Behavior Change And Heart Change

Dave McWilliams

Most of us, at one time or another, have wished that we were a different person. These thoughts may come to us when things are not going well or in times when we are in trouble. We may feel shallow or inadequate in these times. Our behavior may have been offensive or unacceptable to others, and we may be embarrassed or overcome with guilt.

Change is very difficult for all of us. What about those of us who have gone through devastating situations, such as a hurricane or flooding, where we have lost a lot of what we own. Perhaps we have moved to a new location and changed jobs, and everything is now different. We can feel lost and left out in many ways. Things may never be the same again. Or we may have lost a friend who has been very close to us and supported us in many ways, and the pain is almost unbearable.

When it comes to making personal changes in our lives, it can be just as difficult. Often the focus is on changing our behaviors and our habits, but these are often not long lasting. As an example, many of us have made New Year’s resolutions, only to abandon them within a few weeks, because it was too difficult to maintain the new behaviors and habits. More often than not, our efforts are pointed at negative habits and behaviors and we put a lot of effort into trying to avoid them. It often does not occur to us to ask ourselves what to do to replace these behaviors.

While heart changes are more lasting, they cannot be made all at one time. They are not an event, but a process or a journey. In the mean time, we cannot ignore our behavior that is offensive to others or destructive to ourselves. If we are an alcoholic, or a gambler, or we struggle with pornography, our behaviors should not be excused while working on building our character.

The apostle Paul talked about making changes in our lives in Colossians 2:20-3:17. He pointed out that when we try to make changes in our lives through rules and regulations, or by trying to restrict our poor behaviors, failure is soon to follow. In his day (as in our time) people would say ‘don’t touch’ or ‘ don’t taste’, which really is nothing more than mere human effort to control our poor indulgences. But Paul pointed out that these rules and restrictions ‘lack any value in restraining our sensual indulgences’ (Col.2:23).

The best phase of our life to focus on restricting our poor behaviors is childhood. The duty of good parenting is to help us to recognize what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. The down side to this process is that no parent has it all together as to what is good and bad behavior. When we made poor choices, the way that they were managed had an effect on us, some positive, and others were destructive. The guilt that followed those destructive attempts to change our behavior will remain in our minds for many years until we are finally freed from them. While our minds are filled with the thoughts of guilt, we seldom have the clarity of thought to find direction in our lives. Feelings of loss and confusion block us from finding our way.

Real and lasting change comes from a different place than focusing on our behavior. Lasting change comes from change in our hearts as we take the focus off ourselves and onto the needs and concerns of others as well as our own. Behavior change is external and is often done to deceive others, or to avoid our pain, etc. Heart change does not deny our behaviors, but focuses on internal and character change. Heart change has a purpose in mind that is greater than our own needs and desires. We begin to become aware of how our actions and choices effect others and their well being, as well as our own.

There is another powerful factor that is involved with making changes from the heart, and that is coming to the realization that we cannot do it on our own.

Real heart change comes only through the power of the Spirit of God working in our lives. This is different than behavior change, which is done mostly in our own human efforts. When our human efforts fail, we continue to carry enormous guilt. The opposite result comes as we focus on change from the heart. This change will usually result in freedom within our thoughts, thus giving us the ability to think about life situations much more clearly. We also refer to the results of this type of change as bringing us inner peace.

Paul talked about ways to achieve inner peace as we change from the heart. He sited several concepts of life that will help our hearts grow. Some of these things are compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and bearing with each other. There are many ways to display these principles to others. God did not assign to us only one way to carry out any of these life principles. These principles are found as we seek God’s direction in each and every circumstance in our lives. And as we display them, we let others decide how to use them effectively. For example, if we are going to be compassionate to our spouses, we will let them define the most effective way to show compassion, otherwise it is nothing more than a selfish act.

There is another benefit in changing from the heart. It takes a lot of the pressure out of life. Behavior change usually results in trying to achieve perfection, and usually trying to make it quickly to avoid pain. This is real stress and anxiety and worry over what others will think of us. It often leaves us angry and defensive with others, as they point out our flaws. Heart change accepts our flaws as a part of who we are in the moments that they are revealed. The pain is used to help us change and grow. But the growth process is done without a sense of urgency. Change becomes a journey that is at times slow but consistent. Our flaws and weaknesses are seen as opportunities to work with those flaws so that they become more acceptable to others. Thus, our weaknesses do not totally define us as a person.

For help with sexual integrity, see Every Man\’s Battle.
If you need help in other areas, please join us at our next New Life Weekend.

