Genesis 1:1-2:3 Part 2 God Provides, We Steward

The second thing that I’ve learnt from studying these 34 verses is that God provides. We mentioned it in the last post as one of God’s activities in Genesis 1. In the story God provides: breath, life, food, work and relationships. But there are two other subtle gifts that God has given.

These provisions will be explored in this post.

1. God Provides Authority

Notice the various words for authority in the passage: “Rule”, “Dominion”, “Subdue”.

The sun, moon and stars are told to ‘rule’ and govern the night and day, the light and darkness. Additionally, mankind is told to have ‘dominion’ over the animals and to ‘subdue’ the earth. In Hebrew these are three different words Rule, Dominion and Subdue (Mashal, Radah, Kabash).

One of the few significant things I have learned about leadership over the last few years, is that competent and confident leaders are not afraid to give away authority – or to delegate it. It is often because we fear being usurped, out-done or overshadowed that we are most tempted to “hoard” our power. So in delegating authority God reveals His confidence and competence.

We may be stingy with our authority is because we are scared of losing control. Giving it away to other people’s is a risk. In doing so we open up the opportunity for others to wreck havoc on our “master-plan”. God’s choice to give authority to His creation reveals His confidence in His own power and sovereignty. He knows that nothing is too far gone for Him to redeem – as in fact He will later do!

We see this same kind of faith extended towards humanity by Jesus, when He leaves the “keys of the kingdom” in the hands of a man who would soon deny Him three times! We see Jesus again, trusting man, when He commits the future of the Church to 11 unqualified fishermen, and one man who was the “worst of sinners” (Paul).

The fact that God provides authority to those He has created demonstrates His power and ability to save.

It also re-affirms the truth that ‘People are God’s Plan A’. In the book ‘How People Grow’, the authors argue that God’s number one plan for getting His people to move into maturity is through other people! God is less about “zapping” people to maturity and more about relationally nurturing them into it!

But God doesn’t just provide authority and power…

God provides Order(ed-time) in the midst of Chaos

One of the things the commentators picked up on, which I totally missed, was how God provides order. We see it in the layout of six days, the first three days are spent creating spaces, whilst the second three days are spent creating creatures to fill those places. We also see it when it says that the world was ‘formless and void’ and that ‘darkness was over the face of the deep’ – a state of chaos. The Hebrew words “Bohu” and “Tohu” are used. But God brings order when He speaks, light, form and purpose into the world.

The commentator of ‘The Message of Genesis’, went further to remind me that it didn’t have to be done this way. In fact God could have created a world of chaos. Where there would be no rules, no rationality, no patterns, in this kind of “contingency” science would not have been possible. However, science is possible and does exist because creation has been made in such a way that we can see patterns, logic and order.

It is because we can expect the law of gravity to work that we can map out black holes in the furthest reaches of the galaxy.

(In other words, it is because God has created a ‘cosmos of order’ that the theory of the Big Bang could even exist!) Mind-blowing!

This provision of order, is very clearly seen in the uses of stars, sun and moon to demonstrate ‘signs, seasons, days and years’. Time is possible because God made it so. He has provided time.

Taking this one step further: Not only has God provided chronological time (Greek: Chronos), He has also provided significant moments of time in which He moves (Greek: Kairos). The mention of the various lights to serve as ‘signs to mark sacred times’ implies these Kairos moments. These are instances when ‘God invests in our time, turning Chronos moments into Kairos moments’! This is a big concept to mention in a post on its own – forgive me! (I’m just making connections!)

“A Kairos moment is when God breaks into your circumstances” (Building a discipline culture – Breen)

God has Provided and therefore we need to Steward well

Since God has provided so much, including authority and ‘ordered-time’, it is our responsibility to steward these resources well. This is one way we can labour for others to pursue God’s heart.

In the Gospels, Jesus teaches through parables the importance of stewardship. What God has given us, He expects us to use, invest and manage wisely. This includes resources such as time and authority.

In my times with God this week I’ve been thinking about the various positions of authority I have, as well as the amount of time I have at my disposal. I want to make the most of the time God has given me and invest it well.

All this is to mention nothing of our responsibility to steward this planet well!

Tuesday Tools: Take the Initiative

I recently read through the Book of Jonah and one of the things that struck me was the complete lack of initiative on Jonah’s part. For those who don’t know, Jonah is the man who God told to go somewhere and preach, who then refused, got eaten by a fish and then spewed out and given another chance to obey God.

