Month: September 2015

A Six Play Faith

Remember the Titans ranks high on any list of sport’s movies. At the beginning of the film, the team loads the bus heading to Gettysburg for training camp. Head Coach Herman Boone, played by Denzel Washington, hand his offensive coaches the rather thin playbook. He responds to their comment on the playbook by saying, “I run six plays, split veer. It’s like Novocain. Just give it time, it always works.”

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Simplifying the playbook and remaining disciplined to six plays can sound old-fashioned and monotonous. We have a difficult time with commitment. Some of us would rather run to a new idea as opposed to completing the path before us. We self-diagnose ourselves with ADD.

Maybe part of growing faith means sticking to six plays rather than adding more. What do we miss when we run from idea to idea; small group to small group; book to book; practice to practice? Our impatience can lead us to miss out on growth we might have experienced.

Eugene Peterson in the Long Obedience in the Same Direction makes this observation:

We survive in the way of faith not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God is righteous, because God sticks with us. Christian Discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention on our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods and motives and morals but by believing in God’s will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasm. It is out of such reality that we acquire perseverance (pg. 133)

I wonder if sometimes God invites us to experience growth in a far less complicated way. At the heart of growing in faith, may not come from increasing a to-do list or additional act but from releasing our focus on ourselves to recognize God at work.

The grace you may need to grow may have more to do with sticking with a thinner playbook. We fill out schedules. We add more books to the list. We jump to the next event. Thinking that our effort alone will manufacture faith. We miss the slow, patient, stick-to-it grace offered to us by Jesus.

All throughout the Scripture we notice growth in the picture of crops and trees because God grows us through a process so that we might know Him; planting, watering, growing, harvest. We respond to His work in our lives. He invites us to a thinner playbook to grow.

How might God call you to simplify your life to recognize Him?

A Prayer for a Transformed Heart

life-line

Search my heart – Lord, you see every motivation and attitude in my heart.
The pride that causes me to rely on myself rather than asking for help.
The arrogance that places myself ahead of others.
The bitterness and resentment I hold against those who hurt me.
The anxiety that keeps from me from experiencing the life as You intended.

If I’m truly honest, I don’t always see my own heart as I ought.
I confess to You my blindness and unresponsiveness to my hardened heart.
Forgive me for focusing on everyone else’s issues and neglecting to see my own.

Your grace transforms our hearts.
A heart of stone becomes a heart of flesh in Your presence.
It’s not just a surface touch up or behavior modification, You invite us to experience change from the inside out.
Because our hearts are the wellspring of our lives and out of the abundance of our hearts our mouths speak.

Lord, I ask You to search my heart.
Exchange the pride for humility so that I may rightly see You, others, and myself.
Move me from arrogance to compassion towards others.
Heal the bitterness and resentment in me, so that I can forgive those who have hurt me.
Replace my anxiety with trust in the One, who feeds the sparrows.

Photo by Dave Meier from Picography.

Lacking Resources

A scene you cannot easily escape. The clear night sky breaks for a singular object. Our eyes immediately find the moon up above. For a few brief moments, the overwhelming darkness has been replaced by the magnificent light. It’s a scene like this that causes us to pause.

Full Moon

I find myself most days trying to quell the anxiety over minuscule issues. My thoughts range from the “not getting enough done” to the “how in the world will this happen?” Chasing anxiety and worry looks far more like a hamster on a wheel than an Indy car race. Rather than making progress, we exert energy in a fixed place.

Seeing the moon speaks to us. We did not organize the process of getting to a full moon. None of us tilted the earth and measured the rotation for our view. Without our planning, control or effort—we behold this glorious sight.

The apostle Paul prays that his readers would have power in Ephesians 3:14-21. Verse 20 sums up his prayer, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” In the prior verses, he asks that God would strengthen the readers to grow through the Holy Spirit and to know the limitless love of God. The realization of this passage is that we were never asked to live life from our resources. Each day, we need more than ourselves.

This is grace. The moment we realize God’s presence. He invites us to experience his power and love. Ephesians 3:14-21 practically meets us in the here and now. Those times when we think we go at life alone. Grace tells us that God is closer than we could ever imagine.

When we look at the moon, we get a glimpse of the God who can do more than we ask or imagine. For many of us we find ourselves preoccupied with our lack of resources. So we compensate only to realize that we battle these same thoughts of anxiety over and over again. Paul’s prayer leads us to see that God will resource us with strength from the Holy Spirit. Rather than attempting to do it on our own, He has invited us to know Him.

Paul David Tripp in New Morning Mercies says this:

When we remember God’s grace, you tell yourself that you’re not alone, that you’re not left to the small batch of your own resources, and that you have been graced with al that you need right here, right now to be what God has called you to be and to do what God has chosen for you to do.

Grace has met you today through the power of the Holy Spirit in you. We do not have to live believing the lies of worry and anxiety. The One who created the moon has provided us power beyond ourselves.

Photo used with permission by Chris Mason Design.

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