Apologies

Deborah Tyrell

‘So if you remember that a friend has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar and go and apologize and be reconciled to him, and then come and offer your sacrifice to God.’ (Matthew 5: 23-24)

My marriage has provided me with many opportunities to apologize. In fact, I’ve had so much practice that now when I realize that I have acted ‘less than loving’ towards my husband, I usually am aware of my behavior at least as soon as he is. There are still those times when he has to point out my offensive behavior.

However, now instead of defending myself, I apologize that he had to show it to me before I saw it. I ‘own’ it and apologize that he had to deal with it.

I have not always had so much grace in this area. There were times in the past that I used an apology to manipulate. If I recognized that my behavior was about to reap an unpleasant consequence, I would rush to apologize. My message was, ‘Please don’t get angry. I have apologized so now you should not hold me accountable.’ My apology was an attempt to control his mood.

At other times, I would demand an apology from my husband. I came to realize that an apology extracted in this way is worth little. His apology to get me off ‘his back’ did not indicate sorrow for his behavior. I learned it only meant he was afraid of my disapproval and criticism if he refused my demand. A false apology has no redemptive meaning or value.

An apology is very personal. By it, your loved one knows that you are distressed by your harmful behavior. It demonstrates genuine sorrow and accepts responsibility for your actions.

One of the steps to maintaining a healthy lifestyle that is promoted in many recovery groups is to ‘continue to take daily inventories and when wrong, promptly admit it.’ Consider making this a daily practice. If you do, you will create an opportunity for closeness as well as a commitment to avoiding further harm. But no matter how the one you have apologized to responds, God honors a contrite heart and He will accept your sacrifice.

God, give me the courage to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Remind me that it is through the door of humility that I have a chance to reconcile with those whom I have offended. And through Jesus Christ, I have a guarantee to reconcile with you! For ‘the Holy One says this: I live in that high and holy place where those with contrite, humble spirits dwell; and I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts—I will lead them and comfort them, helping them to mourn and to confess their sins’ (Isaiah 57:15). Amen.

Receiving the Gift that Heals: Forgiveness

Brad Stenberg

- Read: Psalm 103:2-4; 8-13; Isaiah 44:22; 1 John 1:9 -

We all wish there was a delete key for dealing with the past so we could forget the hurtful things we’ve done. But our memory gets in the way of forgetting the pain our sin has caused others. The only way this pain can be truly removed is through forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the basis of our life in Christ. The Christian life is a forgiven and forgiving life. Jesus taught us to pray, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. We cannot give what we do not have, so forgiving is a function of having first received forgiveness. Thus, we live and relate to one another in the forgiveness of our sins.

What does it mean to receive forgiveness? Does it mean what we did is approved of, excused, or denied? Not in the least. Does it mean the hurt we caused is forgotten and not taken seriously? No. Does it mean we’re exempted from any consequences of our behavior? Not at all. Does it mean we’ve fully reinstated into the relationship we damaged as if nothing happened? Usually not.

To be forgiven simply means having our debt canceled. The forgiver, while blaming us for the serious, wounding wrong we did to them, gives up their right for vengeance and extends mercy instead.

Receiving forgiveness is experiencing grace ‘ receiving a gift we don’t deserve.

We all have difficulty receiving forgiveness and feeling it because we have difficulty receiving unmerited favor. We would prefer to have to work at it. Grace goes against who we are because we don’t feel like we deserve love when we’ve messed up. But deserve and love don’t go together. Gift and love go together. If we have to deserve love it’s not a gift; it’s a wage we have to negotiate. Forgiveness is a gift from the forgiver.

Receiving forgiveness is a process that requires several things. First, you have to be guilty of wrong doing. Some of us have difficulty accepting the fact that we did something wrong. We resist being in the ‘I am wrong’ position and owning the fact that what we did caused others to experience serious pain and to suffer the resulting, and often prolonged fallout of this. But you cannot receive forgiveness unless you own up to, take responsibility for, and truly feel remorseful of your wrong doing.

Then you must confess it in specific terms. Proverbs 28:13 says, He who conceals his transgression will not succeed, but He who confesses and gives them up will find mercy. Some guys admit they sinned in global terms, but not in specific, personal terms. They admit they’re weak in sexual sin like every other guy without naming and identifying with the specific wrong they’ve done. We are to be specific. General confessions do very little to convict of sin, convince the one offended of your seriousness, or to bring healing.

