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Tuesday, October 9

Why I’m Breaking Up With My “Quiet Time”

I’m taking a break from having a quiet time. Because sometimes I can get in a rut. Even with good things. And having a daily quiet time is a good thing. Until it becomes more about routine than actually connecting with God.

When God becomes routine rather than revival, it’s time to switch things up.

Otherwise, I might start seeing this time as less important. It becomes the second or third thing I do. After other things. Seemingly more pressing things. Before I know it, it’s been days since I connected privately and personally with Truth.

And then my soul feels a bit off and sluggish. Like when my stomach has been denied food, a desperation starts creeping over other parts of the body. That happens with soul hunger too.

Only the triggers for stomach hunger are much more apparent. My brain quickly reminds me, “You feel awful because you need to eat.”

Sometimes my brain isn’t as quick to pick up on soul hunger. So I just lumber forward but wonder, “What’s wrong?” I think of a list of reasons… I’m tired, I haven’t had enough fun, girlfriend time or my butt looks big in these jeans.

And while some of those things may be true — it’s not why I feel off.

I need more time with God.

Not more quiet time.

More listening time.

This morning as I sat with God with nothing but willingness to listen, three things popped into my mind. I can’t say “God spoke to me” but it felt right. I need to do some new things as I listen. Listen. Listen.

* Study wisdom by reading a chapter in Proverbs everyday.
Ask God to reveal “my verse” for the day and think of ways to apply it. I listen.

* Read something from someone I admire.
I need to study leadership right now. So, I pick up a book written on this topic by someone I admire and glean from their wisdom. I listen.

* Read something from someone I trust.
There’s a book I’m reading right now that is whimsical and grounded all at the same time. It makes me feel like this writer gets me. They get my struggles and offer up advice I know I can trust. I listen.

Maybe you think all this still sounds like a quiet time, but to me it’s different. It’s a listening time. A time to shake things up a bit and get outside my normal routine. A time to listen to God speak. And He does speak… through His book of wisdom, through someone I admire and through someone I trust.

And this morning? My soul felt that thrilling and comforting full feeling. Complete. Satisfied. Deeply nourished.

What do you need to break up with so you can connect more closely and listen more intently to God?

If the topic of relationships and conflict is something you’re wanting to study right now, my book, Unglued, will help you have better reactions. This might be a really good thing to study as the holidays are approaching. To find out more, click here.

Thursday, May 31

Something I’ve Been Avoiding

Welcome to the Proverbs 31 Devotion friends. I’m glad you’re here. The verses you’re looking for are below.

In today’s devotion, I asked, “Is there something you’ve been avoiding because you’re afraid?” And my answer is yes. I have a friend going through a divorce and it’s hard to know how to help – what to say – what not to say.

It’s just hard. So, I’ve been avoiding reaching out for fear of saying the wrong thing.

Until last week when a moving truck pulled up to the front of my friend’s house. Sometimes moving signifies something exciting and new. Sometimes it doesn’t.

This move signified an end. A few hours into the process of emptying her home, the movers carried out her wedding portrait, and called to her, “You want the photographs in the stairwell to go with us, or are you taking those separately in your vehicle?”

“I’ll be taking those separately,” she said the irony not escaping her. Separately. That was how she’d be living her life now. Separate from the neighborhood where her kids had grown up. Separate from her husband. Separate from the way she thought her life would be.

She took the wedding portrait from the mover as a feeling of confusion washed over her. She sat down on the front steps and called me. Through her tears she said, “I don’t know what to do with this portrait. What do you do with the things that have no place anymore? We built a life together and now there’s no more together. There isn’t a place for that in my mind. What am I going to do?”

As soon as I heard her shaky voice, I felt so awful for not calling.

And though I still didn’t know exactly what to say, I knew this was my time to say something – do something.

I knew better than throw out a quippy little bit of Christianese. I once had someone tell me as I stood over my dying sisters bedside, “You just have to let go and let God.” I knew they meant well.

But honestly it infuriated me.

No, I wouldn’t throw out something just to fill the uncomfortable silence. Trite sayings weren’t going to help my friend. Well meaning phrases weren’t going to crawl up in bed with her tonight and hold her broken heart threatening to beat out of her chest.

That would be like holding out scotch tape and suggesting it could fix a broken life.

I finally said to my friend, “I’m crying with you. I don’t have answers, but I do have prayers. And I’m going to write out conversations I have with God so you’ll know He’s not being silent right now. He sees you. He hears you. And through His truth He will comfort you.”

