Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…”The Performance Trap”.

This is part 3 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 third post…

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Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…”The Performance Trap”.

1 John 5:3 (NKJV) 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

In the last post, we talked about the difference between intention (actually carrying out that which God has called us to do), and intentions (desires that never turn into actions). We also considered the difference prayerful evaluation makes, in knowing what we should prioritise, so that we can focus on the right things, and not just “do stuff for the Lord”.

What I am about to say next may seem like an absolute contradiction to everything we have covered so far – but please bear with me.

For some of you reading this, the thing you need most, in order to make progress in that which God has called you to do and be, is to……wait for it…..not do anything!

What!?

That’s right – not do anything. Now when I say this, please don’t use this as an excuse to neglect your daily responsibilities or completely “drop the ball” in an area of your life. The context to which I am referring is that of “intentions” that are hovering around in your head, and haunting you by their “undone-ness”. This might be the intention to lead family devotions with your wife and children, the intention to spend more time in prayer as a busy mother, the intention to step things up in the discipleship of your children etc.

Whatever those things are, that you know should be given your time, and attention – here’s something really important to acknowledge. Doing or not doing those things makes absolutely no difference whatsoever, to your position before God. The acceptance, and security you have in your relationship with God was secured (past tense) by grace – not by anything you did, or didn’t do.

So……back to my original statement: The thing you need most, in order to make progress in that which God has called you to do and be, is to not do anything. That is, not do anything…….until…..you have it firmly settled and established in your mind and heart, that you do these things because you have God’s blessing, favour, and approval by grace, in Christ – not because you have to do those things to get God’s blessing, favour and approval. Yes God blesses obedience, but we often forget the greatest blessing is in our obedience, rather than it being something we get for our obedience.

In the following blog posts, there will be challenges to make changes, to “do” things, and to invest our time attention and energy in actions. That’s why it’s so important for us to understand that a grace-paced life begins with a grace-based relationship with the Lord.

“…we often forget the greatest blessing is in our obedience, rather than it being something we get for our obedience“.

There is no place for the believer to say, “I won’t do anything if I feel like I have to, or it’s not from the Lord” because God does require obedience. Therefore it’s not an issue of whether we obey or not, but rather how we obey. As 1 John 5:3 reminds us,  “…this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome”. If it is a burden to obey our Lord, it just means we have forgotten our grace-position, and have slipped into a “performance trap”. Allow Christ to set you free today.

For thought, prayer and application: Are you a person who relies too much on the approval of others? Do you find yourself tempted to do or say things because of how others will / will not treat you, rather than because it’s the right thing to do? If this is a challenge for you, it’s important to recognise these attitudes will affect how you relate to God. The only remedy is to take those thoughts captive, and replace them with the truth of God’s Word. For all of us, whether we struggle with this or not, it’s essential that every now and again (the Lord’s supper is a great time for this) we check our hearts and acknowledge and correct any thinking that suggests our actions or obedience gain us favour from God, apart from the finished work of Christ. Meditate upon this truth: “God’s love for you is unconditional, and if you never did another thing “for” God for the rest of your life, His love for you would be unchanged”. When we really accept that fact, the response will always be a deep desire to “freely” serve, obey, and honour the God who loves us so incredibly. 

Click Below To Read Previous Posts in This Series…

Part 1 – “It is Finished!”

Part 2 – “Intention vs Intentions”

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

Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…Intention vs Intentions!

This is part 2 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 second post…

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Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…Intention vs Intentions!

Mark 1:35 NKJV – 35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

Maybe since reading the last post, you had a moment to reflect on the level and nature of the busyness in your life – or maybe you were too busy? 🙂

One of the keys to making progress in the right things in our lives, which again is simply that which God has called us to be and do – is to understand the difference between intention, and intentions. They sound the same but are very different from each other.

Intention speaks of diligence, discipline, organization, and Spirit-empowered action. Intentions, on the other hand, speak of that which we want to do, know we should do, plan to do, but never actually get around to doing! We all know what it feels like to be surrounded and bogged down by the things that fit that category – and it’s never a pleasant experience, is it?

