To Win the Heavenly Championship…

Joe Montana.  Peyton Manning.  Tom Brady.  Troy Aikman (GO COWBOYS! :)).  John Elway.  Brett “I’m going to retire/un-retire” Favre.  If you’re not a football fan, you may not recognize these names.  If you are, you know that they are some of the most successful NFL quarterbacks in history.  Can you name the one thing that ALL of them and every other winner in any sporting event have in common?  I’ll give you a hint…it starts with a d and ends with an i-s-c-i-p-l-i-n-e.  Discipline.  And you need it in your life as well.

I grew up playing sports.  From baseball, to football, to golf and even cheerleading, I loved competing.  More than that, sports was an outlet for me…a way to leave the drama of my home life and issues we had there behind.  If I wanted to be the best on the field, I had to have discipline.  Using the discipline I learned there helped me join the Navy one year removed from high school.  And guess what I got for eight more years?  You guessed it…more discipline.

So what does this have to do with relationships…more specifically, with your relationship with God?  Everything.  The original title of this post was going to be “If You Don’t Look For It, You Won’t Find It”, and the premise was preventing life from getting in the way of your relationships.  Life, of course, means every day things that you have to deal with that take your attention away from God.  They could be financial difficulties.  They could be arguments that you and your significant other may have.  They could simply be exhaustion from the daily grind.  Whatever the issues, they cause you to disconnect from your Heavenly Father.  It takes your focus away from Him and puts the spotlight on you…which is a recipe for failure.

The new title comes from the verse God gave me to stave off becoming embroiled in my own little turmoils.  It comes from 1 Corinthians 9:24-27…

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?  So run to win!  All athletes are disciplined in their training.  They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.  So I run with purpose in every step.  I am not just shadowboxing.  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.  Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”

I can’t interpret this scripture any better than the way my bible does, so here it is…

“What ever happened to self-discipline?  Many books and speakers guide wandering souls to self-fulfillment, self-satisfaction and self-awareness.  Not many tackle self-discipline.
Self-discipline requires an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses, with an emphasis on the latter.  It means building the will to say no when a powerful appetite inside you screams yes.  For example, when you have self-discipline, you can (1) say no to friends or situations that will lead you away from Christ, (2) say no to casual sex, saving intimacy for marriage, and (3) say no to laziness in favor of ‘can do’ and ‘will do.’  Self- discipline is a long, steady course in learning attitudes that do not come naturally, and channeling your natural appetites toward God’s purposes.  Where are your weak points? …”

One of the things I’ve found since I started this journey is that life is tough.  I mean, I already knew that it was difficult.  But when you begin to follow God’s plan for your life, it seems to become even more so.  The more progress you make in your walk, the more frequent and the greater the set-backs (Satan doesn’t want you to have a relationship with God).  That’s why discipline is so very important in your relationship with your Father.

A quick technique that I learned in a psychology class in college might give you a hand in building some discipline.  I used to be an incredibly jealous person (in case I haven’t mentioned it, I’m Italian and Irish- a very volatile mix :D).  It was a character flaw that I knew I had, but I didn’t know how to fix it.  One morning before class, I was sitting on the bench outside the building lost in thought (having just had a blow-up with my girlfriend at the time).  My professor walked by, noticed my expression and asked if I was okay.  I told him that I wasn’t and explained what had happened.  He told me he could correct that if I would diligently follow his instruction.  He told me that when I went to bed at night, I needed to say to myself over and over again, “I won’t be jealous tomorrow.  I won’t be jealous tomorrow.”  And when I woke up in the morning, while getting ready for whatever, repeat the same thing, “I won’t be jealous today.  I won’t be jealous today.”  I was skeptical, but agreed and began to do as he said.  At first, I didn’t notice a difference.  After about a month, however, she noticed a change.  I noticed the change.  I had reconditioned my thought processes into not being jealous.  The same technique can work for your walk with Christ as well.  “I will read my bible tomorrow.  I will read my bible tomorrow.”  Then, “I will read my bible today.  I will read my bible today.”  Then do it :D.

Are you ready to do what it takes to win that Heavenly Championship?

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