Personality Assessment

Male executive drawing results of a personality test on a whiteboard

Today’s Reading:  1 Chronicles 22; 1 Peter 3; Micah 1; Luke 10

I started a new job last month. One of the first tasks in my onboarding plan was to take a personality assessment.  Pretty daunting, huh?  For a fleeting second I wondered… will they rescind my job offer if they don’t like the results?  Or worse yet, I’ve never taken this specific assessment, what if I don’t like the results?  What if I’m not the person I think I am?  I’m not really looking for an identity crisis right now…  Good news.  When our department’s expert shared my results, she led with this comment (and repeated it several times during the course of our discussion) – “Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.”  Whew!

The name of this particular tool is called The Birkman Method. It is a personality assessment used to identify how a variety of different factors work together to motivate personal behavior.  Like several assessments I’ve taken in the past, Birkman starts by identifying usual behavior – how I normally operate across a range of characteristics.  It then goes on to identify needs – how I need people to interact with me in order for me to be my best.  It also identifies how I react to stress – what behaviors I often display in situations when my needs aren’t being met (Birkman Fink and Capparell, 2013).  These last two elements make this tool different from others I’ve taken before.  Let me tell you, I’ve found Birkman pretty fascinating so far.  I can run reports on myself, but I can also run reports comparing me to my boss, my direct reports, and anyone in our organization who has taken the assessment.  What a great resource to help me understand how to adjust my behavior to better meet others’ needs, how to predict conflict and how to help manage sticky situations.

Our text in 1 Peter 3 is also about behaviors and how to interact with others. Peter wrote this book to Christfollowers who were suffering from abuse and persecution for believing in Jesus.  A good part of chapters 2-4 are his instructions about how they should behave during difficult times.  1 Peter 3:8-9 identifies five key characteristics that should describe any group of Christfollowers.

  • Unified – pursuing a common purpose
  • Sympathetic – responsive to others’ needs
  • Loving – treating each other as family
  • Tender – sensitive and caring
  • Humble – encouraging one another

Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. Don’t repay evil for evil.  Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you.  Instead, pay them back with a blessing.  That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it (1 Peter 3:8-9 – Life Application Study Bible, Tyndale House).

God made us with different personalities on purpose. This diversity is what makes for rich relationships, though it is often the source of conflict and strife as we question the motives behind others’ behavior.  The five characteristics Peter describes above are powerful.  Why?  Because they are focused on others, not on ourselves.  Whether we are experiencing good times or difficult times, these five characteristics are the recipe for healthy interpersonal relationships and for a cohesive team.

For the scriptures say, if you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good.  Work hard at living in peace with others (1 Peter 3:10-11 – Life Application Study Bible, Tyndale House).

I pray that each of us has the courage to work hard at living in peace with others.  Regardless of personality, none of us can get there on our own.  Will you get on your knees today and ask God for help?  It won’t be easy, but it is definitely worth it.

Have you tasted that the Lord is good?

This week I witnessed a man recording a video of the beautiful green hills and the Bahía de Banderas (Spanish for “Bay of Flags”) in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It is a gorgeous area and we’ve been staring at it all week. As the man was recording, he said “it would be hard to not believe in God after seeing this view; this is God’s backyard, right here”. The funny thing was about 15 seconds after he said this, the same audio statement played loudly through a portable Bluetooth speaker near the pool for all to hear (I think this was accidental). I was pretty sure right then that his statement would make its way into my next Bible Journal post.

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2-3)

Over the last few days I’ve thought about the “God’s backyard” phrase a lot. Amy and I ended up meeting the man who made this statement (Chris) and most of his group which consists of eighteen of Chris’ family members; all of whom are exceptional, kind, and fun humans.

