Thursdays With Oswald—Difficult Times Reveal Our Habits

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Difficult Times Reveal Our Habits 

     Practice means continually doing that which no one sees or knows but ourselves. Habit is the result of practice, by continually doing a thing it becomes second nature. The difference between men is not a difference of personal power, but that some men are disciplined and others are not. The difference is not the degree of mental power but the degree of mental discipline. If we have taught ourselves how to think, we will have mental power plus the discipline of having it under control. Beware of impulse. Impulsiveness is the characteristic of a child, but it ought not to be the characteristic of a man, it means he has not disciplined himself. Undeterred impulse is undisciplined power.

     Every habit is purely mechanical, and whenever we form a habit it makes a material difference in the brain. The material of the brain alters very slowly, but it does alter, and by repeatedly doing a thing a groove is formed in the material of the brain so that it becomes easier to do it again, until at last we become unconscious of doing it. When we are regenerated we can reform by the power and presence of God every habit that is not in accordance with His life. … We have to learn to form habits according to the dictates of the Spirit of God. The power and the practice must go together. … If we keep practicing, what we practice becomes our second nature, and in a crisis we will find that not only does God’s grace stand by us, but our own nature also. The practicing is ours not God’s and the crisis reveals whether or not we have been practicing. [See Matthew 5:31-37.]

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

All of us have blind spots. These are typically habits that we have left in place, unchallenged and unchanged. That “groove” in our brain is operating on auto-pilot, but those blind-spot habits aren’t serving us well. 

The role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian is to help us notice these habits in which we are unconsciously incompetent. But once the Spirit of God points these out, then we must practice, and practice, and practice until the new healthy habit has overwritten the old groove of the unhealthy habit. 

Then we will find, as Chambers points out, that in a time of crisis “not only does God’s grace stand by us, but our own nature also.” 

Times of difficulty will reveal habits—both the unhealthy and the healthy. The question then becomes: what are you going to do about the unhealthy habits? 

Poetry Saturday―I Will Do More

William Arthur WardI will do more than belong―I will participate.
I will do more than care―I will help.
I will do more than believe―I will practice.
I will do more than be fair―I will be kind.
I will do more than forgive―I will forget.
I will do more than dream―I will work.
I will do more than teach―I will inspire.
I will do more than earn―I will enrich.
I will do more than give―I will serve.
I will do more than live―I will grow.
I will do more than suffer―I will triumph. ―William Arthur Ward

Painting With Your Words

My dear fellow pastors, please heed this admonition from A.W. Tozer. Our responsibility of presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ must include mastery of the language in which we will be speaking. We must not be lax in this!

Tozer“For the very reason that God has committed His saving truth to the receptacle of human language, the man who preaches that truth should be more than ordinarily skillful in the use of language. It is necessary that every artist master his medium, every musician his instrument. For a man calling himself a concert pianist to appear before an audience with but a beginner’s acquaintance with the keyboard would be no more absurd than for a minister of the gospel to appear before his congregation without a thorough knowledge of the language in which he expects to preach.” —A.W. Tozer

Thursdays With Oswald—Practice, Practice, Practice

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Practice, Practice, Practice 

     If we do not go on practicing day by day and week by week, working out what God has worked in, when a crisis comes God’s grace is there right enough, but our nature is not. Our nature has not been brought into line by practice and consequently does not stand by us, and down we go and then we blame God. We must bring our bodily life into line by practicing day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, then when the crisis comes we shall find not only God’s grace but our own nature will stand by us, and the crisis will pass without any disaster at all, but exactly the opposite will happen, the soul will be built up into a stronger attitude towards God.” 

From Biblical Psychology

Allen Iverson (in)famously said, “We’re talking practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game. We’re talking practice.”

Guess what? As Christians, we cannot skip practice.

If we want to be victorious in the big things, we have to practice doing the little, moment-by-moment things right. We cannot just flip a switch and win a victory.

Do you want to be successful? You’ve got to practice!

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

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