isn’t one long season, but more like the weather in the midwest, with seasons of growth, harvest and some cold hard winters and other lighter winters.  I have enjoyed the beautiful colors of fall this month and I am looking forward to this coming second winter.  Then, a new spring where everything comes back alive.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

1 To everything

, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ezekiel 11:19

19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

The Main Character

DCIM100GOPRO

 

Maybe you got the right grades in high school and attended a good college.  You came out ready to set the world on fire, but settled instead for a steady paycheck. Or, maybe like me, you went against the norm and caused some trouble earlier in life.  The unconventional life is what I lived. I always felt that there was so much more to life than playing it safe.

What makes you tick? If you were writing down your story, how would you describe your character?  Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and jot down a few things.  It’s not what we do for a living that defines us, it’s who we are as a person and what we live for.

Why does your character make the choices they do?

How does their life affect those closest to them?

What has your character learned that they can pass on to others?

How would others describe your character?

These are just answers for you to think about, not for anyone else to see, so answer them truthfully.  Now that you have a description of your character,  let it sit for a bit.  Come back to it later and read it again.

Do you like the character that you see forming on the page?  If yes – great!

If you are not happy in anyway, get busy.

All of us benefit by thinking about the people we look up to, and qualities they possess.  By working to incorporate those qualities into our day-to-day life, they can become part of our character too.

As long as you are still living, the story isn’t over.  The character is not written in stone.

No matter who you are or what you are doing now, you have within yourself the ability to change your story, improve your character.

Investing time in improving your character is time well spent. We all have time.  How we spend it comes down to what is most important to us.

Part of the character building process is realizing we can not go at it alone.  Ask for advice, ask for help, and when you do you may be surprised at the outcome.

Looking back at the main character of my story, there were a lot of qualities I’m not proud of in the younger me.  The good news is, I wasn’t doomed to stay that way forever.  With commitment, time, hard work, help from others and a lot of help from God, I’ve changed.  I’m still a work in progress, and my story isn’t over, but I’m here to let you know, you can change too if your character isn’t what you want it to be.

If you had a hard time coming up with a list of qualities that you have, the Bible is a great place to look.  It has a whole lot to say about character traits.  For every good character quality, there is a bad counterpart.  Take a few minutes to glance through the list below.  Pick a quality listed and see which side of the coin your character currently sits on.

CHARACTER TRAITS

Alertness vs.  Unawareness

Being aware of that which is taking place around me so I  can have the right response to it (Mark 14:38)

Attentiveness vs.  Unconcern

Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided  attention to his words and emotions (Hebrews 2:1)

Availability vs.  Self-centeredness

Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the  wishes of those I am serving (Philippians 2:20–21

Contentment vs.  Covetousness

Realizing that God has provided everything I need for my  present happiness (I Timothy 6:8)

Creativity vs.  Underachievement

Approaching a need, a task, an idea from a new perspective  (Romans 12:2)

Decisiveness vs.  Double-mindedness

The ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the  will and ways of God (James 1:5)

Deference vs.  Rudeness

Limiting my freedom in order not offend the tastes of  those whom God has called me to serve (Romans 14:21)

Dependability vs.  Inconsistency

Fulfilling what I consented to do even if it means  unexpected sacrifice (Psalm 15:4)

Determination vs.  Faintheartedness

Purposing to accomplish God’s goals in God’s time  regardless of the opposition (II Timothy 4:7–8)

Diligence vs.  Slothfulness

Visualizing each task as a special assignment from the  Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it (Colossians 3:23)

Discretion vs.  Simplemindedness

The ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which  could result in undesirable consequences (Proverbs 22:3)

Endurance vs.  Giving up

The inward strength to withstand stress to accomplish  God’s best (Galatians 6:9)

Flexibility vs.  Resistance

Not setting my affections on ideas or plans which could be  changed by God or others (Colossians 3:2)

Forgiveness vs.  Rejection

Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and  allowing God to love them through me (Ephesians 4:32)

Generosity vs.  Stinginess

Realizing that all I have belongs to God and using it for  His purposes (II Corinthians 9:6)

Gentleness vs.  Harshness

Showing personal care and concern in meeting the need of  others (I Thessalonians 2:7)

Gratefulness vs.  Unthankfulness

Making known to God and others in what ways they have  benefited my life (I Corinthians 4:7)

Hospitality vs.  Loneliness

Cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual  refreshment with those whom God brings into my life (Hebrews 13:2)

Humility vs.  Pride

Recognizing that it is actually God who is responsible for the achievements in my life (James 4:6)

Initiative vs.  Unresponsiveness

Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it (Romans 12:21)

Joyfulness vs.  Self-pity

The spontaneous enthusiasm of my spirit when my soul is in  fellowship with the Lord (Psalm 16:11)

Love vs.  Selfishness

Giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive  personal reward (I Corinthians 13:3)

Loyalty vs.  Unfaithfulness

Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God  and to those whom He has called me to serve (John 15:13)

Meekness vs.  Anger

Yielding my personal rights and expectations to God (Psalm 62:5)

