Living A Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…”Our Enemy: Distraction”

This is part 6 of a series of posts I will be sending out every Friday,  relevant to the theme of this year’s ENGAGE Family Discipleship & Home Education Conference (only 4 weeks to go for Christchurch, 5 for Auckland!!!). The posts will be short, to the point, and practical – designed to help you/your family in preparation for the conference (you will still benefit if you’re not coming to the conference!). Here goes with the sixth post…

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Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…“Our Enemy: Distraction”.

Proverbs 4:25-27 NKJV – 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. 26 Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.

In the last post, we talked about the importance of acknowledging God in all situations, and how “grace-paced” living is essentially living a life centred upon Christ. I have no doubt most of us reading this would agree, and desire this in our lives – yet we have an enemy that constantly holds us back, and hinders us from doing this.

The enemy I am referring to is that enemy called distraction. 

By the time some of you have read even this far in this post, it’s highly likely you’ve had the “urge” to check your email inbox quickly, or respond to that Facebook notification, or answer that text that just came through.  If so, you would share those urges with many people in today’s technology-saturated, 24/7 notification, information-overload culture.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing these things in, and of themselves – unless they are leading us into sin of course. But the frequency and placement of even “good” things, can end up being the enemy of the “best” things.

“Good” things become “bad” things when they hinder you from the “best” things.

When the best thing is being mentally and emotionally present with your family at the dinner table – a “good” text message can become something bad.

When the best thing is spending time in prayer and God’s Word – a “good” news article can become something bad.

When the best thing is getting to bed at a decent time, so you can function well the next day in your responsibilities – a “good” movie can become something bad.

When the best thing is focusing on the work you are responsible for carrying out – a “good” Facebook post (which so easily leads to 10 “good” Facebook posts!) can become something bad.

“Good” things become “bad” things when they hinder you from the “best” things. 

For example, think about the time when Martha was rushing around like crazy to get everything ready for dinner with Jesus, furious that her sister Mary was just “hanging out” with Jesus. Martha would have agreed that what Mary was doing was “good” – she just didn’t think it was “best”.

However, Jesus didn’t see it that way…

Luke 10:42 NKJV – 42 “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” 

We see something very vital for us to understand here.

So often in our lives at any given moment, one thing is needed. But so often (and I am speaking from experience!) we trade that one thing, for something far less important. The end result of this is that we miss out on God’s best for our lives.

As Proverbs 4:25-27 encourages us (see the beginning of this post) – it is very wise for us to stay focused, think carefully, and diligently stay on course in whatever best thing we are responsible to do, or whatever best path we are responsible for taking. We can only do this by defeating the enemy of distraction, which then allows us to live victoriously in that which God has called us to be and do.

For thought, prayer and application: Try to be hyper-alert today, to the many distractions that come your way, when you are doing the things that you are responsible to do. Ask yourself at that moment, “Do I need to respond to this?”, “What is the worst thing that can happen if I wait?”, “Will I pay for it later, by giving into distraction now?”, “Am I escaping responsibility by giving into this distraction?”. Ask God for His grace and strength to change established habits in your character so that you can learn to be more like Mary, and less like Martha.  There’s a time and a place for Martha activity – just not when it takes you away from Jesus and what He is wanting you to do. 

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Living A Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…”Thermometer or Thermostat?”

This is part 5 of a series of posts I will be sending out every Friday,  relevant to the theme of this year’s ENGAGE Family Discipleship & Home Education Conference (only 5 weeks to go!!!). The posts will be short, to the point, and practical – designed to help you/your family in preparation for the conference (you will still benefit if you’re not coming to the conference!). Here goes with the fifth post…

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Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…“Thermometer or Thermostat?”.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV – 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

In the last post, we talked about the importance of “slowing down to speed up”, and why it’s not always the amount of time we spend doing something, that makes it valuable or worthwhile – but rather it’s about what we are actually doing.

As we consider the theme ENGAGE 2017, it’s important to acknowledge that a “grace-paced” life, is not an easy life, or an unbusy life, or a care-free life. There are too many misunderstandings about the grace of God such as this, that incorrectly shape the thinking of some Christians. So what is a “grace-paced” life?

Essentially, it boils down to one thing – and that is a life that is centered around Christ. By way of analogy, it’s the difference between living your life like a thermometer or living your life like a thermostat.

Think about it – a thermometer is constantly changing, according to the external conditions and influences around it. Alternatively, a thermostat is stable, and once set in place, plays a vital part in changing and influencing the external conditions around it.

So one of the ways in which we can experience “grace-paced” living, is by acknowledging God in any and every situation. Our relationship with God is not to be confined to Sunday mornings and personal devotions – God should permeate every area of our lives.

Therefore, when you next (and it probably won’t be long!) find yourself in one of those frustrating/why did this happen/inconvenient/stressful situations in daily life – take a moment to step back. Then, ask yourself if you are looking at this situation in a way that declares “God-is-nowhere”? Or – with the eyes of faith, can you look at this situation in a way that declares, “God-is-now-here”? A subtle but significant difference!