I’m thankful for people who see God’s beauty and attribute it to him; to me this is a reflection of one who tastes that the Lord is good. When we speak of his beauty and goodness, it is glorifying to him, and that puts us in line with our creator who made us to glorify him, and to point others to him. With this theme as well as this week being Thanksgiving in the United States, I’ve spent a few minutes thinking through my own current “thankful for” list…

pv-sunriseSunrises, sunsets, kids giggling, sight, the sound of water making its way through rocks, changes in seasons, changes in temperature, the smell of the air that signifies rain is coming, light breezes, the multitude of creatures that roam this earth in so many ways; flight, crawling, galloping, swimming, prancing, sprinting, steadily pacing. The fact that Earth is a perfect distance from the sun, our air has the right amount of oxygen. Our bodies consume food and water as sustaining energy. Coffee, pizza, tacos, rare beef, spices and recipes from around the world. India Pale Ales, carbonated water, crunchy potato chips, avocados, and salsa. Bicycles, good running shoes, flip flops, polarized sunglasses. Parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, teachers, and the warm feeling that goes with the word “family”, whether through genetic or the various human relationships. Those who have sacrificed their lives for our country as well as those who have given their lives to further the gospel; we’re all recipients of this in some way.

Live music, worship music, sermons that cut to the heart, pastors who recognize and act dutifully on their calling. People who are humble, generous, kind, and loving. People who give with no expectation of anything in return. People who listen well. Small families, big families, small churches, big churches, small cities, big cities. Intimacy, marriage, my wife, our children, relationships, communion, rest. For the man who returned Preston’s lost iPod.

preston-ice-creamFor the joy that ice cream and treats bring to children; for the ability to watch them enjoy such things. For the truth filters that we’re given; for the truth we receive from God Almighty. Thankful that somehow in my wandering I realized God’s ways are good, that he cannot tolerate sin, that he sent his son Jesus to atone for our sin. For the cleansing water of baptism. For the Bible as a complete work of divine literature as a guide for our daily lives. For the Holy Spirit who speaks to us and gives us words.

I’m Jon Harris and I have tasted that the Lord is GOOD!

1 Chronicles 21; 1 Peter 2; Jonah 4; Luke 9

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner, Thanksgiving turkey. Served table. Thanksgiving table served with turkey, decorated with bright autumn leaves. Roasted turkey, table setting

1 Chronicles 19–20; 1 Peter 1; Jonah 3; Luke 8

What are you thankful for? It is likely that someone will ask you that question today. I can recall several Thanksgiving’s where each person around the table was asked to recite their gratitude to the group. I can also remember times when I had to dig really deep to produce an answer. Think back on the last 24 hours. Next, look back a little farther to include the last week. What do you think about first?

As I complete the exercise, I have to admit that gratitude is not my first reaction. You see, I have encountered many problems in the last 24 hours. To be real, the last seven days have not gone exactly as I planned either. It’s troubles, not gratitude that shows up first in my mind. Apparently, I am not alone. Peter encountered Christ followers that were missing the pure joy of Christ. He left us some simple advice that will help us when we are feeling less than grateful.

To start, Peter reminds us to be careful, in our troubles, not to revert back to who we were before we met Jesus.  Yes, it would be easier to live like a pagan, only pursuing what feels good. But, Peter explains, since we know the truth of Christ, we must choose him again. He elaborates by showing us how choosing Christ means to “set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). This makes sense to me. Practically speaking, when I set aside my quest for success and prominence, I begin to see Jesus clearly again. And, I find rest for my soul.

Peter also encourages us to be obedient. Reminding us that it is our obedience during tough times strengthens and purifies our faith. In order to do so, we must “prepare our minds for action, be sober minded and set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13). Our obedience, therefore, strengthened by our tested faith produces “praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:8).

At this very moment, I am grateful for Thanksgiving. I hope that you too will have an opportunity to stop and remember why we choose to follow Jesus. Peter sums it up wonderfully for us in 1 Peter 1:3-4. He reminds us, that Jesus “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  Give Thanks!

 

Washing Feet

Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. – James 5:9

Last week I got to reflect Jesus’s interaction with Peter when Peter was learning what it meant to get his feet washed and to wash others feet. Washing feet appears to be connected with forgiveness of sins. It seems to concentrate not on the judicial forgiveness, connected with salvation, but rather a regular sort of maintenance to ensure a right relationship with God while we sojourn here on earth. Put another way, we were washed head to toe and adopted into Christ’s family. We were saved. (John 13:10) Yet still, though we are saved, we accumulate dirt on our feet and need to have our feet washed by Christ if we want to commune with Him (John 13:8).  

