A great post based upon some thoughts from my friend, Wes!

 

22.268184924_std"I want God, not my idea of God"

 

My friend Wes makes a good point.  Wanting to know God, desiring to grow in the Lord, looking for God to work in life and anticipating His Kingdom to be made real in our lives has to do with expectations and perceptions.  In most cases, who we are and how we act as followers of Jesus is shaped by our concept of who God is.  If God is a "big grandfather in the sky", we are apt to see a passive God as not One to be obeyed and served but placated and entertained.  If our God is some what of a harsh judge, then guilt, self-abasement and frustration is apt to be our lot in life because we we are is processed through the lens of condemnation.  That's why WE WANT God…all of our ideas of God are limited.  We only have an expanded idea of who God is is in relationship.  That's why community in faith is so important…we don't need relationships to be "saved" (per se) but we do need it to grow and know God.  I need someone else in my life who can show me MORE OF GOD than my limited experience and vision can comprehend. So, take a look at Wes' word…insightful to be sure!  Bless you as you grow in Jesus!

 

"I want God, not my idea of God." By Wes Ellis 

 

A classic C.S. Lewis quote recently showed up in my newsfeed on Facebook. The quote was, "I want God, not my idea of God." (Note from Robin – This classic quote is from an incredibly great book that C.S. Lewis wrote after his wife passed away.  It is moving and insightful)

 

A Grief Observed

by C. S. Lewis by HarperCollins e-books
Kindle Edition ~ Release Date: 2009-06-09

Buy Now

 

Initially I thought nothing of it. I liked it. But then I realized how thought provoking the quote really is… I wondered if it actually had any meaning. After all, almost anyone from any side of the spectrum could "like" this quote and if two people from opposing theological and social perspectives could both like the same quote for completely different reasons, does the quote actually mean anything? I like it because it challenges someone else's distorted idea of God, but someone else might like it because it challenges my idea of God, which they see as distorted as well. 

 

It validates everyone. So who's right? The quote doesn't help us there. But precisely on this point I realize how debilitating this quote actually is. "I want God, not my idea of God." The truth is, to say this quote and actually mean it requires an inhuman degree of humility. We like our ideas of God. We can parse those, explain those (even if we simultaneously say they're unexplainable), we can make our own decisions based on those ideas. We can have ideas. In fact, our idea of God is all we really have at all. So to distinguish who God is from our idea of God is essentially to lose God. To say, "I want God, not my idea of God," is to give up… to give up control, to give up understanding, to give up on our own action and become utterly helpless and utterly Godless. 

 

But it is precisely in this place of surrender and Godforsakenness that God comes to meet us. It is only when we give up on the only thing we have and rely solely on that which we cannot grasp, explain, exploit, or control that we encounter the God who is utterly free and perfectly present. So it's ironic that my first inclination, and perhaps many others' inclination, to read this quote-"I want God, not my idea of God"-as validation. It is, in fact, the opposite. Since all we really have is our idea of God, it dismantles us and debilitates us from whatever attempts we might make to lay claim on God, even our claims to faith. It makes us utterly dependent, mere recipients with no power to receive but the power given to us. It mocks our claims to power and confidence. It celebrates the God who shows up when all our ideas fail. It celebrates what we dare not celebrate; our loss of the only God we know-the trading of the God we know for the God who is real, the trading of the God of confidence for the God of the cross, the death of the God we can use and argue and the discovery of the God who gives Godself to everyone (even our enemies). Such a quote can only be said, and meant, in fear and trembling. I bet that C.S. Lewis had a pretty good idea of the weight of this statement. I bet he said it fearfully. May I say the same for us.

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Why this list of activities for 2014 makes complete sense

8416007403_2b530b3d09_oI love being dedicated to personal and spiritual formation.  This is not a self-centered issue as much as it is being committed to growth.  Every person who is committed to growth will grow…if you are not committed, it is a proven psychological, emotional and spiritual fact that apathy and/or "lowest common denominator living" will be your norm.  Ann Voscamp put together a great list of spiritual habits to try out for 2014.  This list is worth a good look by you…NOW!

