What is quiet time and what does it have to do with cross-cultural mission?
What is quiet time and what does it have to do with cross-cultural mission?
When we have our quiet times, should we have a plan or leave it to spontaneity? Ross investigates what scripture can teach us on this topic.
Ross shares his three elements of a quiet time, bible reading, prayer and worship.
We have just launched our most recent course Crossing Cultures 101! It’s free to complete and consists of 3 online modules with several lessons in each, to be completed in your own time.
This is the course we wish we could have done before starting our missionary journeys - and, after learning a lot of things the hard way, it’s the course we would recommend to you!
Crossing Cultures 101, as the name suggests, is a very basic introduction to the subject of what it takes to move into a new culture and thrive there. In a sense it is so basic that it will probably raise more questions than it answers. But that might just be helpful! Better to start having the conversation before you go than to be shocked when you get there by issues you were not expecting.
We know from personal experience that having sufficient support and training is vital to thriving on the mission field. Our concern is that across the world, there are many who are setting off without those very things. This course won’t give specific help for adjusting to the actual culture you are moving to, but it will give a lot of general principles that will apply in any crossing-culture experience.
We think there are three different groups that would benefit from doing this course…
Firstly, those who feel called to go and are just beginning to research their way to finding out what is involved. I’d like to think this course would give you the basics and cover, with broad brushstrokes, the things you need to know as you begin to embark on this journey.
Secondly, those who have already set out on the journey and are discovering, perhaps the hard way, that there are a whole host of things you had not thought about before you left. For your encouragement, both Ross and I started out this way, with no cultural training, and we at separate times had to learn everything the hard way. We wish there had been a course like this that we could have done back in the day! It certainly would have helped.
And thirdly, our target is the churches that are sending folk out – for those churches to know, if they don’t already, what it takes to support those they send out well. If you fit the role of a sender rather than a go-er, you may prefer to skip the first two modules and focus only on the third. But on the other hand, doing the first two modules might also help you understand what those who have gone out are experiencing when they go through culture shock, for example, not knowing what has hit them. Finding that this is a normal part of the process of cultural adaptation will help mitigate the concern you might otherwise feel as you hear about their struggles. They will need your understanding to help them push through and come out reasonably intact the other side!
So that’s it - three modules, about 13 lessons in total, taking only about six hours to complete! There are other free courses on the site that you can also sign up for (go to: https://courses.fieldpartner.org/courses), and more will added in time. We will be there in support as well, and, in addition, we’d love to see fellow students form a cohort amongst themselves, providing mutual support and encouragement.
If you are reading this and you fit any of the categories mentioned above, I’d like to invite you to sample the course and give us your feedback in the box below. Or, if you know anyone else to whom it might apply, please forward the link to them as well.
Thank you for your interest and welcome to FieldPartner!
A while ago my husband and I were talking with a friend about the huge task that faces us in setting up an online training school. In the course of about an hour’s conversation, Eric asked a telling question. He said,
“Ross, Christine – looking back over your several decades of experience in international living – and granted the fact that you didn’t receive any cross-cultural training before you went – what would you say now are the top five things you wish you had known before you went to Asia?”
Wow – what a great question!
Below is my own considered answer. For me, this list actually encapsulates the substance of a basic course I have constructed, called Crossing Cultures 101. These issues I am talking about now are some of the topics that are covered in this course. And let me just say here, if you would like to come on board for that course – or if what I say in these few moments resonates with you in any way, please do sign up! It’s totally free to join.
OK so let’s drill into this: Five things I wish I had known before I went!
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But when it comes to life, ‘stuff’ often just happens, and sometimes good planning does not! Perhaps we only realise later that a bit more time taken early on, along with a lot more good input received from others, could have helped us build a stronger foundation for our marriages or our ministries. Looking back, Ross and I regret that we didn’t take time out at the time we got married to do some of our adjusting to each other in our own culture first. But we were young and zealous, Ross had already been in Taiwan for six years by then and was fully involved in student ministry, and I had two years of full-time language study facing me before we could start a family… We thought we didn’t have time for that, and besides, it was complicated by other commitments. However cultural adaptation, on top of marriage adjustment, were about to take a huge toll on us. If only we had realised how it was going to be and taken it slower!
