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The Habit Reformation Project

Greg E. Gifford, MA, PhD Student

ggifford@masters.edu

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For the next 90 days (May 1 – Aug. 1), I am conducting research on a profoundly important topic—habits. I propose that habits both shape what we see and how we see, much like glasses.[1] A person’s pair of glasses not only shape what they can see, for instance, glasses can render a person functionally blind. Likewise a person’s glasses influences how they see, like leaning back to bring something in focus, or moving close to bring something into the focus of the glasses. These both illustrate the effects of habits on a person.[2] Habits have a way of forming what we love and also capacitating us towards greater love.[3] This means that what I (we) do, shapes what we love.

Here is the fly-by perspective of this project. For 90 days I am going to radically change my habits towards the end of loving God more. This will be accomplished through an intentional schedule, new habits, a crusty flip-phone, exercise, Scripture before I start my car, singing hymns in the shower, memorizing the book of James, reading Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections, weekly fasting, and reading the hard-copy newspaper.

The goal of this project to be primed to love God and to have an increased capacity to love God more. Yet, how does a person measure such a nebulous goal? Some of the measurable ways I hope to qualify this are by greater memorization of Scripture (memorize the book of James), increased health via exercise, increased focus by removing smart phone, greater effectiveness by not frittering, reading Isaiah for the duration, being more present where I am present, and encouraging others to take similar actions.

Finally, at the end of 90 days I will compile a list of axiomatic habits. Things that I believe will help prime others for increased and intentional godliness. And to be honest, I am not looking forward to the technological inconvenience of a flip-phone, but think the barrier implementing could be quite effective to reduce frittering and increase fruitfulness. In addition, I would love to provoke others to evaluate what they do and prompt them to do things differently.

Don’t see this as a means to become an iron-willed, legalistic disciple–see this as a means to become more like Jesus and less like the world (1 John 2:15).

 

[1] Dr. James K.A. Smith’s works Desiring the Kingdom and You Are What You Love, along with G.K. Beale’s We Become What We Worship have proven to be most influential in the author’s research.

[2] “We resemble what we revere, either for ruin or restoration” Beale, We Become What We Worship, 49.

[3] “What we do is intimately linked to what we desire (love) so what we determines whether, how, and what we can know” Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, 70.

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"God may be looked upon in an absolute consideration, as he is in himself the best and most excellent being, wherein we behold the concurrence of all perfections, the most amiable and beauteous excellences, to an intellectual eye, that it can have an apprehension of." --John Howe, On Delighting in God
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