Decluttering your mind will yield freedom and fruit in your life and ministry

Decluttering our minds:

In this revelation of himself, he <Jesus> is showing you the importance of knowing where you come from, where you are going, and who you are. It’s one of life’s greatest tasks, to gain clarity on all these matters, because your work, your relationships, and your entire life will be shaped by that clarity. (from Worknet, Geoff Shattock, Issue “Son of Man 19”, January 19th 2015)

Clutter is the enemy of the mind.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify. Simplify.” He lived nearly 200 years ago. What would he make of the clutter that arises out of the gooey mass of internet and social media?

I am learning to declutter. In one sense it has been a single decision and I aim to adhere to it stubbornly. In another sense it is a process which may take some time. But I can already see rewards that are coming from it. More time to write, less stress, more quality time with family.

I have a mug that has a1950’s style image of a housewife in an apron and wearing a big smile. Her coiffed hair is perfect. The caption reads, “A clean house is the sign of a wasted life.” Well, be it a clean house or a clean inbox the result is the same: industry for its own sake does not yield ultimate satisfaction. Fulfillment comes from running the race set before us as individuals, creating, exploring, endeavouring to fulfil our calling, our purpose in life. Perhaps for some, but I believe it is for relatively few, that purpose is met through being tidy.

Reducing or eliminating entirely the ‘unnecessary’ is a first step in decluttering our minds.

As I read So You Want to be Like Christ by Rev Charles Swindoll, the content of the book triggered in me the following list of ways to avoid clutter:

1) Work on one project at a time.

2) Finish what you start.

3) Know your limitations.

4) Start with a clean slate – even if that means letting go of some unfinished work or great ideas. Take a fresh start instead of playing catch-up with incomplete tasks or ideas.

5) Be an expert on YOU. An expert is simply someone who has been through the fire, has come out singed but alive, and smarter than he was before.

6) Set your face like flint and focus – looking forward (not back) to your goals and objectives, taking on one at a time.

If you want to be changed, you have to go beyond the revelation of what you want to be. You have to set your face like flint and go forward, focused and determined to be changed, different from who you were in all things, and changed into who you recognize you need to be. Real change is recognizing a new perspective, taking it around the corner with you, and not looking back.

I quote from Swindoll’s book, “Too much clutter in your mind leaves insufficient room for devotion to Christ.” (pg 39) Too much clutter prevents progress. To grow we need to move forward with a pure heard and a clear and focused mind.

So, even before working on our projects, let’s spend quality time – on a regular basis – with God. He’ll enable us to choose which project, and where to start. And more than that, He’ll remind us what the project and all of life is about. Then our work will be purposeful, fulfilling and enriching for ourselves and for those around us too. For with God, all things are possible. Our experiences, our lives, our relationships will be richer for our involvement with and surrender to Father God.

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The Ultimate Goal

The Ultimate Goal:

‘One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 3:13b-14 (loose translation)

When I was in Discipleship Training some twenty years ago, I was encouraged to know that suffering was for the purpose of building character and building character led to usefulness and crowns in Heaven.

Now I realize that the ultimate goal will not necessarily lead me to any victory, blessing or usefulness on earth, but that the only reason for suffering may be to bring me closer to the character of Jesus. I may not be otherwise blessed at all.

So much for prosperity gospel. So much for victorious living and God’s blessings. Is being like Jesus enough?

This past year, 2013, has been the most difficult year in my 30 years as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. I have my health, I have a safe and warm home, I have my family; I am blessed in many ways. But what I have ‘lost’ is the belief that I will one day achieve something for the Kingdom which is of lasting benefit and significance. I have, as one friend said recently, experienced the ‘death to the dream’ or as Dr Larry Crabb puts it, I have experienced Shattered Dreams (Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, Colorado, (c) 2001).

This past year has been a year of expectations disappointed, of strain with no resultant achievement, of realization that just because I believe and work hard does not mean I will succeed in finding a job or finding an audience for my writing. That’s been a difficult lesson.
I’ve watched others in similar situations, faithful brothers or sisters in Christ, who have experienced similar. Some tell stories of God coming through in the end. Others are still waiting. For myself, I’ve stumbled upon a new reality: Jesus came to save from sin – which is both a one-time finished salvation and also a slow process of self-discovery and sanctification which may have no other end but purity.

