God, Our Local Church, and My Weakness

If you really want to know how skipping my time with the Lord affects me, just ask my wife. 

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Two Mondays ago, I had a horrible day. I was overwhelmed with the responsibilities on my plate between full-time PhD work and working the max amount of hours that my UK visa will allow. Some weeks, the demands take a toll and I feel it more than others. We currently attend a new Vineyard church plant in Edinburgh and our group (there are two) meets in a home on Monday nights (we don’t yet have a building). It has truly been a blessing. How the Lord led us to this church is a story in itself (that for another time).

On this particular Monday, I was so stressed that I simply felt angry. Men and women most often process stress in different ways. Women tend to get depressed and men tend to get angry. This is not true across the board, but I do find that there is some merit to the notion. By the time the afternoon rolled around, I did not want to go to church. I didn’t even care about the fact that I didn’t want to go. This just wasn’t the day for it. Surely the Lord understands. Another important factor is that Tuesdays are our family grocery day. Here in Edinburgh, if you spend a certain amount online, the groceries can be delivered to your doorstep for no additional fee. Amazing, right?!

Since it was Monday and we buy so many fresh fruits and vegetables, our fridge was not exactly overflowing with food. Our meal plan for the week actually included the Monday night meal at the church, so by this time in the week, we did not have much to make a meal with. So, in a very human moment, I decided that my family and I would go to church simply because I didn’t want to go to the store and buy more groceries.

Then God proved faithful. It feels almost impossible at times to distinguish between human weakness and demonic attack. Where is the line? I definitely am no expert. However, hindsight is 20/20. The Lord met me in such a wonderful way that night that I could not help but think after everything was said and done that maybe it was the enemy trying to keep me away. First of all,  a young man shared a word that God had laid on his heart regarding a man in the room. It was for me. Wow, was it for me. Secondly, our pastor showed the video, Bill Hybels – Coffee with God, and it absolutely cut through to my heart. I really hope you will take ten minutes to watch the video. The video was all about having a predetermined time and place with the Lord. 26331-ThinkstockPhotos-122563300.1200w.tnDue to the load I had been feeling as of late, it had become all too easy to skip my time with the Lord for one, two, even three days at a time. If you really want to know how skipping my time with the Lord affects me, just ask my wife.

I went to church that night because of the meal that was provided. That is it. I didn’t expect anything from God. The church was in position to meet a basic need for my family that evening. So, we went. However, Daddy God is merciful, “for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalms 103:14). The older I get, the more convinced I am that people who care nothing for the church are going to miss out on so much of what God has for them (both to receive and give). I am to the point now that if a person doesn’t care much about the church, I view it as strong evidence in most cases that something is seriously flawed in that individual’s self-proclaimed relationship with Christ. 

We need each other. We need others to help us touch God when we feel all-too-human. And then we need to return the favor…on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. 

 

 

 

 

John Eldridge on, “Time With God”

Time-with-God

No fancy title. No catchy phrase. You have to spend time with God. I do not have the words to express how important, how integral, how crucial it is for a follower of Jesus Christ to adopt a lifestyle of connecting with God. Language, as it does quite often, fails me.

Your heart. His heart. Real conversation. Laughter. Real tears. Real questions. Real anger. Being honest about your pride, your hopelessness, your fear. Really talking to Him about other people who desperately need God because of their successes or failures. Time with God that actually means something. Means something? Yea, for God, for you, for people in your life, and against the Enemy. Time that counts, and the only way that time will count is if it is not superficial. Raw. Genuine. Honest. Your heart torn open to His love, word, correction, influence, encouragement, and his guidance.

Earlier this morning I read two chapters in John Eldridge’s book, Wild at Heart, preparing for my men’s life group tomorrow. I have a very set way I spend time with God in the morning. I do not apologize for this. I love my routine. Remember, routine is not the same thing as legalism or religion. It can be, but does not have to be. There is a such thing as a life-giving routine.

However, sometimes I get bored with my method. If you are not careful, Satan will lie to you. He will whisper to you, “See, you are bored with God,” in an effort to shame you and bury your heart. But this is not what is going on. What is really happening is that you, either because you are a creature of habit or because you still have traces of religion controlling you, are simply bored with your methodology. All you need to do is shake things up. You need to ignore the accusatory voice of your Enemy as a Christian and realize that you are human and that as a human, it is so easy for you and I to get bored. Let me help you: You are not bored with God. Take a deep breathe. Satan is trying to make your boredom bigger than it really is.

This is the quote I came across this morning that so gripped my heart that I hand-wrote it in my leather quote journal that only very special quotes make it into. I had to share it with you. If you are a stay-at-home mom, a pastor, a teacher, a mechanic, an artist, or a fisherman, take heed. There is so much life and fun and creativity in the following words. Eldridge writes,

“Time with God each day is not about academic study or getting through a certain amount of Scripture or any of that. It’s about connecting with God. We’ve got to keep those lines of communication open, so use whatever helps. Sometimes I’ll listen to music; other times I’ll read Scripture or a passage from a book; often I will journal; maybe I’ll go for a run; then there are days when all I need is silence and solitude and the rising sun. The point is simply to do whatever brings me back to my heart and the heart of God.” (Wild at Heart, chapter 9)

He goes on to write, “The discipline, by the way, is never the point. The whole point of a ‘devotional life’ is connecting with God.”

There are no excuses. No substitutes. You will or you won’t.