We are then to turn away from our sin; remove it from our thoughts, and resolve in our heart that we will not do it again. Isaiah 55:7 says, Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. God knows the difference between those who are sincere and those who are trying to temporarily ease their conscience. He is not mocked or deceived. If you come in sorrow, humility and sincerity, His grace is abundant. However, He has little patience for those who would abuse His mercy. Search your heart for true repentance, and seek the Holy Spirit’s power to make the necessary changes.

We also need a forgiver. Forgiveness is relational. It’s an interpersonal process, not an intellectual thing, mind set, or some meditative state. It’s something that transpires between two people. Someone has to give forgiveness for us to receive it. The forgiver needs to be a good accuser by making the offense direct and specific. Once we’ve admitted to and taken ownership of it, the forgiver’s words should be something like those of Jesus to woman caught in adultery, Neither do I accuse you. Now go and sin no more.

The wrong that we’ve done is serious, but true repentance and the forgiveness received is more serious still. Wounds are healed, self-respect is restored, hope for the future is birthed, light removes the former darkness, positives replace negatives, and newness of life made possible.

The Pause

Deborah Tyrell

Pauses can be uncomfortable. Think of the last time you were talking in a group of people and there was a sudden break in the conversation. Chances are, someone felt compelled to say something. Silence seems to invite us to break it.

Even as a child taking piano lessons I remember having a hard time with pauses. Back then, I had difficulty with the rhythmic silence of the musical rest. My piano teacher tried everything to get me to hold the rest for the measured time. Sometimes she would shout the count during the rest and other times she would employ the metronome. I especially hated its repeated ticks marking time while I waited to play the next note.

I still have difficulty with forced pauses. Only now, the music separated by rests is the melody of daily living. And the pauses forcing inactivity are even more difficult to read. Especially hard is the state of inactivity forced by sickness, thwarted plans, or loss. No matter what circumstance requires me to hold the next note, I find forced silence disagreeable.

But God is so patient with me. He gently reminds me that the rest will not destroy my song. Although silent, it enhances the beauty of the music.

My challenge is the same now as when I was a child. I still need to surrender to Someone outside of myself to count the time. I cannot rush the rest. It is not a signal that I need to change the key. Although difficult to hold, the rest is never permanent. When I wait the allotted time, I can play the next note with precision and confidence. God always redeems the ‘rests’ in the music of my life. Without them, my song is less rich.

God, You know that I have never liked times of forced inactivity. Give me the grace to hold during those times. Help me to play my song in Your perfect timing. May the rests become the sweetest accents of the harmony as I wait on You. May I learn lessons of your graciousness as I commune with You in the silence. Thank you that You redeem every rest. I give You permission to compose the song of my life this day. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Christmas Hope

Rebecca J. Wever

Christmas-time is often a time when people feel hopeful. As followers of Jesus Christ we are reminded that our Savior was sent to earth as an innocent little baby for us, each one of us. But sometimes even though we have hope in things that are eternal we may still feel hopeless when it comes to the things of this world. Being on the road to sexual purity, and more specifically, restoring a wounded or broken marriage can sometimes feel hopeless.

As the wife of a recovering sex addict I want to give you hope. Many of you have heard David Wever’s story of his fall to sexual sin and the damage it did to both him and our marriage. I was a woman who was stung by betrayal, a woman who completely lost trust in her husband. I remember the days when I couldn’t see past my pain to a day when we would have a good relationship, or even better, a healthy marriage.

As David and I are in contact with couples through the Every Couple’s Desire Conference the thing I hear most from the men is, ‘She’s stuck.’ However, it may not be so much that she is stuck but more that she hasn’t begun to heal. The most wonderful gift I ever received was the gift of healing. As I began to heal and to face both the betrayal and myself in light of the betrayal, I was able to start to move back towards David and the issues that brought us to the place we were. Unfortunately, you can’t heal for her, you can’t make it happen faster and you can’t demand that she does it.

I found that healing can happen as three components come in to place.

First, you must adhere to your battle plan. Your wife will watch you to see if you are for real. She wants to trust you but she won’t allow her heart to be hurt that way again. You have to show her you are going to follow through with the things you say. Meet with your accountability partner, disconnect cable, put a filter on your computer, let you finances be open for her to see, and don’t be defensive when she needs to ask questions or express her feelings. I still ask David questions or express fear or pain – it’s not a one time discussion.

