Saturday, January 27, 2007

Transformative Grace

Here's another way of describing the things that I was trying to describe below in the post "mystery". Thanks Anj for reminding me of these words of Richard Foster:

When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human power of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within us is God's work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. We cannot attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given.....

God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving His grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.

Richard Foster
Celebration of Discipline
Harper & Row, 1978, pp. 5-6.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Question of Discernment

Paul Fromont share some questions of discernment which he has heard from Rowan Williams. I love them and find them really useful.

Some important questions for reflection at the heart of discernment:

(a) What course of action more fully seems to resonate with the kind of life Christ lived and lives?

(b) What course of action opens up more possibilities for God to ‘come through’?

(c) What opens rather than closes doors for God’s healing, forgiving, reconciling, and creating work to go on?

“There is no guarantee that in any situation there will be only one clear and compelling answer. In the process of asking these questions, in the very process of reflecting and discerning we are making space in ourselves for the life of Christ and the creative movement of God…”


There have been some things that I've been wanting to change in my life for ages that I have just seemed powerless to change, things that God's calling me to that have seemed so basic but just so out of reach. Over years I've seen difference but it continues to be a battle and I often get discouraged in it all. Last week a conversation helped me to both relax in it but also be more serious about it at the same time! I realised that the sadness that I felt over my lack of ability to live in the way I'm being called to - and even more the results of that - is actually something that will get worse not better as I live in it more ... the more you know (experience kind of know) God and live in the ways he's calling you to, the more you will be sad about the ways in which you are not. So I've had to face the question of "do you want the sadness to go away or do you want to know God?" - and have certainly resolved that I want to know God and if sadness comes with that territory, so be it.
But in the meantime something mysterious has happened in me - in these things that seem to have had a hold on me for so long, I'm seeing real difference. Not thru striving or really working hard at deciding but really just thru making the kind of call I've talked about above and I guess (in quite a low key way really) looking to God to do it because I know I can't myself and giving up on some of the other answers of how change might come. What I've expereinced, observed, seen in myself is just a welling up of choices in the direction that I'm being called to walk in. It's almost (but not quite) like "of course this is what you'd do".
As this is happening I guess a couple of things have been in my mind: "what the law was powerless to do" ... I'm seeing so clearly that living by the "law" (even God's call in a sense) is powerless to break the hold of darkness, lostness and brokeness in me, as is disgust, striving, systems or any of the other things I've tried over the years. The other thing is the fruit of the spirit in the message "What happens when we live God's way? We see fruit arising in us in much the same way as fruit appears in an orchard ..." Yep that describes the experience I'm living. Deeply mysterious but deeply real and definately life producing.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Self-revelation; Authenticity

It's bizarre for someone who has always kind of prided themselves in their authenticity to have that reality challenged but that is what is happening for me. A range of things that have happened recently have encouraged me to be more true to myself in what I reveal to others. I guess over the last while I have got somewhat self-protecting in what I choose to reveal to others - having gone from a place where I reveal too much for unhealthy reasons, I've gone in some ways to a place of not revealling where really it would be good to reveal more. I've especially been really conscious of the invitation to others that my appropriate self-revelation is.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Back to the Blog

Talking to someone about things on their blog yesterday, they pointed out just how long it had been since I blogged so I thought I would change that :) I have been reading blogs and life has been very full and also much of the stuff that has been happening for me has not been appropriate to be put in a public forum ... but much has but I've just been too busy living it! Or not enough emotional energy to sit down and right about it. The last few months has seen Tracy and I take over the op shop completely (on behalf of St Paul's), I ran all the Solace Sunday gatherings in December including an inter-generational Christmas Eve service which was one of the best gatherings of that style I've ever seen I reckon (had lots of fun working with my friend and colleague Naomi on it), we ran Children's Advent activities in December in Station St Fairfield, I've been preparing for and then supporting Scripture Union missions around Victoria (just a small job!!!!), I've resigned from my job and finishing on 23rd Feb. Those are the external things. Alongside that much is also happening internally. At one level I'm exhausted in every possible way, at another I've never been more alive. Much is opening up in front of me, some I know what's happening, most I don't, much I have glimpses of what God's up to but not the whole picture. I reckon I'll be back a bit more regularly now (well that's not hard given my recent history!).