And the winner is…

Lori

Congratulations Lori! Keep an eye on your mailbox!

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Blogiversary Giveaway // Thank you!

My blog is one year old!

In the past 12 months I have written 130 posts, you guys have left 205 comments, and there have been somewhere in the vicinity of 5400 page views. Wow! I am so grateful to you all for stopping by to read what I have written! Thank you!

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You have read about Introversion, Fit Fridays, and my Adventure as I discover what God has for me in this next phase of my life.

There has been celebration and fun, there has been achievement and there has been debate.

There are those of you who are faithful, regular commenters, and there are those of you who are lurkers in this little community of ours.

I am really excited about what the year ahead holds…there will be some changes to the way the blog looks, there will be an exciting project that I hope you will help me out with, and we’ll keep rolling along with our regular raft of posts about life.mad-church-disease1

I’d like to celebrate my blog’s first birthday and say thank you to all of you who have been a part of it so far, by giving away a copy of Anne Jackson’s best selling book Mad Church Disease to one lucky reader!

How can you win?

All you need to do is leave a message in the comments section of this post introducing yourself and telling us something interesting about yourself. At 7pm on Thursday 23rd July (AEST : GMT +10) I will lock the comments and choose a random commenter to receive the book! Make sure you register an email with your comment so I can contact you!

Go on…leave a comment for your chance to win!

Thank you again for being a part of my life!

Love you all!

Michelle

Fit Friday //#FAIL

failConfession:: I didn’t do my Fit Friday post last week because I was depressed about my weight.

Confession 2:: I nearly didn’t do it today either for the same reason.

Physical health, fitness and the associated control of what goes into my mouth is where I fail most often in my attempts to live a godly life. This failure of self-control is sin. I’m not going to sugar-coat it. It’s a sin in the same way that adultery or stealing are sins.

My body is the temple of God…I am defiling it by letting it get overloaded and unkempt.

My life is to be the embodiment of Christ in this world…I’m pretty sure God is not obese.

Our physical selves are often ignored as part of the whole picture of who we are in Christ. Our overeating or lack of healthy habits is ignored in favour of the “more” spiritual acts of bible study and prayer. In reality these things must be balanced.

I think that this area of our lives is one of the biggest strongholds of the enemy in today’s world, and I am struggling with it.

On my escape from Mad Church Disease, this is the next frontier…time to circle the wagons and jump into the fight with both feet.

Do you struggle with the same things? Is this a stronghold in your life?

Michelle

What is Sabbath for? // Preparation

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Where did [Adam] stand in relation to that rest of God? Adam, we are told, was created on the sixth day. Clearly then, he had no part in those first six days of work, for he came into being only at their end. God’s seventh day was, in fact, Adam’s first. Where God worked six days and then enjoyed his Sabbath rest. Adam began his life with the Sabbath; for God works before his rest, while man must first enter into God’s rest, and then alone can he work.
 — Watchman Nee in his book Sit, Walk, Stand

 Did you get snarky when you read that? Is it possible that you think that you don’t need to depend on God to get you through the week? I can understand that reaction…I’ve been there…what am I saying? I still go there…I am human; it’s in my nature to want to go it alone. It’s the part of this cult of self-reliance that we’ve been born into in the modern western world, and it’s NOT where God wants us to be. He knows that he can make our lives so much richer and more fulfilling than anything we will ever dream up for ourselves. But for that to happen it takes a decision on our part to surrender completely…not just little bits and pieces here and there.

COMPLETE surrender.

Think about what that means. Anne Jackson says this:

We cannot be dependent on ourselves and on God at the same time. When we consider the practice of rest unnecessary, we also inevitably lose sight of the necessity of God.

As I mentioned in my last post, this Sabbath rest lets us sort through all of the thousands of pieces of information that bombard us each week and weed out the things that aren’t aligned with the truths and principles that we live by. And the thing about humans is that if we are not intentional about doing this refocussing activity we are prone to drift away from God. Godly rest allows us to be tough and resilient if we have laser focus on our life’s purpose.

God put Adam into the garden for a purpose – to work it and take care of it, and He gave him some instructions. God does the same for each of us. It’s our job as followers of God to be His arms and legs in this world, and He’s given us a guidebook. Our purpose is to represent God on earth. For us to do that we have to constantly make sure we are on track and on purpose. Being sure of our purpose in life makes it easier to make both large and small decisions, and it ties into our energy and motivation.

