Habits of Grace

After my posts and thinking about discipline last week, on Sunday I decided to order Habits of Grace by David Mathis. It arrived yesterday and the study guide that goes with it is set to arrive either tomorrow or Friday.

It’s a book that’s been on my radar for a while both for it’s subject matter, and if I’m being honest, it’s design. I’ve resisted buying it in the past because I’m aware I already have a large pile of books to I’ve yet to read, but having spent some time in prayer, reading, and thinking around this subject I decided it was time to get my finger out and order it.

I’m looking forward to diving in over the next month, all to often it’s easy to start grinding things like discipline in terms of hobbies and passions. As a Christian grounding the desire for discipline and self control in God and my faith is of far greater importance. Doing that is far easier to say than it is to do, and so I’m hoping that this book, along with building momentum by writing here on my blog will help that muscle of discipline grow into more areas of my life.

Deep Prayer > Deep Work ›

There’s been a lot of talk on the internet circles I follow about focus and deep work. They’re thought provoking and often resonate with me, but there’s one thing I’ve been struggling to reconcile in it all. The focus of all these discussions is usually aimed at putting your individual desires first, which doesn’t really jive with my Christian beliefs.

Chris Bowler, in his excellently considered article Deep Prayer > Deep Work, seems to demonstrate I’m not alone. In doing so he seems to capture exactly how this kind of thinking should be influencing my approach to my faith.

But over and over, I come back to the fact that while Newport’s concept of increasing our ability to focus is crucial to a successful career, it’s even more crucial to a successful Christian life. One that is lived attuned to the Spirit. One that is carefully watching to see where God is working, then ready and willing to join him in it.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

John‬ ‭11:25–26‬

Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life on the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls himself Alpha and Omega.

10 Resolutions for Mental Health by John Piper

The One Where I Announce I’m Now Self Employed

There are some posts you dream about writing, posts you’d love to write but never think you actually will. This is one of those posts.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about change. Changing the way I approached something has lead to exciting guidance and a big change in my career.

It started with a conversation with two very good friends of mine. One asked how work was, then followed it up with a query about what I really wanted to do. The other laughed, asked me a question, set me a challenge and then held me to it. That question lead me to writing the last post about a change of approach, a change which, thanks to Gods guidance is leading to a leap of faith.

What’s the leap?

On Friday 3rd August I worked my last day in full time employment and spent my last day living in sunny (!?) Slough. The following day I moved to Cheltenham, again. A place I attended university and a place that I love being in.

With that move came a change of employment. I am no longer a rat running a race, but instead a man working as a business owner. I’ve finally taken the leap into self employment. Relying on the Lord to supply me with enough work to put food in my stomach and to pay the bills.

For a long time it’s been my ambition to work for myself, even while I was studying at Uni I knew ultimately I wanted to have my own design studio. It nearly happened straight after Uni after a little encouragement from my tutor, but I knew it wasn’t really the right time. There was a lot I still had to learn, well let’s face it there still is. I’ve now been in full time employment for 5 years. I’ve grown a lot, I’ve changed a lot and I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve experienced working for a small company and I’ve experienced working for a larger company. Both were good experiences that taught me many different things, but underneath there was always this desire to have my own company bubbling away.

I’m delighted to say that has now happened. I’ve had a little holiday, moved to a new (old) place and am at the end of my first week of self employment. It’s exciting, a little daunting but feels like the best decision I’ve made. Except that I didn’t make it, God showed me the door and I pushed it. Now I’ve got to continue pushing doors, keep faithful to Him, and work as hard as I can.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to introduce you to a new name and a new website. Of course this place will still exist and I hope to increase the level of writing, and hopefully build on some friendships that I’ve established through my blog over the years. It’s an exciting adventure, I hope you’ll join me on it!

Change

For the last few years I’ve been praying about something. I’m sure many of you have as well, but this particular thing has occupied my prayers for several years. I’ve been praying about it in the same way for pretty much the entire time, asking for guidance and direction in relation to the thing. During that time the urge to do that thing has grown. One could say its developed into something close to a permanent longing, something that left me unsettled because I’m not doing it and I’ve never really known why.

A recent conversation with a very good friend left me feeling challenged. He asked me a question and laughed at my response because it’s been the same response I’ve given him for the last few years.

My response of course was to question why he was laughing at me, I guess feeling like he wasn’t taking me serious. His response was one which caught me off guard. Instead of answering why he was laughing, he simply asked me how I had been praying about this thing. I told him and after a moments pause he responded with a challenge. Why don’t you pray about it in a different way?

He commented how that as I have been praying for guidance this thing had grown in to a passion and longing, that is to say something more than momentary desire, then maybe I’d had that guidance and it was time to challenge it.

So for the last month I’ve been praying more earnestly and in a different manner. Instead of requesting guidance about the thing, I’ve been praying: Lord, I think you want me to do this, please show me if I’m wrong.