The first module in my course focuses on this topic at some depth and, if you come with me, we’ll be checking out our assumptions and beliefs about the ‘right’ way to do things. Often, we are completely unaware of how our own socialisation influences the way we do life and the value judgements we make about others who do life differently. This shows up hugely when we arrive in a new culture.
Here are some danger signs to watch out for:
In Module Two of my course I depict the whole cultural adaptation process as navigating a path between two mountain peaks – one being my own culture, where I belong and feel comfortable and the other being the new culture, which is at yet a mystery. In between these two peaks there is a valley, involving pitfalls and dangers and sheer hard slog. This is Culture Shock.
Not everyone navigates this valley successfully, but yet, the challenge of it can be an adventure that draws you on. In the course we will talk quite a bit about the anatomy of culture shock and what it takes to navigate through it.
And then there is Reverse Culture Shock (or Re-entry Stress) to navigate through as well, when returning home. This too is a ‘real thing’, but often more shocking because it is not anticipated! People assume that going back to their home culture after an assignment in a different culture will be completely straight forward and nothing to worry about. After all – are we not just returning home? Well, yes – but in the same way as you can never step into the same river twice (as the philosopher said!), you will be a different person after all you have been through, and the people and situation you are returning to will also have changed. That can make for some unwelcome surprises, which it is good to be prepared for. There will be a lesson in Module Two that deals with this issue as well.
This brings us full circle to the first issue – how vital it is to build a good foundation and prepare well for our endeavour before we leave. That includes having good closure with those we leave behind and building a strong support base at the sending end. Why? Because we need to stay connected with those who know us well and are sending us out. We need their support and understanding, to involve them on our journey and keep them on side in what we are going through.
Here is one thing we strongly advocate for anyone going into another culture: find a core group of friends and family members who are willing to support you on this venture, be a sounding board for you and provide encouragement when you are struggling. They will be worth their weight in gold!
And look for support in other quarters too:
Hopefully you will find that in the place where you are serving. But what if you don’t? This is where we in FieldPartner hope that we can continue to help, by providing an on-line community: others who may be at a different stage and are probably working in a different culture from you, but who can still encourage you and cheer you on.
Of course you may not have kids, but if you do, you need to know they experience this journey very differently from you. Kids have the capability to ‘enter’ a culture and learn a language much more easily than their parents, but they may also feel deeply the loss of their former life. They may blame you for the discomfort and disorientation they are feeling. Embracing a new culture may come more easily to them, but going through that process will also permanently alter their identity. From now on life for them, even more than for you, will never be the same. So in Module 3 on my course, we will also be looking at terms like Third Culture Kid and Global Nomad, helping you (I hope) to think through the implications of your choice to move abroad as it might impact on your kids.
There are some definite upsides to this, but also some very real challenges. We will be looking at what some of those are.
OK so there you have it in a nutshell! Five things I wish I had known before I went. In actual fact, I didn’t know half of this for many years, but that is a story for another time!
In these 5 talks Ross shares his life’s message. He shares concerning what the Bible says about cross cultural mission being the heart of God’s plan for the church, especially focusing on the book of Acts and the early church. God has used this teaching in the US, Africa, India and Asia - where churches have adopted this teaching in Bible schools and essential training of believers.
The Antioch Factor ＃1
The first talk is a basic introduction. Ross starts with Acts 1:8 to show that Jesus divided the world into 4 different territories, and every church should involve in each of these 4 regions. But often we ignore the difficult one, “the ends of the earth”, even though Jesus told us to reach peoples who are different from us. This is a unique opportunity to think this matter through before the Lord.
The Antioch Factor #2
Ross in this second talk in the series looks at more verses from the New Testament, to show that cross cultural mission is a key part of the Bible's teaching from Genesis to Revelation. He then begins to look at the church in Jerusalem. He comes up with a very surprising conclusion which may shock you! Listen on to find out what that conclusion is!
The Antioch Factor #3
God gave the Jerusalem church 3 great chances in Acts chapters 8-11 to understand His global agenda, but they did not. Ross asks the question “am I communicating to you the strength of resistance to the Gospel going to the ends of the earth?” Ross then shows how God birthed the church in Antioch to move with that global agenda.
The Antioch Factor #4
Ross stresses eight key elements that make up the Antioch church. He states that Antioch churches do not grow up by accident or naturally, rather like weeds in the garden. We have to be intentional in making sure these elements are in play in our churches.