I have heard this communion with Christ likened to a son who estranged his father. Perhaps he did something that his father could have no part in. This however does not mean the father disowns the child. The child retains his sonship. Yet the child needs to come to the father and make things right if the two are to reconnect on an intimate level. In my estimation several things need to happen in order for this communion to remain, in order for us to remain in Him and He in us.

  1. The child needs to recognize that they have accumulated dirt on their feet
  2. The child needs to desire clean feet
  3. The child needs to admit they can not avoid dirty feet on their own
  4. The child needs to let go of trying to wash their own feet
  5. The child needs to believe that the Father can clean their feet
  6. The child needs to run to the Father and let the Him clean their feet
  7. The key thing…

One last thing that seems to be essential in this process is the washing of others feet (John 13:12-15). The forgiving of others. The grace we’ve freely received and we are called to freely give. God has given us everything, but not to hoard, rather to share and make friends of others (Luke 16:9). If you are feeling distant from God, I have come to believe this a key question to reflect on:

whose feet should you be washing?

 

Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 18; James 5; Jonah 2; Luke 7

Suggestions for prayer: Ask God to help you understand the truth about your feet and the truth about how to wash others feet. Ask God to make you a merry, hysterical feet washer of others.  

For further study: Listen to these sermons on forgiveness and understanding communion with God from Jesus’ sermon on the Mount:

Desire for You

Today’s Reading:  1 Chronicles 17; James 4; Jonah 1; Luke 6

yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you out to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:14-15

This earthly life is short, no matter how many years you’ve been here.  How we spend them makes a difference.  What is your life? I read a devotion today about how everyone has a story.  How true. What’s yours? Take a few minutes to read this story from Proverbs 31 Ministry called Everyone Has a Story.

Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.  Philippians 2:3-4

This story reminds me of parts of today’s readings in James 4 and Luke 6.  What gems to hold tightly to as we navigate our ways through this mist of a life praying that our desires are aligned with God’s will. God’s plan includes us living for him until the day he decides to take us home with him.

As you prepare for this Thanksgiving remember some lessons shared by James to teach us loving Christian behaviors.  At a time when you are spending time with family, friends, and strangers our example of living for Christ goes a long way.  Our words, responses, prayers, and actions will model who’s will we are following. Will it be our worldly desires or His great plan for us? James 4:4 says Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God. 

During this time of Thanksgiving be grateful for God’s grace poured out for us. Pour this same grace out to others without being blinded by assumptions or judgement.  God’s Law expects us to love others unconditionally. Examine your heart, words, and thoughts towards others. Don’t let others current situation blind you from the love they need.

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.  The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. James 4:11

So even if your Thanksgiving isn’t all songs of love and pumpkin pie; remember, as you wish what others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31 Are our words, thoughts, and actions building others up or tearing them down?

something-different

Dear God,

In a couple of days we will celebrate Thanksgiving around family, friends, and others.  God I pray that our love for you and our faith in your will for our lives will be evident in our words and actions.  Let us be grateful for the time you give us to love others. Help us to see others through your eyes and come along side them with encouragement that only comes from you.   Amen

To Live Is Christ – Sidewalk Prophets

For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.

Small Fires

Igniting Match & Smoke

Today’s Readings: 1 Chronicles 16, James 3, Obadiah 1, Luke 5

How thrilled I was to open my Bible Journal reading plan today and discover James on my list! I love James because I’ve spent some real time with him. It’s probably the only book in the Bible that I have close to memorized. My excitement waned however, when I sat down to outline a few ideas for today’s post. James is a tough realist. There’s not much room for interpretation. Certainly I am in no position to issue warnings or guidelines about taming one’s tongue! In fact, after spending time with James this week I thought, “wow I really have a long way to go…who am I to be writing about this text when the folks reading it are probably way better Christian’s than me” I spent some time praying about encouragement. How can we use James’ words today to encourage us to be better Christians? In the first section of James 3, he shows us our certain vulnerability through speech.

