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Some notes on Grace

6 Dec

Billy Graham’s grandson, Tullian Tchividjan, speaks on grace. His hope-filled words are phenomenally powerful and resonate deeply with my feelings on church and ‘Christianity’ today.
Have a read…

If we’re not careful we can give people the impression that Christianity is first and foremost about the sacrifice we make for Jesus rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us; our performance for him rather than his performance for us; our obedience for him rather than his obedience for us. – 

Furthermore, it seems that the good news of God’s grace has been tragically hijacked by an oppressive religious moralism that is all about rules, rules, and more rules;

Christianity is perceived as being a vehicle for good behavior and clean living and the judgments that result from them rather than the only recourse for those who have failed over and over again. But if anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good. 

Eugene Peterson has wisely said that “discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own.” The way many of us think about sanctification is, well, not very sanctified. In fact, it’s terribly narcissistic. We spend too much time thinking about how we’re doing, if we’re growing, whether we’re doing it right or not. We spend too much time pondering our spiritual failures and brooding over our spiritual successes. 

Preoccupation with our performance over Christ’s performance for us actually hinders spiritual growth because it makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective—the exact opposite of how the Bible describes what it means to be sanctified. Sanctification is forgetting about yourself.

As J. C. Kromsigt said, “The good seed cannot flourish when it is repeatedly dug up for the purpose of examining its growth.” Unless we go to the Bible to see Jesus and his work for us, even our devout Bible reading can become fuel for our own self-improvement plans, the place we go for the help we need to “conquer today’s challenges and take control of our lives.” 

The Bible is one long story of God meeting our rebellion with his rescue; our sin with his salvation; our failure with his favor; our guilt with his grace; our badness with his goodness.
the Bible is not first a recipe book for Christian living, but a revelation book of Jesus who is the answer to our unchristian living. 

Grace is thickly counter-intuitive. It feels risky and unfair. It turns everything that makes sense to us upside-down. It’s not rational. It offends our deepest sense of justice and rightness. It wrestles control out of our hands and destroys our safe, conditional world.

These are the main points I picked out from this valuable article – I was lazy and just literally ‘copied and pasted’ but I’m not arrogant or pretentious enough to think I could have put it any better myself.

You can read the whole interview here.

WE ARE NOT FINISHED

4 Sep

#2 in the series “Punch-Packing
Not my words but these echo 100% where I feel the Church is at in this day and age and what I am called to as a devoted, adoring follower of Jesus Christ.
The world so desperately needs us to ‘stand up and be counted’…
So – listen up!

I am deeply concerned that those who inherited freedom have lost sight of its high cost! I grieve over a gospel that is cloaked in benefits but requires no responsibility. Some bask in His victory while the nations continue to live in oppression, poverty, and despair.

I don’t doubt our victory nor do I question our great calling…but I wonder at lack of resolve that many Believers have to engage society at the level of their greatest pain and carve out a path through the snake invested jungle, carrying the weak to a place of safety.

We are not called to polish our armor or hold a Body-building contest! We have been left behind to transform the world. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus said He was finished, He didn’t say we were!

When Paul spoke of his apostolic credentials he unleashed a list of beatings that would have scared Arnold Schwarzenegger. The very man that taught us about great grace was entrenched in a battle that scared his body and troubled his soul. Yet many Believers are convinced that we will tip toe through the tulips, or win the nations through some garden party.

Where are the women and men with radical faith and outrageous courage? When will the righteous reign and the demoniacs flee at the very sight of a child of the King? How long must we stumble through this darkness before we rise with wisdom that stuns the kings of this world? Who will step out from the crowd and dare to leave the cesspool of unrighteous living to embrace a life of purity?

These are the questions that plague my very soul. As for me, I wasn’t born to live near the sound of church bells…I was created to destroy the gates of hell! Are you ready to incite a revolution?

