Our brain is always looking to form habits in an attempt to put activities into the daily auto-pilot playlist. It does this so that it can focus our limited conscious awareness on essential tasks. The brain’s criteria for what should become a habit is pretty indiscriminate and devoid of moral judgement.
Many destructive things become habits in our life pretty quickly. These habits form without our permission and under our conscious radar, because the start of a new habit is often so small it seems inconsequential.
But we need to be aware that habits snowball and gain in their controlling power and influence. We need to be watchful and observant of our little habits in life and ask if this habit is taking us to a place we want to be. Is this habit making me the person I want to be?
Whatever we sow in our little choices and habits is what we will reap. Time will take our insignificant habits and make them significant! If we have good habits, time will compound them in rewarding ways. If we have habits that are contrary to our aspirations, they will, over time, become devastating.
Every choice you make, every thought you allow, and every bite you eat, has the potential to silently grow into a habit.
In the last year and a half, my soul has been so refreshed by taking up the habit of scripture memory again. The Word has been so comforting and invigorating. If there was one spiritual habit I could convince other believers to take on, it would be the memorization and meditation of the Word.
Unfortunately, in most cases, all my nagging and pleading with other believers has resulted in very few verses memorized. I’m not judging them. In conversation with these people, motivation is not the problem! They WANT to memorize. It’s just so hard to change our habits, especially with memorizing, which seems so difficult at first, and is also a habit that will cause you to face spiritual opposition.
I have been so encouraged lately by studying behaviour change, and the power of tiny habits to produce long-term change. I realize that I have been going about motivating people the wrong way. I have been challenging them to make too big of a change at once by giving them the goal of a whole book of the New Testament, or asking them to do a verse a day.
The problem is that these goals seem insurmountable at first and make people feel like this is too difficult. It makes them feel like a failure. We hate the sense of failure, so we quit or neglect the activities that make us feel bad.
A tiny habit is one that starts so small, we can’t fail to do it. And as we consistently do this small change, we start to believe that change is possible. We feel good; we feel hope.
Six months ago, few of us would have believed
the reports coming from the future. We seemingly have entered a police state
overnight. We have lost the freedom to travel and assemble. We face fines for
simple activities. There is talk of increased military presence in our towns to
enforce lockdown. And some communities have set up hot lines where we can
report our neighbour’s violations. We’re
also hearing about tracking devices and mandatory health checks.
For the most part we have accepted these
shocking conditions willingly because we understand we are in a pandemic, and
sacrifices must be made to protect the vulnerable.
However, I am hearing more and more rumblings
from some quarters that we have relinquished our freedoms too easily, that
human rights surrendered to the government in times of crisis are not willingly
handed back when the crisis is over.
It’s haunting to read what life was like under
communist or fascist dictatorships. I’ve
wondered how long we in North America could hang on to our freedom and whether
we might end up in a state like Nazi Germany, or Communist Russia.
Imagine if…every time after you ate, your food just went
right through you? Suppose it never lingered in your stomach acid to get broken
down, and the nutrients never got absorbed in your intestines? What would
happen to your body? You would quickly grow weak and malnourished and you would
not live long. It wouldn’t matter how regularly you ate, or what you ate,
because without the process of digestion, you would die.
In a similar way, it is not enough to just “eat” God’s word
by reading and memorizing it. For our souls to grow spiritually, we also need a
process of digestion where we break down and absorb nutrients, applying them to
Scripture calls this digestion process “meditating.” Psalm 1
says that the righteous man’s “delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”
Here are some ideas that have enriched my meditation
process. The Holy Spirit ultimately takes the text and uses it to bring us
light, convict us, and comfort us, so none of these ideas should replace a
prayerful dependence on Him.
I completed reading 53 books in 2019. Here are my top ten with comments on each one and the ten that just missed the cut.
Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope
by Matthew McCullough
Lots of fresh insight in a often neglected area. I really felt like I benefited from this book spiritually, and was given lots to chew on.
Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything
by Randi Hutter Epstein
This books is a great introduction to how our many hormones work and what they control, and also a fascinating history of how our understanding of hormones has developed through some truly terrifying human experiments.
A Hunger for God
by John Piper
I rediscovered fasting the last couple years for health reasons, Piper makes a powerful case for the spiritual benefits of fasting.
Excellent resource and inspiration on the reasons a believer should fast and the pitfalls to avoid.
You Can Have an Amazing Memory: Learn Life-Changing Techniques and Tips from the Memory Maestro
by Dominic O’Brien
One of a few helpful mnemonics books I read last year that helped reignite my passion for scripture memory and enabled me to memorize over 65 chapters of the New Testament this year. Continue reading…
(Picture taken from Joshua Harris’ Instagram post)
By Jesse Jost
Last month I was shocked to hear that Joshua Harris and his wife were divorcing, but even more surprised to hear later that Joshua is leaving Christianity. He said, “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. “ He also said, “The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’”
Harris is a man I used to admire. Through his talks and writing, he had been such an encouraging mentor to me. It’s a gut kick to hear that he has walked away from Jesus.
There’s been lots of speculation about why this happened: was he never really a believer? Is he a closet homosexual? Was he only a legalistic Christian who never understood that Christianity is supposed to be a relationship with a person and not a set of fear based rules?