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man…How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:1-2 and 5-6

We miss the point if we fail to connect the next passage about wisdom:

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” James 3:13-16

This leads us to a fundamental question we face as Christians: How can I hope to purify my behavior when it flows from my corrupted inward character? Is there one among us that is not taken down by that bitter jealousy or selfish ambition? How can we change our hearts for good? We’re getting a lot of practice these days. I moved to central Illinois from the heart of Washington D.C. I worked in a very urban children’s hospital. I was used to big conflict all the time. We lived in row houses that shared walls. When our neighbor didn’t take care of their home, we got the mice along with them. When there was religious or racial tension, we lived the consequences along with those groups. When gang members shot their guns, it was neighborhood children that were caught in the middle. When I moved to Illinois to this quiet little town I loved that everyone just got along. I loved the feeling that we all just agreed on the values that matter. Admittedly, I missed the shopping and Trader Joe’s but not the turmoil.

Now, eight years later I see that divisiveness is here too. It’s just quieter; it lives inside and stays there for the most part. Campaigns of criticism begin in us as individuals and spread silently. We think of ourselves as wise and are quick to justify our personal role in conflicts. But what if we were to invite James into our little community? How would he counsel us? He wouldn’t allow us to deceive ourselves. I’ve learned this week that James’ words provide a simple clarity in our life. It is a gift we are willing to surrender to it. Lord, I pray for your wisdom this week for all of our readers. I pray that we might learn to hold our tongue and let go of selfish ambition. Help us, as we meet with family and friends for Thanksgiving this week. Help us to be examples of Christ’s love and provide the clarity of James’ teachings in the moments we need them. We love you Lord, and we are grateful for all of your blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

All You Need Is Love

When Jesus speaks of the perfect life, He is very clear: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” -Luke 10:27. In perfect love, God desires our wellbeing, our fellowship and obedience.

Obedience is a hard word for me to hear, let alone to say or do! But obedience to God’s precepts ultimately make us better, stronger, healthier and happier. God’s law is no longer imposed, but encouraged in love. It’s not offered in oppression, but in freedom from sin through a life of tangible fellowship with the Creator of the Universe. Obedience to a perfect God is to seek the love Jesus speaks of.

Love gets more complicated when we are concerned for our well being, when others threaten our way of life, our freedom or interests. This is when we must chose between our own understanding or trusting God.

I am fascinated by the intensity of the discourse after this very unusual and surprising election. I have had to remind myself that God is eternally sovereign and we are not.

Living out our faith is about love in action, showing love without favoritism, loving the unlovable, practicing grace and gratitude. It is helpful to recognize our hypocrisy and self-righteousness, avoiding demagoguery, so easily embraced.

Personal spiritual transformation is the true source of social change. It is born in Love. God’s Spirit guides us. There is no other way.

God is sovereign and everything, even political power, comes from Him or is allowed by Him.

We have a lifetime of opportunity to live out values like kindness, humility, forgiveness, bravery, sacrifice, integrity, generosity, and compassion. We might easily claim these as our own, and overlook them in others, but love is the champion of justice and truth.

More than anything Jesus is saying to me, “trust God, surrender all to Him and love each other like there is no tomorrow.”

Perhaps John Lennon had it right; “all you need is love!”

1 Chronicles 15; James 2. Secret: Amos 9; Luke 4

Sold out or holding out?

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Today’s Reading:  1 Chronicles 13–14; James 1; Amos 8; Luke 3

Earlier this month, B.J. and I spent a week on a boat in the British Virgin Islands with a couple of dear friends.  The weather was nice and, as expected, we had a simply marvelous week.  This area of the Caribbean Ocean is historically pretty calm, however, we did experience a storm one evening when we were anchored off the coast of Anegada.  While we weren’t trying to travel from one place to another, our 43′ boat that once felt big was suddenly really small as it was rocking back and forth.  It became quite comical watching us slam into the furniture, and each other, as we tried to move around the cabin that evening.

