The blog entry below was fun to write. It ends a series of reflections on what discipleship looks like.
Instead of taking up the next series I’d planned, I thought I’d spend the next couple of weeks with some personal journaling.
So Erilynne and I were in Denver a few weeks ago. At breakfast with Bishop Silas Ng from Canada we learned his passion for this question about our quiet time with the Lord. He was very clear about it: Most Christians don’t do it.
He had statistics. Compelling research.
Without personal time with Jesus, he told us, everything breaks down. Church. Ministry. Mission to the world. Everything.
He was not talking about church-attenders. He was talking Christians. Born again by the Holy Spirit. Confessing Jesus as their Lord. The percentage who read their Bible, pray and make intentional time with the Lord is simply low. Really low when asked: Do you do it daily? A little higher when asked: What about several times a week? What about weekly. Just a little.
This is it! he said, this declares the poverty of the church!
He wasn’t done. He had no interest in people who raise their hand and say: I do my quiet time! He said there is a great danger in legalistic duty. Or doing it out of guilt. Or a form of good works that earns God’s favor and allows us to wrongfully boast to others.
He’s talking right desire: It’s all about a relationship with Jesus!
I was moved by this. So this past Sunday I preached on a text from Luke 5:16: “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” I love this passage because it is clear that our Lord is way-too-busy. The news of Him has gone everywhere. The sick are coming to Him in droves.
And yet He knew boundaries.
He knew when to close the door. To stop His work to others. To leave the 70 and the 12. And then “slip away” to be with His Father.
Because He wanted to. He needed to. After all, He was and is our High Priest. And His first work as High Priest is to minister to the Lord. To be in His presence and fellowship.
The same goes for us who are called a “royal priesthood.”
Hard to argue: “I’m just too busy. I have no time.” Although I know it’s hard. For parents with young kids. For those working long hours, who need quality family time, who need personal time. Where does it fit?!?
I actually found it hard to talk about. I didn’t want people to do it because we’re supposed to do it. Like a husband who knows he really should bring home flowers to his wife because that’s what husbands do. Catch the sermon and tell me what you think: http://www.apostlesct.org/?q=Podcast
So how’s your quiet time?
On a personal note: Erilynne is doing well. She’s teaching this summer at the Bridgeport Rescue Mission under the direction of an amazing woman Nancy DeMaille…We’re praying for a new old English sheepdog. We lost our Barnabas at 12 years old this past March. We’ve had sheepdogs since 1980. Call it a rut?!?... I’m in D.C. Sunday night at Church of the Resurrection for the ordination of Aaron Damiani. A wonderful young man after the heart of God.
So write back if you can.
The Lord Jesus bless your week-
ON THE PALLET...Part Two
The saying is true and deserving full acceptance: We are discipled in Jesus in community.
· It’s where we grow up in Christ
· It’s where we find those older in faith able to “apprentice” us in character and conduct
· It’s where we discover the specific work He’s called us to do. The Ephesians 2:10 work
· It’s where we learn the wonder and intimacy of brothers and sisters in Christ
· It’s where we bring the needy, the lost, the searching
And with it comes a most precious gift. One that surprised me.
Time with the Lord. Personal time. Private time. Relationship time. As a young Christian I was urged by preachers and friends to have morning devotions. To read my Bible. To keep a journal. To take up devotionals, sermons, books that inspire prayer and communion with the Lord.
The daily disciplines of Christian life.
“Did you know,” a friend told me not long ago, “that less than 10% of Christians today have daily devotions with the Lord?” He said he was devoting his research and writing to this one matter because it deeply concerned him. “We are in trouble,” he lamented. “This is a profound sign of un-health in the Church. How can we go on without personal time with Jesus?”
Oddly this statistic made sense to me.
That is, if all we do is attend Sunday church – which has always been the discipline of Christians. We gather for worship, preaching, prayer, testimony and communion. Out of our corporate worship comes the intimacy of our Acts 2:42 smaller gatherings. The opening of Christian homes. The place where we are discipled in Jesus in community.
Take that away – and we can actually be lone Christians in Sunday church. We come. We go. We know no one. Yes to greet them. But we stand at a distance. Holding ourselves aloof in Christ.
Doesn’t it make sense? If the Lord has called us to love one another – and we don’t. If we have chosen to be lone Christians in Sunday church – avoiding the intimacy of Christian fellowship. Then it seems self-evident we would stay away from Him too.
Away from that daily time with the Lord, to read the Bible, to pray, to journal, to talk with Him as He talks with us. The surrender of our lives – daily.
The two are always inseparable. If we are healthy in our discipleship in Jesus in community then we will be healthy in our passion for daily fellowship and intimate communion with Him.
And again, I remember the man on the pallet.
The mighty fellowship of the saints! They found him. The four friends grabbed the ends of the pallet and brought him to the house filled with people listening to Jesus. They broke through the roof and lowered him down. That he might have personal time with Jesus.
Just the two of them.
This is it! The inseparable link between our fellowship with Him in the community of the saints and our fellowship with Him in our personal, private, daily relationship with Him. Take away the first – take away the friends -- and the second dries up.
It’s a simple truth. The Bible teaches it over and over again: We are discipled in Jesus in community. Always!
That we might be complete in Jesus.