As a part of Tyndale’s blogging community, I get to choose a book or two for free every month in exchange for a review on my blog. Last month, I chose the book, Watch*, by Rick James because it is a theme that God has been bringing up in my life for the past little while. (What in the world does the parable of the 10 virgins really mean? I mean, why don’t they share their oil?)
Well the point of this book (and that parable) is all about staying watchful for the Lord in the midst of a world that is chasing after other pursuits. How to not get distracted in a culture that aims to do just that?
It took me a minute to get into James’ writing style, but I’m so glad that I did. He uses a TON of real-life parallels to illustrate this point of being watchful and staying awake. I’ll attempt to pull out a few here:
1. Knowing the will of God for your life
James highlights the passage in the Bible (Acts 1) where the disciples draw lots or cast dice to find out who the next disciple should be (since Judas is no longer with them). Every time I read that chapter, it does seem a little odd that this is the manner the disciples use to appoint a new apostle. And that is exactly James’ reason for highlighting the scripture. It feels out of place because IT IS.
Rolling dice, casting lots, drawing straws were OLD TESTAMENT ways of discerning God’s will. After the Holy Spirit comes everything changes. No longer is God on the outside directing. He is now on the inside directing. The rest of the book of Acts is full of examples of the Holy Spirit directing His followers from the inside out.
Of course we receive great revelation and understanding from the precious, precious Word of God, the Bible, but we are also meant to rely on God’s Spirit day by day to direct our lives, to know His will. The early Christians didn’t have Bibles, yet the Spirit of God directed them in the establishing of the Church and the revolution of the world.
James also points out that we often don’t hear the Holy Spirit’s leading because we don’t need to. We so rarely put ourselves in positions that actually need the direction and power of God. If and when we do, we will receive it.
2. Staying attentive to Jesus’ presence within us
James uses the analogy of how he and his wife can visit a friend’s house and come away remembering (or not remembering) very different details. His wife will most likely have noticed and remembered the pattern of the wallpaper. He will have had no idea.
He points out how we can do this as well with the Holy Spirit. We tune out what God is saying to and what He might want to do through us.
We forget that WE are His body, His hands and feet. We are the ones that are sent to go and to do.
It’s easy to do. I get so caught up in grocery shopping and carting the kids around and social media that I lose sight of the most important part of life.We must train ourselves to be intentional by practicing intentionality. #Watch Click To Tweet
3. We run to other sources to quench our thirst
This was one of my favorite points that the author makes. Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as “Living Water”. Literally translated, this means water that is not salty: fresh water. The area in which Jesus was living and teaching had very little of it.
James writes, “Throughout the day we experience pangs of thirst…When you feel the thirst of loneliness, do you turn to God and the things of God (prayer, community)? Or do you turn to Netflix and Facebook or food…When you feel the thirst of insecurity, do you turn to God…or do you shop or flirt or work out or put others down? Do you look for approval, pretend to be someone you’re not, or perform for praise?…When you feel bored, dissatisfied or depressed, do you fill the vacuum with iTunes or sleep or stimulants or fantasy or video games or pornography or ESPN or travel or news?”Where do you go with your thirst? Netflix, Facebook, flirting, working out, accusation, ESPN, or God?… Click To Tweet
Wow. That was refreshingly convicting. God wants to be the source. All of the other sources are salt water. They seem like they might help but they actually de-hydrate, leaving us worse off than when we started.
It’s not that those things in themselves are bad unless we use them as a substitute to the true Water. We must pay attention to our thirst.
There’s a few other points I could make, but I’ll leave it there for now. Maybe I’ll write another post on some of the other highlights another time, but Watch* (by Rick James) is definitely worth the read!
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