Second, she will need to work through her pain, wounds and issues on her own. She may need individual therapy or a mentor to talk with. Give her the freedom to seek healthy and supportive relationships to do this. Just as it is important for you to have relationships to keep you accountable and strong in the battle she will also need relationships for support and strength.

And third, healing will only happen through the Holy Name of Jesus Christ. Acts 3:16 says, ‘By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him…‘ Your wife will begin to heal, or grow stronger, as you both surrender to Jesus Christ.

Pray for her daily. Pray for her healing, her pain, her wounds and her anger. Surrender your wife to your Heavenly Father. Here is the hopeful part’I am a woman who lost any hope for a happy, healthy marriage. I am a woman who never thought her husband could love her enough to be sexually pure. I am a woman who never dared to hope for anything better. But, I am a woman who is living all those things today.

Our Father in Heaven is amazing and He wants for your marriage to be healthy and holy and wonderful just as much as He wants it for David and me. So if things feel hopeless for you this holiday season, as you remember the little baby Jesus, I pray you will find new hope, not only in the things eternal but also in the things of this world.

6 Renewable Resources for your Recovery

New Life Ministries

1. Time: We never feel like we have enough, yet one day turns into a week, turns into a month. Take the first step by setting a short term goal, and do it today. Do not put off till tomorrow’ .

2. Work: God has put you in the work or ministry you are in to serve his purposes. Begin each day by asking ‘What Lord would you have me do today’?

3. Possessions: Learn to hold on loosely to the things of this world, or they will hold on to you. Another question you can ask, ‘What Lord, would you have me to do with this possession?’ It isn’t wrong to have things, it begins to cause trouble when the things have us.

4. Insights: When God gives us insight, it allows us to develop discernment. Don’t ignore it! Write it down or share it with someone. Ask God how he wants you to use your insight to help others, or yourself.

5. Relationships: Sometimes we think others exist to serve us or our purposes. Even if we don’t say it out loud, we experience self-centeredness from time to time. Pray that God will bless your relationships that they would serve to bring him glory.

6. ‘Chance’ meetings: Sometimes we dread meeting new people; parties and potlucks hold us captive to our fear of not measuring up. Begin to look for the opportunity that God provides for his purposes. Connection doesn’t happen without our cooperation.


6 Steps Toward A Richer Spiritual Life!

New Life Ministries

1. Learn to fast. Whether it’s denial of food or some other pleasure for a period of time, deny yourself in order to find yourself in a greater relationship with God. Fasting can satisfy various spiritual needs, not the least of which is as scripture says ‘humble your souls.’

2. Use a journal to note your spiritual journey. Spend a few minutes at the end or beginning of the day to pour out your thoughts to God in writing (or on your PC). By reviewing what you’ve written, you can discover how much you’ve grown or not in your walk with God.

3. Go on a pilgrimage or retreat. Look for retreat opportunities, visit holy places, sacred sites, and spend extended time in prayer, meditation, and conversation with God. Retreats offer time away from our routine, and we can learn new ways to connect with God.

4. Create a place of prayer in your congregation. Designate an area in the building that is quiet and private, that can be an open door to people who are seeking to connect with God. Do the same at home, find a quiet place to meet God regularly.

5. Practice acts of kindness. Look around your neighborhood, read your newspaper about those who are hurting, be alert to the needs of the down-and-out, the poor, the shunned. Then do what you can to help with a kind word, a helping hand, a donation. Commit to do at least one such act a day. In doing so, your focus will be less on your needs and wants and more on others.

6. Read God’s word daily. When you fill yourself with the wisdom of God at the beginning of your day, you don’t look around to other people, things, and activities to fill your life. God will satisfy the needs of your lives if only you will seek him.

6 Tips to Rev Up Your Energy and Feel Good

New Life Ministries

Constantly feel overwhelmed? Not sleeping well? Feel like your battery is drained? Boost your energy every day naturally with the following healthy habits.


1. Take Deep Breathing Breaks.
Proper breathing can help quiet your body and mind while refreshing the spirit and shifting your perspective, says Dr. Monica Myklebust, a family physician at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Here’s how: Sit tall in a comfortable chair with your legs uncrossed. Breathe in air through your nose slowly until your lungs are completely filled, expanding your abdomen. Count to three. Then, breathe out slowly, again through your nose. Count to two. Plan to start your Breathing Break at 2 minute stretches and then work up to 5 or 10 minutes or so. To enhance your time, you may play music.