When I read James 1:5-8 this week, it took me back to the boat. I now have a better appreciation for what it feels like to be “a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind” – a totally out of control feeling.  The author of Hebrews used this phrase to describe someone who doubts God.  Someone whose direction is influenced by a variety of forces, rather than being anchored on the truths of God.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8).

Like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind, double-minded and unstable all mean the same thing in this passage – wavering, undecided, vacillating in thoughts and actions.  Verse seven lets us know that God does not bestow blessings on this type of a person.  Given these unfavorable consequences, what causes us to often act like this anyway?  Selfishness.  Double-mindedness is always a result of our unwillingness to completely submit to God’s plan for our lives.  His plan is an all or nothing proposition, but we disrupt it when we hold things back for ourselves.  “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” (Matthew 6:24).

Fortunately, the Bible is also pretty clear about the solution for double-mindedness.  Faith and submission to God’s plan.  This past Wednesday, Michael wrote about the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11.  Sixteen different Old Testament people who were sold out to God’s plan, and embodied the truth of Hebrews 11 – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1); and without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6).  Throughout the Old Testament, God poured out his blessings on these followers for their faithfulness to his calling for their lives.  Do you know anyone what has this kind of focus and unwavering faith today?

Earlier this year, my small group read a book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Chapter 8 of this book includes a story about Chan’s grandmother-in-law, a woman who portrayed complete faith in Jesus.  He tells about a time when he attended a play with Grandma Clara.  At intermission, he asked if she was enjoying the show.  To his surprise, she responded that she was not all that excited about being there – “I just don’t know if this is where I want to be when Christ returns.  I’d rather be helping someone or on my knees praying.  I don’t want him to return and find me sitting in a theater.”  Wow.  What an astounding example of a person who is single-minded, focused, and sold out to God’s plan for her life.

I am confident God is pouring out blessings on Grandma Clara.  In the same way, I pray that each one of us can demonstrate an unwavering desire and courage to submit to God’s plan for our lives.  He really knows what is best for us.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine (Isaiah 55:8 – New Living Translation).

You are my brother in Christ

Have you ever sensed that someone was a Christ follower, but didn’t really know for sure? If so, what were the attributes or behaviors of the person? And if your suspicion was correct, what thoughts went through your mind after confirming?

In the 2008-2009 timeframe, Mickey joined my team. Mickey was far more advanced in years than the majority of the team at the time, and I say this with all respect. She came with advanced wisdom, humility, ethics, and experience and it showed on a daily basis. Mickey was with us for a few years, but I didn’t get to know her really well as this group was part of a large, “around the clock” machine with an offshore team supplementing our onsite team, cranking out work on a high profile and high priority project. Mickey was quiet and generally kept to herself, focusing on doing her job to the best of her ability.

While on the team, as well as in the years following the project when we had parted ways, Mickey would intermittently (perhaps every 3-4 months) send messages of encouragement to me. It was typically just a couple sentences and sometimes it would include a question to ask me how things were going. The messages were almost always on Friday afternoons when I was wrapping up work to prepare for the weekend.

I’m not sure when it was or what she said, but I do recall a specific moment when I thought “is she a Christian?”. It wasn’t like she had sent a Bible verse or said she was praying for me, it was far more subtle; more like the pattern of kindness, thoughtfulness, and humility all showed up at once and I was hit with a big dose of Holy Spirit communication – this lady is special, and I knew her faith is in The Lord.

Now several years later, Mickey is on my team again, and this time we do talk. I wanted to open up some communication with Mickey to confirm my suspicion so I shared a recent Bible Journal post with her. Her response was overwhelming. She shared that she has prayed for me through the years and continues to do so, and that she rejoices that she and her husband (of 50 years) share the bond of Christian faith with our family. She also wrote, “you are not just a co-worker and friend, you are my brother in Christ”. Beautiful words that brought me to tears because I realized that each time she sent the emails checking up on me, along with those was a secret prayer for me. I’m so humbled and honored by this.