The Antioch Factor #5
Ross continues to stress that Antioch churches do not happen by accident. He gives more elements that need to be in play for us to become an Antioch church today, sending folk out and supporting folk to reach the nations.
The vision of FieldPartner International is a simple one. It is to serve the church and individual believers in matters relating to the Great Commission, that is taking the Gospel of Jesus to the ends of the earth. Behind that vision lies a strong faith that when we obey God, when we go to distant lands as He appoints, and when as churches we support those who go, God can use ordinary people in very unordinary ways. Recently I came across an amazing example of that.
A young New Zealand Maori girl called Tarore died in 1836 aged only 12, but her impact was incredible. Tarore was the daughter of the Maori chief Ngakuku. She had been a student of two of the earliest missionaries to arrive in New Zealand, Reverend and Mrs Brown. They wanted to teach people to read, so that they could read the Bible and learn about God’s love. Tarore was a good student, so she began to learn to read, she was given a copy of one of the first books of the Bible ever to be printed in Maori, the Gospel of Luke. Tarore read the Gospel to her father, the chief of the Waikato tribe. She kept her treasured copy of the Gospel of Luke under her pillow when she slept.
On October 19, 1836, Tarore’s life was taken from her by a raiding party from a different Maori tribe. They stole the treasured Gospel of Luke from under her pillow. Her death immediately created a desire for revenge but back in Waharoa during her funeral Ngakuku, her father, preached against reprisal saying there had been too much bloodshed between the tribes already. Instead he called his people to trust in the justice of God. No blood revenge was sought.
Meanwhile her killers had the book of Luke, but were unable to read until a slave boy named Ripahau, who had learned to read, was able to read it to others in the tribe. The Rotorua chief was convicted and became a Christian. He determined to seek out the dead girl’s father and beg for his forgiveness. That risked their tribal revenge and his death, but the father of the girl forgave him. Peace prevailed between the two men and a church was built to honour the message which brought about this reconciliation. Reverent Brown, the missionary, records in his journal in 1842: “In the evening, they were engaged together in worshiping God at their prayer meeting and were apparently on the most friendly terms. Who but the Christian loves their enemies?”
When missionaries visited in later years both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, they discovered that many of the Maori tribes had already become Christians due to the story of Tarore and her special book. Six years later Bishop Selwyn took his missionary journey through New Zealand. No European missionary had been to the South Island, but Selwyn found the people living in peace and following Jesus. Many people had learned to read and write. The only textbook they had known was Tarore’s Gospel of Luke and two pages from the Maori Prayer book.
The message is that the missionary couple the Browns were very ordinary people. But they were in God’s place in God’s time, and so God used them in most unordinary ways. Some say that in that period of time up to half the Maori people in New Zealand turned to faith in Christ.
My prayer is that the Lord would raise up many people like the Browns from amongst the believers in the church of our generation, and do such unusual works through them in other lands amongst other peoples.
(Source: Tarore And Her Book by Joy Cowley).
I stood trembling in front of the gathered assembly in Ludwigshafen. It was the summer of 1978, and I was going to preach my first evangelistic sermon in German. Though I had attended a German elementary school, I had no theological vocabulary. I had hardly spoken German in 14 years. As I preached, I wondered if those present even understood me. When I offered to pray for people at the end of the message, no one was more surprised than I was by the eager response that evening. I was overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness in the midst of my weakness and unbelief. It was a lesson to remember: Being useful and fruitful in the Kingdom of God requires dependency on, and obedience to God.
The memory of that experience returned as I reread the verses surrounding the great commission recorded in Mark 16:15. Verse 14 captured my attention first: “Afterward He (Jesus) appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after he had risen.” And then, in the very next verse, he entrusts the future of the Kingdom of God on earth to those very same hardhearted and unbelieving eleven disciples! He commissions them to preach the gospel to all creation! This apparently contradicts all of the leadership principles I had studied. Why would Jesus trust unbelieving people to be faithful with the most valuable task in history? Jesus goes on in verse 16 and following to explain all of the amazing things that will follow those who believe – which includes the eleven.
I recalled the fear and apprehension I had during that first tent meeting in Germany. At that time, I was of the same mindset as those disciples: I didn’t believe God could use me to effectively share the gospel. But my experience taught me that Jesus works in and through those who will trust him as they share the good news.
