Quiet Time

...now browsing by tag

 
 

December 29

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020

It is 2:30 in the morning. Ive been up since 12 and tried to fool myself into going back to sleep. It didn’t work. 🙁 So going on the assumption God wants to get my attention or teach me something, I got up. If not, then I’m up early. During my Quarantine I’ve slept more than I ever have. Since I normally get up at 3:30, it is not unusual for me to be in bed by 9:30. Try 8:00!! That’s right. Jo and I often found ourselves heading to bed by 8 and sleeping for 11-12 hours!! Seriously? I’ve never slept that long at one sitting. E.V.E.R. But this night is different. Maybe it was the Ginger Ale I was able to keep down. First time I have had sugar in days. I don’t know. No matter. I’d like to share some year end thoughts with you and some future plans.

In this past Sunday’s sermon, I talked about not wasting our lives, of submitting to the call of the Gospel and surrendering to Jesus. I have the most important message in the world-the message of God’s love for a sin-broken world. I have absolutely no reason to keep that message to myself. 2020 has shown me, as it has others, how fragile life can be. Things, health, even life, can be taken away with a snap of a finger. I must become more intentional with my life this year. I’m 68 and it is a pretty safe bet to say my years left on this planet are much less than what I have lived. 🙂  Lord willing, I’m not going to stop having fun; laughing; cycling; working out; make friends; laugh and cry with those friends; preach Gospel-soaked sermons; keep reading, growing and stretching; love the people of OVCF even more; and hopefully lead the church to impact our community for Jesus.

I’ve contemplated stopping this blog-Living in the Shadow. The amount of time it takes to keep 2 blogs going-and thinking one is failing at both- is something I’ve tried to reckon with. Cycleguy’s Spin was my initial blog started in 2007. Then along came this one a few years ago as a discipline for me. I wanted to hold myself accountable every morning to meet with God. One way I figured to make that more meaningful and permanent was to start “Shadow.” It began as a daily blog based on New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. But after a year I felt that had run its course so I refocused. It became more of a hodge podge of daily devotional thoughts gleaned during my QT. I’ve actually had Ryan (techgeek) pull out this year’s worth of devos that I may look into editing and seeing about publishing them as a daily devotion. Who knows? I have no visions of grandeur of being a great writer, the next Max Lucado. But its hard when you have one very consistent daily reader and commenter, and a few others here and there to get over the “ego slam” to feel as though the time involved is worth it. I’ve decided it is-not because I’m all that and more- but because I need the daily discipline of a QT this gives me. So I’m going to continue with “Shadow,” if for no other reason than for me.

But some changes are in the air. Since the early 2000s (2001 to be exact), I have 99% of the time exclusively used the ESV translation. I have read the whole Bible several times. I cannot tell you how many times I have read through the NT. I’m making a change this year. As I’ve watched Pastors Chuck Swindoll and Greg Laurie use the NLT, I decided to give it a try this year. I bought an inexpensive faux-leather Large Print edition to use with a goal to read through the NT several times this year. Ironically, someone in the church blessed me this Christmas with a One Year “Experiencing God’s Presence Devotional.” Guess what translation it uses? You guessed it: NLT. I’m also planning to use Live in Grace-Walk in Love by Bob Goff as a side read. And finally, this past Fall I purchased Unfolding Grace-40 Guided Readings through the Bible and the accompanying Study Guide. It uses the ESV. I’ve looked it over and plan to do one guided reading a week.

And there you have it. With that being said, this will be my last post here until Monday, January 4. Covid has wiped out my normal scheduled routine and so I don’t want the added pressure of feeling like I “have to write a Shadow blog.” Thanks for taking the time to read this long post. (You deserve a medal. If you don’t want a medal treat yourself to a Diet Dr. Pepper or whatever your poison is…within reason of course). Thank you for reading my “Shadow” blog. Lord willing, I will see you Monday, January 4, 2021 with my first post of the new year. I love and appreciate all of you.

December 15

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

I began reading today another devotional book by Paul David Tripp. It is called 40 Days of Grace. I love-love-love-(did I say love?) talking and reading about grace. More than that, I love learning about and living in grace. The next two days I’m going to divide his introduction into devotional thoughts. There is way too much for one day. So strap yourself in, hang on and take a ride with me.

