This week rather than posting one of my regular articles I want to give you a sample from my new book Six Minutes of Grace available HERE, from Amazon as a paperback and as an eBook (audio book coming soon), or in store from House of James in Abbotsford B.C. and the Power to Change (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) Resource Center in Langley B.C.
By now you should be able to recognize in yourself the traits of either the Doer or the Dreamer. Perhaps you’ve even found yourself looking for the happiness that supposedly is found within. With those shadows of our heart exposed, we now come to the place where we can discover how to overcome the Great Lie and find the happiness which Doers and Dreamers spend their lives chasing after.
The first thing we must do is accept that we must turn toward our Creator in order to find purpose, joy, and success, all of which are rooted in a relationship with Him. This all begins with our making regular time for God in our life. No matter how busy, convoluted, or chaotic our life may be, we must actively carve out time to sustain our relationship with God.
The words of Paul provide us with inspiration about how we’re to make time for God: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16‑18). Notice Paul doesn’t say “some of the time,” or “every other week,” or “only on Sunday.” He’s encouraging this Macedonian church to be constantly looking toward God. Not in some legalistic or mystical sort of way, but in a real way that touches and interacts with their actual lives.
However, to even begin this journey, we must have a starting point. That starting point is accepting Jesus as who He says He is, and who the Bible says He is: the Son of God, the Lord of all, King of kings, born of a virgin, performer of miracles. He’s the great teacher who came in the flesh, died upon the cross for our sins, and was resurrected, all according to the words and prophecies of the Bible, so we can have covenant fellowship with Him for all eternity.
Before we can go further, this matter has to be settled, because all that comes next is available to us only if we’re in a covenant relationship with God through the power and atonement of Jesus. Otherwise we’re still “outside the gate” and lost within the curse of sin.
If you’ve never called on Jesus, believed in Him, and received forgiveness, now is the time. All the benefits in this book and in the Bible begin with our saying, “Jesus, I believe that You’re who the Bible says You are. I come before You a sinner lost in the darkness. I ask You to forgive me and to make me clean. I declare that You are Lord and King of all, and I ask You to adopt me into Your family and covenant. I ask You to wash me in the power of Your blood and atonement, to give me eternal life, which has its origin in You. I thank You for dying for my sins and enduring the cross, and from this day on I shall live as a member of Your family and live as You did upon the earth.”
Being now in this place of relationship with God, we next have to develop it. This is similar to how you can be very close to some family members, while others you don’t really know. Those you’re close with are those you’ve put in the time to get to know; you’ve shared experiences and conversations with them, and you feel closer. The others, even though you don’t know them, are still your family, and you may see them at a wedding or other occasions, but you have no personal relationship with them beyond that of family ties.
It’s no different between us and the Trinity. We have two options. We can be either close friends or occasional acquaintances. To have that close relationship requires time and effort, and as we’ve seen with the Doers and Dreamers, these are scarce commodities which we’re used to spending on all sorts of other things.
There’s no all-encompassing formula to develop this kind of relationship between us and God (although many have tried to produce one). There’s no step-by-step process that automatically brings us to the level of Abraham and Moses as “friends of God,” or like John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Are there signposts to give us a general direction? Yes there are, and the remainder of this book will show those to you. They come in the forms of time and grace.
Tithing Our Time
In church we’re taught that tithing is an important concept in Scripture because it represents giving our best to God. When Abraham wanted to honor God through Melchizedek, he freely and cheerfully gave, knowing that God was trustworthy to keep His promises. Abraham trusted God and saw Him not as just a cosmic entity or simply the source of one’s possessions, but as the source of all creation.
Fast-forward to our modern Christian culture, where we’re taught to give our money to the church—10 percent of all we earn plus any other gifts or offerings that are on our heart. We’re taught that it’s an act of faithfulness to give back to God, not because He needs it, but because it’s an opportunity for loving obedience on our part. As Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 14:14).
Although this concept is taught, very few actually apply this teaching in their own lives. I’m speaking as a member of a church’s financial council, where we have to manage programs that many people demand but few are willing to cover the costs.
The problem we run into these days is that we’ve removed the value assigned to our money. If I were a Jewish shepherd living before Christ, I would find myself evaluating my flock—the little lambs I’d helped feed when they were having trouble suckling, and had risked my life protecting from wild animals, and had watched grow. I had to give away my best—the healthiest and my favorites to God. My tithe was tied directly to my efforts. I was essentially giving the best of my life, my most prizewinning efforts.
Today we’ve separated our money from our efforts. With a swipe of a credit card I can spend money I haven’t yet earned. My paycheck magically shows up in the bank without any effort on my part, and all I see are numbers on a computer screen. There’s no tangible evidence of my work other than numbers and the ending of another week.
Work is seen as the thing we do because we need to eat and pay the bills, yet money always seems to be in short supply. Most people don’t tithe because they feel they’ve fallen so far behind with bills or have overextended themselves so much that there’s nothing left to give. “God doesn’t need this money; I need it to pay the electric company, plus I have to put gas in the car, and I have to buy coffee so I can function at work, and I need the cash for that sale at the mall later this week.”
While a tithe of our money is both scriptural and important, God also wants us to put Him first in all things. Time is the most precious commodity in existence. We can trade our time for money or things, but we can’t buy more time. We live life as a series of moments, and all we have is the moment we’re in right now. Money can be printed, gold can be mined, houses can be built, but you can’t create time, and you can’t open up a savings account to store up hours to use another day.