The results have been breath taking, surprising and exciting all at once. A change of events has begun that, I believe, God is using to lead me into doing this thing I’ve been praying about for the last few years. I’m a little apprehensive, but the over riding feeling is one of excitement. This post is not an announcement, yet, but maybe more of a watch this space…

That—in spite of everything, no matter what, whatever it cost him—God won’t ever stop loving his children … with a wonderful, Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

Sally Lloyd-Jones on The Gospel Coalition.

Gods Love

And keep in mind that having a daily “quiet time” or “devotions,” without communing with Jesus, won’t keep your soul alive. Mere reading and studying won’t do it. By itself, new information about God—glorious as it is—won’t keep our hearts soft and our souls breathing. We need the person of Jesus himself whom we find in and through the Scriptures. Our souls long for a living connection with the living God-man. We were made for this.

David Mathis in Study the Word for More Than Words.

Study the Word for More Than Words

Wecloming 2012 and Setting a Few Targets

It’s that time once again when many people are posting reviews of the year just passed. I always enjoy reading these posts, seeing the people I follow who have achieved all that or more than they hoped to whilst hoping those who didn’t are able to in the coming year. I’m always drawn to writing something myself, and whilst my last year contains many highlights – my trip to Israel, a summer in North Wales and a deepening of friendships that have become increasingly valuable – I always feel somewhat hesitant to “review my year”.

I think the heart of that hesitancy lies solely in my feeling of a lack of accomplishment. I never feel I’ve achieved anything worth writing about or highlighting. I call it the curse of the Internet. It’s so easy to spend time looking and comparing what I’ve done to all the people who have achieved a great deal, all the people who’ve had the guts to sit down work hard and put themselves out there. I’m always left reeling at, what feels like, my complete lack of gumption.

I am learning though. Learning to not let that fear of failure or fear of no one noticing be the reason to stop myself from doing the things I want to. Thats why I’m writing this post, to set out three small targets to try and set me on my way this year. I think they are all achievable and am hoping they will set me on my way to accomplish something this year.

In the last year I’ve put weight on. Some people will argue that I needed to, I’ve always been a bit skinny, but in the last year I’ve put on a little too much. I weighed myself over the Christmas holidays and well the number at the start was too high. My first mission is to lose a stone in weight by exercising more regularly and cutting out those little treats which have snuck into my diet.

The past couple of years has seen my blog fall in to decline, significantly. I’ve always enjoyed writing for my blog, but the past couple of years has seen a lot of things change in my life and it didn’t feel right to be writing about them here. Nor did it seem right to continue writing about things which on reflection are quite trivial when compared to the loss of loved ones. But time is moving on, and I feel that it is time to pick up my pen once again and begin writing for my blog with more regularity. I realise I’ve said this before, and it’s gotten past January, February and into March before I’ve really realised I’ve not done anything I’d hoped to, so I’ve given myself a number to aim for. I’m going to try to write four posts a month. Not four link posts, but four article posts, although I hesitate to call them articles. There’ll be no word count, just original content, content I create because I want to and enjoy it.

The third thing I want to do is a little more open ended and probably something that everyone hopes to do. I’d like to use my time to greater effect.

I’ve always been a night owl, I like staying up late, the quiet cosiness of being up late with a small light on and my book, sketch book or Mac for company feels great. The problem is when you have a nine to five job that kind of behaviour is not really helpful. Hitting the sack in the early hours of the morning and then rising only a few hours later to go to work is a recipe for disaster. Burning the candle at both ends only really has one destination for me, running myself in to the ground and an onslaught of mouth ulcers. So in order to combat this tendency to waste my time, I’m resolving to give my self a bed time and get up earlier. My aim is to be up at six each morning in order to do a half hour of exercises, then spend time reading my bible, praying and whatever is left can be spent writing.

Re-reading that last paragraph makes it feel like a pretty big task, but I think knuckling down and doing it will help me to achieve the other two points. More than that though, having a set time to sit and read my bible without distraction will be the biggest benefit of all.

I’ve always admired those who are able to get up early and spend some time each morning to do this. While I’m away in North Wales for two weeks every year, I spend time leading a children’s holiday club. When I’m there, life is so different to my everyday life that I’m able to easily get up early and spend time each morning reading from the word. I’ve become acutely aware in the last few weeks that it’s all down to a matter of attitude. I’m so aware of how important it is in those two weeks to devote my time in such a manner, that it’s time to change my attitude and devote that time every morning rather than in the evenings when I find it harder to concentrate and often run out of time. It’s something that I enjoy, but often feel a need to do out of duty, yet, when I set time aside I’ve seen the benefits in my life and my relationship with Jesus. I want to do it more and so this attempt to change my sleeping patterns is motivated by that desire.

And so with that, please join me in raising my hot blackcurrent to 2012 and all it has in stall!