Making Time For God

Time For GodIt is often said that healthy relationships require work. This is true for marital relationships, for friendships, but it is also true for our relationships with God. God wants us to seek Him, but unfortunately sometimes we get so consumed with our daily lives that we simply can’t find time to pencil Him in.

God understands that we have busy lives. He knows that we have jobs to go to, children to take care of, and households to run. If we skip reading our Bible, or forget to pray, He’s not holding it against us.God is a God of grace; but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still be giving Him the best that we have to offer, especially when we claim to love Him so much.

If an old friend came into town for a visit, most of us could find time to squeeze them into our schedules, despite our hectic lives; so why can’t we do the same for God? Why can’t we make that same effort for the one person who loves us more than anybody else? One has to ask, is it really a time problem, or is the issue with our priorities?

I have no problem admitting that for a very long period in my life I was guilty of undervaluing my relationship with Christ. I wanted to be closer to Him, and I woke up every day with plans to spend more time with Him, yet somehow every single night I climbed into bed exhausted from a long day of completing to do lists. My children had been well taken care of, the bills had successfully been paid, the laundry had been folded and put away, but the one item that never got checked off of my list was spending my alone time with Jesus.

I genuinely felt bad about it, so every night I would pray for forgiveness and promise to do better the next day. This cycle continued to repeat itself until one night after I prayed I hear God say very clearly to me,

“Stop making excuses and start making a way!”

The words convicted me, so the next morning I woke up and I did exactly that; I stopped making excuses, and instead I made a way.

I set my alarm to wake myself up 30 minutes before my kids. I took that time and simply used it to give God thanks. As my day continued, I decided to multitask by dusting off my audio Bible and listening to scripture as I completed my chores. Once my children were down for their naps, I hopped on iTunes and started downloading free Christian podcasts to listen to during my workouts. I switched the radio in my car over to our local Christian station so that I could worship while running errands, and I started keeping a devotional book inside of my purse to read during long waits at appointments.

I had to do all of these things very intentionally at first, but after about a month it became habit, and now spending time with God is a regular part of my day.

Satan is often referred to as the father of lies and one of the biggest ways that he will attempt to separate us from God is not by telling us outright lies, but by telling us just enough truth to get inside of our heads. He did it to Eve in the Garden of Eden and he does it to us today when he tells us that there’s no time for God. The partial truth is that people today do in fact lead incredibly busy lives; but the whole truth is that despite our busy lives, we can still find time for Christ if we make it the priority that it should be.

The reality of the situation is this: each of us has the potential to be as close to, or as far away from God as we choose.

If you’re not where you want to be in your walk with Christ, I challenge you to ask,

“What excuses am I making?”

Identify them, come up with a plan, follow through, and trust that if you seek God, you will find Him.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Reading The Bible

reading bibleThe Bible is one of the most famous books in the world, but it is not just any book. It is an instruction guide for life, inspired by the Creator of the universe Himself. The Bible is filled with knowledge and wisdom for every situation imaginable. When you stop and think about it, it is actually pretty amazing. We have the answers to all of life’s problems right at our fingertips and all that we have to do is make the effort to study them. Unfortunately for many people, the Bible is a very intimidating book and when it comes to reading it they just don’t have a clue where to begin. Thankfully, studying the Bible is a lot more difficult in theory than it is in practice and once most people begin, they find themselves in the middle of an extremely eye opening and life changing experience. Whether you’re a brand new Christian, a more seasoned Christian, or a Non-Christian who just wants to find out what this Jesus stuff is all about, this beginner’s guide to reading the Bible will equip you with all of the tools that you need to get started on whatever journey you may be embarking upon.

Understanding the text.
“There are just so many thees and thous! I really do want to read my Bible but I just don’t understand what is being said.”

If you have ever thought those words then you are not alone. Difficulty deciphering the text is one of the biggest reasons that people give for not reading The Word of God. Fortunately, there are many different translations available today without a thee or thou in sight. The New International, Amplified, and Contemporary English versions are three of the most reader friendly translations that I have found. My personal favorite is the Contemporary English version because it takes the scripture and breaks it down into a very easy to read, almost conversational tone. Different versions work better for different people, but if the language is what is hindering you from reading the word of God, I highly suggest taking a trip to your local Christian or regular book store, and browsing until you find a translation that works for you.

Where to begin.

“Now I have a Bible that I understand, but it’s a really big book and there are so many scriptures, I just don’t know where to start”

If this is a problem for you, once again you are not alone. Truth be told, there is no one size fits all method for reading the Bible. Many people choose to start at the beginning and work their way to the back. If this method works for you then I say go for it, but it is important to note that The Bible is not written in chronological order so if you are not already familiar with its stories, the cover to cover approach might be a bit confusing. The method that works the best for me is the glossary approach. If there is a specific person in the Bible who I want to read about, or a specific issue that I want to study, I turn to the very back of my Bible and find out what books I need to read by looking it up in the Glossary. Another great approach for Bible beginners is to get tech savvy and utilize an app. The freeYouVersion Bible app is a fantastic tool for beginners and veterans alike. This app is available on smartphones, tablets, and also on the computer at Bible.com. The great thing about YouVersion is that it has custom reading plans. You simply select one that meets your goals and needs, and the app will tell you what to read and when. Much like finding a good translation, you just have to use trial and error to figure out what works for you.”

Practical Application.

“I’ve been reading my Bible for a while now, but I still don’t see how this applies to my life. You said that it was an instruction guide, so how does this work?”

