habits

We are in a new year, and many of you have set resolutions for this year. That’s great! I hope you can keep them, and I hope your resolutions will help you grow in this year. If you haven’t set resolutions, that’s ok too. In any case, be reminded that your daily habits are formative (good or bad).

One of the most important spiritual habits (disciplines) is reading the Bible. If you are not reading regularly, let me encourage you to make a commitment in ’22 to read God’s Word daily.

There are many helpful Bible reading tools, plans, and apps available. The one I have used regularly is the Robert Murray M’Cheyne plan that covers the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice in a year. Here’s a link to the plan. I read from the ESV Bible, and you can find more Bible reading plans from ESV.org. You can also download the ESV Bible app and read through the plans offered on the app. The M’Cheyne reading plan is there as well under Classic Plans.

This plan is helpful for me because it helps me see the interconnected themes throughout the different books of the Bible.

In his book The Shape of Faith to Come, Brad Waggoner reflected on the importance of Bible reading for Christian maturity,

Our study of churchgoers included the measurement of more than sixty factors characteristic of biblical spiritual development… Our statistician applied sophisticated procedures to our data to produce a rank-ordered list of correlations. The number one factor, or characteristic, most correlated to the highest maturity scores is the practice of “reading the Bible.” I almost had to laugh when I saw this. Sometimes we complicate things. The simple discipline of reading the Bible has a major impact on Christians.

Brad Waggoner, The Shape of Faith to Come, 68.

Essentially, consistent Bible intake leads to spiritual maturity. Nothing is more important to one’s spiritual development than the reading of God’s Word.

If I could get believers to do only one thing for their personal spiritual growth, it would be reading the Bible. When we read the Bible, we hear (read) God’s very words spoken to us. If you want to hear from God, then you must not ignore God’s written Word.

So whatever your plans are for 2022, whatever your resolutions, make sure you read from the Bible daily.

May God make himself known to you this year through the reading of his Word.

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Do you ever feel as if you are living life on fast-forward? Do you ever feel as if you are constantly bouncing from one project to the next, one message to the next, one app to the next, one meeting to the next?

In our fast-paced world we tend to value speed, intensity, and productivity. And recently I’ve tried to rethink how I can be more effective and productive in the various spheres of my life: husband, father, pastor, writer, professor, friend, disciple-maker. While away last week with my family, I received a reminder from the Lord about what’s truly important in life.

Here are the three lessons I believe the Lord was teaching me from my time away.

  1. Pause. Close your eyes. Take a nap. Go away. Guess what? The world will go on just fine when you are on pause. Yes, there are things God has assigned for you to do. Yes, you have a responsibility to be productive and faithful for the glory of God. But thank heavens you and I are not irreplaceable to God’s plans of redemption and salvation in the world. God gave us the gift of Sabbath (day of rest) to remind us of the importance of pausing and resting. When we pause and rest, we give ourselves the opportunity to exercise our trust muscles that the Lord has everything handled in life.
  2. Pray. I am naturally analytical and a people pleaser. It is my tendency to do. Maybe you’re like me. Or maybe you’re very different. However you and I are designed, we often find it easier to do than to pray. Unfortunately, we feel as if prayer is passive when we ought to be active. The opposite is true. To pray is to actively exhibit trust in God who is able to do far more than we can do.
  3. Pay Attention. In my quiet time yesterday, I read from Acts 20. When talking to the elders and leaders of the Ephesian church, Paul said this, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). You and I are responsible for our spiritual lives. When we get distracted from the importance of our walk with God, we have a tendency to lose sight of what matters most. Pastors are responsible to pay attention to their own spiritual lives as well as those they shepherd. This verse reminds us that we should take spiritual inventory of how we are doing in our walk with Christ.

So this week, make time for these spiritual disciplines.

Pause. Make time in your day to rest. Take a deep breath or a walk. Go for a hike or a swim. Get away from the hustle and bustle, and remember what is important.

Pray. Make time time in your day to pray and to think. Don’t go another minute without bringing your burden to the Lord. Talk to God. Listen to him speak through his Word. Trust him to handle that situation that’s bigger than you.

Pay Attention. Make time in your day to inventory your spiritual life. Are there sins you need to confess? Habits you need to break or add? Relationships you need restored? Be attentive to yourself and those around you.

Turn these actions into spiritual habits.

You are your habits.

So what are you doing regularly? What would your spouse, kids, and friends say about your habits and practices? Would they say you know how to pause, to pray, and to pay attention? Or would they have to say that you are bustling from one thing to the next constantly frazzled by the busyness of life?

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash