Life.  Some see it as a randomly assigned smattering of days with no purpose.  Others believe in divine appointments they rarely keep.  For most, everyday...is ordinary.  But it doesn't have to be.   What if we dared to go the narrow way? Join me in taking THE FAITH DARE.

Caution: Participating in this challenge might force you to give up some of the things (people?) dearest to you. This challenge could change your life.  Join at your own risk.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

FAITHdare #1

3, 2, 1...
HERE WE GO!!!

Remember how Jesus called Peter to step out of the boat and onto the water?

"Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me!'"(Mt. 14:29-30).

God has called me out of my proverbial boats of comfort and complacency so many times. I'd like to say I step out every single time. I'd like to say that, when I do step out of those boats, I do so with unwavering faith. I'd like to say that, more often than not, I am allowing God to take me to new depths of resolute faith in Him. I would not be speaking truth.

Here's my reality:
God calls me to something that is seemingly (and very possibly) beyond me.
I think about it.
And most often, I lay my head back down on the scruffy little cot in the bottom of my "comfort boat," ignoring the call.
Sometimes, I do step out of the boat...with a lot of whining and "this is to hard!"s.
Then I look around and buy into the distractions of the world.

And I sink.

What's your reality?
Every week, we will be examining the reality of our lives, then comparing that reality against the call of Christ. I am challenging and encouraging you to step out of YOUR "comfort boats" and onto the water below...being careful to avoid the countless distractions of the wind and the waves around you, all vying for your attention, time, and money.

During the month of March, we are going to be taking on challenges related to our PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS with God. Without the foundation of RELATIONSHIP with Him, the rest of this year will be a constant struggle of legalism, futality, and defeat. And so we begin with, what I believe to be, the most important aspect of relationship-building: TIME.

the preliminaries:
1. For those of you who have intentionally chosen to go the NARROW way, I am thankful for your faith, and equally challenged by it. I am eager to see what God is going to do in the lives of those who say YES to this journey...and I hope you are believing with expectation as well.
2. My desire is that this would be a journey we take TOGETHER...so please feel the freedom to comment on my entries, to contact other FAITHdare team members individually, and to invite others in along the way. It is never too late to take a step toward faith--nor is it ever too late to join FAITHdare (if you are new to the team, please leave a comment on the first entry so we can keep track of who has entered the dare)!
3. I have been praying for all of you, the FAITHdare team members, by name. Please join me in lifting this project before the One who can do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine...asking HIM to be the center of our every motivation.
4. My prayer is that you would take each challenge I present to you and bring it before the Lord,
allowing HIM to define the areas of your heart that need to be transformed and guide the changes in your every day life that need to take place. Please remember that the point of FAITHdare is to encourage you to take a step FORWARD--forward into deeper trust, faith, and obedience.  This community, I pray, will not be a place of comparison or judgement, but of encouragement as we all strive to deepen our own personal commitments to a life of faith in the God who calls us to CARRY OUR CROSSES and FOLLOW HIM.

*****

Time. We all have it. We all lose it too quickly. We all wish, at one point or another, that we could get it back.
And we hear, more often than we would like to, that we are running out of it.

What's the big deal?

On average, Americans spend:

~2.3 hours on housework per day.
~5.4 hours per day participating in leisure activities
~1.6 hours a day playing sports or exercising
~151 HOURS a month watching television (more than 37 hours PER WEEK)
~more than 3,500 hours combined, per year, watching television, surfing the internet, reading newspapers, and listening to personal music devices

Hard to believe? Check it out for yourself (HERE and HERE).  



People of God, DO WE BELIEVE WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT OUR TIME?
"...For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night...So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled" (I Thes. 5:2, 6).

"Teach us to number our days..." (Psalm 90:12).

How much of MY time, of YOUR time, is spent following the greatest commandment...love GOD and love OTHERS? God calls us to number our days. To not be SLEEPING, whether you take that literally or figuratively.
I must admit that I "sleep" a lot.  And I rarely choose to give God the first fruits of my time, the very best I have to offer.  

Is reading a quick devotional every morning while you sit on the toilet giving God the first fruits of your time?  Can I call the two minutes I spend in the shower praying the best sacrifice I can give to the One who paid my ransom?

One of my personal weaknesses, among many, is American Idol. I like that show a lot.  But can I really watch a two hour show highlighting the materialism god our country worships, spend twenty minutes with God before the day ends, and honestly say I gave God the best of my day?  

Friends, Jesus didn't say, "Hey, go watch your show and then come follow me when it's convenient for you.  The lost will always be waiting."  He demands our UNDIVIDED attention.  He demands our all, and that does not exclude our time.  Where you spend your time is where your heart is...is your heart really with Jesus, or is it with other events, people, and things?  Even service can become a distraction.  We have to begin with time spent in relationship with Him...we have to be fed before we can feed others, or we will become weary and dry.

Many of us "tithe" our money, offering up to God the first and best percentage of what we earn. For many of us, our time is an even more precious and valuable resource than our money. Maybe it's time we start "tithing" our time.  

