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Stop Doing Your Quiet Time

Those Who Walked with God
     Eve walked in the garden with God. Do you get much closer than that? Moses entered the tabernacle, saw God’s shoulder blade, and caught a case of “incandescent face” because he was in the presence of God. Solomon was brutally honest and humble with God that above power and riches, he’d need wisdom to rule God’s people – and received all three for that purpose.

     All three had incredible responsibilities for God and all three have been recorded in scripture as having a few major failures on their performance reviews. Moses was denied entry into the promised land, Solomon led the nation of Israel astray, and Eve… Eve, Eve, Eve…

     I don’t know what you’re called to, how much responsibility you have, or how closely you’ve walked with God, but I doubt anyone reading this post has more on the line than any of those three. I doubt anyone reading this post has a more direct connection with God than them, unless they have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them… Ooops… You get the point…

Those Who Walk with God & “QTG”
     We not only have the Spirit of God in us, but we have the full, inerrant, inspired written revelation to go back and refer to, which none of the above had… So, what’s the problem? QTG… The biggest source of embarrassment when I sit down and talk with guys weekly is “Quiet Time Guilt” or QTG:

  • I haven’t been in the word as much as I would like to…
  • I’ve been kinda… busy… this week.
  • Well, I’m kind of all over the place in my reading… But, I wish…

     It’s as if they (by they, I mean we; and, by we, I also mean me…) have a painful, throbbing case of “Gotta do my quiet time again” that flares up every time they look in the mirror.

Stealing Our Excuses & The Bait and Switch
     Every time I read the stories of Eve, Moses, and Solomon, I get this sort of “righteous indignation” and almost shout at my Bible: “You had personal experiences with God that most people would kill for – What were you thinking?!?!” Eve got to walk with God, Moses was chosen to lead Israeal out of Egypt, Solomon was born into nobility and somewhere along the line, they took God for granted… What do you think they might say if they read my story, though? Me, a bought-and-paid-for follower of Christ filled with the Holy Spirit, given the full canon of scripture…

    The issue at the heart of QTG is that somewhere along the line our “get to” has gotten infected with “have to” and our guilt gland has gone into overdrive. Do we ever imagine Eve waking up in the morning thinking, “Oh, dread, have to walk through a beautiful garden today with the Sovereign of the Universe again…”? I know Moses had justifiable beef with the stiff necked people he was in charge of, but did he ever approach the tent of meeting and think “Sheesh… Gotta go talk to the Lord, again. What a drag.”? After all that Solomon wrote, can you ever picture him saying “Another boring revelation from the Creator of all that is seen and unseen.”?

Upping the Ante – Trading in the Guilt
     Make no mistake, there should be a sense of urgency – if Eve walked with God and failed miserably to defend direct revelation to Satan, Moses saw God’s glory and still disobeyed, and Solomon got wisdom, riches, and power from God but still married foreign wives, multiplied horses, and gold and wound up worshiping rival gods – who are you and I to think we’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell without constant contact with the Word of Truth?

     Look, it’s a war out there. There is a battle for our hearts and minds no different than the competition Solomon fell prey to when he took a thousand wrong turns with foreign women and their gods – we’d better be in the word, right?

Freedom from the Swelling

   Yet, we must not allow our guilt gland to be overrun by the lie that Quiet Time is another chore to be added to the list, another thing to be “done”. Today, we have the stories of these three and many others to remind us that they got to walk with God, they got to enjoy His presence, and we get to, too. Furthermore, knowing that it’s a battle, we can cling to the word out of a guiltless “have to” and a grateful “get to” as we would a life raft in choppy seas following the sinking of the Titanic. How much guilt does a soldier have when the siren blares and he and his platoon run off to the chopper, the tank, or the Hum-V and it comes time to grab his rifle? Is he “too busy” to throw it over his shoulder? No, it’s my rifle and I must, I get to, I will bring it with me!

   Find any refreshment there? Yeah, me, too.

   Pray, today, that the Helper, the para-kletos comes along side you and I and ups our urgency to get in and stay in the Word not out of guilt or obligation, but out of crucial battle-readiness and love for the Lord whose presence is in us. Thank Him for the scriptures – worshiping the God of the Word, not the Word of the God. Let’s stop DOING our quiet time and embracing our lifeline to the Savior with freedom and confidence.

Soli Deo Gloria

AP

Unclutter and Slay the Beast!

Call. Ask. Read. Pick up. Reply. Go to.

Action words, right?