“Grace is a thunderous, expansive, powerful, and life-altering word…

  • It is the one thing that has the power to change you and everything about you.
  • It is what all human beings need, no matter who they are or where they are.
  • Men and women need grace, the young and the old need grace, the rich and poor need grace, the popular and forgotten need grace, and the weak and powerful need grace.
  • You could dig into grace every day of your life and not reach the bottom of its power and glory.

Grace explodes into your life in a moment, but will occupy you for all of eternity.”

Grace is the best of stories. I know it is the best of mine. I was such a sad, pitiful representative of God’s amazing grace. Bound by legalism, I was not a heart set free. Anything but. But one day grace broke through while I was on a personal retreat. I spent almost two days crying as God’s grace washed over me, I’ve never been the same and I never want to go back.

“Father, your grace as described by John Newton is truly amazing. Thank you for rescuing me from legalism and setting my heart free.”

The blue highlighted portion is from his book. There will be more tomorrow.

November 23

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

Before I start: my blogging friend, Diane, is having surgery today. I’d like to ask you to stop and say a prayer for her safety, the doctor’s steady hands, and a good and smooth recovery for her. Thanks.

I’m not much of a horticulturist. I’m not much of a gardener either. My thumbs are black. I decided I wanted a garden a few years ago…when I was much younger. I loved fresh tomatoes (especially the yellow ones) and green peppers-usually given to me by others. So I thought, “Why not? After all, how hard could it be?” Let’s just say that after 3 or 4 summers I again relied on others for those fresh veggies. I planted. I watered. I weeded (my least favorite thing of all). I had no clue about tilling and using cardboard or newspaper to keep down weeds. I also didn’t feed them plant food. The kicker, though, is I found it kept me from more important things-like riding my bike. Why work when you can have fun, you know? For three summers I also umpired softball so there went my free time.

I’ve seen many-myself included- treat their faith like that. We want to grow. We want to see fruit. But we don’t want to put in the “effort” to grow. I’m not talking about a works-oriented salvation. I’m talking about personal nutrition. You see, God calls us to Himself then wants us to grow in that faith. He provides what we need to grow but we need to utilize it. Reading the Word. Praying. Gathering with others to worship and encourage. Reaching for Him to help us get rid of the weeds. In spite of what some may think, this does not happen on its own. We don’t lay our head on our pillow with a Bible underneath and by osmosis have it soak into our brain. God has provided all we need for growth. Let’s not be stagnant. Let’s apply the nutrients of truth and grace to our fledgling “plant” and start growing. Fruit awaits if we do.  Take some time to read Galatians 6:7-9.

“Father, You want me to grow, not stagnate. Help me to allow Your Word, Your thruth and Your grace to water my life to bring forth fruit.”

September 9

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

Have you ever read something that you felt sliced and diced you? Or you might say “It fileted me like you would a fish.” I’ve had those moments when stunned by something would be an appropriate word. That happened to me one recent morning (I wrote this on Monday, the 7th, when it happened). But before I give you that quote, please allow a confession. Even though I write this daily devotion (obviously for me since hardly anyone reads it) 🙂 ; even though I’d like to say it has brought about a consistency for me to make time each morning to be with God; and even though I may sound (upon occasion) as though I have it together spiritually, there is one area I really have a great lack. Prayer. I go through jags where prayer is important-then uber important-but I also go through times when I read and journal then pick up and leave with nary a moment given to prayer. I’m not proud of that. That is, perhaps, why the following quote did me in that morning:

We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.” Oswald Chambers

Need I say more? I’ll let you stew in your own juices over that quote. I have to go start healing from the slicing and dicing.

“Father, may prayer not be a side trip for me. May it become a regular part of my daily time with You. May it be another way for You to do Your work in and through me.”

August 26

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Each morning as I sit at the table to have my Quiet Time, I start out with these words: “Father, speak to me through Your Word this morning. Show me something I need for today.” I base that on Psalm 119:18- “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” The words to the old hymn ring out in my mind as well: “Open my eyes that I may see/Glimpses of truth Thou has for me.”  (How did that King James word get in there?) 🙂

Sometimes when I come to His Word, He surprises me with something momentous. A truth I once knew that needed “shored up.” A conviction I need to heed, especially of sin. A verse that speaks anew to my heart. An encouragement for a tough time. An answer for a vexing question. A reassurance for a time of questions. A light for a time of lostness or doubt.

