We had a pretty big storm last night and at one point I was awakened by a HUGE thundering outside. I immediately thought of my little boy upstairs so I felt my way through the dark to his room and when I entered I found him not crying, but awake and wide-eyed with fear. As soon as he saw me he lifted his arms asking me to pick him up.
I lifted him out of his bed and sat down in the recliner cuddling him. He tightly gripped my shirt and within seconds he was fast asleep even as the storm continued to rage outside the window and rain pelted the side of the house. But it didn’t matter to him anymore. As long as he was in his daddy’s arms, and daddy wasn’t afraid, he no longer had an reason for concern.
When the storms of life hit, my Father also thinks of me and comes to me. And if I will simply reach out to Him, He will gently pick me up and hold me close. And with tight grip on Him, I too can rest in peace despite my situation or the things that try to strike fear into my heart. You see, He’s near, and He’s not afraid, so I no longer have reason for concern either.
Being a father has taught me more about my Heavenly Father than I ever imagined.
This past weekend I was presenting at the GCSSA conference in Arlington Heights, IL, but as often happens when you are serving God, it turns out that’s not the only reason I was there. I was also there to meet a guy named Dave Wager and to be challenged by him. It’s an amazing thing I’ve been learning over the past two years – when I am focused less on DOING for God and more on BEING with Him, I end up seeing and hearing things I would have missed otherwise.
Dave is the president of Silver Birch Ranch in White Lake, Wisconsin. You can’t talk to Dave for long before his passion slips out – a passion for men to be intimate with God and to be men who are IN THE WORD daily.
Dave was explaining to me that as he travels around to speak to men at conferences, retreats, etc. he often asks the men if they desire an intimate walk with Jesus, and (of course) they all say ‘yes.’ But when asked how many believe they HAVE an intimate relationship with Jesus, few answer that they do. In fact, he told me that when he asks PASTORS how many of them are in the Word daily, most are not. (This was often true of me when I was lost in the business and never-ceasing activity of ministry.) He has found that most Christians spend more time reading books ABOUT God or ABOUT the Bible, than they actually do reading THE Bible which is the ultimate book about God!
Dave is a published author, but what I love about his books, is that they are simply a passage of Scripture, some reflective thoughts of his on the passage, but then two pages of blank lines for the reader to journal. As Dave says, “Men need to be reading the Bible and wrestling with it, that is how we grow and how we become intimate with Jesus, by listening to Him, talking to Him, having daily conversations with Him.”
I ended up changing one of my goals for Yosemite Summit after talking with Dave. Originally, I was going to challenge each man on the retreat to bring and read one entire book that dealt with the soul or Christian life. Instead, I bought a copy of Beyond the Compass for each man and we will be getting into the Word on this retreat. Not that we weren’t going to already, but the emphasis is going to change. I will say that I still believe that Christian leaders NEED to be reading what I call “soul books” – books about our walk with God and that explore how we are wired spiritually. Too many leaders (myself once included) read only “leadership books” and “ministry books” to the detriment of their souls. So I still strongly that we need to read more non-leadership and non-ministry books and read stuff that fuels our SOULS not just our ministries. But I’ve also been convicted that the Bible must remain our primary source of reading.
I am one who has learned the hard way that you can be flying high in ministry and be empty in your soul. In fact, it can be ministry itself that pulls you away from an intimate walk with Jesus. I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about how an addiction to ministry can spoil your walk with God and your marriage, and how blind you can be to it happening because everything you are so busy “doing” is so GOOD – come on! It’s minitry! How can it be bad? Let me tell you, it can be deadly.
So, all this to say:
HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE WORD TODAY?
THE DAY BEFORE?
Here’s an idea that my discipler challenged me with in high school – that worked then, but I have long since abandoned. It’s really quite simple, but POWERFUL:
NO BIBLE? NO FOOD!
You see, we never fail to feed our body, but we often fail to feed our souls. Our body will crave nurishment and make it known to us, via grumblings, pains, even noises sometimes! But while our soul cries out for nurshiment, we often fail to hear it’s groanings. So use your human physical hunger as a reminder to provide nurishment to your hungry soul. Make a sticker that says “NO BIBLE? NO FOOD!” and put it wherever you need the reminder that you can’t eat if you haven’t spent at least a little time in the Bible. Obviously, the ideal isn’t just the reading, it is time with God reflecting on the Word and praying about it, but at a minimum, have read something – it’s can’t help but pull you in deeper.
Simply make a rule: YOU CAN NOT EAT IF YOU HAVEN’T READ A CHAPTER OF THE BIBLE.
I am re-instituting this rule for myself today. I’m tired of inconsistent time in the Word. Are you? Not only will you read more (much more) of the Bible this way, but you may just lose some weight too!