40 Days of self-discipline (actually 45)

I’m not Catholic, never have claimed to be, and am quite content with my relationship with Jesus. (By the way, He is risen today!) However, this year I decided to observe Lent from Ash Wednesday to and including the day before Resurrection Sunday. I decided that I would refrain from all beverages except water. I would drink water with lunch, dinner, snacks–whenever I would normally drink milk, tea, soda pop, or anything else, I would simply drink water. I did not do this to secure more of God’s favor nor to influence Him to love me more. I already have His favor because of my faith in Jesus and God cannot love me more than He already does.  No, I made this sacrifice for two reasons.  First, I wanted to get even a small taste of the sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross.  Believe me, it was a very small taste and I understand that.  Yet, the Bible says that Jesus was tempted, just like I am, yet did not sin. By participating in Lent and giving up all beverages but water, I could have understand a bit what He went through.  Second, I wanted to see if I had the self-discipline to really resist all beverages but water for 6 1/2 weeks.

Well, here it is, Resurrection Day, and my time of self-sacrifice has ended. While I did very well and resisted temptation for the most part, I didn’t do it perfectly. I had two slip-ups.  On March 15, 2015, I had refereed a couple of soccer matches and, without thinking, I drank a small bottle of Gatorade.  I didn’t realize what I had done until I had drunk the entire bottle. I was disappointed in myself but vowed to press on.  And, on March 23, 2015, I had taken my breakfast to work–yogurt, cereal, and milk. Well, I finished the cereal before I had used all the milk and I figured I would I would make an exception and drink the extra milk.  Well, I must have drunk it too quickly as it went down the wrong way as I choked and spewed it all over my work desk. These two incidents reminded me of Leviticus 4:27-29 [NIV]

 “‘If any member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, when they realize their guilt  and the sin they have committed becomes known, they must bring as their offering for the sin they committed a female goat without defect. They are to lay their hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place of the burnt offering.”

Did you notice the phrase “sins unintentionally?” In those two incidents mentioned above, I didn’t sin intentionally yet, according to God’s word, I’m guilty. Had I been living in the time of Moses, I would have been required to bring a sacrifice to atone for my sin. This is because there was an overarching required that was required of God-fearing Hebrews, as written in Leviticus 11:44a [NIV]

“I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.”

What is holy?  It’s set apart or perfect. When you read the Old Testament law, you realize that it was so much more than the Ten Commandments. It was 613 regulations that dealt with every aspect of daily life. A violation of any of the law meant separation from God until an atoning sacrifice was made. James 1:25 [NIV] says

“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

But how can one do everything written in the Law. As I found out over the past 6 1/2 weeks, it’s impossible. I will do something without realizing what I’m doing. So, what’s the solution? Well, as it has been for around 2000 years, it’s faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus did what we could not do–He fulfilled the Law. As it is written in Romans 10:4 [NIV]

“Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

So, when we believe in Jesus, we become righteous–not because of ourselves but because of Him because He fulfilled the Law, something we could not and cannot do. In Philippians 3:9b [NIV]

“…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

So, even though I wasn’t 100% “righteous” during my self-discipline during Lent, because of the righteousness of Jesus, I’m not condemned; no, I’m accepted because of what He did for  me on the cross and rising from the dead.

I’m glad that I observed Lent for the past 45 days. I showed me that I could be mostly self-disciplined.  It also gave me a greater appreciation the grace of God that came through Christ Jesus. It’s through His grace that I am saved and it’s by grace and mercy that I continue in Him. Consider these Scriptures. First, Ephesians 2:8 [NIV]

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

and Titus 3:5a [NIV]

“… he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”

and 2 Timothy 1:9 [NIV]

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time…”

I’m continually grateful for God’s grace and mercy in Jesus that allows me to have life in Him and to not be condemned but to actually be considered righteous in God’s eyes in spite of my failings.  Thank you, Lord!

Blessings to you!


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Don’t Worry About It!

Consider the following quote from the blog “Mental Health and Happiness:”

“Worrying is for some a full time occupation. Mark Twain said “I have spent most of my time worrying about things that never happened.” Any time you spend worrying means you are not spending time focused on positive potentials or the glory in the present moment.

Just for today, every time you catch yourself worrying, switch to a statement of faith.”

