How Has Your Time with the Lord Been?

actsSo, it’s that time of the year again, and yes I’m going to ask again, how are your disciplines going? Our time with the Lord is very appropriately called disciplines because as you’ve probably noticed it can be difficult to maintain any and all the disciplines. I will speak briefly of some of the disciplines–bible reading, prayer, memorization, meditation, and study. These disciplines are the best thing that we can do for ourselves and for His glory!

We are commanded over and over to be in God’s word. Psalm 119 is a very long  psalm discussing the benefits associated with knowing His word as well as problems we can avoid if we are faithful to read the Bible. This psalm also includes prayers we can pray before we read. John 15 speaks of the necessity of abiding in Him — if you don’t read, study, memorize, and meditate on the bible how will you abide in Him? Hebrews 2 says that we must pay closer attention to what we’ve heard, warning that if we don’t, we could drift away. God is our comfort, our hope, our strength, and our peace. We are foolish if our pride leads us to imagine that we could bring Him glory without knowing His word. There are many bible reading programs: YouVersion, Bible Gateway, Olive Tree, etc. I have some printed that, if you ask me, I will gladly give you.

The bible also tells us that we need to pray without ceasing.  I pray two types of prayer: formal and informal. Informal prayer is simply the time that I talk with Him throughout the day. Formal prayer is a time that I set aside to speak with our Father. I use an acronym to help me to pray:

ACTS —

A is adoration, which is simply telling God the things that I love about Him. Psalms are a good place to find His attributes, but I strongly recommend that as you read through the bible you mark all the verses that tell you about Him.

C is confession. After I confess everything I can think of, I ask Him to show me the rest of my sin so that I can confess all of it (1 John 1:9) and work to repent.

T is thanksgiving. I also include different aspects of all that I’ve been given because of the gospel.  Keeping the gospel forefront in your mind by including it in prayer causes so much joy and keeps it ready on your lips to speak to those without Him.

S is supplication, which is just taking your requests to Him. There are many prayers included in scripture and many times what you read that day will cause you to think of things to pray.

Nichole recently wrote an excellent article on memorizing — it’s not too late to join us! Everyone should have gotten the bulletin insert a few weeks ago with memorization tips. Meditation is easy if you are memorizing.

Matt offers an Acts study on Tuesdays at 6:30p and Thursdays at 9p. The only homework is reading the chapter discussed prior to the study.

This is my prayer for you: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. But you have to do the work and stay in the battle!

How Do You Find Time to be With Our Lord?

My time with our Father has changed many times over the years due to different scheduling challenges. Life gets so crazy busy, but we must find time for Him if we are to continue to learn who He is, love Him more deeply, and bring Him glory. So what’s a girl to do; how can we fit the most important part of our day into our hectic lives?

I have what I call my “formal” time with our Lord. It consists of sitting down and being with Him in the form of reading my bible using some type of reading plan and prayer. This time with Him started out being first thing in the morning the way it’s “supposed” to be done. Sometimes it would be on the bus on the way to work or at lunch if I got up late. This worked very well until I had our first child. I was tired due to sleepless nights and wanted to sleep in until I had to get up. Which meant sleeping until a hungry baby woke me! I first took care of our Nichole and various other necessary chores and then had my time with Him. No big deal — still in the morning. Then I had more kids, more chores, and home school. So when I put the kids down for a nap with strict instructions, something like, “you will be disciplined if you don’t stay in your bed until I tell you it’s time to get up,” I had my time with our Lord. I began to break the “morning rule” but it worked with my new schedule. Then the kids grew and somewhere along the way my time with Him changed again — it was at night. I really began to push the envelope with that morning rule. The point is that what really matters is making sure that you have time with our Father.

