Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Most of us are probably familiar with REM sleep. REM is a stage of sleep that many scientists believe is the most crucial part of sleep. Yet it is only present for about 20-25% of our sleep cycles.

The most commonly recommended time required for adult sleep is 8 hours. In other words, we require 8 hours of time to reach 1½-2 hours of REM. So a normal sleep cycle includes 6-6½ hours of "non-REM" sleep!

What in the world does this have to do with time spent with God?

In America we are often oblivious to how hectic our lives are. Those from previous generations are more acutely aware of how different the world is today. Those who grew up with cell phones, computers, cable and satellite TV, etc. are so accustomed to their use that there is no conscious awareness of the pace they are living, having no former life to compare it to.

A National Geographic documentary called "Stress a Portrait of a Killer" is the story of how a scientist named Robert Sapolsky studied the effects of stress on baboons in Kenya.

After many years of study, many of the most aggressive baboons in the tribe died from TB. The more docile males who remained established a new order of much more "civilized" behavior. (Can any baboon really be called "civilized!") This new order helped their tribe to continue to survive!

After a lifetime of study, Dr. Sapolsky concluded that the stress of our culture, such as our multi-tasking lifestyles and the aggressive ethos of the business world, is literally killing us!

May I propose that spending time with God is a lot like REM sleep!

Living at the pace described above, we must ask how hard it is to have "quiet time" with God? I will be the first to confess that it is very difficult. Sure I can shut off my devices and set a time and place for an atmosphere of quiet. But how long will it take to really get quiet enough to hear from God?

I believe that, like REM sleep, the most crucial part of experiencing God requires only a fraction of the actual time it takes to get to that level.

We may need 1½-2 hours of sleep but it takes the other 6-6½ hours to reach the deeper levels of REM sleep.

Isn't it the same with God. It doesn't take that much time for God to experience a quality level of intimacy with God. It takes a lot more time to quiet ourselves enough to reach those levels!

The answer so often provided for us is to spiritually adjust to the pace. Quick pre-fabricated devotions, Bible studies and church services, watered down, adjusted and abbreviated to fit our fast-paced and lives, can never consistently bring us any quality level of intimacy with God.

Only personal, extended, quality time with God will work!

I'm like you. I just want to insert an interface into the back of my skull that will impart the Spirit of God and all that I need from Him into my mind, heart and soul - while I am simultaneously driving, drinking a coffee and eating a breakfast sandwich! But I have found it just doesn't work!

We all have work, appointments and other responsibilities. We can't study the Bible eight hours every day and do fulfill our genuine responsibilities.

How can we resolve this conflict without moving to a monastery or joining a commune?


1. Take some time every day! Sometimes, the only sleep we can get is a "power nap." It isn't nearly as effective as a full night's sleep but it can definitely help! There is no excuse for consistently not getting at least some time with God every day!

We may have times of grief, crisis or temporary days where we must attend to activities or business but if it is a constant, regular practice, it is too high a price to pay!

2. Set aside longer periods of time! We set aside times and days off for vacations and "Star Wars" marathons.

Why not set aside several hours or even sometimes days,  for quality time with God!

3. Turn off everything! It is really hard to get close to God when you are watching TV, answering emails and texting - all at the same time!

A quiet place does not equal quiet time. However, it does set up an atmosphere to speak to God and listen for His answers!

How can we have quality communication and intimacy in any relationship if our thoughts are drowned out by other voices or noises?

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Saturday, April 19, 2014


The church today so often presents the gospel as a means to blessing. From the extreme "prosperity gospel" to the more moderate "God wants to make us happy" version, salvation is presented as a way to make our lives better according to the values of the world.

Actually, this contradicts much of the New Testament in which the theme of "suffering" appears far more often than the theme of "happiness!" In fact, the word "happy" or "blessed" is often used in connection with suffering, reproach or enduring for the sake of Christ! (See James 5:10-11; 1 Peter 3:14 and 1 Peter 4:14 as examples.)

The Bible does speak a great deal about trials and tribulations:

12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
1 Peter 4:12-14

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1:2-3

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

As we read these verses, we cannot help but notice that God clearly tells us that we will have trials - but also encourages us to BE JOYFUL during these times!

Joyful - when I am going through a hard time - really?

Yes - and the reason is not that we are supposed to "keep a stiff upper lip" or "toughen up" during these times. Why then should we be joyful in these times?

▶︎ Peter tells us to "REJOICE." Why?