So here's the FAITHdare, and it has two parts:
1)
Take a good hard look at your reality of TIME. Are you numbering your days, or sleeping?
2)
Commit to give God the first fruit of your time this week, DARING to "tithe" 10% of your day (2 hours and 24 minutes) to building relationship with Jesus, even if it means getting up earlier than usual, or cutting out American Idol (this one's for me = ] ), or decreasing the amount of time you spend reading the newspaper.  If you have no idea what to do with that time, start by opening the Word of God.  Can you imagine the transformation in the church if every follower of Christ spent 2 1/2 hours a day reading the Bible?  I am going to spend part of my "tithe" time this week listening to and meditating over David Platt's RADICAL series (check it out HERE), a series that will most likely color a lot of what FAITHdare is about.

"You were not created to be normal.  God's desire for you is not compliance and conformity.  You have been baptized by Spirit and fire.  Asleep within you is a barbarian, a savage to all who love the prim and proper. You must go to the primal place and enter the presence of the Most High God, for there you will be changed by His presence.  Let Him unleash the untamed faith within you" (The Barbarian Way, Erwin McManus).

Let us not be caught sleeping in the middle of the battlefield...Prepare your heart by putting your TIME where your MOUTH is.

Prayerfully consider what God is calling YOU to this week, and share with all of us by leaving a comment. And don't forget to grab a partner in this journey if you haven't already done so, and commit to PRAY FOR EACH OTHER (or WITH each other). Check back here at the end of the week to catch a glimpse of my perspective on this dare.

"Every day, the choices you make say what you are and who your heart beats for...The world is watching you! It's your life...watcha gonna do?"

10 comments:

  1. I just wanted to suggest a resource as we all get into the Word of God this week. For one of my classes, I've had to read Living By the Book by Howard Hendricks. It essentially teaches the basics of Bible Study. I'm going to be using the principles in this book, as well as some time memorizing Scripture and praying as I do FAITHdare #1 this week. Blessings on all of your time with the Lord!

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  2. I know this might seem odd, but I don't keep a journal and neither does my friend that is doing this FAITHdare with me, so this would be a great time to start one. I have a horrible memory so I can't wait to go back and read all the things that God is going to do not only in my life, but in the lives of each other and the people that we reach.
    Monica
    2Tim1:7

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  4. Oh, I hear ya' on the TV thing! Just over a year ago, we sold our TV. 38 years of entrenched habits uprooted. This was such a wonderful thing for our household. We were able to "sell (one of) our possessions and give to the poor", but the biggest impact for us was for the way time is used in our household. We'll never go back!

    But God keeps asking for more...oh yeah, He wants EVERYTHING! :) I have been noticing recently that I am more in love with his work than with HIM. I believe, with you, that I need to take action. So, I am taking Wednesdays as a day to be with Him. I'm not turning on my computer. I wrestled with this, but I want to want to spend more time with Him and to trust Him to take care of the work I feel I so desperately need to do!

    I LOVE your challenge to tithe our time. I'm with you! Thank you for starting this journey for and with us. It's fun to link arms!

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  5. Wow! This is a good solid dare to begin the faithdare journey. In fact I reckon you have hit on one of the most important issues for Christians in the western world: the way we spend our time and cultivating intimacy with God. So, 2.4 hours EVERY day seeking God, building relationship with Jesus through the word and prayer. How long do we need to keep this up for? One week? One month? The rest of the year? The rest of our lives?? :)

    My aim is to spend the first hour of every morning in prayer (I am nearly doing this at the moment anyway), three 8-minute prayer times thoughout the day (9am, 12pm and 3pm) and then an hour focussing on reading God's word and journalling at night. Will let you know how I go!

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  6. Had 2 hours of silent prayer yesterday and was so blessed by the peace I experienced. I am trying to balance more time in the word with prayer, but yesterday, what I need was the prayer time. How blessed we are to know He hears us!

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  7. Abigail, Amy sent me this link. This is so awesome and I will be following and hopefully participating. The time thing is something that Jeff and I have been trying to stay true to this past year. I have tried to wake up at 5:30 in the morning because it is only time I know I can spend with God for a huge block of time. We need time to just slowly come before God. Sometimes the best moments of my time with him are an hour into it in his word and prayer. Thanks for your encouragement! Julie

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  8. Like Julie, I have realized that the only way to make this work is to get up earlier - this morning, I woke up at 6:20 (instead of setting my alarm at 5:30) and I just didn't have time to get everything in. I chose my quiet time over my exercise, but even that was abreviated. I am seeing how intentional I must be to make this happen!

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  9. I find it really hard when I have a late night. If I wake up too early the next morning then I am wrecked for the day. Last night I was out ministering at a bar in town and then attended a church meeting which went really late.

    If I am going to get up early in the morning then I have to be in bed at a reasonable hour and this is not always possible. Tonight I will try to have an earlier night again.

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  10. I am totally with you all on the late nights resulting in a rushed or abbreviated time in the morning. I have found it really difficult to get up early this week to be with the Lord due to several late nights. All I know is that He provides grace and tomorrow is a new day!

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