I also have what I call informal time with our Lord. It consists of taking a peek at a memory verse, so that while I’m doing something that doesn’t involve thought, I can work on my verse. This is a great way to bring your focus back to Him when you need an attitude adjustment. This took place in the car when my home schooled kids were taking a couple of classes at local high schools. It ended up being the only time I had to work on my verses during that time in my life. Other examples of informal time would include listening to a sermon or praying, especially asking our gracious Father about things causing us to be anxious through out the day.

Now, I’m back to first thing in the morning for my formal time with Him, listening to sermons while I get ready to go out, and studying at various times between appointments three days a week. The rest of the week I have exercise class, so my time with Him looks a little different depending on what I have scheduled for the day. I work on my memory verses anytime that I have a few minutes and before bed. I pray informally throughout the day and night, which, by the way, is a great way to spend your time when you can’t sleep!

I have a friend who taped her memory verse on notebook paper (not laminated) to the bathroom wall so that she could work on it while she showered. Another friend has her memory verse come to her via email reminder from her goggle calendar each day. The point being that we have to be creative — where there’s a will, there’s a way!

I’d love to hear how you have fit your time with our infinitely loving Father into your crazy busy life. Please comment and share your ideas with the rest of us. Perhaps what works for you could help a sister fit her time in with the most important One in her life.

The First Step in Knowing Your Savior

How are your spiritual disciplines going? Job 23:12 says, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” At the beginning of each year, I evaluate my Bible reading/study, prayer, memory verses, journaling, and fasting with the goal of improving my existing disciplines and stretching myself to grow (more time spent in an existing discipline or adding another discipline). By March, we can become discouraged since all of our grand plans to pick ourselves up and get back on track aren’t working as well as we had hoped. Everything under the sun (husband/father calling in the middle of your reading, your boss adding to your work load, the drain is clogged – you name it) impedes our attempts to be with God. Satan doesn’t want us to read and at this point, quite frankly, we are ready to give up because it looks as though it is just not going to happen. But we have to persevere because we love Him. After all, He is the one who sent His Son to live here on earth to experience all of the difficulties that we have (even finding time to be with His Father), and then, to die so that we could be forgiven for not being with Him.

John 15:1-11 contains wonderful promises for us. First, we are connected to our beloved Father for the purpose of being like Jesus. It is not up to us, on our own, to show Jesus to those around us; He helps us! He also promises to give us trials so that we would be more like His Son. This may be painful but it is what we all want. Next, we are told that we are clean — I love this promise! I, like Paul, the worst of all sinners, am clean in God’s eyes because of what Jesus did on the cross  We confess our sin and are forgiven! John also says that we can have abundant joy! So we must choose to make time, to persevere when there is so very much to do each day, understanding that this is the most important thing that we will do each day.

What I am talking about is not legalism. We won’t earn favor from God if we spend time with Him –we already have His favor! If we don’t spend time with Him one day or only spend ten minutes with Him, we won’t lose His love. It’s like spending time with your fiance, you make time because you are so in love with him. But we do need to have this time with Him because He is more important to us than everything else. You will see more of the One who loves you like no other, you will have a firm foundation when the trials come, and you will be ready when He calls you to come home. I will end with a long time favorite verse– Luke 21:34, “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down … with the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap.” I have to keep having this talk with myself, year after year.

So, how are your disciplines going? Don Whitney at BiblicalSpirituality.org has some great ideas for how to incorporate or improve your disciplines. Don has spoken at our church on several occasions–ask anyone who has heard him how much he has changed our lives in helping us to have a fun and interesting time with our beloved Father.

Rain Drops of Prayer

Every morning, as soon as I am consciously aware that it is morning and that I need to get up, I dig my face in my pillow and I ask the Lord to give me strength and His grace to whatever, aware or unaware, awaits me.  I hate to admit this, but I feel, at times, utterly incompetent to do the tasks the Lord has given me to do.   I am increasingly aware of my lack, my inadequacy, and my weakness.  I don’t say that to appear humble.  If you knew me well, you would know I am not kidding.  I keep telling myself, that is one way the Lord keeps me humble – and it works; from showing patience to my sons and husband, to the everyday challenges of homeschooling, and of course, ministry.  I can’t even get out of bed without feeling my desire to be lazy and stay in bed longer.  But I must get up. I need to get going with my day.

