Separation Is In the Preparation

Rookie Wisdom

Prior to the Wildcard playoffs, Seattle Seahawks’ rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was the subject of several newspaper and television features lauding his leadership ability. While being interviewed, Wilson’s verbalized his philosophy:

1-11-13 separationThese features went on to describe Wilson’s detailed approach to preparing for games, citing a specific story about how he put “cheat sheets” on his teammates’ chairs prior to their Monday morning team meeting following an away game the day before. Actions like these, teammates say, are why Wilson has become a team leader even though he’s only 24 and in his rookie season in the NFL.

And while watching Wilson on the field before and during both before and during games, his actions emphasized his leadership ability as he encouraged and motivated his teammates. Clearly, Wilson’s approach to preparation has separated him as a player and leader in the NFL.

Biblical Principle

As Christians, we are called to separate ourselves too. Just as Wilson has separated himself from being an average football player, we too should seek to separate ourselves from blending in with the world around us. Specifically, the Bible talks about Christians separating themselves in three aspects of life. We are to separate ourselves from:

The World1 John 2:15-17 encourages us to love the things of God instead of the things of this world, and Romans 12:2 encourages separation by not conforming and by letting our minds be renewed.

False Teachers – In Romans 16:17-18, we receive warning to avoid those who deceptively preach anything contradicting God’s Word, and Deuteronomy 13:1-3 indicates deliberately and consistently choosing God above all others.

Disobedient Christians – According to Matthew 18:15-17, while we are not to instantly avoid fellowship with disobedient Christians, we must do so when every effort to persuade them from wrong receives rejection.

Separation through Preparation

Just as Wilson deliberately prepares himself as a football player thus allowing him to excel when game time comes, we too must prepare to separate ourselves as Christians in order to excel in glorifying God.

Wilson’s preparation comes through viewing game tapes, analyzing opposing players, creating a plan for the next game, and making sure he’s in top physical and mental condition. A Christian’s preparation – and maintenance – for separation comes through establishing Godly habits, keeping short accounts, taking thoughts captive, having firm convictions and refusing to conform.

Examples to Follow

Russell Wilson seems to provide a terrific example for other football players as well as athletes in general to follow.

Scripture gives Christians numerous examples of the importance of preparing ourselves to become and remain separate. Examples include the Recabites, Daniel, Joseph and even David. The Recabites show the importance of knowing your why and being ready with an answer. Daniel gives a great example of the value of the habit of daily prayer. Joseph shows us that staying true to God holds significant long-term impact. And David lets us know that even when we mess up, pursuing God restores us to our separated (holy) state.

AMPLIFY: Many questions resonate in my mind as I consider how I can personally amplify my separation from the world, from evil and from disobedience. Does what I read and watch honor God? Are the video games my kids playing harmful to their minds? Am I too busy, overloaded and stressed? Do I over-plan and miss God’s plan way too often? Am I preoccupied with money? Do I explore alternative teachings? Am I too open-minded? Do I justify my attitudes, actions & words? Am I unteachable? Am I creating my own reality in order to continue doing what I want? Do I avoid conflict? Do I get caught up in comparing myself to others?

DISCUSSION: Can you think of additional examples, biblical or otherwise, of someone implementing the principle of “separation is in the preparation”? In addition to what we’ve already mentioned, how else does the Bible tell us to live separately?

Related Posts:

How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part I

How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part II

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Sunday Reflections – Divine Uniqueness

1-16-13 comparisonsMy husband belongs to a Saturday morning running group to which he and about a half dozen other runners remain extremely faithful. We’re talking every Saturday morning regardless of weather, and in Michigan that sure creates some interesting running conditions at times. This group inspires me!

Their inspiration reached the point of me wanting to train for the distances they constantly focus on, mostly ½ and full marathons. So, I convinced (meaning, laid a guilt trip on) my exercise partner to train for and run a ½ marathon with me. After two ½ marathons apiece, we decided that we hated them.

Our bodies simply refused to cooperate, and the resulting chronic injury has forced me to reevaluate my approach to exercising.

This led me to truly understanding that some people are built for distance running, and some are not. So, I am now working to find the approach to exercising that works best for my body, schedule, temperament and lifestyle.

Guess what? I enjoy exercising again. I still run, but shorter distances. Plus, I do a lot of cross training. My husband on the other hand, while he will play almost any sport, focuses on running ½ marathons and on actually continually achieving a personal record. (His fastest ½ marathon is a 1:38.)

Non-Negotiables

Life requires a lot of non-negotiables in order to be physically, mentally and spiritually healthy. We all need certain nutrients. We all require rest. Everyone needs physical activity. And we all need connection with others. While we all need these non-negotiables, we each require a unique balance of them.

