As we approach the third anniversary of the LifeNet Blog this October, posts will occasionally include conversations with members of LifeNet Church as they encourage us to spend time with God daily. That's just what Pastor Craig Fritzler did this past Sunday as he shared with our lead pastor, Kudzai Pahwaringira, what spending time with God means for him, personally. Below is the extended version of that interview. We pray it will encourage and bless you.
PASTOR CRAIG FRITZLER is a member of the LifeNet Writing Team and has over 30 years of ministry experience as a youth pastor, assistant pastor, and lead pastor in the U.S., and as a missionary in six countries in Africa and Latin America. He has taught, directed, and established Bible schools with hundreds of Christian workers, serving the Lord in many communities, cultures and countries.
What does "spending time with God" or "quiet time with God" mean for you? In other words, what do you usually do during that time?
PASTOR CRAIG: I like to practice the presence of GOD. That is to say, I invite Him into every aspect of my day and life. As I move around the house, work in the yard or workshop, while I drive to and from appointments . . . thinking, talking, listening, praying. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Pray without ceasing.” But how can you do that if you have to be in one particular place, at a specific time, in one position? Physically you can’t. But you can invite the LORD into every aspect of your life.
This, too, helps to make sure that my spiritual life is not only on Sundays between 10:30 and 12:00. It is a 24/7 life. We are to teach the word of GOD to our children, Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us, when we lie down and when we rise up. When we are sitting and walking along the way.
Paul also spoke of this when he wrote to the Galatians: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Chapter 5, v. 16). And again in verse 25: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Now, this is how I do my devotions. Others may find a specific time each day, at a specific place. Using their Bible and or devotional may be the discipline they need, and how they find the peace and focus that helps them in their time with the LORD. But ultimately, that is the point: to make sure we are spending time with the LORD.
What benefits do you gain from reading and studying the Bible regularly?
PASTOR CRAIG: In the Bible, we find GOD initiating His revelation of Himself to us. In our reading and studying the Bible we are hearing from GOD: His heart, His mind, His desires for us His children, and we find Him as our GOOD GOD AND FATHER. By reading GOD'S Word I know Him and hear from Him as in a conversation. This time spent reading the Bible builds my relationship with Him and gives me help and direction for how I then live my life. I make my plans but know that GOD directs my path (Proverbs 3:6). And I know I may think I will do this or that, but ultimately, it’s conditional: “If the Lord wills” (James 4:15).
2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to GOD, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Only by reading and studying the Word of GOD can we know GOD, and only after we know Him and have learned of Him (by what He has revealed to us of Himself in His Word) can we live as He intended and represent Him correctly as we speak about Him and for Him to others.
In addition to the Bible, what books or other resources do you use on a regular basis to help you grow spiritually?
PASTOR CRAIG: The Bible App on my phone, Olive Tree, Blueletterbible.org, Verse of the Day . . . . The resources we have at our disposal are amazing! Resources that were once only found in Bible College libraries, on those dusty shelves available to only a few, at only certain opening hours, are now instantaneously available to anyone, any time, any place.
What do you do to maintain a regular reading habit even in the midst of the many things competing for your time? What have been your struggles and/or successes with this?
PASTOR CRAIG: I’m not going to sit here and be a hypocrite. I find this difficult, and I’m not good at it. Life is busy and my time is filled with many things. But you find time for what you want.
My testimony is that I was born in a time in the States when educators coming out of university experimented on children, in teaching them a new method of reading. Phonics, the sounding out of words, had been the basis of reading for a long time, but their new method was sight reading, where you just memorized the word by sight and then learned the definition of that word. There is a generation in the States, my generation, that cannot read well as this way of learning was not successful for many. So, I graduated from high school never having read a book all the way through. I could barely read. I know the frustration of trying to read and not enjoying it. I went to Africa when I was 18 and lived in the bush—the jungle—thirty miles from the nearest general store. There was no TV and only a bit of radio. It was there that I learned to read. I learned to enjoy reading. Now I read, not as often as I would like, but books of over 600-800 pages. I give this testimony to say reading takes time and effort, but it is worth it afterwards!
Name one or two Christian books that you're reading now or have enjoyed reading lately.
PASTOR CRAIG: Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood by Dennis Rainey. It deals with the stages of life we men go through. I started this book because I recognized I’m in a new stage of life and wanted to look at how I can be more intentional in making this stage of my life productive. I did not want to just be longing for the good old days or fighting the loss of the life I used to have or the things I used to do.
What made you decide to write for The LifeNet Blog? And how has this challenged, blessed, or stretched you?
PASTOR CRAIG: Being invited to join the Writing Team was the motivation I needed to sit down and write. I have written for years: my university required 20-page typed research papers for every class. After graduation there was the writing of sermons and curriculums for Bible classes along with writing newsletters to report what the LORD was doing in our lives and the lives of those we were working with. But I had never been “published” for a general-public audience. This blog has given me an opportunity to reach out to others that I would have never otherwise had contact with.
I have really enjoyed reading the blog posts from the other writers in our church. They are windows into their lives and how the Lord has ministered to them and through them and their experiences. We see each other for a short time each week at church, but each of us has a life, a larger life lived outside these walls. So, to hear of how GOD has and is working in and through the lives of our people is exciting and encouraging.
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