Devotionals

5 Thoughts on the Nebulous Topic of Quiet Time

Quiet time. You hear about it all the time in the Christian community. Everyone talks about its importance and how much it impacts their lives. Yet so many of us struggle with figuring out what it looks like on a practical level. We struggle with the discipline of sitting down, quieting our minds, and spending quality time with God.

As I’ve pursued this journey of quiet time, here are a few things I’ve discovered:

  1. Not everyone’s quiet time looks the same. Sure, sitting down, reading your Bible, and praying are standard. And we absolutely must read our Bibles and pray. Scripture is one of the most powerful tools we have against the enemy. How can we know what comes from God and what comes from the Enemy without Scripture? So it’s absolutely a must. However, your quiet time can have variety. You can read one verse and then go on a walk and meditate on that verse. You can read a book by a Christian author that helps you better worship God. You can go through a Bible study workbook. You can listen to worship music. You can get down on your knees and pray with your arms lifted to the Lord. You can dance before Him. You can paint, draw, sculpt as you pray and dwell in His presence. You can journal. You can talk to Him out loud. The list is unending- because as I’m learning from Jen Wilkin’s None Like Him, we serve an infinite God and therefore He is not bound by a single method of connection.
  2. Quiet time is a habit. Seriously, it doesn’t just become a habit on its own. You have to plan, prioritize, and repeat it daily. It takes 21 days for something to become a habit. We have to have the discipline to daily surrender our schedules and days before the Lord and commit to spending time with Him. This might sound harsh but, friend, you need to hear it: you cannot claim to have a relationship with someone you don’t spend time with. Let’s not kid ourselves. We must make tiny sacrifices to die to ourselves daily and choose God.
  3. Quiet time is not a prerequisite for God to love you. We don’t have to do anything to earn God’s love. We already have it. Jesus already died for our sins. Guilt has no power over us. If we miss a quiet time, God is not holding a grudge. He’s not mad. He’s waiting. He desires your time because He has the purest of loves for you. We must view quiet time as a beautiful gift to spend time with the one who loves us the most- and surrender our guilt when we’re not perfect.
  4. God is fun. No, really. Who do you think invented the idea? God wants to have fun with us during our quiet times. We can seriously let our imaginations run wild with Him. We can go on hikes and adventures. We can laugh with God and have private jokes. God is not serious all the time. He’s playful, delightful. He’s certainly not stuffy and boring.
  5. Our days have more joy and perspective when we spend time with Him. In reality, we are citizens of heaven, not this world. And because we’re citizens of heaven, this world can drain us and leave us feeling discouraged and empty. What if we looked at quiet time as a way to recharge and get perspective on our earthly lives? Things that loom large in daily life pale in comparison to eternity. Don’t get me wrong- pain is pain and I would never hope to diminish someone’s suffering. However, when we look to eternity with the Creator, we can realize that healing will come, this earth will be redeemed, and the battle has already been won- by Someone much bigger and more powerful than we could ever imagine.

Friends, let’s spend time with God, not out of obligation, but out of delight and joy. All good things come from Him. And when we give Him our stresses and worries, He will bring healing, refocus, and joy.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” -2 Timothy 3: 16-17

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” -Philippians 3:20-21

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 1:6-7

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Devotionals

Is Anyone Actually Patient?

“I’m just not really a patient person…” says the girl on my podcast this morning. I’m struck by how odd of a statement that is. It’s a common enough phrase- we describe people as patient all the time- but what does that actually mean? When we get down to it, is anyone actually patient?

I don’t think so. I’m going to get kind of philosophical here but I’m pretty sure we humans are just a mass of hugely inconsistent contradictions. When you really think about it, people rarely personify one word perfectly. I believe everyone is both patient and impatient.

For example, I am patient with teenagers when I’m trying to teach them how to write. I don’t mind them not getting it right the first time- in fact, I expect the process to be time consuming and somewhat painful. However, I lose my mind when I have to wait in a line. I just lose it. I can’t believe that someone would waste my time for no good purpose (which is why my husband and I bring books to Disneyland).

Isn’t it interesting how we humans want to label ourselves and each other. It feels organized or somehow satisfying to label things or put them into categories. We love pigeon-holing people and then pointing out when they do things out of line from our perception of them.

Is this fair? It doesn’t feel fair. However, regardless of its fairness, it is the reality of how we think about humans. And on a much broader scale, it’s a key difference between humanity and God. We can’t put our hope in people- because people aren’t consistent enough. They’re not safe enough. We think they’re one way and then they go and do something “way out of character.” But who characterized them in the first place? Who decided that they had to be that way?

