Daily Commitment is Important

dusty_bibleIt’s November! For most people it means getting out the Christmas decorations, planning road trips, and stuffing turkeys. For me it means I have to write. A LOT!

November is the National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It’s a crazy challenge to write a 50,000 word (or longer) novel in 30 days. Crazy, I know.

Last year when I reflected back on the challenge and how I beat it I realized that one of the most important things was to just commit to write daily. Each and every day I did something to work on my novel. Some days I only wrote 100 words, some days I wrote 10,000 words. Most days were in between.

Focusing on the project daily is extremely important to completing this challenge because taking a break, even for a single day, makes it really easy to turn that into a two day break. Then three days.

And before you know it months have gone by without writing. Getting into this daily habit also made the writing itself easier.

This year is no different than last. It’s the daily commitment that gets me through the challenge. Writer’s block, being tired, all of those excuses get put aside because I have to get my word count in! I don’t have time for excuses.

In the past couple of weeks since I started preparing for this crazy writing challenge I started to let things slip. I haven’t had time to get any articles out on ETM, for one. But also, I quit reading my Bible consistently.

When taking on a huge challenge, whether it’s writing a novel, organizing an event, practicing for an upcoming competition, or just daily life with a full schedule, setting aside the Bible gets way too easy. We fall into the trap of thinking the Bible is just another motivational book, so it seems easy to let it fade into the background of life.

But reading the Bible is a big deal. It’s the weapon we use in this battle taking place between our spirit and our flesh.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105 ESV

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. – Romans 15:4 ESV

One of my favorite quotes is from Ravi Zacharias says:

The biggest battle you will face in life is your daily appointment with God. Keep it or every other battle will get bigger.

Keeping ourselves focused on God and drawing close to him is a daily battle against our sinful nature. The more we read the Bible the closer we draw to God and the easier it is to walk by the spirit and not the flesh.

I once read a book on fasting suggesting that weekly, or at least regular, fasting was important because it helped prepare the heart to hear from God. It wasn’t the act itself, because it isn’t the food we eat that gets in the way of listening to God. But the sacrifice of giving up food, something your body craves, to make God a priority, to focus that time on Him; that is what makes the difference.

In the same way, sacrificing some time out of your busy day to focus on God does something to us. It isn’t simply the act of reading something, but it’s making a concerted effort to make God an important part of our day, and it helps prepare our heart to follow the Spirit instead of the flesh.

Thankfully I have a godly wife that was there to help remind me of the importance of not sacrificing that time I should be spending with God. Walking in the flesh because we haven’t fed ourselves spiritually opens us up to a lot of temptation, hurt, and sin. It isn’t worth it. Especially for a husband who is trying to lead a house spiritually. It doesn’t take long for the enemy to come in and strike when we set down our weapon. A single decision made when we are following the flesh can have devastating consequences for a family.

We are in a spiritual battle, and a single day of not being prepared can be lethal.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  – Galatians 5:16-17 ESV

I urge you, take a few minutes each day to read the Bible. It’s important. Very important. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Just reading one chapter, or even finding a single verse to meditate on throughout the day. Anything to feed your spirit and help you to win those battles against the flesh.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12 ESV

My Apology to you, lessons from Jonah

Over the past several months God has put a lot of messages on my heart to write about and share on ETM.

But sadly, I have been too busy or distracted to write them. I mean, it’s not really a big deal, right? All I was putting off was writing on a simple website – a blog – not anything “real”. Part of why I felt that was was due to a few comments I received about this site, saying that by writing for a website I am just fooling myself into thinking that I’m doing something for God and the church, while in reality I’m just wasting my time that should be used to do something “real” with actual people.

Sadly I let those words of discouragement affect me for way too long, evidenced by the fact that I have only written a single article since hearing them.

This week God used an extremely long and boring drive through Nebraska (twice) to teach me something. With nothing else to entertain me for 18 + hours in the car, I turned to podcast sermons from a few churches that I really like. A few of those messages were by Pastor Lance Ralston, from Calvary Chapel of Oxnard.

The passage covered was a story I have heard numerous times throughout my life, but for some reason I found that this particular sermon was crammed packed with several new insights. It was awesome! And then it became convicting.

The message ended by saying that any time we refuse to do what God tells us to, we are being like Jonah. No, we may not be picking up and running in the opposite direction of what we are told to do, but is that any worse than disobeying by sitting on our couches while ignoring God? When God tells you to do something, you need to do it. It didn’t take long for that message to personally hit me, and instantly I knew it was about ETM.

It took another two days of dwelling on the sermon before something else hit me.

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. – Jonah 1:4-5 (ESV)

One of the things the pastor mentioned that I had never before considered about the story of Jonah, was the impact his disobedience and sin would have on others. When Jonah booked passage on a ship to Tarsus, it wasn’t a pleasure cruise. It was a cargo ship. He was sailing with sailors who made a living from delivering cargo.

But then Jonah stepped on board. And as a consequence of his personal sin the entire crew suffered. After they set sail a storm hit the ship. One powerful enough to panic an experienced crew to the point that they started dumping their cargo, their livelihood, overboard. The storm almost broke the ship in half, because it was so strong. They were not the ones disobeying God, they were the innocent bystanders, but because of Jonah’s disobedience the crew lost an entire shipment of cargo, and almost lost their lives.

If God puts a message on my heart to write about, then I need to do it. There are no excuses about how “nobody will read it” or how “pointless” a virtual ministry is. I just need to obey. It’s up to God to make it effective, and since I don’t know the future I can’t even hope to make a prediction about how the article may affect someone.

There might have been a person who would have read one of those articles on this website who needed to hear exactly what I was told to share. Maybe they needed wisdom, edification, or conviction, from what they would have read. But because I never wrote it, I missed out on an opportunity to be used by God to be a blessing in another person’s life. And for what? So I could watch some movies or play games?

Or maybe what I wrote never would have been used to help someone. Maybe I’m just supposed to write it out of obedience. For whatever the reason, I was led to do something awesome and I didn’t do it. And for that, I give you a heartfelt apology. I’m sorry I disobeyed God and was not there for you when you needed me to be.

Jon Zenor

We are not peddlers of the Word!

One thing I see often is Christians trying to persuade people to be Christians anyway they can.  Whether it would be to tell them they could continue in their sin, or that they could continue to believe in un-biblical things, etc.  While this is a bit of the extreme form, we could be doing it in our own ways and not realizing it.  Filled church pews and another tally mark means nothing to God if they aren’t true.  Lets look at the Word.

2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. -ESV

We see here that we are specifically not suppose to try to “sell” people the Bible or our beliefs, but that we are to speak to truth, and “if they have ears, they will hear”.

So the next time you sharing your faith, don’t be thinking about what crafty way you can pull people in.  You do not need fireworks or bright colors.  You don’t need an ice cream social, a live band, or a popular event.  Just speak the truth, and the Lord will open the hearts of those who he calls.