the importance of doing something regularly

From our Protestant Reformation culture, especially through the Lutheran strain, good works and effort are nearly always feared. Somehow the thought is that we might think we are earning our salvation through our own meritorious efforts, or that by those works we are closer to God than others. We can fall into those errors, and both are mistaken. However it is true that works can actually help us in our faith. When we make the effort to come before God and to use the “means of grace” God has provided in reading scripture, good books, along with prayer (and some prayer books like the Book of Common Prayer can be valuable in helping us in that), we can begin to experience change in transformation of life, even if it is incremental and at times in fits and starts (“three steps forward, two steps backward”). When done regularly preferably daily maybe with one day off a week, these practices can become ingrained into us as habits which can impact us for good.

Scripture tells us to be angry but sin not, to not let the sun go down on our anger, and thus not give the devil a foothold. In other words we have to deal with what is wrong, what is troubling us, or it can become sin. We have to deal with everything in terms of accountability to God, in a sense to ourselves, and in best case scenarios with trusted friends and companions in the way of Jesus. We shouldn’t let things slide, or push them under the rug.

Some things we don’t necessarily do daily, but regularly, as in meeting with other believers as church on the Lord’s Day, Sunday. Most things I need to do daily, or else they’ll fall by the wayside. Good habits can wear well over time.

Of course just because we do certain things, good as they may be, doesn’t mean we’ll be impacted as we should. Our effort can help us be open and eventually acclimated to a new way from God in Jesus.  But we can fall into the same trap as the Pharisees of old who thought they were doing well by what they did when their hearts were not right toward God or man. Good habits must be done in search of God’s gracious work in us. We want to be changed from the outside in, as well as the inside out.

And so we go on. Often not feeling like it, though as it becomes habit, yes feeling like it. It simply being a part of us whether we feel like it or not. Regularly, usually daily. As we follow on to know God better and God’s will for us in Jesus.

Scot McKnight on wise daily living

Wise daily living will lead to the dream God has written into our hearts. If you neglect your daily assignments, if you fail to show up for work each day, if you fail to spend time with the one (or ones) you love, if you fail to do the ordinary task in the right way, you will get what you deserve and it won’t always be good. But if you do the little wise thing daily, you will achieve the dream your life was designed to accomplish.

It works both ways:
Focus on the daily instead of the dream, but…
Let the dream shape what you do daily.

Scot McKnight, One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow, 90.

staying in the word

I much appreciate what I understand of the monastic expressions and institutions of Christianity. Having grown up within evangelical Protestant Christianity, I have little known or early on appreciated this rich aspect and heritage of our Christian Tradition. It is greatly to our loss, I believe, because within this tradition we can learn so much for our everyday lives as “common”, “ordinary” Christians.

There are great Christian monastic traditions which do their work at least mostly in obscurity, such as one I learned of which spends many hours daily praying for the world. But most are in contact with the world, doing good works, as well as devoting hours to the chanting of the Psalms, reading of liturgy and prayers. Regular rhythms that impact them as humans, and make them and their community what they are in Jesus.

I find that I am better off when I keep daily rhythms which for me at this time amounts mostly to just being in Scripture, slowly working through it, reflections and prayers coming from that, as I seek to make that an interactivity with God.

I have the blessing of daily hard work and for the highest cause: God’s kingdom work in Jesus. And within that trying to maintain something of a rhythm in a daily liturgy while in fellowship with others in Jesus, and trying to reach out to all in the few other contacts I have.

This kind of practice can seem otherworldly and not really practical for life here and now. But in fact I find it to be quite the opposite. God’s revelation from Scripture and in Jesus is for this world. As Jesus stated, his kingdom is not from this world, but it is certainly meant for this world. So a test of whether a practice is truly Christian or not would be just what difference it makes in our life and relationships here and now.

We need a daily rhythm in a practice of seeking to draw near to God and to hear from God and respond in our actions and lives from that.

What might you like to add here?

I’m not doing well on my promise to post a book review today, so I ask forgiveness here for that. I will be endeavoring to do so. I want to make it better than was the case on my previous blog, particularly at the end when I was rather burning out. I hope to make this an ongoing rhythm on this blog.