I wonder how many believers have faith in ultimate goals being realized: hopes and ambitions that God will train us so that we can be better people in our work and ministry, only to discover eventually that life hasn’t panned out quite how they expected. And if any of those disappointed that their own dreams – what they believe or believed were the ‘desires of their hearts’ – will not be realized, have become bitter or disillusioned. My own sense of self-importance, which dies hard, has thought I will one day minister and be fruitful in producing writing that will speak to millions and change lives. Now I’m thinking that will not be how God uses me and that He may not even use me at all. Realizing this has been hard. But do I still love Him, in spite of thinking my secure middle class existence and hope for notoriety is speedily coming to an end?

Yes, I do. I may not love Him as much as I thought I did, but the seed is still there. Thank you, LORD. And I will persevere, in spite of discovering there may be no reward but the assurance I am saved by His grace. And I will love Him all the more as I see the ugliness of my selfish ambition and know He still loves me.

The ultimate goal is not to reap prosperity, nor even to be involved in the conversion of others to the knowledge of God’s ultimate gift in giving us His son Jesus. The ultimate goal is simply to be transformed to be more the likeness of the Son. And that is sometimes a hard journey.

Dr Larry Crabb’s subtitle to his book Shattered Dreams is not a promise and not a reason to persevere, but it is a hope; Shattered Dreams is God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy. I wouldn’t urge others to persevere for the sake of it, but it is helpful to know there is a hope at the end of the tunnel. As I grow in Christ, as I journey in my faith, the tunnels seem to get longer, but so far they’ve always ended. I’ve no reason to believe the one I’ve lived in during 2013 will end on 1st January 2014, but I do have every reason to believe it will, one day, ‘burst forth into glorious day’!!

God bless and Happy New Year!

There is always Hope

There is always Hope

Self-esteem and Effective Collaboration

Recently, I have been challenged in the area of relationship.

Relationship, I believe, is the single, most important aspect of our lives. We relate to Father God, Creator of the Universe; we relate to ourselves, learning to accept ourselves in entirety and to surrender to God so He can refine us; we relate to others because, surrounded by people, we must learn to get along. Relationship motivates us, excites us, gives our lives meaning and purpose.

But what do I do when I’m called to work with someone that I don’t naturally connect to? Or worse, that is so like me that I feel like I’m looking into a grubby mirror and all the worst aspects of me are being reflected back?

That is when the hard-earned self-esteem I’ve pursued and developed – after years of feeling inferior – reveals its value and I display that with God all things are possible, even learning to laugh at difficult circumstances and to surrender the outcome to Him. That is when I practice the grace I’ve received from God the Father and from His other children toward the person I find challenging. That is when I dig down and pray for the relationship and for the very best in our process together.

When I am confident in my identity, ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength’ (Phil 4:13), and I can enable others to do the same by demonstrating patience, love, peace… and all the fruits of the Spirit.

Developing self-esteem is a paradox. When you discover God’s unconditional love, you recognize how perfectly He made you (see Psalm 139:16, 13). When you realize how far removed you are from His perfect creation, you aspire to be all He’s created you to be, so that the ache and shame of imperfection is washed away by the grace and love you experience from Him.

I recognize that God has created me perfectly, even though life experiences have molded me imperfectly. I can find both confidence and humility in this awareness.

We are on a learning curve, together, and the LORD is calling His children to work together. Together is how we grow and how God reflects His love and His will. In order to work together most effectively, our flesh needs to bow to our spirit, so that our spirit can yield to His Holy Spirit. We can be His hands and feet most effectively when we love one another as we love ourselves.

Let’s face the challenges the sovereign LORD puts in front of us, aware that we are just as much a challenge to others as they are to us. Let’s fight the good fight, let’s finish the race (2 Tim 4:7). Let’s enjoy one another, working together to do His will, walking His way, through the grace and power of His word.

God bless.

‘Not as the World does’

Have you ever realized you were walking in a fog? And wasn’t it great to get out of it?

