Showing items filed under “Christian Living”

Getting Back to Bible Reading

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There is an old saying that goes, “Stay prayed up!” This is one way to keep the devil at bay and to remain closer to God.

Who doesn’t want to be closer to God?

There are many ways to develop a close relationship with Christ. Over all the praises, songs, prayers, and devotions, it is clear that we need to know who Christ is. We need to know the experiences Christ had with the people he met along the way to becoming our one true savior. We need to know his true intentions for us all. We need to know how his will and our ways align in the grand scheme of this great life.

In order to understand our journey and the plans he has for us, we need to know him.

Considering the need every child of God has for a real, honest relationship with him, our first stop in pursuing a relationship with him should be the Bible, or the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

Picking up the Bible for leisurely reading may seem like a challenge. Reading the Bible outside of church or Bible study may seem like a chore. But, any relationship worth having is worth working for. Every day God works on us just a little bit more, so carve out some time to work on your end as well.

Psalms 119:133 says that God’s Word gives us guidance. In times of need, and in times of ease, it’s important to seek Christ’s guidance for your life.

Here are some quick tips for getting more Bible time in your life:

  • Use a small devotional in the mornings to get your day started
  • Commit yourself to 10 minutes of reading on a topic of your choice 4 days a week and highlight the important parts that stand out to you for later reflection.
  • Use a handy Bible reading App
  • Listen to an audio Bible during your commute
  • Search for verses that have a significant meaning to you to begin your reading (i.e. Birthday January 4th= read John 1:4, Philippians 1:4, Ecclesiastes 1:4, etc.)

After you have chosen what works best for you, find a way to tie it into your prayer time or whatever time you have set for your private dates with Jesus. If you chose to have several small ones a day or just one a day, use this time to build on your relationship with Jesus!

You’ll be glad you did.

Stand Firm, The Battle is On

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We have all heard about Satan or the devil, envisioning anything from the snake in the garden to the red-suited, pointed-eared, trident-toting, Halloween costume.

Satan in mentioned throughout the Bible and is referred to by many names including the evil one, the devil, our adversary, the wicked one, the prince of this world, and the tempter, to name a few.

We are warned about Satan and his deception. In I Peter 5:8-9 we are told, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of suffering”.

There is no doubt, there is a battle over our hearts and souls…all of us are under attack. We must be on guard, be aware, and know our enemy to insure we fight the right fight.

How do we defend against the tempter’s attacks?

Anyone who’s ever been involved in sports has heard that the best defense is the best offense. What does a "best defense" against Satan look like?

Believe The Battle Is On

We must acknowledge we are in a spiritual battle. Otherwise we have given Satan the winning hand. Ignorance is not bliss, it means the battle has been lost.

Stay Close to Jesus

In her book, Jesus Calling, Sarah Young says to renew our minds, “Train your mind to seek Me (Jesus) in every moment, every situation.” With Jesus this close we can overcome.

Understand The Enemy 

Know your enemy is the advice any military strategist would give as a key concept in battle. Being aware of Satan and his tactics is key to winning the war.

Seek the Light

Jesus is the light of the world. Satan loves the darkness and hides from the light. The light of Jesus protects and guides us when we remain in his light.

Stay Firm in Your Faith

Stay focused!! Showing Satan complete trust and confidence in God will repulse him. The devil may try to lead us astray, but ultimately he cannot defeat our God.

Support Each Other

At the last supper, Jesus had a heart-to-heart conversation with his disciples. In Luke 22:31-32b Jesus says to Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.”  If it was important for Jesus to pray for his disciples how much more do we need prayer?

The thought of a battle, spiritual warfare, taking place here and now on this earth can be quite disconcerting; even downright frightening. The good news is that in the end we know who wins. The Bible assures us that Christ has and will continue to overcome the evil of this world. Eventually he will do so once and for all. Until that day, be confident and stay strong resting on that promise.

Serving at Winter Relief as a Family

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At the end of last October, I took my family to serve for one evening of the Winter Relief program. It was a very remarkable experience and as I reflect back on it, there are three main takeaways that made a huge impact on my family. 

First and foremost, there is power in serving Jesus together as a family.

