Tag Archives: Matt Redman

A Closer Walk: The Excellence of Grace

No one is as hard on me as I am—and I do realize that some of that—is the way I was raised.

My parents preached excellence to their kids.

I remember constantly hearing as I was growing up,”That everything I do, should be done with a spirit of excellence.”

The Excellence of Grace

Always my folks would tell us that they wanted “our very best” at all times.

Nothing wrong with teaching kids to strive for their best, but somewhere in my head (again) the word “best” got tweaked into the word “perfect” and that is impossible to pull off.

I still struggle with a healthy tension between excellence and perfection. (Don’t a lot of us?) It’s so easy to get sidetracked from doing my best, to striving for the unrealistic and unattainable perfectly-perfect.

(And, as we all know, the reach for perfection is a deadly-confidence-killer!)

Perfect just ain’t gonna happen no matter how hard we try. (Not in this life!) That’s why this simple little word “grace” is such a life-changing concept for someone like me; the guy who is so tempted to go for all-of-the-gusto, all of the time.

Giving grace to others, encouraging them to hang in there and not quit… that comes to moi, like rolling off a log. But, I have to admit, my “flaw-finder” is superb when I am looking at myself; at what I am planning, doing, creating… etc., etc., etc. No matter how sweet the complement, or how genuine the praise, that insidious little flaw-finder in my head, will kick in and go straight for (and magnify) the-only-thing… I should have done better.

(Heavy sigh.)

Enter… GRACE. Ta-Da!

The ONE SIMPLE THING that will save me every time: His grace… His sweet grace… His loving grace… forgiving grace… cheering-for-me grace… the ALWAYS THERE, new every sunrise, air-that-I-breathe, manna in the morning …grace.

Excellence splashed by grace

How serenely simple is the grace of God! Even a child can comprehend their need. (And oh darlin’ I do desperately need Him.) Each day. In every way, have-to-have-Him, and His grace. I want to roll in it, like a little kid rolls in mud, getting the gooey, lovely stuff, all over me!

A man I deeply respect once said, “Simplicity is a clear window.”

A lot of light bulbs went on in me when I heard those words.

That’s what grace is. Simple. So simple it’s easy for all of us to miss it. So, let’s not.

The Excellence of GraceInstead, let’s all abide in gratitude today, whatta ya say?

Let’s wallow in the always enough of Jesus Christ’s sweet loving grace.

Let’s splash around in the stuff splattering it on others. And to be sure… let’s save a few heaping handfuls for ourselves!

May we come up from that “Wilderness of Perfection” LEANING on GRACE for each stumbling-step—trusting that we are kept as His Beloved in spite of all our many failures.

Ah, the simplicity of grace.

What a lovely clear window you are!

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AS MUCH AS YOU NEED

Whether My grace falls in dew, or in showers, it will always be enough.

That is all you really need to know. Not, “Will it be good? Will it be bad?” No, no, these things matter not. They lead to a tenseness in your spirit, and anxiety, and worry.

(Am I there?)

Of course not!

My sweet child, all you have to do each day, is walk in the path prepared for you. I AM leading; I go before you.

For My children in days gone by I provided manna.

The Excellence of GraceAlways enough.

For you, it is grace, and like the manna of old it will be there for you each morning.

(Always there, for I AM there, too.)

Where I abide, grace abounds!

Did you get that?

As you obey, forgive, love… I abide. My grace flows freely from wherever My Spirit abides.

As you walk in the fruit of My Spirit grace flows freely from your life.

There is always enough for you and others!

It is the way to express constant power and strength.

(Now you see?)

But… I warn you. As in the manna of old, you may not store this grace from what you did yesterday, last week, or last month.

The Excellence of GraceMy mercies are new every morning.

Besides, you’ve experienced stale grace.

(Tasteless stuff!)

Not for you dearest… not for you. I want you to receive fresh new mercies, like morning dew, or summer rain.

