"Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of Thy Son, Jesus Christ." - George Washington

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Devoted to Devotional Time

I have been going back and forth with myself, whether I should write this or not, but I suppose I will. Not for any congrats and praise, or scorn and judgement, but just to offer a challenge and some encouragement. I want the Lord to be glorified and worshipped, and I want you to be enjoying Him, and revelling in His rich wisdom.

I hesitate to write this post, not because I'm ashamed, but because I don't want any praise or credit, and I don't want to boast. So very humbly...

I want to challenge you to something that I've given more than a stab at:  Devote at least one hour to your personal time with the Lord, every day.

For some of you, that may be pencil dust; perhaps you already spend 2 or 3 hours a day in the Word of God. Good for you, God be praised. I can only imagine how much knowledge of God that you have been given. What a blessing to be so committed.

But perhaps most of you (that's a stab in the dark, only God really knows everyone's habits) are like me, doing what I have done in the past. You are stuggling to spend even 15 minutes with the Lord, squeezing your Bible reading in whenever you have a "breather". You're checking it off of the to-do list, though you wish you weren't. You are hungry to know more of God, but when it comes time to read the Scripture, you'd rather clean your room.

If you are a human, you are guaranteed to struggle and we have all done those things. You are not alone, you aren't the only heathenous, lazy Christian on the planet. But that's no excuse. God desires obedience more than sacrifice, meaning He would rather that we do the right thing in the first place, instead of repenting later and making up for our mistakes.

John Newton wrote in one of his Olney Hymns:

     But ah! my inmost spirit mourns,
And well my eyes with tears may swim,
     To think of my perverse returns;
I've been a faithless friend to Him.

     Often my gracious Friend I grieve,
Neglect, distrust, and disobey,
     And often Satan's lies I believe,
Sooner than all my Friend can say

     He bids me always freely come,
And promises whatever I ask:
     But I am straitened, cold and dumb,
And count my privelege a task.

What you may need is a change of perspective. When you see your devotional time as something to check off the list, and a chore - no matter how indespensible - it becomes a burden. You approach God's presence with the wrong mindset, already thinking of the next thing you ought to be doing, instead of leaving all else behind and focusing devotedly on worshipping and learning.

Here, John Newton points out that our mindset ought to be that of a priveleged friend. You are deeply indebted to the Lord for His faithfulness and unconditional love. He is the King, the only Potenetate and it is a privelege that you are even able to approach His throne of grace. And He promises to hear us and takes the most tender interest in us. Why would we want to count that blessing a mere chore?

So I'm coming back around to my challenge. I want you to spend at LEAST one hour in your devotional time with the Lord. What that looks like depends on you. You can study in a prayer closet, or on the back porch swing, or even sitting in bed. You can meet the Lord in the evening at sunset, or during your lunch break, or early in the morning. I prefer the morning, because it starts my day right, and there are several Psalms that tell of seeking the Lord early in the morning. Even if it means getting up an hour earlier than I would prefer, I still make it the very first thing I do when I wake up. It is what all my priorities are built around, and by keeping it there, I'm not distracted by what I need to be doing later on. It makes it that much easier, really and truly.

You also don't have to make that one full hour of reading your Bible. I include writing in my prayer journal, reading hymns, studying and memorizing scripture, and reading a few pages of some old works like Newton's Cardiphonia and Luther's Treatise on Good Works. Feel free to tailor your plan according to what works for you. We aren't made with cookie cutters, and there is no cut-and-dry plan that works from person to person. That's the way God made us, we all have different gifts and worship differently. Let that reflect in your private time with God.

You may be thinking an hour is a bit too much... I will boldy argue that it is not! It is much, much harder to commit 15 minutes that comes and goes, than it is to plan a good, hour long 'meal'. Give it two weeks and you won't even know why you thought an hour was long. I have been devoting an hour of my time with the Lord for two and a half weeks, and I'm seriously considering upping it to an hour and a half. The more time you spend with the Lord, the more time you want to spend with him! The more He feeds you, the hungrier you get.

"Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:3

It's like a 'viscious' circle; the more you delight in the Lord, the more that He becomes your desire, and the more you are satisfied and content.

I can't urge you enough to 'take a stab' at this. Pray about it, and if you approach this opportunity with a willing heart, you WILL BE blessed. Those who seek the Lord will be satisfied. But more on seeking the Lord in another post, Lord willing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bon Jour! [Eternal Change]

2010  ::  Changing Lives to Change the World
[Eternal Change]

-Amidst all the personal, relational and social change we can invest in, our end goal must be that people see and savor Jesus Christ. Our world is full of lost and dying people who need lasting hope and eternal life. It is so easy to get caught up in the things of this world and temporary distractions that steal our energy and pull our focus off of what truly matters. These aren't necessarily things that are wrong, but anything that we place priority on above Christ and ivestigating in the lives of others. Or anything that causes us to compromise into living a life that isn't completely sold out to Jesus and His cause.

2 Corinthians 4:18

Acts 20:24

-What are specific day-to-day things that keep me from having an eternal perspective on life?

-What are ways (whether they seem significant to the world or not) that I can invest in the lives of others in a way that will last?

"When we get to heaven, we will have all of eternity to celebrate the victories. But we only have a few hours before sunset to make them."
-Amy Carmichael

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bon Jour! [Expecting Social Change]

2010  ::  Changing Lives to Change the World
[Expecting Social Change]

-God has called us to be salt and light, to impact the world for Him in everything we do. Whether it's through politics, business, art, music or education, we're called to be imitators of Christ everywhere we go -- changing the world. While our roles visible and public, the greatest social change is often sparked by day-to-day actions that at the time seem insignificant. The important thing is that we use our God-given tools and talents and seek to be imitators of Christ in all we do. Only then will we be effective in sparking social change -- in our own communities and unto all the nations of the world.

Matthew 5:13-16

Matthew 28:19-20

Ephesians 5:1-14

"I wish to do something Great and Wonderful, but I must start by doing the little things like they were Great and Wonderful."
-Albert Einstein-

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bon Jour! [A Heart for Change]

2010  ::  Changing Lives to Change the World
[A Heart for Change]

-In the world today checklists and rules often rule our lives:  in school, at home -- even in church. As Christians, these lists and standards can help us focus and be more effective. But, they can also divide our attention from the thing we need to be concerned about most:  where our heart is. Are we following these rules and checklists to look good on the outside and be successful? Or are we motivated solely by our desire to glorify God in everything we do? Think about it.

Ezekiel 11:19-20

Proverbs 4:23

-What is my mind consistently on?

-Where is my heart and what motivates my decisions?

"We do what we do, 'cause we want what we want, and want what we want, because we think like we think."
-Andy Wisner-

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bon Jour! [Change Starts Here]

2010  ::  Changing Lives to Change the World
[Change Starts Here]

-When we received Christ, was that the end? Our souls have been regenerated and we are righteous before the Lord. But that's not the end, God calls us to change the world for the furtherance of His Kingdom. This we cannot do by our strength; rather, we must act as His agents; finding out strength only in Him and serving Him in our hearts above all else. That means we care for the things of this world no more than a dead man could, and focus on God with all passion.

John 15:1-4

Romans 12:1-2

Galatians 1:10

Matthew 6:24

-What does it mean to give your heart to God?

-What does it mean to be a bond servant to the One who ransomed us from suffering?

-What other masters do we serve?

-What does it look like daily, to offer ourselves a sacrifice to our Master and King?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bon Jour! [Unstoppable]

2009  ::  Reflecting the Unchangeable

Romans 12:11-13

Colossians 2:6-12

-What qualities stuck out to you as areas that you need to improve?

Romans 12:19-21

-What particular instruction applies to you? What will encourage you right now to persevere?

