You might have heard the saying, “You are what you eat”. Helpful advice but not as helpful as “You are what you think”. Your thoughts determine the outcome of your life. Thoughts lead to words, words lead to actions, actions lead to habits, habits form character and character informs your destiny. Your destiny is shaped by where your thoughts are taking you. If you don’t like where your thoughts are taking you, it’s time to think another thought. True but not easy. There’s so much cultural noise around us that reforming our thought life is no easy task. We must enter into Gods exchange program, old thoughts need to be replaced with new thoughts. Take stock of the most consistent and dominant thoughts in your mind and if they aren’t promoting God and his purpose for you, replace them with promises from Gods Word. When doubt enters your mind, replace that thought with, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. When fear enters your mind, replace it with, “I have not been given a spirit of fear, but power, love and self-control”. The most important discipline you can develop is the renewal of your mind because your thoughts control your life.
What do you do first thing in the morning? This is a question I’ve often asked different people over the years. I’ve been very interested in how people answer this question because I’ve been a long term believer in what you do in the morning hours sets up your entire day. I want to encourage you to rethink your morning routine. Too often I see, one of two extremes, either chaos or lethargy define people’s morning routines but there is a third option = A sustainable rhythm that invigorates you and makes you feel like whatever else you do today, you’ve already accomplished so much. Jesus modeled to all of us a healthy morning routine that set him and his ministry up for the day. He spent time in his Fathers presence before allowing the busyness of life overtake him. I encourage you to focus on 1 of 3 things in the morning hours. One is developing yourself, another is developing your relationships and the third is developing your career.
Developing yourself can look like exercise, prayer, bible reading, book reading, meditation or anything else that centers you and gets you a healthy body, mind and spirit.
Developing your relationships can look like making family breakfast time an opportunity to chat and get closer to family members. It can also look like meeting up with a close friend or work colleague for a coffee at a cool cafe and just chatting.
Developing your career can look like reading in your field, writing a blog or book, scanning news and reports, formal study or anything that will help you improve in your field.
It’s time to seize the day by seizing your morning hours. What you do from 6am-9am everyday can make or break your day. Don’t just settle to be a night owl. Body rhythms and sleep cycles will all benefit from making the shift to a morning routine. This is what successful people do to set up their day.
In February, we will be completing “The Rebels Guide to Joy” series on the letter of Philippians. This is the best series we have done yet and to compliment the series I will promote, before I preach, a book (in this case “Disciple” by Bill Clem), which I’ve previously read, checked out and believe will help the congregation go deeper in their understanding of a topic I want them to understand and outwork.
Bible reading should be the staple diet of the Christian but book reading should compliment your daily devotions. Now there are lots of books out there and not every book in your Christian bookstore is gospel or helpful or should be read. BUT without a weekly, should I say, daily commitment to reading good books, you will miss out on the wisdom and insight gleaned from those who have gone before you and studied their subject a lot more in depth than you probably have. Without reading books, your thinking becomes narrow and you begin to think your ideas are the best and brightest. Naive indeed. Unfortunately, we have become so visual in our learning that we have replaced the book for the screen. The screen has become our final authority, whereas, yesteryear, the text was.
For me, I get up at 5am most mornings and read for about an hour on a particular topic, and this would include, blogs and web articles that inform me on my subject matter. I study and preach the bible for a living and so 2 days a week (Wed & Fri) I’m in the study and preparing sermons and training sessions for my leaders or conferences coming up. I wasn’t always like this. In High School, I didn’t read as much as I should have (too much of sports jock) but in the year 2000 when I answered the call to ministry, something came over me and I just started reading voraciously. Since then I must have read over 500 books and built up a stockpile of words, ideas and, yes, receipts (much to my wife’s pain). You should see my library in my study, I could start charging a fee for people to join up and use it as a library… hang on a second… my wife will be happy.
Read widely and on different topics including: Theology, Leadership, Culture, Discipleship, Spiritual Disciplines, Gods Guidance, Current News, Your spiritual gifts, Biographies, Autobiographies, etc… the list goes on. (To help you with this I will include on my site a recommended reading list. For now follow along with me on what I’m reading).
Purchasing an iPad is a great investment as you can download Ebooks and read them wherever you are. I was at the doctors surgery today for a minor check up and was reading from my iPad. Not only did I utilize the waiting time well… I also felt very cool.
Whatever you do and wherever you go always remember to be packing a book.