Sit Down and Grow

One of the most important steps we can take if we want to grow like Jesus is to simply spend time with Jesus. I know, it makes sense in a way that makes you say, “Well, duh.” But in light of the obvious truth we have to ask an obvious question: Why don’t we actually do it?

It’s not like God isn’t available to anyone who wants to spend time with Him. Ask and you will receive. Knock and the door shall be opened. God is there – everywhere, all the time. Omnipresent.

I know a man who claimed to have a near-death experience. You know the kind: The doctors said he was gone. Call-the-hearse-dead. Then, mysteriously, he was alive again. As far as I know, he’s the only person alive who claims to have died and then didn’t write a book about it. But he did tell me that while he was “out of body,” he spent part of the time sitting on a log visiting with Jesus.

I neither believe his story nor doubt his story. He was, as they say, eccentric, but in a believable sort of way. But I do believe we don’t have to die (or nearly die) to talk to Jesus. He gave us the Holy Spirit. He gave us the Bible. He gave us prayer. So if we want to grow like Jesus, we can start by sitting down and talking with Him. Not just to Him, but with Him. The means we talk some and we listen a lot. Then we obey.

We don’t spend more time with Jesus, frankly, because we think we have better ways to spend our time. Harsh, but true. We’d rather sleep a little later, work a little longer, play a little harder. We have things to do, places to go, people to see. Color me guilty. But when those “things to do” don’t include spending time with Jesus, we miss a chance to connect with the God of the universe and experience real spiritual growth.

Bill Hybels, the pastor at Willow Creek in Chicagoland, tells a great story of how life-changing it can be to pull up a chair and spend some time with Jesus. Here’s a link to the 10-minute video. Watch the video, then pull up a chair and spend some time with Jesus.

An Untoward Generation

My wife and I read a prayer in a devotional one morning that asked God’s assistance in the lives of children in “a crooked and untoward generation.” Now, when you see the phrase “untoward generation” you immediately know this wasn’t written yesterday. But you also no doubt know that today’s generation is as “crooked and untoward” as any in history, including the one in the 1600s when Jeremy Taylor penned the prayer.

What also hasn’t changed much in the last 600 years is the needs of our children. Taylor, an English cleric known for his poetic writing style, asks God to give children “healthful bodies, understanding souls, and sanctified spirits, that they may be thy servants and thy children all their days.”

Then he prays for their protection, which is where you see this literary gem: “So order the accidents of their lives, that by good education, careful tutors, holy examples, innocent company, prudent counsel, and thy restraining grace, their duty to thee may be secured in the midst of a crooked and untoward generation.”

The accidents of their lives. Yep, our children will make mistakes and poor choices. We want those “accidents” to lead them somewhere holy. Good education. Yep, want them to learn the right stuff. Careful tutors, holy examples, innocent company, prudent counsel. Yep, we want some good influences around them. And, of course, restraining grace. Yep, we want God’s grace to shower them.

We immediately prayed this for our children, who are grown, but also for our grandchildren. Later, upon reflection, I prayed it for myself.

Note: If you want more from Jeremy Taylor, there’s plenty on the internet. That prayer is in several compilation books, including The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremey Taylor, Volume III. If you’re a Kindle type of person, you can pick up several of Taylor’s books for as little as 99 cents.


What you’ve stumbled upon…

Several years ago I was inspired to write a book about Luke 2:52. Eventually, I actually did it. Then I started the journey of trying to get it published. By God’s grace, it appears it will be available in April through Elevate Publishing. This blog serves as a way for me to share some thoughts with readers and potential readers of that book. It’s a baby blog today, so check back often. It will grow.