Each day—as much as you need!

a closer walk

“…and your strength shall be renewed day by day like morning dew.”

Psalm 110:3Psalm 110:3
English: World English Bible - WEB

3 Your people offer themselves willingly in the day of your power, in holy array. Out of the womb of the morning, you have the dew of your youth.

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A Closer Walk: The Kingdom Business of ABIDING

I wonder if I am in the church’s majority, or minority, when it comes to this Kingdom business of “abiding.”

Does anyone else struggle with this as much as I do?

I mean, I am really lousy at it.

It doesn’t seem like it should be that tough, but if you’re a recovering (and I use that word loosely) workaholic, like I am? The whole concept of “rest” goes down the hard way.

Abiding in Christ

I’m not good at rest. (I stink at it actually.)

I like being busy.

Even when I manage to keep my body still? My mind is, going, going, going. Perhaps that is the curse of being a writer, and one who has been given an “off the charts” measure of creativity. (So Myers & Briggs tells me.)

No fooling.

I once interviewed for a bookeeping job with my church. I had to take one of those canned tests that’s supposed to evaluate your temperment/apptitude for the job. I had the work experience. I’d done the job before, but when the gal came back into the room with my test results? She looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Why in the world would YOU want to do this job?”

I thought, “You’re kidding right? Uh, how about money. Paying bills. You know, stuff like that.”

(I suppose I was looking at her like SHE was the crazy one.)

Well, that’s when she gave me the good-news-bad-news speech. She said they tried to graph my creativity, “But, …the line ran off the page!” She then showed me the door, informing me that from henceforth, I should never waste my time (or anyone else’s I guess) interviewing for repetitive, redundant-type jobs.

My point is this, I always thought “abiding” pretty much meant “doing nothing,” and as I said, I am really lousy at that.

But I have discovered that isn’t what abiding means.

When Jesus said, ” Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” [John 15:4John 15:4
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me.

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] He was actually telling us to: continue, remain, or stay on.

In his book, Abide In Christ, Andrew Murray wrote,

“There are two natures in the believer, and so two ways of seeking holiness, as we allow the principles of the one or the other nature to guide us. The one is the carnal way, in which we put forth our utmost efforts and resolutions, trusting Christ to help us in doing so. The other is the spiritual way, in which, as those who have did and can do nothing, our one care is to receive Christ day by day and at every step to let Him live and work in us.”

It’s not about our doing, it’s about being. It’s about flow!

As a writer “flow” is a VERY big deal to me. When I’m in “flow-mode,” the words are coming out of my fingertips and onto the keyboard without stress or struggle. I love flow!

Conversely, I can always tell when I am totally “off-track,” because instead of the words flowing, they feel like I am trying to pump them out.

Kingdom Business of Abiding(That means I need to step back, rethink, and cool my jets.)

I am learning, albeit a little late, that our Kingdom Life is all about flow. Letting The Flow of Life, that is the indwelling power of The Holy Spirit, effortlessly flow out of my joy-full serving.

I learned this the hard way.

Crashed and burned my first 90 days on church staff.

I still remember being in my church late one Saturday night. Nothing had gone right all day. I had tried everything I knew, but the problems still weren’t getting solved. I remember throwing my hands in the air, and in total frustration shouting at the ceiling, “I can’t do this!”

Into that silent room came His Still Small Voice whispering, “I know… but I AM going to do it THROUGH you.”

Abiding is about flow. Flow is about, through. Through is about His energy, His power, His life, flowing from our simple, continual—abiding.

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LISTEN AND LEARN

You are learning.

This power you need comes from a life of abiding.

It isn’t difficult; not really. As you obey Me, you discover that out of your weakness is flowing, My Life! When you yield, you abide. When you obey, you abide. When you love… and on, and on, it goes.

What is too difficult to understand?

My children become tired and worn out because they still have that childish, “I can do it myself!” spirit on them.

(You know yourself this is true.)

But, you are beginning to see how futile self-effort is, yes?

