I really, really… keep… trying to publish something… ANYTHING… each day.

It’s like being restrained by an invisible muzzle. What did I do to deserve this? I think God’s answer would be something like, “I called you to be a spokesperson, and you keep getting in My way.”

Now, keep in mind that when I really start breaking things down it gets pretty confusing, so keep up.

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Have you ever heard someone say, “Don’t bring me problems. Bring me solutions”?

It’s always easier to critique old traditions than to establish better and new traditions. That should be our ultimate goal. But let’s not err on the side of dismissing critique simply because the critic has no solution to the problem. The critic and the pioneer may come as two separate messengers. And neither carries the other’s message.

We’ve got to stop throwing out the baby with the bath water. We’ve grown comfortable with an illogical standard that says, “If you don’t have the solution, stop complaining about the problem.”

But what if critique’s deconstruction isn’t supposed to take place at the exact same time as rebuilding? What if we abort the process of revolution because we dismiss critique that isn’t accompanied by solutions? How many messengers have we turned away because they were “disqualified”?

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/ecc.3.1-8.niv

When critique comes, it may just be “a time to tear down.” That doesn’t mean a time to build isn’t coming soon. And it doesn’t mean you should ignore the time to tear down just because it doesn’t present itself simultaneously as the time to build.

We’ve cost ourselves many opportunities for growth already. Let’s move further in and higher up.

I shared with you a couple months back that I was beginning a new diet known as Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting. You can read my post here.

60 days in, and I’ve lost somewhere in the ballpark of half a pound each day. Weight really wasn’t my greatest concern, except for how it demonstrated that I crossed a line somewhere back in 2006. Truly, quitting smoking was the most difficult change I’ve ever made, and I ballooned while eating everything in sight.

My wife insists that our scale is garbage. So I stopped using it. But I can still tell as major things change. Even without numbers, running my hands over my sides tells me a lot. When the bumps disappear, that’s generally a good sign.

So as strange as it sounds, I’m tracking progress by the noticeable feel of my belly’s shape changing from day to day, but more pronounced from week to week.

Shedding excess fat wasn’t my only goal. It was a primary goal, but there were a couple supplementary goals attached.

Secondary Goals

  1. Reduce joint and foot pain
  2. Increase flexibility
  3. Accomplish more productive work
  4. Give a better first impression
  5. Reset my system so it works better

Number five there is a big one. I’m not sure how to know if I’ve accomplished that goal without someday quitting the process and eating more carelessly.

Regardless, one of the goals is to reset my system, so that I’m burning fat as a primary energy source rather than sugar (carbs).

The goal in everything is to live in abundance. To maximize quality of life. To excel at stewardship. To not miss out because I can’t move.

Life is about baby steps of progress toward abundance. Abundance in everything God created and called good.

What you fill your mind with will control you.

I popped a sermon tape into a portable cassette player and took it with me on the road. It was a recording of my grandfather’s radio show, and he was telling a story about how an old lady accurately prophesied his wife’s death six months before she passed.

But that’s not the focus of today’s rumination.

I’ll expound upon that another day. Today I want to focus on something else Grandpa Lennard said that rocked my world. He confessed to reading the entire Bible SIX TIMES per year ON TOP OF his regular daily Bible study. SIX TIMES!

If you, like me, have read the entire Bible once in a year, you know how much perseverance that takes. Wading through the legalese of Leviticus and Numbers can be excruciating.

But six times??? I can’t even imagine how many hours that took each day. I mean, is that even humanly possible? If he had used my exact Bible, he would have read 6,288 pages. And naturally he did other Bible study. Naturally.

Imagine how that would change your thinking.

I’m imagining it. If I read that much Scripture, I would eat, sleep, drink, and breathe Scripture. There’d be no room for anything else in life. And yet… Grandpa Lennard traveled the world preaching the gospel and healing the sick for decades.

I can’t let it go. It feels like a gauntlet has been passed.

We’ve all binged on a show here and there. The age of Netflix and DVD sets is upon us, and it’s way more compelling to follow the storyline in a short period of time than to wait a week or two or twelve between episodes (LOST anyone?). And I must confess, when I’ve binge-watched a show, it seeps into me. It alters my dreams. My precious sleep time forms storylines that relate somehow to the story I’ve watched hour after hour after hour.

Which reminds me of a quote I can’t escape:

You become what you behold.

