Preparing for the Next Circuit

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I’ve been a bit reflective the past few days. Holidays do that to me.

 

The earth makes one full rotation each day. Rotate implies circular motion.

The earth makes one full rotation around the sun each year. Again, a circular motion.

We are going in circles.

Does that mean we aren’t getting anywhere? Continue reading

Navigating the labyrinth of life.

Over an hour ago, I was preparing to add tags and hit publish on this post when…

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…this happened.

Continue reading

Run with discipline (day 9 of #encourage marathon)

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Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

So I do not run aimlessly;

I do not box as one beating the air.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:24-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Welcome to mile-marker 9 of our 26-day #Encourage Marathon! (You can read yesterday’s post here.)

Someone out there is feeling aimless today. It might even be you.

Sometimes in this race of life we become distracted by our pain, the ugliness or beauty around us, the other runners and sundry temptations. We forget why we started running in the first place and drift aimlessly down the road. It’s time to get back on track and start running with discipline.

Continue reading

Run with Endurance (day 7 of #encourage marathon)

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It’s Day 7 of our 26-day #Encourage Marathon! One week down! (You can read yesterday’s post here.)

Someone out there is running sluggishly, ready to give up. It might even be you.

The first three verses of Hebrews 12 is a continuation of Hebrews 11, which listed some of those whom I affectionately call the “heroes of faith.” They are witnesses of the power of faith, obedience and endurance. A form of the word ‘endure’ is used 3 times in the first 3 verses of this text. Repetition of a word is a literary device used to emphasize a concept. The author is saying, in effect, “don’t be sluggish, don’t get tired—ENDURE.”

The Hebrew writer encourages us to do three things in this passage to successfully run our race:

Ditch the baggage.

Would you run farther with a heavy backpack or without? Would you run faster with extra weight or without?

While carrying weight for training can increase your strength, it will also wear you out more rapidly. I’m not really a marathon watcher, but I believe that the most I’ve seen those runners carrying are a bottle of water and maybe a phone. Sometimes they have a small fanny pack or belt to hold water/food/etcetera. The water keeps them hydrated, the phone gives them music to keep their mind off the pain. Beyond that, they’re dressed lightly and carrying nothing else. Why? So they can endure to the end of the race. Every additional weight is a liability.

Run your race with God in the same way. Get rid of the sin that wants to hang on. Detach yourself from the physical allurements of life. If we keep trying to take it all with us, we won’t make it.

Endure.

Take time to read Hebrews 11 and take note of who is named:

  • Enoch – walked with God for 300 years (Genesis 5.22-24). It’s hard enough for most of us to do 30-60 years!
  • Noah – built the ark, preached for 100 years.
  • Moses – put up with the Israelites for God’s sake.
  • Joseph – taken as a slave, thrown in prison and still served faithfully
  • Abraham – left everything He knew based on Gods promises and waited two decades to see the promise of offspring.

Also notice how/what they endured in verses 33-38:

  • stopped the mouths of lions (Daniel)
  • quenched the power of fire (Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego)
  • escaped the edge of the sword
  • made strong out of weakness
  • put foreign armies to flight (Gideon, David)
  • tortured
  • mocking
  • flogging
  • chains
  • imprisonment
  • stoned
  • sawn in two
  • killed with the sword
  • Went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated… wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (most of the prophets including John the Baptist)

Look at the example.

Jesus is the ultimate example of endurance. The passage says, “[Jesus] for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame…” I posted about joy being a good motivator on day 4. Jesus knew that there was coming joy, and for it and for us he endured.

Many who teach and speak about acquiring wealth or achieving success often say that the best way to succeed (in whatever goal you pursue) is to read about, listen to, and/or observe those who have succeeded. These examples are not just motivators, but demonstrators. You see how they achieved success and you are thereby able to emulate their behaviors and choices in the hopes that you also will succeed.