(K. Vallotton, senior associate leader at Bethel Church, Redding, CA)

I Am Not A Christian

20 Aug

Ha! Made you look!!

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I have just posted this status on my Facebook wall.

I have decided to turn my back on “Christianity”. Instead I want to stake my identity as a lover, a follower, a believer of Jesus Christ. I belong to a Kingdom not a religion. I was born to be free from rules, punishment and legalism. I was born to live free and help others come into the same freedom I live in. I am a Kingdom warrior, with a crown on my head that says “Princess”. I want to stand against the mediocrity, the lame staleness the church is so often known for. Folks, we were born for SO MUCH MORE than that. Following Jesus Christ no longer equals “being a Christian.” Wake up church….!!!

Every so often I feel the need to nail my colours to the mast, to be radical and controversial. This is a kind of follow-up to this post…

It makes me so angry LIVID to see and hear, time and time again, how the “church” is capable of misrepresenting Jesus Christ and His Kingdom and how much damage it has caused over the years centuries. How little, in fact, it even knows who Jesus is. It’s shocking, shameful, and saddens me deeply.

So yes.
I am on the warpath.
I’m not afraid to be a Rebel for the King!!

[polite and loving disclaimer: I will not engage in any theological, intellectual, mind-bending debates in this blog. While your opinions are valued and worthy of respect, this site is not a platform for lengthy, wordy, subtle arguments. If you want to discuss this, get yourself a blog and write your response to this on there – then post a link to it in the comments below! X]

Odd Socks and Guilt

4 Aug

Tonight, as I trawled through yet another pile of clean, dry laundry, I got to the bottom and found the same handful of odd socks that have been there for the past 6 months.

Irritated to see them there yet again, something in me snapped.

I don’t know if it’s the fact I’m in ultra-organised mode as I pack everything including the kitchen sink for our week of camping. We leave tomorrow and I am SO Not into camping it’s not even funny.
Don’t laugh at me.
Just. Don’t.

I don’t know if it’s the desire in me for radical change, for a new beginning.

I don’t know what made me do it, but I threw the odd socks away.
Trashed them.
Chucked them in the bin, in with a load of other rubbish.

And along with the odd socks I threw away a whole load of guilt.

Now I feel lighter.
I feel a little freer.
I feel….powerful.

See, the odd socks represent the past.
A little.
Ok, just bear with me and use your imagination.
If you have one.

I’ve been hanging on to those poor old, useless, hole-ridden, odd socks even though I’ve known all along there wasn’t even the remotest chance of reuniting them with their partners.

What good does it do to hang on to odd snippets of memories you’ve grown out of, bits of your past that are tired, worn, and will never serve you any purpose…?!

Sometimes, it’s ok to be radical and throw those memories away, cut yourself off from the effects of things past that really are of no use to you today. It’s really just a matter of choice. You are powerful. You are in charge of what you do with your past – NOT the other way round.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18, 19 NIV)

Don’t let your odd socks clutter
your life.
Throw them away, guilt-free – and go buy new socks!!

These words pack a punch – please read.

25 Jul

First in “Punch-Packing” series.
And most definitely NOT the last.

Faith is not a relationship with God. Faith is the connection to a relationship with God. In the book of Acts the Church was called “the Way, ( a walk) not the faith. I’m concerned that Christianity has become a philosophy to believe in instead of a Person we follow.

I’m concerned that we are making converts to Christianity that are not followers of Jesus. Christianity has often, historically not followed Jesus. Christianity has performed terrible atrocities’s, started wars, oppressed women, encouraged slavery, and imprisoned its detractors. All these things that Christianity propagated were taught against by Jesus Christ Himself. He said love your enemies, pray for those persecute you, and he who slaps you on the right cheek give him your left cheek also. He was opposed to violence, loved people who didn’t love Him, and forgave the people who crucified Him.