So where is Jonah’s lack of initiative? Firstly, it is God who tells him to preach. He doesn’t see the need, and if he does, he has been ignoring it til now. Secondly, in an attempt to flee God’s will he joins a ship heading in the opposite direction. A storm comes and all the sailors are trying to work out a solution. Jonah is burying his head in a pillow when they ask him to help.

Rather than immediately explain that the storms are probably here because he’s disobeying God, he lets the sailors draw lots (in the middle of a storm)…only then (when he is found out) does he explain. Even then its the minimum amount of information. At every point Jonah is hesitant and reluctant, every time he is waiting for someone or something to initiate for him. Be it God, a storm, a lot draw, a fish, a plant to be provided, an immature attitude to be corrected…

Thankfully, the Bible goes on to tell of a God who is not so reluctant, or stagnant, who does take the initiative to rescue us (- even while we were still sinners!)

I found this table produced by John Maxwell, it summarises why we fail to take initiative, perhaps you can relate (I know I can):

But initiative isn’t just a useful approach for living the Christian life. It is also a great benefit in many other areas.

1) Building Friendships – Over the last few weeks, I have taken the initiative to plan getaways with several groups of friends, and a couple of meet ups. I have been so surprised how eager people are for meeting. Likewise, another friend recently took the initiative for meeting with me. It is an amazing feeling when a friend makes the first move. It communicates value, both to me and to the friendship.

2) Exercise – One of the reasons I don’t struggle to exercise regularly is because I take the initiative. I don’t wait for motivation to strike, I just start lifting. Even when I don’t feel like it! Often, it is only when I have started that the mood actually “takes me”. This also applies to studying, reading, working, and lots of other areas. If we want something done, we need to take the initiative. We won’t be spoon fed.

3) Battling Sin – We are all tempted, each by certain things. Sin abounds in our human nature. But we don’t have to be passive about it in our life. If we struggle we lust, let’s take the initiative to put in place accountability procedures, remove trigger points as far as we can, learn to process and understand our unwanted behaviours. What battles do you face? Think of three things you can do today to take the initiative against it. For me, I recently realised how frequently I was buying things from Amazon on an impulse. So I took the initiative to uninstall the app on my phone.

What do you want to happen, what do you feel needs to happen, where would you like to be in five years time? Now take the initiative.

Genesis 1:1-2:3 Part 1 God is Active

I’ve been studying Genesis 1:1-2:3 for the last couple of days now and have gleaned lots of eye-opening stuff! It’s still a little odd to be spending so long on one passage without the end goal being a sermon produced. In the past that’s been the only reason I’ve studied the Bible before – to prepare talks for Church. And so it’s refreshing, studying without the emotional cocktail of adrenaline and anticipation lurking in the background.

I’m separating my findings across several posts because 1) you’re in a hurry and 2) I don’t want to rush through typing up my notes. I have a feeling they will be useful to me later down the line.

This chapter (and a bit) of Genesis is very familiar to most people, even people who’ve not read the Bible before. It’s the 7-day creation story, when God makes the universe, the earth along with it’s inhabitants – including humanity. We see God actively creating in this passage.

But God isn’t just creating.

When I was reading I took note of all the things (that I saw) God doing:

God sees, God determines goodness, God makes, God names, God positions, moves, gathers and separates. God blesses, He gives away responsibility and delegates. He provides. God finishes, rests and ‘makes holy’. Oh yes, He also speaks! …It seems that have an active God.

Of all these actions, I chose the three that were most important to me and brought them to God in reflective prayer and then praise.

1) God Positions, Moves, Gathers and Separates

In this story God does a lot of positioning, like an interior designer (of the cosmos!). He separates the waters (into sea and sky), he gathers the sea together and the land. He positions the sun, moon and stars, so that they can determine days, months and seasons. It is like God is orchestrating creation to work, positioning each component to play its part with maximum effectiveness.

The positioning of the cosmos, reminds me that God has deliberately positioned me in life for a purpose, it reminds me of the encouragement Mordecai gives Esther: ‘who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this’ (Esther 4:14).

This act of God also reminds me that God is able to put me in the path of other people, and other people in my path, for His purposes. (A thought particularly encouraging with the work I am doing writing a book at the moment!) A friend of mine once told me how God had used a chance encounter with one of his hero’s (Pete Grieg) to remind him that God is able bring these encounters into our life as easily as anything. God positions.