Orderliness vs.  Disorganization

Preparing myself and my surroundings so I will achieve the  greatest efficiency (I Corinthians 14:40)

Patience vs.  Restlessness

Accepting a difficult situation from God without giving  Him a deadline to remove it (Romans 5:3–4)

Punctuality vs. Tardiness

Showing high esteem for other people and their time (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Resourcefulness vs.  Wastefulness

Wise use of that which others would normally overlook or  discard (Luke 16:10)

Responsibility vs.  Unreliability

Knowing and doing what both God and others are expecting  from me (Romans 14:12)

Security vs.  Anxiety

Structuring my life around that which is eternal and cannot be destroyed or taken away (John 6:27)

Self-Control vs.  Self-indulgence

Obedience to the promptings of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:24–25)

Sensitivity vs.  Callousness

Exercising my senses so I can perceive the true spirit and  emotions of those around me (Romans 12:15)

Sincerity vs.  Hypocrisy

Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives (I Peter 1:22)

Thoroughness vs.  Incompleteness

Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my  work or words if neglected (Proverbs 18:15)

Thriftiness vs.  Extravagance

Not letting myself or others spend that which is not  necessary (Luke 16:11)

Tolerance vs.  Prejudice

Acceptance of others as unique expressions of specific character qualities in varying degrees of maturity (Philippians 2:2)

Truthfulness vs.  Deception

Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts (Ephesians 4:25)

Virtue vs.  Impurity

The moral excellence and purity of spirit that radiate  from my life as I obey God’s Word (II Peter 1:3)

 

List taken and edited from the one found at: http://graceonlinelibrary.org/home-family/christian-parenting/49-godly-character-qualities

 

Small Steps in the Right Direction

 

DCIM100GOPRO

Beekeeper Kenji

If you watch the news or log onto Facebook, you have probably heard it said by now that nothing is your fault.  Anything negative was brought upon you by an outside influence. Once you start the blame game, it’s easy to forget that we all have free will.  

Personal responsibility has the potential to turn our nation around. We live with more freedoms than any citizens in the history of the world, which gives us more responsibility in determining our own futures.  We have no nobility, no ruling class – each one of us has the potential to become whatever we wish in life.

As free people in a free society, our lives are the sum of the decisions we make.  I know many people will disagree with me on that.  Most will insist on pointing to one bad thing that happened to them, which they blame for changing their life.  In reality, life is the culmination of many small decisions made over a long period of time that shape our lives.  When we don’t like who we are, it can be very hard to accept that we are to blame.

Think about where you are at this moment in life and trace it backwards. If you are honest with yourself you will see that your past actions determine where you are today.

The great news is that nothing is permanent.  You can change your life by changing the decisions you make on a daily basis.

It is up to you, and only you, to change the behaviors that have caused you to be where you are. When changes are made, the outcome will reflect those changes.

If you try to change everything at the same time you are less likely to change anything in the long run.  Zero in on one thing you want to change, and start with that.  Take baby steps, all aimed toward the same goal.  Successful people know where they want to go, and what it takes to get there.

I see this concept of the importance of the small things in nature.  This year I started to learn beekeeping as a beekeeper’s apprentice. We began in the spring with two hives.  After a couple of months we got a phone call about some bees swarming at a nearby home, so we went and picked up a third swarm and put it in a hive.  One of the three hives flourished and grew strong, but the other two were just getting by.  We combined the two weak hives to make one bigger hive.

After the bees worked through the spring, summer and early fall, we checked on their progress.  They need to have enough honey to last through the cold Illinois winter, so it would not be unusual if there was not enough extra honey to harvest any the first year of keeping bees.

Each hive is made of wooden boxes called supers and each super has eight frames hung in it.  The bees make honeycomb on each frame and fill the honeycombs with honey. When we checked the hives, they had each produced and stored enough honey that there was enough extra to remove one super from each hive.

From the two supers, we ended up extracting 27 pounds of honey, which ended up being over two gallons. Each teaspoon of honey represents a dozen bee’s life of work. That means 18,432 bees devoted their lives to make the 1536 teaspoons of honey we harvested. That is a lot of small steps that add up to a big accomplishment.

My own life began to change when I stopped and thought about my long-term goals.  What would be the honey harvest of my life?  I used to make snap decisions without thinking.  I would go off and do what looked exciting or fun.  Once I directed my energy towards a long-term outcome and forgot about the short-term distractions, I began to see real change.

Change is hard.  That’s why it’s so important to keep your eyes on your goal, not on how you’re feeling at the moment.  As Christians, we often quote the verse “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).” This can be taken out of context to give the impression that life is not hard with God is on our side.  The truth is far from that. Paul, when he was writing that, was in prison.

God doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that he won’t give you anything you can’t handle (as Pastor Arol preached so clearly this past Sunday at Minooka Bible in his sermon about Jonah).  Life is tough.  God promises he will be with us, but he never promises it won’t be hard.

This is not limited to changing yourself, although that is where it all begins. In order to transform the world, you have to transform yourself first.

Ephesians 4:22-24

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self,which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness..