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.
Many years ago, I convinced a friend of mine to attend a women’s retreat with me. It took huge amounts of effort, but Caroline finally consented. We had a great time and she was glad she came, but Caroline was still very shy. She enjoyed learning about God and all the worship experiences, but she mostly talked to me over the course of the weekend.
Saturday night, the main speaker, Juanita Kretschmar, presented a special program to help all of us ladies understand just how real God is in our lives. Sunday morning, during the final meeting, ladies were invited to share a special testimony from the evening. Caroline had shared hers with me and I urged her to go forward, but she was too shy.
I pleaded with Caroline and she finally went forward and shared what had happened to her Saturday night. Juanita had led us all in a special prayer where she encouraged us each to write a letter to God from our hearts. She would start the prayer and then each of us were to put the words in that fit our situations. Then Juanita spoke other words from up front, to help give ideas to those who were struggling. Caroline’s testimony was that every time a word came to her mind, to praise God for things he had done in her life or to tell Him this was a burden for her that she needed help with, she would later hear Juanita saying the same words up front. Caroline felt as if God were confirming that shy as she was, she was still important to Him.
After Caroline gave her testimony, Juanita shared another. After speaking at a religious retreat, she often feels like the devil comes after her saying things like, “You’re not good enough to encourage these other ladies to love God. You aren’t helping anyone get closer to God. You are a loser.” But when Caroline gave her testimony, Juanita was encouraged. She needed to hear that it had indeed made a difference. What if Caroline hadn’t gone forward? Shy or not, when God has worked in our lives, we must step forward and share!
Today, this is dedicated to Caroline, a truly beautiful woman. She bravely fought cancer, but lost yesterday. Through her long and difficult fight, she never failed to say God was with her. We saw miracles. God answered many prayers. She got to see her oldest daughter get married and a special ceremony to see her youngest graduate from high school. She was still shy, but she learned to tell about the good things God did for her and His faithfulness. You’ll be greatly missed Caroline.
“I am a Christian.” And you’re saying this because? So often that’s the way we look at it. Just saying you are a Christian – does it make a difference? It can, if you are intentional about it.
I’ve struggled with a lot of pain after a colonoscopy and the gastro was at a loss as how to help me. Finally, I went to see my primary care physician and he recommended seeing a massage therapist. It was Monday after 5pm, so I had to wait until the next morning to do anything about it. At my chiropractor’s office, they have a massage therapist – only there on Tuesday mornings. I was her first patient the next morning. So glad she had space for me. I’m still in pain, but at half the severity as it was before. Healing is beginning to take place.
My doctor sits on the same school board as my husband. He asked Karl about how I was doing and Karl was glad to report that massage therapy had made a difference. My doctor was thrilled and shared “the rest of the story.” Massage therapy isn’t something he often recommends. However, as a Christian, he prays that God will guide him in how he handles the care his patients need. He said God put those words in his mouth.
Does being a Christian make a difference? When it is more than lip service. When God is your partner in your life work – yes! I for one, am grateful.
My husband was sharing some of his recent conversations with some church members, telling how prayers have been answered in some areas. He told me how he spoke very bluntly (I would say rudely) to one person and I responded, “You said that to him?” My husband of course replied, “Yes.”
I was beginning to think my pastor husband had lost his “bedside manners,” with some of his parishioners, but he continued. “He likes it when I talk in his face, because that’s the way he is. If I didn’t, he wouldn’t appreciate anything I say. It is how he communicates.”
I ran this bit of explanation through all I knew about the various church members and realized, he was right. He had taken the time to know the person and know how to best communicate with them and after praying about pastoral counsel, went for it!
It was a good lesson for me. When I really need to communicate something important to someone, do I study them and know how best to present it? Have I learned how they would be most receptive to my words? Do I take enough time to show I care about who they are to converse with them in a way that makes them feel comfortable?
Do you have an important conversation you need to have with someone? Take the time to intentionally study them and learn how you can make that conversation something they want to be a part of.
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?