2) God Blesses

God does a fair amount of blessing in Genesis 1. From blessing plants, animals and humans to “be fruitful and multiply”. And blessing the Sabbath to “make it holy”. It is super interesting to me that God doesn’t do nothing on the Sabbath, on the day of rest, instead He ACTIVELY blesses. That is the kind of God we serve!

I consider the promise in Ephesians, that God ‘has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ’ (Eph 1:3). God delights to bless, and as people made in His likeness we are to bless and be a blessing to the world (Gen 12)! How can we bless our colleagues, local church, family & friends? How can we be a blessing to creation itself? Let us ask these questions.

3) God Finishes

In a world of distractions and novelty, it’s easy to start things without finishing them. Believe me I know this to be true, there are so many projects I’ve started in life that I’ve not finished, or had to restart from the beginning because I gave up halfway through.

Fortunately though, we have a God who finishes what He begins. May I seek to become more like that. May I be encouraged and comforted by the fact that:

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus – (Philippians 1:6)

Sunday Summary – 9th August: “First time since March…”

It’s time for a weekly review and highlight reel. This last week has been an altogether good week, if slightly uneventful.

1. Yesterday I went to my parents house for a BBQ. It’s the first time I’d been round since March and it was so good to see flesh and blood family, rather digital versions on them over skype. (Brother was on skype the whole time with us, laptop on a table in the garden). Dad cooked a phenomenal BBQ meat feast and I stuffed my face. So so good. It almost felt like back to normal, almost.

2. This week also saw me visiting my office for the first time since March. It was great taking the 30 minute walk into work. I’m sure the novelty will wear off in a couple of weeks, but for now it was nice to be heading somewhere with purpose. There had been a lot of safety training before going in, so I was well prepared to deal with all the “COVID-Juice” dangers.

3. This week I watched We Were Soldiers, a Mel Gibson war film, that blew me away. It’s made by the same people who did Hacksaw Ridge and so comes with a lot of intense war scenes. I would highly recommend it (if you haven’t got a weak stomach). The film is filled with moments where soldiers are repeatedly making split second decisions to sacrifice themselves for someone else, an amazing leadership speech by Braveheart man and such human courage in the face of overwhelming fear. Incredible. One moment that stood out to me is in the midst of chaos and battle, Gibson stands in the middle and just looks around at the battle. He takes a good 20 seconds to evaluate the entire situation, the camera rotates all around him, and then with the perspective of stillness he makes a crucial decision. Incredible.

4. Online prayer meeting for a couple planning to go to Yemen next year as missionaries. One of the things I like about these online prayer meetings is the spontaneous calls to prayer. For forty minutes the couple set us individual prayer points and ask three people randomly to pray into it. It really does keep me on my toes. I often find myself urgently listening to God’s Spirit to give me words. This couple are dear friends, and the guy, is my partner in reading through the Bible. We call most Sundays to share our top three points from whatever book we’re reading that week.

(A side thought I have is the relative apathy with which we tend to have towards Christians starting “normal jobs”. How rarely do we pray months in advance for them, to prepare them for the workplace. Surely this is a mission field too?!) I think as Churches we need to practice sending people into new jobs, new seasons of life, with the same vigor and prayer as we send missionaries. For every Christian is called to make disciples, to represent Christ and be Salt and Light to the world.

5. Finally, I made an expensive purchase decision this week towards my Bible Study project. For those who don’t know: I’ve decided that I want to prayerfully study the Bible, all of it, taking my time to examine closely every passage. You can read more about it here, and my first Genesis post will be tomorrow. Just click the ‘Bible’ button at the top of this page to view all my posts.

When I first started this study project, I was using an ESV study Bible, alongside a commentary series ‘The message of…’. But after two weeks and only covering Genesis 1-2:3, I had already been significantly impacted by the Word of God. I decided that the reward of reading other books, paled in comparison. So I also got my hands on a Matthew Henry Commentary and an NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. And wow! I have been flawed! I know this project is going to take a while, and I am so happy to be doing this thoroughly. Fortunately the Word of God is active and so I feel like God has been speaking to me new things with every passing. It has been so exciting.

My Bible Study Set is evolving now.

Systematic Theology 2: The Word of God

Systematic Saturday!

