Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Changing my default!

This week there have been many e-mails between me and an old school chum, Dan. Most of our conversation has been in respect of getting free from legalism, the affects that legalism has had and the journey into grace and the awesomeness of grace. Dan and I are kindred spirits in many ways having journeyed together through a number of years and I would boldly say that he is like the brother that I never had. He's a real blessing to me and has been known to send me the odd prophetic word that has been totally spot on quite a number of times!!

In my e-mails to Dan I found myself realising just was a stench legalism has about it, but that grace has a sweet aroma – I know which one I would rather choose but yet there are times I run to the stench because that is what I am so used to! At work I have 3 different printers that I can send my printing to - a general one with the option to print on plain paper, headed paper or labels, a colour printer for the odd occasion that it is needed and a large beefy photocopier that will store my printing, double side it, put different sheets on different colours, staple and will print huge documents very quickly and very cheaply. The first one I mentioned is my default printer - if I just hit the print key and I know that it will go to the general printer and be on plain paper. Occasionally I have mass printing jobs to do and if I know that I will spend a few hours on the same print job then I will change my default to the third printer I mentioned. Why do I share the details of something so mundane - simply because I know that over years and years my 'default' has been set to legalism. Something happens and the natural, immediate and without question response has come from a position of legalism.
But oh for grace to become my default – how I yearn for it to be so - but I have been told and can see that unlearning the default of legalism can take time! How I pray that grace reactions would become my default reactions in the ups and downs of life!

The other thing that I have realised is that legalism wrecks lives – I only see damage from legalism. Even handling some situations that my husband and I face and have faced I realise how legalism is brought out and have to say that legalism underlines failure, highlights inability and bolds the imperfect!

So many people brought up in legalism struggle to gain the freedom and life offered under grace because their natural response comes from years of being taught ‘you must be this, you must do this, you must be like this, you must produce this, you must achieve this.’ But Grace explodes and disintegrates the ‘you must’ with ‘Jesus has’ - everything is liberated and the delight comes as we realise Jesus has done it all, won the day and given us all that we need!

Oh to live in the fullness of the default of grace..............

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Perseverance, Grace and the Gym!

This is a bizarre title for a post but hang with me for a mo while I explain! Back in June I joined the gym that is literally a stones throw from my front door. I have been plucking away at going a number of times each week after the realisation that from 7am - 3.30pm every weekday I do a desk job with only a walk to the photocopier, toilets or a meeting as any exercise. I must confess having joined I want to go - I want my money's worth!!!! :-)

Anyway to get to the point I got up early this morning to get half an hour at the gym in, before a shower and an early start at Church with the praise team. Most days I plug my headphones into the piece of equipment I am working out on and watch the nice big plasma TV at the front. This morning I decided to take my trusty little ipod shuffle and spent half an hour blasting praise music while I had an 'in-head chat' with God. I spent some time praising Him, talking to Him about some of the things on my heart and also just listening to see what He had to say to me. Yet again I heard the same word that has been echoing in recent weeks - the word is 'perseverance' - this word was not only an encouragement to keep going on the treadmill this morning but also to keep going on the road of grace and to keep working through things that I have started to tackle recently. But the beauty of perseverance in grace is that all is given to me to persevere. God isn't going to make me journey this route without His touch and enabling the whole way!

I was thinking about legalism, grace and the gym this morning - I might be a member of the gym but if I don't actually put my kit on and walk out the door, round the corner and go in then being a member profits me nothing. If I go to the gym all the equipment that I want is there, all the good exercise is there to be had if I walk through the door, if I fancy a swim I can just go and do that - it's all there! Now think about this - what if I am a Christian and don't live in the grace given to me - it's all there - I just have to step in to it, there is a wealth of good things for me to enjoy and to revel in and to swim in! BUT I need to step in to grace to enjoy it, to realise it. The differences between my gym and the grace of God are multiple but - here are a few:- Grace is to be enjoyed not endured, Grace is never unavailable my gym has closing times! Grace is personal, a love relationship, the gym deals with strangers and there isn't a love for customers!

The point really is how struck I was this morning that I have to make the effort and go to the gym in order to receive the benefit of membership, I also have to make the effort to put myself in 'the line of fire' to learn about grace, to grow in grace, to be set free 100% to enjoy grace. So as my Sunday draws to a close I start another week with the word 'perseverance' ringing in my head, perseverance to be in the deluge of grace, but hand in hand with a knowledge that without being legalistic I need to step in the flow of grace and try to stay there..........................

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Grace and molds?

Been thinking a lot recently about the mold of what I think I should be like as a Christian, perhaps the mold that I think others have for me, the expectations others have of me, the mold that perhaps I even try to put on myself. I am sure others have the same thoughts some time.

And then......well then I think about grace and it hits me - with grace there is no set mold that I have to fit in to. With grace there is nothing I have to do to 'fit in', with grace I am 100% accepted just as I am right now, grace turns the concept of 'I have to be like this' completely on his head. Now it is learning to really get these truths about grace from my head to my heart, to not just be right on the good days but to be true and real to me on the bad days, the lone moments, the times when the tears fall, when grief seems overwhelming and that is the challenge for the moment - for listening to the voice of grace even when things are tough and everything points to the 'you're rubbish syndrome.'

Anyone else battle with this????

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Journey of Grace Continues

I continue to journey through the ups and downs of stepping into the realisation that living under grace is completely different to living under rules, regulations and trying to fit into a mould. The journey has new highs and new lows. Constant new revelations seem to hit me on a daily basis and yet at the same time the battle often seems more intense! Recent days / weeks the feelings of condemnation seem to have grown and become more tougher to handle. I am grateful to God for putting key people around me that have encouraged me that the Bible says 'there is no condemnation for those in Christ.' People that have encouraged me that God's love and thoughts towards me are good and will never change even if I ever mess up that He will still love me that He doesn't ever get cross with me that I haven't fully grasped grace yet.
Then this evening I was reading Steve McVey's blog and this post and these paragraphs hit me like a bullet:-

The Spirit of Christ doesn’t put you under guilt and condemnation about something Jesus Christ has already absorbed into Himself at the cross, defeated and put away. Remember that Jesus dealt with sin and then sat down by the right hand of God because there was nothing left to do regarding sin. Your sins have been defeated and put away. So at every moment, “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
When the Christian sins, the Holy Spirit causes us to realize, “This isn’t who I am. I don’t want to live like this.” That realization is a call to recognize our righteousness and act like who we are. If you sense feelings of worthlessness and shame; if you think you are a horrible person when you sin, that isn’t the Holy Spirit speaking to you. It may be your church or family history rising up to condemn you, but it isn’t God’s Spirit. He doesn’t do that. Ever.
-Steve McVey
What an awesome statement re God condemning me - "He doesn't do that. Ever."
How I pray that this goes from my head to my heart.....................