2. Exercise in the Sunlight! Dr. Michael Terman, director of clinical chronobiology at New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City recommends exposure to early morning light for boosting energy throughout the day. Here’s what to do: Walk outdoors for 30-45 minutes every day. This is especially good right after you wake up. Don’t let the cloudy cover discourage you, because it will provide enough light energy to have a stimulating effect on your brain.

3. Let Good Posture Get You Ready to Move. ‘Good standing posture relies on muscles to let your skeleton support your body,’ according to Andrea Wiener, assistant director of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America. Posture that is ready for you to move quickly in any direction is good posture. What to do: Stand in your normal posture. Get ready to jump up and see how your posture changes. Then move to jump forward, then backwards, next to the right and then left. Watch your posture change for each movement.

4. Stretch Away Slouching Shoulders! Release tension and strain that comes from being hunched over steering wheels and computer keyboards causing you to tighten muscles that support your head. The following exercise is based on an aspect of the Alexander Technique, a technique that helps individuals relieve pain by correcting their body’s alignment. What to do: Sit with both feet flat on the front edge of your chair. Be sure your body weight is evenly balanced on your pelvic bones. Clasp your hands and interlock your fingers. Lift your arms over your head, your palms directed to the ceiling. Stretch your back and spine up and keep your eyes looking forward. Relax the muscles of your shoulders, arms, neck, face, and back by exhaling completely, inhaling gently and exhaling again.

5. Receive the Energy and Healing Boost from Laughter! Norman Cousins, author of Anatomy of an Illness, tells how 10 minutes of belly laughter resulted in 2 hours of pain-free sleep. Whether you find a great, regular TV comedy or create for yourself a laughter kit with comics, videos, or funny books or letters, let a good daily laugh get you on the way to better health.

6. Add Movement, Burn Calories, and Boost your Energy. Take 5 or 10 minutes throughout the day to energize and get fit, bit by bit! What to do: Take the stairs, instead of the elevator, park in the farthest space and walk further to get to your destination. Stand up and move around while you’re talking on a cordless phone. When your computer is downloading or you are at the copier printing, take a moment and stretch your muscles. These ‘fit bits’ will provide you an immediate boost of energy and get your blood circulating at the same time.

Preparing Your Son for Every Man's Battle

Kent Ernsting

I was smitten from my first sight of him. The first time I held my newborn son in my hands the tears began to well up in my eyes. A deep sense of love enveloped me when I looked into his amazing eyes. I loved that little guy with everything within me. I thanked God for him and I pledged him back to God from that moment. I was struck with the tremendous stewardship responsibility that I now had, to raise him to become a godly young man. I knew that I could not complete that task without God’s help and the help of many others along the way.

Now he’s 14 years old, stands 5’8′ tall, and he’s strong enough to fold me into a pretzel. He routinely aces me on the tennis court. He’s a fullback on his freshman soccer team and he feels responsible for every ball that an opponent gets past him and into the net. He’s smart and brave and he wants to show others that he has what it takes to be a man. I will probably not know if I have successfully completed my task of parenting him until he is in his thirties. The indicator will be whether or not he is living a God -honoring life and rearing godly children.

I don’t know about you, but the challenge of shepherding my son through his young adult years with purity as the goal has been a daunting one for me. How can I talk to him about purity when my own sexuality has been complicated? I have had to deal with my own issues on the subject. We all know intuitively that we need to be the one talking to our kids about sex, but how do we do it?

I am an imperfect parent, but I want to pass along some tips and strategies that I have learned from others and have used with my son.

The first is the principle that RELATIONSHIPS COME FIRST. As long as I keep the relationship that I have with my son strong, then he will be willing to receive guidance and coaching from me. As Josh McDowell says, RULES WITHOUT RELATIONSHIP LEADS TO REBELLION.

I look for ways to spend time with him. Relationship growth occurs when we do things together like going to his games, working together on projects, playing pool with him, and taking him camping with me. It helps me to relate to my son and for my son to relate to me. Relationships are what life is all about.

I want him to know deeply and intimately how to connect with another person in a life-long committed relationship. I want him to experience it first in our father/son relationship. Eventually he will transfer that into a relationship with his wife.

Sex education is really not so much a matter of providing information as it is a matter of deliberate character formation. The first messages are the most potent; it is far more powerful to form a child’s view of sexuality from scratch than it is to correct the distortions the child will pick up in the world. This is a concept that I picked up from a very helpful book by Stanton and Brenna Jones, entitled How & When to Tell Your Kids About Sex. In fact, it was their book that gave me what I needed to know and say to my son when we had our first ‘key talk’ in a local restaurant. After I finished my explanation he asked, ‘Dad, do you eat that green stuff?’ as he pointed to the parsley on my plate.