At first glance, the command to “preach the gospel to all creation” sounds like a lofty ideal, an unreachable goal used as a motivational tool. There was obviously no way eleven men could actually accomplish such an unattainable task. Actually, I doubt the eleven understood the command in that way. They had just been chastised for their unbelief because they had retreated to the comfort and safety of what they knew: their culture, their ways and their own understanding.
Jesus confronted their attitude and focus. He needed to redirect their attention towards God as a heavenly Father and put the priority of his Kingdom first in their lives. And he did that by challenging their core values. The commission was not just a call to go to all the world, but also a call to leave the safety of their Jewish heritage, language, culture, and background. Jesus confronted them with the necessity of going beyond their comfort and complacency into realms they were uncomfortable and unfamiliar with.
“Every creature, - really?” I can hear them asking themselves. “Even the Romans, the Indians, and who knows who else? What if we don’t speak their language? Or don’t like their food? Or they start to persecute us?” That list of excuses vanishes in the face of the command to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Taking the gospel into all the world is not a lofty ideal, it is a challenge to everything I hold dear, and a challenge to sacrifice everything temporal for the sake of the eternal Kingdom of God. In fact, the commission is exactly the right antidote to combat unbelief and hardness of heart by forcing every responder to renew their faith and trust in God.
The fact is, complacency is likely to hinder our relationship with the Father by making us susceptible to unbelief. When we must trust Jesus in our own weakness and inability, we find ourselves in a place where our dependency upon him mirrors the dependency Jesus had upon his Father. Any success can only be attributed to his work in our lives, and not to our own efforts. Pride dissipates in the presence of our complete dependency upon Jesus. But there is more: Jesus certainly trusted the work he had done in the disciples over the previous three years, but he trusts the continuing work of the Holy Spirit even more. He knows the continuation of his ministry is secure in the hands of the Holy Spirit who will always be with each of the disciples – leading, teaching, and correcting them. The Holy Spirit empowers disciples to remember and to do all that Jesus has taught.
When I first read verses 16 and 17, my assumption was: These signs will follow those who preach the Word. But verse 17 says: “these signs will accompany those who believe.” That includes the listeners as well as the preacher. Although I expect God to move with power when I preach, the promise of signs and wonders is to all who believe. It is one thing to believe God will confirm his word in me, it is another level of faith for me to believe God will also confirm his word in someone else if they will believe.
I am glad when God uses me for his purposes, but I am even more thrilled when those who believe see the works of God in and through their own lives. Is this way, God brings growth to all and not just a select few. In sharing the gospel with people unlike myself, my faith is strengthened and grows. Others, by observing my reliance upon Jesus, will be inspired to experience God themselves and share the gospel as well. Believers are a part of the greatest movement in all of history. As we continue to share the gospel by going, baptizing, and teaching others, our faith will contagiously impact future generations by transforming those who choose to believe. The result is that all creation will hear the gospel.
Hi, it's Ross Paterson here.
I'm going to chat for the second time about the Quiet Time. There will be probably I think about three or four talks in this series. I am just emphasizing something very simple.
Again, do email us at email@example.com or go to our website, there's good material there for cross-cultural work and for (to some extent) the Christian life in general.
Now last time - and I'll be very quick as there's no need to really repeat - I looked at three questions: What is the Quiet Time? What does it have to do with cross-cultural mission? And what is the problem?
And you remember, I talked from Selwyn Hughes on the balance between legalism and too casual an attitude. About legalism, he said: “In my youth I heard one Bible teacher say, ‘If you don't begin every day reading a chapter of the Bible and spending at least 30 minutes in prayer, then you have no right to go into the day expecting God to bless it.’ And Selwyn Hughes feels that's rubbish and I do also,. There are good reasons sometimes (maybe you're catching an early flight or you have to be at a very early meeting, whatever) where that's not possible. We're talking about a practice, not a law.
But also we dealt with the too casual attitude, where folk kind of feel "well if the Holy Spirit moves me, I'll spend time with the Lord, but I don't need to.”
Now I want to move from there to something important, that I'm saying with Selwyn Hughes here, because he has another helpful quote. I want to urge us that we avoid pendulum Christianity.
What do I mean by that? Well, we have legalism first and then we react against legalism, by saying “anything that we consider legalistic we don't do. Oh it's legalistic to have a Quiet Time in the morning, so I'm not going to do that. Or in the evening or whenever you do it.”
