Updated: Sep 3, 2021
Rev. Andy Humm challenges us to discover new habits of strengthening our relationship with Jesus.
Last week in his message to us as a church, Simon May said that September was often an easier time to make resolutions, rather than the new year.
There was less pressure and perhaps more energy and resolve.
That comment has sat with me through this week as I look to the future and as I (and we) discern God’s leading for us individually and us as a church.
I wonder if you have developed any habits over this last 18months of lockdown? Some maybe good and others not so good? Perhaps you have got out more and walked lots of steps; ate more veg and less chocolate; laid in more at weekends; learnt something new; read more books, or maybe you have spent more time praying?
Over the last 27 years in Christian ministry, I have used the anacronym H.A.B.I.T.S. (developed by Saddleback Church) to help me develop healthy patterns in my relationship with Jesus. They do of course rise and wane and like all habits, I have to work hard to keep them front and centre. However, like all good habits, they help me to stay focused on what is important and even when I find myself drifting, they help me find my way back to shore.
Here’s how the acronym can be broken down:
H – having time with God
Do I consciously ensure that, like any good relationship, I spend time with the Lord? Perhaps a time at the beginning of the day setting my course, or ensuring that in my schedule I take time to delight in creation, or in the gifts He gives me.
A – accountability with other believers
It is easy to justify things to myself and to allow sin to begin to creep in. For me personally, I have a couple of long-term friends who challenge me, pray for me and laugh with me. Gently ensuring that, especially through hard times, I am keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus!
B – bible memorisation and reading
This is pretty self-explanatory but how can I know more about Jesus and his call on my life, if I don’t discover more about him in the written word, in God’s love letter to us? When hard times come, or in stressful situations, having God’s word overflow on our lips and in our minds makes all the difference
I – involvement with church
You might think (as the vicar) this is an easy one for me, but I have to work through how to live this out in more than just fulfilling my role. For instance, how do I love the church more (the bride of Christ) and how do I serve out of my heart and not just perform a duty? For many Sunday mornings, when everything was pre-recorded, it meant a slower pace on that day, yet with the return to in-person services, I am learning again to love the connection and the desire to be physically present with God’s people.
T – tithing
This is pretty much a non-negotiable for me in my Christian life and has been something I have learned. Even in the very lean times, God’s provision has been tangible. Therefore, I give regularly to the work of the church, as this is what I believe the Bible clearly teaches (it’s not the amount, it is the habit here I think that is important).
S – study the word, with others and individually
Getting together to talk and discover together what the Bible says, should be fun, engaging, challenging and growth oriented and something we all should do whatever age!
So, these habits are something I do to stay connected.
As the church, the body of Christ, God calls us to engage and actively be seeking Him.
This new renewed season gives all of us a chance to throw off habits which may stop us from going deeper with Jesus and, instead, challenges us to renew our commitment to Him, not to take the easy route but to discover new areas of our relationship with Jesus we did not know. Perhaps a new depth in sung worship; a new expression of faith through service; a renewed vigour to pray, or even just setting the alarm a little earlier and getting back into the habit of meeting on Sunday mornings!? Not to just see friends or rejoice at seeing new people come to know Jesus, but to centre ourselves once more as part of the body of Christ.
Will you with me this season, commit to new habits and pray for a renewed season in the life of the church of Christ in our town?
I look forward to journeying with you,
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