I read and benefited from Joshua’s earlier books, “I kissed Dating Goodbye,” “Boy Meets Girl,” and “Sex Is Not the Problem, Lust Is.” After I read his deconversion announcement, I picked up a book he wrote nine years ago: “Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters.” Continue reading…
I recently completed a 7 day fast (was going to be a 14 day) for health reasons. The list of proven health benefits of extended fasting are impressive: Weight loss, autophagy (the consumption of dead cells which can prevent many diseases), lowering bad cholesterol, and lowering triglycerides, (so very beneficial for heart health) decreasing insulin resistance, preventing type 2 diabetes, and destroying cancer cells.
Unfortunately despite its multiple health benefits (not to mention spiritual benefits), fasting is not often given a chance because of so many persistent myths about how it devours muscle and lowers the metabolism, both of which are not true. For more info on the amazing benefits of fasting and tips to make your fast more manageable, see:
I finish a big low carb breakfast of keto muffins and egg casserole and a little cantaloupe. This is my last meal before I attempt to set out on a 14 day fast! Don’t worry, I’ll quit before I die.
Breakfast was so good. I’m a little sad. I’ll miss eating. I’ve been eating as low carb as possible for the last three days to not shock my system. The fast I’m doing allows coffee, tea, and homemade bone broth. I’m excited to see what happens. I may be a little more irritable than normal so show me grace!
I didn’t reach my goal of 65 books finished this year, mostly because I got engrossed in some mammoth tomes on Russian history, and some other large volumes that I haven’t finished yet. But I did make it though 46 books. Here are my ten favourite reads with commentary. Below you will find the 10 that just missed making the top 10. It was a tough choice and anyone of these could have easily been included. They were all really good and highly recommended. Below that you will find the rest of the list. Feel free to look me up on goodreads to see my ratings and reviews of all of these books. What was your favourite read?
#10 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
by Jordan B. Peterson,
Very thoughtful and insightful book. Each chapter gave me something to mull over and challenge me in some way. The writing style won’t be to everyone’s liking but, the ideas explored are more than worth the effort!
#9 The Spirit of the Disciplines : Understanding How God Changes Lives
I found this book so thought provoking and challenging. Really made me ponder why there is so little real life change in the church, why so little spiritual formation. A great introduction to the need for spiritual disciplines in the life of the disciple and how they work. There is a difference between trying and training. If you try to run a marathon, you will fail unless you first train. You will not succeed in in “trying” to respond in a Christ-like way, unless you, through the spiritual disciplines “train” to be daily abiding in Christ. Much to think about, and to apply. I think it is time to take the spiritual disciplines more seriously then I have in the past Continue reading…
Dear Jesse, snuggling with your beautiful wife on the couch in the last hours of 2017:
Hello from future Jesse, writing at the tail end of 2018. Once you’re over the shock of hearing from me, I’ll bet you have lots of questions. I’m sorry I can’t tell you everything, but I can reassure you that everyone in your immediate and extended family is still alive. Enjoy your dog Tirzah every chance you get, though. You’ll have to deal with an unexpected goodbye later this year.
Yes, you still only have five kids; Heidi isn’t expecting yet, but we’re working on that.
I’m sorry to report that even though right now you are so excited about your new diet principles, and expect to be a lean athletic individual by year’s end, you’re not. In fact, you’ve gained 5 pounds. Oh well, maybe next year’s Jesse will finally bring happy news in that department. We can always dream….
I can report that you have an incredible year waiting for you and I’m so excited for you to enjoy it! After the painful and difficult 2017 you had with medical anxieties and dealing with Type 1 diabetes diagnosis, 2018 will be refreshingly smooth and free from tragedy. Sure, you will face diabetes scares and end up in the emergency room once because of a stomach bug that Elijah will get. And even though you’ll fall asleep many nights worried about whether Elijah will make it through the night, I can assure you, he will wake up with energy and love for life every morning, so sleep well. Continue reading…
Our world was turned upside down last August when our 5 year old son Elijah almost died from undiagnosed Type 1 Diabetes. Diabetes care involves a huge learning curve. At first the emotions are so overwhelming it’s hard to focus on even the basics. But gradually you can think again and try to sort through the mountain of information. This is a list of tips and info that has really been helpful to us in this first part of the journey. We’re only 11 months in so I’m not sharing this because I think we’re experts – diabetes does a good job of making sure that never happens! I only share because our experience might be useful to someone else.
Of course, diabetes is different for everyone, so trust the advice of your endocrinologist.
The Law of Small Numbers
With diabetes you constantly walk between two dangers: the life-threatening low, and the miserably dangerous high. You have one factor that plummets your blood glucose (BG) – Insulin. And one that rockets your BG : Carbs. The goal is keeping them in balance.
The challenge is all the guesswork: Not always knowing how many carbs are in the food, what the body’s current insulin ratio is, how much the carbs will be burned off by exercise or blocked due to illness.
With so many error factors that multiply exponentially as you increase the carbs or dose of insulin, it makes sense to us to try to keep the carbs and insulin numbers as low as possible. The greater the error in calculation the greater the risk of a stubborn low, or a health-threatening high.
Whenever possible we try to keep carbs at minimum without sacrificing good flavour and eating enjoyment. Saying no to sugary treats is difficult sometimes (understatement alert! It tears your heart out to have to say no to your little guy!) But we try to remember that being high or having sugars drop like a rock would be even more unfair to Elijah. Stable BG is true quality of life.
Low carb is not the only way, however. Many families are wizards with insulin, and have figured out how to achieve stable sugars without a change in diet. Find what works for you. Continue reading…