Tag Archives: discipline

The Weird Thing About Reading the Bible Is

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I have been a Christian since I was 16 years old. I don’t mean I have been going to church since I was 16. I mean I have been attempting to submit my entire life to Jesus Christ since I was 16. It is not easy. The largest roadblock to this submission has been myself. And the largest thing about myself that has gotten in the way is my aversion to routine.

(What does this have to do with Fathering? I am convinced that as I seek to become more like Jesus, I become a better father, a better husband, and even a better version of me. If you disagree with this statement, I challenge you right here, right now in the comments for just one quality of behaviour of Jesus that I might emulate that would not make me a better father, husband or person. Just one. Go ahead. I await your comments.)

But here’s the funny thing about it. Very early on I noticed something about reading the Bible. Reading the Bible is something that pretty much every church tells you is key to figuring out how to follow Jesus personally. In fact, if a church tells you that it is not key, then I’d argue you aren’t going to a Christian church. But being the contrarian that I am I rarely accept what I am told “because”. There has to be a reason. Read the rest of this entry »

From Alberta Children’s Hospital – A Room to Read

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It is a fascinating chapter of life I have entered into.  I almost wrote “we” but this is a blog about me, so I will assume you know that I fully acknowledge my son’s brain surgery is not about me.  But how I am affected by it is.

I have heard of people in busy jobs, lives that become ill, and are forced, for health reasons, to take a break – to step out of their routines for a time controlled by the process of healing.  I think part of the reason God made us like He did was to force this upon us.  When we are overworked or overstressed, our body tends to break down easier, forcing us to slow the pace.  In this case, it was not my pace of life, or stress, or anything we had done.  It just was.  Thankfully, we have an amazing community of friends and family that have stepped into the situation and made it possible for Cheryl and I to simply “disconnect” (though the rate of Facebook communication has stepped up considerably as we try to keep everyone informed about how Lyndan is doing).  We are so very grateful for the rest of our boys being cared for at home, for my responsibilities as pastor being lifted by my associate Bart and other leaders in Grasslands Church.

image This disconnect has opened up so much time.  Time for things that get swept away by the urgent or the routine.  I have been able to finish a book – “Your Secret Name” by Kary Oberbrunner.  I am glad I did – it was a very good book and I will be mulling over what I took away from it for some time (expect a blog post at some point).  I have also had time to write towards my next message – it’s not often that I am afforded 3 weeks’ lead time for the next time I speak.  I have even had time to wrestle with some subjects that I would like to speak on but need further development before moving forward.

And also, it has given me time to blog.  Which I really do like but often feel too busy to do these days – as you can tell by the frequency of my posts here, on our church planting blog, Planting on Faith and even on the Grasslands Church Blog.

On the subject of busyness, my associate, Bart has been encouraging me to read “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, and while it was written more than a couple decades ago, it really is timeless in its ideas and pointing out not only the general idea of how to move towards doing what we want to do well, but also with specific, applicable things we can do to find that zone.  I am not the most organized person in the world but I am certainly convinced that I would like to do more with the time I am given – and the only way that is going to happen is if I implement more structure into my life.  “You lack DISCIPLINE!” I can hear Ahnuld’s voice ringing in my ears when I begin to get that rush of adrenaline from a looming deadline.  There is something about the way German speakers pronounce the word “lack” that adds extra weight to the word.

Lastly, I am finally getting to chop through a book that I have wanted to read since Tim Challies first wrote it – “The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment”.  The topic is almost unwritten on but so critical for Christians to understand in this day and age where too many supposed God-followers are content with their Bible reading limited to their pastor’s powerpoint slides and their thinking on the intersection of Christ and Culture as a couple of streets in Mexico City.  I find much of my job as pastor so far has been doing the interpretation of culture for people, but I am convinced that my calling as pastor is to teach people to interpret culture through Christ themselves.  Hence, I had better get reading.

Without further ado, back to my Kindle app!

Quiet Time: For God’s Benefit or Yours?

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ians Like. Read it. For fun and profit.

Jon Acuff will likely never notice this linkage, but his most recent discussion about what pleases God and what doesn’t spurred me to add a thought.

