Wednesday, February 8, 2012


How did I go from being a twenty yard sprinter to a marathon runner with my spiritual discipline of daily reading?

Repeated failure. I would plan to be a wonderful, patient, soft-spoken mother. I studied the scriptures from time to time when it was convenient and I asked God to help me. But I failed to be even tempered. I often yelled at my precious girls. I had unfinished internal business, but I didn't know how to address it.

Change came when I finally realized how desperately I needed God's help. On my own, I couldn't be kind, Christ-like with our sometimes testy daughters. Stale bible reading and my own efforts couldn't consistently produce the results I longed for.

That was the turning point. Desperation. It caused me to cry out to God for help in making baby steps toward change. I yearned to be deeply open to God's voice in the Scriptures. I listened for the Spirit's voice as I corrected my children, and I obeyed the Spirit's voice as the Lord corrected me. As I taught them, I listened. The Lord taught us all to act like loved daughters.

Desperation led me to life change. I learned the vitality of depending on God and the transforming power of His word.

For Your Consideration

“This is the word of the LORD ...: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6, NIV)

Have you ever been desperate to learn from God? To hurdle attitudes that keep you away from God's power?

What was  the outcome?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pointers for Focus

Here are some things I've found useful for keeping my focus during my personal prayer time and bible study.

1. At the outset, invite the Holy Spirit's help. Ask for understanding and the ability to apply what you read. It is His pleasure to teach and counsel you. It's an amazing privilege that God has given us.

2. Keep notepaper beside you. That way you don't have to keep distractions flickering for attention. When you jot them on paper, it allows you to refocus.

3. Plan to let your voice mail get the phone during your allotted time. You can always return the call later. Often times it's a sales call or an appointment confirmation reminder.

4. Set a timer if you are on a tight schedule and you won't have to keep looking at the clock. With some practice, you'll get a better idea of your time flow.

5. Either choose a time when your children are asleep, or clearly explain that except for blood you are not to be disturbed. (I think of Susanna Wesley whose "At Prayer: Do Not Disturb" sign was her apron thrown over her head.) Whether or not you have young children, the challenge is to find a suitable time and place that works with your household traffic and schedules. Then lovingly but firmly communicate -- to roommates, husband, children-- your priority to be fed by the Living Word.

6. Start with short times and keep them as regular as possible. The more often you do it, the easier to find a rhythm that works for you.

7. Use a study bible with an easy to understand translation. Explanations from culture, geography, and history all enhance the meaning. It's easier to apply the reading to your life when you understand it!

7. A devotional is often a great asset. And... if you search the scriptures for nuggets before you read the comments, your insight will stick much longer than if you passively read someone else's discoveries. Although, I must say I have learned a great deal from others.

In my next blog I'll tell you what helped me with consistency.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Regular Challenge

We commonly battle being consistent with our "quiet times," "devotions,"  "time with the Lord," or whatever name we use for time alone with the God of the Scriptures. Developing this holy habit has its challenges.

We sit and the phone rings, or we think of the phone call we forgot to make. We excuse ourselves for just a minute while we quickly complete a task. Once out of our quiet place, unwashed dishes and unfinished jobs seemed to have signs "You could finish this quickly. Now."

Then if we have little ones at home, we hear "Mom... Mom... Mom." Chubby hands pull our jeans and innocent faces pull our eyes away from focused time where we learn God's ways.

As a single person then later a mother of young children, I was often frustrated by not having a regular quiet time, then when I finally sat to open my bible, distractions kept popping up, keeping my eyes darting and my heart hostage.

I found help from many others who walked ahead of me. I will share ideas I found in the next blog. Meantime, perhaps you can share what you've learned too.

For Your Consideration

Is there any thing that keeps you from meeting regularly with the Savior? What practical steps might you take to overcome it?

What have you found that helps you have a consistent devotional life? What works for you? I'd love to hear your ideas.