Hebrews 10:19-25

-What are some goals you feel God calling you to implement in your daily life?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bon Jour! [Undivided]

2009  ::  Reflecting the Unchangeable

Romans 12:13-8

Ephesians 4:11-16

-Where do gifts come from? What is the purpose of them?

1 Corinthians 3:4-9

-In which ways have you contributed to disunity by being "tossed back and forth"?

-From these verses, how do Paul's instructions provide a means of overcoming your area of weakness?

John 17: 20-26

-What did Jesus pray for, regarding us?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bon Jour! [Unfolding]

2009  ::  Reflecting the Unchangeable

Romans 12:2

1 Peter 1:13-16

-What kind of life has God called us to? What enables us to live this life?

1 John 3:2-3

2 Corinthians 7:1

-What action is God calling you to take in pursuit of the life for which He has called you?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bon Jour! [Understanding]

2009  ::  Reflecting the Unchangeable

Romans 12:9-10,  14-18

-In your daily interactions with others, what are areas where you lack understanding?

James 1:5-6,  3:13-18

1 Thessalonians 5:21-24

-What steps do you feel God calling you to take to incorporate more wisdom and understanding in your life?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Little Happy Things

   I really enjoyed watching the storm roll in this afternoon. Perfect view from the house on the hill.

   Does this give you the heebie-jeebies, or what?


   I also really enjoyed watching my little buddy trying to tie my shoes. Just look at the concentration. Some of my favorite pictures ever. <3

Bon Jour! [Commitment]

2008  ::  The Making of a Generation

Matthew 25:14-21

Romans 12:1-4

Philippians 3:7-11

Matthew 28:16-20

"O Lord God, the first act of calling is by Thy command in Thy Word, 'Come unto me, return unto me'; The second is to let in light, so that I see that I am called particularly, and perceive the sweetness of the command as well as its truth..."
-The Valley of Vision-

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bon Jour! [Preparation]

2008  ::  The Making of a Generation

Hebrews 4:14-16

Ephesians 2:1-5

Ephesians 6:10-20

Job 11:13-19

"My sin is to fear what never will be; I forget to submit to Thy will, and fail to be quiet there..."
-The Valley of Vision-

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bon Jour! [Prayer]

Some of these may seem like a bit of a stretch... stick to it though. =) You can still learn something, no matter what.


2008  ::  The Making of a Generation

Proverbs 15:8

1 Thessalonians 5

Romans 12:1-2

"May I seek after an increase of divine love to Thee, after unreserved resignation to Thy will..."
-The Valley of Vision-

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bon Jour! [Perseverance]

2008  ::  The Making of a Generation

Luke 14:28-33

Romans 5:3-6

Ephesians 6:18

"Heavenly Father, if I should suffer need, and go unclothed, and be in poverty, make my heart prize Thy love, know it, be constrained by it..."
-The Valley of Vision-

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bon Jour! [Impact]

Heya, I just found all of my Bon Jour cards! Woo hoo! =)

And you're thinking "What has she been up to? She is making no sense..."

I'm sorry. Bon Jour cards are a TeenPact National Convention tradition. Every morning after breakfast, everyone is given a Bon Jour card with scripture and maybe some quotes, then we have 30 minutes to study and meditate on those verses. Then in small group time, we hash out and talk about what we learned from those verses. It's a good bonding tool all around.

I have been to TeenPact National Convention for four years now, so that means I have four sets of Bon Jour cards. (I am overly sentimental, I keep everything...) And I found all of them! Dug them out of notebooks and scrapbooks, and thought "Hey, I shouldn't keep these to myself." I'll blog them and see what you think of them.

So here's my challenge:
   Spend at least half and hour reading these verses, meditating on them, maybe even journalling a little bit. Also remember to praise the Lord, and to talk with Him.

It's only half an hour. You will be surprised how quickly it goes. I have 17 Bon Jour cards so that will be 17 days; about 3 weeks minus Sundays. (Admittedly, I remember one of them being pretty scatter-brained and not really connected... I'll try to find that one and warn you ahead of time.) And I'm also studying them as well, so don't assume I'm just being a slave driver -- watching and laughing.