In old days (the 1800s) people used to consider catastrophic events, like when their life was spared, as their “conversion experience.” You know…”I was walking through the woods when a tree fell and barely missed me. That was God calling me to salvation.” Well…I sorta doubt that was a point of conversion, although whom am I to say it didn’t ruffle some feathers and wake someone up? What I do know is sometimes my experience with God in His Word is quiet and even, while at other times His truth explodes on me.  And what I DO know is this: however God chooses to speak through His Word, I need to listen, to perk up, and say with Isaiah, “Here I am Lord.”  Let me offer a challenge here. Next time you come to the Word to read it, ask God to open your eyes to let you see what He has for you. Then read expectantly.

“Speak Lord as I read Your Word. Open my eyes to see as the song says, ‘Glimpses of truth You have for me.’ ”

July 21

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

I have begun another adventure. No, I’m not doing the Race Across America (a bike ride from coast to coast). And no, I’m not leaving the church to take on a new ministry.  And definitely no I’m not going mountain climbing. As good as all those sound (to a younger guy).

Mine is a reading/studying venture. As I finished One Perfect Life by John MacArthur, I knew I had just read the complete (recorded) life of Jesus. I so thoroughly enjoyed that I decided to continue that task by reading One Faithful Life (OFL) by Pastor John on the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul.  Chuck Swindoll wrote: “A primary purpose of the Word of God is to help us know the will of God.” (July 21 devotion in Good Morning, Lord…Can we Talk?).  With that thought in mind, why did Paul write his epistles? OFL does a great job of summarizing why. I’ll shrink it some more.

  • I Cor- defend against various corruptions which were under the guise of human wisdom and carnal chaos.
  • 2 Cor- defending his authority as an apostle and the purity of the gospel.
  • Gal- against false teachers who taught we must adhere to OT ceremonial law.
  • Eph- salvation is entirely God’s work with no human merit.
  • Phil- joy undiminished by “dogs,” “mutilators of the flesh” refuted in Galatians.
  • Col- defense vs high-falootin’ philosophy and man’s traditions.
  • 1 & 2 Thess- commendation to the church for embracing the Gospel.
  • 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus- careful safeguard the truth
  • Philemon- exemplify the spirit of Christ.

“Gospel truth permeates everything Paul ever wrote.” (OPL- p. xix) I look forward to this new venture.  New eye-opening.  New awareness. New “eyes” to see God’s truth.  And I plan to share some of it along the way.

“Father,  open my eyes to Your Word. Give me fresh eyes as I read to see new vistas before me. Clarify Your truth in my heart.”

July 17

Friday, July 17th, 2020

I’ve been reading a book during my Quiet Time called Outrageous Forgiveness in 30 Days. Subtitled “The Beauty of Christlike Forgiveness” it was written by a pastor friend in another town. I knew him and his son, Jon, when I lived there and was pleasantly surprised when he came to speak at a function that used our building to host the monthly meeting. Larry spoke-as you can probably guess-on forgiveness.

On Day 4 (today) he wrote the words of an attorney which he uttered during a trial: “In 23 years of practicing law, I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s incredible.” (p.14) I heard those same words in a courtroom several years ago here in Spencer.

The church I pastor had been embezzled to the tune of $200,000+. We had no choice but to report it and the Indiana State Police (ISP) sent their detective to investigate. But something happened in our hearts along the way.  Anger and betrayal gave way to something else. I proposed to the leaders of the church to pray about forgiving the debt. They concurred.  We brought our thoughts to the prosecutor and the ISP detective took our thoughts under advisement but had to proceed with their end of the deal. We eventually had our day in court. We had filed our plan of forgiveness with the court. When the day came, I was put on the stand (as the church’s representative), and her attorney asked if it was true. I said, “Yes.” His words: “In all my years of practicing law (and he was close to my age), I have never seen this. This is what I call practicing what you preach.” Now, the judge did not accept our idea. But she modified her orders to say that the person is to pay back three other entities before us, then us. But I don’t expect to see a cent. Unless, I’m wrong, death will come first. But it was the outrageous forgiveness showed that stands out to me. I will never forget that attorney’s words. I will never forget how “proud” I was to be part of a leadership team that chose to forgive an unpayable debt. Hmmm. Sound familiar?  (See Matthew 18).

