A digital commonplace for a Regular Guy called Charlie Pharis

Month: January 2024 (page 1 of 1)

Because I Have To, That’s Why…

Here we sit on the third day of 2024, and I’m writing this at 4:26 am because I have to. 

If I don’t, there mightn’t be time to do it later, what with the return to the office and the daily grind and all. So, here we are.

Now, there’s the key difference. I have to write this to keep up the habit. To keep the commitment I made to myself. To not break the streak. I have to because I want to, and if I don’t…well…it’ll be a lot easier next time to blow it off. And that might apply in something else besides the worthless ramblings of a wannabe blogger. I mean…who would know? Would either of the two of you loyal readers miss it if I didn’t? I don’t think so.

But I would know.

Cover of Bob Burg's The Go-GiverOn another note, I finished reading the first book of 2024, The Go-Giver by Bob Burg. It’s one of those little business/success parables that are so popular. While it was an easy read, and while I reported in my notebook it seemed rather trite and formulaic, there were some good points. It made me think about saving and authenticity, two things I consider to be important. And now I’m trying to recapture why those two aspects are crucial. Maybe it’s because I’ve struggled so long to look like an authentic servant, that it has become just another finely crafted and carefully maintained mask for the character I want to portray.

And that leads us back to the start of this little screed. I’m writing this because I have to.

And I want to reclaim the servant heart because I have to. Or I’ll continue down the path of Whatever This Is.

Thanks for coming along. One of these days, there might really be something here worth reading and pondering.

Habits, Old and New…

It’s that time, readers. It’s time to assess where we’ve been, where we’ve gone wrong, where we’ve gone astray, and where we’ve failed; and to figure out and commit to a way forward, a way to get back on track, a way to improve our lot in life. Yep, it’s the new year, only a day and a few hours old.

I listened to Justin Whitmel Earley on The Habit podcast this morning, and he was talking about habits, daily and weekly. One thought that stuck with me is that habits help us to become free. Freedom doesn’t mean we can do whatever we like, but it means living the way we were created to live.

I need to develop some good habits this year, and the best place to start is with the habits of my heart. So I committed—again—to investing quality time into spiritual practices: scripture, prayer, worship, gratitude, service, etc.

Last year, I joined a couple of my church folks and used the Navigators Bible reading plan. This year, I’ve settled on the Five Day plan from Lower Lights. It’s an interesting format, somewhat chronological.

“Let’s do this, Lord!” I said. And then it hit me suddenly. There really is a Resistance to doing what you know is right and necessary and helpful. That Resistance for me, comes from two distinct dangers.

One is the danger of Distraction. As I started to find the document with the Bible reading plan, I thought for a moment about a quote from the earlier podcast. “Wait,” I said. “I need to get that quote in my head because it will help me as I think about this new old habit. I opened the podcast page on my computer. While I was there, I noticed I only had four minutes left in this particular episode. So I hit the play button and listened to the end. I wrote some notes in my notebook, and started to close out the podcast app and get to my Bible reading.

But there on the podcast episode page were some recommendations for other podcasts I might like. I clicked on one, and as I began to read about the host, I navigated to her website and started looking through the content there. But that wasn’t all. I thought about the design of the website and how I liked the font choices and the layout. So I started trying to find the fonts. And as usually happens for a guy who loves typography,   I started down the rabbit hole of fonts. I didn’t find the exact matches but I did find some I liked and noted for future use.

That’s not the point. The point is I was distracted from what I had intended to do: start a fresh reading plan. Of course, the fonts were not bad things. But they were distractions that kept me from the main thing. In our world, distraction is all around, and it fights our best intentions and keeps us from the parts of life that make it abundant.

But the other danger I faced this morning is the danger of Familiarity. The reading plan starts on Day 1 with Genesis 1–2, Psalm 19, and Mark 1. Having read and studied the Bible as a “professional” for all these years, it’s hard to avoid the “yeah, yeah…I know that already” attitude. It’s as though I said to God, “Give me something new and stop boring me with the basics that I already know.” Wow! What an attitude!

They say familiarity breeds contempt, but more insidious than contempt is apathy. Apathy may not be the best word here, but it’s all I can come up with. Just because we’ve read the words hundreds of times doesn’t mean the words have done their work in our hearts. I know the creation account in Genesis. I know the heavens declare the glory of God and that His words, laws, and precepts are good, corrective, and restorative. I know I need His activity to keep me from sin and make my words and thoughts acceptable. I know Jesus started His ministry, was baptized by John, called his disciples, healed people, and all that. I know all that.

But knowing all that sometimes blocks the power of all that. I need to guard against the apathy of familiarity, and see the Lord’s work as real and active.

A Word and Some More for 2024…

Hello, you loyal readers…all both of you! And happy New Year from this little dusty spot on the interwebs. Traditionally, today has been the day for reflection on the year just past and commitment to be better in the year that is just starting. And as someone somewhere opined, “New year’s resolutions are a to-do list for the first week in January.” That’s about right, because that’s just about how long they last.

Anyway, enough about that. Let’s get to what you came here for, shall we?

Some random thoughts on a new year…

One Word. There are folks out there who subscribe to the idea of having One Word for the year. One word that ideally and hopefully will define your intentions for the year, and guide you as you live, work, and love. One word to remind you of who you want to be and what you’re doing to become that person. One word to rule them all, so to speak. Having never been much on that kind of thing before, this year it seemed appropriate to me to think about it. So my word for 2024 is going to be elevate. Stay tuned for more details. (How’s that for piquing your readers’ interest—and setting up a reminder, a prompt to further develop a thought?)