Maybe it’s time to look at this idea of tithing from an entirely different perspective. What if I took the concept of tithing and linked it to my desire to give my all to God?
This would never replace my financial tithing, which is both scriptural and good. Rather, in my desire to give God the best of myself, what if I also give to God the only real thing I have of value—my time? How I spend my time is how I spend my life, and every moment I deliberately focus on God, I change my life for the better. This is so much greater than anything the Doer or the Dreamer could ever imagine or accomplish with where they invest their time.
Consider what Jesus told the religious leaders of His day in Luke 11:42: “Woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” The Pharisees were giving to God financially, but they lost the point of it all. They lost sight of God’s heart, and for the sake of religious obligations, they traded away relationship with Him.
For a moment let’s replace my wallet with my clock. Let’s say I’m awake sixteen hours a day. If I wanted to tithe my waking hours, I’m looking at an hour and thirty-six minutes each day. Now, ask anybody who’s already starved for time if they could fit an extra hour and thirty-six minutes into their day to spend with God, and they’d say you’re out of your mind. How could anyone possibly change their life so drastically to even come close to doing that? Isn’t ninety minutes on Sunday morning enough?
But even if you somehow found that much time to give to God—what would you do with it? After the first few minutes, your mind would begin to wander, and it would be a constant battle to get it back. I’m not judging you; I’ve experienced this as well. After two or three minutes, you stare at the ceiling and wonder, “Okay, now what?”
Without any idea of what to do, we can quickly become discouraged or bored, and then a sense of struggle becomes associated with your time with God. Instead of trying to figure out how to set aside so much time in our day, we should just look for a starting point and take it one minute at a time.
One Minute at a Time
Rather than trying to lump the whole tithe of time together, what if we divided this tithe of our time into more bite-sized increments that are easier to control?
In every hour we’re awake, what if we spent six minutes building our relationship with God? What if we then took those six minutes and break them down into separate one-minute exercises—six different things we could talk to God about for one minute each? Every time an hour goes by, and we see the hand of the clock change, we’re prompted to take a minute out of our busyness to pause and turn our mind toward God.
This is where the concept of “six minutes of grace” comes into play. In our time with God each hour, we take these six keys, and we use each one for one minute at a time. By focusing for one minute on each of these six elements, we’re helped to draw closer to God and to align our will with His.
This isn’t just some magic number. And doing it just for the sake of doing it won’t do us any good. It’s a starting point to transform our lives from one which is focused on ourselves to one which is focused on God and our relationship with Him.
Some people will do the six-minute exercises every hour; some will do it only a couple of times a day, and others every other day. What’s important is not checking the “done” box on a list, but really developing a relationship with God.
In my own life, this practice of making room for God hasn’t always been this formal. However, the heart of this concept is what has changed life for the better for my wife and I. This lifestyle has brought us through many rough patches. It’s the cornerstone of our relationship with Jesus. This format is the easiest way to show us what’s important in our lives, and it gives us a guideline on how to fellowship with the great Creator.
We must make room for God, and this approach of tithing our time helps to keep us accountable and focused until the novelty becomes a habit, and the habit becomes a lifestyle which produces fruit in our lives and draws us closer to God.
You can do these exercises out loud, or you can do them silently. It can happen when you’re driving, as each red light gives you a minute or so of opportunity. It can happen while you’re making coffee or breakfast, or while you’re walking, or during the spaces between life’s activities. It can happen anywhere and at any time.
Have we forgotten that God is the most interesting being in all the universe? Yet more often than not, we treat Him like a pet rock sitting on our dresser. Do we actually understand what’s available to us? The One who created everything in Genesis is standing at the door of our lives asking to be a part of it. But like the gentlemen He is, He won’t kick in the door, but will knock ever so gently and wait for us to open up to Him.
Even if we have only one minute in the entire day, we can purpose to use it to show gratitude to God (more on this in chapter 6). This is the personification of Philippians 4:8, where Paul says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Spend even just a minute in appreciation of God and of all He has done. If the minute has passed and you don’t have any more time, come back to this exercise later when you can. Focus on one step at a time, and spend longer or repeat the ones that are on your heart. Give God your attention—deliberately—one minute at a time.
The desired outcome here is for you to carry on your conversation with God throughout the day, using GRACE as a guideline. Don’t make this a religious exercise, but rather a reminder of how much we need Him throughout our day.
Don’t worry or feel badly if you forget a step, or do the steps out of order, or don’t finish. This is just the starting line for what can become a deep, rich, and meaningful relationship that will bring you so much joy.
The more you repeat the exercise, the more God will become a priority in your life. The time you’re giving Him becomes focused, because each minute has a purpose. Over time, your moments of praise will give you a new sense of purpose in all that you do. Your life will become about doing simple everyday things for the glory of God.
As you begin this journey, I highly recommend that you incorporate journaling into this process. Journaling can be a key factor in making time for God because it forces us to slow down and consider what we’re writing down. It also gives us something to look back on later. We forget so much because of the busyness of life; it’s amazing what falls between the cracks of our mind.
“If only I had ________, my life would be better.” We idealize the perfect life and attribute our own unhappiness to our failure to possess it.” Click HERE for more information.
To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Six Minutes of Grace: They Key To Happiness and Purpose. Get your copy today and discover how you can radically change your life through the power of GRACE.
Also available as an eBook here from Kindle, Kobo, Nook and other retailers.
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Six Minutes Can Change Your Life Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.