Having said this, that’s not always a bad thing – because some things we intend to do are birthed out of impulse, emotion, pressure, or obligation – so it’s no big loss when they get left by the wayside.

“Intention speaks of diligence, discipline, organization, and Spirit-empowered action”.

On the other hand, those things we neglect to do that God does want us to do – they are the things that haunt and hassle us with guilt, frustration, and regret.  So how can we avoid this?

Charles Hummel in his classic, tiny little booklet, “The Tyranny of the Urgent” puts it this way as He reflects upon the life of Jesus…“Jesus had no divinely drawn blueprint or schedule; He discerned the Father’s will day by day in a life of prayer. Because of this, He was able to resist the urgent demands of others and do what was really important for His mission” (p9-10).

What this helps us to understand, is that when prayer is a priority in our lives – it increases our “spiritual vision” and also our “spiritual strength”. We need spiritual vision to see more clearly that which God has and hasn’t called us to do, and we need spiritual strength to stay focused and faithful (living with intention) and avoid the distractions that lead to neglect (living with intentions).

In Summary – intention is when we prayerfully set the priorities for our lives, and in dependence upon the Lord, carefully carry them out. Intentions are just sincere, but unrealistic desires, that most likely will not eventuate – and even if they do, may not be God’s will for us anyway! Let us aim to live, by God’s grace, with more intention, and fewer intentions, remembering of course that we will fail at times. Thankfully, God knows this, so that’s why we have a Saviour to forgive us, and help us get on track again.

For thought, prayer and application: Take some time to mentally, or physically (better option) note down your top “intentions” for the next few weeks/months. Take this to God in prayer, and ask Him to show you which are in line with His will, and which are not. Prayerfully evaluate your motives for each intention. Ask the Lord to show you where you might be motivated by selfish gain, the approval of others, or pressure to conform. With those things you discern to be God’s will, ask God for the wisdom and strength to carry them out, and give them the priority they deserve. Confess any intentions that you have neglected, and believe and receive God’s forgiveness. 

Click Below To Read Previous Posts in This Series…

Part 1 – “It is Finished!”

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

 

 

Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…It is Finished!

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Over the next 8 weeks, I will be posting something every Friday, that is 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!). So here goes with the first post…

Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…It Is Finished!

John 19:30 NKJV – 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Contrary to what many of us may think at times – if being busy is something that is hindering our spiritual progress, and crowding out the important with the urgent – the remedy to this, is not being “un-busy”. Being busy in and of itself, is not wrong, in fact it is essential we are busy in life. However, what matters most of all, is what we are busy with. 

God intended our lives to be full of activity, productivity, and creativity – but there’s a massive difference between a life given to those things for selfish gain, and a life given to those things, for God’s glory.

“God intended our lives to be full of activity, productivity, and creativity…”

When we get so busy that our spiritual priorites take a back seat in our lives, then we know that our priorities are in need of a re-shuffle. Some of us may even be too busy with “spiritual” activities, because they are over and above that which God has called us to give our time to. God gives us His grace to get His will done, not to help us get our will done.

In summary – God’s ecomony is not just about efficiency, but is more about effectiveness. Consider this – Jesus had a ministry on earth that lasted just over 3 years. If it was up to me (which it isn’t!) I would have maximised His potential, and given Jesus a long life, to get more done! However, God’s ways are above my ways (thankfully), and though Christ’s life was seemingly cut short, He cried those words from the cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30, see also John 17:4). His life on earth wasn’t necessarily the most efficient use of a life, in worldly wisdom, but in God’s wisdom it was the most effective life ever lived!

For thought, prayer and application: Take a moment to pause, and evaluate the activity in your life, from week to week. Is it busy, but fruitful and manageable? Is it busy, but unproductive and unmanageable? Is it crazy-busy, and you are holding on by a finger nail? Take some time to think and pray – asking the Lord, “Am I being effective in the things You have called me to? Please show me where I am busy in the wrong things, and show me how to be busy in the right things. Please help me to have a mindset that doesn’t want to just do as much as I can for you, but to do what you have asked me to do – Amen”.

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