Whatever you gaze upon most often has the greatest power to shape your thinking, expectations, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s so subtle we sometimes don’t recognize it happening, but it’s happening. Music, movies, songs, videos, gossip, and social media all worm their way into our psychological DNA. They influence who we are.

We typically don’t WANT this to be true, because it calls us to a higher level of personal accountability. But knowing that what we behold shapes who we are empowers us to decide whether we actually want to keep choosing to be the same person. If you don’t like who you are, look first at what you behold. What do you most often watch, read, listen to, eat, touch, and daydream about?

You are forming reactions to those stimuli. You are compensating for their messages. You are adapting to make room for their truths.

And if that’s true about less than ideal inputs, it’s true about ideal inputs. Which brings me back to Grandpa Lennard.

The Call to Action

I’m not pretending to try to read the Bible six times this year. C’mon, man! I got three kids, two businesses, a homestead, goats, chickens, cats, dog, and a garden. I shut down and crawl into a fetal position sometimes. But reading once a year again might be worth it.

There are mindsets I’ve never attained, levels of faith I’ve never acquired. And I can’t help but attribute this to the quality of my inputs. I’ve dreamed of a version of me that sees the world differently. That Daniel sees into the spiritual landscape of a geographic area and calls that which isn’t into being, somewhat like lassoing a unicorn.

But you don’t lasso the unicorn by sitting on a couch eating Cheetos (or non-GMO potato chips made from avocado oil).

I want to elevate my thinking.

So I’m stepping up my game to read the Bible in one year. And that’s on top of other reading I do to better myself, including poetry, audiobooks, and podcasts.

What are YOU going to do to be a better YOU?

Inspiration comes from the most unlikely places. I’m sitting in the theater with my wife and kids this weekend to watch Pete’s Dragon. One of the previews shows a girl who dreams of a better life who learns to play chess. It turns out she’s really good and has the potential to play her way into a destiny far beyond the simple home where she grew up. Then came the voice that said,

Sometimes the place you are used to is not the place you belong. You belong where you believe you belong.

It’s really that simple. That unexpected moment relieved some of the pressure building up inside me.

I’ve known too many people who settle for very little in comparison to what is possible. And nothing grieves me like unfulfilled potential.

It’s such a confusing decision — knowing whether staying local and loyal to one’s roots is healthy or dis-ease. Sometimes leaving the only community we’ve known is the slow but steady death by a thousand cuts we fail to notice. Other times our homes and our histories hold us back and drag us down like weights.

Sometimes we escape the familiar because accountability is painful and restricting. Other times we stay close to home because we are afraid to try and fail.

The first lesson here is to “Know Thyself” well enough to discern your motives when opportunity arises. Are you motivated by fear, irresponsibility, laziness, passion, duty, or purpose? Positive motivations typically lead to faster development. Negative motivations can turn around over time as well. I know that I started on a path eight years ago because I was afraid. That fear drove me to do extensive research and discovery on a topic that led me to discover the beauty, power, and extravagance of permaculture.

I continued performing many of the same tasks as before. The difference being that my endeavors were once based on fear of loss and now are based on the desire to design and foster beauty in the form of harmonious micro climates. It’s not about avoiding my fears. It’s about embracing my potential.

The second lesson is to embrace growth. Growth means change. Ben Affleck recently said in an interview with Bill Simmons that for the longest time, he held this attitude that he wouldn’t let it (Hollywood, success, etc) change him. He called it being true to himself. He has a whole crew of guys from Boston who hold this ideal of never letting anything change you. And those guys have the same kinds of jobs and do the same kinds of things they did as teenagers.

Never changing means never growing, and eventually Ben gave himself permission to grow and change and develop as a person. That’s called maturation.

Points to Remember

You want to know yourself well enough to pursue life and achieve your potential, and you want to give yourself permission to change.

How This Transforms Your Culture

If you’ve read other articles on Culture Feast, you may be wondering how this subject applies to your culture. I write mostly for one specific audience, and I’d be thrilled if these ideas apply to others as well. But my single-minded goal is to chip away at the mindsets of the people I grew up with who are stuck in family traditions, church traditions, hearsay, and wives’ tales.

You can transform yourself and your local community culture by choosing every second to be your passion. To leave behind the old mindsets that may be comfortable but never got you anywhere.

Unless you grew up in a community where the things that excite you are valued and esteemed, what’s familiar may not be where you belong.

Sometimes we break free to become who we truly are. If you’re afraid of losing your roots, don’t worry. There’s often time to go back and rescue others where you came from. But you’ll have no power to rescue until you embrace your very own becoming.