Humans will fail us. God will not. He is completely unchanging. He was, is, and is to come. He is the perfect version of all the things: love, patience, kindness, peace, mercy, grace, wisdom, etc. We might be patient in one way, but God is patient in all of the ways. And He is patient as we live out this life, make mistakes, run back to Him, ignore Him, and repeat the process all over again.

Our heavenly Father is the only safety. He’s actually the only one we can count on to always be consistently who He is. How beautiful is that?

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” -1 Corinthians 13: 4-10

Devotionals

Self Pity Serves Nobody-Especially You

What is my weakness? This morning as I read 2 Corinthians 12:10, I asked God this question. The verse says “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” I know that in all of my weaknesses, God will use them for healing, redemption, and His purpose. Yet how can I allow Him to heal me if I’m not sure what my weaknesses are?

So today I asked God this question and He pretty much immediately brought to my mind this phrase: self pity. And you know what? He’s right. Shocker.

This week I’ve had a lot of extra duties. I run a leadership program at my school and last night I worked late to select new leaders. I’m ordering and designing the staff shirt this year so I had to stay after school for that on Tuesday. And today, I’ve got to stay late for a school wide event. In the midst of this, I’m running a business and trying to finish planning my husband’s birthday party for this weekend. So yeah-there’s a lot on my plate. No doubt.

But you know what doesn’t serve me? Self pity. Feeling sorry for myself is ridiculous if I’m being honest. As appealing as it looks to me in these challenging moments, I literally get nothing out of it but sadness, hurt, anxious thoughts, and a large waste of time.

Self pity leads me to seek affirmation from others. It leads me to be disappointed when I don’t receive praise. It drives my actions to be motivationed by fear instead of love. It feels like a suffocating pressure. It gives me self righteous thoughts and puts others down. It makes me a victim.

When I list out the consequences of indulging in self pity, it seems absurd that I’d ever even choose it. Who would want to feel that way? But the path is well worn in my brain and it feels comforting at first.

But here’s the thing: thoughts matter. They matter not only because they control my actions, but also because Jesus told us they can be sinful. The Bible teaches thought-work. It commands us to notice what’s going on in our brains. It’s not some woo-woo New Age thing to be mindful of our thoughts. It’s flat out Biblical.

So what do I do about my self pity? I start by recognizing it. I start by bringing my sin before the Lord. I start by confessing and surrendering. God finishes the process if we are faithful. He will bring healing thoughts and His truths. We soak up those truths.

The God who has healed a million people before you will not abandon you. He has deemed you worthy of healing because His Son has atoned for your sins. Let’s rest in that truth today. Let’s let go of our self pity. After all-what do we have to pity ourselves for? We have confidence in our eternal salvation and, more importantly, in a God who is faithful beyond anything we could ever imagine. Who could ask for more?

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:5

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” -Hebrews 10:23

Devotionals

The Lies in Your Head Need to See the Light of Day

There I sat in my Missional Community (MC) group thinking: soon, it’ll be my turn to share. I know what I need to say. I know what’s on my heart. I know I can’t escape. But the words feel hard to say. Being raw and vulnerable with the things we’re ashamed of or fearful to share can be so hard. It feels impossible that these women will accept me after hearing about my insecurities.

And what’s worse: if I say these words out loud, they become reality. They’re true thoughts in my head and now others will hear them too. What if they don’t struggle with the same thing? What if they think I’m crying too much? What if they don’t think what I’m sharing is a big deal? Lies. Let’s just be honest. These thoughts are lies.

Why do lies exist? To warp God’s truth.

Because here’s the thing: if I don’t share, I miss out on community. And community is powerful- community is where healing, love, and grace happen. Isn’t that exactly what the enemy wants to prevent from happening? If I stay in my own mind and reject the truth and wisdom other women can share with me, I reject God’s plan for community. And I give Satan a foothold. I make myself a captive.

So I force the words out: I think God made me wrong. I think there’s something wrong with me. Why aren’t other people like this? 

And you know what happened? Loving, affirming words. Hands holding mine. Wise, gentle advice. Personal stories. Similar struggles. Compassion. Understanding. Connection.

God’s purpose for community is so much greater than we could ever imagine. When we reject community, we are seriously missing out. Vulnerability is hard and scary. Yet what happens when we’re not vulnerable is much more frightening.

Let’s not cower in the darkness- lonely and afraid. Let’s listen to the Holy Spirit and share our burdens with others. God speaks to us so powerfully through Christian community. Let’s ask God for the courage and wisdom to share. Let’s experience this great gift He has given us.

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” -Hebrews 10: 19-25

Devotionals

A Much Wider Perspective on Our Purpose

This morning as I am doing my devotional in my classroom, I look up and notice for the first time in awhile a map that I hung on my wall the first week of school. This is no ordinary map. It has a timeline of world history organized by continent and size of empire (see above photo). It’s actually really cool- and as I glance at it today, I’m struck by how small I am. The United States is such a small blip in the history of the world. And I know God is incredibly purposeful, detailed, specific.