“Our relationship with God is not to be confined to Sunday mornings and personal devotions – God should permeate every area of our lives”. 

As a family, we are currently dealing with some “home maintenance” challenges – nothing life-threatening, but the kind of thing that can easily add unwanted stress and strife to daily life. We found comfort during family devotions this morning, reminding ourselves that several years ago a long-drawn out, frustrating, time-consuming issue we had with our carpet, actually gave us a really good opportunity to build a relationship with a certain tradesman and share the gospel! By God’s grace we became less changeable (thermometer), spending less time wondering why God had allowed the situation – and instead became more constant (thermostat) seeing God in the situation.

It was a good reminder that God is weaving His will into every part of our lives – and the more we center our lives around Him, the more we, and others will see Him in all situations.

For thought, prayer and application: What is your first thought when you hit one of those annoying, everyday life challenges? Do you wonder why God would allow such a thing to happen, or do you stop and consider that God may have actually orchestrated that thing to happen? Whether it’s a challenge with an appliance, a strained working-relationship, a difficulty with one of your children, or a persistent but aggravating home maintenance issue – try to pause, and acknowledge that God is in control, and that He may have divinely prepared this situation for your life, to help you become more like Christ. Bring the situation to prayer, and seek in God’s strength to be the thermostat that remains unchanged, rather than the thermometer that goes up and down. 

Click Below To Read Previous Posts in This Series…
Part 1 – “It is Finished!”
Part 2 – “Intention vs Intentions”

Living A Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…”Slowing Down to Speed Up”

This is part 4 of a series of posts I will be sending out every Friday,  relevant to the theme of this year’s ENGAGE Family Discipleship & Home Education Conference. The posts will be short, to the point, and practical – designed to help you/your family in preparation for the conference (you will still benefit if you’re not coming to the conference!). Here goes with the fourth post…


Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…“Slowing Down to Speed Up”.

Ecclesiastes 10:10 NKJV – 10 If the ax is dull, And one does not sharpen the edge, Then he must use more strength; But wisdom brings success.

In the last post, we talked about the importance of recognising our “grace-position” before God, (not because of anything we have done) – so that we don’t attempt to make ourselves righteous by our own efforts, but rather serve God from a desire to please Him, knowing He has accepted us in Christ.

Today I want to focus on why “less is more” in so many areas of the Christian life. As mentioned in the first post in this series – we should be more concerned with effectiveness, rather than just efficiency. Here’s an illustration to make the point…

Let’s say someone decided to bless you with a gift – something that you really needed, something that was going to be such a benefit to you. The only catch is, you have to drive 5 hours to a certain place to pick up the gift.

So that’s a total of 10 hours driving in one day – but you’re going to do it – why? Because it’s the single most important thing you need to do that day, and it’s going to bring you the greatest blessing.

Well
, guess what – it actually isn’t the most important thing you’re going to do. The most important thing you’re going to do – is put some petrol in the car before you drive away – and that’s only going to take you about 10 minutes!

10 hours of driving – that’s a lot of time doing something – surely the most time equals the most value and importance? 
Well it doesn’t does it? It’s actually the 10 minutes you spend putting petrol in the car, that is facilitating the entire activity you will spend 10 hours doing – and will ultimately bring the greatest value and blessing. What took “less” time, actually provided “more” benefit in the big picture.

So – you may spend 8 minutes in the morning – in prayer, and reading the Scriptures – dedicated time (I’m not saying that’s all the time we should spend, I’m just making a point) – then you go to work or manage the home for 8 hours. What was the most important activity, and what will add the most value, and blessing to the day?

The 8 minutes, or the 8 hours?

The 8 minutes.

What took “less” time, actually provided “more” benefit in the big picture. 

It’s actually that 8 minutes (or whatever time you spend) that can have a profound effect on the 8 hours, because you have communed with God, committed the day to God, and so you can then continue to commune with God, as you acknowledge Him in your normal daily activity. If you want to cut down many trees for the Lord, and be productive in His kingdom – slow down, sharpen your spiritual axe, and you will speed up the process. Strange but true!

For thought, prayer and application: Do you currently have a daily, set-aside “sacred” time to read God’s Word and pray? I understand for some people, this seems impossible – hectic work schedules, the constant busyness of motherhood etc. However, the first step may simply be to implement “8 minutes” of this, rather than never make progress because you think it’s an hour of reading and praying or nothing. Don’t let an “all or nothing” mentality, rob you of the petrol you need in your car to gain the blessing God has for you. Do whatever you need to do, to carve this time into your schedule, and ask God for His grace to be consistent. Again, it’s not to gain His favour, or just do the “Christian thing”, but to spend time getting to know Him, allow His truth to shape your life, and bring everything to Him in prayer – which helps us know what to prioritise. 

Click Below To Read Previous Posts in This Series…

Part 1 – “It is Finished!”

Part 2 – “Intention vs Intentions”

Part 3 – “The Performance Trap”

Have you registered for this year’s ENGAGE 2017 Family Discipleship & Home Education Conference (Christchurch & Auckland)? Click here to find out more and register. EARLY BIRD PRICING ENDS 14 JULY!