Please find below, my notes for Systematic Theology Chapter 2: The Word of God. In this chapter Wayne Grudem outlines the different forms of the ‘Word of God’: As Jesus (John 1:1 & 14) and as speech.

He then looks at the different types of God’s speech (Decrees, Words of personal address, through human lips and in written form). Grudem’s attention for his study on Systematic Theology will be with the written word of God. Because, in written form, the words of God are:

  • More accurately presented
  • Are able to be inspected repeatedly
  • Are accessible to many more people

For those of you who are interested in studying Systematic Theology, I would recommend starting with this book. If you wanted to buy it, I’ve become an Amazon affiliate, so you can buy if from this link and in turn support the blog.

The Invitation of Genesis

If we were heading out on a plane journey, we’d be accelerating up the runway and heading towards the skies. This is the last introduction the ESV study Bible has before Genesis 1:1. Such anticipation for the actual word of God, it’s a little weird… For years my morning routine has been mostly simply reading through words of Scripture (taking notes and prayer), so to have to read something else before I get there is really making me hungry for the actual word.

Before I delve into this introduction, I just wanted to acknowledge a feeling that I’ve had most days since beginning. Privilege. There’s a lot of talk about privilege these days, and I know for certain that I am fortunate. I have access to the Bible in several translations, with countless amounts of tools and resources with which to mine it’s contents. I have a beautiful room and flat to sit and study in. I can afford a fancy journal to record my prayers in, and numerous study tools. Even quality coffee to drink, keeping my body and mind alert so my battle against laziness is made that much easier! I am privileged to study God’s word in this way. Especially when I consider the state of many Christians around the world, who may only have scraps of His Words to treasure, and no place to read them accept in a dark room by candle for fear of being discovered and persecuted for their faith in Jesus.

Here are three things that stood out to me from the introduction to Genesis:

1) Invitation to be agents of reconciliation. One of the themes of Genesis, is family brokenness and restoration. We find siblings killing each other (Cain and Abel), rivalling and tricking each other (Jacob & Esau), competing against each other in unhealthy ways (Rachel and Leah), selling siblings into slavery (Joseph). But, in the midst of this, we also find the invitation for family members to be part of the repairing and healing of that same brokenness.

I love how Esau was able to forgive his brother Jacob, and how that this was probably the example Joseph treasured and enabled him to do the same for his brothers. It makes me think of my own family and close relationships, may I seek to be a ‘peacemaker’.

2) Invitation to read according to the purpose of the author. There was quite a bit of attention given on how to understand Genesis in light of scientific discoveries and theories in the world today. One point it made was that too often we expect Genesis to give answers to questions that it is not trying to answer. It said that the book of Genesis, unlike God, is not omniscient and it only tells us certain things (and what it tells us about those things are true).

One of the purposes of the book of Genesis, was to allow a community of nomadic shepherds to celebrate the creative goodness of God. In this way (when the focus of science is to understand and describe the world that God created,) there is no need for conflict between the Bible and scientific work! Only, all the more cause for worship!

This is a humbling thing to say, it means I need to come to Genesis not with the purposes and lessons I want to learn. But with a heart that is open to receiving the lessons God wants to give me. I may come to my Bible reading saying, “right then God, today I want wisdom for this specific situation at work”…(I may in fact get it!), but instead I need to come ready to receive what God has in store for me. It makes “quiet times” more about His agenda than mine. I like that as a foundational attitude moving forward!

3) Invitation to consider the contingencies. There was a small little sentence tucked away, which stood out to me. An approach that asks the question: “what might have happened in this story if x had done differently, what should/could have happened?” I think this question will help me apply the text to my own life and attempts to walk in obedience and become more Christ-like.

Introducing a new highlighting colour to my notes: Orange for titles and yellow for the things that most stuck out.

To God be the Glory!

[After note – Guys I am coming to the end of Genesis 1 today, and the posts we have in store I am really excited to be sharing next week. On Monday we’ll be delving deep into the actual words of God. Hang tight!]

Not losing the Intimacy

It’s been an interesting transition the last few weeks, I’ve made a move to combine blogging with my walk with God. And there have been some great benefits to doing this:

  1. Consolidating my thoughts
  2. A mild form of accountability
  3. Future Benefits – I’m creating a resource to look back on and use later.
  4. Encouraging others – at least I hope so!