Habits for 2014

1. First things first: Word in. Work out. Work plan.

  • Open your eyes every morning and just do three first:
  • Word in: Get into God's Word and let it get into you.
  • Work out: Work out. Even 5 minutes of moving is better than nothing. (baby steps! together we can do this!)
  • Work plan: Write out the work plan. And then work the plan.

2. "What a heart knows by heart is what a heart knows"

  • Write a verse from the bible that can be a memory verse for you for a given day, week or even month…put it on a sticky note, on a chalkboard, for your pocket.
  • Because when you are memorizing Scripture, quiet time with the Lord – becomes all the time. (Who doesn't want that?)

3. Flame first.

  • Light a candle first thing in the morning.
  • So you remember: You are the light that is put on a stand so that it gives light to everyone in the house.

4. Your work is art: it needs a soundtrack.

  • Find your music.
  • Play your music.
  • Sing your music. This is profound.
  • Vincent van Gogh said: "When sailors have to move a heavy load or raise an anchor, they all sing together to keep them up and give them vim. That's just what artists lack."

5. Step on the Snake Before Breakfast

  • Before breakfast, crush one hard thing that is tempting you to think there are impossible things.
  • Before breakfast, crush that one thing and prove that all things are possible with God.

6. Stay in the pool ("pool" is a metaphor for that which is your daily "work")

  • Michael Phelps said it in an interview: "You've just got to stay in the pool longer than others."
  • Set the timer. Get in the pool. Stay in the pool. Do your work. Don't get distracted. Don't flit from one thing to another and back.
  • Don't get out of the pool, don't leave your work, until the timer goes. The way to win is to stay in the pool.

7. Clean a space = clear headspace

  • Keeping the workspace clean, clears your headspace to think.

8. Go Slow. Life Zone. Life isn't an Emergency: It's a gift.

  • Life isn't an emergency. It's a gift.
  • Life's so extraordinary it warrants going slow, held in reverential awe.
  • Only the slow see their lives. Which makes it seem longer and richer.

9. Make Laughter Your Chocolate

  • The more you laugh, the longer you live. You can't afford not to laugh more. Watch this. Make laughter your chocolate.

10. No songs without rhythm

  • Every song needs a rhythm; every week needs a routine. Tie certain tasks to a day or another activity.
  • For example, always review your memory verse after breakfast or always make a double batch of soup on Saturday or workout on regular scheduled days and times
  • Your life makes music when you play a string of tasks always together.

11. On 25, Take 5

  • For every 25 minutes "in the pool" working – take 5 minutes off. Live by pomodoros (interesting wikipedia article on "pomodoro technique – check it out). Really. Life-changing.

12. Unplug to plug into your purpose

  • Only if you want to plug into peace and purpose and your big picture – then unplug for certain hours everyday.
  • Constant connectivity effects productivity and affects your "effectiveness" negatively

13.Watch Your "Nos" & Your "Yeses" will take Care of Themselves

  • Everything you say "yes" to, you say "no" to something else.
  • Are your "yeses" forcing you to say "no" to what really want to say yes to?
  • Don't have guilt over a "no" – because every "no" is saying a better "yes."

14. Daily Stillness Appointment

  • When is your 5 minute stillness appointment everyday?
  • Write that midday time in stone. No cancellations allowed. For 5 minutes midday, be still and cease striving.
  • Know He is God and the day looks very different.
  • Slow down: You only pass by this way once.

15. If it's true that the "Heavens Declare the glory of God", get out there.

  • The whole of the sky and the world is speaking endlessly of His glory.
  • When you step outside and listen, your soul revives. You need that.
  • You really need one walk outside a day. Even it's just out the door to get the mail or walk the dog around the block or a walk around the yard before you have to get in the car.

16. Work on your "Wall" before Noon

  • Like Nehemiah who worked on rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, build your wall, building whatever God has uniquely called you to – a particular work project, a creative project, homeschooling, homemaking, a ministry. Everyday before noon, work on your wall, laying down 3 stones before noon.
  • If you don't intentionally work on your wall, the tyranny of the urgent can make your life a rubble heap.