A statement of faith.  Fine.  But faith in what or whom?  You can’t simply have faith is whatever or in something that might happen.  Have faith in Jesus the Christ (Messiah). It was He who said that worrying is useless and pointless in Matthew 6:25-34:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

The point is that we need not worry because God will provide exactly what we need, especially since we are more valuable than the wild animals for whom God provides every day. So, instead of worrying, rest in the knowledge that God will provide for you and your–and my–job is to seek Him and His righteousness and to follow Him and seek His face always.  He has my best interests in His mind and heart and my trust needs to be in Him and not in how I am to strive to gather up what I think I need.  I need to remind myself: don’t worry; God has it all in hand.


Peace to all,


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Count Your Blessings

I found this in a periodic email I get from the William Glasser Institute:

“Want to improve your mental health and happiness? Start cultivating your attitude of gratitude.


Today, start making a list of all of the miracles you observe. You can start with the following list:

  • The sun came up again today
  • I woke up and can dive into this gift of another day
  • I can think
  • I can breath
  • I can smile, even if it is a fake smile
  • I can make a list of miracles
  • I can feel any way I want about making this list.
  • Everyone who drove to work on the same roads as me today cooperated so I got to work safely.

And so on.

Today, see how many miracles you can list. See if you can improve your number on another day.

The numbers of daily miracles are unlimited. What’s limited is our ability to notice them.

Make Today a Happy One.”

The fact  is that we can look for and find blessings each and every day instead of dwelling on the negative. While negative things might happen to us, we need not dwell on them.  Instead, find the small miracles.  Count the little blessings. Strive to be content with whatever is happening in your life. And, like the article says, see if you can find one more miracle or blessing each day than you found the day before.  I think if we do this, we can improve our outlook on life.


Peace to all,


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Choosing misery

Do we choose to be miserable? I know that’s a question that might shock you because you might be thinking, “How can I choose to be miserable?”  But I’m starting to think that misery is a choice, though sometimes we may not realize what we’re doing when we make that choice.

Here’s a short exercise: spend some time thinking about the last time you were miserable and ask yourself, “What did I really want that I was trying to get by being miserable?” Think about that for a moment.  We use the behavior of misery–or any other behavior, for that matter–in order to influence others to give us what we want or to proactively get what we want.  Consider a toddler who throws a temper tantrum.  As long as it works, the toddler will continue that behavior; however, when the tantrum behavior stops helping the toddler get what he or she wants, the behavior stops or, at least, it’s used less often.  In the same way, we become miserable in an effort to get something we want–affection, attention, a renewed relationship, whatever. As long as being miserable works in our favor, we look for situations to use that behavior to our advantage. Or, perhaps misery is a better option than rage.  In any case, when misery comes upon us, I think we have two choices: change the behavior or change what we want.

Now, I’m not saying that making either one of these changes is easy. Sometimes, it takes a complete overhaul of one’s attitudes, worldview, and lifeview.  However, consider that if you change what you want, then there is no reason to be miserable about not having what you no longer want.  Or, if you change your behavior, you choose a different way of reacting to events that happen in your life.

Give it a try and take a look at life from a different perspective!




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Reliving Traumatic Experiences Promotes Healing From Them


I found the article–link above–nearly a year ago.  In a nutshell, it says that reliving a traumatic experience–in this case, sexual assault–actually promotes healing from the trauma of the event. It is a surprising that such a thing would be true but, apparently, using the same methods with sexual assault victims that are used with combat veterans suffering from PTSD seems to work. According to research, 30 percent more sexually abused teens were no longer diagnosed with PTSD than those who had simply supportive counseling.  If I read the article correctly, it appears that sexual assault victims are able to desensitize themselves by repeatedly telling the stories of their experiences, then visit safe places that remind them of the trauma, or take part in safe activities they’d avoided because of painful reminders. They get used to thinking and talking about the memory and realizing that it was in the past, that it’s not in the present anymore, according to University of Pennsylvania psychologist Edna Foa, who authored the study noted in the article. In other words, the victims gain a new perspective that reminds them that the event is in the past. It appears that the key here is being able to tell their stories in a non-judgmental environment as well as gaining the “I’ve beat it!” attitude.