The Lord expects and encourages needy, weak, and weary people to come to Him and that He alone will give us rest.  And that is exactly how I feel most days.  So I bend my knee, so to speak, at the shadows of the cross and seek him earnestly that, “Apart from me you can do nothing,” says the Lord. (John 15:5).

We often think that prayer is to be cultivated only in our “quiet time” and I am discovering that the rain drops of prayer throughout my days combine to make an ocean of prayer at the end of a lifetime.

Spurgeon once wrote, “Spiritual desires are the shadows of coming blessings.  What God intends to give us He first sets us longing for.”  May our spiritual desire be that of experiencing the warmth of our communion with God through prayer; for we know that “God is the answer to our deepest longings.”1

1. (Phillip), Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus, pg 135

 

 

A Mother’s Legacy


Sirens blared and four pairs of small eyes peered out the car window, searching. Searching for a glimpse of the vehicle causing the blare. The mother pulled the station wagon to the side of the road and peered through the rear view window at her children.

“Quick, kids, lets pray for them,” she’d say.

As one, they’d bow their heads – though, at times, a child would peak out, still wanting that glimpse – and the mother’s voice would say “Heavenly Father, we want to pray for the people to whom this ambulance is going. We pray that if they do not know you, Lord, that you would use this incident to bring them to you. We pray that if they do know you, Lord, that you would use this incident to help them tell others about You. We pray for the doctors and the nurses, that you would give them wisdom and for the police officers and ambulance workers, that they would also have wisdom. We ask that you would not let anyone die, unless they know you Father. Amen.” The mother’s voice would catch a little at the end, working hard not to cry.

And all the kids would say Amen and the ambulance would have passed and the mother would pull back out into traffic. And ten minutes later the children will have forgotten it happend.

But repetition has a way of forcing memories and habits in a persuasive way. The children grew up, slowly, and there was never a time that, when a siren blared, the car was not pulled over and the mother did not say a prayer and there was rarely a time that, by the end of it all, the mother was not wiping away a quick tear.

Soon the children were driving on their own. And to their surprise, when it was their turn to pull aside to let the emergency vehicle pass, they found their own voices repeating “Heavenly Father, we want to pray for the people to whom this ambulance is going…”

Praying for Leaders

I spend a lot of time in prayer for the leadership of Missio Dei. It helps a lot that my dad is one of the leaders and that I am close friends with a couple of our elders’ wives. It also helps that I have an extremely informed knowledge of the amount of time that these men spend shepherding the members of Missio and of what is involved in the shepherding. And it is good for me to pray for the leadership of my church. It is good for everyone to pray for their leaders.

I spend almost no time in prayer for the leaders of other churches or for Christian leaders in general. If I read on a blog that Desiring God or Sovereign Grace or some other ministry is putting on a conference, I will say a quick prayer that God be glorified through it. If I read on a blog that a leader is going to travel for a speaking engagement, I will say a quick prayer that the Lord keep him safe and bless his time. But this is all.

I was convicted by my lack of prayer for Christian leaders around the world earlier today while reading a post by Mark Driscoll where he was offering up advice to pastors/leaders on how to deal with people who are spreading gossip and slander about them. I read down the list, interested because this is something that my family has experienced time and time again and I was curious about Driscoll’s advice. I was struck by his fourth point.

Driscoll wrote, “Protect your family. Your wife and family should not read any of this garbage. If you have to screen her emails to ensure no one is forwarding links to her, then do it so she’s not getting shot in the heart every time she opens her inbox”

“A shot in the heart.” Wow. I know how that feels, the extreme and sudden pain that comes from hearing your father (or husband’s) name dragged through the mud. I understand the ache when someone that you care about is criticizing your father/husband. I can empathize with the anger that makes your entire body shake as you briefly allow yourself to imagine all the things you would say if the person dared to make the comment to your face. I have felt the sadness and discouragement.

