Whatever you do…

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Have been reading through 1 Corinthians this week and one of the things that stood out to me was these verses in Chapter 10. It’s connected to chapter 9 and 7 and displays a lot of Paul’s attitude towards his work. I was challenged in my attitude towards work.

One of my dreams is to preach the gospel, like Spurgeon, many times throughout the week. I love to encourage people with God’s word and in their walk with Jesus. And if that was my full time job, I’d do it out of hours and wouldn’t worry about working ‘unpaid’ overtime.

So why don’t I consider my work with Cancer Research in such a way? Am I not supposed to be doing that work as unto the Lord? Am I not supposed to be seeking God’s glory in whatever position God calls me to? Married or single, slave/servant or freeman, employed or self-employed?

And so, I have been praying about what does it look like to carry out my life as it stands – today – as unto the Lord. And my thoughts:

  • Going the extra mile
  • Working overtime
  • Honouring my employer when their watching and when their not

In a sense, I want to steward the job I have now well in my early 20s as how I would if I was working full time for a church. I want to work as diligently as an employee for Cancer Research as if I was a missionary for Reach Across.

My aim isn’t to switch job, change my circumstances, but to glorify God.

1 Corinthians 7:

17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. 24 Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

Receiving Romans 8

I am Righteous.
I am not condemned any longer.
I have been given life.
I have been set free from sin and death.
The righteous requirement of the law has been fully met in me because: I live according to the Spirit.

I have my mind set on what the Spirit desires.
I have my mind governed by the Spirit.
My mind is life and peace.
My mind is a friend of God and is no longer hostile to Him.
My mind is able to submit to God’s law – and it does.

I please God!

The Spirit of God lives in me!
I have Him!
I belong to Christ!
Christ is in me!

Even though my body is subject to death – I have received life because of righteousness.
My body will be raised because His Spirit is in me.
I put to death the misdeeds of the body.
I will live!

I am lead by the Spirit.
I am a Child of God.
I am not a slave to fear.
I am adopted to son ship.
I cry “Abba Father!”

I am an heir of God.
I am a co-heir with Christ.
The Spirit, The Holy Spirit himself, testifies as much!
I share in His sufferings.
I will share in His glory – it will be revealed in me!

I have the first fruits of the Spirit.
And I groan inwardly as I eagerly wait
This is the hope I have, and it saves me.
I hope and wait patiently.

I am helped in my weaknesses by the Spirit.
He intercedes for me!
He searches my heart.
He intercedes for me according to God’s will.

God is working for my good.
I love Him!

I have been called according to His purpose.
God foreknew me.
He predestined me to be conformed to the image of Christ.
He called me.
He justified me.
He will glorify me.

God is for me!
Who can stand against me?
He will give me all things!
Who will bring any charge against me?
He has justified me.
Who will condemn me?
No one!

Nothing will separate me from the love of God!
I am a super-conqueror through Him loved me and gave Himself for me.

Amen

The Promises are true!

Just a quick post…today has been an exhausting day. To be honest the whole week has felt pretty stressful. A lot on at work at the moment and a lot of problems along the way…

And I got back from the office after work, dead minded, tired, wiped out, physically and mentally drained…etc. And the thought randomly occurred (#TheSpiritRemindedMe): “Those who wait on the Lord renew their strength.

In that moment I had a choice. Do I switch the TV on, put an audio book on and numb the exhaustion with “rest”. Or do I fetch my Bible from my home desk, pull out a chair and sit in the garden and wait on the LORD?

I chose the later option.

I decided to test the promise…

And I found it true.

He does renew the strength of those who hope in Him. Hopefully this post can remind me next time.

Too many ‘daily-habits’

We don’t often hear about successful people making mistakes. Few people admit the struggles they face, whilst they face them. Far be it from me to make this blog another example of someone who has it all together.

I’m going to do some thinking “out loud” in this post. See if it helps me come up with some solutions.