     I use these words everyday because David Allen told me I had too many “non action words” on my “action list” and “non action words” don’t help your brain, they just make you scratch your head in wonder. Bookmark that thought. We’ll come back to it.

Ever have 1,100+ emails in
your inbox?  Beastly.

     A few years ago, I looked at my inbox and it had over 1,100 items in it and I would nearly get a headache just looking at the computer screen because… well, where do you start with 1,100 emails? My inbox extended probably 50 screen lengths and had become a woeful Beast that would stare me down from the moment I fired up my computer.
     Since I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done, I’ve been able to get my inbox to empty two to three times a week. Caveat: “been able to” and “have done” are definitely two different matters, but I can recall uttering the words “free at last” more than once over these years, simply because I knew the impossible could be done, and I’d seen it happen at least once myself.
    Today, I exclusively run Microsoft Outlook because it has rules that automatically re-route 80% of my incoming mail into simple, categorized folders and keeps my inbox nearly clutter-free. Can you imagine the freedom I feel every time I sit down at my inbox to see that it’s less than one screen long? No longer did I worry about getting pulled away from my desk by an “important” telemarketer’s phone call or a dirty diaper (hey, when you work from home 50% of the time or more that’s a clear & present danger…)

     When I first grasped the concept of what sin really is and the fact that I could sin in my mind without taking any external {Call. Ask. Read. Pick up. Reply. Go to.} action, it was as if I had suddenly sat down in front of that computer again to face

Stop Counting Your Blessings – Monday Morning Momentum

Deep Cleaning…

     When I waited tables, I remember the reason I was there most days was to make money. Yes, over time you grow to love the business and the people, but you do have to pay the rent, right? This is why it would frustrate the heck out of me when management would make the waitstaff clean the joint. Wiping down windows and walls… Deep cleaning tea urns… Polishing silverware and brass fixtures… pain in the neck.

     Ever polish or deep clean something? Never noticed how dirty it was before that, right? (“Won’t this stuff just come off?!“) Ever look at it when you’re done and think – “Wow, that looks a whole lot better”? Then, someone comes barreling around the corner with a mess in their hands and you kind of guard your well polished treasure… “You must not tarnish my precious!!!

     Deep cleaning things frustrates me almost as much as fake platitudes, especially people who quip scripture at you when you’re having a hard time. “God works all things for the good… Count your blessings…”

Shut it, preacher.

     For this reason, I stopped counting my blessings years ago and I’m recommending you do so, too. Yes, I’ll explain. But, first, a word or two from scripture:

     “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them. (Ecc. 3.1,5a)
     “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal 6.9)”

     Stones had a lot of uses in the Old Testament culture, one was to mark occasions and events, like the 12 stones set at the Jordan River when Joshua led the nation across on dry land. The goal of having those stones there was not so that they could be counted. The goal of having those stones there was so the nation of Israel could remember God’s miracle and faithfulness as He ushered them into the promised land with supernatural fanfare. If I were one of those Israelites who saw the previous generation die off in the desert and then watched the Jordan river pile up in heaps while 2-3 million of us crossed over with the Ark of the Testimony, I’d probably go back from time to time and polish those stones, telling my kids and grandkids how crazy it was to see not just a sea part, but a rushing river stop in its tracks!!!

     A few years ago, Cristine and I were struggling with some tough issues and people in our life. It seemed though we were doing what God called us to do and standing for His truth, we were encountering harsh resistance from people who should have been cheering us on. We were truly “wear in doing good”. My mentor gave us incredibly practical and helpful advice – “time to start polishing up some of the monuments og God’s faithfulness in your life.”

Be Encouraged

    While temptation begs us to believe that if God is empowering us to do something, it’ll be easy-breezy. While God may call and empower us to climb a mountain with a 500 lb pack, He might help lighten the load, but it doesn’t mean we won’t be achy and out of breath at the summit. Weary can come with doing good. We must not lost perspective by ignoring the monuments of His faithfulness, much less minimizing them by only tallying them up. Counting blessings gives glory to God, but how much more when we pause for a moment or a season and examine every curve, chink, and line in the stone set up in remembrance? How much greater is our context and appreciation during strife when we think of the minute, clear detail of the miracles God has performed in the past.

Benediction

     May we not stop short by merely counting our blessings. May we pause and think back to the great, awesome details of God’s faithfulness in our past, even our present. May we not grow weary in doing good. Yet, if we do, if we become tarnished by the gunk of life and doing good in a broken world, let us be refreshed by God as He restores us to the joy of His salvation. May we reap a harvest in due time because by His power, we did not give up.

Much agape to ya.

AP