Pastor's Blog

Daily Habit #4 – Scripture Before Phone

Justin Earley is encouraging us to read Scripture first thing in the day before we do anything else.  At the very least, do this before checking your phone or looking at your emails or scrolling social media or watching the news.

Why?

It is because all these things have a way of shaping how we view ourselves – our identity.

Turning to Scripture before scrolling through my emails reminds me that I am loved by God before I do anything. My emails are calling me to perform and to earn my value in this world.  God’s Word is reminding me that in Christ I am loved.

Turning to Scripture before consuming the news, I am reminded that no matter how bad things seem to be, we serve a God who is in control. This brings me peace even when things seem to be rather chaotic.

Turning to Scripture before getting caught up on social media, I am reminded that I don’t have to keep up with appearances and trying to impress others. Instead, I can be authentic and transparent, and God is at work in my difficulties.

What is the biggest temptation for you? Is it email? Is it news? Is it social media? Consider why you might be drawn to those things first thing in the morning.

I really like the way Justin Earley talks about the value of reading Scripture before we start consuming these various forms of media. This is not just an encouragement to read your Bible.  Instead, it is a reminder of the ways our habits, how we start our day, does indeed shape our outlook on life.

Earley makes this point by saying: “Once we know who we are in God, we can turn to the world to offer love. But when we don’t, we will turn to the world looking for love. That makes all the difference.”

So…if it is not your habit to begin your day with Scripture, give it a try.

  1. Find a quiet space and make it “your space.”
  2. If you need a place to start, start with the Psalms. Or, start reading through the Gospel of John. Go at your own pace.
  3. Pray back to God what it is you are hearing him say to you through his Word.

Allow God’s Word to shape your identity that puts you in a position to love those around you.

Daily Habit #3 – Cultivating an Attitude of Presence

After church on Sunday, Bonnie and I went out for lunch with another couple. We got to linger around the table for a couple of hours. It was delightful and life giving. We were fully present to each other.

As is my custom, when Bonnie and I go out to eat, I leave my phone at home. It is a conscious decision I make so that I can be fully present. And yet, about halfway through our time with our friends, I found myself instinctively reaching for my pocket to check my phone. 

Honestly, I even felt a twinge of anxiety wondering if someone might be trying to reach me, knowing that I won’t be home for another hour or so. I also felt the urge to want to mindlessly “surf” for news or updates that I might be missing out on. 

Having introduced this week’s spiritual habit that morning (turning off your phone for an hour), I was especially tuned in to how much I need to practice the habit for this week. I really need to build into my day space to turn off the phone. In many ways, it is constantly “calling” for my attention.

The habit this week fits into three categories.

  1. It is a daily habit. I would really encourage you to identify a time each day when you step away from your phone for an hour. Turn it off! Do it during a time when you are normally around people who are vying for your attention.Try to do it for seven days straight!
  2. It is a habit designed to help us love others. It helps you love others because you are not distracted by your phone and you can fully give your attention to those who are with you. During this time, intentionally resolve to be fully present to the people who are with you during this time. 
  3. It is a habit of resistance. The phone has become such a dominating presence in our lives that this habit helps us “resist” the ways it is shaping us negatively. We are resisting the isolating impact it has on us and our being present. We are resisting the anxiety that comes with the instant access to information. By practicing habits of resistance, we are retraining our minds and our hearts to consciously and constantly be present to God and to others.

The challenge is to turn your phone off for an hour. I would encourage you to start there and expand from there. 

I also find it sobering to see how many hours in a day I spend on my phone. Through this discipline, it is my goal to cut in half the amount of time I spend on my phone, apart from what a phone was created for…to be present to others actually talking!!

Give it a try!

 

Habit #2 - The Home is the School of Love

There is a lot more going on at the daily dinner table than what you may think. This daily ritual forms us. It teaches us how to love each other and the daily predictability of it reminds us of the promise-keeping nature of God. 

I know that for a lot of families, this daily routine seems rather mundane. The table can often be a place where sibling bickering and complaining can happen. The chore of getting dinner ready and cleaning up afterwards can also be challenging.  “What is for dinner?” Just the thought of knowing what to prepare day after day can be tiring and exhausting.

But that is part of the formative nature of the dinner table. All these things are ways that the family serves each other and spends time together. The daily provision and process are expressions of love. 

Furthermore, in an increasingly isolated world, this space is becoming more and more sacred and needed. With the busyness of schedules and the distractions that come from our mobile devises, it is vital that we have a time in the day where the family can be together and be present to each other.

Granted, most days the conversation will center around the mundane things of life. But there is nothing wrong with that. But the cumulative effect of this mundane habit is that it creates an atmosphere where meaningful and instructive conversation can happen. It could be something that happened in the news or something that happened at school...or, wherever; and it provides an opportunity to apply faith to real life. 

Even secular sources are championing the value of daily sharing a meal together. In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg refers to this habit as being a “keystone habit.” A “keystone habit” is a habit that impacts a host of other habits. He writes, “Studies have documented that families who habitually eat dinner together seem to raise children with better home-work skills, higher grades, greater emotional control, and more confidence.”

So, let me encourage you to practice the daily habit of sharing a meal with others. I can’t think of a better habit to pursue as we come to the end of a long period of isolation due to COVID.

So what could this habit look like for you?

  • As a family, make it a habit to share one meal together each day.
  • Involve the family in serving one another during this time.
  • Consider who you might invite to join you at the table. Is there a neighbor, a co-worker, a classmate, a church member or family you could invite?  (Tip: Don’t feel the pressure to “entertain” people by making it fancy.  Just extend simple hospitality.)
  • If you are single, take the encouragement to look for ways to eat in public, meet others in public, or take the initiative to invite others around your table.

Give it a try!

Join me tomorrow night for a Workshop on the Four Daily Habits. It will be instructive and interactive as we learn from each other. 

Register here

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