Disciplines of the Faith: Crafting Daily Time in the Word

The written word of God is one of the most tangible ways God has revealed Himself to us. He passed the Law through Moses, spoke through the Prophets, and revealed the Messiah through the writings of the Apostles. All of Scripture is God-breathed. It gives life to our dry and weary bones. Men and women have given their lives that I might have the Bible in my language, in my hands today. Instead of choosing to read the holy Word of God, I choose to binge-watch Netflix and to fill myself with silly, fleeting things that will leave my soul in the same state it was before. The Bible should be an integral part of our life. You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. -Deuteronomy 11:18, ESV We need to surround ourselves with the truth of Scripture. It is a discipline for many of us to prioritize Scripture above the call to clean, serve, and rest. Just read Scripture.  But to do this, we need to get over the idea that we will have a perfect devotional time or that, if we only find the right study, we will have a breakthrough. We need to abandon the idea that we have the find the perfect passage and trust that all of Scripture, yes, even Leviticus, is given to aid our faith. If you are unsure of what to read, then start by picking a book of the Bible and reading through a chapter a day. It is an excellent way to start developing a habit of opening up your Bible daily. Meditate on the Scriptures  Make notes in your Bible or prayer journal. Write out a prayer in response. Ask God to open your eyes to what He is revealing about Himself to you through His Word. Consider utilizing the practice of Lectio Divine (read more here) to help you reflect on your readings. Memorize Scripture This is crucial. Memorizing Scripture helps us to recall and strengthen ourselves throughout the day. It is a way to resist temptation and encourage our hearts in the midst of weary days. Write down scripture to help lock it into your mind. As a friend to work with you in memorizing a passage. Personally, I…

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Seeing God’s Faithfulness in the Midst of Change

This last week of my life has been spent Hawaii saying aloha to the land I loved, the land I built my first home in, one last time. But even in the short few months that have passed since I left this island, so many things have changed. That little mom and pop shop that made the malasadas I loved has closed down. New restaurants are popping up downtown. Friends have recommended places to visit. But nothing feels quite the same. Many of those friends have moved on to new places. My home is no longer my own so I am spending my days exploring new places and my nights in an apartment not my own. Even the weather has been atypical of the Hawaiian sunshine and has met me with rain. I do not mean to complain. My trip has been lovely and I am grateful for this opportunity. But my time in Hawaii had previously been marked by consistency. I spent years joking that I lived in a strange sort of Limbo Land where time marched forward but nothing seemed to ever change. Until now. As I walked by my favorite coffee shop last night, I did a double-take and saw that it was no longer in business. But today, today called me out to the water. And although the water is always changing, the water is always constant. Riding out on the pontoon, I left behind all that had changed and opened my eyes to all that had stayed the same. The water was warm, but refreshing. The sand worked it’s way into the familiar places between my toes. Much of my last year in Hawaii was filled with pain. God felt distant and confusing. But when I stepped down to the water, when I watched the first rays of the morning sun burst from behind the waves, I remembered the promise from Lamentations. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV God’s faithfulness was not dependent on my circumstances. It didn’t matter if I could see it with my eyes. It was as certain as the sunrise, as constant as the tide. When I surveyed the mountains, I noticed the scars that the water had formed from years running down the sides of the mountains impressed…

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Disciplines of the Faith: Serving Others When You’re Tired

For those belonging to the Body of Christ, a life of service to others should be an identifying trait of a Christian. If we are serious about loving God deeply, we need to love with actions, not just words. James writes that pure and undefiled religion looks like caring for the widows and the orphans. It’s not just about a personal relationship, it’s about living out the love we’ve been given to those in need. Following Jesus means that, when we are tired and weary, we may pause but those around us, those in need, are still the priority. When Jesus and His disciples were spending long days, traveling from city to city, healing the sick, and preaching the Word of God, the disciplines urged Him to send the crowds home at the end of the day. I often am weary of the people around me. I put in my minimal effort and want to check off the box and say I’ve completed what was required. But the Gospel is never about minimal effort, it is always about turning the mundane into the glorious and redeeming sinful man with the sacrifice of God Himself. God set the example of giving everything in service for those He loved. When people were hungry, He refused to send them away and fed them (Luke 9). Instead of listening to others and avoiding the marginalized, He poured Himself out as life-giving water (John 4). And when I was in need of a sacrifice to atone for my sinful ways, Christ offered up His life for sinners in need of a renewed life in God. This is the pure and undefiled religion we are called to emulate. As Christians, we are called to serve. Not if we feel like it. Not if our heart is in the right place. Not if anything. It is as essential to the Christian life, not just essential for those who feel called. “The King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the…

