Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Five healthy changes for me

So I typically (actually never) post about the events of my personal life. The purpose of this blog is to function as an article-based topical discussion on varying aspects of the Christian life. However, I have recently made a few lifestyle changes that have been healthy and thought it would be appropriate to share them and express the spiritual value in each one.

Before I go into detail about what I've been doing, I want to make it clear that I am in no way dogmatic about this stuff. These all fall into the doubtful things section of doctrine -- functioning as personal convictions. I'm sharing them with you so that maybe, if God so leads, you may see them as positive tools to implement into your own life. If not, then no sweat!

1. Everyday Accountability

Accountability is such a huge part of the Christian life -- that idea is not a "doubtful thing" as much as it is a practical reflection of a person's desire to live for God. One of the most basic qualities of a Christian is that he is a student of the Word, a reader of the Bible, a partaker of our Daily Bread. 

Unfortunately, one of the most common struggles for most Christians is that they are not reading Scripture. If a follower of Christ is not reading His Word, he's not hearing what He says. He cannot receive direction or comfort or counsel from God.

So nowadays, with the ease of communication that exists, it has not only become easier to communicate with anyone in the world, but it has also become easier to hold one another accountable. I have recently started an accountability relationship with two Christian brothers regarding daily devotional reading. Each day, one of us will text the other what we've read that day and a one-sentence summary of that passage. The other person will follow suit, and iron sharpens iron. 

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16-17

2. Simple Servanthood

My spiritual gift is definitely not mercy or service (cf. Rom 12:7-8). I do not naturally desire to consider others more important than myself. It kind of feels weird to type that because I'm called to be as humble as Christ. But it's a real struggle -- I have to try very hard to be a servant.

I recently attended a men's conference and one of the speakers spoke to this struggle in his own life. He's a busy pastor who sometimes will be out of the house all day, come home, and just want to relax. A short story he told spoke to his wife's ability to serve him joyfully at all times. He said that one night not that long ago he was at home after a long day out and his wife returned even later, carrying in groceries and struggling to wind down her evening. In the midst of all of that, she still asked him, "Can I get you anything?"

That made him think to himself: "When's the last time I asked her that?"

As he told us that, I thought to myself, "When's the last time I asked my wife that?"

So his simple advice was to find one point in each day that we all ask our wives, "Can I get you anything?" or "Is there anything I can do to help?" 

It really should be a no-brainer for a man to do that. But I have a brain and still couldn't even think of that. 

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."
Philippians 2:3-4

3. Cold, Hard Cash

I used to use cash a lot more than I do today. When I first started getting paychecks at 16, it seemed to be normal for me to just take it to the bank, save some of it and cash the rest. Today, so many things in life are purchased via the internet and are on autopay. Because of that, Melissa and I were never carrying cash. We just used the debit card for everything -- from the Dollar Menu to a tank of gas.

So recently, in light of the Target breach over the holidays and the fact that anything digital makes it easier for others to gain personal information, we've been using a lot more cash. Honestly, what's the point in using a debit card for a simple gallon of milk? It could definitely be part of my own paranoia, but the more digital transactions I make, the more I open myself up to those who would like to do some kind of damage to me. 

On the less-paranoid side, using cash makes it more difficult for me to spend money. I'm a natural at overspending. I'll buy anything. It's a lot more difficult to purchase that Justin Bieber Collector's Edition bobblehead when I have to break a $50 bill. (Just kidding, I'm a One Direction kinda guy.)

It really all comes down to stewardship and discernment. 

"And the Lord said, 'Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, "My master is delayed in coming," and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful.'"
Luke 12:42-46 

4. Smartphone, Dumbphone

I have never owned an iPhone. I take pride in that. 

I have owned a couple of smartphones in my time, though -- both of which were BlackBerries (or is it BlackBerrys?...also this is typically the point where people make fun of me). 

I have now traded in my smartphone for a dumbphone, however, taking a step back on the technology evolution chart and denying myself the ability to access the internet from my mobile device.

Why did I do it?

Well it's certainly not because the $15 Samsung flip phone from RadioShack is cooler than the BlackBerry (though some people might think it's a close call). It's mainly because I could see myself becoming very dependent on my cell phone for common everyday living. I don't think that's healthy.

It seems as though most people in my generation -- and especially those coming up behind me -- are absorbed with technology. It's rare that you can go to a waiting room, classroom, or any other public setting for that matter and see people who are not on their phones but having interpersonal dialogue with an actual human being in their proximity.

That's not the way it was at the beginning. I remember when I got my first cell phone (a Samsung flip phone believe it or not). Texting was the latest and coolest thing but it was not something that took up much time or distracted me. Today, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, FourSquare, and any other social media/informative website makes its way through the screen of a phone and into the life of the person holding the device. 

I want to distance myself from that culture. With the birth of my first child coming very soon, I don't want him to grow up seeing me invest my time and energy into something as lame as a phone. I want to use my phone, I just don't want it to use me.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Philippians 4:8

5. Determined Diet

Well this one will probably expose even more of my craziness, but here goes nothing.

Some of the food that we buy in the store is really gross. And then we put it into our body and move on with our lives. It's really not a good thing.

There are several areas of my life that need fixed concerning my diet, but the place I thought best to start was with meat. The meat in the supermarket is mostly fake, hormone-filled, steroid-injected products of big companies. When I buy Tyson meat, I'm essentially eating a science experiment. There are several good documentaries that investigate this issue (that list is kind of old...Forks Over Knives is a good one, too).

So I found a place in KC that sells farm-raised chicken and I started there, buying a big bag of flash-frozen chicken breasts imported from Georgia, not injected with hormones or steroids. It's easy to tell, too. The portions of meat are smaller and the taste is a little more bland, but it's actual meat! 

[Side note: my "beef" (pun) is not about the ethical treatment of animals...I just want real meat off the farm, not the assembly line.]

There are some other steps I plan to take as well, but in a nutshell, that's the direction I'm going.

I've also gotten back on to the Caveman Power Diet. I disagree with its premise and philosophy, but man it works!! I did this diet a little over a year ago and lost 20 pounds in a month. I lost five pounds just last week in my first week back.

I can really feel the difference.

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20


Well that post was longer than I intended, but I hope it was interesting and informative. Feel free to leave comments and/or start a discussion.

God bless!! 

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