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The Grace Project

Make it your ambition...

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Another New Year is upon us and a New Year means new beginnings.  As a New Year approaches we tend to be both reflective and well intentioned, determined to take certain things up and put other things down.
 
Many of us will make New Year's resolutions and some of us may even keep them, although the odds are stacked against us; it is estimated that 88% of us don’t manage to keep up what we took up or keep down what we put down.
 
According to a survey commissioned by the private gym chain LA fitness the top 40 resolutions for 2013 are to: 
 
1.  Read more books
2.  Save more money
3.  Lose weight
4.  Re-decorate
5.  Take better photos
6.  I want to go travelling
7.  I want to sell old stuff I don't need on EBay
8.  Buy a tablet
9.  Organise photos: either get them printed, and/or delete poor ones, save good pics
10. Do something for charity
11. Spend more time with kids
12. Buy a Sunday paper
13. Less TV time
14. Connect my computer to my TV
15. Leave work on time more often
16. Less time on Facebook
17. Totally revamp my wardrobe
18. Try a new hairstyle
19. Get a six pack
20. Eat less chocolate
21. Socialise more in real life rather than Facebook
22. Drink less alcohol
23. Buy less coffee from Starbucks/ big chains
24. Start my own business
25. Tell someone I have feelings for them
26. Quit smoking
27. Gain a promotion
28. Learn how to use Twitter
29. Run a half marathon or full marathon
30. Call people more than text
31. Cut someone out of my life who isn't good for me
32. Meet online contacts in real life
33. Watch less reality TV
34. Text people less
35. I want to try to save my relationship
36. Try extreme sports
37. Get better at social networking
38. Stop contacting/ going back to an ex-partner
39. Have a face to face with my boss to find out where I stand
40. Do a bungee jump
 
I’ll leave it to you to decide on the merit or otherwise of these resolutions but my prayer is that rather than making resolutions we will have a revelation this New Year.  
 
Towards the end of 2012 I introduced to the IGC and The Grace Project families a vision for our becoming the C.L.I.M.A.T.E. Changers of the 21st century. A C.L.I.M.A.T.E. Changer is someone who knows that Christ Living In Me Alters The Environment.  www.igconline.org.uk/sermons

 

 
The acronym seeks to capture the divine driver that gives impetus and meaning to our coveted freedom in Christ.    As we know (but often need to remind ourselves) we aren’t just saved from something, we are saved for someone and for something.   That something is spelt out for us in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth – We have been given the ministry of reconciliation (the reconciled are called to be reconcile).  We are Ambassadors of Christ – God is making His appeal through us.  
 
The Spiritual life doesn’t contract us out of everyday life - it covenants us in to the cut and thrust of life.  It's a declaration that I AM all in!  Our vision is to see this acronym come to life, allowing the Christ-in-us to transform our homes, our workplaces, our communities and our churches.  
 
However for this to happen we need something more permeating than a well- meaning New Year’s resolution - we need as I have said already, a New Year’s revelation!
 
So I want to point you to something less likely to excite the flesh, such as goal setting resolutions; I invite you to make a New Year’s ambition – I want to encourage you to accept the Apostle Paul’s challenge and "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life." 1 Thessalonians 4:11
 
Now I’m not trying to talk you down from any vision for, or calling on your life. Far from dissuading you to reach for greatness I want to suggest that the headier your destiny the more you might want to embrace this ambition.
 
2012 was a turbulent year.  If I learnt anything in it was this -- if I was going to have to live a noisy life externally, it would be critical to live a quite life internally.  Through necessity rather than choice (the truth be told) I had to find my way back to prayer.  Given that a monastic life was not an option, I had to discover how to live quietly in a noisy world and hence I realised that the secret to prayer is that being someone who is quiet is more important than finding somewhere that is quiet.   As I quieted myself I discovered that God's "mother" tongue is silence and here’s the rub, I saw too that being silent is one thing, but stopping the inner noise is quite another. 
 
I had to confess that what I called “prayer” was actually me wittering on like some clanging emotional gong and noisy self-obsessed symbol constantly asking: the same old questions: How well am I doing? What did s/he mean by than?  Am I okay? Worrying, wanting and not having; having and not wanting…The mind judging and accusing and the ego seeking to vindicate itself.  
 
This infernal inner dialogue served not simply to distract me but worse, whilst I was aiming to reach the undisturbed seabed of the divine I kept be pulled back up to the surface, to the temporal and away from the depths of the divine.
 
I knew that I had to discover the secret of learning how to turn up the quiet – Mercifully I stumble in to it and it is remarkable simple; I had to be prepared to let go of all thought.   As I quieted myself, thoughts would inevitably attempt to intrude but rather than give them my attention, I made it my ambition to simply let them go. I became intentional about not being attracted to my thoughts no matter how light or dark. 
 
I was rewarded quickly and handsomely by the discovery that there is “meat” to nourish those who have been weaned off of the breast-milk of thinking, however grand those thoughts may be.   Instead of suckling the milk of atonement I was presented with the spiritual “meat” of attunement.
 
It is in the silence that we learn the mystery of attunement – and that is what is missing in the body today.   Of course God is all about the dance – He has His dance partner - but what about the music?  The music starts when the orchestra has been tuned.  Although the conductor leads the orchestra, it is the oboe that gives the note that everyone tunes to (an A).  Christ is that “A” we must tune to His “A”-men.  In the contemplative world of divine silence, the Holy Spirit then points to each section in turn, and instructs them to tune to the “oboe's A.” The strings (violins (Apostles), violas (Prophets), cellos (Evangelists), double basses (Teachers and Pastors) tune their A strings to the oboe's A first, then tune their other strings to their (hopefully now in tune) A string.   
 
Oh what a wonder… (if you have a minute take a look at this little You Tube clip of an orchestra tuning up, I feel sure it will bless you www.youtube.com/watch)
 
Once we have been tuned to the “oboe’s A” all that was shut-up to us in first Adam is opened up to us in Last Adam – in the quiet, in the silence, in the stillness of God..  
 
So my ambition for 2013 is that we would lead a quiet life.  In the words of the Psalmist, that we may we have, “calmed and quieted ourselves like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child we are content.” 
 
As weaned children we are able to accept God as He is – on His own terms not on ours.  No longer looking for a way in or for a way out; not needing to be more or to add more - just being still.  It is in this place that we will change the climate – as it is in this place we will see that, “The LORD will fight for us, and we have only to be silent." Exodus 14:14, “for thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, "In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength." Isa 30:15
 
Happy New Year
 
 
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