Monday, September 8, 2014

Quality Time

We’re going to talk about Quality Time today.  What does quality time mean to you?  I believe many people misuse this phrase.  Have you ever really thought about what quality time means and what it means to you?  Today, I want to highlight the true meaning of quality time and how we can make use of quality times and apply them to our lives and busy schedules.

"Quality time" (QT) is an informal reference to time spent with close family, partners or friends that is in some way important, special, productive or profitable. It is time that is set aside for paying full and undivided attention to the person or matter at hand. It may also refer to time spent performing some favorite activity. -Wikipedia

Me n' Poppa

I have something I want to share with you.  Let me tell you about Me n’ Poppa.  My dad, whom his grandchildren all affectionately call Poppa was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (in layman’s terms, bone cancer) I believe it was October of last year when we received the devastating news.  This is an incurable disease, but a treatable one.  Poppa is a saved man.  Poppa opted after prayerful consideration, to participate in a research program involving a new drug combined with chemo to try and battle this disease.  Poppa was going for treatments every week at first and is now going for treatments every other week.  The last two appointments, I went along with him.  This past Tuesday, I sat in the car to eat my Subway sandwich because I felt guilty eating in front of all of those sick people inside the Cancer Center.  Suddenly, while sitting alone in the car, the Holy Spirit gave me the revelation of what Quality Time really means.  I reflected on the last treatment day and the time we had experienced together that morning.  Quality time is experienced when you purpose to deny yourself and pay attention, intently to someone else.  Even if for a few moments, you can experience quality time if you will sacrifice your undivided attention to the person at hand.   I had experienced quality time with Poppa.  In those two brief encounters, I had learned things about Poppa that had not learned before in my 40 something years of knowing this man.  I listened as he light-heartily chatted with the very ill man next to him.  His wife had brought him a vanilla milk-shake and he told Poppa that was about the best thing there ever was – a vanilla milkshake.  Poppa said his favorite was strawberry.  I never knew that before.  Had it been discussed before? Probably.  Did I retain the information? No.  Why not?  Why now?  Why did I notice it now?  Because I was intently focusing on Poppa and the details of what makes him who he is.  I also learned that Poppa loves the flavor combination of cucumber, tomato and mayo.  We ordered Subway and he asked for turkey meat with cucumber, tomato and mayo and whatever else, but make sure to get the cucumber, tomato and mayo.  Cucumber, tomato and mayo is one of Poppa’s favorite flavor combinations.  Growing up a country girl, I knew that Poppa and I both liked good ole tomato sandwiches with good, fresh white bread that would stick to the roof of your mouth and a juicy, ripe, home-grown garden tomato, a good swabbin’ of mayo and a little salt n’ pepper.  But I never knew his liking for the trio until that day.  It’s as if I was seeing Poppa in a different light.  There’s a difference in learning these things as profit of Quality Time and going down a checklist like you’re filling out a job application.  The difference is the experienced knowledge you weren’t even necessarily looking for.  I cherish the time we share together, recognizing that we don’t know how much time Poppa has left here with us. The ride to Gainesville and back was most profitable with information.  Poppa talked and I mostly just listened.  I have learned more about how he feels, what he believes and what he expects than I ever imagined.  Poppa is content with his situation right now.  Poppa knows the Lord and is looking forward to meeting Him, if it’s sooner or if it’s later.  Poppa’s theme song lately has been “It Is Well”.  Even so, it is well with my soul. 

So I think you may be getting the picture of how I experienced quality time with Poppa.  How about you?  Are you experiencing quality time?  Real quality time?  Who with? Friends, family, loved ones?

What about quality time with God?  Can we spend quality time with God?  How do we do that?  Some of you may be sitting there right now wondering in your beautiful mind, HOW DO I DO THAT, MS. KAREN? 

Here's how:
Meditating on His word
Praying without ceasing
Seeking His face
Denying ourselves
Listening for his still, small voice. 

MEDITATION ON HIS WORD:  You cannot meditate on it if you aren’t reading it, studying it, consuming it…Self-examination time:  be honest with yourself, God already knows.  How much time and energy are you investing in His word?

PRAYING WITHOUT CEASING:  Have you ever thought about what that looks like, praying without ceasing?  I think some of us might have a mental picture that looks like this (kneel with hands folded and head bowed) praying.  How am I supposed to do that 24-7 without stopping?  That seems kinda unreasonable.  Does it?  Prayer is not just this mental image we tend to have of a kneeling saint, but communication with God, period.  You may have just lost your keys, only to find them moments later and whisper in your head, “Thank you, Lord!”  That’s it!  That is prayer. 

SEEKING HIS FACE:  Seek intimacy with God.  MATTHEW 7:7 “Keep asking, and it will be given to you, keep searching, and you will find.  Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 

DENYING OURSELVES:  When’s the last time you swayed from your plans because you stopped to minister to someone?  When’s the last time you fasted?  When’s the last time you put someone else first with the right heart attitude?  Exercise self-control, practice quietening your mind so you can listen. 