However one main concern has surfaced fairly quickly. I do not want to sacrifice the intimacy I have with God during my quiet times because my mind is elsewhere, thinking about how every thought and idea could be transposed into blog format!

It was an issue I found, as a teenager, when I decided to start a weekly gathering for other young guys at my Church. I would be churning through Bible readings, sermon podcasts and books to glean material for the next meeting.

This is not the point of reading the Bible, prayer or listening to sermons. I don’t read the Bible to become a “man of the word”, I don’t pray to become a “man of prayer”, I don’t listen to talks to regurgitate the latest insights. I engage in these activities to nurture my relationship with God, to become more like Jesus and to better equip myself to serve, encourage and love others.

So how do I fight for intimacy whilst at the same time seek to lead, labour, inspire and encourage others? How do I fight to keep my relationship with God from becoming a transactional encounter? What have I learned over the last couple of weeks?

  1. I journal my prayers – a few years ago I was having coffee with a mentor and he pulled out of his bag a proper looking leather bound journal. It was like something out of Lord of the Rings! He opened it up and told me to read one of his prayers, while he went to order another coffee. Just holding that journal was precious, and I could see later as he flicked through it that the pages were filled with numerous prayers. A few weeks later and I’d ordered my own. So what with note-taking, blogging and journaling, there is a lot of writing in my times with God. But this is helpful for me, it helps me to remember, to process and to express myself. It also helps my mind to focus when I’m talking to God, it’s difficult to write and think about breakfast (or fall asleep!) It also slows down my thinking, so that I can invite God to interrupt the chaos in my mind.

Journaling allows me to keep the intimacy in the midst of blogging, because it keeps a part of my relationship with God hidden and secretive.

  1. I take my time. Before I started seriously studying God’s word, my morning routine was packed with 4 main activities. Exercise, Time with God, Writing, and reading. I’d give about 45-60 minutes to each all before work started. Now, I’ve reduced my morning routine down to two items. 1) Running and Weightlifting, 2) Time with God. And so each morning I’m getting a solid chunk of time uninterrupted to study, to pray and to process God’s word. It has been so refreshing, and I think one of the most helpful things towards this is: that I have set aside the space so that I can take my time.

You’ll have also noticed I’m only publishing 3x study blogs a week. This means there is very little pressure to post every day what God’s teaching me. There is room, and time, to wrestle with God through private issues. And scope for me to spend mornings simply being with God. It’s so good! And I would highly recommend it.

  1. I listen to God’s Spirit. I believe it was He, who made me aware of the dangers of losing the Intimacy in the first place. He, who bought it to my attention so that I could counterbalance the dangers, and protect myself. It will be Him, who will guard my heart and mind and bring me to maturity.

May I continue to choose what is better, like Mary, and sit at Jesus’ feet. Rather than being distracted by all the “preparations”, the work, the ministry.

Three things to expect from studying the Pentateuch

We are studying the Bible and working our way through many of the introductions! This morning I’ve looked at an Introduction to the Pentateuch from the ESV study Bible. For those who don’t know, the Pentateuch is the name given to the first five books of the Bible. A lot of information to digest, but overall a helpful article to read.

The three things which most resonated with me were:

1) One of the foundational purposes of the first five books of the Bible is to introduce us to God. Who He is, what His character is like and what His ethical standards are. I was particularly taken with the emphasis on His character. One of the things I’m going to be looking out for as I study these books is: what does this story, passage or moment tell me about who God is? Since one of the reasons I’m studying the Bible, is so that I can become more like Jesus, when I spot something of God’s character I’ll be wanting to pray: “Please, make me more like this!”. For a simple example, when I see God generously provide to Adam and Eve food, clothes to wear, relationships, work and even breath to breathe, (even though they will later betray Him), I ask that God make me more generous.

2) This article also touched on the dilemma of historical dating with accuracy. It explained that whilst it was easy to map out certain dates of events in the Pentateuch, such as the Flood (which apparently can be calculated to the day of the week and year!), it is difficult to map out all of the events, such as creation and the exodus. I have always avoided looking closely at the dating of things in the Bible. I know that there are legitimate Biblical cases for both “old-earth” and “young-earth” creation standpoints and that has always been enough to satisfy me. I think the important things aren’t really to do with the dates. But when I read about this, I thought about the many objections to Christianity made by people who don’t believe it, and a lot seems to centre on the creation account. I was challenged that I may need to make more of an effort to educate myself on this aspect. At least to know the arguments better.