The Bible is filled with stories about average, every day people. Some of these people accomplished extraordinary things, some of these people faced tremendous adversity. Some of these people were heroes, some of them were villains, and some of them (like Kind David) had really good hearts but couldn’t quite get it all together on the outside. There are kings and slaves, and just about every other type of person that you could imagine depicted in the Bible and each of them has a story to tell. A great way to use the Bible as an instruction guide is to observe the lives of the people in the stories. Pay close attention to their failures, their successes, and what they did that led them there. Make an effort to relate to the people the stories are about. Find a little bit of yourself in each scripture and apply the lessons that you learn to your every day life.
Another great method for practically applying the Bible to your life is to utilize your glossary. I mentioned earlier that using the glossary approach was a good way to figure out where to start reading. The other great thing about the glossary approach is that it gives us instant access to the passages that suit out needs. If you are struggling to forgive someone for something that they have done, you can turn to the glossary and see what God has to say about forgiveness, or if you are feeling alone you can look up verses that reassure you that Jesus is our comforter, along with so many other things. What The Bible won’t do, is give us detail specific instructions like who we should marry, but it will tell us what qualities to search for in a partner so that we don’t make bad mistakes. The Bible may not always give us literal answers to all of life’s problems, but it does equip us with the wisdom to make Godly choices in every situation imaginable.

Studying The Bible does not have to be a challenge. In fact, once you get the hang of it, it can quickly become an enjoyable way to spend alone time with God.

 

Raising Christian Children

Christian ChildrenProverbs 22:6 says,
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Parenting in general is a huge responsibility to take on, but training our children to serve the Lord with all their hearts is probably the biggest, and most important task that we will ever take on in our parenting journeys. Knowing that our children’s spiritual futures could potentially rest in our hands is a lot of pressure to take on, but raising children who love God does not have to be a difficult task.

Show Don’t Tell.

Studies have shown that children, especially young children, learn best through observation. For this reason, it is extremely important that we are mindful of the examples that we are setting for them, as children are much more likely to repeat what they see us doing than to simply do as they are instructed to do. Allow your children to see you reading your Bible and applying it to every day life. Let them hear you when you pray. Do the best that you can to live your life in a manor that is glorifying to God, and most importantly don’t do or say anything in front of your children that you wouldn’t want them to do. As your children observe your life they are silently taking notes so be watchful of the lessons that you are teaching.

Form Good Habits.

When raising children of God, our goal should be for practicing their faith to become such a regular part of their every day life that it becomes second nature to them. This is best accomplished by helping them to form good habits. Make praying first thing in the morning and again at night before bed a part of your every day routine. Say grace with your children before eating meals together. Teach them the importance of serving others by taking part in local charity work a few times a month. Teach them about selflessness by going through their old toys and clothes as they’re cleaning their rooms and have them select a few items to donate. It is the small things that your children do every day that will make the biggest impact on the people they grow up to be.

Make it fun.

As a homeschool mom I am fortunate enough to have the ability to be with my children all throughout the day. One aspect that we frequently incorporate into our homeschool day that can also be used by non-homeschool families is circle time. Circle time is most frequently used in preschools and kindergartens to teach young children valuable skills through stories and songs. It is effective because when young children sing and read fascinating stories, the content of those books and songs makes its way into their long-term memory banks. In traditional school settings, this time is used to learn things like number counting and phonics sounds, but at home, circle time can easily be used as a time to focus on God. Select two or three praise and worship songs to sing with your children followed by reading a story from a children’s Bible book and discussing what they learned. In addition to being a great way to set time aside for your children to focus on God, circle time can serve as a great reminder that serving God can be fun.

 

Does The Bible Teach Positive Thinking?

 

 

 

Positive ThinkingAs I logged on to my facebook page today I noticed that my newsfeed was flooded with inspirational and motivational quotes. As I continued to scroll, it became very apparent to me that most people have an incredibly strong desire to hear positive words. Sometimes we need uplifting words to motivate us as we move forward towards our goals, or to encourage us during difficult times; but is there really anything to the power of positive thinking, or is it all just in our heads? Do our thoughts really have the power to change our circumstances or is positive thinking just an idle waste of time? And what does God think about positive thinking? Does He approve, or is it a new age practice that Christians should stay away from?

As I did some digging through my Bible it became very clear to me that positive thinking isn’t just something that God approves of; it’s something that He has actually instructed us to do.

Philippians 4:8 says: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Romans 12:12 tells us to, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

Mark 11:24 says: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

The thing that stood out the most to me in all of these verses is how our thought life is directly connected to our faith. The verse in Philippians tells us to always find the good in every situation. The verse in Romans tells us to stay positive and keep faith even in the middle of our storms, and the verse in Mark tells us that it does no good to pray if we don’t adjust our thought life to believe that we already have whatever it is that we have requested.

Wherever worry, doubt, or disbelief is present, faith is not; and faith is an essential requirement for God to step in and answer prayers. 2 Corinthians 5:7 instructs us to walk by faith and not by sight; and when we choose to think positively regarding our circumstances, hopes, and dreams, we are doing exactly that.

So, does positive thinking give us a magical power to create our own realities? No; but what it does do is extinguish doubt, expand our faith, and it opens up the door for God to come in and work in our lives. When we think positively, we are exercising our faith. We are doing what God has commanded us to do, and it is a crucial step for Christians to see their lives change for the better.

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