I came across this quote from Pastor R.A. Torrey recently.
We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions, much machinery but few results.
The first sentence makes such an impact. Too busy to pray=too busy to have power. The truth is that we can get “too busy” with a lot of “good things.” Even if it is considered a “good thing,” such as helping a neighbor or volunteering at a soup kitchen; it becomes a problem if it keeps you from the most important thing of praying and spending time alone with God. Where do you think you get that power to help and volunteer?
We get so wrapped up in busyness and wonder why we don’t feel connected anymore, even when we are doing good things. We fail to realize – we aren’t connected anymore. Don’t get too busy.
Vacation Bible School is always so much work, but full of so much fun and blessings! We’ve been planning for this week’s VBS for months. My job is helping with the motions to the songs and a couple of weeks ago, someone asked me how it was going. My response? Greta is my superstar and she’s doing great. The same person asked the lady in charge of the up front program the same question and her response was: Sharon and Greta are my superstars.
Last night after our first opening session of VBS, one of the volunteers remarked that Greta was doing great in leading the motions to the songs, it is her gift. The truth is, Greta loves motions to songs so much that if a song doesn’t have motions, she’ll make up her own!
Our little part of VBS is going great because we are recognizing something: Spiritual Gifts. What God has gifted someone with, let them do that! Everyone is blessed when people use their gifts for God’s honor and glory. Yes, even a little girl can use her talents, given by God, to help others.
Through the marriage seminars my husband and I present, I’ve learned a lot about personality types and the differences between men and women and the way they think, act and react. From the study of my Bible, I see that God knows our personalities and puts them to the best use if we are willing to surrender (of course He knows us because He created us). However, God is clearly not limited by our personalities. The good news is that we don’t have to be limited by our personalities either. Yes, it is good to know our basic starting point on how we perceive and relate to life on a daily basis, but because of the grace of God, we are not limited to only that.
Why is this important? There is one very strong personality combination – which Mark Gungor, of Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, refers to as the world’s strongest willed people. Is there a place for the world’s strongest willed people? Yes. Are these people often misunderstood. Again, yes. So what’s the big deal? Confession.
You see, some of the strongest willed people refuse to say they are sorry or admit wrong. That’s just not in their mojo. You’ll find Sasquatch in Atlantis before you get one of these folks to admit they were wrong and apologize. The burning question of the day – if I can’t apologize to a fellow human being that I have wronged, how can I confess/apologize to God?
Well Sharon, I have nothing to worry about, because that’s not my personality type. Great! So you practice confession on a regular basis then, right? Perhaps all of us are in need of a little more grace, not just the strong personality types, to soften our hearts and cause us to be willing to admit wrong and apologize. Why is confession so important? Because a contrite/broken/confessed heart God will not despise. He has promised that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just. He will forgive and cleanse.
You know that chafing you feel because you know you wronged a family member, but you don’t want to admit it and eat humble pie? God can cleanse away that chafing feeling. Confess, because He is faithful and just. He will forgive and cleanse.
Picking out cards can be monotonous at times, until you find it: the perfect card! I have a brother-in-law that appreciates an intellectually twisted sense of humor and Karl and I both enjoy finding just the right card for him. We laugh as we read the card and as we imagine what his reaction will be.
At my last birthday, I got a couple of cards that were perfect! I knew the family members that picked the cards out must have known, without a doubt, these are for Sharon! Whether it makes you laugh, cry, stand in amazement or even a mixture of the three, it is wonderful to enjoy the perfect card and the love and relationship behind it.
In my Bible study time this morning, I ran across this description of what it means to be close to God, by regularly getting into His Word: “Imagine knowing God so well that you could buy Him a greeting card you knew He would just love.” I thank Lisa D. Hermann for writing this. How much time is spent in God’s Word? Do I know Him enough that I could pick out the perfect card for Him?
