4 Ways To Deal With Striving And Weariness

striving and wearinessI've been pretty tired over the last several months. God recently got my attention. I'm really good at striving and leaning on my own strength.

I'm really good at striving and trying to push down doors I shouldn't even walk through. My flesh would like to think I'm a master of self reliance, but the truth is, I'm extremely limited and weak.

The harder I push in my own strength, the more weary I get.

In a recent episode of the CMB podcast, I spoke with a guy named Tim Timmons. Tim is a worship leader based out of California with an amazing testimony.

Over and over again in our chat we talk about resting in the Lord. Truly surrendering our own kingdoms to the true King and His Kingdom.

As I've thought about it, there are several places where we can go in scripture to deal with striving and weariness. I've intentionally chosen 4 places where I often end up after God shows me I'm back at the self thing again.

4 Ways To Deal With Striving and Weariness

1) Become a Person of One Thing (Psalm 27)

King David obviously had a busy life. Dude had a full plate. Imagine being a king, a warrior, and a songwriter. That's a crazy awesome combo by the way isn't it?

But at the end of a busy day in King David's life, he was a person of only one thing.

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

(Psalm 27:4-6 ESV)

If I do this, my "head will be lifted up" above my circumstances. It will drastically improve my perspective.

I'll become more thankful and joy-filled. I'll experience transformation in the renewal of my mind, and find peace in my stormy soul.

2) Abide In Jesus (John 15)

This is at the heart of being a person of "one thing". And how often I forget this!

My calling first and foremost is to be a worshiper. Before I get to work doing anything, I am called (and invited) to rest, sitting at Jesus' feet, fixing my gaze on Him.

Jesus' words in John 15 remind me that any real, lasting fruit that I bear comes only from abiding in Him.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

(John 15:4-5 ESV)

Do I want to bear fruit? Do I want to get more done that actually matters and leaves an impact on people after you're gone?

Sure do.

If that's true, I need to stay at the feet of Jesus. I need to hold fast and remain in the gospel (Colossians 1:23).

Reading through John 15 is such a wonderful reminder that we can rest in Christ, and in so doing we will bear fruit that He wants to bring forth in our ministry and work.

I wonder if the fruit that I would point to in my life is real fruit at all? No more fluff. I need to stick with Jesus, letting God the Father prune me. If I'm delighting in Him, then I'll be amazed and thankful that He decides to use me at all.

3) Stop, drop, and wait.... (Isaiah 40)

Isaiah 40:28-31 is a perfect reminder of my true state. I am weak. I am limited. Only the everlasting God is the one who never sleeps, never gets tired, and never burns out.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

(Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV)

Of course the key here is that I learn to wait on the God who will come and restore strength and renew my sense of purpose.

Type A people need this. This will transform a driven person's life. We need this. I need this!

4) Just Do Today's Tasks (Psalm 37)

There are only enough hours in the day today. God has given me good tasks that I can perform today that will affect tomorrow. I need to forget about the results and just do the things God has given me grace for today. The outcome is in his hands.

Another great place is Psalm 37. Here we see a very practical exhortation to stay put, feed on the Lord, delight in Him, and watch Him act on my behalf:

Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

(Psalm 37:3-6 ESV)

Jesus himself talks about the rewards of being faithful in the small things of my life (Matthew 25).

Even if some things don't seem to line up with my purpose, they are looked upon by the Lord Himself. I need to simply dwell in whatever good land I find myself in, delight myself in God, be faithful, and watch what happens! He acts! What a great promise.

How Do You Deal With Striving and Weariness?

You may have other promise verses that recalibrate your soul. There are also plenty of practical ways to deal with striving and weariness.

One suggestion is planning a personal prayer retreat to get clarity and meet with God. Check out this post I wrote on what to think through and plan before you go on one.

Are you feeling tired? Are you spinning your wheels, striving in areas where Jesus wants you to slow down, or even stop all together?

What are the signs that you need to slow down and rest in Jesus? How would you deal with striving and weariness?

Let me know in the comments!

Gospel Implications For Uninspired Musicians

Are you as alive as you should be?

Do you ever feel like the gospel message doesn't matter? Like it's just a bunch of empty facts?

Ever feel unmoved when people talk of Christ dying on the cross?

Me too. So does every Christian who goes to your church.

We are sinners, predisposed to be insensible to the glory of God. We don't feel as we should even when it is expressed profoundly, even when we hear about the life, death and resurrection of God incarnate, Jesus Christ. Our hearts respond: “meh”. We are insensible sinners.