So I know He placed me here purposefully and for specific reasons. He placed me in this location, in my family, in this time period because that’s where He knew my purpose would best be accomplished. Isn’t that insane?! We’re not here by accident. We don’t have the community and influence around us by accident. We’ve not been placed in the most globalized time period by accident.

No, God is too big for that. Nothing is an accident. Which leads me to my overarching question for today: why? What is God doing with me that could only be uniquely done now, in this time period, in this place? How is my life serving Him? How is He using me to expand His kingdom?

Let’s step out of our daily routines and frustrations. Let’s dwell on an impossibly big and wonderful and detailed God. And let’s humbly ask our role. Where do we fall in the midst of this? How can we serve and fulfill His vision for our lives? It’s easy to make our lives all about us- but in reality, it’s all about God. Let’s humble ourselves before Him today.

Because here’s the thing: He is absolutely incredible. He has seen all of human history. He has seen the rise and fall of empires. He has seen His own Son walk the Earth and submissively die for the sins of all the humans who have walked this Earth. It is mind-blowing. It is beyond our ability to understand. Let’s dwell in the mind-blowing nature of an infinite God today.

“What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.” -Psalm 8:4-8

 

Devotionals

Wait, I Thought I Had Moved Past This

While progress makes us rejoice, any regression feels so disappointing. It doesn’t even have to be a “big” regression- but when we struggle again with something we’ve already worked through, it can feel overwhelming, frustrating, depressing. Why the heck do I keep struggling with the same things over and over again? Didn’t I surrender them already? Why am I still plagued with anxiety?

It’s really easy to let these thoughts bring us down. It’s much harder to face the thoughts head on, confront them, and let them go to God. Healing is a process- not a destination. We will never be fully healed on this side of life. We are too broken by this sinful world. Yet God is faithful to heal us time and time again.

And here’s the thing: when we struggle with something we thought we had moved past, it’s often easier to confront it and surrender it now that we’ve made so much progress. So really it’s not a regression when we struggle again- there is much healing that’s already occurred. We just need to see the journey and rejoice in how God has held our hands up until this point. He will not let go. He will never let go.

So if you’re discouraged today, take heart. The One who has made you has overcome this world and rescued your soul. If He was willing to die for you, He will walk with you in this life. He’s not a wavering God. He will stay the course with you today and every day. He will heal you when you bring your hurts and worries before Him- every single time. He is not discouraged by your progress. He has gone before you and seen your journey. And He loves your trust in Him.

“In God (I will praise His word),
In the Lord (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God;
I will render praises to You,
For You have delivered my soul from death.
Have You not kept my feet from falling,
That I may walk before God
In the light of the living?” -Psalm 56: 10-13

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

Devotionals

Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

As women, why are we always wishing we were like somebody else? We compare ourselves to other women and find ourselves wanting. And it’s usually one woman in particular that we think is larger than life. You know the one. You’re thinking of her right now.  You think: she’s funnier, she’s more interesting, she’s got more friends, her face is prettier, her pictures on Instagram are styled better. It’s a constantly running commentary of how you just don’t measure up. You might even do it subconsciously.

Maybe you even start to root against her. You think: she’s not all that great. You start to justify your negative feelings towards her by putting her down. Somehow, you think that’ll make you better by comparison.

Friends, why do we do this? Why do we find the need to compare ourselves to other women? I think it’s because we often come from a place of scarcity-that there’s not enough love out there for her and us. That we’re somehow competing for whatever prize we value: acceptance, recognition, friends, attention, love.

But here’s the thing: there’s plenty of love. There’s plenty of acceptance. There’s plenty of affirmation. We’re just looking for it in the wrong place. It’s not found in an Instagram feed. In fact, it’s not found in the words of others at all.

Friends, you have been more abundantly accepted, loved, and spoken for than you could ever imagine. God has called you by name. His overwhelming attention and admiration is upon you. Boy, does He love you. And He doesn’t love you because you are funnier than her or prettier than her. He made her. He made you. He loves you both with a fiery, incredible, overwhelming fire.

God is so overwhelming that when Moses talked to Him, his face would glow. God is so magnificent that Moses couldn’t look at His face or he would die. And this is the Creator. We’re so focused on how we measure up to other creations. Yet you are uniquely beautiful and completely accepted as is. Let’s not let comparison steal our joy. Our joy comes from the Lord.

God delights in you. You have done nothing and will never do anything to deserve that delight. Yet He gives it freely and abundantly. Let’s rejoice! Let’s turn from our comparison. Let’s dwell on the Lord. He assigns your value-not you or anyone else.

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” -Exodus 34:29

“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.” -Psalm 147:11