NO QUIET TIME
What happens when you miss your quiet time with God, like I did today?
MISSING TIME WITH CHRIST
How do you feel when you miss your time with God? Do you think you day is going to go as well without one? Personally, I am hurting. I don’t feel good. There is a big part of my time that is missing – that intimate time, that Conversation with Christ.
I screwed up last night and stayed awake until 2 AM doing social media. I was brain dead from finishing a year-long journey of writing a book – my longest to date. If you have insomnia, I recommend reading it, for sure it will put you to sleep. Seventy thousand words. You know what that means? Well my wife would tell you if you haven’t guessed. I talk a lot. The book was supposed to be 50,000, max. So, I over-achieved. Late last night I typed the last sentence, and sent it off to my publisher. Now, I deserve a break, or so I thought. I decided to allow myself some mindless entertainment, let down my guard, and found myself at 2 AM still awake, and poorly positioned for a 5 AM quiet time. I don’t know about you, but I don’t function well on three hours sleep.
WHAT ACTION TO TAKE WHEN THAT HAPPENS?
It’s 11 AM now, and Patty just walked into my office to chat. I shared with her how disappointed I was in myself for missing my time with Christ this morning. She said: “It is never too late to praise God.” Agreed. I said: “Yes, but I am not making any excuses for my bad behavior.” Friends, I know that we are under grace. Glorious grace. The amazing, wonderful, never-ending, all loving grace of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. But when we fail to do something we know we ought to do (for me, get up early, and have a one-hour conversation with Christ), then let’s not make excuses for it. I want to call it what it is: failure on my part to do the good I know to do. Further, I will confess this as sin.
Sins come in many forms, subtle or not. Sins of commission and sins of omission, perhaps, is one way to look at them. I ‘omitted’ my quiet time. Sin. God wants me to have one. Fact. I didn’t today. Fact. I sinned. And, my proof point: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17 NIV. So, the action to take: confess this as the sin it is. Lord Jesus, I repent.
OUR FLESH IS DECEPTIVE
Friends, what would Christ say to us right now about ourselves and our sin? He is totally flawless, perfect beyond our comprehension. Anything that does not meet that standard could be construed as sinful behavior, no? I am writing to myself, if I dare put myself in the category of you, my audience, Godly women and men who have devoted their lives to serving Christ as full time or bi-vocational ministry leaders. Here is another proof point: “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:18-19 NIV
What my flesh wanted was a “break.” After all, I “deserved one”, or so my “stinking thinking” reasoned. So, I gave myself a break. I let down my guard, and sinned. For those reading this who may be tempted to think I am being overly harsh on myself, think again. Consider this scripture: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1 Corinthians 10:12 NIV. That’s right pastor. That’s right ministry leader. We are all called to start our day out with a conversation with Christ. I am not telling you how long of a time, but a cursory bullet prayer of “Good morning Jesus, now let me open up my email and get to work” is not what Christ wants from us. It may be what we want, because we think we have more important things to do, but what could be more important that starting our day with a conversation with Christ. And for those of you that say: “Well, an evening quiet time works best for me”, I agree, have that one also. I aspire to have two per day to bookend each sixteen hours of awake time. What I want does not matter as much. What Christ wants does. Beware: “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:17 NIV
HALT: WARNING SIGNS
In conclusion, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 NIV. Here are the four red flags that can lead us to poor behavior. They spell HALT. We need to come up with the same four in Spanish, for our Latin sisters and brothers. It would be ALTO. Stop. They are:
When one of these four exist, we are in danger of sinning. A proverbial yellow flag should be raised in our minds. When two or more are present, a bright red flag should be waiving inside of us. Last night, I was tired. That was enough to bring on the sin that so easily ensnares us. One last scripture as an exhortation for all of us: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1 NIV
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Let us be aware of the sins that can easily trap and hinder our effectiveness as ministry leaders, or leaders in general. May each of us let go of anything that holds us back from acting like Christ wants us to act. May we run our spiritual race with perseverance, following the example of devoted Christ-followers who have gone before us in faith and obedience to Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Your aspiring servant of Christ,
29 May 2023
POSTSCRIPT: Dear friends, if this daily, transparent conversation with God blesses you, please go to www.SOLIDpastors.org, where you will find these posted, and a repository of all, in English (Spanish is coming soon). If you ever want to chat, reach out at Daniel@SOLIDpastors.org. My Christ bless you richly as you have your own intimate, daily Conversations with God.