Friday, March 2, 2007

Quiet time and an incredible lesson by John Fischer

Well I made it through the first week of work! No more 10 - 2 schedule!! So that's exciting!! :) Starting Monday it is 3:30 - 7:30 which will be my regular schedule. I'm ready to get on a routine - so I can figure out when I'll walk Lennox, Raymond's meal times, nap times, my reading time, my work out times, etc.

I always get a daily devotional by email from Joel Osteen and then one from the Purpose-Driven ministries. Unfortunately I don't read them both every morning - some times I only read one at night and sometimes I don't read any at all. But I know especially now that I'm starting work, I need to set aside time specifically for Bible, devotional and quiet time. Before working, every time Raymond had a nap was basically my Bible and quiet time, but now I'll have to make a new schedule. And I believe my time 'off' has really taught me a lot about time management and how important it is to set aside time for every area of your life: spiritual, physical, financial, emotional, family and career. I have felt SOO blessed to have all the time I've had in the last 8 months or so to really just enjoy the blessings around me and enjoy quiet reading time. Yes I am a very social personality - but I NEED my alone quiet and reading time just like I believe everybody does. I LOVE to be surrounded by people - but it's almost like when I don't make the time for my Bible time, I am just not as nice of a person to be around! It's like you've got to take time out to sharpen your ax. You've got to take time away from serving others and always doing to make sure you are alone with God sometimes - no tv, nothing except you and God -- maybe a book or worship music. Jesus Himself was the master of this --- there were many times where He withdrew to a garden by Himself or drew away from a crowd --- He knew He needed to be with the Lord and make sure He was on the right track. Every second He had on earth was obviously precious - a lot more than what I do daily - so if taking time out from HIS schedule was important -- GEESH! I imagine that ANYTHING I am doing can wait until my time with God comes first.

Doing that let Jesus refocus Himself to make sure He was focused on the most important things. Making sure He was serving the people the best He could and teaching whatever He was meant to. In our case, I believe it lets us reflect on our actions, our words and our daily routines and it lets us see where something needs to be added, something needs to be fixed, or if something simply needs to be 'scraped off our plate'. If nothing else, it reminds us to spend some time with God and be thankful for everything we've been given. He gives us SOOO much all day long - the little things we usually don't notice are sometimes the biggest blessings and I believe quiet time will reveal all this.

So what does that have to do with this following article? Nothing really --- this was just one of the devotionals I received recently and I think this guy nailed it right on the head. Read this * my thoughts are green, his writing is blue*....

It’s not about being a good Christian
by John Fischer

Here’s one of the greatest things about being a Christian: You can accept yourself for who you are.

Here’s one of the most tragic things about being a Christian: You can be one for a long time without knowing this.

I was. I was what you might call a model Christian. I filled the bill. Any church or Christian school would have seen me as a poster child Christian. There was only one problem: I thought I was, too – when all the while I knew I wasn’t. I knew it was all pretty much a game.

All this was back when I thought a Christian was all about being a good person – someone who would rank high in relative goodness when compared to others more spiritually challenged.

This was before I realized that Christ died to save sinners, and to qualify for the free gift of salvation you have to realize you are desperately in need of being saved. You are drowning. You are dying. As a sinner, you are among the worst.

Once you make “being good” the criteria for being a Christian, out of necessity you become the judge of others because you have to judge others in order to remain good in your own eyes. So if you have not come to this, (i.e. you are still pretty good in your own eyes), and you preach the Gospel (many do, from this perspective), it becomes a Gospel for other people – not for you. And something doesn’t ring true.

(WOW! This is so true.... first of all I really believe people can sense (either subconsiously or not) where your heart is at and what your intentions are without a word being spoken. They won't even listen to you if they feel you are trying to teach/preach.I really think I might have been guilty of this for a long time. In my mind somehow I had decided I was more 'christian' than others because I was 'good' --- or at least to others I seemed 'good'. I had it all wrong. People don't need to see christians hiding all their flaws and feeling so guilty about everything that they never truly are themselves --- they need to see that we hurt, we sin, we mess up, yet we are forgiven, eternally accepted and unconditionally loved. This is so powerful -- so much of the 'bad reputation' the church has is because of how christians have messed up and treated others when they are pretending they have it all together!!!)

You also remain aloof to just about everybody because you can’t really know anyone for fear they might come to know you and find out your secret, that you really are a scoundrel like everybody else. It’s a lonely life. Believe me. It’s much better to be a sinner whom Jesus Christ loves and for whom he died so you can spread the Good News about him to other sinners like you. Then you have nothing to hide, and only Christ – and a lot of friends – to gain by telling the truth.

I think this is one of the things that made Billy Graham such a good evangelist.
*When he preached about the Gospel, he never excluded himself from needing it*
He knew the Gospel wouldn’t preach if it were not, first and foremost, for him.

Which brings us back to being a Christian and accepting yourself as who you are. That’s why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that we all have unveiled faces. We have nothing to hide because we are reflecting the face of Christ whom we worship in continual gratitude for our salvation.

Thank goodness. I never liked being a good Christian anyway.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Wow!! I can really really relate to this. Brandon from the first day we met really challenged me and opened up my eyes that I am just as bad a sinner as anybody else. Even if their sins are more public --- all sin is the same to God. I never should judge anybody for their actions - and the way that Brandon has been able to forgive himself and some people who have done him so much harm in his past was remarkable to me right from the beginning. It was just really hard for me coming to North Carolina because I was really excited to be in the Bible belt! I knew I was going to a public university - but I was so excited to be surrounded by people who I believed would have grown up good southern christians and would know the Lord and everything...... so it was so challenging to me when I did meet people who loved the Lord, grew up loving the Lord --- but yet had sin ful lives, and they were not hidden sinners either. Why did that bother me so much? I knew we were all sinners.... but I guess what was crazy to me was that in New Jersey it was like black or white. Are you a christian or aren't you? If you were a christian, everybody knew it and you pretended to be very Christ-Like and a 'good' person --- if you weren't a christian, everybody knew it and you had no problem showing you were not Christ-like. and then when I got down here -- there wasn't that black and white anymore. The Christians were not afraid to sin Saturday night and go to church Sunday morning. Was what they were doing right? Absolutely not --- does God expect them to change their ways? Absolutely. Does He desire for us to want to change and grow and be more Christ-like every day? YES!

But were they still Christians? You betcha. Did they still love the Lord? You betcha. and would God want them to leave the church until "they had it figured all out and wanted to try not to sin anymore" --- absolutely not. He loves us in every stage of our maturity.

But do you know what the devil's sin was? He wanted to be like the Lord and thought he did not need him anymore ---- much like what is happening here on earth. The more you pretend to be Christ-like and try to be as powerful as God, pretend you have your life all together and have everything under control --- that is when you are most like the enemy. But there is no telling what any one person specifically is doing - pretending or really truly having a heart for the Lord --- that is between them and God, we are not to be the judges of that.

So thank you God for loving me at all stages of my journey. and I'm sorry if I ever displayed the message to anybody that you have to have it all together to be a Christian. Actually it's opposite --- knowing Jesus will actually set you free from pretending you have 'to hold it all together'.... you'll be able to realize you don't have anything together really without the Lord. It's great to be able to know that you are just the co-pilot and that your path will be lighted and blessed when your heart is in the right place. Above all else we are thankful for forgiveness and knowing that anybody can change, it's never too late - love always perseveres.

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