It is not about Trying. It is about Training.

Last week at my church I had the joy of preaching and introducing our August preaching series called 'The Soul Shift Series'. Click here to take a listen, and without merely repeating myself, here's a brief rundown of the message as well as the direction we are heading in over the coming month.

“It's not about TRYING. It's about TRAINING.”

So many of us try new things all the time, attempt things in life in order to better ourselves and improve our lives, and the lives of those around us – such as health, ideas at work, parenting and marriage tips, tricks and advice. But for various reasons, we often find ourselves failing, and then giving up. They rarely become part of our daily life, and they rarely become habits that are integrated in our lives. This is no different with Spiritual Disciplines. We may often be encouraged to read the bible, pray, have times of solitude and silence to seek God. But so often we try them out, they don't go how we thought they were going to go, and we give up. Why is that?

There are plenty of reasons most like, but I can think of a couple:

1. Comparison. We compare ourselves to others. “Look at how great they are“, “everyone else seems to find this so easy, but I'm useless at it.“, “I'll never be as good at them.” Comparison will be the death of us if we give it space. Check out Zeddie Little's picture (aka Mr Ridiculously Photogenic) at the end of his 10km race the other year. When I went for a run once I compared my terrible experience with the look of his. It didn't help!

2. We measure success on the wrong thing. So many of us assume when we try things, we'll be excellent at them straight away, and will see the benefit immediately, and when we don't experience that, we give up easily. Also, with Spiritual Disciplines we often think that the act itself of reading the bible, of prayer, or time alone with God is the goal. It's not. The Spiritual Disciplines are the tool for getting closer to God. The goal is ultimately to know God more deeply, to draw close to a Him, to develop a relationship with Him. Get the measure of what success is wrong, and you're bound to think of yourself as a failure or think that you are not hitting the mark somehow.

There is clearly something wrong with 'trying', the striving, the comparison, the attempting, the one-off 'giving a bash' style of attempting spiritual disciplines. The Bible helps us out. The Bible doesn't talk about trying, but about training. Ultimately, if you were asked to run a marathon, you wouldn't just turn up on the day and try, you'd need to train.

Check out 1 Timothy 4:7, Hebrews 5:13-14, and 1 Corinthians 9:26-27. All these are speaking about training, which I go into more detail about in the message itself, so take a listen.

It's tough though. And there are various obstacles that we put in the way, and other obstacles that we face in our world/culture today when trying to train. I think of 3 words that we live our lives by:

  • Fast (we live our lives very fast paced, and very 'full' and busy).
  • Public (we are encouraged to 'share' in our lives. In many ways, some of this good, but it can drastically contrast with the idea of developing a private relationship with God).
  • Self-centred (the idea that we feel that we don't need God to get through our days). The upcoming weeks at church in Kerith will look at these in more detail.

Let's remember that God is a God of grace and love. It's not about trying to do, say or be the perfect person. This is about training in godliness. Training to be more like Christ. We are not in it to please people, or please ourselves, or please God. Remember that his yoke is easy, and his burden is light. Thank goodness for that eh?

Personally, I can't wait to hear the next 3 speakers over the next 3 weeks at church. It'll be epic.


3 Positive Things for 7 Days

Recently on facebook a trend has been going around in which people have written 3 positive things every day for 7 days, and nominate others to do the same. It's been nice to read the small and large things people are experiencing and finding in their days to celebrate, and then last Monday I was nominated to do it!

My first thought was 'oh no, when am I going to have the chance to do that?!'. However, once I got over my cynical side, I thought 'why not, I'll give it a try'. I decided that rather than struggling to get onto facebook each day to write something up, I took a bunch of photos over 7 days of various positive things, and thought I'd post them altogether. So here are 21 positive things from my life over the last 7 days…

So, who do I nominate? Anyone who fancies having some fun for a week ­čÖé


Exercise and Faith

Recently I’ve been thinking about┬áexercise – and then attempting to do a little. Those who know me will know I am interested in long-distance running. Before you think I’m some incredible slender guy who practically sprints a marathon like an Ethiopian – let me just make it clear that I’ve never run a full marathon – just halfs so far… And to be honest even at the end of these I tend to look like a football player in the 18 yard box when a defender is within 10 feet of his proximity: Rolling around like I’m about to die.

Heather and I have been attempting ‘Insanity’ recently, one of these 60 days workout schedules. We’ve been jumping about in our back garden with the volume turned down low on our laptop so that the neighbours don’t hear the trainer having a massive shout at us through the screen when we’re not giving it enough power. I’ll write about it at some point, probably near the end when I’ll feel really smug about my efforts.

Whenever I’m in a season of disciplined regular exercise, it gets me thinking about its connection with spirituality, and my relationship with God. I’ve had this conviction of the importance of exercise for a while now. That it’s simply not good enough to neglect our physicality, to live physically unhealthy lives as followers of Christ, as if he couldn’t care less. The more I think about it and read about it, the more I feel stirred by it.┬áNow, I was in the middle of crafting a post for here that would share my great thoughts in a wonderfully articulate and life-changing way. Then those clever little ones at wrote this article – which is simply far better than what I could compose┬áright now. I feel that Tyler Huckabee has properly hit the nail on the head with this one. At some point maybe I’ll write something of my own, but only when I feel I could add to this(!), which may be never.

So take a read, and for now, lets not believe the lie that our physicality is not linked to our spirituality. It really is. There’s got to be some reason I ultimately feel great after a run around!