Why can’t I feel it?

bored

I suspect the root of the problem is because our rebel hearts harbor a desire to be God. That is the fantasy we desperately cling to. But when the evidence piles up and shows that we are not in control and there's nothing we can do about it, our response is to close down our senses, our awareness, our appreciation.

Truth is the enemy of the "fig-leaf fantasy" that we've tried to construct around ourselves. We tune in to anything that will prop up our fantasy - anything that makes us feel justified or important… and we tune out the rest.

God is at work

But, thank Christ! God’s spirit now works in us, the master craftsman, wielding many tools to transform that situation.

He is engaged in the process of making us come fully alive - carefully exposing us to Things As They Really Are, because in the light of the gospel, we no longer need to fear Truth. He wants to help us to feel again, to come fully alive and grasp His glory.

We have a role

What’s more, God invites us as his apprentices to take part in that work which will one day be complete.

That’s the job that the church's musicians and songwriters are engaged in. We use our skills to take the Good News and help others (and ourselves) to feel why it is good. To let it resonate. We want to capture and distill the essence of some beautiful truth, and share that with our brothers and sisters.

Our failing fantasies

Don't be tempted by the promises of your former way of life.

Techniques which indulge the "worship-the-leader" fantasy, or the "choose-your-own-interpretation" fantasy. Don't get sidetracked trying to emulate what it felt like when you last experienced something profoundly. It's a temptation - "hey, if we can bottle this experience, we won't even need God to show up!" But it won't ring true.

Our self-created fantasies can't sustain us. If we pursue them to their conclusion, we will find ourselves in hell.

Rather, let your goal be to communicate glorious, gospel-enlightened truth at all times.

Reality is better

Understand that all Christians have this issue to wrestle with. We are to wake from our vague daydreams and then rouse others. The role you have when leading worship, or writing for church singing is just one (wonderful) opportunity to show people where the beauty lies.

It’s a matter of communication. We are communicators. We have two main communication tools at our disposal: words and music.

If we learn to be clear and articulate in both of these languages we will find God uses us to speak the truth with power.

So don’t underestimate this opportunity. Don’t marginalize its importance.

Next time you sit down to write a song, or plan a worship set… Reflect on the needs and appetites we have: the need to be loved, our desire to experience pleasure, to feel significant. Expose and avoid the pitiful ways in which we try to satisfy these desires in our own fantasy worlds. Then show how God satisfies them in a far more beautiful and complete way, through the gospel of Jesus.

This is the truth - He is The Truth - we are trying to communicate.

Can you feel it?

Greg de Blieck is a part of the New Scottish Hymns project, seeking to develop hymn-writers for a new generation. Follow him on his blog at http://www.newscottishhymns.com/

God's Upgrade

A phrase from Graham Cooke's Divine Confrontation recently provoked me.

Churches that are moving into a new place in God are seriously upgrading their worship anointing. -Graham Cooke

It was the word "upgrading" that really did it for me, the first thing that came to my mind was the process of upgrading a mobile phone. Agreed, this was not the most holy of thoughts, however, as I pursued the idea, I started to make connections with what could be considered to be "God upgrades".

2014 is the year for upgrade

So, you've seen the phone that you want, and the first thing that happens is an ID check.

Ultimately this ID check is to make sure you are who you say you are, and usually a quick check of a credit/debit card does the trick. And that's enough to move to the next stage.

So where are these connections to God upgrades?

God speaks to Abram, tells him to take his family to the place he shows him. What's the first thing that God does? Perform an ID check! God changes Abram's name to Abraham.

God's ID check wasn't “are you who you say you are?” but rather “are you who I say you are?”

Identity affects the Upgrade

Abram's identity was changed - he became the Father of Nations, he had to be aligned with what God saw in his future in order to upgrade his whole life.

Is the vision for our worship teams aligned with what God see's in our future? Or are we just a very good copy of God’s plan for another team who have already upgraded?

4 Things To Do To Run An ID Check

Here are four things you can apply to move forward and take the next steps to walk into Gods upgrade for your worship anointing....

  • Talking with leadership to make sure you are aligned with what they believe God’s plan is for your church. Are there new things that you need to align with?
  • Check in with your key team players - review your vision and mission together, where are you progressing? What areas need focussed on? Are you aligned?
  • Hold a worship team Health Check! Review and evaluate everything together. Team membership, teaching and discipleship, growing in skill and proficiency. Schedule small group clinics. Where do members need help?
  • Consider how you will communicate change. Upgrading inevitably leads to change, how we prepare our teams for this will ultimately impact success.

What will you do this year to get God's upgrade?

Let us know in the comments below!

