Tag: Quiet Time

Quiet Time #1: Importance of Quiet Time

What is quiet time and what does it have to do with cross-cultural mission?

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Quiet Time #2: Should We Follow A Structure?

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.

 

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Quiet time #3

Ross shares his three elements of a quiet time, bible reading, prayer and worship.

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Quiet Time 2: Should we follow a fixed structure?

Video Transcript

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 ask@fieldpartner.org 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?

The Balance Between Legalism and Being Too Casual

balance between legalism and being too casual

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 is 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.

Should we have a plan for Quiet Time or Just be Spontaneous?

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.

  1. One of Jesus’ customs was to go regularly to the house of God. Luke 4:16 “On the Sabbath he went into the synagogue as was his custom. One custom was to go regularly to church.
  2. The other custom was to pray regularly.

Those were Jesus's customs.

The Word of God in the Quiet Time

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.

From Acts 17

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….”

Willow Creek Church

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

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!

About Butterflies and Bees

Butterflies cover more ground, but bees gather more honey

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.”

A Word from John Calvin

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.

Conclusion and Closing Prayer

“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

Part 1: Importance of Quiet Time with God

God Bless You.

Ross Paterson

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Quiet Time 1: Importance of Quiet Time with God | Christian Resources | Cross Cultural Mission Tips

Summarized Transcript

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.

Always we are thrilled if you contact us that ask@fieldpartner.org or if you're getting this from another link (Facebook or whatever) that you visit our website www.fieldpartner.org

Now, I am going to address three questions, let me describe the questions and then kind of jump into the middle one.

  1. What is a Quiet Time?
  2. What does that have to do with Cross Cultural Mission?
  3. What is the Problem?

Quick aside: What does that have to do with Cross Cultural Mission?

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 a Quiet Time?

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.”

What does that have 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?”

The Problem of Legalism

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.)

The other extreme: Being overly casual

"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

Part 2: Should we follow a fixed structure?

God Bless You.

Ross Paterson

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