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How do I forgive when I don’t feel like it?

I’m excited to share about the next online study for the Bible Study Hub—a thriving online community of women encouraging one another to get in the Word! This study is written by my good friend and ministry partner, Lara Williams. I would probably not be writing Bible studies today if it were not for Lara. Back in 2011, I asked her if she would co-author a book I had on my heart but felt unable to write myself (I had a LOT of learning to do about the craft of writing). She said yes and 8 months later, we published Savoring Living Water (affiliate link). About a month after that, we finally met in person. Crazy how the internet connects.

Lara is an incredibly gifted writer, but she also walks with intimately with Jesus and this is evident in all her projects. All that to say, I’m super-excited to dive into Life Giver next week and I would LOVE for you to join me. In this 4-week Bible study, Lara teaches us how we can be life givers in our relationships. Below is an excerpt from this study.


We can probably all agree that forgiveness is best. Forgiveness, even of those who wrong us deeply, proves to be freedom for us. But there’s one little thing that often gets in the way: our feelings.

I’m a girl. And let me tell you. As a girl, I’ve got lots and lots of feelings. And I’ve got feelings about those feelings and feelings about those feelings. Ad infinitum. So, when someone wrongs me, lots of feelings come to the surface and beg my attention. They typically insist that I act vengeful with fingers pointing and a few “how dare you(s)” thrown in for added drama.

But the thing about feelings is that even though they are very real, and often justified, they don’t always lead us to the right action. Remember what Jeremiah said about our hearts? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). In fact, I don’t think my feelings have ever told me to forgive my enemies. Ever.

Yet Jesus commands forgiveness, for our good and His glory. And He means for it to be an act of our will, not necessarily an act of our emotions.

Forgive each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. — Colossians 3:13

We have a choice. Regardless of our feelings, in Christ we have the choice to forgive even when we’re desperately hurting. And that choice will bring soul-blessing.

God gives us boundaries and commands to protect us. He loves us – perfectly and fully. He knows us – perfectly and fully. And because He designed us, He knows what will lead us to our most blessed existence. When it comes to relationships, we will give life to others when we choose to forgive, regardless.

How Do I Forgive?

The question becomes, “How do I forgive, especially when I’m hurting?” The answer? We turn to the One who forgives out of His amazing grace. We pray. We press hard into our Lord — the Forgiver of all sin. We seek refuge in Him and trust His covering. We meditate on what He says about forgiveness. We live authentic lives, allowing others to walk with us down the tearful road of releasing the debt we want another to pay. And then we believe God to do the heart-healing work that only He can do.

Feelings take time to line up with the willful forgiveness. But feelings eventually come. They will come. But until they do we command our soul towards obedience.

Forgiveness sets us free to love. It sets us free to give of ourselves without the need for others to do anything in return, because we’ve found fulness in our Lord. We see that everyone is the same — needy for a Healer and Redeemer. And when we see people through the lens of grace, unforgiveness has no place.

Moving Forward

Spend some time in honest conversation with the Lord. Confess any harbored unforgiveness. Tell God your honest feelings – He already knows. Then speak truth over those feelings. Declare the verses we meditated upon this week regarding forgiveness. You may want to seek out a trusted friend to pray for you and with you as you walk the road of forgiving another. But however you get there, release others from a debt that’s already been paid. Grace is the only road to becoming a life giver.


Join the 4-week Life Giver online study group!

  • WHEN: 9/10/2017 – 10/6/2017
  • WHERE: Bible Study Hub
  • HOW TO JOIN: Purchase your study for as little as $4.99, join the Facebook group, and dive into the conversation beginning next week!
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want the physical workbook, order your copy ASAP so you can get it before the study starts on Monday!

Who’s in? Who’s excited?!

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What if I don’t enjoy studying the Bible?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Season 3 – Episode #3

Ever been in a place where you don’t have a desire to study the Bible? If this is you, you are NOT alone. This is a common struggle every Christian has dealt with. In this quick 15 minute episode, Chris and I share a few reasons WHY this might be the case, as well as several practical steps to take in order move forward!