Our goal is heaven (and to bring as many with us as possible). Since Jesus achieved His aims with glorious success, He is the ultimate example. Many of the “heroes” listed above were good examples, but they had their shortcomings. Jesus showed neither foible nor failure. He lived life flawlessly. In our race, let’s commit his example to our mind as we run so that we do not grow weary.

Don’t slouch your way through this race. Run it with endurance. And while you’re running, encourage others to do likewise.


I hope you’ll continue to join me on FacebookTwitter and here at Elihu’s Corner for this marathon. Share this verse on your Twitter feed or Facebook page (#encourage). Take time today to copy down this verse for yourself. Send an email or text to someone you know who would benefit from this encouragement.

I’m a little behind on my passage-copying, but I have some time set aside this afternoon to get caught up. I cannot encourage you enough to write down these verses. Studies have shown that the physical act of writing increases retention far more than typing or reading.

[If you click on the link in the above passage, it will take you to BibleGateway.com. From here, you can click a share link which allows you to share directly to Twitter, Facebook or send an email.]

If you missed the original post listing all 26 passages, click here to download the PDF list.

Progress Report – February 2016

 

imageBefore I dive into today’s post, I need to address a couple “adminy” things:

First, I apologize for my spotty posting schedule and slow response time on your delightful comments. From about 7 am to 9 pm everyday I am like a machine—get up, read, pray, then dive in to packing, painting, paperwork, cleaning, prepping, scheduling and trying to be helpful to my children. It’s been a nonstop whirlwind of activity. I am hopeful that once we get to Texas and back into a routine, my posting will be back on a regular track.

Second, I want to remind you of all the different ways to connect with Elihu’s Corner. Many of my readers follow the blog through WordPress, but you can also like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter (@elihuscorner), or get email updates. In fact, I’d love for you to comment below and let me know which means of communication you prefer. I will continue to use them all, but it’s nice to get a pulse on what people use most! If you haven’t had a chance to check out my social media spots, I hope you’ll take some time to do so. I am thankful to all of you for your great comments, reblogs, Facebook shares, retweets, and for simply taking the time to read.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming….


Remember those goals/resolutions you created at the beginning of the year?

You do?

Wait… you don’t?

Where’s your list of goals?

“oh, right…. that list was in my head.”

“Goals? What goals?”

“My New Year’s Resolutions? Well… Uh…”

That’s where a lot of people are by this point in the year—all those great plans are often under a pile of papers or covered in dust.

If you are on track with most of your goals for the year, congratulations! Keep up the good work!

If you still have your list of goals and have fallen behind, there’s no time like the present to rev them up again. My goals are still up on the bathroom mirror. (I just put a reminder on my list for today to take them down!) I am behind on a few, but I know why: my whole house is in disarray due to a move within the next 10 days!

I’m still on track with most of my goals:

Read Bible every day. Check. 

Pray daily. Check.

Walk 3-4 times per week. Check.

Now memorizing…  Well… I’m still working on Hebrews 12. Last time I wrote a progress report, I had only memorized 2 verses. I have 12 under my belt now. I’m still way behind (I was supposed to be done by the end of February)  Unless I select really short chapters from here on out, I may not be able to make my goal of 6 chapters this year, but that’s ok—I’m willing to revise my goal! If you’re interested in memorizing scripture, click here.

If you’ve lost/forgotten/fallen behind on your goals for 2016, fear not!

You can do the following:

