The unforced rhythms of grace

Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

No pressure. No unrealistic expectations. No demands. No bindings. Just an invitation to come into a place of recovery, for learning and for growing.

Made-to-measure living where we can reach our fullest potential.

These are the words of the greatest leader who has ever lived upon planet earth. Unforced. Rhythmic. Gracious.

Briefly, these are my “takeaways” from this:

1) Grace comes in ebbs and flows. We are given blessings and then sometimes they are seemingly taken away, only to be replaced by newer, greater- albeit similar in nature- blessings later on in time. It is a rhythm that cannot be forced.

2) This grace/abundance/blessing comes from Jesus who is full of both grace and truth. It cannot be achieved through purely human effort.

3) The mention of grace and truth together is not accidental- there is a connection. In order to be able to experience fully these waves of grace that are offered to us, and in order to be buoyed through the lulls of grace, we must anchor ourselves to Truth. Not truth with a lowercase “t”-which is the truth of the world as we see it…we must be solidly connected and receiving Truth with a capital “T,” and that kind of truth is not a proposition or a proposal or a set of facts or descriptions about the world- it is a person, the Person of Jesus Christ. We must anchor ourselves “in Christ”.

Do you know the best way to get into shore and keep both nostrils above the waterline when you feel as if you are being pulled out to sea by an undercurrent? It’s to let go, lay back, stop swimming and just float. You let go, always keeping your eyes on the beach, and you let the current push you back in.

And so it is with life. Sometimes we try to force grace. We recognize a promise that God has whispered into our lives, and when that promise doesn’t come into immediate fruition, we panic. We begin a swim toward shore which is nothing more than a lot of thrashing and flailing and we think this will get us into the safety of the sand. But it seems the more we do this, the more exhausted we get, and our efforts begin to feel, surprisingly, counterproductive. That’s because they are. All the effort in the world will not bring about God’s promise of blessing and grace one second earlier than His appointed time.

Learning to “lean into Grace” is one of the most difficult spiritual practices to do, but it is key to being able to experience the authentic trusting life of a Christ-follower.
A friend used to say to me: “God is never late. Always on time- and rarely shows up early.” She was trying to tell me to be patient; to wait upon the Lord; and to not try to force grace’s rhythms. When we attempt to manipulate the rhythms of grace, we end up wrinkling the fabric of time and history. That may sound very esoteric and mystical, but I say this unapologetically. Because Grace is mystical…

Granted to us by the efforts of The Truth, grace is a gift that is simply unachievable through human effort. When we try to do so, we are literally setting ourselves up as gods. Not good. Not a gracious way to live. Not living by faith, through grace. Not helpful, and never profitable.

Forced grace is not grace at all. Today, let God’s grace wash over you like a mighty river, let it carry you where God wills. Rest in it. Bask in it. Learn its unforced rhythms…

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INSECURITY = SELF-SABOTAGE

Insecurity refers to a profound sense if self-doubt – a deep feeling of uncertainty about our basic worth and our place in the world.
The mark of real security is the ability to be around anyone, regardless of our attractive or intelligent, and still maintain personal confidence and contentment.
Just because pride fills a heart doesn’t keep it from breaking. It keeps it from healing!
Pride talks us out of forgiving and leads us away from risking!
Pride cheats us of intimacy because intimacy requires transparency…
Pride is a slave driver like no other, and if it can’t drive us to destruction it will drive us to distraction!
We’re so desperate for significance we live our lives screaming “somebody notice me” and you want to know something interesting?
That’s exactly how God made us.
That very need is built into our human hard drives to send us on a search for our Creator, who can give us more significance than we can handle!
Confidence is driven by the certainty of God-given identity and the conviction that nothing can take that identity away.
We are complex people indeed. Perfect messes. Pridefully insecure! We all have a pride problem. OWNING it is a relief!
A clean heart and a clean path are only one sincere confession away.
Insecurity makes us settle. Insecurity robs our confidence in our rich inheritance from God.
God slipped His own secure Spirit within our simple jars of clay. It is in us to be secure! You have it in you!
Insecurity is about losing our God-given dignity.

Judgementalism in the church

Judgmentalism in the church by David Loveless

Discussion or journaling questions:

1. Who are the groups or types of people I am most prone to judge?
2. Who have I offended Lord, with my judging? What would You have me do to make this right with them?
3. Lord, help me understand: what is the real need inside me that makes me want to appear better, smarter, more godly than someone else?
4. What can I do to cleanse this wound that drives me to think and behave like this?
5. Lord, I have sensed the judging eyes and tongues of these people on me…. ( List them here) They have hurt me Father, please heal my pain and give me Your power to forgive them for the wounds they have caused in me.
6. Bless each person- one by one -and see yourself release each of them to God to deal with when and how He determines.
7. Now spend the last few minutes thanking the Lord for the incredible worth and value He placed on you with His fathomless love.

Is your soul downcast!

Many of us are more intentional about monitoring the well being of our cars than monitoring the well-being of our souls.
What are the warning indicators that your soul is not doing well? I’ll tell you mine: you can use them or modify them to run a little test, assessing your soul 1-5 on these scales:
–Lack of motivation. When nothing seems to be worth doing, when I find myself ‘not caring’ about people, or suffering, or my work, I know my soul needs attention.
–Irritability. When other people increasing feel like a bother rather than a brother, its time for some maintenence work.
–High vulnerability to discouragement. When the soul is strong, it finds obstacles and challenges to be part of the task assigned it, to make it stronger.
–High vulnerability to temptation. When my soul lacks satisfaction from the right sources, it will look for satisfaction from the wrong ones. No ones’ soul can go for long without satisfaction.
–Loss of gratitude. The soul stretched thin loses its receptors for beauty and joy.
There is help for the hurting soul, and God knows best what yours needs: solitude or fellowship; encouragement or conviction; new challenge or rest.
But healing always starts with awareness.
Check the dashboard.(by John Ortberg)

Christian Atheists

Does your life look like a Christian life should?
Are we courageous enough to admit our hypocrisy?
How often have you offered to pray for someone and never followed through?
Do you know what God wants you to do but still do whatever you want to do?
Belief in God is not the same as personal knowledge of Him.
Is a personal relationship with God unlikely, unrealistic & unattainable?
Is your experience of God found only in your memories?
Are we cultural Christians?
75% of our country claims to be Christian but neither our country nor our churches reflect this stat.
So this indicates that we indeed are Christian atheists!