17. Envision the End Goal

  • Like God gave Abraham a vision of the stars of the sky and told him he would have that many children, hang up a picture so you always have a vision of your goal.

18. Everyday, not Every Now and Then

  • Random acts of greatness pale in comparison to habitual acts of faithfulness and kindness.
  • It's not what you do every now and then, but what you do everyday, that changes everything.
  • Do something at the same time everyday and you find yourself a new person.

19. Hard Stops

  • The only way to get anywhere safely is to make complete stops.
  • Make hard, complete stops at set times throughout the day to pray or simply to pause for a moment of quiet.  Otherwise you're risking a crash.
  • 9, 12, 3, on the hour, might be times to set an a gentle, chime alarm for – and just stop and pray.
  • Praying at set times throughout the day is how both Jesus and the early church lived their days: God marking time.

20. The Holy, Happiness Habit {Count Gifts}

  • All research says that giving thanks is guaranteed to make you 25% happier. Who. Doesn't. Want. That.?
  • Write down 3 things a day you are grateful for. Hunt for His glory. Look for the beauty. Count 1000 gifts.
  • Thank Him for this is always, definitely, 100% God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
  • Take the Joy Dare! Make right where you are your happy place!

If you haven't read Ann's book, 1000 gifts, get it ASAP!  

21. "Ebenezers" for the Efforts 

  • Samuel took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer-"the stone of help"-for he said, "Up to this point the Lord has helped us!" -1 Samuel 7:12, NLT
  • Mark little milestones! Celebrate! The little things!
  • A treat at the end of the day, end of the week, end of the project, end of the term.
  • Hang a bunting. Taste something sweet. Take a happy, thumbs up picture to mark your progress!
  • Today, "bunting" is a term for any festive decorations made of fabric, or of plastic, paper or even cardboard in imitation of fabric. Typical forms of bunting are strings of colorful triangular flags and lengths of fabric in the colors of national flags gathered and draped into swags or pleated into fan shapes.  The term bunting is also used to refer to a collection of flags, and particularly those of a ship. The officer responsible for raising signals using flags is known as "bunts", a term still used for a ship's communications officer. 
  • Make an album of a year, of the process, of the overcoming.

22. Affirmations from our Lord!

  • You need these everyday. Whisper them aloud, who you really are if you are IN Christ:
  • I am complete in Christ. Colossians 2:9-10
  • I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ. Hebrews 4:14-16
  • I am free from condemnation. Romans 8:1-2
  • I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances. Romans 8:28
  • I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God. Romans 8:31-39
  • I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me. Philippians 1:6
  • I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

23. Breathe

  • Breathing in and breathing out like this will radically change the quality of your life. Breathe.

24. Hard and Bad Day? Hot Bath…or Hot Shower…or Hot Tub…or Hot Sauna

  • An evening routine at the end of the hard and bad days…Yes.

25. Rest so you can have the rest of God.

  • Sleep is more than your friend – it's your God-given fuel.
  • Tomorrow always begins with the night before, so turn in early so tomorrow can turn out well.

Remember, this is a Plan of Grace…these are not RULES or obligations but opportunities for moments of love, grace, and mercy throughout your day. Every step unfolds a bit of hope…with the exhaling relief of daily being more grateful for what is than feeling guilty for what isn't…

 

The Persistence of Faith – a GREAT book by Jonathan Sacks

1Persistence-of-FaithI don't know how I miss these things.  I guess it has to do with time, exposure to divergent communities, etc.  Never heard of Jonathan Sacks before and, for the life of me, I can't remember how I heard about this book.  But I'm glad I did.  Sack's book was one of the most intelligent and persuasive writings I have been exposed to of late that addresses moral deliberation and foundations in soceity. It also is HUGE on the vital importance of TRUE community…not pseudo-community (i.e. Scott Peck) but value shaping, morally accountable, truly life shaping community.  I would recommend that you read it…it is a bit "heavy" at times but, essentially, the book is a series of published lectures.  Because of that dynamic, though weighty the book is approachable.  

By the way, here are some notes I took to get "your appetite" going:

Download Persistence of faith sum 1