Toward one Holy Obsession

29 08 2008

I’ve discovered that one reason I’ve struggled in my walk with God was the habit I’ve had of putting it in the wrong category.  I’ve learned that just as the “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” but not the end (the end is love and fear is merely a part of the foundation) so the discipline of spending time with God is the beginning of a walk with him but not the end.  The end is not discipline but the development of a holy obsession – worship.  Discipline is merely the foundation.  Let me make this practical.

Someone in your community became a Christian and confessed Lordship last night.  So tonight you’re training him on how to walk with God.  The first thing you teach him is that he must order his entire life around the discipline of spending time with the Father.  He cannot treat this as a side thing but he must truly believe that it is the most important part of his day.  Once he has re-architected his daily rhythm to reflect this top priority and is consistently spending time with the Father as a discipline you immediately build on that foundation and move from discipline to connection.

Spending time with the Father should never be a checklist of disciplined activities.  It has to quickly become a relational connection.  Interaction between a father and son.  So you ask questions like – do you feel deeply connected to your Father through the time you spent with him today?  Did the two of you interact?  Is a close bond developing through your time with Him?  Is He teaching you?  Is He comforting you?  Is He extorting you?  What activities would you do if you were merely trying to connect and interact?  Is that what you’re doing with your time with the Father?  I’ve found that the category of discipline for my time with the Father is a good foundation but its a horrible place to stop.  It’s like the discipline of dating your spouse.  Yah, its good to have that disciplined one night per week set aside to spend time with her but if it feels like a discipline when you actually go out on that date and you are both satisfied with zero connection, zero bonding, zero interaction because you can check off that you fulfilled your discipline, what kind of relationship is that?  But that’s the way I treated my time with God for YEARS and no one was able to explain to me that it shouldn’t remain a discipline but it must move to connection and interaction, that it must become a Father/son relationship.  But once you are deeply and regularly connecting with God you build on this second foundation a third thing.

Our daily connection with the Father must become our chief obsession.  The essence of the 1st commandment (you shall have no other gods before me) is that God himself is the one holy obsession of our lives.  We were made to worship and be obsessed and every human being will either worship an idol, medicate their lack of worship through addictions, or worship God.  Worship is the reflection that we’re imbalanced and obsessed.  And we were made to worship.  But how many Christians have made other things their ultimate things – work, hobbies, even ministry, and then show up once a week to “worship God” as a discipline.  How strange is that?  We can’t be satisfied with that.  When we gather to worship it must be as a group of people who have been God-entranced all week, through our discipline that led to a deep connection, that leads to continual worship and adoration.  That is how you walk with God.

So as we train others (and ourselves) we need to help people understand how these categories work.  We move from:

  • Apathy to Discipline
  • Discipline to Connection
  • Connection to Obsession

And as our obsession grows and takes over more and more of our thoughts, feelings, time and focus our walk with God deepens until the most natural thing in the world is for us to go home and be with our Father saying with Paul, “for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Learning to Walk with God

27 07 2008
  • “Have you had your quiet time today?”
  • “Are you spending time in the Word?”
  • “How is your prayer life?”

These accountability questions have, for me, betrayed a belief that a walk with God is ultimately a discipline at its core.  Even when we train people we focus such attention on consistency but we can easily skip the root issue.

In my life I’ve neglected walking with God because it felt like a chore.  It was toilsome and not life-giving.  But this is the opposite of the abudant life Christ came to give us.

Recently I’ve been seeking two things in my walk with God – joy and deep connection.  Now it’s almost impossible for me to imagine not spending time every day with him but its because I’m so filled with joy in his presence.  Temptations that used to seem attractive pale in comparison with what I experience every day in my time with the Lord.  When you worship what you were made to worship all the silly counterfeits fade away.

What a difference this has made.  I think I finally get what Piper was trying explain with “Christian hedonism” and our purpose in “glorifying God BY enjoying him forever.”  But I had to experience it myself, and so do you.

