Belief Beyond Boundaries
Degree #2: Separate Yourself
"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word."
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
1 Peter: 8-9
Sometimes in life, the hardest thing is giving up something that is not good for us. In a post about Degree #1: Reflect on Self, the first of 8 Degrees of Spiritual Transformation, I discussed looking within to discover all the things that are holding you prisoner. Degree #2, Separating Yourself, implores you to take action and begin the process of overcoming habits that prevent you from growing spiritually. I want to remind you that all of us struggle with this. It is, unfortunately, part of the human experience, but we must ask, how sweet is the light when we have escaped from the darkness? There is something truly remarkable, even beautiful, when a soul recognizes it is in darkness and seeks the Lord in full humility. How much more can that soul appreciate the mercy of God when, truly, its wings have been burned by the raging fire.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others." 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
I could probably go on and on about all the things that can hold people hostage, but the truth is, you know what these things are; things like addiction, bad habits, unhealthy choices, or sin, but nobody is here to make you feel shame. The important part is that you are taking steps to acknowledge, repent for mistakes made, and take action, but do you ever have sins in your life that trip you up at every turn? I'm talking about sins that seem like no matter what you do, you will never be able to overcome them?
First know you are not alone in that, truly. So what is a person to do if they feel the shame and guilt, but don't feel the desire to take action, because they know that something isn't good for them and even separates themselves from God and their spiritual growth? Sometimes its just too hard! Am I right? Friends, I'm so glad you asked.
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13
So what is this way out? Friends, there is only one way to break chains and that is by leaning in close to the Lord and establishing a strong relationship with Him. This comes from regular Bible reading, meditation, prayer, and growing your faith with the one who knows you best. There is a reason why lives are transformed when they begin to acknowledge God's powerful potential and presence in their lives. So how does that actually work?
The Lord is transformative! The more you lean in to God, the more your heart, mind, and spirit aligns with His will. When you align with His will, your mind starts to contradict the old "self." Your old "self" suddenly wants new things...new ideas, new experiences, new growth and a new image. The "ego" that your old self possessed diminishes and you begin to think more clearly. Suddenly the things that felt right to the old "self" no longer feel right and you become convicted, not out of guilt and shame, but out of pure and true love of the One who created you. You now desire to do His will.
"So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Galations 5:16-25
As you read through my blog posts, you may get the feeling like it can be truly hard to create a routine that supports all of the suggestions I've given so far. First, I want you to understand that this does not happen over night. For me, this has come with years of practice making slight changes to the way I use my time, little by little, step by step, with small adjustments being made on a regular basis. If all you start with is a time block of 15 minutes per day, that is a great start! You can adjust this as you slowly rearrange and change your level of effort over time.
With that said, you might be wondering how I organize and achieve all the things I've suggested. I use tools that help me stay focused throughout the week so I can make the most of the available free time I have. First, let's look at some of the digital tools I use to help keep me organized and focused and then a little bit about what my routine looks like each week.
The "Done" App
The most important tool I use is the Done App (not a paid promotion). Basically, I can program in any task or habit along with what my goal number for the week is. It then provides a colored bar that tells me what my progress is. I can then click on a habit in my list whenever I accomplish a task. Over the course of the week, I keep my eye on the progress of every goal or habit I have. You can accomplish the same thing with other apps or using your own online spreadsheets, but I personally like how this App feels and the level of intuitiveness it offers.
Timers and Alarms
I keep track of how much time I have been working on a task simply using the timer and alarm I have on my phone. This helps me with time blocking so I can either keep track of how much time I have been spending on a task while also limiting my time on other tasks. You can read more about time blocking in a previous post I wrote titled "The Power of Time Blocking" here.
Journals and Logs
Using journals and logs, I keep ongoing attention to various things like gratitude, bible reading, prayer, and wisdom. I use the Done App to ensure I've accomplished my entries each week or day. See my post titled "Journaling Your Way to Success here.
Weekly Preparation (First Day of the Week)
Goal Session - I look at my habits and goals and determine what needs to be improved, what I've accomplished, and what I need to adjust to become more effective with each goal if an adjustment needs to be made.
