Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Distractions and Foundations

house foundation

By Dennis Pollock

As Christians, we live these days in the best of times and the worst of times. It’s the best in that Christian resources abound as previous generations have never experienced. Christian television networks, channels, programs, Christian podcasts, churches all over the place, at least here in Texas, and Christian bookstores filled with Bible commentaries, Bible software, Bibles in every possible version, and Christian books of every stripe and type. And if you need a special Christian book in a hurry, you can often order it from Amazon and have it at your door in two days. Surely there is no excuse for ignorance of the word of God or the things of God these days.

And yet, for all the available resources, Christians in general are arguably less knowledgeable of the Scriptures than any generation over the last two centuries. Most Christians will no doubt live their entire lives reading only portions of the Bible, and many have a very shallow and superficial view of the faith they profess. Few could quote five verses of the Bible by memory. Christianity has been dumbed down and made “lite” for the sake of the seekers, almost to the point that those very seekers will gain no accurate and genuine insight into the nature of the kingdom of God that Christ proclaimed.

There are no doubt several important reasons for this dearth of substantial and mature Christianity. The one I want to address here is the abundance of distractions in our lives today. Previous generations could engage in spiritual activities with only the rare distraction of an occasional phone call or a knock on the door. How things have changed! Today we may start to pray and suddenly hear a notification from our phones that we have just received a text message. Our minds start to wonder: “Who could that be? This could be important! I think I’d better check that out!” And of course, there is the Internet, with its millions of websites and our email inbox with its never-ending emails, pulling on us like powerful electromagnets. Our televisions no longer offer a handful of channels and stations; they provide hundreds of channels and multiple networks, so that there is never a time that we cannot find something fascinating to watch. And then there is Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter, which usurp our time and attention until our time with God has been reduced to a tiny, tiny piece of our daily pie.

Witnessing in Power

In the New Testament we read these words about the apostles: “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 4:33). Reading this the other day I had the thought, “Why is it that these men were so full of the power of God, so deep in their knowledge of Christ, so solid in their theology, compared with most ministers today, who specialize in humorous little pep talks and often seem to lack the depth of those early leaders in the body of Christ?”

Of course, these apostles and early church leaders had been with Jesus, and that was no small thing! Yet beyond that, even after Jesus had been resurrected and ascended to Heaven, they walked in a power, anointing, and theological maturity that we rarely see today. But we can look even beyond the apostles. In previous centuries we had such amazing leaders as John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, Charles Spurgeon, and others who were just so… grown up, as ministers. They had a certain gravitas, a maturity that we don’t see so much of today. They were not silly, they weren’t goofy, they didn’t content themselves just to preach every sermon on how to make all your wildest dreams come true, or to tell you that God adored you and couldn’t possibly ever be upset with you, regardless of how miserable, wretched, and wicked your life was.

These men did not always agree with each other on every theological point – far from it! But at least they studied theology and wrestled with some of the deeper issues. They took the Bible and their faith seriously enough to read the Scriptures constantly and spend a great deal of time in prayer. They had no cell phones, no computers connected to the Internet, no Twitter accounts, no Facebook page or YouTube channel. Their lives were given to their families and to Christ, and very little else.

I am not suggesting that we throw away our computers and phones. I am saying that if we are ever to walk with Christ in a place of power and maturity, we will have to have the discipline to set apart chunks of time in our schedules where we draw back from all distractions and close ourselves in with our God. Jesus declared that what He tells us in the dark we are to speak in the light, and what we hear quietly in our ears we are to preach on the housetops. But if we never spend time in the “dark,” those hidden places where we are alone with our God, we will have nothing to say when we are in the light. If we never commune with Jesus in the “inner room” we will be mute when we are on the housetops.

My Inner Room

In my younger years as a Christian and as a young pastor, I found that God deliberately placed in me a position that turned out to be absolutely ideal for spending time with Him and building spiritual foundations in my life. At the tender age of 27 I found myself pastoring a small church in a small town as a full-time minister. We had around 50 to 60 people attending on Sunday mornings, but I was thrilled to be “in the ministry,” and took my responsibilities seriously. Since I was receiving a full-time salary, I was determined to do full time work, and nearly every day, I dutifully went to my office inside our store-front church building.

But there simply wasn’t much to do. With so few church members I was rarely needed for counseling and I might receive an average of one phone call a day. I had my entire days, Monday through Friday, to come to my office and do whatever I liked. Some might have been tempted to simply go in a couple of hours a day and spend the rest of the time lazing around at home, but to me that was unthinkable. I saw myself as a full-time minister and was determined to behave like a full-time minister. And that meant that I must find things to do to fill up my schedule for those eight hours at the office each day.

It seemed to me that the best use of my time would be to draw near to God through prayer and spending quite a bit of time in His word. Beyond that I devoured biographies of the great Christian leaders throughout the history of the church. I listened to tapes of outstanding Bible teachers (there were no CD’s and certainly no Internet back in those days). I memorized page after page of Scripture. Slowly I began to develop some definite ideas about Christianity, about ministry, about preaching, about the church, and many other things. In my short seven years with that small church in Missouri, five of which I was full-time, I was transformed from a novice to… well, at least not a novice. In fact, many of the foundations that were laid in my life and thinking in those days, have played a vital role in the ministry that I have exercised ever since then.

Today, I could not possibly spend so much time reading the Bible, praying, reading Christian biographies, and listening to Bible teachers as I did in my early days. If I did, I could not accomplish all that the Lord has called me to do, and much of the fruit from my ministry would be hindered. But those days “in the dark,” that season in the “inner room” with God is precious to me, and I would have been able to accomplish very little without it. I praise God for leading me to that small town, called Louisiana (which is actually in Missouri) and those faithful believers who supported the church and encouraged me (as well as putting up with my immaturity).

In those days it was a lot easier to spend uninterrupted time with God. I had no cell phone, there was no Internet, there were no websites, no social media, no YouTube, and I received no text messages. For me there was time, quite a lot of it every day, and there was God and His word. It was the perfect prescription for laying the foundations for a life of ministry, which is exactly what I have had since then.

Not every Christian will have an opportunity such as I have just described, but in the life of every follower of Jesus, there must be times of “inner room fellowship” with our Lord. We must jealously guard these times, and allow no emails, no text messages, no beckoning Internet, no social media to distract us from our times with our Savior. What we gain from our communion with God is far too precious and much too vital to our spiritual health to neglect.



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