(Especially in My Kingdom.)

Oswald ChambersWhy do My children think they can do My work without Me? It is impossible, but oh how they try! (…and try, and try, and try.) It is a heartbreak for Me to be left out of so much that My people call “ministry”. They pursue their own agendas, all in My name of course, and so much is mere vanity and pride!

Child, listen and learn…

I AM not a taskmaster! I do not run brickyards! I AM Faithful Shepherd. You will never feel the sting of the whip from My hand!

Come, receive wisdom, understanding what the will of your LORD is. I AM gentle and humble in heart. I give rest to your soul. I AM in front—leading.

If you feel driven?

You can be certain it’s not Me.

a closer walk

“He gives power to the tired and worn out…”

Isaiah 40:29Isaiah 40:29
English: World English Bible - WEB

29 He gives power to the faint; and to him who has no might he increases strength.

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A Closer Walk: Tranquility Much Preferred

We all like those times of tranquility in life don’t we? When our lives are peaceful and all systems are “go.” I confess, l love those times. I’m not fond of trouble or chaos. (Nope, not my thing.) I’d prefer a life of lush green meadows and quiet still waters.

It sounds so nice.

I hate it when dark clouds form on my horizon and I hear the rumbles of thunder in the distance. Stormy times make me queasy. Which always makes me wonder, “Why in the world did God choose someone like me for one of His Last Days disciples?”

Jesus said “the last days” before His return would be very stormy times filled with trouble.

(Does that make your heart sink like mine does?)

I don’t like troubled times. I grew up with trouble. Chaos was frequently the order of the day at our house.

You’d think I’d be used to crisis by now; comfortable with it.

I’m in my sixth decade for Pete’s sake!

If not now… then when?

Unfortunately, just the opposite is true for me.

When the dark clouds roll in?

I want to duck-n-run for cover!

From God’s point of view that’s a problem.

TranquilityI’ve done this discipleship thing long enough now to know that God doesn’t appreciate my whining! Complaining, tears, and griping, will earn you time in the heavenly woodshed. (Believe me, I know.) So I am trying to learn to appreciate the positive side of storms, instead of always moaning about all the negatives.

Storms bring rain and growth.

(As long as there’s not, too much, of the wet stuff.)

Storms in life work on similar principles.

Stormy times bring trouble. Trouble brings growth, right? Our faith muscles grow. Our prayer life usually gets a nice workout—also producing new levels of stamina, for better endurance.

These are all good things from God’s point of view. It’s just that God and I don’t seem to ever agree about this “too much” thing.

When sprinkles turn to showers, and showers turn to downpours, and downpours produce flooding in my life? I tend to think, “Enough is enough… God, okay? Go rain on somebody else’s parade!”

This is where my fists tend to clench and my attitude really tanks.

(Not good.)

I have learned (mostly the hard way) that attitude is a very BIG thing with God.

Maintaining a positive attitude in a bad situation, will generally work in your favor. The reverse is also true! Bellyaching, carping, and complaining? Not so much.

Remember those guys who circled in the wilderness for forty years; unbelieving and kvetching? They didn’t make out so good—and I guess that’s my point.

God passionately loves us but is relentless in His goals for us. We don’t move Him by fear or complaining. He’s after growth! He wants maturity, stability, and exceptional examples of His Love and Grace.

He’ll get it from us, too… come heck, or neck-high water!

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THEY WILL COME

Tranquility Much PreferredAh, you see? After every storm there is growth!

You see just the first green shoots of change in your character, I see the “green pastures and still waters” your life is in the process of becoming!

(Someday, little one.)

Someday, many of My sheep will come and rest in the sweet resting place I AM creating in you. They will come weary and longing for rest, and because of all you have gone through, you will be equipped to meet their needs.

I will be beside you guiding you as I AM now.

Together we will bring many back to strength and robust believing!

Your life will be a place of great refreshing for many of My wounded and brokenhearted.

Today they wander child.

(You know this.)