I used to set my timer on my iPhone to 30 minutes, sit down and then try to get my quiet time on. If for whatever reason I could only grab 15 minutes that day, I felt like God was 50% less happy with me. If I missed an entire day, I imagined he was picking out the right lightning bolt to get me with like a golfer picking a club.

My formula was:
“10 minutes of prayer + 10 minutes of writing + 10 minutes of Bible reading = Happy God.”

Trying not to judge him for his trendy use of an iPhone (I still believe that using anything produced by Apple but an iPod constitutes at a minimum being “of the world” if not idolatrous – go ahead, Apple zealots, crucify me for my beliefs!)  He really has illustrated a case-in-point of the all-too-common religiosity of Christians.  Religion Jesus came to destroy.  We can’t satisfy God with anything we do.  We must communicate clearly that there is nothing we can do to please God.  God saves us by grace, a free gift that can’t be earned in any sense.

But what about verses that call Jesus’ followers to obedience?  Sure, I’ll give you that, but I’ll need some help finding the verse that says, “Christ followers shall have a ‘quiet time’ with the Lord every day.”  Interestingly, I didn’t see Jesus have a “quiet time” with the Father every day.

Lest I be chastised for doubletalk (this blog isn’t that big yet, and only a few posts down you will find a couple on my efforts to create a daily office for myself), what I wanted to say was this: quiet time with God is not for His benefit.  He does not love us more or less if we have it, how often we have it, or what we do with it.  It is for ours.  We grow closer to Him.  Our souls become a better reflection of His.  We become more closely conformed to His image.  It is for our own personal holiness and sanctification that we do well with quiet time.

Never think that God is happier with you or you are more blessed because of anything you do.  But recognize that you do profit by seeking first His Kingdom.

A New Pattern of Prayer

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Inspired by the life of monks, who I recently watched in the BBC reality series, “The Monastery“, I began to investigate the cycle of services they live under.  They Pray “The Hours” and their services follow a cycle called “The Daily Office“.  A lot of what they pray and do strikes me as overly formulaic, but there is something to be said for a structured prayer life that leaves room for really engage spiritually – to seek with your very soul a moment with the Lord and have Him be that glass of living water that refreshes you in ways that drink never can.  There are precious few moments where I have felt that, but I can tell you that several have been in the past two days.

I am a pretty unstructured guy.  I like spontaniety.  I like discovering, flying by the seat of my pants, and happening upon random things.  However, in terms of growing and learning, the truth is God made us to learn best in a rhythm, a pattern, with discipline and consistency – things that I am not horribly good at.  In looking to deepen my walk with God, I decided to take it upon myself to create my own “Hours” to add rhythm to my day.  To make my relationship with God more central.  So for the past two days I have been beginning my day in prayer and devotions, taking 30 minutes at noon, and another 45 minutes before bed.  In that time I have been praying through the Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23 and Psalm 117, working on memorizing new Scripture, and reading out of four books that I need to read as well as working on reading through the Bible in a year.  One a traditional devotional, one a pastoral book, one on missional life, and one from antiquity.  As a pastor of a newly forming church, I have determined that I cannot rest in where I am.  God needs me to be growing, stretching, and putting His purposes in my heart.  I can’t lead the way He wants me to unless I am doing this.

The rest is good, but I want to focus specifically on the prayer time.  As I mentioned above, I have struggled with feeling really close to God as I pray.  There have been relatively few times when I have just been feeling His presence in a real way.  But it has already happened several times.  How?  I point to the preparation that comes from praying through the passages of the Bible.  Before I even begin to pray for myself, I am just praying through the Lord’s Prayer.  And then at lunch, I pray through Psalm 23.  Finally, in the evening, I pray through Psalm 117 before I turn to other things.  The preparation of my heart through meditating on the words of Scripture is doing wonders for my state of mind.  The luxury of not having to search for words, but to just let the words I have long ago learned pour out of my heart, it just wipes my mind of worries and cares, and gives me a chance to come to God centered on Him.  I can’t recommend it enough.

You might have been shocked by the numbers I put up there for the time I am setting aside.  I was always overwhelmed by other “more spiritual” people than I who pray for an hour, two hours a day.  I didn’t know how they did it.  Watch for my next post on how I found the time.

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