Bricks Without Straw – Part 5

MudBricksThe following is the fifth and final part of the article: Bricks Without Straw:


We know that the Lord guides us through our circum-stances. Yet, there is no guarantee that making the time for growth in Christ would be an easy thing. We are told in Scripture to not only lay aside sin but also “everything that hinders” (Hebrews 12:1 Emphasis added). Jude writes that we need to ‘contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). The word translated into English as “contend” is taken from the Greek word from which we get the word “agonize.” Keeping the faith is not an easy matter. It requires diligence,patience and sacrifice. Today, many of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world are learning this lesson to the extreme. Martyrdom and persecution are the price that they pay to keep their precious faith.

I suspect that too many of us expect our life in Christ to just “click into place” without effort. Our walk of faith must never be on “auto pilot.” Despite living in a culture of easy, instant spirituality, we are presented with many opportunities to actively and purposely grow in the faith. Being made in God’s image, we are creative beings. Be creative in finding ways to “redeem the time” and keep fellowship with Jesus. Some of these ways are nothing more than points of good time management. Schedule your time of prayer, Bible study, or meditation on the Word as you would a doctor’s appointment or a business meeting. Perhaps it means waking up half an hour earlier to carve out time which you thought you did not have. Lunchtime at work might provide a time for prayer, reading, or study. It may even mean going on a fast from listening to the radio in your car or watching television. Perhaps your car act can as a portal version of an “inner room” which provides you some small level of sanctuary and solitude to read, reflect and pray.

Something that has been helpful to me is the using a smart phone. I use an app created by Olive Tree for reading several Bible translations on my iPhone. I also keep a number of e- books available to read with a Kindle app). It continues to fascinate and challenge me that the equivalent of a large library can be kept and accessed on a device which fits in my shirt pocket. When waiting in a doctor’s office or stuck in a long line in a grocery store, it is really satisfying to get out my smart phone and read from the Bible or a work of classic Christian literature. When I find myself in a long line at a grocery store, I find that being able to pick what I read from my iPhone is a better use of my time than being assaulted by magazines with images of celebrities in the tabloid racks, beckoning me to read about their latest diet or love affair. It is a wonderful way to redeem the time.


I’m happy to report that Julie recovered and is doing well with no recurrence of her blood clots. My mother was able to return home and live there right up to the last week of life six years later. In the midst of some prolonged time pressures during that period in 2002, I’ve learned some very valuable lessons about my faith. You can find the time to maintain a good fellowship with God in the midst of difficult circumstances. He expects us to. The Lord has placed us in these times so that we will find Him.

We live in a society in which we face enormous time pressures. We’ve seen how this can be used as a strategy against us by the enemy of our soul (Matthew 13:39; Luke 10:19) with the goal of trying to separate us from fellowship with God. Realizing this, I am learning the value of being selective with the time and treasures that the Lord has given. Lastly, I know that none of this will happen without a struggle. It takes creativity to fight back against the time pressures we face. If you see me on the street or in a store, tell me about how your struggle is going. I’ll be the one standing in line, reading the Psalms on my smart phone.

End of Part 5

Links to the previous entries for this article

Part 1Part 2Part 3; Part 4

Bricks Without Straw – Part 3

brickThe following is Part 3 of the article Bricks Without Straw


At the start of my walk with Christ, I was blessed to study Scripture with a wonderful Bible study leader named Celeste. She taught me that the choice for a Christian is not between good and evil, since that choice is already settled. Rather, the choice is between what is good and what is best. This requires being selective and living life prayerfully with a sense of discernment. The times in which we live continue to force Christians to make a choice between the good and the best. We live in a world with so many choices that we are tempted to not choose but to try to have and do it all.

While our choices of things in the Lord are increasing, such as Bible translations, books, audio and videos, the amount of hours per day allotted to us hasn’t increased. Consider how Christian literature from over twenty centuries of church history is becoming more available to the average believer. Protestants are becoming familiar with the writings of Teresa of Avila. Catholics are learning to appreciate the insights of Jonathan Edwards. Western Christians are being introduced to the works of Eastern Orthodox theologians such as Gregory of Nazianzus, Simeon the New Theologian and Bishop Kallistos Ware. Many classic Christian writings are now on the Internet or available on downloadable media.

Some simple math will show that our culture’s attitude of trying to have it all falls far short of reality, especially if Christians believe that and try to apply it to the area of devotional reading on these digital sources. The equivalent of a church library can now be stored as text on a single DVD as well as older media such as compact discs, or on more modern storage devices such as memory sticks or even large scale devices (relatively small and affordable) such as a terabyte drive (1 terabyte = 1,000,000,000,000 bytes [or characters] of information). To give you some sense of scale, a Bible with a fair amount of commentary and notes takes up about 5 megabytes (5 million characters) of information. If you put the equivalent of what a 1 terabyte drive holds into books the size of a pocket-sized version of the Bible and put those books, one next to each other, you would need one shelf just under 4 miles long to hold them.

Consider a scenario in which you purposely limited your Christian devotional reading to using a reader tied to a terabyte drive (a storage device unimaginable for everyday use only as far back as 2002 but commonly available today). This terabyte drive is filled to its maximum capacity with books, articles, etc. If your desire is to eventually read through every last piece of text on that drive, you will run into a problem, namely, with available time. If you devoted one hour to such a daily reading, it would take you a little over 39,452 years to get through everything on the terabyte drive. If you started at age 10 and read for one hour every day, for the next 80 years, you would get through only 0.2% of the readings available to you. Restricting yourself to a much smaller device such as an iPhone wouldn’t help. With the available space on an 8GB iPhone, your one hour daily readings would take 236 and a half years. Examples like these show us that with today’s choices, trying to have it all cannot happen. There is simply not enough time. You have to be selective and make a choice. Keeping this in mind allows us the freedom to know, ahead of time, that we must be selective and do so in the light of God’s priorities for our lives.

The same holds true for other aspects of our Christian walk. We can, in essence, be making bricks without straw, in areas that do not involve an oppressive schedule forced upon us by our jobs or through other life circumstances outside of our control. Strangely enough, we can engage in a self-imposed oppression. For example, we live in a culture that thrives on noise and activity. These conditions are not ideal for taking time to reflect on God and your life in Him. Yet, how often, when we are by ourselves, do we needlessly destroy the silence by turning on a television or an audio player?

End of Part 3

Links to the previous entries for this article

Part 1 Part 2