“Means of grace” as a choice

I had a different experience with French than piano. See I still wish I could play, but not enough to put in the time. When I stopped taking French, however, I missed it, and when I returned to taking classes, I knew it was my choice.

The Word was like that for me too. I knew it was important, but I didn’t really want it enough to commit to it regularly. I felt guilty and I couldn’t make myself be consistent.

And then one day, I decided that I was going to be disciplined about it because either it was important or it wasn’t and there was only one way to find out. I knew God was asking me to trust that his ways were worth it.

That was 15 years ago, and over this time, God has developed in me a love for these means of grace because they have become essential habits that have taught me more of who he is. He honors the tiniest acts of obedience, yet we are often more focused on the big questions than the ordinary moments.

What small thing is God asking you to do, right now, today? And will you do that? What are you afraid of in pursuing or not these paths?

Anti-spiritual disciplines

How do you feel about spiritual disciplines? Perhaps you cringe at hearing that question?

Can you relate to either of these concerns?

  1. Spiritual disciplines are religious and the opposite of the grace that is what the gospel is all about.
  2. I’m in a season of life that doesn’t seem to lend itself to any type of routine.

In light of these concerns, perhaps it will be helpful to hear that author David Mathis’ calls them “habits of grace.” Not convinced that’s any better?

Indeed, habits require practice and so at first sounds like an odd word to pair with grace. Like anything worth learning though, perhaps we have to decide if the benefit outweighs the cost.

  • I hated practicing piano so I never learned to play.
  • If I’m thirsty, I can say it 100 times, but if I’m standing next to the faucet, and don’t actually drink, some may doubt how thirsty I am.

Mathis says God’s “grace is essential for our spiritual lives, but we don’t control the supply,” and “There are paths along which he has promised his favor.” He continues: “We cannot earn God’s grace or make it flow apart from his free gift. But we can position ourselves to go on getting as he keeps on giving.”

So in response to the above concerns, if you are struggling to feel like these habits are determining his favor, maybe stop doing them. Rest in the fact that you don’t have to AND consider that anything worth fighting for will require sacrifice and effort.

What are you giving up by not pursuing opportunities that God has promised will lead to your good? Is it possible that God loves us enough that we really have choices about how to spend our time? Is it possible that he will use some “regular channels” to teach us to seek after him?

What about you? What concerns do you have about spiritual disciplines? 

Next up: “Means of grace” as a choice

An IF detour

Any March Madness fans out there? Gonzaga barely won yesterday, but they persevered!

Todays’ post is the continuation of my learning from the IF conference last month. We took a detour from Timothy into Hebrews 12.

Perseverance (Christine Caine) – Hebrews 12

-marathon, not a sprint

-not about what’s happening around us, but who is on the throne

-witnesses (let us also, skin in the game), not commentators or spectators

-the pressure of our generation – what gospel will we pass down?

-your turn to carry the baton, what will we do?

-Israelites complained and only their children made it to the promised land…

-we can call sin what it is b/c there is a cure! The blood of Jesus sets all free.

-fix our eyes & throw off whatever is dragging you down

What I Took Away from IF: 2018, part 3

On Power, Love and a Sound Mind (Rebecca Lyons)

-power = light

-Over time our chains (weaknesses, failures, fears, wounds) become our identity, and then, we believe whatever it is can’t ever change. It affects how we run our race – can you picture running in chains?

-So we have to know what’s true – don’t say, “well I don’t know, that sounds good, could be…” b/c it’s a NARROW way

-Allow yourself to heal as a daughter so we don’t either abdicate our roles nor resent sons (co-heirs)

-Will you step into your role as a mother of our generation?

-Chase the kingdom (always opposite of the kingdom of man where we are temporarily residing)

-We all have equal access to the throne. We all hear from  God so you likely already know what to do. The question  is: do you trust Him?

-Confession always begins w/ repentance and ends w/ a declaration of praise

-Pray out whatever  (lie, wound, confession, condemnation) is holding you back by using the only offensive weapon which is Sword = Word

The rest of the armor is for defense – not bathrobe of God  – b/c it is a fight

-Ask others to pray, confess, declare truth over you, but also confess with your own mouth the things that are true

Phew! That wasn’t even all of the first evening so you see why I said long! 🙂 All of these ladies have written at least one book (which I would now like to read) so google them if you’re interested in learning more!

What I Took Away from IF: 2018, part 2

On Life in the Middle (Jo Saxton) –

-We often doubt in the dark what we heard in the light

-We can become defined by disappointments

-We can feel like we’ve had a number of coffees… and nothing’s changing!

-Don’t give up, but rather be AVAILABLE to be transformed

-Meaning often follows surrender

-Paul reminded Timothy of 3 things :

  1. Faith – God instigates faith. God has always had a vision for our identity and a purpose. Our faith is a response to to what God has done and our faith has never been dependent on our success. God sees you, and is for you, and He isn’t finished with you yet!
  2. Empowerment – We have not been given a spirit of fear (or comparison), but rather a Spirit of power, love and a sound mind.
  3. Re-engagement – Don’t hide or apologize for what God has put in you. Live it out, and guard it by knowing what makes you weak (worry, expectations, appetite, knocks you down). Talk about your weaknesses with others who can pray over you specifically for these struggles, even in advance of  your felt needs.

Click here to read part 3…

What I Took Away from IF: 2018, part 1

We spent the majority of our time at the local IF Gatheringlast weekend in the book of 2 Timothy. It was encouraging, refreshing, challenging, and… long! Thanks to Jeremy’s mom, Susie for joining me!

In this post, I’ll share what I learned from 2 Timothy, Chapter 1 (content from 3 speakers in 3 parts). The headings, and notes that follow, are my summary of what the women shared. As for the inspiration behind their spoken words, you will just have to trust me! It was palpable.

On Faith & Doubt (Jennie Allen) –

-Doubt is the darkness that threatens the light

-Doubt is worse than rebellion b/c it makes us apathetic

-Don’t deny your doubt, don’t feed your doubt, but rather, fight it!

-In doubt, there is great potential for faith, but we HAVE to talk about it and we have to  know what to do w/ it… IT IS POSSIBLE TO CHANGE the way we think!

-Do you want to be a flame-thrower, or a half-hearted candle flicker?

Five years ago, Jennie felt God call her to disciple a generation. This year, she challenged each of  us to commit to investing in two other lives. Can you identify two people whose lives you can pour into this year?

P.S. Your kids count!

Click here to read part 2…