I know from studying Systematic Theology, that there is a difference between Accuracy and Truth. For example I could say: “I live close to my office”, or “I live within 5 kilometres of my office” or “I live 4.75 kilometres from my office”… All three statements are true, but clearly one is more accurate than the others. In this way the Bible can be true and yet not “accurate” (at least to the degree we might expect as 21st century western readers!). “Biblical statements”, writes Grudem, “can be imprecise and still be totally true. Inerrancy has to do with truthfulness, not with the degree of precision with which events are reported” (Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology p.92).

3) Finally, the article mentioned that one of the main themes in these books will be the importance of the law and right behaviour. A concept we tend to overlook as Christians, who know we are saved by grace through faith and not by works or our own merits. And yet, Deuteronomy 4:6-8 talks about how it was by observing God’s law that the Israelites could magnify God and communicate His goodness to the other nations. These words are mirrored in the teaching of Jesus who said: ‘let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16). Faithful obedience to God is still important for Christians today.

To emphasise this point further I want to share a quote from Dallas Willard, that I saw he tweeted last week:

Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone. You will consume much more grace by leading a holy life than you will by sinning

Please find below my full notes from this article below:

God, I thank you for the work of other Christians to put together this resource for me to use and learn from. May this post further enable others to pursue Your heart. Amen

To God be the Glory

Tuesday Tools: Stretching

One of the tools I use to keep going in my daily habits, routines and disciplines is a concept I call: “Stretching”.

As most people who have tried implementing daily habits have noticed – consistency is a struggle. What starts out as a fun and rewarding activity (such as exercise, studying, writing, reading etc) can soon become an activity we resent, get bored of, forget to do, skip and ultimately quit doing. So how can we keep going? How can we keep engaging in these rewarding projects, routines and lifestyle decisions?

Habit is, after all, the means by which we can implement steady change and growth in our lives over time. They are encouraged in the Bible (see Psalm 1:2 habits of meditating on scripture, Luke 22:39 habits of prayer and Hebrews 10:25 habits of fellowship). They are also endorsed by most popular “self-help” authors (see The Power of Habit, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Atomic Habits)

So how do we fight against this “habit-fatigue”?

One solution is what I call “Stretching”. If we find ourselves doing the same activity over and over again we will undoubtedly get bored. So it is important to stretch ourselves in these areas. The following three ideas can help us stretch:

1) We can regularly set outselves higher goals. Often the reason we stop engaging in useful habits is because of a feeling of success, of having already “made it”. This is why it is argued that telling other people about our resolves isn’t always useful – it produces a feeling of success just by telling people what you intend to do. It’s a feeling that satisfies so much that we feel we have already “made it” and stop. When we reach the goal of being able to run 5K, we can give up. Instead we ought to stretch ourselves by setting new and harder goals, for example running 10K, running 5K in 30minutes, etc.

2) Some habits are implemented in order to achieve a specific target and so setting new goals is important. However, for other habits the goal is “infinite” and we will never get there. For example “closer relationship with God”, or “maintain healthy body”, in these cases our stretching may look different. We may instead need to stretch by switching it up. In exercise this is often called Muscle Confusion. Our muscles quickly get used to the routine we’ve set ourselves and so it is time for a switch – this is why workouts stop aching after a few weeks. We need to switch it up. For our prayer life, this may mean trying to write your prayers down in a journal, going for a prayer walk, inviting friends to pray with you or using pre-written prayers such as Lectio-365. By switching it up we can motivate ourselves to keep going in a specific direction, without necessarily having habits that have the same form.

3) A third way to stretch yourself in the habits you engage with is to teach it to others, or at least bring others alongside. Helping others to adopt the disciplines and habits of a live well-lived. This is often intimidating, especially if we don’t feel like an “expert”, but it is a crucial part of apprenticeship, discipleship and continuing in habits. It is why the last step in the Alcoholics Anonymous, 12 Step Program, is to carry the message to other alcoholics.

John Maxwell calls the concept of stretching: The Law of the Rubber Band. Just as a rubber band must be stretched in order to function properly, we too must continually seek to stretch ourselves in order to grow. Habits, naturally, are a great way to consolidate knowledge, skills and patterns in our lives. But our habits must not be static – seek to stretch your daily disciplines on a weekly/fortnightly basis in order to find the motivation to keep going.