We all need exercise, but we don’t all have to get it exactly the same way. We all need rest & relaxation, but those can look very different from one person to the next. And we all need connection with others, but how our relationships operate and even the number of them we have exists as uniquely our own.

Divine Uniqueness

A relationship with Christ is also a non-negotiable. But just like with all the other non-negotiables, your individual relationship with Christ is unique and different from anyone else’s. Let’s explore this a bit further.

  1. God is limitless. His power is limitless, infinite, beyond measure (Psalm 147:5). He knows everything (1 John 3:19-20). Nothing is hidden from him (Hebrews 4:13). Doesn’t Him being unlimited take the pressure off though? I mean, if He already knows and sees everything, I don’t have to pretend with Him or hide anything from Him like I feel I have to sometimes with people. For me, that relieves a lot of pressure. I can completely be my unique self with God.
  2. You’re different. Yeah, I hate to break it to you, but you’re a little different. So am I. (Some would say I am a lot different.) But different is okay because that was God’s intention. He created us to be different from one another, each for a unique purpose. We all have a unique combination of qualities given to us by our Creator. (Romans 12:3-5)
  3. We need differences. A person without an arm or a leg can adapt and accommodate for what’s missing, but doing so doesn’t change the fact that a part is missing. The body of Christ works the same way. It can and does adapt when a part is absent, but nothing can exactly replace the missing part. The job that missing part was meant to do simply won’t get done in the exact way that part was meant to do it. Our uniqueness is essential to the body. (Romans 12:3-5)

Amplify: So, we probably all realize the truth of our uniqueness. Just a quick survey of the people you know personally should be proof enough of this truth. Though we fight against it sometimes and give in to conformity, we ultimately know that no two individuals are alike. Knowing that our relationships with Christ are unique should impact our actions. This happens through avoiding comparisons, appreciating differences, acknowledging strengths and accepting a person regardless of weaknesses.

DISCUSSION: What additional application do you see?

How to… Amplify

Choosing the Word

My family and I set goals together at the end of every calendar year. As already mentioned in Vacation Reflections: Resolutions, my husband and sons set their goals for 2013 rather quickly while I struggled setting mine.

After being drawn to the One Word 365 approach, I then focused in on selecting just the right word. As I am a recovering perfectionist, finding the “perfect” word seemed like a daunting challenge. Fortunately, and maybe because I was on vacation, I was able to sit quietly and notice God’s leading.

Just before going on vacation, I purchased a compact amplified Bible. While on vacation and soon after praying about a direction for my 2013 goals (it wasn’t an immediate “ah ha” moment right after praying), the word “amplified” on my Bible jumped out to me.

At that moment (and this was an actual “ah ha” moment), I knew I had found my focus for 2013. And as I studied the meaning and application of the word Amplify, my decision became increasingly solidified.

Connecting the Word

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God had already prepared my heart for this focus. For about 6 months prior to purchasing the Bible, He drew my attention to reading the amplified translation during daily Bible study. I loved the depth this translation provided and continued reading it daily.

In addition to the spiritual application, the desire to go deeper made its way into other areas of my life as well. Physically, I felt like I was operating at 80% capacity and wanted to find out why and to do some tweaking to make headway into the remaining 20%. Socially, my weakest area, I had yet been able to truly make the progress I desired. I wanted to finally and fully know why. Other areas, as I note below, also called for amplification.

As I reviewed my 2012 blog posts, I realized that this desire to amplify could be also seen in much of what I was writing. Here are just a few examples:

So, when the word “amplify” came into my consciousness that relaxing day in Myrtle Beach, I knew that it was the focus I needed for 2013.

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Applying the Word

When my family sets goals for the coming year, we focus in on 5 specific areas: Spiritual, Physical, Work/School, Social & Family. I knew what I wanted to work on in each of these areas already, so I then looked to key words that truly emphasized my intention to “amplify” in these focus areas.

The following resulted:

Spiritual – Generosity. Memorization. Transparency.

Physical – Posture. Stretching. Water.

Work – Projects. Crafting. Learning.

Social – Responding. Listening. Preferring.

Family – Individual. Relationships. Connections.

The key words in each of these areas reflect how I am purposefully choosing to amplify my life, and each involves taking what I am already doing in some way and adding power, detail, depth and quality.

This approach seems to leave room for change and flexibility and even spontaneity, not at all a natural quality for me, and I also find that these are the ways that I most notice the Holy Spirit moving in my life.

DISCUSSION: What would you list as important elements in how a person could “amplify” her life?

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Amplify

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Understanding the Word

To help understand the meaning of “amplify,” consider the purpose of audio amplifiers. They aren’t about adding volume; instead, they are about control. Through control of sound, amps give extra power, which leads to more detail and better sound quality. In other words, a sound amplifier produces a more powerful and detailed version of an audio signal.

To amplify in any way involves deeper analysis and further illustration. Amplifying also means increasing in amount and strength.