I review all the habits I have established, look at the ones I did not succeed in the previous week and make a mental commitment for the following week if necessary. I also have a point system that gives me points for each activity to give myself a measurable performance indicator I can use to gauge my performance over time. For more information on Habit Tracking, you can read this post titled "How to Track Habits" here.
Once I have looked at what I would like to accomplish for the week, I add all the items to my Task List (aka To-Do List). I use the "Tasks" program in Google. It allows me to store details and check off each item I accomplish throughout the week. Paired with Google's Email, you can move emails write into the Tasks program if needed as well.
On the first day of the week, I allocate any money I have saved from the previous week to various goals I am currently saving for. I do this by listing out all the items I want to save for in one column. In another column I record how much I've saved so far. Finally in the last column, I record how much I still need to save. Some examples of things you could save for include an emergency fund, home or car maintenance, travel, or big purchases.
I plan out my meals on the first day of the week to get it out of the way. For this, I simply think about what meals I want to have in the coming days, write them in an email I send to myself, place links to the recipes, and record the main ingredients I will need. The great part is, once this is done, it can also double as a shopping list.
On all the other days of the week, I simply keep checking off activities and habits from my To-Do List and Done App whenever I have time. These 2 tools work like my command center for things I want to achieve. I go in understanding that I will never achieve everything I am hoping to do, but the important part is having everything laid out in front of you in an easy-to-access location such as a phone or on your laptop in order to keep your motivation easy and strong.
I hope this is helpful to you! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below and I'd be glad to answer them. Have a great day!
Journaling Your Way to Success
Journaling is a great way to keep your mind on success. I employ journal writing on a daily basis for ongoing improvement. The good news is you don't need to be a great writer and sometimes it as simple as logging results or outcomes to give yourself a gauge on your ongoing progress. Let's look at some common goals and some logging or journaling ideas you can employ on your journey to success.
Habit journals are used to once per week to establish several things. I personally use this journal to write down habits I did not accomplish in full that previous week, meaning, I did not meet the minimum requirement of times accomplished (like weighing myself, reading a certain amount of chapters in a book, writing in a specific journal a number of times, etc.). I then look at my outstanding goals, think about what tasks I can work on, and determine what my focus will be for the week, adding or removing habits if necessary.
Bible Reading Journal
When I fill out my Bible Journal, I simply write a short note or two for each chapter I read. This helps me take each chapter's message to heart. The first time I read the Bible, I mainly focused on the names of the characters, who they are related to, and their lineage.
Losing Weight, Calorie, or exercise Journals
These journals can be used to reflect on your activity and foods eaten to establish a direction when it comes to how much food you consume, how much you exercise, and current weight. This helps compare your patterns over time to help better establish great health goals.
Taking time to write down what you are thankful for each day along with the "Why" as to why you are grateful is very helpful in providing a positive mindset. Over time, you will begin having more thoughts of gratitude throughout the day, raising your great vibes.
Prayer journals can be effective for seeing the results of your prayers over time while also allowing you to have a plan or strategy for your prayer. I divide each day's entries into categories that include:
For each category, you can make a few notes about what you'd like to pray that day. After that, you can divide your entries into multiple prayers or one long prayer. It's all up to you!
Wisdom Journal (aka Dream Journal)
The reason I call this a wisdom journal and not simply a dream journal is because I like to journal about every spiritual experience I have. Many times, these experiences work in and out of dream states, crossing over into real life. Sometimes receiving prophetic visions, signs, or experiences in real life act much like dreams and so I find these experiences even more important than a dream to take note of. I have had instances where I received wisdom pertaining to a dream years after I dreamed the dream so I find it very very important to be organized with this information.
These are just some examples of journals you can create, but almost anything you desire to take time out on a regular basis to mediate on, this is a great tool to have in your toolbox. Some journals I use daily, while some I only write in once or twice per week. The great thing about journals is they keep your mind focused in days like this where there are so many distractions. It forces you to put down the phone, turn off the television, and just take a time to focus. I hope this helps! Have a good day, friends!