I pulled out my Bible and poured out the hurt and sadness. “God show me. Show me the right truths. Use my hand to write out some comfort from Your Word for my friend. She’s afraid and needs Your comfort more than ever.”

Me: Lord, I have to tell You it is a hard thing to watch my friend hurt so much. She begged You to help save her marriage and honestly we’re confused why it all still fell apart.

The Lord: Do the words of Job 17:11 express the way you are feeling? My days have passed, my plans are shattered, and so are the desires of my heart.

Me: Yes, Lord, and I’m confused. Lord don’t You see her tears? If seeing her sadness breaks my heart, I know it must break Your heart too. It is hard for me to understand why this all happened.

The Lord: Recall the beauty of trusting the only One who can see what is and what is to come. Remember my words in Nahum 1:7…The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.

Me: I do trust You Lord. But for everything to end like this is so hard. It just seems so pointless.

The Lord: Oh, nothing I allow is pointless. Nothing you go through is pointless. Even in the midst of hurt I will work good. I will work good for her now and I will work good for her in the future. I still have a grand plan and purpose for her. Proverbs 19:20-21…Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

Me: I just need to know why she has to go through this.

The Lord: You don’t have to have answers Lysa. You just need to trust. Isaiah 55:8-9…For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Me: But what about the desires of her heart Lord?

The Lord: I am the only one who even knows the full scope of those desires Lysa. I will give her new desires and help her so those desires come to pass. Just encourage her to trust me and make wise choices. Psalm 37:3-4…Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

After I wrote all this out, I sent it to my friend. My letter didn’t fix her hurt or answer her questions. It didn’t give her a place to put those things that seemed to have no place right now. But it did get her to open up God’s word and start having conversations with Him for herself. And as she moves on, this was a good first step to take.

No matter what you’ve been avoiding out of fear, determine to take one positive step today. Here are a few empowering verses to use when fear is holding you back:

 

1. Psalm 27:1-2

The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid?

 

2. Isaiah 41:10:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.

 

3. Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

 

4. 2 Timothy 1:7

For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.

 

5. Hebrews 13:6

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

 

6. Psalm 34:4

I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Thursday, May 10

Sweating in church

Welcome Encouragement for Today Friends. I’m glad you popped over for a visit. We are casual here. Kick off your shoes…you’ll find the book giveaway at the end of this article…

Recently, I was studying what causes people to feel spiritually frustrated. The two top reasons? Bible study and prayer.

I get it.

I can clearly remember being a young girl sitting in church sweating because everyone else knew instantly how to get to every passage in the Bible the preacher man referenced. But not me. I was more interested in counting the preacher man’s spit droplets that came flying out with his punctuated words.

I respected that man. But boy could he get fired up and entertain this lost girl.

Others seemed all wrapped up and excited in what this preacher man had to say. They’d shout loud, “Uh-huh’s” and “Amens!” What was I missing?

And then there was my prayer life. Or the lack there-of. It’s not that I didn’t want to pray, but the whole concept of talking to God felt weird. I tried to copy the prayers of those who seemed like they knew they were doing more than talking to the air.

But then my quirky self would sneak in and leave me feeling foolish for what I’d just said to the God of the Universe. “Dear Lord, take this food to the nourishment of my body. (Good so far.) And if you could change the molecular structure of these cheesy fries to be like carrot sticks that sure would be bomb-diggity.” (Huh?)

Like the saying goes, “We’ve come a long way baby.” Except that I’m pretty sure you could still trip me up in finding certain passages in the Bible. And I’m pretty sure you might still hear me say bomb-diggity in my prayers. But according to what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:7, I think He’s okay with that.

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

For me, there are two keys to unlocking spiritual frustration with both my Bible study and my prayers:

* Sincerity — coming to God without an agenda honestly wanting Him to teach me.

* Simplicity — talking to God as the loving Father He is.

Why do we make it all so complicated?

I think a few honest moments spent with God reading His Word, sharing our heart, and listening for His instruction are quite perfect. Jesus might even say they are bomb-diggity.

What do you think? Have you struggled with spiritual frustration?

I talk quite a bit about practical ways to grow in your walk with the Lord in my book, Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Today, I’m giving away 5 copies! Just leave a comment below telling me of a friend you’d like to bless with this book. I’ll announce all winners on Monday.