I took my son camping for a weekend before he entered junior high school. Together we listened to the ‘Preparing for Adolescence’ tapes by James Dobson and we talked about the content of the tapes. Between disc golf and fishing we discussed what would be happening to him in the coming years.

We spent a weekend at a sexual abstinence until marriage conference interacting with various speakers, presentations and youth events. We went to a Promise Keeper rally for youth where the message of purity was presented through music, worship, extreme sports, speakers, and multimedia.

I take him to church regularly and help him plug in with youth groups and their events. Now he is attending Young Life where the message of purity will be reinforced. I want him to know about redemption when he stumbles and about the love of his creator sustaining him throughout his life.

Look for opportunities that will challenge both you and your son such as rock climbing, rappelling, or canoeing. Bathe your son and his future wife in prayer. Let’s talk about how it turns out when our sons are in their thirties.

Please see Preparing Your Son for Every Man\’s Battle.

Five Keys to the 'Packed-Life' Puzzle – REACH for a Balanced Life

Brenda Allison

Review
Evaluate
Admit
Care
Hang On

We’ve all heard the term, mid-life crisis. But what about a mid-year crisis? I’m in the middle of one. Just as in a mid-life crisis a person finds themselves in a place and wonder how they got there. I’m finding myself in such a place and I don’t particularly like it. Why? My life feels out of balance.

So what’s the remedy? I’m using the REACH principal. It’s an acronym to help me remember to ‘REACH for a more balanced life.’

R is for Review. I’m reviewing the past year. Where did I get off track? It started innocently enough. Last summer I moved to a new house. That’s where packing out my life started. As I packed my house, I also started packing my schedule, telling myself it was temporary. I thought I had to ‘pack it all in’ to accomplish everything and at the same time move my household.

E is for Evaluate. I’m evaluating how packing for my move and telling myself it was ‘only for a time’ bled over into the rest of my year. My evaluation revealed some truly great and worthy endeavors were in the mix. It started with packing my schedule with training for a marathon, reading through the Bible in 2003, various training programs at work, and getting involved in lay ministry at Church, along with maintaining my graduate school schedule and normal weekly functioning. Yikes!

This brought me to the point of A, in my REACH for a more balanced life acronym. I need to Admit that even with all the worthy endeavors, now a year later, I am ‘packing in’ vacation. If one family vacation is good, then two must be better, and pack in a graduation trip with my daughter in between the two vacations. Wrong. This is insane. Even something as worthy as vacation has gotten out of balance in my life. I need to admit I am missing the point of vacation. The ‘routine panic’ of my life has even permeated vacation planning. I need to admit the truth that my soul, my spirit need a rest. I need to be recreated; and vacation that is not a time of recreation is a missed vacation.

I am also admitting that I am packing in the food because there’s not time to plan wisely. Besides with a packed out life, there’s no time, no energy, no motivation for planning good food choices. Even the best-laid plans for exercising can go awry when one has no mental, emotional or physical energy reserves left to function on.

So if I’m going to review, evaluate, and admit these things, the next logical step in the REACH acronym is C for Care. I must care enough to make change happen. First I must care enough to get back to the Bible reading habit of 2003. After finishing the Bible, the habit has slipped from its place of priority. I need to get back on my small group Church schedule of reading and journaling. I needed to care enough to cut out the training classes at work and at church. For the time being, enough is enough. Although my work is in the fitness industry and I have been training to teach fitness classes, I need to care enough to admit that in the process of all the training, I am losing the joy of my own personal workouts.

So this leaves me with only the H in REACH for a balanced life, Hang On, while having the courage to change. Now is the time to cancel the second vacation, cut back, scale down and do what is balanced and meaningful. I must listen to my inner voice, the one that has been told time and again, ‘this is just for a short time.’ I’m admitting it has been a year now; a year of packing out my schedule. I’m admitting a packed out life is no fun.

I encourage you to taste the joy of a mid-year evaluation. I’m cleaning up my life and it feels great. Just the thought of it lightens my step, and opens up the room. I can breath easier now. The weight is off my chest. I’ve admitted what my inner voice has been telling me. My life is too packed and it has become a habit. Wish me luck. I may need it. Old habits die hard, you know.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. [Proverbs 16:9]

Has your life become overpacked?  You can find the right balance when you join us at our next New Life Weekend.

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries