Would You Like to Revolutionize
Your Life in Christ?
Move beyond ATOMIC habits.
Develop seven new ASCENSION habits!
The first thing I do every morning, as soon as I throw off the covers and my feet hit the floor, is open the curtains of the two windows in my bedroom to check out the weather. This happens every single day of the year without fail!
Such a predictable activity is called a “habit.” As a habit, it impacts what I do next—like how I dress for the day depending on atmospheric conditions.
We’re all creatures of habit.
But there’s more to a habit than meets the eye.
A habit is defined as:
- an acquired routine or behavior pattern regularly followed until it becomes almost involuntary
- a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; a prevailing character or quality;
- an obsession, or compulsion, including forms of addiction.
Lately, a New York Times bestseller about habits has everyone talking. It’s titled Atomic Habits by James Clear, a popular Fortune 500 speaker.
James Clear’s central thesis is this: Just one of the smallest particles in creation—the atom—contains the power to blow up an entire city. Even so, our daily, often mundane activities—our habits—have the power to, eventually, explode and radically transform not only how we live, but even more, who we become.
Have you ever heard this key principle: “Only what’s done daily dominates?” It’s about the force of habits. It pinpoints how lifestyle routines that seem so innocuous to you (if you even think about them at all), in truth, have the potential over time to transform you into something radically different from who you are today.
And for Jesus followers, that phenomenon is a good thing, as I’m about to show you—taking my cue from this current bestseller, which has the full title of Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones.
I want to explore with you how to maximize seven simple habits most of us already engage in. I want to show you how these seven can be refocused on the Lord Jesus in such a way as to impact—yes, revolutionize—your entire relationship with him.
At the same time, these daily activities can provide fascinating foretastes of what lies before all Christians for ages to come!
See if my suggested “tweaks” of these regular routines don’t prove to be some of the most practical approaches to Christian discipleship you’ve ever tried.
To get started, however, let’s first look at general applications to daily discipleship of a few other
Key insights from Atomic Habits.
The front cover of Atomic Habits reminds us that: “Tiny Changes [bring] Remarkable Results.” The book demonstrates beyond dispute—based on solid psychological research—why this is so. For example, on page 15, the author writes:
Improving your life by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable—sometimes it isn’t even noticeable—but it can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding.
Here’s how the math works out: If you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done.
To apply to believers: What if you were to develop habits that enlarged your vision of Christ and increased your passion for him by 1 percent each day? How radically different do you think your life in him would be just one year later?
Additional applications: Consider a few more of the author’s principles scattered throughout the book (insights he has taught for years around the world) that I want to apply to Christian discipleship (the emphases are mine):
- The most effective way to change your habits is to FOCUS not on what you want to achieve but on WHO you want to become.
- Your IDENTITY emerges out of your habits. Every action is a VOTE for the type of person you wish to become.
- Without some level of motivation and DESIRE—without craving a change—we have no reason to ACT.
- One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to JOIN A GROUP in which the change you seek is already the standard behavior the group practices and prizes.
What greater impact might such principles have on God’s people who are led every single minute by his Holy Spirit? As Scripture reminds us: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus … live by the Spirit. Let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5)
Let me show you how I’ve adapted James Clear’s wisdom to following Jesus. And this is just a beginning since there are many excellent insights throughout the book’s 275 pages:
- Redefine daily habits into CHRIST-FOCUSED habits that change WHO you become in him.
- Fully experiencing the impact of IDENTITY in Christ depends on how much your daily routines double as your VOTE to become a PERSON wholly alive to Christ.
- Only if you DESIRE to pursue greater intimacy with Christ will you be motivated to ACT DAILY in a way that allows such a spiritual revolution to take place.
- JOIN A GROUP—a church, a small group, a Facebook community—that is already pursuing such practical daily changes in their lives out of their own passion for more of Christ.
OK, with that sampling, let’s
Move beyond ATOMIC habits
into the seven ASCENSION habits.
Why do I call these reconstituted daily activities “ascension habits”?
My answer is found in Paul’s words in Colossians 3 that define the normal, everyday Christian walk:
As you can see, the Bible teaches (here and in many other passages) that our entire existence—now and for all ages to come—is wrapped up in the Redeemer who saved us.
And how did he do that? Not only by his incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection but also by his ascension. In fact, his “coronation day” sealed every other facet of the work of our salvation when he took his throne to rule the universe—and our lives—forever, as King of kings and Lord of lords (Philippians 2:9-11).
Consequently, for all who live under his lordship, our daily activities—what may seem like insignificant routines to others—are being woven proactively by the Father into the advance of the Kingdom of his dear Son. No wonder we’re told that to come to Christ, you must lose your life—you must seek to spend every minute you breathe, one way or another—for his sake and the gospel (Mark 8).
This just makes sense when we realize that disciples are already “seated with Christ in heavenly places” (Ephesians 2). That’s how the Father regards us—as if we’re there right now! That’s why as we continue our existence on planet earth, the Lord Jesus Christ is actively sharing the fullness of his risen, ascended life with us, in us, and through us, day by day, by his Spirit. This glorious reality is foundational to what it means to be a Christian.
Recall again James Clear’s overriding conclusion: Even tiny changes will bring about remarkable results. Well, even more, these routine “ascension habits” can bring about eternal results for all who are united to Christ and being filled with his “ascended life.”
In that light, these seven “ascension habits” have been designed to focus on two goals:
(1) to increasingly saturate your life with the presence of the reigning Christ,
(2) in order to lead you into greater intimacy with him as he reigns.
Clinch these seven “revolutionizing” habits
in just 21 days.
Psychologists tell us that if you practice an activity for 21 days, it turns into a habit. This is validated by neurological science, which we can’t get into here. You can read more research at Dartmouth College here.
So, here’s my challenge to you: For the next 21 days, practice one or more of these seven suggestions—whatever number is manageable for you. If you work on them consistently for three weeks, you’ll be well on your way toward taking your entire relationship with God’s Son to the next level.
1. Getting dressed in the morning. For the next 21 days, when you dress in the morning, imagine yourself clothing yourself with Christ (as it says in Romans 13:14) or putting on the pieces of armor, which represent aspects of his supremacy (see Ephesians 6:11-17).
Confess this: Jesus, you are my covering today!
You might say out loud: “Lord Jesus, as I begin this day, I’m surrounding myself with you. I want to live this whole day totally covered by your presence, your power, and your reign.”
2. Taking a shower. For the next 21 days, every time you shower, try to imagine the water as the Spirit of God pouring out more of the wonders of Christ upon your life.
Confess this: Jesus, you are the fullness of life for me today.
You might say out loud: “Lord Jesus, please pour out on me more and more of your risen, ascended life. Pour out your grace and your glory until you saturate me with the fullness of who you are.”
3. Looking in a mirror. For the next 21 days, every time you look in a mirror, pretend at first that the person looking back at you is not you but actually the Lord Jesus himself, standing right there in front of you, ready to engage with you face-to-face.
Confess this: Jesus, you are the desire of my heart today.
You might say out loud: “Lord Jesus, how I long to know you more fully and more intimately. By your Word and your Spirit, give me encounters with you this day that are like engaging with you face-to-face.
4. Turning on a light. For the next 21 days, every time you turn on a light (a switch, desk lamp, flashlight, candle), remember how Jesus claims to be “the light of the world” and calls us to “walk in the light as he is in the light.”
Confess this: Jesus, you are the reality of my journey today.
You might say out loud: “Lord Jesus, light up my life by revealing to me more of your magnificence and majesty as the reigning Son of God. Reveal to me more clearly all you want to do in me and through me so that the truth of who you are directs my steps and shines through me to help others follow you too.”
5. Hearing a siren. For the next 21 days, every time you hear the blaring of a siren (police, fire truck, ambulance)—wherever you are or even heard on TV—let its wail remind you of the spiritual emergencies facing God’s people and engulfing our nation, for which the saving power of Christ is the only hope.
Confess this: Jesus, you are our only hope of deliverance today.
You might say out loud: “Lord Jesus, rescue us from all danger. Triumph over all our enemies! Heal our brokenness and sin. Bring us into the victory only you can give.”
6. Eating a meal. For the next 21 days, every time you sit down to eat, let your first bite and your first drink bring your thoughts back to passages like John 6. There Jesus calls himself “the bread of life” and invites us, metaphorically speaking, to eat his body and drink his blood, claiming to be our sole source of spiritual nourishment.
Confess this: Jesus, you are the feast that feeds my soul today.
You might say out loud: “Lord Jesus, as I take this food and drink, in the same way, I want to consume all you have for me as the Lord of my life. Fill me at this moment with more of the riches of your lordship and your love.”
7. Going to bed at night. For the next 21 days, every night as you turn off the light and nestle into your covers—as you surrender to your bed, so to speak—think about how, as a Jesus follower, you want every minute of every day to be lived in full surrender to the Master. Tell him how you want to rest in him and his redeeming control over your past, present, and future.
Confess this: Jesus, you are my resting place and ruler today.”
You might say out loud: “Lord Jesus, I rest in you. I yield all that I am and all that I have to you. I trust you for all that lies ahead. Take my life and do with me whatever you please. You are my loving Lord, now and forever.”
Let these seven “ascension habits” serve as daily triggers for your growth in Christ—these practical action steps that make solid sense because Jesus is at work with us as we implement them. These routines hold great promise because, as Ephesians 4 tells us, Jesus is actively, right now, “filling the universe with himself,” including filling every moment of your daily walk with him. To summarize these “triggers”:
- When you get dressed in the morning—put on the reigning Christ.
- When you take a shower—become saturated with the reigning Christ.
- When you look in a mirror—engage personally with the reigning Christ.
- When you turn on a light—receive revelation from the reigning Christ.
- When you hear a siren—invite deliverance from the reigning Christ.
- When you eat a meal—seek to take in more of the reigning Christ.
- When you go to bed at night—fully surrender yourself to the reigning Christ.
These “triggers” are just for starters. But as tiny, manageable habits, they ultimately can turn into permanent lifestyle changes that revolutionize your life in Christ and bring about remarkable results for you and every Christian disciple.
Remember: As you work on them over the next 21 days, you can count on one key underlying promise:
“What’s done daily will dominate.”
Would you like to explore more on the topic? Let David Bryant share more with you through Episode 4 of the CHRIST TODAY Podcast, titled “What It Means to Be Stupified with Jesus.”
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.
If you enjoyed this blog post, forward it to friends!
|Invite them to sign up for future blog posts here. It’s free!|