LISTENING FOR HIS STILL, SMALL VOICE:  See, a lot of times we get stuck on the praying-without-ceasing and we’re asking for stuff the whole while…never stopping to listen for the answers.  BUT HOW DO I KNOW IT’S GOD, MS. KAREN?  How do I know my husband’s voice on the other end of the phone?  It’s the same with God.  The more you practice it, the more natural it becomes, the more you listen for his voice, the quicker you recognize Him, the stronger you become in the faith, you start seeing things differently, you start feeling things differently, your priorities begin to change, your emotions become less controlling, your fruit begins to grow on your tree! AMEN!

Some of you might be sitting there right now wondering in your beautiful mind, HOW DO I FIT THAT IN MY SCHEDULE?  MS. KAREN DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT ALL I HAVE TO DO EVERY DAY!

Quality Time with Him is essential for a follower of Christ to grow in our relationship with Him.  Now, don’t get it twisted!  I know by my own experience that say for example you begin a bible reading program/devotional.  You routinely read the bible, but merely out of routine or commitment to do so.  Your heart attitude isn’t right, your motive isn’t where it should be, you are not pleasing God.  We should be EXPERIENCING GOD every single minute of every single day of our lives.  We should be EXPERIENCING GOD to a point that people notice something different about us and begin to thirst for that THING that we have.  We should be EXPERIENCING GOD daily to receive His power and through His power and the mighty name of Jesus, do miraculous works as led by the unction of the Holy Spirit.

My challenge for you today is to commit to being still and KNOWING that HE IS GOD!  Practice quietening your mind, simplifying your life and communicating with God on a daily basis.  Watch and see how your relationship with God will grow and how your interactions and relationships with people change.

What's BUTTER got to do with it?

A few years ago I was invited to speak at a ladies' "Cake Baking Service".  Like many of you, I was asking myself what in the world this was.  Are we going to get together and bake a cake?  What do we bring?  How is this going to work?  The service was made up of many women of God that were given the assignment of speaking on a topic.  Each woman was given a common ingredient included in baking a cake and asked to speak about that ingredient.  This was definitely new to me, though quite interesting, therefore I accepted the challenge.  I was given the ingredient BUTTER!  

The first thing I did was go to the internet!  What is the definition of butter?  A solid emulsion of fat globules, air and water made by churning mild or cream and used as food.  Hmmm.  I then consulted someone with historical familiarity with the process of making butter, my Dad.  First you must have a cow.  Fresh milk is put into a churn and churned until cream separates and curdles on top.  The contents of the churn are then strained with a flour sack.  For those younger readers, flour used to come in a cloth sack unlike the paper sack of today.  The curdles are then packed together and placed in the refrigerator...butter.  Okay, stay with me on this, I know you are wondering what in the world this has to do with the gospel or the word of God or Jesus, but just hold's coming.

Step 1:  You must have a cow... you must have a cow that will provide the milk, and you have to be willing to milk the cow.  I am not comparing Jesus to a cow!  However, in this process, this walk of obedience that we as Christians are called to , it requires that we look to our provider for our every need.  That provider is Jesus.  He provides our every need.  All He requires of us is to ask.  Matt. 7:7 Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you; 8 for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Step 2: Fresh milk... milk the cow.  Milking the cow takes an action on our part.  You see, if we ask, seek and knock then we receive, find and the door is opened.  James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given unto him. God's word is our sustenance as Christians, believers. 1Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere mild of the word, that ye may grow thereby;

Step 3: Put into a churn...God's word is our sustenance, we should study it, meditate on it, consume it!  Put it into our hearts, our "churns".  Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against thee.  Be careful what you put into your churn.

Step 4: Churn it... We can put it there by listening, by reading, by studying.  But if all we do is put it there... Joshua 1:6 This book of the law shall not depart from thy mouth; but though shall meditate herein day and night, tat thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein, for then thou shalt make thy way propserous and then thou shall have good success.

What does it mean to meditate?  Meditate is to engage in contemplation or reflection, to engage in mental exercise.  Meditation is to focus one's thoughts on, to ponder over.

Step 5: Churn it...churn it...churn it... Be doers of His word.  Eventually, it will start to separate.  Keep working it, studying it, breaking it down, meditating on it, reflecting on it, and the richness of it will be tangible.  The product of the churning is the fruit of the labor, the fruit of the life of a believer; the kind of fruit that enhances the kingdom of God, the kind of fruit that speaks for itself because it shows in everything that you say or do.  Shouldn't our lives SCREAM to the world that we are a Christian?  Pro. 3:5-7 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil. Be willing to do His will in all you do.  Rom. 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Step 6: Strain it... This further separates out the product produced by the churning.  Do you want to be used of God?  Are you willing to go and do whatever it is He asks you do do?  Are you willing to praise Him in the storm?  Are you willing to have joy no matter what the circumstances?  Are you willing to just say Yes, Lord? James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners and purify your hearts, ye double minded.