  1. Make new goals for the remainder of the year. I have found that some of my greatest earthly accomplishments were attained by making a goal, creating a reasonable plan to achieve said goal and throwing all my energy into getting there. When I was 12, I decided that I wanted to go to medical school, so I made it my aim to earn straight A’s through high school and graduate in the top ten. I achieved both goals (ahem, both latter goals… not med school), graduated Salutatorian, and had an excellent SAT score. I worked myself raw. I would spend hours working on homework and studying between band rehearsals, performances, lessons and practice. I am not a good test taker nor am I a genius so I had to work extra hard. The point is, determination and sweat can get you far. For more on goal-making, read “Setting Goals That Last.
  2. Adjust your current goals to a more achievable level. As I mentioned earlier, my goal of memorizing 6 chapters this year may need to be revised simply because my situation has radically changed since January. Small adjustments/tweaks are ok. You’re still aiming in a specific direction.
  3. Pray. This list is not ordered by importance, in fact, I saved the most critical point for last. Prayer is paramount, especially when our direction becomes clouded. Lately, all the discombobulation of moving has made me feel “off-center.” When I am “on-center” my mind is fixed on God, my prayers are regular, my study time is full of discovery, my meditation is meaningful, and my heart rests in the peace of God. Because I am still praying and studying, I’m not falling apart or flying off the handle, but I’ve had trouble meditating on God and His Word. I am restless and distracted. I get sidetracked mid-prayer and have to restart. Many of my prayers have been asking God to help me refocus on my greatest treasure—Him! Without committing our works to God both in prayer and action, all the blood, sweat and tears are meaningless. Oh you may achieve a great deal—I’ve read numerous biographies of famous geniuses and giants of industry, many of whom neglected (or rejected) God and family—but you will miss the mark on what matters most. I said above in point one, “determination and sweat can get you far.” They can. But the question is, are you climbing the right ladder? Pray. Daily. Commit it to the Lord and seek Him first.

If daily bible reading, daily prayer, or daily devotional time with your family is among your goals, there’s no time like the present to commit. Today is all we’ve been given—make the most of the opportunity!

How are you doing on your goals for 2016?

What is your progress report?

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I’m still hammering out the next post in our Comparison Cure series, but as it is the end of the month, I thought it might be a good time for an accountability post.

Resolutions are a standing joke. People make them and then they break them. Usually within a week…

Tomorrow is the last day of January. One month down, eleven to go. How are you coming on your goals? You may be shifting uncomfortably in your seat, but there’s no need! I’m here to encourage you to pick up the pieces and keep going! If you’re on track, bravo! If you’re way behind, it’s time to lace up those shoes, dust off that bible, break out those knee pads and get crackin!

There are three things we need to do in order to reach our goals:

1) Keep the goal visible.

This year, instead of putting my goals in a journal tucked comfortably away between pages of random notes and assorted thoughts, I put them on my bathroom mirror as a daily reminder. It’s really helped. Some goals haven’t even been touched yet, but I know that I need to get a game plan in place to start working towards them. Ultimately, this is about building good habits.

2) Pace yourself.

There is a vast difference between sprinters and long-distance runners. A sprint requires a burst of energy exceeding our normal output. A long-distance run requires a steady, disciplined pace. It takes endurance.

Hebrews 12 uses the words endure/endured/endurance in the first seven verses. There is a reason the word “endure” is used repetitively. The Hebrew writer is telling us not to give up; we need to press on.

Life is heavy and the race isn’t over until we die. Some people spend the entire race running on treadmills, lounging, running in the wrong direction or alternating between sprints and walks. We have to pace ourselves for the goals—glorifying God and reaching heaven. It’s easy to get worn out, especially on those long, uphill grades.

So it is with our more menial goals. Set a reasonable pace: you may have to sprint on occasion, but do not wear yourself out with a reckless pace and be on the look out for sluggishness. If you have set for yourself a goal that will burn you out before you get anywhere, you may need to adjust it.

3) Check your progress.

As I mentioned in my post, “Setting Goals That Last,” it’s important to have a method of measuring or tracking your progress. If you are wanting to lose weight, how much? How often do you track it? One of the most helpful things I did when I lost 25 pounds was to weigh in once a week and take body measurements. There were days I’d feel as though I was making no progress, but once I checked my measurements—even if the scale told a different tale—I saw progress (even if it was minute at times).

Lest you think I’m some organized superhero, I’d like to share a brief progress report on a few of my own goals. I have a long way to go!