So let me address that by sharing again from Selwyn Hughes. I do urge you, brothers and sisters, to avoid pendulum Christianity. If you look at the way we behave as Christians, we go one way, and then we react against that, but we go the extreme in the other way.
This is what he said, (and he was around before I was, so it's going perhaps a little bit beyond my day). Selwyn Hughes said, “In the early days of charismatic Christianity, many of its leaders from the historic denominations, who had been fed on a diet of legalism, began to emphasize quite rightly the joy of knowing Jesus’ presence through the indwelling of the Spirit every hour of the day.”
So they were saying, “I can experience the presence of the Lord, which is wonderful. I can experience it through the day, it's not just in my Quiet Time.” In other words, the legalism against which they were reacting says “if I'm in my Quiet Time, God is there, but he leaves me for the rest of the day.” Selwyn Hughes again: “I often used to hear people say, in charismatic services, ‘Now I don't have to have a daily Quiet Time in order to feel God's presence, I can feel it (i.e. God's presence) every hour of the day. Every waking minute is a Quiet Time.”
“While true,” Selwyn Hughes says, “this thinking is also dangerous, many came to believe that they could get through the day simply by speaking in tongues. Nothing will or can be a substitute for the private and personal time that we spend in communion with God.”
So, dear ones, let's avoid pendulum Christianity, swinging from extreme to extreme.
Now I want to discuss another issue: Should we have a plan or should we just be spontaneous? In other words if we're going to have a Quiet Time, should we have a plan? Should we be kind of, “this is the way we do it and we do it the same every day” or just be spontaneous?
Now again I'm going to stay with Selwyn Hughes, because I think there are some wonderful comments that he made:
“When people came up to me at seminars or conferences and asked: ‘How can I develop a better relationship with God?’ I invariably replied (notice ‘replied’ is past tense), “Spend time with Him. The more time we spend with our families and friends, the better we get to know them. It is the same with God too. People often asked me to give them a plan on how to have a Quiet Time. Here is one I used to give people many years ago. Decide on the amount of time you can spend, preferably in the morning. (The morning is best because it tunes your soul for the day.) Having fixed the time, stick to it. Take your Bible and a notebook and read the passage carefully. Let it (The Word of God) soak in. Make a note of anything that comes to you. Follow this with prayer, mentioning any requests or personal petitions you may have. Finally, relax and listen expectantly to see if God has something to say to you. It is far easier to talk than listen, so don’t worry if for some weeks or months nothing comes. Tuning in to God takes time and practice.”
So what he saying is: Read the Bible, let the words soak in, then pray, then spend time waiting on the Lord. But interestingly he added something to that. This is what he said:
[bctt tweet="Read the Bible, let the words soak in, then pray, then spend time waiting on the Lord" username="FieldpartnerInt"]
“However, later I was reluctant to give people that plan without highlighting the pitfall of depending on a structure rather than on the direction of the Holy Spirit. I imagine most of us would prefer to spend time with God with a plan more than to abandon ourselves to the Holy Spirit and wait upon Him. A structure can be useful and helpful, but as we learn to be alone with God we can, on occasions, simply enjoy His company and presence without even saying a word. Time with God becomes more live when we approach it with passion instead of a plan. Good marriages thrive on spontaneity, special intentional occasions and passion. So does a relationship with the Lord.”
So I find that interesting. I think actually the plan Selwyn Hughes gave is a really good one, but he's saying, “Let it be a foundation, and not a rule - don't get back to legalism again.”
Now let's move on. Selwyn Hughes made the comment that Jesus had two customs.
Those were Jesus's customs.
Now I want to switch to another topic at this point. The topic is the importance of the Word of God (the Bible) in the Quiet Time. Would you allow me to have some fun? Over the years as I read, as I have my own Quiet Time, I gather quotes from a variety of people, I love to collect quotes. And I'm going to, hopefully not bombard you, but bless you, with quotes. They are all to do with the importance of the Word of God. You see I think that there is a drift away from the importance of Scripture. I think there's a danger of this kind of, “Well I just hear the Holy Spirit and I’m following him.” It's one of these pendulum things. Jesus said, “You're wrong because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” We need the Scriptures and we need the power of God. So let me finish this little section with some quotes.
Acts 17:11 says: “These Jews (the Bereans) were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received the message, examining the Scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so.” Scripture Union comments: “They also received the message with ‘great eagerness’. This is the Greek prothumos, denoting enthusiasm and zeal, such as that of a ravenously hungry man devouring the food set before him….”