Let me leave you with this encouragement for the weekend ahead:

..come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest…
 — Jesus in Mark 6:31

 Will you surrender and let God direct your life?

What is Sabbath for? // Restoration

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If my private world is in order it will be because I have chosen to press Sabbath peace into the rush and routine of daily life in order to find the rest God prescribed for Himself and all of humanity.

– Gordon MacDonald

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to get into the rhythm of the merry-go-round of life and operate on autopilot. I am just focussed on making it through the work week, then making it though the things that need to be done around the house on the weekends, I fall in a heap on the couch half way through Sunday afternoon and sit there like a blob, desperately trying to “relax” before Monday morning rolls around, and then when it does…I wake up tired and apathetic and just as worn out as I was on Friday afternoon after a week of work.

I have discovered over the years that if I don’t make a conscious decision to do anything differently, I continue on this cycle until I crash and burn.

Our society, and dare I say many of our churches, are focussed on “doing” and “achieving”. Unless you’re crazy busy, you’re not doing it right. We need to remember that our value does not come from what we achieve or what we acquire. Our value comes from who we are, from our position as adopted sons and daughters of God. I believe that we really need to guard against workaholism, because ultimately being a workaholic is potentially damaging both to your personal health and to your family relationships. The problem is that it is really hard to go against this culture, but I’m beginning to see that the benefits of being intentional about observing the Sabbath far outweigh the blank stares and outright sneers of those who do not see the need.

I believe that the Sabbath needs to be made up of a balanced combination of both leisure time and biblical/godly rest.

Leisure time and activities are like the lollies of life. You only need a little bit in order to remain healthy. Leisure time and doing fun things is great, and they give you a quick little pickup from time to time in terms of bringing serenity to your inner world…but it is really not enough to sustain you in the long run. It’s a quick hit of energy, like a chocolate bar, but like that chocolate bar, there’s a low after. Leisure time, while it’s nice to have, and definitely required; doesn’t really provide the long term, sustaining nourishment that our inner world requires.

We need godly rest as well as leisure time. God was the first one to have rested and you can read about that in Genesis at the end of the creation account, and again in Exodus 31:17 where Moses talks about God resting and being refreshed. The Israelites were commanded to keep the Sabbath day holy as part of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20) which were essentially a set of guidelines to teach them how to live in community again. They had just been set free from a life of slavery where their every waking moment was dictated by someone else — that was all they knew — and they needed some instruction. God was teaching them the best way to live; He wasn’t giving them a set of rules for the sake of it. It’s for that reason I believe that having a day set aside to focus is a legitimate biblical principle for us to observe as modern followers of Jesus. We have been set free from the slavery of sin and need to learn to live in community with other believers. For me, the parallel is obvious.

This rest lets us sort through all of the thousands of pieces of information that bombard us each week and weed out the things that aren’t aligned with the truths and principles that we live by. And the thing about humans is that if we are not intentional about doing this refocussing activity we are prone to drift away from God. Godly rest allows us to be tough and resilient if we have laser focus on our life’s purpose.

Our soul-deep tiredness can only be overcome by catching a fresh vision of the purpose that God has for our lives. If you have the space in your life where you can do that on a daily basis…I am deeply jealous! But for me, I need to intentionally stop the routines of my daily life and give special attention to this refocussing and reconnecting with God’s vision for my life. Taking a Sabbath day is how I do that.

So what does this look like on the ground for me? Before I go on I want to say that Sabbath activities will be different for everyone. For example, many church workers take a week day as their Sabbath, and for parents of very young children it may be an hour once a week.

As I mentioned in the first post, I’m in the development phase for this spiritual discipline, but at the moment my Sabbath day consists of:

  • worship — prayer, bible reading, singing and playing music, drawing, meditation etc.
  • connecting with other believers— whether that be at a physical church or an on line one or through another form of community gathering.
  • weekly review— closing all the open loops, refocussing on purpose and direction (see GTD for more information on this one).
  • journalling — examining what has happened in the week just gone and looking for God’s hand, pausing and asking myself questions about what my life means, working through any issues that need to be dealt with.
  • time with my family — Sabbath was instigated at the time of creation just as the first family was initiated at the time of creation…I’d like to think they are related…and even if they’re not, my family is my primary ministry and part of my purpose in life.
  • physical exercise — I need to renovate my temple, I see this as an act of worship too.
  • relaxation — being an introvert I need a good amount of alone time to restore balance.