They wander in dry pastures where there is no water for their souls.

Ah, but soon, very soon, you and I will water, and feed, and refresh—their souls will be restored, vision renewed, and their calling revived!

Is this not our dream?

Is this not what you asked Me for?

Be encouraged little shepherd.

Let Me lift that head.

Weep not for what is lost. You must be willing to lose in order to gain. It is Kingdom Law. (You know this.) You must release the things in your life, even the good and wonderful, if I ask it.

I cannot put this vision and destiny into clenched fists.

Come. As you follow Me, you will learn, letting go always precedes receiving!

a closer walk

 

“The tender grass grows up at his command…”

Psalm 104:14Psalm 104:14
English: World English Bible - WEB

14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And plants for man to cultivate, That he may bring forth food out of the earth:

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Revelation on “Abiding In Christ” Andrew Murray

The following are quotes taken from the book, Abide In Christ, by Andrew Murray. They are FULL of revelation and instruction for course correction.


“Christ Jesus said: “I am the Vine, ye are the branches.”

In other words: “I, the living One who have so completely given myself to you, am the Vine. You cannot trust me too much. I am the Almighty Worker, full of a divine life and power.” You are the branches of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is in your heart the consciousness that you are not a strong, healthy, fruit-bearing branch, not closely linked with Jesus, not living in Him as you should be—then listen to Him say: “I am the Vine, I will receive you, I will draw you to myself, I will bless you, I will strengthen you, I will fill you with my Spirit. I, the Vine, have taken you to be my branches, I have given myself utterly to you; children, give yourselves utterly to me. I have surrendered myself as God absolutely to you; I became man and died for you that I might be entirely yours. Come and surrender yourselves entirely to be mine.”

revelation on trust

REVELATION: His power is made perfect in our weakness.

“The Christian often tries to forget his weakness; God wants us to remember it, to feel it deeply. The Christian wants to conquer his weakness and to be freed from it; God wants us to rest and even rejoice in it. The Christian mourns over his weakness; Christ teaches His servant to say, ‘I take pleasure in infirmities. Most gladly …will I…glory in my infirmities’ (2 Cor. 12:92 Cor. 12:9
English: World English Bible - WEB

9 He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me.

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)’ The Christian thinks his weaknesses are his greatest hindrance in the life and service of God; God tells us that it is the secret of strength and success. It is our weakness, heartily accepted and continually realized, that gives our claim and access to the strength of Him who has said, ‘My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

God wants one thing

REVELATION: As Jesus was entirely dependent on the Father for all His words and all His works, so the believer can do nothing of himself.

“THERE is a view of the Christian life that regards it as a sort of partnership, in which God and man have each to do their part. It admits that it is but little that man can do, and that little defiled with sin; still he must do his utmost–then only can he expect God to do His part. To those who think thus, it is extremely difficult to understand what Scripture means when it speaks of our being still and doing nothing, of our resting and waiting to see the salvation of God. It appears to them a perfect contradiction, when we speak of this quietness and ceasing from all effort as the secret of the highest activity of man and all his powers. And yet this is just what Scripture does teach. The explanation of the apparent mystery is to be found in this, that when God and man are spoken of as working together, there is nothing of the idea of a partnership between two partners who each contribute their share to a work. The relation is a very different one. The true idea is that of cooperation founded on subordination. As Jesus was entirely dependent on the Father for all His words and all His works, so the believer can do nothing of himself. What he can do of himself is altogether sinful. He must therefore cease entirely from his own doing, and wait for the working of God in him. As he ceases from self-effort, faith assures him that God does what He has undertaken, and works in him. And what God does is to renew, to sanctify, and waken all his energies to their highest power. So that just in proportion as he yields himself a truly passive instrument in the hand of God, will he be wielded of God as the active instrument of His almighty power. The soul in which the wondrous combination of perfect passivity with the highest activity is most completely realized, has the deepest experience of what the Christian life is.”

Abide In Christ