Recently, I received clarity. Suddenly, all my diligence over the last thirteen years has culminated in my understanding today. After writing for years, and building Laruspress last year, it’s only now that know what it is. It is not a business, it is not a brand; Laruspress is a concept.

SOAR: See Over All Repression

SOAR: See Over All Repression

Laruspress stands for the freedom we have available when we live true to our unique identity. Laruspress’ logo – a seagull flying – is representative of freedom and survival. Our hearts are called to SOAR: to See Over All Repression, and to live without shame, anxiety, fear, oppression. Laruspress is a ministry, seeking to enrich, encourage, enable believers to recognize their full inheritance. Not only are we saved by Jesus from spiritual death. But we are also saved from all the wrong-thinking that we’ve developed and been trapped by through the experiences we’ve lived. Jesus came to set us free and we are free indeed, but most of us lack the fullness of this freedom, in one sense or another. The message is for all of us: Jesus’ salvation is complete and there is nothing that is not dealt with when we choose to follow him.

The message I’ve been given to share is this: you can be who you were created to be, so you can do all you were created to do. There-in lies fulfillment. The task I have is to provide messages, resources and services to those who’ve not yet ‘got’ the concept, so that we all continue to move ahead, toward deeper relationship with Jesus, toward greater acceptance of ourselves and toward establishing God’s Kingdom on earth.

The world does not see my mission the way I do. The world says I need to earn money, establish my name, get an audience. But I’ll make no assumptions now. I was called to write in 2000 and have done all I know how to do in order to grow as a writer. Only now I embrace that it was not for business that I wrote but for enriching my life and others’ lives with my message of freedom. Freedom costs – in time, in responsibility – but living in freedom is a joy.

And so, I discover I have freedom to pursue my writing without the world’s pull to market myself and my books. I’ll still do all I can to get exposure, but now it is for a different reason. It is for my reason, God’s reason, the reason unique to my personality and to my call: to enrich, educate, enable, encourage and equip those who seek to live in the freedom each one of us is created to have.

It is a Kingdom message. All of us need to be who we were created to be, so each of God’s people – and each of God’s messages – gets delivered in just the way it was meant to be.

Do you know what it feels like for me, to finally to have all the pieces of the puzzle fitting together? It feels wonderful!

I can move to the rhythm God put inside me. I can ignore striving and frustration and disappointment. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” I do not have to think way the world thinks.

How does this awareness effect my efforts? It supercharges them, because I have clarity of purpose and of message. I am focused. And that is, for me, very exciting.

What mission has the LORD given to you? And how will you address it?

Be blessed, and until next time,

Sarah

On the band wagon : Christian Authors

I have been writing forever and as a focus since 2000 when I felt the LORD say “write”.

I have been published for just over a year.

In that time I’ve received a tremendous amount of advice about building the writing as a business. Marketing on the social network has become a part of my day. I’m doing my best to keep up with the trends, demands, opportunities of marketing my book and my work on the net.

But

I’ve come to the realization that following the “write” command – and the encouragement for it – has been relegated to second place.

I want to go back to making it the first place – even if it’s only a hobby. Because there is joy in the writing and much less in all of the ancillary stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, please. If I hadn’t put my back into building a site (www.laruspress.com) and extended my net to reach out to many on facebook (Sarah Tun and page Free to Be – raising self esteem) and on twitter (@laruspress and @disowndredeemd) then I would have missed out on a lot of good people and their posts/tweets/ideas. But this whole aspect to building business is not for me. How do I know? Because I’m muddled rather than clear-headed, and because what I’m doing isn’t unique – as Christ is – but rather I find myself following (rather than leading as is my disposition and calling) and feeling very un-creative.

What shall I do about this? I’ll pray. How do I rectify the situation? I’ll pray. Because the truth is, ‘with God all things are possible’, and because ‘unless the LORD builds the house (I) labour in vain.

So, to all Christian authors out there, I encourage you to write on. And follow God’s lead in all that you do. May you have clarity and breakthrough, and may you be aware in your journey when the LORD is leading you to change. For me, it might be quite possible I’m in for a ‘change’. I’ll keep you posted… literally.

God bless.