Just to set the record straight – discipline is training, not punishment. A well disciplined soldier is a well trained soldier. A well disciplined child is a well trained child. So when I think about Drift vs. Discipline, I’m thinking about when we get out of training and just kind of drift along. It is failing to follow through on what we know will help us achieve our goals and just sort of hope it happens naturally. Are we messed up in our thinking or what?
There are four spiritual disciplines that share a unique relationship: fellowship, study, prayer and solitude. Fellowship and solitude each enhance study and prayer, but they are opposite of each other. These are also four of the first targets of drift. We tend to drift out of fellowship with like believers, drift out of that quiet time each day with God. We know we should study and pray, but we choose to drift along because the schedule is tight today. Eventually, due to the lack of discipline or training, we become out of shape. We become spiritually out of shape.
There is a saying that faith walks out when fatigue walks in. Drift can happen quickly during times of ill health, stressful situations, financial crisis and so forth. Things that wear you down and wear you out – fatigue – can wear down your faith; unless of course you are well disciplined. Even if the crisis causes you to miss a few days of Bible study and prayer, your training will eventually draw you back to what has given you strength.
So what’s the answer for drift? Discipline! Be well trained during the times when things are going well. Get your mind and body used to times of fellowship. study, prayer and solitude when there is no temptation to follow the lure of the drift. When things go wrong – and they will – you will return to what you know and the strength you receive from that training.
It is football season and I love watching those long passes. The quarterback sees his best shot and throws. The receiver is still running, not even looking at the QB and just at the right time, he turns around to make eye contact and catch the ball. Think that happens by accident? It’s called training. It’s called discipline. That play has been rehearsed so many times that it comes naturally to the receiver to turn around and catch the ball at the right time. The ball doesn’t accidentally drift into his hands. He’s been trained to catch it.
The spiritual disciplines are there for your training and development, because a continuing relationship with the God of the universe doesn’t happen by accident. Don’t get me wrong. Let me say it loud and proud right here – Jesus did it all and there is nothing we can do. It is all Jesus, reaching out to us and starting that relationship with us. It is all Him. But once that relationship is started, He wants you to grow and develop and follow Him. That happens with discipline, with training as you choose to stay in that relationship that Jesus has initiated.
Ready for training?
Watching “Aha!” moments on the faces of husbands and wives as they start to “get it” about their marriage is one of the many reasons my husband and I love presenting marriage seminars. One area in particular deals with the essence of who your spouse really is and the tool we use to discover that is “The Flag Page.” We recently interviewed a couple where the wife came to tears, finally understanding her husband and why he did what he did. Those moments are priceless and rewarding.
While the Flag Page is web based and designed for adults and teenagers, a board game version was also designed to be used by younger children. I recently helped a mother and young son do his flag page and again the lights suddenly came on and there were “aha!” moments. This young man is very special. He is the baby of the family, the youngest of five children, yet born with strong leadership skills. That’s a tough job.
How does the baby of the family get affirmed for who God created him to be? How do parents hone those God given leadership skills while still maintaining loving parental control? It’s not an easy task. I know from experience because we have the same version in our family. Our youngest child is the one with natural leadership personality and skills and she’s a girl on top of that!
Did God make a mistake? Did he mess up when He decided to put these leadership qualities in the youngest children in these two families? I don’t have too many problems with the atmosphere, animal life, foliage and landscapes – except for any damage we’ve done to them; so I think God did a pretty good job. If He did it right on these big things, I’m sure He got it right on the small things as well, even down to putting leadership skills in the youngest child in a family – even if she is a girl!
Affirm people for who they are, for who God made them to be. I’m not talking about helping people continue in bad habits and choices because we’ve all got rough edges that need to be polished. I’m talking about the basics of personality, the essence of who God created them to be. Affirm that. Be intentional about affirming the peacemakers, the managers, the leaders, the artists, the make it happen folks and those who make sure everyone is included and accepted.
This mother and son, life is going to be different for them from this point on. Take the time to learn about those you interact with and help them be all God created them to be. The Bible calls it one of the spiritual gifts – the gift of exhortation, strongly encouraging someone to do what God has called them to do.