What if I don’t enjoy studying the Bible?

There are many potential reasons for why we may not enjoy reading the Bible, but here are three of the most common reasons why many find it hard to open the Word.

  • Running and hiding – All too often, our response to our failures is to run away from God. Instead of experiencing the mercy of God by drawing near to the throne of grace, we believe the lie that it would be better to hide our sin and keep our distance.
  • Spiritual pride – Some get to the point where they feel they’ve read it all and have answered all the big questions they’ve had about the Bible. The felt need for learning more and knowing God better has diminished.
  • Comparison to a past spiritual high – Sometimes we open our Bible and we feel God speaking in incredible ways. This often happens when we first come to Christ, or while attending a conference or retreat. It is exciting to feel the sudden stirrings of a truth that changes everything for us, or a much-needed comfort of a promise delivered during a time of need. But these “feel-good” moments do not occur every time we approach Scripture, and it is easy to get stuck feeling like time in the Word is not worth it if we don’t immediately feel something.

So, we’ve all been there. Now what? Here are 6 actions to take if you find yourself lacking a desire for Scripture.

  • Be encouraged! The fact that this lack of desire bothers you is a good sign. God is working in you!
  • Pray. It is God’s will for you to be in the Word. If you ask Him to grant your heart a longing for time in the Bible, He will answer that prayer because that request is in line with God’s will.
  • Act in faith, not on your feelings. Feelings are deceptive and poor guides. Move ahead in obedience, with the expectant faith that God will answer your prayer to stir up a passion for His Word.
  • Quit comparing. In the age of Pinterest, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling that our time in the Word needs to look like so-and-so’s. Though it can be helpful to see how others spend their time in the Bible, we must not give into trying to one-up what everyone else is doing.
  • Manage your expectations. We must let go of the thought that our “quiet times” must be a certain length, depth, and with a particular ambience to be worthwhile. Have 1 minute? Take it. Not exactly sure what to study? Start somewhere. Have no idea what you just read? Trust that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to what you need to see, when you need to see it. His Word does not return void. Any time in the Bible is good.
  • Remember. Recall what is true about God and who you are because of Christ. God is not going to reject you because you don’t always want to open your Bible. His acceptance of you is not dependent on your actions. Preach the gospel to your heart and remember that you are loved unconditionally.

HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

 

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Three tips for establishing a regular quiet time routine

One of the excuses I often hear (and have given myself!) for not having a consistent quiet time is, “I’m too busy for Bible study.” Truly, you and I know this is not quite true. We all have discretionary time—we just don’t always use that time as well as we could.

Life is a journey, and so is the road to consistent time in the Word. One of the biggest hurdles to staying in the Word is NOT busyness, but it IS lack of a habit. If we can develop a routine that includes Bible study—even if it is just minutes a day—we will reap the benefits of a deeper walk with Christ. Having a rhythm in our days that naturally leads us into the Word is one of the most fruitful pursuits we can spend time on. I’ve found one such fruit of establishing a Bible study habit is a greater HUNGER for more time in the Word and a deeper DESIRE for meaningful Bible study.

Here are three tips that have helped me in establishing (and keeping) a regular time for Bible reading, study, and memorization.

Three tips for establishing a regular Bible study routine

  • Find a trigger. When I have coffee, then I read my Bible. That’s my trigger. Instead of trying to make 6 AM or 11PM my hard and fast quiet time, I’ve had much more success in folding Bible study into the rhythm of my day. So whether I wake up at 7 AM or slept in until noon, my Bible study is part of my morning routine.
  • Find a space. Once you carve out time to sit and study, it’s helpful to have everything ready and waiting in an inviting place for you to start. This will help keep you from wasting time looking for a pen or your Bible. Whether it be an armchair in your bedroom or the living room sofa, have a basket or drawer filled with all you might need to spend time with God. If you have multiple copies, consider designating one Bible for this space and another for Sunday morning sermon notes. I have a Sunday bag that has everything I need for the service, including my journal Bible which I only use for that time. This frees me up to have other resources handy on the shelf near my “quiet time” space in my home office.
  • Find a group. This is especially helpful if you are trying to build momentum and need accountability and encouragement. The first few weeks of a new habit are always the most difficult, and groups—whether they’ve been online or in “real life”—have been just the catalyst I’ve needed to keep going after the excitement wears off on day two of my endeavor.