The world has a way of sucking me into believing that I am the center of the universe—that it’s all about me. Often I end up translating that into my family too! My world begins to revolve around my family and my priorities become my wife’s needs, my kid’s needs, schoolwork, soccer practice, family dinner and girl scouts. These are all wonderful and important activities. But serving as a family is different.

We prepared two large honey baked hams, then brought them to church and helped serve the homeless people who had gathered there. Doing tangible service as a family together meant that everything else had to be put on hold and serving other people took priority. It was a challenge and each person had to sacrifice something they’d rather be doing in order to serve. That’s what being a follower of Jesus is all about, choosing to follow him instead of my own desires.

Second, my children got to see me model service.

The reality is that my family is always watching me. They take notice of everything; what I do, what I say, what I like, what excites me, and my attitude towards something. Sadly, I often fall short in the example I want to set for my children and my wife. But this was one night where I felt confident in saying, watch me and do what I do. As I began to truly enjoy serving and interacting with the people at Winter Relief, my family followed suite. Soon I looked over at a table and saw my daughters (aged 9 & 6) taking seats next to a lonely young girl sitting by herself, offering to get her a drink. My son (aged 16) was doing a wonderful job serving everyone who came through his line. My wife was bringing people anything they might have missed like utensils or napkins. 

Third, my family was able to encounter real world brokenness and offer the love of Jesus in response.

Before we went to serve for the evening, my wife and I had to have some meaningful conversations with our children about the homeless. They don’t encounter homeless people very often. While all humans experience disappointment and brokenness, homelessness is a very upfront and external brokenness. I wanted to teach my children that it doesn’t matter if the brokenness is internal and hidden well or external and visible to all, the answer is the same. When people are in need, Jesus calls us to serve them in whatever way we can to reveal him.

 

Serving at Winter Relief was undoubtedly a meaningful and positive experience for my family. Even though we had to step outside our comfort zone and make some small sacrifices to get everyone there. In the end, we were able to do something to tangibly serve others and we had some wonderful and very meaningful conversations along the way.

At that moment, when my whole family was serving together, I couldn’t have been more content.

 


 

Winter Relief will be here again soon! There is a big need for Severn Runners to fill—bringing food, cooking, serving, and most of all connecting with our guests. This is an amazing opportunity for our church community to Love Well and Live Jesus! Get more information and sign up to fill a need when you follow this link:

YES!
I’M HELPING WITH
WINTER RELIEF!

 

Praying as a Family

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“They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Acts 1:14

People often have an idealized idea of what praying as a family should look like. In a perfect world, praying with children would be easy. We would sit around the table with our well behaved children (who would have perfectly clean faces and perfectly ironed clothes), we would all hold hands and bow our heads, and even the youngest would remain quiet during this time of intersession with God.

But is this obviously not a perfect world, and I don’t know about your family, but my kids are loud. They usually have the remnants of their most recent meal on their clothes and they rarely sit still for anything other than Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. My house is one monkey short of being a circus. So it can be a struggle to find, or more importantly, make time to teach our young ones to talk to Jesus. But find that time we must

When I was in college I went on a mission trip to East Africa. Our group spent months preparing for this trip. We would get together as a group to learn about the people we would meet and learn about their culture. We practiced how to speak to a group using an interpreter and we had amazing prayer meetings. One of my favorite things we would do during the prayer meetings is, we would pray with our eyes open, we would pray as if God were a tangible person sitting in the room with us. It felt strange at first, certainly not how I prayed when I was growing up, but it taught me that prayer can happen at anytime in any place. My understanding of prayer grew. It showed me another way that prayer can be an extremely intimate and powerful act of group worship.

I have taken this approach and applied it to my own “group”. My family.

My children have a tendency to be intimidated by the thought of talking to The Lord. They think there are certain words to say, a specific way to pray. While I want them to have an attitude of reverence and awe, I also want them to understand that they are God’s children and he delights in them. Even when they thank him for every single one of their favorite toys and it takes 5 minutes to list them all. I want them to simply get used to talking to God, whether that be around the table thanking him for our food or telling him about their Barbies and dinosaurs.

