“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

Paul Tripp on Marriage

Everyone took notes on Paul Tripp’s marriage conference, except me. I’ve been doing so much learning I felt like if I took notes I’d be grumpy, but now I wish I had some to look back on b/c it was so good! Tripp has a number of books out and they all sound interesting, but this conference was from his book What did you expect? Here is my summary-

  • Our marriages live in a broken, imperfect world.

How do you respond to the sin, weakness and failure of your spouse?

Do you see moments of conflict as moments of opportunity?

  • Every moment is either about the kingdom of God or the kingdom of self.

Is your marriage growing in trust & vulnerability?

  • Commit to trusting one another.
  • Commit to a grace-filled marriage.

How do you respond to the sin, weakness and failure of your spouse?

Good principles for other relationships too!

 

 

 

Four Years Ago Today…

we agreed to become forever friends!

It was a day as cold and blustery as late winter in the Northwest usually is…

yet he convinced me that a walk was still a good idea.

He had casually suggested earlier in the week that we should visit our first meeting place over the weekend, and because it was not out of character for him, I did not think twice about it.

Suddenly, finding myself back on the bridge where we had first met, despite the brutal wind, I had a surprising thought…
I wish he would propose…
but we had not known each other long, and I was certain my grandmother’s ring was in my jewelry case at home.  So my thinking continued…
but he can’t, because he doesn’t have the ring.
Then, he was on his knees, giving a speech that ended with “Will you marry me?” and holding the ring! I blurted out the first words that came to mind:
“Where did you get that?!”
To which, he anxiously grinning replied: “Is that a yes?”
Oh! Right… Yes!!
P.S. Special thanks to Laura for helping Jeremy find the ring, and to everyone else who knew before I did for keeping the secret, barely!! I thought you were acting strange 🙂

Facebook Facelift?

Social Media

I have such a love/hate for social media. I love that I can instantly connect with friends in faraway places. I hate that merely signing in makes me feel a bit like I’m in Times Square – flashes of color everywhere and very little empty space.

Social media has slowly and suddenly claimed a place in our culture and this trend is only projected to grow. How we use it is up to us – individually and culturally. How do we use social media in a way that takes advantage of all of the positive aspects while not allowing it to consume too much time? How do we balance face time with real time?

I know I’m not alone in asking these questions and I’d love to hear your thoughts on social media in today’s culture.

Time to De-clutter

In the meantime, as I’ve been de-cluttering my closets and pantry shelves after owning them for a year, I realized that it’s been over 15 years (as in never!) since I’ve de-cluttered my online media presence. I started wondering what it would look like to do a facebook facelift… Maybe start a twitter account – mostly because the little bird is so cute!

Basically, actually take the time to consider and choose what I’m “on” and what “active” means for me in this season. Is it possible to have a balanced online presence? Active accounts that are used for good, but tools vs. life-suckers? As more apps come – to press in or delete?

What do you think? How do determine the role media plays in your life? Have you ever done a facebook facelift? What does that even mean?

 

Opinions, part 2

I wrote Opinions, part 1 because people’s opinions have felt weighty lately. People’s voices have felt louder than they should, in a way that they haven’t since that dismantling years ago. I wonder what God is up to.

One thing I learned before was that feeling as I am now was an indicator that I needed to withdraw from people and spend time with my Father. I learned that his voice was easier to discern in the quiet, and I grew to love the silence and the stillness. I learned how to fight to preserve this time as necessary for my soul. As a way to refuel so that I would be equipped to love others.

Something interesting happened as I began to experience freedom from the weight of people’s opinions. I became less self-trusting, and more self-confident at the same time. I knew my tendency, and as I spent time listening to God, I was more sure of how to listen and respond to people. I was able to wade through opportunities with freedom, confidence and joy.

When Jeremy and I got married, our separate, large communities began to feel like more than we could keep up with and we similarly felt the need to withdraw. We needed to spend time together and with the Father, building a foundation. Looking back, I feel like it was a gift, almost like the Father covered my ears with his hands so I didn’t even have the option of discerning opportunities.

As we have been drawn back into shared community more recently, I have felt the din of the crowd growing louder. And not just in community, but everywhere – at work, with family, old friends, new neighbors. My instinct is to withdraw, to assume I must have forgotten to spend time with my Father. I must need some quiet.

But I feel Him calling me into something different this time, and I’m perplexed. Am I hearing Him right? I feel like He is asking me to listen, to engage, to hear them. To be sure enough that He is leading me that I’m able to wade through opportunities and to discern to what and in what way to respond.

I don’t like it! I’m afraid I will give people’s opinions too much weight. That their voices will drown out His, and that I will be back on the roller coaster. It’s not that I haven’t struggled with this since, I have, I do. It’s something I keep coming back too, but now it almost feels like He is asking me to “get on board” and trust that He will be with me.

I wonder if He is reminding me of my struggle, making it feel fresh, so that I can relate to some women in my life who are learning similar lessons now. I wonder if it’s so I can right about it so others can read it. Or I wonder if it is His voice at all…

Am I trying to do more than He is calling me to? Am I doing what others want? What I want? What He wants? Or is all this simply a reminder to seek Him…

P.S. As mentioned last week, I wrote this post awhile back, and at the time was feeling “in the thick of it.” More recently, particularly, the last month or so, I’ve felt the call  to rest once again and enjoyed opportunity to do so. Interesting how God works, isn’t it?