The Problem: I feel as though I have too many daily-habits and things that I expect of myself to achieve/get done. For some reason, perhaps because of being overwhelmed, or even because of a fear of being overwhelmed…I’m doing less than what I was previously. Even bed-rock habits (those I’ve been doing consistently for years) are being missed.

The Question: So what is it that I feel I have to achieve/get done on a daily basis? [Clarify – someone wise once said we ‘fear what we don’t understand’ – so let’s try and be specific]

  1. Bible Read Through (a book of the Bible a week/3-4 chapters/day, 20mins)
  2. Journaling (10-20mins)
  3. Exercise (45-60min 3/week)
  4. Running (60-90mins 2/week)
  5. Bible Study (around 30 mins)
  6. Other Study projects (Spurgeon‘s Lectures, Greek, Writing 45mins)
  7. Blogging (?…not enough experience, roughly 45mins/post)
  8. Book Work – Editing (45min chunks)
  9. Creating Resources (45mins)

In all that works out as: 220+90=310mins a day = 5+hours….on top of that I have a full time job and people I’m discipling/meeting with.

Okay, that is an unreasonable expectation.

The Next Question: Clarifying ‘why’ I “need” to do each of those a) so regularly b) at all.

  1. Bible Read Through (a book of the Bible a week/3-4 chapters/day, 20mins) Part of my dynamic relationship with God, a means by which I encourage others to pursue God’s heart through a resolved and deliberate attitude towards the church..
  2. Journaling (10-20mins) Part of my relationship with God and the foundation for how I carry out the various offices of my life.
  3. Exercise (45-60min 3/week) My life’s example to encourage and inspire others to pursue God’s heart + health reasons
  4. Running (60-90mins 2/week) Ibid.
  5. Bible Study (around 30 mins) Maintaining a posture of receptivity and learning, wise stewardship of the gifts God has given me including teaching, also part of my relationship with God.
  6. Other Study projects (Spurgeon‘s Lectures, Greek, Writing 45mins) Ibid
  7. Blogging (?…not enough experience, roughly 45mins/post) Stewardship, a posture of vulnerability, lays a foundation for future book work, practice writing skills
  8. Book Work – Editing (45min chunks) Ibid
  9. Creating Resources (45mins) Ibid

Not entirely helpful. But what I did notice is that there is a lot I am doing to teach others. Since aiming for more than I can handle is resulting in doing less than I can handle…I will reduce.

Work in progress – list:

  1. BRT
  2. Journaling
  3. Exercise/Running
  4. Bible Study
  5. Blogging
  6. Book Work

New total: 40+60+90+45=190+45=235 … still not convinced its realistic….

Blogging and Bible Study…What if, blogging becomes an evening activity “when I feel like it” and Bible Study is done intensely one-two slots each week? That sounds more workable.

So new total: 145mins roughly each day = roughly 2.5hrs…= totally manageable. I wake at 5, finished by 7.30.

Daily Habits: BRT – Journaling – Exercise/Running – Book work

And I can over invest in one of those tasks each day by half an hour or so, rather than try and cram in more.

Weekly Habits: Ad hoc blogging (sorry readers!) and 2/week intense Bible Study sessions.

Brilliant, the way is clear. Will review after a week.

Priority Matrix and Mission

I’ve read my fair amount of productivity, motivation, self help, self-organisation books. I’ve listened to a fair amount of training. And one of the things that comes up frequently is the Priority Matrix:

I think it’s self explanatory, it’s a tool that helps you prioritise a busy schedule.

Well, yesterday I had a bit of a yahoo moment – as I made a connection in my mind: The Gospel Mission is both “urgent” and “important” .

The great commission, to make disciples of all nations, is urgent. We don’t know when Christ will return. We don’t know when our lives will end. But we do know that the time we have is short and so we need to make the most of every opportunity.