So these believers were hungry for God's Word and the writer I think a Scripture Union writer added, “The Willow Creek Church (a very famous church in the States), after researching spiritual growth in 1,000 churches across America, concluded, ‘The Bible’s power to advance spiritual growth is unrivalled by anything else, we have discovered. Reflection on Scripture is by far the most influential spiritual practice' (Luke 6:46, CEV).
Willow Creek investigated a thousand churches, and came to the conclusion that the Bible is the most significant element in spiritual growth - nothing else comes near it. That's a review of a thousand churches!
Jonathan Edwards, who was involved in revival in early America, wrote: “Our public assemblies were then beautiful. The congregation was alive in God’s service. Everyone earnestly intent on the public worship. Every hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from his mouth. The assembly in general were from time to time in tears while the Word was preached. Some weeping with sorrow and distress, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their neighbours.”
I say: “Lord do that again, please, please. Where the preaching of the Word in our hearts has that authority and impact.”
Let me share two more quotes!
Word For Today wrote: “Butterflies cover more ground, but bees gather more honey. That's because the butterfly just flies over the flowers, whereas the bee lands on each one and stays there long enough to extract the nectar. That's the difference between merely reading your Bible for a few hurried minutes, and taking time to meditate on what you're reading.”
And finally “John Calvin believed passionately in the power of Scripture to bring clarity to our confused understandings of God. The Bible, he suggested, worked like the spectacles that focus the fuzzy letters on a page into meaningful words. Revelation, Calvin’s metaphor implies ... corrects the astigmatism of the sinful imagination ... freeing us to see clearly what has been there all along”
Whether you're Calvinist or not the quote is a great one. The Bible takes those fuzzy letters that we can't quite read, that understanding of life and the rest that we don't quite understand, and works like spectacles that focus the fuzzy letters on a page with meaningful words.
I'm going to leave it there. Whether we have a plan or whether we're more spontaneous, what I am saying is, dear ones, we must include the Bible. We must spend time in the Word of God.
“Lord Jesus, help us, we pray. Thank you for this treasure, this Word that you given us. This amazing book, the Scriptures, that I for one have read for over 50 years, and still even this morning there are new truths - new things from your Word. Lord, refresh us, to escape from this generation which so easily - young or old alike - ignores your Word, and let us make your Word our treasure, our light on our way, in Jesus name. Amen.”
If you enjoyed reading this Quiet Time resource for Christian Missionaries, then check out our courses on courses.fieldpartner.org
God Bless You.
Hi this is Ross Paterson here, and I want to give you a short 10 minute sharing on the Quiet Time.
This will be a series; this is the first talk that I'm going to do.
Now, I am going to address three questions, let me describe the questions and then kind of jump into the middle one.
Well, can I dive into the second one very briefly first?
Imagine, you're going to meet your boss. It's a really important interview, and for some reason you're going to meet outside. If you have a car, the car really needs to be looking good. So, you polish and shine the car and get in the car, turn the key and you realize that you forgot to put in petrol (gas) and didn't fuel the car. It's not going to move. You would then miss the interview with your boss because you were so busy with something less important, that you forgot the most important thing - that a car runs on fuel.
That's exactly why the Quiet Time - the time of the Lord - has everything to do with cross cultural mission and is important for Christian Missionaries. A really good brother who was working with us in China ministry said to me, "Ross, I need to go home."
I said "Why?"
He said, "Well the pressure’s too great, I can't really hack it."
I said, "Well you need to spend time with the Lord. Set time aside with the Lord meet with the Lord. Quiet Time in other words, and get fuelled up."
And he said, "I do not know how to do that." And he went home. A promising service for the church in China finished, because he didn't know how to fuel himself with the Lord.
Another guy, a wonderful brother, who came to me, working in an Asian country, said "I don't think I can hack this, I need to go home."
What is the Quiet Time? Matthew 14:22-27 "Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side. While he sent the multitudes away. And when he sent the multitudes away he went on the mountain by himself to pray. Now when evening came he was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea tossed by the winds, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went to them walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were troubled, saying it is a ghost and they cried out in fear. But immediately, Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I, do not be afraid.’”
Now Jesus and the disciples were all at the supernatural meeting that took place before the boat trip. Jesus sent the multitudes away when his job was done. He didn't bask in the praise of people but sent the disciples away and went on the mountain by himself to pray.