     

How To Plan A Personal Prayer Retreat

how to plan a personal prayer retreat

Next week, I'll be heading out for a two-day personal prayer retreat.

I've only done this a few times in my life, but, this time around, I plan to be prepared for it.

In the past, I would simply show up at these retreat centers, and then be like, "Ok God, here I am. What do you want to show me?"

There's certainly nothing wrong with that. It's better than nothing. But for me, because there was so much to think and pray about, it would take a few hours to clear my head, let alone get focused.

Learning from my past mistakes, I've decided to get more intentional this time. I want next week's retreat to be the best yet.

While thinking this through, I decided to write this post on how to plan a personal prayer retreat.

But before we get specific about planning an effective prayer retreat, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

God wants to teach you about himself first

Connect with God simply because it's why you were created. Don't start with getting clarity on your life or finding answers to your problems. Knowing God and being in His presence can bring so much peace - even in the midst of the same confusion you had when you realized you needed the retreat in the first place.

The main purpose of a prayer retreat should be to get refreshed in your relationship with God. Even if you have to make a lot of big, stressful decisions, a retreat shouldn't leave you feeling more overwhelmed when you leave.

God has the outcome is in his hands

In all our planning, we must never forget that it is the Lord who makes our plans succeed. I was reminded yesterday in Proverbs 16 of this oft-neglected reality:

"The plans of the heart belong to man,     but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord."

Keeping those key principles in mind, you can then get specific with planning your retreat. Here are 5 things to plan before you go, that will help your retreat be more successful.

How To Plan A Personal Prayer Retreat

1) Write Down Your Prayer Points

Make a list of some broad categories for prayer that come to mind. It could be categories like family life, ministry, business, personal growth, and relationships. In that list there are probably a few areas that jump out more than the others. If so, take only those with you on the retreat. After you've decided that, write out a brief paragraph that gets to the specifics of the categories you selected.

2)  Schedule Specific Prayer Times

It may sound weird to schedule prayer times when the main reason you're going is to pray, but if you plan specific prayer slots into your schedule, it will keep you more focused. Take the prayer requests you jotted down in step one, and schedule them out in separate slots. Think about the times in the day when you are the most alert, and schedule those times for prayer alone. It could be 1 to 2 hour blocks of your time, depending on what else you're planning to do, but doing this will greatly help you make the most of your time.

3) Decide About Technology

There are different kinds of retreats. Writing retreats, planning retreats, and more. But on a prayer retreat, be honest about what you really need technologically speaking.

For next week's retreat, I'm planning to NOT bring my laptop or even my Kindle. I will have my phone on in case of emergencies, (and maybe if a song idea hits me) but other than that, I'll be pretty much off the grid. Even if you're used to reading your Bible on an iPad or some other tablet, I'd suggest you bring the old fashioned leather-bound Bible, just to lessen any potential distractions.... (cough)....Angry Birds.

4) Plan Your Reading

Based on your previously decided prayer points, prayerfully select 2 or 3 books to bring with you. My retreat will be focused on family life, and worship ministry - so I'm bringing one marriage book, one book on fatherhood, and one on worship/music ministry. Again, though it may seem obvious, don't forget your Bible. I plan on having my Bible with me in the mornings and especially during my prayer times.

5) Plan to Get A Little Exercise

Depending on the time of year and where you go, you should definitely think about getting out of your room or wherever you're staying, at least twice a day. My plan is to do a morning run, and an evening walk before dinner. Being outside is really good for reflection and prayer and it helps to simply change it up. Being in one spot the entire time, unless I have no choice, can get a little too monastic for me.

So get up, go on walk, change up the scenery - whatever you're able to do to get your blood flowing. And be in a continual state of prayer.

Those are just a few specifics to think about when planning your personal prayer retreat.

After you've factored in meals, workouts, prayer times, and reading times, you've basically filled up your day. I think the last thing I'd say is to make sure you get good a night's sleep each night. For me it's going to mean not being up late writing or recording. Resting well at night will help you physically, which really affects your ability to unplug and be with the Lord.

You may have some ideas too. If so let us know in the comments!

Here a some other helpful posts that relate to this topic:

 

 

What is Eternal Life?

eternallife

Eternal Life Defined

If you're in Christendom, you've definitely heard the phrase Eternal Life a time or two.

In recent months I've been thinking about Jesus' definition of the phrase.

He defines it for us in a simple, yet profound way.

No where in his definition does he describe "pearly gates", or "mansions in the sky". In this particular place he doesn't even talk about immortality.

So what is eternal life exactly?

Head over to the blog to read more of this post. I'd also love to hear your thoughts on it!

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