“Father, thank you for your forgiveness. Help me to practice that outrageous forgiveness toward others.”

April 17/Weekend

Friday, April 17th, 2020

“Here’s my heart Lord/Here’s my life Lord/Speak what is true.”

It’s Friday and I’m at home on my day off. I slept in today so I’m late to my Quiet Time. Jo just came out of the shower with her phone playing a song by Lauren Daigle. It was the song with the above lyrics. We sing this song during our worship time on Sunday morning from time to time.

But its more than just a song we sing on Sunday in a worship set. This morning it gripped my heart. I seriously want to be all in with Him but I find myself fighting the “collar.” I remember a saying I heard once: “The problem with living sacrifices is they keep crawling off the altar.” They must have been using me as a test subject. I say, “Here I am” but a few days (maybe just hours) I take back control and do my own thing.

I know I’m not alone. And the funny thing is that I’m really not in control anyway. The way life has been upended the last month or so shows that.  But it hasn’t been just the recent past; it has been for the past umpteen years.

It has taught me one thing though. Through all of my ups and downs, fighting and surrendering, there has been one constant: God. Always there. Always faithful. Always loving. Always with open arms.

“Thank you Father, for Your faithfulness to me-even when I’m not. When I say those words, “Here’s my heart, Lord” let me speak them truthfully.”

Here is the song which started me thinking today only by a different artist.

April 16

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

One of the good things-or at least it could be a good thing- about this current crisis is that it has offered a time for us to slow down and take stock of our lives. No sports-on TV or live. No youth leagues. No clubs. No travel to meetings. No school. No…well…nothing.  We can’t even eat out in a restaurant, and I KNOW someone who really misses that! (She doesn’t read my blog so I’m safe).  ‘Course that also means no small groups; no church meetings; and no gathering for corporate worship unless it’s all virtual.  There is that but let’s recognize it is not the same. 

What it should have done is slow us down. Instead of binging on the latest shows, it has given us an opportunity to spend time in God’s Word. Some have expressed a deeper hunger for God. Psalm 119 has some interesting verses for us to consider:

  • How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word. (v.9)
  • I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  (v.11)
  • Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.  (v.37)
  • The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of pieces of silver. (v.72)
  • Oh how I love you law! It is my meditation all the day.  (v.97)
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  (v.105)

Jeremiah, the prophet, once wrote: “When your words came, I ate them, they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” (15:16)  I’m wondering if I can say the same thing. Is God’s Word my joy and my delight? If not, why not?

“Father, help me to use this time of slow down to enhance my love for You and Your Word. May it be or become my joy and my heart’s delight.”

February 24

Monday, February 24th, 2020

My title is the “S” words.

As I was having my Quiet Time this morning a weird thing happened in my brain. (No comment from the peanut gallery). I started on the letter “S.”  It was egged on by my morning reading of A Good Old Age by Derek Prime. He takes each letter of the alphabet and chooses a topic common to an aging person that begins with that letter. Today’s letter was “S” but I’m still not sure what synapse in my brain was hard-wired this morning. 🙂  Anyway, here are the “S” words I came up with to describe Jesus:

  • Savior- common, expected, grateful for this.
  • Sovereign- over all, in charge, in control.
  • Sincere- when He says He loves me, He means it. Faithful. Present. “I will never leave your or forsake you.”
  • Strong- another word for Omnipotent. A good biblical description used often. “The Lord strong and mighty.”
  • Sacrificial- describes His actions on the cross. “He is the sacrifice once for all.”
  • Sucker- the only negative. Satan’s word for Him at the cross. Satan’s final word because Jesus soon proved who the real sucker was.

The final word for this exercise? SERVANT. Of all the words this might be the one I can most identify with. Not that I exhibit it as often as I should, but Jesus’ whole life was as a servant. He exhibited it to His disciples in John 13. His life as a servant led Him to the cross where He gave Himself away for me. He now serves by interceding for us all at the right hand of the Father.

Being a servant to others is the one quality  I can emulate. I can’t be Savior. That’s reserved for One. I can’t be Sovereign. I make a mess of my own life without ruining others. My sincerity is spotty. My strength fails. My sacrificial life is weak. I am a sucker at times for sin. But I can serve!

“Father, help me to be a servant to all, even as Jesus was. May it know no bounds in its expression to You and to others.”