Early this year, ISMNZ Communication Manager, Yvette interviewed the high-flying elder Jim Chew using a video call from Western Bay of Plenty to Wellington. Here is the first snippet and we hope this encourages you in your relationship with God.
Having just celebrated your 80th birthday in late 2017 Jim, can you share with us what motivates you to get up in the morning and do the Lord's work?
I am not a morning person but I make sure I have one appointment each day. Every person is different. For me, what motivates me is people. I am a people person. I have just spent an hour today doing a prayer walk with a friend. We walked 5km to 6km praying.
As a Christian, spending quiet time with God is crucial, fulfilling and yet sometimes it could become monotonous. Can you describe for our readers how your quiet time with God looks like now, compared to when you first became a Christian?
When I first received the Lord, I had my first real quiet time when I was just 10 years old and 10 days. It was on 24 Dec 1937. I received the Lord just the previous night and the very next morning, my father had a quiet time with me and that was very precious. He explained that it was very important to read the Bible (I don't think he called it a quiet time) because the Bible was God's love letter to me. I never forgot that. It was not a dry book. It was a very intimate time. So my Dad got me started by giving me a pattern. We had Scripture Union notes but he told me that the Bible is important, not the SU notes. So, I followed the Scripture reading, which I did and after the first five years, I read the whole Bible once. I never missed my quiet time since that day till today. And I think it was because my Dad motivated me straight away. You know, I love the Bible but I needed to see it as a devotional book, not just something to increase my knowledge.
Over the years, I would say the pattern of my quiet time with the Lord would change but the underlying reason for having a quiet time has not. It's very personal, it's devotional. Currently, I want to go deeper in my relationship with the Lord. The ingredients of a quiet time are basic: prayer and the Word. You need both, you cannot have one without the other so it's communicating with the Lord.
I began as a new believer with about 15 minutes with the Lord a day. I encourage people through a booklet called 'Seven Minutes with God'. To start with seven minutes, they can do it. I encourage people to have it with the Lord in the morning - begin the day with the Lord. Jesus did that in Mark 1:35. And He did it in the midst of a very busy ministry – He began the day with the Lord. David did it in the morning. In fact, I think it’s more than just in the morning. Daniel did it three times a day so these were people who walked with God. Now, this is not to put people on a guilt trip if they miss their morning quiet time. This applies especially for women with responsibilities as mothers who have to be more flexible. But for men, I don't think you can excuse yourself if you don't begin the day with God. When I lead people to the Lord, that's the first spiritual habit (spiritual discipline) I would seek to build into their lives. We all need that. This time alone with God, or whatever you want to call it - the quiet time or morning watch – this time with God is a very important time. And I often have it with someone because I don't want them to look at it as a kind of legalistic ritual but a meaningful, personal and devotional appointment. As a Chinese evangelist said, 'No Bible, no breakfast.' It's kind of negative but you get the point: have it in the morning.
I would recommend people evaluate the reasons they have their quiet time. For me, worship is key because God desires my worship so I always incorporate it into my quiet time. (John 4:23-24). There are moments in my life when I just go to the piano and I play, sing and worship. God made us enjoy music. That's an important part of my worship of the Lord.