America, it's time for us to wake up! We are in a war for our survival. But there are four ways we as a nation can stop what is happening in the Middle East without firing a shot:
1. Divest our stocks from private and public pension portfolios that are attached to Iran
2. Drill for oil in the United States so we are able to end our addiction to foreign oil
3. Vote for the development of effective anti-missile defenses
4. Develop and deploy a comprehensive effort to assist the Iranian people in liberating themselves from their country's theocratic dictatorship.
When a child is small, whether we want to or not, we train them to hear our voice. We have certain tones of voices that indicate “I mean business.”
By the time a child is four or five years old, they will begin to have so much going on in their heads that sometimes they don’t hear us until we turn on that certain tone of voice.
In the busyness of the Christmas season, it might seem counterproductive to pause. Yet, it is in these moments that we can learn so much about listening. Take a few moments today to consider how you hear God’s voice. Do you only hear Him when He “turns on the voice”, or are you hearing even His whispers?
A famous “defender of the faith,” Benjamin Warfield, against the overwhelming teaching of Scripture, actually claimed, “Christianity makes its appeal to right reason, and stands out among all religions, therefore, as distinctively ‘the Apologetical religion.’ It is solely by reasoning that it has come thus far on its way to its kingship. And it is solely by reasoning that it will put all its enemies under its feet.”
Apologetics in this context means, “a reasoned defense” rather than a “presentation-in-power” of Christian belief. Apologetics assumes that one becomes a Christian more by intellectually grasping “right doctrine” or “good ideas” rather than humbly receiving the revealed presence and power of Jesus.
In early church history, as the power of the Spirit became a threat to the church hierarchy, most of the early “church fathers” became more acceptable as “apologists,” defending the faith against philosophical and religious attacks, even as they (rarely) conceded that Christianity was mainly spread by those who healed and drove out demons. Since these apologists were trained in the same intellectual traditions as their opponents, their crucial problem is that they accept their opponents’ premise that human wisdom is the way to discover God and to accept His gospel. The gospel then became a matter of accepting certain facts about Christianity (the creeds), rather than basing faith on the “experience” of God’s revelation and power—a problem even today in evangelical Christianity.
There is a concept called Margin. I first learned about margin the hard way. When my oldest child went to kindergarten, I mapped out the route, and figured out exactly how much time it would take to arrive at school on time. With this information, I calculated what time I needed to leave every morning.
For the next three months, every morning was a race against the clock, and most days I lost – I would pull onto the school grounds just as the bell rang.
Then my husband was laid off and took over the morning duty, and suddenly, my daughter was arriving with time to spare. I was in awe! I asked him how he managed to get her to school on time. With a bit of reflection, I discovered that I hadn’t created space for the time it took to get a baby and kindergartener to the car, or the time it took to get from the car to the classroom.
When life gets busy, sometimes we find that we are rushing from event to event, hoping we make it on time. First we decorate the church, then our home. We plan for the holiday parties in each ministry area, and the church staff. We prepare for the Christmas concert, and Christmas service, then comes the New Years’ service. For a few moments, we pause – often after pulling an all-nighter to wrap presents - and have a Christmas get together at home.
The weeks of December are often bundled with joy and energy. Yet in all that activity, it is easy to get so wrapped up in doing that we end up in January totally wiped out, not able to even hear our own thoughts, let alone God’s voice.
This season can be different. There is a growing trend (again) to focus on the spiritual disciplines. As I have been going through several books on the subject, there is one resounding theme: Space.
And this is what I learned: I am the only one who has the authority and ability to create space in my life. Even if I have other people to report to, space will never be created in my life unless I lead the charge.
As you progress through this Christmas season, here is a simple tool to help you reflect on how you spend your time, and where you might need to create space:
Take a moment to make a grid on a piece of paper – then fill in the boxes with your activities for the last week. If you are very crammed, you might even just do the last three days.
Do you notice a pattern? What can you do to focus your time on the most critical items on your agenda? What are you doing that really isn’t urgent, isn’t important, and could be done by someone else?
Now, where is your time with God on that grid? What can you do to create space in your activities, and create time for your relationship with God?
In this season of celebration, remember to take time to nurture your soul. After all, your relationship with Christ really is the reason for the season, and those around you will learn from your example.