Baby steps

baby-steps

In these early stages of my journey to living a better life, I am setting small goals that I hope will be easily attainable while providing big payoffs over time.One of these goals is to read 5 chapters of the Bible each day. This is enough to get me through the entire Bible in one year even if I skip the odd day. Also, I’ve done it before so know it is achievable with a little focus.

Last year my Bible reading went out the window. This was an effect of depression, not the cause, but it did not help. It took huge effort to read even a single chapter, an effort I often could not summon in the midst of depression. Now I am able to read more easily it is time to correct the imbalance.

Why read the Bible?

Firstly, because this is how I grow in my understanding of God and how I should live as one of His people.

Secondly, as I read and ponder the Scriptures, the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles take root in my heart. They then have a chance to affect and change my thoughts and attitudes. This is the sort of change that really makes a difference, more so than merely following the latest self-help fad.

Thirdly, reading the Bible washes away my own faulty thinking. By filling my mind with words, thoughts, poetry and stories that are from God I crowd out the mistaken ideas and beliefs I have about myself, others and life that otherwise cause me to make bad choices.

I’ve found two useful ways of reading to enable these three benefits to occur. One is to read slowly, thinking over what each sentence means, what it was written to achieve and how that applies to me. The other way is to read more quickly, covering a lot of ground but persisting until the ‘washing’ effect I mentioned has occurred and my thoughts are aligning themselves with what I’ve been reading.

Both approaches take time, but to read 5 chapters at a sedate pace only takes around 15 minutes which can easily fit into most daily schedules. The real battle is often the willpower to block out competing distractions and simply start.

To keep track of my progress I have a printed list of the books of the Bible and the chapters in each book. I simply cross off each chapter once I’ve read it. This allows me to read in whatever order I like while keeping track of progress. There are smart phone apps but I’ve found they don’t give the flexibility of pen on paper.

Here are some suitable checklists:

(I am only recommending the checklists from these websites, I cannot vouch for the other content of the sites)


Image: Shutterstock

Rock bottom

The inside of an old industrial chimney shaft photographed from the bottom - circular stone wall with tree growing from it and blue sky with white clouds in the opening in the centre, vertical

In 2014 I hit rock bottom.

In just one year I dug myself into a huge credit card debt, gained 10 Kg of excess weight, was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in a suicidal state, and almost ruined my marriage. Not my best effort.

Fortunately my depression has improved and my wife is graciously giving me a chance to make things better. I urgently need to change how I “do life”. This year my blog will trace my journey to ‘a better me’.

This is not about ‘radical’ or extreme changes, there is no room for such things when I am in debt, have health problems and have to work full time to support my family. It is also not a quest for perfection, all of us let ourselves and others down every day. What I am aiming for is to be a better person. Not perfect, not even ‘the best’, just better than I am now.

Because I have made such a mess of things and failed in a multitude of ways, this self-improvement project will range over many areas. Of particular interest to me is how to make changes stick and finding what will have the biggest payoff for even small improvements.

Is there room for another Christian blog?

Blog

I’ve been mulling over whether I should write about something other than faith. It seems that there are already thousands of ‘faith blogs’ and maybe this space is already full.

On just one directory of Christian themed blogs there are over 2750 blogs listed. Alexa has 63,328 sites listed in the category of ‘Christianity‘. This includes all types of websites, not just blogs, but that’s a large number and these are only Alexa’s “Top Sites”.

Whatever the actual number, there are a huge number of Christian ‘faith blogs’. Why add yet another one?

I have two main reasons:

1) Writing about faith in Christ keeps me focused on this topic, which I want to remain central to my own life.

2) Surprisingly to myself even, I do have a unique story and can add something to the discussion of how we live our faith in the real world.

I used to think that I was a very boring person who leads a boring life. In some ways this is true, but life has thrown enough at me by now to add some flavour into the mundane details of an ordinary life. The ordinariness is even an aspect of what differentiates this blog. I am not a pastor, I don’t work for a Christian organisation and consider my calling is to be in the secular work world.

Because I write as just another ordinary Christian, I’m not out to correct your theology or portray a spotless life of exemplary faith – my job security doesn’t hinge upon a flawless outward appearance. The primary goal of this blog is to be an encouragement. This is the filter I want to be using in deciding what to write about, “is this something encouraging to other Christians?”

So, despite the size of the Christian blogosphere, A Saved Wretch does have it’s own particular flavour, hopefully one that appeals to and encourages some readers.


Image: iStock