It takes an entirely different approach than the way I was trained.  The minutes and hours slip by as I worship him, listen to him, feast on his Word, pray in the Spirit and I know he is right here with me, directing my thoughts and filling my being with life in his Spirit.

Take an hour a day and just pursue joy in the Lord and deep connection with him using whatever helps you discover this.  I started with writing on a white board what I would do if I had an hour with my only goal being to connect with God.  If you go through the motions and haven’t connected with God you might have actually made the problem worse by draining your spirit of joy, entering your day with less energy and hope.  So start over, erase what stole life and dig into and expand what gave you life.

Connect with God the Father through the work of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and dwell in his presence, listening to his voice and glorifying him with all your being.  In a phrase – walk with God.

So let’s start asking questions like

  • “Did you connect with God today?”
  • “Are you experiencing the joy of the Lord?”
  • “Are you looking forward to anything tomorrow more than your time with the Lord”

We might then actually discover the real problem and so doing, discover “life to the full.”

Daily Rhythms of Walking with God

26 06 2008

Taking a quick break from our discussions about church and community-wide discipleship I want to share something very personally important to me – the design of my daily rhythms of walking with God.

In the same way discovering the HOW of church has been like being lost in a foggy maze without a guide, discovering the HOW of a vibrant, growing walk with God has been equally if not more difficult. But lately I’ve been feeling like my head is starting to peak above the fog and I want to throw out there some practices that have been immensely helpful to me (partially because I feel very few people have been willing to open up to me on HOW they walk with God daily). I’m beginning to become convinced that the key (at least for me) is the development of a rhythmic life where rhythms exist to serve as boundaries that give freedom in which I can flourish.

I’ve constructed 5 types of rhythmic boundaries to my life –

  1. A morning rhythm
  2. An evening rhythm
  3. Spontaneous rhythms
  4. A weekly rhythm
  5. Life rhythms

In this post I want to share my morning rhythm.

First, I went out and bought a pretty big white board so I could design the rhythms, make quick changes and see them easily throughout the day.

Next I wrote out all the elements that I wanted to be a part of my morning

  • Shower
  • Dressed
  • Breakfast
  • Task List
  • Write
  • Prayer
  • Task List
  • Family Meeting

I wrote down an initial progression on the white board and did it very rigidly the next morning. I would make observations of how my energy flowed from one to the next. I reordered the rhythm and added and subtracted elements and attacked it again the next day. Sometimes I needed to tweak how I did a specific element, what I did at prayer or writing or the family meeting etc. It took about 3-4 weeks of a lot of observation, strategizing and prayer before I felt I arrived at a sustainable life giving rhythm that would only have to be tweaked on occasion.

So today this is what I do EVERY morning in this order

  • Get up immediately when I wake (I don’t use an alarm)
  • Shower (this is done daily more to give energy and washing my face is what REALLY wakes me up)
  • Brush teeth and get dressed
  • Write for 20 minutes (writing stimulates my mind like a shower stimulates my body so by the time this is done I’m fully awake)
  • Make Breakfast for me and my wife (I make the Chunky Strawberry Smoothie every morning)
  • Family Meeting (while eating I meet with my kids to go over what they accomplished yesterday and set up tasks for the day for home school)
  • Prayer (I spend about an hour in my room starting with worship then writing prayers and pace the room after each or using the olyptical to pray through each item and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance on Bible reading)
  • Task List (I end the day asking the Lord what he wants me to do that day and write each item down in a notebook, prioritize the list and get to work)

I’ve also made a number of decisions to protect my morning rhythm like I NEVER meet with anyone or have a planned event before 11am for example. A lot of the success of this rhythm, however, hinges on my evening rhythm which I’ll share later

I’ve never actually shared my rhythm with anyone so I’d be interested to hear if others do similar things or if you can give me any tips on things I might be missing.