But the great commission, is also important. Souls are at stake. God’s Kingdom is so significant, requests for its eminence are top of list in the Lord’s Prayer. The fact that it comes post-resurrection, when all authority in heaven and earth had been given to Jesus, demonstrates it’s importance!

Why is it then that our whole lives do not orientate around the mission of God? Is it because we don’t think it is urgent, we don’t think it is important?

In my job, when I have a task that is both urgent and important, I tend to drop everything. My mind is filled with problem solving the job, I’m talking about it with others, brainstorming solutions. I’m even praying about it.

I understand there is a caveat. We don’t want to “burn out” by “over working”, and not stopping. His burden is light and His yoke is easy. We also shouldn’t worry about anything…etc. But on the other hand, why is it we are so okay to “burn out” and “over work” on other tasks, but not this one?

I wonder what it would look like if a group of five Christians took the Great Commission as the most urgent and most important task in their lives, for even a week? I have a feeling, with five Christians praying, brainstorming, dropping everything, and “doing it now” much ground would be advanced for the Kingdom of God.

A few questions to reflect:

  • What do I need to drop right now, to focus on the Mission of God
  • Who can I partner with in this Mission
  • What specific areas can I be praying for
  • What are my next steps

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out you own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good please.

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fail in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. Holding fast to the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Chirst that I have not run in vain or laboured in vain.

Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.

Finally, for those who would like more understanding about what the Mission of God entails, I would highly recommend the textbook: The Mission of God’s People by Wright. To summarise in one sentence: the mission is: to be a blessing to the nations.

Spotify or Apple Music?

I love music.

This last year I’ve been experimenting with Spotify and Apple Music subscriptions. I think, despite my love of Apple – Spotify have won this battle.

But as much as I love music, I think I’m stumbling into a realization. Music is best when it is fully appreciated. And we rarely fully appreciate something that is always there.

So I’ve stopped putting Spotify on in the background whilst I’m working, despite its: “music for concentration” playlists. And I no longer automatically opt for music accompaniment on my commute.

Working in silence, and walking with just my thoughts, is surprisingly refreshing. The experience is no longer hi-jacked by whatever emotion is induced by whatever song comes on. (True, I feel less like a badass when ‘gonna fly now’ doesn’t usher me into the office with Rocky.)

But then, when the moment comes to actually listen to music, there is a newfound respect, admiration and appreciation that comes along with.

For people who haven’t tried, I’d highly recommend, choosing to listen to no music for a whole day and then in the evening put on an album.

As the adage goes, distance makes the heart grow fonder

I wonder what else I’m experiencing in excess?

Paul

Priorities

“Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment” – John C. Maxwell.

This morning I was reading through The Acts of the Apostles and stumbled upon this verse:

It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables…we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word”

It made me think of priorities and what do we do.

I’m currently feel slowly being nudged back into “church ministry” after a 9+ month withdrawal. It’s been a refreshing and revealing season, with several challenges, unexpected accomplishments and a lot of heart work.

And now, I’m being presented with several opportunities to serve in different ways. From preaching, to mentoring. From youth groups to small groups. I’m still establishing myself in the habit of writing and learning new things in that area.

So how do I choose what to engage with and what not? (See Life Purpose)

In this Bible reading, I realised there is another solution when presented with an opportunity. Another solution aside from engage or not engaging. A solution called: delegation.

Delegation: Frees me to focus on my calling, allows others to step into leadership, encourages me to pass on what I know, affirms the gifts and passions of others.

Ti-Yong: Blog or Book?

When China began copying alternative models for industrialisation in the 19th Century, they adopted a policy of ‘Ti-Yong’. Which means ’Essence’ and ’Form’. They intended to keep the Chinese Essence – their identity and character. But change their Form to match the approach to development used by the foreign countries.

In the same way, I think my blog is going to undergo a Ti-Yong transformation.

I have really enjoyed blogging these last couple of months! (Like a lot!) It’s been helpful way to reflect on my week in the Sunday Summaries. To consolidate my Personal Bible Studies with the Monday, Wednesday and Friday posts. As well as regurgitate the various tips, tricks and hints I’ve learnt that week about productivity and motivation etc.

