12 Small Things You Can Do to Create New Ruts

Last night at The Conversation (our mid-week adult Bible study) we talked about how to practically stop the bad habits that are destroying our lives. Those bad habits may be: bitterness, lack of exercise, poor eating, viewing pornography, or overspending (to name a few). While many people think the answer is pure willpower, modern neuroscience shows that to be false.


In a fascinating article, John Ortberg applies modern science to spiritual discipleship, saying “Most of the time, a change of behavior requires the acquisition of new habits. Willpower and conscious decision have very little power over what we do.” The way our brains our wired, our habits create “ruts” in our neural pathways. Call it muscle memory. Once an action becomes a habit, it’s a rut in your mind that’s very hard to get out of. Practically speaking, the only way to change is to create new ruts, new habits. That’s how our brains work.

With that, I shared a few small habits we can begin that can help us create new ruts in our life.


12 Small Things You Can Do to Create New Ruts

  1. Set your alarm 20 minutes earlier. (get more accomplished).
  2. Lay out exercise clothes before you go to sleep. (get more exercise).
  3. Have a curfew and stick to it. (nothing productive happens after 9 pm).
  4. Take the television out of your bedroom. (robs too much sleep).
  5. Cancel cable/satellite television. (television is pure distraction, doesn’t make you better).
  6. Put your phone in a kitchen drawer when you come home. (be present with your family).
  7. Make the Bible the first and last thing you read each day. (make your mind dwell on Word).
  8. Listen to the Bible on YouVersion during your commute. (use quiet moments to dwell on Word).
  9. Keep a journal. (helps you reassess. Gives you perspective. Forces you to slow down and evaluate where you are).
  10. Buy a stack of thank you notes and leave them out as a reminder to write at least one a week. (habit of thankfulness)
  11. Write out a budget and keep track of every dollar you spend each month. (fiscal responsibility).
  12. Join a small group. (relational community).

QUESTION: What other habits would you add?

How to Give Yourself a Heart Check-up

2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” But how can we know the condition of our hearts? This short video looks at three diagnostics that Jesus gives us:

What All My Favorite Movies Have in Common

I am a movie fanatic. If there’s a great story playing on the big screen (or at least a decent story with a lot of things blowing up), then I’m there. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Gladiator – coolest ways to die in this movie
  • Braveheart – “Freedom!”
  • Dumb and Dumber – I have way too much of this movie memorized
  • Karate Kid – I’m not talking about the 2010 Jayden Smith nonsense. I’m talking old school, 1984 Ralph Macchio.
  • Avatar – simply an overwhelming movie
  • Harry Potter – not ashamed. Loved the books, loved the movies
  • Lord of the Rings/Hobbit – such an incredible adaptation of the books
  • The Blind Side – how can you not love The Blind Side?
  • Star Wars – huge fan. I’ve already committed to watching the next 743 movies that Disney will produce off this cash cow
  • Shawshank Redemption – When I see that movie on tv, I stop and watch the rest of it, no matter what I’m supposed to be doing

Underdogs 1

There’s one theme that weaves throughout all of my favorite movies: it’s the theme of the underdog. Dictionary.com defines underdog as “A competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest. A person who has little status in society.” What is it about underdogs that make them so compelling? Why do we root for them so much?

I think at the end of the day it comes down to hope. Hope that if they can overcome their difficult circumstances, perhaps we can overcome ours as well. We root for the underdog because we identify with them. In a sense, we’re all underdogs.

At Mt Vernon we just started a brand new sermon series called “Underdogs,” where we’re looking at some of the greatest underdog stories in the Bible and where we’re discovering incredible truths about the God who loves to use underdogs. You can catch up on the first sermon here. If you’re in town, come check us out at 9:00 and 10:30 am, or you can watch online at www.mtvchurch.tv.  Hope to see you soon!

Look Around, They’re You’re Best Shot

Here’s something scary you can do the next time you’re at church: look around. Take some time during the service and look at those sitting around you. Pretend you’re stretching your neck muscles or something. Look at the older couple sitting two rows up. You can’t remember their names but you see them every week. There’s the weird guy that seems way too happy to be at church. There’s the family with teenagers where the son has been playing games on his iPhone the whole time. Then of course there’s the young family who exercise their constitutional right not to take their kids to the nursery. Motley crew, huh?

8.6.14Here’s what’s scary: they’re you’re best shot at experiencing the fullness of God. Here’s what Paul says in Ephesians 3:

17 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

Paul hits the same theme a few verses later:

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:11-13,16.

Our best shot at attaining the fullness of God is in the midst of a biblically functioning church. Christianity isn’t an individual sport like golf, it’s a team sport like football or soccer. We rise and fall together. For better or for worse, your church, the body of believers that you belong to, are your best shot at attaining the fullness of God.