I think it’s important that such victims–or even we ourselves–don’t give our autonomy and power to a traumatic even. If we give power to an event that has affected us in a negative manner, then we will be defeated by that event.  And defeat can lead to hopelessness, which could then become a real problem when it comes to suicide risk. Instead, accept the event for what it is–something negative or painful that happened but is now in the past.  Relegate it to the past and work on making the present and the future better and brighter.

Peace to all,


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Escaping the “Curse in Reverse”

Have you ever made a vow?  Was it hard to keep?  I’ve found that it is difficult to keep the few vows I have made (except my wedding vows).  Perhaps it’s good to know the difference between vows and goals. The one main difference is that goals have and end point; a finish line, if you will.  Vows are perpetually ongoing.

Have you made vows that you won’t be like thus-and-so or that you will never do something? Have you noticed that most vows are in the negative? Have you also noticed that you don’t have the power to keep vows?  Remember, only the Holy Spirit can be your strength to do such a thing.  If you try to keep a vow on your own, it is likely that you’ll actually become like the that person that you don’t want to be like.  And when that happens, a vicious cycle begins.

Also, when you make a vow to not be like someone or to never do something, you’re putting all your energy into the wrong endeavor.  Instead, why not focus on being more like Jesus, as the Scripture admonishes us? Remember, Jesus said that we really cannot change anything about ourselves. We should simply submit our lives to Him and let Him transform us.

The article link below goes into all of this in detail:


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Can Drug Addicts Make Rational Choices?

I know that it’s been a long time since I blogged–about 10 months, to be exact.  Well, I had no idea how much time graduate studies would take.  And, of course, I’m still working full-time and refereeing basketball and soccer so I’m still busy. And–get this–I start my counseling practicum in January.  As if my life wasn’t full enough…

Anyway, here’s an article that might throw a bit of a wrench in conventional drug abuse wisdom.  It was published in the September 16, 2013 edition of the New York Times.  Here’s the link:


I want to you to notice that, when he did his research, Professor Hart figured he’d end up with the usual findings, that addicts develop intense cravings and seek their drug of choice to the exclusion of nearly all else.  However, that’s not what his research turned up.  Instead of finding a neurological cure for addiction, he found that hardly anyone who used crack or meth get addicted.  In fact, when given a desired alternative, Professor Hart’s subjects many times chose that alternative instead of the drug. And, how about this interesting three-sentence paragraph: “Yes, he notes, some children were abandoned by crack-addicted parents, but many families in his neighborhood were torn apart before crack — including his own. (He was raised largely by his grandmother.) Yes, his cousins became destitute crack addicts living in a shed, but they’d dropped out of school and had been unemployed long before crack came along.” So, obviously, there was much more going on in the environment that might have helped push those folks down the proverbial abyss. That is something to consider. And consider this from Dr. Hart: “If you’re living in a poor neighborhood deprived of options, there’s a certain rationality to keep taking a drug that will give you some temporary pleasure,” Dr. Hart said in an interview, arguing that the caricature of enslaved crack addicts comes from a misinterpretation of the famous rat experiments.  Perhaps the issue of the lack of hope comes into play here.

Can addicts really stop using drugs when provided with alternative reinforcers, as Dr. Rush from the University of Kentucky says? Would enriching one’s environment lead to a decrease in drug use and abuse, as Dr. Hart seems to purport? How about the social element of addiction, as stated by Dr. Nutt? If drug use and abuse didn’t bring social fulfillment, would it be as attractive?  Interesting questions…

Looking at this from a Choice Theory perspective, perhaps drug use and addiction fulfills a need for love & belonging, as we note the social aspect of addiction. Perhaps, also, using and abusing drugs fulfills the need for power.  After all, most street drugs are illegal and using them gives the user a sense of power since, at least for the moment, they are “getting away” with something. Of course, when the intense cravings begin, the addict loses power over the drug and such a need goes unfulfilled. The drug becomes part of the user’s “Quality World” and its importance to the user increases. Obviously, the drug replaces something in the user’s Quality World.  Perhaps the reason that some users can choose an alternative reinforce is because such an alternative is in the user’s Quality World.

While research has noted the effects of drugs on the brain, might it also be true that an “addict” can still make rational choices concerning whether to use or not to use drugs at any particular moment? I think it’s an issue that needs to be investigated further.

Peace to all


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