We now talk about Jesus, she shares her memory verses, reading plans, and recently she shared some prayer requests with me. Mickey is toward the end of her career and she is just plain tired; her husband drives her one hour each way to work five days per week, and at the end of the day she has little energy to do some of the things she wants to do outside of work. She feels that she needs to keep working for financial reasons, but she just doesn’t know how much longer she can go on at this pace. The joyful thing is that she’s put ALL of her trust in the Almighty God who is in control. May he be glorified through this situation. The lady who has prayed for me for years has asked me for prayer; this humbled me greatly; it is an absolute honor to pray for this woman.

I wasn’t planning to put a Bible verse in this week because I just wanted to share this story and didn’t think any of the verses applied. While going through the reading one more time, these verses jumped out at me. I’m pretty sure Mickey isn’t an angel, but it reminds me of our interactions through the years, not knowing each other’s faith, but seeing opportunity to show hospitality to each other in a brotherly-love manner. We never know who we interact with could be an angel praying for us and our families.

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:1-2)

Would you join me in praying for this fine lady today?

Heavenly Father, thank you for your perfect plans; for teaching us to love one another like you love us, like your son Jesus loves us. We lift up Mickey today; please reveal your will to her with regard to her work situation. Give her strength and peace, beyond all understanding. Please give her continued discernment wherever she may roam. May her marriage of 50 years continue to honor you. She is a blessing to her family, friends, and acquaintances, I thank you and praise you for what you’ve done and continue to do in her life. We ask these things in Christ’s name. Amen.

1 Chronicles 11–12; Hebrews 13; Amos 7; Luke 2

Hindered Progress

Challenges in business as a dart being slowed down by a heavy anchor as an adversity metaphor and symbol or overcoming a handicap to achieve your goal to reach the target.

1 Chronicles 9–10; Hebrews 12; Amos 6; Luke 1:39–80

Why is it that vacation, Halloween, and Thanksgiving always roll around when I am trying to be “good” about what I eat? Seriously, I have maintained a really good diet for several months. It stopped quickly with my vacation. You know how it is, great dinners are part of the deal.  Right? For me, a great dinner includes dessert. But, I remind myself that it is ok. This is a short-term thing. A week of splurging won’t matter.  After all, I’m on vacation! The brief interruption of my diet has now been exacerbated by Halloween. It turns out that I am a sucker for Snickers and Milky Way’s and Almond Joy’s and Butterfingers, and pretty much anything that gets dumped out of that bag. (Actually, I am not a fan of Whoppers, but I eat them anyway). The best part of Halloween candy is that everything is bite-size. I mean, it’s not like I’m eating an entire candy bar. As I consume multiple pieces, I remind myself that there are only a handful of pieces left. Once they are gone, all will be well and I’ll get back to my normal diet. Except for the fact that next week is Thanksgiving. It’s not likely that I am going to take it easy on homemade rolls, or extra gravy. And, pecan pie is awesome (especially with ice cream) so I’m definitely looking forward to that and since the Thanksgiving tradition requires we eat pumpkin pie I’ll go ahead and try that too. My mother-in-law makes a mad coconut cream pie that occasionally makes its way to the table and really, its one of my favorites so I’ll try that too. Hey, don’t forget, it’s just one day. For dinner, I’m looking forward to lying low. My mom makes grandma’s angel food cake and I’d hate to dishonor her legacy by passing it up. Besides, angel food is pretty light.

Healthy lifestyles are not limited to food.  In fact, our relationship with God is the most important component.  Just like my diet, I often make choices that circumvent its full realization.  For example, consider this list of activities that hinder my progress.  In no particular order; wine, work, swearing, laziness, Xbox, YouTube, Television, internet, telephone, text messages, facebook, Pinterest, election coverage, books, bourbon, course language, impure thoughts, Amazon, movies, napping, 

If you are like me, you connected with at least one item.  I’m guessing that not only did you connect with it, but you justified it just as I have justified my poisonous diet.  Take a few minutes today to consider how you might, “lay aside this weight,” (Hebrews 12:1) and acknowledge the reality that it is preventing you from finishing the race successfully.