For this one day of the week I put aside my regular routine (I have a highly regimented weekly routine in order to get everything done as a full-time worker and mother) and go with the flow of what God has for me. This disruption to my regular programming is like hitting the reset button, and even though it may look like there’s a lot on that list, they are all things that are designed to soothe my soul and refocus me for the week ahead. I’ll talk more about the preparation aspect of Sabbath in the next installment.

Sabbath is no longer a guilt-laden legal requirement. Nor is choosing to observe the Sabbath an excuse to live however you choose during the other six days…all of life is “christian activity” there can be no separation between spiritual and secular. Sabbath is a gift that God is offering. A gift of refreshing and restoration. He personally demonstrated this better way to do life, as any good leader does if He intends his people to follow. If it’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for me. Where He leads I will follow.

What are your thoughts. Do you observe a Sabbath day? How do you intentionally refocus on what God wants for you?

Michelle

Fit Friday // Consistency and Sustainability

1181363_woman_jogging_blurThis week I have continued to work on being consistent in my exercise routine, and managed to exercise six out of the past seven days.

Depending on what you read, the so called experts suggest that it takes anywhere between two and three weeks to cement a new habit into your routine. so I’m either a half or a third of the way there 🙂

What really annoys me though is that it only takes one or two days where I’m too busy or too tired to exercise and I feel like I’m starting back from the beginning again. It’s not fair.

In terms of sustainability…I’m finding that side of things more difficult. For me, it’s easier for me to work harder longer on the bike, but it’s more convenient for me to fit in a short sharp running workout at the end of the day most of the time. But I don’t like running much, and from past experience I am more likely to injure myself running. Will I able to keep that up? Perhaps when the weather starts to warm up I’ll be able to ride more…..

On the bright side, the scales are starting to move in the right direction!

How did you go this week? How do you ensure consistency in your fitness routine?

Michelle

Too busy to “do” Sabbath? // Part 2 // What is the Sabbath for?

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Sabbath seems to be one of those things that gets left off the sermon list. I don’t remember having heard a sermon in the last 30 years about it…but then again that could be my memory giving way…

When I was growing up Sundays meant that we were not allowed to go to work, nor were we allowed to play team sports. Usually we had a couple of doses of church and maybe entertained friends and spent the day watching telly and relaxing.

Over the years the intellectual idea of Sabbath that I developed and carried around with me involved a mythical day where I sat around and either did absolutely nothing, or did something fun with my family. I say “mythical” because it never actually happened. Being as over-committed as I was, Sundays were more often than not busier and more stressful than my regular work days. Sabbath was one of those things that I considered optional and therefore shelved it because I was busy doing stuff for God…which of course, made it alright.

I am learning a better way. I am learning that God put the Sabbath there and commanded us to keep it for a reason. Yeah, I know…d’uh! It never ceases to amaze me how slow I am to “get” this stuff! 🙂

From the study that I have been doing about what the Sabbath is for, I have come to the following two principles that I am trying to implement in my life.

1. The Sabbath was designed for restoration (biblical rest and leisure…and yes…they are different)

God rested at the end of his creative effort..not because he needed to, but so that he could appreciate what had gone before.

2. The Sabbath was designed for preparation.

The very first Sabbath in history was also Adam’s first full day on earth. He spent the day chilling with God and getting his instructions for the week ahead…he was getting focused on his God-given life purpose.

I am still learning how to make these principles work in practise, but I am noticing that these concepts fit nicely with the weekly review that I do as a part of my GTD implementation (for more info about GTD – Getting Things Done…click here), and it fits with The tenets of the Purpose Driven Life.

My next two posts will be about how I’m attempting to implement the two principles and going from a frenetic stressed life that focuses on being busy to a more peaceful life that is intentional about fulfilling my life’s purposes.

What do you do on the Sabbath? Do you think that observing the Sabbath is relevant in today’s world?

Michelle