Jesus spent time with the Father and had his Quiet Time. The disciples didn't, they jumped in the boat, "Hey, we're fishermen we know how this works."
Guess what? Jesus heard from the Father that he was needed to rescue the disciples. Jesus was empowered to walk on the water. Jesus knew what the Father was doing, because he said elsewhere, "I never do anything, except the Father tells me".
One writer (Word For Today) said, "Jesus dismissed the crowd of disciples and fans, in order to spend time with his Father in prayer. As a result, when he returned to the crowd, he was empowered to work miracles."
And then he gives an interesting illustration. “Think about it, before an airliner takes off, the attendant tells you, that if the plane gets into trouble, you should secure your own oxygen mask before attempting to help others with theirs. After all, unless you're getting enough oxygen how can you help them? So I trust it's clear now, what this has to do with cross cultural mission.”
Of course it has to do with absolutely everything that we do. Any kind of service in a local church whatever. But it's critical for cross cultural mission, because when we work cross culturally, the sociologists and psychiatrists will tell you that we function under greater pressure than those who live in their own culture.
When you're out of your culture, so many things are a mystery and a pressure: Greater loneliness, greater pressure, greater attacks sometimes and so on.
Selwyn Hughes emphasizing this point said this, "The Quiet Time is where the soul grows receptive. Where prayer becomes a place of healing, an oasis of peace, where the touch of his presence becomes as real and as dramatic as the touch of the woman on the hem of Jesus’ garment. Where peace flows into our turbulence, where love resolves our resentments, where joy heals our griefs and where we enter into the present process of being known.”
The Quiet Time shuts us in with God. The door closes upon us and then infinite resources flood into our soul. The door opens and we move out with an increased awareness of God, ready to face a world that knows so little about him. There is as we've said, great benefit in stillness but when we meet with God in the stillness. Ah, what then?”
Why do we need to talk about this? What is the problem? Well Selwyn Hughes outlines two problems. One is legalism. First, there is a reaction to the legalism of past days. Selwyn Hughes said that at one time most disciples were told that the life of discipleship turned on whether or not they’ve established a daily Quiet Time. And you must never waver from it.
“In my youth someone who said, I heard one Bible teacher saying ‘If you don't begin every day by reading a chapter of the Bible and spending at least 30 minutes in prayer, you have no right to go into the day expecting God to bless it.’"
Selwyn Hughes commented, “I don't believe that's true,” and I don't either. That is legalism.
There are many reasons why it might be impossible to begin every day with a Quiet Time. God wants to meet with us and bless us whatever our morning routine. God wants to bless us even when we're too busy occasionally to have a Quiet Time. God isn't a legalist.
But there's an opposite which I'm calling an "overly casual approach". Selwyn Hughes says "However in turning from the legalism of the past," (This is addressing, to be honest, many younger listeners, but not exclusively.)
"However in turning from the legalism of the past, many have replaced it with a more casual approach to personal devotions. If they don't feel like it. they don't find a time to be with God. And that," Selwyn Hughes said, "I suggest is as risky as the legalism from which they've turned away." It's dangerous to say, "Hey if I feel the Holy Spirit is moving me, I'll spend time with God."
The problem is when you most need to spend time with God, you may not hear the Holy Spirit. So those are the two extremes.
I'm going to close this talk with a quote from John Wesley, “It is for your life. There is no other way, else you will be a trifler all your days."
Now John Wesley, in his day along with John Whitfield changed England. John Wesley set up, at that time, the Methodist Church, which was one of the purest and most successful and anointed in soul-winning churches the world. John Wesley also did cross-cultural work, going to America and so on. And here he's saying, whether you like it or not whether you feel like it or not, read and read the Bible and pray daily.
That's an interesting comment addressing this issue of legalism, an overly "随便" approach (casual as the Chinese would say).
So put the fuel in your car, or you'll miss the appointment. Spend time with the Lord, be refreshed in your loneliness, in the attacks against you, in discouragement in failure, spend time with the Lord.
I'm going to carry on digging into this. This is just the first one, an introduction.
“Lord help me make it a habit of a lifetime to spend time each day with you. Remind me to make this approach a priority Father. Amen.”
Thank you, and we'll be back another day with part 2.
If you enjoyed reading this Quiet Time resource for Christian Missionaries, then check out our courses on courses.fieldpartner.org
God Bless You.