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Posted: May 28, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Parson to Person: How to take away more from a sermon

Let me ask you, do you have a time each day that you spend with God?

Years ago I participated in Honey Rock’s High Road Adventure Course — a grueling wilderness survival experience. One aspect of that course involved a solo experience in which each participant spent three days and nights totally alone in the wilderness. We had the clothes we could wear but were not allowed to take anything else with us as we were each dropped off in the remote forest of upper peninsula Michigan. No food. No water. No shelter.

At the end of those three days, we were brought back to base camp and fed a very light breakfast, a light lunch, then that evening we were treated with a steak dinner out there in the middle of nowhere. Best steak I think I have ever eaten.

The leader explained that the reason we were given such a light breakfast in spite of the fact that all of us were famished from a three day fast, and allowed only small sips of liquid through most of the day was because after having not eaten for three days, to try to eat a regular meal would have upset our stomachs and in our remote location, the results could have been disastrous.

Could a similar experience be happening to us spiritually? I talk with people all the time who find church "boring; uninteresting." They complain that they "seldom get anything from the sermon." Could it be that the problem is not with the service or in the sermon but in the fact that our spiritual systems cannot handle the banquet because we are trying to eat a full meal after starving ourselves all week?

I know all the excuses. "Well, Pastor I’m busy. I don’t have time for personal devotions," or "I don’t know how to have a meaningful time in personal devotions,." or even "I don’t see how a daily practice of devotions is relevant to me."

Now, let me dispel the first excuse outright. No one has more time than anyone else. The president of the United States has the exact same amount of time as does the person with the most menial of jobs. When we say, "I don’t have time," we are really saying, "Personal devotions are not significant enough to me to take time with them."

Regarding the last objection, maybe the reason we don’t understand the relevance of a daily time with God is because we have in fact starved ourselves so much that our systems can’t handle the "food" of the word.

The middle objection, "I don’t know how," is where I want to spend my next few minutes with you. Here are some simple suggestions that will help you develop a habit of personal and meaningful time alone with God.

First, you must set aside time. Many suggest that we do it first thing in the morning, and there is a lot of wisdom in that, but if you are not a morning person, the practice will soon die. Find a time that suits you, and set it aside.

Second, have your time in a quiet place–not in front of a television or listening to a blaring radio.

Third, use a Bible that is easy for you to read. While things like the Daily Bread may be helpful, that should not be your primary source of nourishment. It’s like eating frozen dinners instead of fresh food.

Well, I am out of space. We’ll continue this topic in the July issue. But don’t wait until then to start spending time with our Lord. You have enough to get you started.

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. He can be heard Thursdays on the radio on WMVV 90.7 (FM) at 8:30 p.m.

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