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More Than Victorious Christian Living

Posted on February 19, 2015 by Sarah Brown | 0 Comments

The richest fruit of God’s work in our hearts would be evidenced by increasing humility and dependence on Christ for everything, rather than in a ‘victorious Christian life.’ - Extravagant Grace

A victorious Christian life can sometimes be:

• Getting my to-do list in order
• Doing a quiet time for 15 minutes a day
• Attending a bunch of Bible Studies
• Volunteering at school or church
• Taking meals to new moms
• Being the type of neighbor that keeps your front lawn looking good
• Making cute Valentines Day cards for a party

    God calls us to:

    • Depend on Christ for everything (Rom 12:2)
    • See Christ as everything (Col. 1:17)
    • Let go of anything that puts something else before Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)
    • Treasure Christ as the most important (Matt. 6:19-21)
    • Know that Christ is the only important (Gal. 2:20)

      Can we choose today to stop letting our “victorious Christian life” activities (while well meaning and good) keep us from Christ? Can we let the Gospel invade our life today, instead of our list of things to “get our Godly act together”? Can we see Christ, not our own merit?

      Posted in Gospel, Praise

      Taking Some Time to Play

      Posted on February 16, 2015 by Sarah Brown | 0 Comments

      This fall, when reading the book Overwhelmed, the author Bridget Schulte talks about adding play back in to your life. She interviews people from Mice at Play, an organization whose goal is to help grown women learn to play again. With playdates like a 1940’s dress up photoshoot, a beach volleyball party, and even trying out the trapeze, Mice at Play wants to instill play back into the lives of overly stressed-out women.

      I think play is hard. As a 30+ year old working-from-home mom with a preschooler full of abundant energy, it can feel like the daily energy to keep up with a fast-moving day is about all I can muster. To think about doing something more, even if it is for fun, just exhausts me. 

      And, if I do take time for myself, it is usually “productive” play time - reading lots of books, running, getting coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in a while…all good things, but typically purposeful-play. 

      But I think this idea of play is so much more…and even something encouraged from God. I think it starts with allowing the reality of the gospel to actually intersect with my everyday. 

      So much of every day life can feel like mundane - the laundry, the to-do lists, the cooking of food, the disciplining a preschooler. But God calls us to joy, to rejoicing, to an attitude of thankfulness, to hearts overflowing.

      If we can see these mundane things as joy, would it free us up to play?

      In Hands Free Mama, the author Rachel Macy Stafford tells a story about how she was about to have guests over for dinner. Twenty minutes before the guests were to arrive, she hops on bikes with her kids and pedals around the neighborhood. Instead of finishing the last details for dinner, Stafford chooses to let the stress go, and instead see the joy in the moment…choosing rejoicing instead of fretting, choosing an overflowing heart instead of perfection. 

      Can we do this in our own lives? If I could see everything in my life, even the average and the mundane, as abundant gifts from God, an overflowing of grace in providing even the smallest of pleasures in my day-to-day, my perspective could change. I could let go of what seems so overbearing…the cooking, cleaning, working…and rejoice in the day I have, allowing myself freedom to play. 

      I can then see play as a way to reflect that I am embracing this day given by the Lord, seeing this hour as nothing but blessing. I can be free to play outside of the "guidelines of productivity" because I can find joy in the fact that I have nothing more to accomplish - all has been accomplished for me already. I can play with abandon because the Lord has been gracious to me in ways that mean I don’t have to check off my to-do list to find my worth. 

      If the gospel is able to infiltrate the reality of my mundane days, I have freedom to let go…and just play. 

      Today, I could go down the slide with my child at the playground because my worth comes from God, not how put together I need to look. I could sit on the deck tonight with my husband and try to count the stars, because my efficiency in cleaning the house is not what defines who I am. I could choose play today because I believe that all is grace, all is finished, all is through Christ. 

      Do you find time for regular play? What do you find hard about letting yourself play?

      Posted in Play, Praise

      Daily Thanks or Daily Praise?

      Posted on February 05, 2015 by Sarah Brown | 0 Comments

      I think most of us have heard about the famous hashtag #1000gifts. Ann Voskamp wrote an incredible book about how dramatically your life will change when you can see everything around you as a gift from God. 

      She asks, “how do you open the eyes to see how to take the daily, domestic, workday vortex and invert it into the dome of an everyday cathedral?…Praying with eyes wide open is the only way to pray without ceasing."

      Through her book, women everywhere have been taking the mundane, the everyday, the ordinary, and offering thanks to God - seeing the everyday (dirty floors, soap bubbles, a rising moon) as a gift…it has been very powerful in my own life.

      BUT...

      I have found over the past 2 years that I do a much better job of thanking God for the everyday and ordinary, but very rarely spend time thanking God for who He is. 

      Something I have been praying since August is for God to reveal himself to me. I want to know who He is. I want to know His character. I want to be able to think on his attributes and gaze on his beauty.

      I recently finished Timothy Keller’s book Prayer, and boy, were my eyes opened.

      Keller says, “We cannot merely believe in our minds that [God] is loving or wise or great. We must praise him for those things…if we are to move beyond abstract knowledge to heart-changing engagement."

      And isn’t that what I want, when I have been asking God to reveal his character? To have “heart-changing engagement”?

      You hear all the time about how we become what we love and we become what we worship. And gosh almighty, do I love and worship some pretty awful things…my work, my organization, myself. And, I sure do long for so much more than merely myself. I want to worship something so much greater than me.

      After reading Keller’s book, I have been really drawn to praising God for who He is - taking what I am learning about Him, and turning it into an opportunity to speak awe, amazement, and praise to God. I have started by reading through a Psalm each day, going verse by verse to see what it says about God, and speaking praise to God for what I learn and know about his character.

      For example, the other day I was reading Psalm 32. As I read verse 7, I was able to praise God that he is a place in which I can hide, a place that is safe when I feel surrounded by things that are not going as I want them to go. After reading verse 11, I was able to see how God gives us a reason to be glad and shout for joy despite our circumstances, which I was then able to turn into praise.

      I have also been using the monthly adoration from Every Bitter Thing is Sweet, reading the day’s verse, and praising God for who He is. It is my one Daily Ritual for the year…highly recommend it.

      Turning what I am learning about God into a statement of praise about who He is has renewed so much within me this month, and really brought what I am learning into new understanding.

      So, instead of JUST speaking our #1000gifts for the blessings in our life, let’s all speak PRAISE for who God is and what his character says to us.

      Do you spend time praising God for who he is? If so, how do you go about doing it?

      Posted in Daily Ritual, Praise, Thanks