As I focus on amplifying in 2013, I want to create better understanding within each of my goal areas, which I’ll talk about in Monday’s post. I want to take my time to go deeper and create more detail. I liken this to becoming an expert in fewer areas rather than a generalist in many.

With amplification in 2013, I want to expand the basic meaning and purpose of what I am already doing and give them increased depth. I want to discover more power, power that is “immeasurably more” than all I could ask or imagine, “according to His power that is at work” within me (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Already Prepared

As I meditated on and studied the word “amplify,” I realized that the Holy Spirit had been cultivating the concept in my spirit for a while already. Let me explain.

Isaiah 43:18-19 has been a sort of theme verse for me for the past three years

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

After choosing “amplify” as my focus for 2013, I realized how well Isaiah 43:18-19 fits with that focus. When I choose to give control of my life over to my Creator, I know that I will experience increased power and depth in ways beyond what I can even imagine. In other words, He is the amplifier!

Another avenue leading toward my “amplify” focus came through a quote by Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia, The Final Battle.

“Come further up, come further in.”

Another way to say it is to go “deeper down and further out.” (I was reminded of this quote after reading If You Started a New Community, Where Would You Begin? by Tom Tarver at A Curious Band of Others.)

My accountability partner and I have been talking a lot these past few months about application of “deeper down and further out,” which I now realizes can be summed up in one word – “amplify.”

So really, I started to “amplify” about halfway through 2012 but didn’t realize it until participating in my family’s annual goal setting. God prepared my heart for this focus, and His timing remains perfect.

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What’s next?

On Monday, I will go into more detail on how I plan to integrate “amplify” into different goal areas for 2013.

For what it’s worth, I had no idea when writing Vacation Reflections: Resolutions that I would be writing today’s post going into details on the meaning behind “amplify.” I also had no idea before writing this post that I would decide to continue the topic in “How to… Amplify” in my next post.

Perhaps that illustrates well part of the process to “amplify” as I allow the Holy Spirit more control. In that, I realize that to “amplify” for me involves increasingly more of Him and less of me as 2013 progresses (John 3:30).

DISCUSSION: What are your thoughts on the word “amplify”? 

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Vacation Reflections: Resolutions

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Not-So-SMART Goal Setting

The turning of one year into another brings reflection for many people, reflection that includes evaluating and looking back on the past year in a way that provides insight as to where to focus efforts in the new year ahead. For many, this means setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant goals that are also Time-bound.

SMART goal setting works for a lot of people. I’ve tried the SMART approach, but it has never been very effective for me. I struggled with sticking to the “requirements” of this approach and constantly felt too confined by it, probably due in large part to my tendency to go against the flow. (If others are doing something, if something is trendy, I look for reasons not to do it.)

While on vacation last week, my husband and sons set their goals for 2013 rather quickly. To no one’s surprise, I took a little longer to set mine. While inspiration for my guys came from “this is what I want to work on and accomplish,” inspiration for me came from a variety of sources that were much less direct.

What I’ve come to realize is that not only are goals themselves highly unique to the individual, goal setting is as well. While my husband and sons can set SMART goals and find great success, I find myself going a very different route. The problem up to this point has been finding a route that truly took me in a productive direction.

This year, I am taking the One Word 365 approach. This approach seems to fit my personality and temperament not to mention my habits and preferences much better than other approaches I’ve tried. But as they say, time will tell.

The idea for a One Word 365 approach began while reading 2013 Will Be My Year to Pursue by Stephanie Spencer at Everyday Awe. Confirmation for taking this approach came while reading One Word 2013: Listen by Teri Lynne Underwood at Fresh Perspective and Cour_ge vs. Fear by Amy at The Messy Middle.

Accountability

Setting goals as a family provides a great deal of accountability. But where I struggle in this area is that the accountability source is usually me. I remind my guys of their goals and ask them about their progress. They receive external encouragement from me.

While I am a largely internally motivated, I still desire external encouragement too. In fact, I think I require more external encouragement than my guys have it in them to give and in a deeper way than they can provide. I also get the sense that I am not alone in this.

I believe that no one person – not even your spouse – should be asked to fulfill all of your needs except Jesus. And because I believe He so often does this through connection and community within the Body of Christ, I am requesting accountability and encouragement for 2013.

This request for accountability comes not only for myself, but also for others within your circle of influence. Just as personality and temperament affect how a person sets and achieves goals, so too do they affect how a person encourages another. In other words, however you feel led to encourage others, not necessarily me, let me encourage you to Be Encouraging Just By Being You in 2013.

So, what is my One Word 365 focus for 2013?

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On Friday, I will discuss how and why I chose “Amplify” for my One Word 365 in 2013.

DISCUSSION: What is your approach to goal setting? Please share that approach along with some of your goals in the comment section.