The Value of Routine

Success is obtained by a predesigned routine adhered to faithfully. Routine can also sustain success. It keeps you focused on what truly matters when you are tempted to break the rules.

There will be times after you reach success that chaotic circumstances arrive to confuse you. When mentoring one such person we will name Isaac, I stressed the importance of keeping his appointments for coaching. I have learned that when going through difficult patches in life, keeping appointments forces you to continue even when you feel like quitting.

Isaac expressed a feeling of guilt in keeping his appointments. He explained that he felt like he was just surviving from one to the next. He stated he was not being fair to me as his counselor. The reality, of course, was just the opposite. His guilt was false; his routine was enabling survival; and raw truth is the substance in which success can be rediscovered.

From those appointments where days passed in between, Isaac was encouraged to start implementing a bit of reading, meditating, and exercising. At first he could only handle 5 minutes of each. The time spent was not so important as the creation of the habit.

Determine you will grow and keep every new appointment. Reward yourself with something relaxing. Do not feel guilty. You are developing a routine. You are working with a purpose and resting with intent.

Volunteer for some cause. The regular contribution will fill your calendar. You are living! Visualize a life with Hope. It is within your grasp.

I cannot stress how important it is that you create a routine as soon as possible. This is where Religion can be helpful. Regular attendance to their scheduled services sustains a routine. Opportunities to serve others through their ministries enhance your routine.

Do what you must to develop weekly activities and hold yourself accountable to keep these commitments. You will find Hope opening its door as you develop a routine through Life.

And this is the fascinating intersection of Ethics with Religion.

Being reared with a heavy influence of the religious community, I was always under the impression that ethics is an extension of religion. Imagine how surprised I was once I learned to read classical literature. Discovering that ethics preceded western Christianity was revolutionary. However, to pretend the great sages of old did not have spiritual ideologies is equivalent to burying one’s head in the sand.

Religion is “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods” (Oxford Dictionary Press). In practice, stripped to its core, Religion is merely routine. It is a set of practices (worship) that exercise their core values (belief). In this sense, Ethics and Religion are one and the same.

Ethics is a faithful adherence to what is perceived as good and right. This begins with integrity. Integrity is being true to one’s self. This practice of self-truthfulness in action expands to a practice of truthfulness in relationships with others. Ethics is the working out of personalized truths and in this sense shares a practice on par with Religion.

Religion did not give birth to Ethics. It is the other way around. The point is that so-called “non-religious” persons are often ethical because of their religious-like practices. They may not belong to a particular worship of God or gods; yet their life is full of routine that elevates values beyond themselves.

And it is the emphasis of this routine that keeps our actions consistent with ethical values.

The New Testament Problem of John’s Writings

Christian thought–what was once known as theology–has evolved over the centuries. Ever since the State takeover of the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.), Christian thought has incrementally removed itself from the original teachings of Jesus Christ.

The first century A.D. preserved the oral wisdom of Jesus in writing. Those writings continued over the next two centuries. The Primitive Church faithfully preserved Christic traditions. Unfortunately, they were not the chosen favorite of the State. Emperor Constantine’s Council created orthodoxy as opposed to heterodoxy.

Adherents of the Primitive Church were thenceforth branded as heretics. Their writings were systematically destroyed. Later generations were dependent on their enemies to explain what they taught. Would you trust your enemy to faithfully represent your beliefs and practices? Of course not!

There have been several more crisis points in the history of Christian Theology. The Great Schism of 1054 A.D. saw the Eastern Church split from the West. Now known as the Orthodox Church, it continues to preserve traditions in place a thousand years ago. Their traditions, however, are still 700 years away from the Primitive Church.

When the Roman priest Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the church door of Wittenberg, the so-called Great Reformation was well underway. Rather than reform the Roman Church it created another schism. The Protestant Church was exorcised for its protests. Although claiming to return to Primative teachings, it took with it many of the religious practices of the time.

The Protestant Church opened the door for further schisms. Different denominations were created. I grew up under the Baptist banner. Baptists, continuing the ancient tradition of schisms, have created an array of traditions. The American Civil War preserved cultural differences between the South and North. The Southern Baptist Convention remains powerful to this day producing 3 U.S. Presidents:

  • William Jefferson Clinton;
  • Jimmy Carter; and
  • Harry S. Truman.

The North did put their own Baptist in the White House: Warren Harding.

Baptists are a haven for Fundamentalists. Any layman could answer “the call” and become a minister. Whether or not he received training was irrelevant. “The blind leading the blind” enabled extreme teachings.

I was a leader in one of those Fundamentalist Baptist sects.

Born and reared under this strain of Christian Thought, I embraced its principles of individual soul liberty and truth being rooted in the scriptures. I began reading the bible at 8 years old. It took me 4 years to finish it and I have repeated that exercise scores of times.

In my teen years I got my hands on the writings of Primitive Church teachers. Much of what I absorbed raised questions when compared to Christian Thought. After divinity training I was lost in the work of the ministry. Any study seemed to be preparation for the 5,000 times I taught or spoke. During the three decades of Baptist ministry, there was a niggling in the back of my heart:

The problem of John’s writings in the New Testament.

Whereas the Catholic and Orthodox Churches emphasize the Gospels over the rest of scripture, the Protestants and Baptists elevated Paul’s writings as the filter to read the Gospels. The niggle in my heart was the fact that John wrote his Gospel and Apocalypse decades after the others.

Why?

My theological and divinity training suggested John later wrote to combat Gnosticism. The problem was when I read John’s writings, I see the preservation of what has been labeled Gnosticism. His high Christology; his emphasis on the Word; his revelation in the spirit of the Book of Enoch; it was hard for me to fully comprehend my denominational teaching.

And then again, should I trust the opponents to faithfully represent what Gnostics teach?

“I trow not” (Jesus, Luke 17:9).

I am not claiming to be a gnostic!

I am reclaiming my heart belief that the Primitive Church faithfully preserved the oral teachings of Jesus.

And I am now filtering Paul’s writings through John’s.