"that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."
God is not absent, nor does He forget how much we suffer or are mocked for His name sake!

"the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you."
It is because we do belong to Christ that we are suffering - not because we are not highly regarded  
by God or are being punished for being out of God's will!

▶︎ James writes to "COUNT IT ALL JOY." Why?

"KNOWING that the testing of your faith produces patience."
James 1:3
It is because we KNOW something that we should "count it all joy." 

▶︎ Jesus tells us to "BE OF GOOD CHEER." Why?

" of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33
We can "be of good cheer" because Jesus has overcome the world! 

We are commanded to be joyful in trials and tribulations based on faith in certain facts!
1) God is in control. He is acutely aware of our troubles and will reward us now and in the life to
2) We often suffer because we have God Spirit! The enemy most attacks those whom God loves or
    are a danger to him!
3) We know that the testing of our faith is producing patience! God is not allowing us to be tested    
    for no reason! The knowledge that the test will produce godly character in us can inspire us to   
    press on!
4) Jesus has overcome the world! Whatever you are going through right now - God is in control and 
   already has a solution for it! He will take up your cause even when you can't or don't know what to 

These commands to be joyful are not encouragements to be in denial. God never tells us to be emotionally detached or to be calm, cool and strong all the time. There are seasons which we may have good reason to cry or grieve. Sometimes those emotions can be very strong and seem overwhelming! God is not telling us to pretend they do not exist!

He is, however, communicating reasons to rejoice. He knows full well it is an act of faith and does not expect us to walk around with a pretentious "Christian smile" saying "Praise the Lord" all the time! There are times to cry and laugh and to share our pain and pray with others that we can trust!

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven...
A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.
Ecclesiastes 3:1and 4

The Christian life is not a life free from suffering, pain or trials and tribulations but I do know that God delivers us through each one and will will continue to deliver us!

Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:19

Just know today that God is aware of your pain and is close to you in your trials!

1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob and He who formed you, O Israel:
  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name;
   You are Mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
   And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
   When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
   Nor shall the flame scorch you.
3 For I am the Lord your God."
Isaiah 43:1-3

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014


How in the world is drunk driving related to the armor of God?

It has to do with the principle behind the laws created against driving under the influence of alcohol. If a person is driving while intoxicated, he creates a potential danger to himself and others. If caught, he will be arrested and fined and may lose his driving privileges. Repeated offenders may even be sentenced to prison time!

He will be also be held responsible for any actual damage he has done. The worst outcome of course is that he accidentally kills someone. If that happens, he may be charged with manslaughter!

What's his defense? "I was drunk!" he tells the judge. "It was an accident!" True! The drunk driver may not be a murderer by nature. He would have been more careful if he had been sober.

The principle then, is that he is held responsible. It is not because he intentionally killed someone. He is responsible for his actions beforehand which ultimately led to this tragedy!

As Christians, we often try to justify our sin by using the same defense!

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-13

"Lord, I sinned because I had been neglecting reading my Bible, praying and spending time with You!" It's not really my fault. It just came over me. It just happened!"

Men who are caught cheating on their wives often claim, "It just happened!"

When the children of Israel molded a golden calf to worship in the place of God, Aaron told Moses, "We threw the gold into the fire and this is what came out!"

Like the drunk driver, we may not intend to sin but nevertheless we are responsible for the actions which led to our sins!

There is a cause and effect which leads to sin.

What actions led to a husband cheating on his wife? Did he meet someone and they accidentally "fell" into bed in the correct anatomical position?

Was he spending inappropriate time alone with her? What was his thought life like? Did the music he listens to or the shows he watches encourage his behavior?

We are responsible for guarding our hearts from being "intoxicated" with the things of this world!

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.
Proverbs 4:23

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
Matthew 15:19

God holds us responsible for sins that we commit (sins of commission) and actions we omit (sins of omission)!

We are not to merely to avoid outwardly committing sins. We must also be PROACTIVE toward sin by preparing ourselves ahead of time to choose that which pleases God rather than ourselves!

PROACTIVE is defined as: (of a person, policy, or action) creating or controlling a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened.

The armor of God is like the armor a soldier puts on before he goes to battle. If he neglects to put it on, it doesn't matter if he had no intention of being wounded. The enemy will target us whether we are prepared or not!

The armor is provided by the military. It is the soldier's responsibility to put it on!

God has provided armor for the Christian. It is our responsibility to put it on!

If we are negligent the things of God now, we may find ourselves unprepared when "the evil day" comes!

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