Here is a women whose husband has been criticized far more publicly than my father ever has. I can empathize with her, but as a daughter for her father rather than a wife for her husband. I know, to a smaller degree, what this man and wife are going through. And yet I have never prayed for them.

Never.

I read his blog every day and have read one of his books. I am aware that he is my brother in Christ and that he is faithfully proclaiming the gospel to people that I will probably never come in contact with. This man’s ministry has had influence over my life. Not massive influence, but influence none the less. And I have never once prayed for him or his church or his family.

Shame on me.

Please do not misunderstand me. It is right to pray for the leadership of your own church. It is right that the majority of your time in prayer for the leadership in your life should be by those who are shepherding you specifically. If you had to choose between praying for your own church’s leadership and the leaders of influential Christian ministries across the world (which, of course, is not a choice that would ever need to be made), I would say to pray for your own church’s leadership. But we do not have to choose. We can pray for both.

Consider joining with me to grow in our faithfulness in keeping our own church leadership bathed in prayer. And consider also those influential ministry leaders across the world that you can be in prayer for as well.

Prayer Opportunity


Good Morning and Happy Tuesday! I wanted to take a moment to make sure that you saw the announcement in this week’s bulletin about an opportunity for prayer.

Dave Crocker, one of our deacons, is organizing a time of prayer Sunday mornings from 8:30-9:30. The group will be meeting at church prior to the service. This is an excellent chance to come alongside each other in prayer for Missio Dei and its members.

I know that 8:30am is early – I typically don’t even get up until 9am on Sunday mornings. However, the benefits of coming together to engage in for our church far outweigh the minor inconvenience of getting up a little early.

This is an important opportunity and one that I hope you all will take full advantage of. I will be there and I hope to see many of you there as well.

This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23

http://strengtheningwomen.org/2010/01/2666/

Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven. Luke 10:20

http://strengtheningwomen.org/2010/01/2662/

Songs to Pray Through

So far this month we’ve talked a lot about prayer. We talked about ways that we can pray for some of the leaders of our church. We’ve reviewed a couple of books on prayer. We’ve talked about the importance of praying without ceasing and also of the potential power that our prayers can have when praying through Scripture.
Another time I have found that naturally goes to prayer is while listening to music. There are songs whose lyrics are so good that my heart cannot be content merely to sing them, but to pray them! There are lines of songs call my heart to prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord! It never ceases to make me smile when, as I am driving down the road I hear a song and begin to pray because of something that I heard in the song – and then finish praying and realize that I completely missed the next four songs! These are good times.
Here is a list of songs/albums that I like to pray through. It is by no means extensive!


Songs for the Cross Centered Life, by Sovereign Grace
This is one of my all time favorite cds. Every song in the album is focused on the gospel, on the work that Jesus did on the cross, and on our standing before God because of it.

Awaken the Dawn by Keith and Kristyn Getty
Another one of my favorite cds, the lyrics are amazing and full of truth. The fourth song, By Faith, contains my favorite song line ever: “We will stand as children of the promise, We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward! ‘Til the race is finished and the work is done, we’ll walk by faith and not by sight.”

Valley of Vision by Sovereign Grace
This is a cd I listened to for the first time today and I kept thinking, ‘this has to go in my post today!’ A friend recommended it to me and I am so glad he did. Every song is based on a prayer from the Valley of Vision a collection of Puritan prayers.

Amazing Grace

My Savior My God

Everlasting God

Indescribable

Lord, I Want to be Like Jesus

And Can It Be (Amazing Love)

I can think of many others but I want to hear from you as well. What are your favorite songs? Do you ever pray as you sing?