However

As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m also writing a book at the moment. I finished my first draft back in July and gave it to a friend to read over and feedback.

In that time since, I’ve taken up blogging to fill the writing void. It’s been so encouraging.

When you work on a book, it’s very private, there is no immediate feedback and there are few (if any) people who encourage you along the way. With blogs you can change topic to match whatever you feel like writing about that day/week, whereas a book involves sticking with the same theme for a long time. Plus, you can’t make money (albeit pennies) with every chapter, like you can with blog posts.

So thank you to everyone who has read, commented, liked, any post I’ve written. I have been so encouraged!

I got the feedback, on my first draft a few weeks ago and have since really struggled to make much progress with the editing/re-draft because my morning slot for writing is filled with blogging.

So I’ve done a pros and cons…and here’s my decision:

My decision,

I will continue to blog, however, I will no longer be aiming for daily posting.

Since I’ve benefitted from the Sunday summaries, I’m going to keep doing that. I hope you will want to stick around at least for the weekly catch ups.

I’ve also decided that my Bible Study posts are going to change. Instead I’m going to post a picture of my final draft notes. See tomorrow’s post. Which means, I’m going back to Genesis 1:1-2-3. Hopefully, this model will be more sustainable in the long term.

I regards to Tuesday Tools and Thursday thoughts…I think this will be more sporadic and low priority.

Finally I will continue to post notes on Systematic Theology.

In short…

The blog will remain active. But the style of several of the posts will change. I hope you will still be interested to read and visit, follow my story etc.

But I have decided I will focus my writing attention on the book as a priority.

I’d appreciate your prayers. Editing has turned out to be way more challenging than writing, and I have so much to work through. Please pray that I can think clearly, write brilliantly and persevere in the hidden/secret place.

Best wishes, Paul

Identification with Christ

One of the things I feel being lead into at the moment, in my walking with God, is the theme of identification with Christ. I feel I have only scratched the surface and so this post won’t do justice to the work I think God wants to do in me.

It was a couple of weeks back when I started reading New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton. In it he talks about ‘contemplation’ as this mysterious state where it is no longer ‘I’ who live but Christ who lives in me.

My heart throbbed upon reading that.

I’m only a couple of chapters into Merton’s book and still have a lot to learn (it’s one of my slow reflective reads).

And then I was on a walk recently, listening to an audiobook by Watchman Nee ‘The Spiritual Man’. Which had been recommended by a man whose walk with God captivated me in my teenage years. He’d recommended this book to me years back, and I’ve tried on multiple occasions to read the book. And I never made it through the first third.

Not finishing a book is really really weird for me! I usually read over 52 books each year. Most books I start, even if they’re really bad, I finish! And yet, it’s been at least five years since I was recommended the ‘Spiritual Man’. I’d bought myself the paperback, and failed to finish several times, got the audiobook and failed to finish.

But here I am, in a season of my life where I feel God is nudging me towards praying about this theme. To experience and know-deeply, the truth that my ‘self’ is hidden in Christ. And I (almost) randomly put this audiobook on, to accompany my walk one day. It ‘picks up where I left off’ and… BAM!

He’s talking about it too! Living by the Spirit and not by the flesh. Living by the regenerated, new nature and not by the ‘soulish’ intellect, emotions and volition.

It makes me think that God’s been preparing me for this season to teach me something new. Maybe it will sink in this time.

I’m a little nervous, it feels like I’ve got some ‘dying to self’ to do. And I’m scared. What will I have to give up. What will I have to lose. Can I really go on without looking back?

My hope is that God who has started this work in me will lead me through it. I remind myself that my God is good, He cares for me and loves me. Where He asks me to die, I must trust that He will raise renewed.

Anyway, here’s a slightly less coherent blog post than usual. Just what’s going on in my walk with God.