Jesus taught and lived the highest moral standard ever conceived by humanity. But nowadays people call themselves Christians and live however they want to. They entrench themselves in sin and yet insist that they are following Jesus. They may be Christians who acknowledge a belief system that they don’t follow but their lifestyle bares no semblance to the life of Jesus.

Virtueless Christians and powerless believers are altering the definition of Christianity but they can’t change the path of Jesus Christ. I am increasingly concerned about being identified as a Christian as defined in the 21st-century and by 2000 years of history. Yet I find myself more passionate about following Jesus than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I don’t mind bearing the identity of being a fool for Christ. But I am resistant to being identified as a foolish Christian. The two are no longer synonymous.

(Kris Vallotton)

On Sleeping Less and Sinking a Little Deeper….

21 Jul

…but clinging on to God with every ounce of my strength weakness.

The anxiety is building, the knot in my stomach is tightening, and I feel, I don’t know, WIRED (yes, wired NOT weird. I CAN spell…)
The adrenaline coursing through my body makes me unable to switch off, sit down, go to sleep. I cannot REST.

I am four days into my first pack of tablets. So far, my prayers that the side-effects would be minimal are being answered… I am going from hour-to-hour, meal to meal, sunrise to sundown like a zombie but suspect it’s more to do with sleep deprivation than the drugs.

However in the midst of this inner chaos, I have an anchor. He is holding onto me. Loving me. Soothing me with the balm and the truth of age-old promises: His plan for me is good and it is not to harm me, it is to give me a future and a hope, to prosper me and to bless me and my family.

How do I know He is right here, that He is dependable, and that I can lean on Him, trust His plan?

This is how I know: the love that He is pouring out on me through my amazing husband, kids, through true faithful friends… The way he is speaking to me through every single verse I read in the bible. Trust me that is a miracle!! Not that he is speaking but that I am hearing, loud and clear.

The stunning beauty of his creation around me.

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Wow.
He is here alright.

See, depression and anxiety are real. This is a real illness, which affects the whole of me. It’s not something I can just “get over” by just “getting a grip” or telling it to go away. It’s really not that simple! But I trust His purpose in taking me through this, here and now. I need to go through a process to get well. The process is part of my life’s journey, and He will use it for His glory, just the same as He has used the other painful parts of the journey so far.

God’s Not Finished With You Yet!

20 Feb

God Is Not Finished with Us by Rick Warren
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

We humans are great starters but often bad finishers. We leave unfinished symphonies, unfinished buildings, unfinished books, unfinished projects. We may not always finish what we start, but God always finishes what he starts.

God doesn’t create a bird and give him half a wing. He didn’t create an unfinished flower or an unfinished star. He puts the finishing touches on everything he does, and then he says, “It is good.”

The Bible says when Jesus Christ starts working in your life, he will complete what he started, in spite of the hang-ups, faults, bad decisions, sins, and circumstances that we face. One day, when we get to Heaven, we’re going to become just like Jesus, because we will see him as he is. And that’s the goal.

In the meantime, if we want to enjoy the people in our lives, we need to be patient with their progress. We must allow for their growth and development. Paul could say, “I’m not the man I used to be, thank God. But also, thank God, I’m not the man I’m going to be. I’m growing and changing.”

If you want to enjoy your marriage, you’ve got to learn to enjoy your husband or your wife right now while allowing for growth and development. Otherwise, by the time they meet your conditions, you will have still another condition for them to meet.

Parents, if you’re going to learn to enjoy your kids, you’ve got to learn to enjoy them in the process while they’re growing, because there is no such thing as a perfect kid.

And there’s no such thing as a perfect adult. If you demand perfection of the people in your life in order to enjoy them, you’re going to be miserable for the rest of your life. Nobody’s perfect.

Talk About It

– To whom do you need to show grace today, understanding that God is still working in his or her life, in his own time and his own way?

– Knowing Christ will finish what he started in you, what role do you think he wants you to play in your progress? What steps do you need to take toward spiritual growth?

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