What has been helpful for you when establishing a new routine?


There is a new resource out—Refresh Your Routines from Homemaking Ministries—that will help you develop the daily habit of time with God (and other important elements of your routine). This quick and easy FREE e-course includes 4 video sessions, a flexible (non-dated!) printable Bible reading plan/checklist, daily disciplines checklist, a 31-day habit tracker, and more!!⠀

Consider downloading these FREE printables, find a trigger, a space, and then gather a few friends to try it out together. (I’m planning to host a group through The Psalms in August, so you can join me then, also!)

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What should my quiet time look like?

FOCUSed15 Podcast – Episode #7 (Season 2)

Whether you realize it or not, we all have expectations and pictures of what the “perfect” quiet time looks like. Though we certainly need to be careful not to give in to the paralysis of perfectionism, it is typically helpful to have some guidelines in place to evaluate how effective our time with God is. Listen in to this 15 minute episode to receive some helpful guard rails to keep your quiet times on track.

IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT:

  • How we define a “quiet time”
  • The importance of both hearing from the Lord and speaking to Him within your quiet time
  • Specific elements given to help incorporate both this hearing and speaking into your time with God
  • Three ways to approach the intake of God’s Word
  • Three ways to communicate with God during your quiet time
  • Quiet time ruts we may get into that keep up from experiencing God more fully

RESOURCES MENTIONED:


HOW TO LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST:

You have many options for listening in. Simply choose your favorite from below.

1. Listen right here on the blog. Just click the little play button at the beginning of this post.

2. Listen from an app on your smartphone, iPad or iPod– For iDevice users, click here to access the podcast and subscribe in iTunes.  If you don’t have an Apple device, you can listen with the Stitcher app. You’ll have access to new episodes on either app as soon as they are published.

3. Listen from your computer via iTunes or Stitcher. Just click here to access the podcast in iTunes or here to listen from the Stitcher website. Once you subscribe to the podcast, new episodes will show up in your iTunes and/or Stitcher dashboard.

 

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My heart on the presidential election and the image of the church

My heart has been incredibly heavy this week over the state of our nation. I have friends and family on all sides of every issue and I can’t stand to be on social media right now. So much of the back and forth—the hate, the pride, the lashing out—is disappointing, at best. I’ve been fairly quiet online as I process where to go from here.

Lord, what is my part? What actions can I take? How am I supposed to pray?

This I do know: I am a Christian and an ambassador for Christ, not primarily of a political party or certain candidate. I am the brand of Christ. When people look at me, they are to see and feel something that is supernatural and special. Not because of who I am, but because (whether they can identify it or not) they see Christ in me. Everything I say or don’t say, do or don’t do is a reflection of Christ and I long to reflect Him well.

Everyday Love Images.009

I wish I was better at this. There are so many days and moments that I fail to reflect the glory of God to the people around me. And yet God is to be glorified through all His people—the church. I long for His good and gracious character to be made known. I want souls to see their utter need for Christ. And none of this can happen if Christians don’t look like Christ.

Lately it seems our reflection of Him has been covered in mud.

Everyday Love Images.010

So—starting with me—I’m praying for a revival of a renewed repentance and deep humility among the church. I’m asking God to show me if there is any wicked way within me and lead me toward repentance. Today, I choose to focus primarily on my own actions and attitudes and —by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit—I will follow the example of Christ down the road of counting others more significant than myself.

LORD JESUS,

I sin — Grant that I may
never cease grieving because of it,
never be content with myself,
never think I can reach a point of perfection.
Kill my envy, command my tongue,
trample down self.
Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure,
peaceable,
to live for thee and not for self,
to copy thy words, acts, spirit,
to be transformed into thy likeness,
to be consecrated wholly to thee,
to live entirely to thy glory.