Elihu’s Progress Report

  1. Read the bible every day to grow closer to God. 29 days out of 30. Outstanding! I’ve missed one day this month.
  2. Pray alone daily. 21/30. Needs improvement.
  3. Walk a minimum of 3 times per week. (Results unavailable due to poor tracking) Needs improvement. This one started off well, but between sickness, inclement weather, travel, etcetera it just hasn’t happened. So I went for a walk yesterday and I’m planning three good walks this coming week! I started tracking my activity with my Fitbit last week and monitoring my food intake. have been trying to keep moving during the day so that even if I don’t get a walk in, I still burned calories. I can still make this happen!
  4. Memorize 6 Bible chapters (1 chapter every two months). 2 verses out of 29. Needs improvement. For January and February, I’ve been working on Hebrews 12. In thirty days, I’ve only memorized two verses. Two! There are 29 verses! So, I know what needs to happen. I need to either adjust my target or ramp up the effort. I have 31 days left to memorize 27 verses. It’s time to recruit help from the family. I need people to quiz me and hold me accountable.

I don’t know how it is for everyone, but January has always been an odd month for me. It’s like a warm-up period. Don’t allow it to suspend your momentum.

How are you doing on your goals?

Leave a note in the comment Section!

If your goals include bible study, memorization or prayer, check out these old posts:

3 Steps to Daily Prayer in 2016

5 Benefits of Memorizing Scripture (and 4 ways to do it!) 

4 Ways to Study Your Bible in 2016

 

3 Priorities for Day 1 of your new year

 

Happy New Year to you all!

I am immensely thankful to you all for reading and commenting on my posts in 2015. Before I dive in to today’s post, I want to thank my top 5 commenters:

  1. Vincent S Artale – thank you for reblogging (sharing) so many of my posts! I greatly appreciate it!
  2. SlimJim from Domain for Truth – your comments have been very encouraging. Thank you!
  3. Debbie from Sisters Reach Out – Thank you for the uplifting and delightful comments. You always have such kind thoughts!
  4. Beckie Lindsey from Spotlight – Thank you for your comments and for promoting my posts on Twitter! You are a kindred spirit.
  5. Debbie Lees – Thank you for your encouragement over the past several months!

This blog began as an outlet for my thoughts about Bible reading and has grown into a mutually encouraging corner of the web. Through this medium I have “met” so many people who desire to draw near to God. Deepest thanks to you all for helping me in my walk with the Lord and the encouragement to press on.


So, I know I said in my post on goals that my next 2 posts would be on How to achieve daily bible reading and daily prayer. I have already completed the post on Bible reading, but as it is Day 1 of 2016 and I’m still in the process of writing the prayer post, this one will come in between.

Today is the day we start taking our goals from ideation to reality. 

Priority 1: Post your goals. If you haven’t posted your goals somewhere that you frequently look, that ought to be your primary task today. Write down your specific, measurable goals and post them on the fridge, your bathroom mirror, the lock screen on your phone or the dash of your car. If you’re still having trouble formulating your goals, I recommend these two posts from Michael Hyatt’s blog:

If your goal is daily Bible reading, start today! Stop reading this post if you haven’t done that and go do that first.

Priority 2: Take 1 small step toward one or more of your goals. Today. If your goal is to pray daily, grab an index card, write down your prayer requests and put it at the table where you’ll be eating. Before you start eating, read your card and then pray. The card will remind you to pray regularly. (More on prayer to come shortly!)

Priority 3: Before you go to sleep this evening, set yourself up for tomorrow’s action. For example, if your goal is to walk 3 times this week and today was only walk #2, set your walking clothes, shoes, socks, earbuds etc in an accessible place and figure out a realistic time to go tomorrow. If you are working towards paying off debt, get your budget done today and setup your first payment toward that debt. Set up a bucket to collect excess change. At the end of the month, see how much you have to go toward that debt. Even if you only collect 3-4 dollars in change, after 12 months you would be $48 closer to paying off that debt. Set yourself up for success!

Its day 1. Start strong and build momentum. The days of inertia are going to come, but if you’re momentum is strong, they won’t stop you from getting close to your goals.

What small step are you going to take today toward your goal? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!