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Can I Stop Pretending to be a Good Person? 

Can I stop pretending to be a good person? Because the truth is, the facade is exhausting. I don’t want to wait patiently on the Lord. I would rather sit at home and watch Netflix than open my doors to the least of these. And, often, Sunday mornings make me want to worship the Bed of Divine Comfort instead of pulling myself away to worship the true God. But yet, I keep pretending like none of this is true. If I’m having a bad day, I might mention it but I’ll quickly follow it up with a smile and, “But God is good.” Why do I do that? Of course God is good and it is good to remind ourselves of that truth but, in the moment, that’s not what I’m feeling. I am not a good person. I pretend like my busyness is an act of service, when, in reality, it is a selfish way of avoiding conversation where my flaws might be exposed. I am not a good person. I mention publicly the limited time I’ve spent in prayer without mentioned the state of apathy my heart is in or how little time I actually spend praying. I am not a good person. I perpetuate the idea that while, I am a sinner, I am a pretty good person. I haven’t killed anyone. I am not a thief. I’ve never committed adultery. But I am not a good person. I pretend like I’m a good person, like this is my natural state because, if I let my guard down, if I acted in a moment of vulnerability and showed you my true colors, you might reject me. When I pretend like I am good, when I lead you to believe that I am holding it all together pretty well by myself, I present to you a false picture of who my God is and what He has done for me. The great and merciful God did not come for the good people. He did not come for those who could handle the temptations and trials of this world. He came for the broken and the weak. He came for people like me. We live in an age of “good” people. None of us want to acknowledge our shortcomings or sinfulness. We’d rather pretend it’s solely in the past and focus positive thinking. And I am as guilty of…

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Disciplines of the Faith: 5 Tools to Deepen Your Prayer Life 

Last week we discussed the personal devotion of prayer. We looked at the examples set by Daniel and Jesus and our own need to develop a rich, private prayer life. But often, we struggle through the personal prayer. We do not pray as we ought and we struggle with how to bring our prayer life into alignment with God’s word. We feel like prayer should be simple so we are too embarrassed to become students of prayer. Prayer is unique in this sense. We recognize that, in every other spiritual discipline, we need to train our bodies, minds, and souls to participate appropriately. But in this area, we have accepted the false teaching from society that we should simply follow our hearts and it has led to self-centric, pithy prayers. Instead of treating prayer lightly, we need to take seriously the call to pray as Jesus taught us and as the Bible instructs. Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. See my sidebar for my full disclosure.  Read the Prayers of Others The prayers of others can guide us in our prayer life because, they remind us to look at a story that is bigger than ourselves. When we read their prayers, we are reminded that God is intimately personal but yet, He calls us to be a part of a redemption story much bigger than simply ourselves. Read through the Psalms and soak in the prayers of the psalmists. Notice how, nearly every single time, they are called back to the faithfulness of the Lord and the hope they experience in Him. They express the pain and struggles of life but set their pain in the context of the holy, perfect God they serve. Valley of Vision is another excellent book of prayers. These poetic prayers remind me of my sinfulness, unworthiness, but also the extravagant love that has been lavished upon me. Whenever I read them, my heart is called out from despair and into praise. Scotty Smith has an excellent book on prayers for each day of the year that as been heartily recommended to me as well. Each day has a different focus to help round your prayer life in prayers of praise, confession, adoration, and intercession. Take On A Posture of Prayer Instead of just silently recounting your thoughts to God, take on a physical posture to help center your heart. Kneel as…

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