. . .

O God, the Eternal All, help me to know that
all things are shadows, but thou art substance,
all things are quicksands, but thou art mountain,
all things are shifting, but thou art anchor,
all things are ignorance, but thou art wisdom.

—Valley of Vision, Purification

thou-art-wisdom

Amen.

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What We Desperately Need for the New Year

Over the years you may have chosen, or seen others choose their “word” for the year. One word which sums up a focus, a hope, a plan for a bigger, better new year. I love this time of year and all the promise of a fresh start and new beginnings, but as I look forward to the new year the thought of one word seems inadequate to encapsulate my hopes for those 365 days ahead of me.

It’s a significant step to dream big, to set goals, to move forward. Yet, I think it’s even more important to recognize that without the work of God in and around me, my goal-setting, year-planning, and one-word-choosing are a waste.

My focus and self-effort can move me forward for a while. Only a work of God produces permanent transformation.

And you and I are desperate for transformation. Not just for salvation, but for day-to-day living. For the eating habits we long to change. For the envious, hate-filled, or lustful thoughts we want to escape. For the harsh words and rage we desire to relinquish.

Or maybe that’s just me?

Let’s not run into our new year plans until we recognize our desperate need for Jesus. Let’s pause all our monthly planning until we’ve pursued God to reveal His purpose for our moments. Let’s be willing to cast aside our personal goals if they don’t bring us closer to His glorious perfection.

Because we desperately need a work of God more than we need a word to cling to. Chose your word, but look to the Word as your only hope.

Let’s search the heart of our heavenly, loving Father. Let’s beg Him for a glimpse of His good and glorious plan for our lives, the year ahead, and our moments hereafter. Then let’s trust Him to do a powerful work in our hearts this year.

May we look back at this time next year and see a year filled with a renewal of our motivations, and a revolution in our hearts.

What supernatural work do you need God to do in your life?

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10 Resources for Everyday Prayer

Man, this was a good one. We could have chatted for hours on prayer, yet we packed a punch with these 38 minutes on everyday prayer. I hope you can carve out some time to listen in!

(Short on time? Click the setting icon “cog” on the bottom right of the video viewer. There will be several settings that pop up. Look for the “speed” option and take your pick on how fast you would like to watch!) Can’t see the video? Click here.

Resources for Everyday Prayer

Here is a list of the many resources we shared about during our conversation. Check them out! (Many of these are Amazon affiliate links.)

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Perspective and Tips on Planning

Once we know what we are called to do, a good next step is putting feet to that calling. I chatted with Kat Lee and Amy Andrews last week about our struggles and successes with planning and implementing our plans.

What we chat about:

  • Why is planning important?
  • Is planning Biblical?
  • Finding a rhythm for planning and implementing those plans.
  • Looking at practical ways to how to take big plans and take them in smaller chunks.
  • Assigning projects to blocks of time.
  • How to use digital calendar alongside a paper planner.
  • The two types of people: “thinkers” and “doers”
  • Plus, LOADS of random planning tips!

(Short on time? Click the setting icon “cog” on the bottom right of the video viewer. There will be several settings that pop up. Look for the “speed” option and take your pick on how fast you would like to watch!) Can’t see the video? Click here. 

Resources for Planning

What would you add to the planning conversation?

(The next “blab” will be on prayer, and is scheduled for Wednesday the 30th. Click here to subscribe!)

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How to Balance Conflicting Callings

Though it was the end of a very long day, trailing several marathon weeks, I walked out of leading Bible study ready to take on everyday life again. Hours of preparation preceded that quick and precious hour I had sans kiddos. I’d prepared a Bible study, prayed for hearts to be tender and the Spirit to speak, then guided a Word-centric discussion with a small group of women.

I should have walked out of that room as exhausted as I wandered in. Yet, I was ready to take on all the remaining tasks for the week. The typically dreaded bedtime routines, meal planning, and untamable laundry became less daunting. Additionally, my desire to connect with and love on my husband and children increased.

This is how I know I am in God’s will: when I leave that activity energized and excited to return to my callings of a wife, a mother, and a disciple of Christ.