If you're looking for a jump-start to quality devo time, maybe this is it. Find your method and 'stick to it religiously'.

First Bon Jour card, coming right up!


2008  ::  The Making of a Generation

Philippians 1:27

Ephesians 5:15-17

Luke 9:1-2

"Brighten my soul with the pure light of truth;
Make it fragrant as the garden of paradise,
rich with every goodly fruit,
beautiful with heavenly grace..."
-The Valley of Vision-

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Thoughts Rambling

     I have been praying and meditating all day. My mind is basically consumed with my inadequacy as a child of God. I'm overwhelmed with all the things I have yet to learn, or understand, or practice.  Gentleness. Love. Diligence. Vision. Courage. Humility. Self-sacrifice. Seeking God and waiting for Him. All are traits that I thought I had learned, or maybe didn't need...

     And here I thought I was pretty stinking good. I've thought that God has privileged me, everyone likes me. (At least that's what I'd like to think. Pretty sure I'm wrong on that one.) I have no major problems, and I'm already on the right track. I'm a Christian, I'm a truth-seeker. I work on reading my Bible, and meditating and praying, not just to check it off a list, but because I truly hunger for it. I'm not afraid or ashamed of sharing my faith.

     But it's way too easy to become complacent. It's too easy to settle in and assume that you've reached a plateau. You assume that there's no upward trek, that it's easy cruisin', at least for the time being...

     I had no major lessons to learn, I had no blatant sin in my life. But God has begun revealing more of Himself to me, and it puts me to shame. I am in awe of who God is, and broken by the sweetness and perfection of His Son. With every little thing I do, I am constantly reminded of how I could do better, what I'm lacking and how much I need the Lord's presence. My heart cries out for the Father's help, and He responds by telling me that He never left. I may have gotten distracted, but He never does. He's guiding me in the same way that I guide the little ones I nanny, whether I give Him the attention and credit, or not.

     I don't want to focus on my privileges. But neither do I want to focus on my inadequacies. I don't want to have anything to boast in. No more idols. Sometimes... most times... my biggest idol is myself. I don't want to be focused on myself. Period.

     I want to focus on God. Without distraction. Without complacency.

     I want to be passionate about Him, I want to desire what He calls good. I want Him to break my heart for what breaks His. I want to love what He loves. In the light of His glory and grace, everything else will fade away.

Friday, June 3, 2011

National Convention in Quotes

"This is going to be the best week of your daggum lives!"
Nathan Tifft

"When You said 'Seek my face,' my heart said to You, 'Your face , Lord, I will seek."
Psalm 27:8

"Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!"
Psalm 27:14

"And you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13

"You don't realize how God can be using you now."
Tommy Carrington

"It is well with my soul."
Horatio Spafford

"Your decisions deterimine your destiny, your dreams do not."
via John Stonestreet

"Don't run FROM vision, run TO it."
Tommy Carrington

"Waiting:  Diligenly focusing on what is right before us, while expecting God to move us forward when He's ready."
Daniel Solid

"The Lord is good to those wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."
Lamentations 3:25-27

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
Matthew 6:33

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less."
C. S. Lewis

"Element:  Where your passion and gifting meet."
Aaron Watson

"The secret to finding God's will is to walk in communion with Him."
Aaron Watson

"Take the next step."
Elisabeth Elliot

"Women lose their power when they part with their gentleness."
via Jordyn Wilson

"Don't compete with men; complete them."
Jordyn Wilson

"Faithfulness in one postition impacts the opportunity that you have in the next."
Tim Echols

"Proximity to power, is power."
Tim Echols

"You are nothing apart from Christ. But you are not apart from Christ."
Greg Harris

"What are the white lines?"
"The white lines? By His stripes we are healed, my friend!"
Nathan Tifft [wearing an argyl cardigan vest]

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is the last segment of Holier Than Thou fashions."
Nathan Tifft