5 Ways to Pray as a Family

 

1. Set aside intentional time to pray together.

Set aside a regular time to pray with your kids or spouse. For my family, this is usually while we are driving to school in the morning or before bed at night. Praying for their safety at school, praying for the teachers and their friends is a great way to kick off the day. At night, we pray once everyone is in bed. The kids will (hopefully) be starting to settle down and it just seems like a natural time for children to open up and talk about whats on their hearts.

2. Pray spontaneously.

If you see a car accident, say a prayer out loud for those involved. If your kids are testing your patience, stop and let them hear you telling God how much you love them even when your tired and frustrated. If you can’t find the car keys, say a quick prayer together about it.

3. Let them see you pray on your own.

Get on your knees in front of your couch, let them see what it looks like to be in communication with the Lord throughout the day. You set the tone and the example for your children in your home.

4. Make a prayer chart or jar.

Make a chart and keep it in a visible place in the house or make a prayer jar. Get a jar or mug and fill it with strips of paper with people and things to pray about. Keep it on the kitchen table, during dinner take turns praying about whatever topic is picked. 

5. Give thanks for answered prayer.

Make a point to give thanks and celebrate answered prayer. Its important for children to understand that God answers prayers.

 

Prayer is one of the most powerful ways we can communicate with the Lord, and helping our children understand that and participating as a family is an amazing blessing.

It’s Always Something, Isn't It?

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The day starts with the best of intentions. You tell yourself in the most convincing manner possible that today is the day. You will absolutely find the time. You will have the most amazing prayer time ever.

Then its off to the races.

Your feet hit the floor running.

There’s no looking back.

The day ends.

You have no idea why you failed.

Maybe you did put on the breaks, briefly.

You sat quietly.

Took several deep breathes.

30 seconds later you were either snoozing or task list checking.

What happened?

One word…distractions.

They are Satan’s answer to keeping us from God!

“How can I keep from being distracted?” is not a new question but many of the distractions today are new.

There are really only two types of distractions. When we figure out what works to control them, prayer can and will become a beautiful part of our relationship with God. First we will look at environmental distractions and then internal thoughts distractions.

It’s not headline news that we all have a lot of activities in our lives. Family, work, home, friends, church, volunteering, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the list goes on and on. Although we do have commitments in many of these areas, the key is putting the commitment to God at the top of that list. Three specific steps will work to minimize the distractions around us for a productive prayer time:

Turn OFF all the screens:

This means actually turning them off and tuning them out. Yours and anyone near you. There is nothing that you can possibly be missing during your prayer time that’s more important then God.

Schedule a specific time and location:

Knowing when and where prayer time will be spent makes it a priority. Something come up? Just like any other important appointment reschedule.

Be intentional everyday:

Top priority tasks get done. Enough said!

These steps are half the challenge. Internal distractions are the next obstacle.

According to an article in Phycology Today about distractions in our mind, “It's not negotiable: there's no way not to be distracted by distractions.”

That’s encouraging!

The good news is it was reported in The Telegraph that a 2016 study concluded, “Intelligent people may find it difficult to focus the mind because of all the amazing ideas constantly running through their genius brains.”

That explains everything, right?

Bottom line is that everyone battles distractions. There are things we can do to control our thoughts and bring our focus to God. Each of us is unique. We each need to try various methods to find what works for us. Trying one or more of these suggested approaches may get you to that amazing prayer time.

Have a plan:

Consider using the ACTS approach - Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. You can read more on this approach  at billygraham.org/answer/how-does-one-pray-ive-never-been-taught-how-to-say-a-personal-prayer-or-really-talk-to-god/

Force focus:

Either write out your prayer or say your prayer out loud. These approaches force your mind to stay on task.

Prepare your mind: 

Try listening to or singing a favorite worship song, reading a prayer from book of Psalm, or reciting a prayer such as The Serenity Prayer.

Group prayer:

Consider soliciting others to pray with you. Share requests and take turns praying out loud.

 

These are just a few ideas. Try these and others. Most importantly don’t give up until you have found your prayer sweet spot.

Be committed, be intentional, and prayer will be amazing.

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