Every woman has many callings.

As a Christian, you and I are called to many endeavors. First and foremost, we are all CALLED to walk intimately with Christ. We are each CALLED to be a part of a local church body and CALLED to use our time, vocation, and resources toward missional living — making Jesus known to those around us. If you are married, you are CALLED to be a wife and all that entails. If you have children, you are CALLED to the role and responsibilities of mom.

This seems like quite a bit already, doesn’t it? Yet most of us have seeds of another calling or two planted within our hearts. There are goals and dreams that keep us up at night, topics and ideas we can talk for hours about. These, too, can be callings — God-given passions and pursuits that we must steward — but they are often either sorely neglected or end up hijacking the place and priority of our primary CALLINGS.

I first felt this “clash of the callings” after the CALLING of motherhood had become overwhelming. My “Big C” CALLINGS and “little c” callings haven’t changed in the four years since I wrote that blog post. I certainly don’t feel as if I have every iron wrinkled out, however, I’ve come a long way in finding a synergy between the two. Fulfilling the God-given “little c” longings of my heart (which sometimes seem to pull me away from my precious everyday moments) have proven to fuel the “Big C” priorities of my life.

How to find your calling in life.

I spent some time last week chatting with Kat Lee and Stacey Thacker (two of my favorite people and incredibly wise women) about calling. We used a new platform called Blab, and it was a ton of fun. You can watch the chat below, as we talk about how to balance our CALLING with our calling.

(Short on time? Click the setting icon “cog” on the bottom right of the video viewer. There will be several settings that pop up. Look for the “speed” option and take your pick on how fast you would like to watch!) Can’t see the video? Click here.

(I’ll be chatting again this Thursday, September 17, this time on planning. Kat Lee will be jumping in again, along with Amy AndrewsHead on over to Blab and follow me to be notified of when the discussion begins!)

What are your thoughts on all this talk on calling? Do you resonate with this struggle? What experience and perspective can you add to the conversation? I’d love to hear them in the comments.


[FreshBundle bundle_id=”find_your_calling_001″ layout=”list” custom_title=”Resources to Help Find Your Calling” custom_buy_button=”” custom_cta=”” target=”blank” ]

*Some links in post are affiliate links. I may get a small commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. 

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The Everyday Woman

I get into trouble when I try to be everything.

The constant pressure of my “you-should” ideals squeeze every ounce of joy out of my moments. The toxic “not-enough” thoughts leave me emotionally unstable. The oppressive “ought-to” expectations of others paralyze my decision-making ability. The ability to recognize these threats have come the hard way and falling into each of these pitfalls brings a humility and a clarity — a vision of living my moments in freedom from the should’s, the not-enough’s, and the ought-to’s.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV)

I am promised abundant living, in Christ. Not paralyzed living. Not terrified living. Not guilt-ridden living. Abundant living. If you are in Christ, you are promised this life too. 

abundant living in christ

Everyday Christian living isn’t meant to be confusing and crippling, but you and I make it such when we set our sights on being Ms./Mrs. Everything. Instead of attempting to reach the illusive Superwoman-status, we must direct our efforts toward Spirit-led obedience in our simple everyday moments: working and watching, cooking and cleaning, teaching and training, sleeping and stirring. Because the promised abundant life is cultivated best when we are living out the everyday life God has planned specifically for each of us to live. 

The Everyday Woman Series

In the weeks to come, I’d like to process the areas of everyday life together. Some of these areas you may feel successful in, whereas in others you may feel like a flailing fish out of water. I have my own areas of everyday life in which I thrive, while others leave me in tears of frustration. 

Whether you’re a mom, a single woman, an empty nester, or a newlywed, you are an everyday woman made in the image of God. You are an extraordinary masterpiece with layers of beauty and strength. A necessary piece of a God-sized puzzle, and our unique everyday pieces fit together to create a display the image of Christ to the world around us.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey as the everyday woman you already are. I invite you to come and share your thoughts and ideas, your successes and failures. 

What areas of life do you have a good handle on? What do you need help in most?