Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sabbath: A Time for Rest

Return, O my soul, to your rest;
    for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
(Psalm 116:7 ESV)

Trinity Episcopal Church, Van Cleef Lake, NY

What comes to mind when you think of the Sabbath? Do you think of God resting on the seventh day? Do you think of going to church to worship God with other believers? Do you think of resting from work? Words like Sabbath, worship, quiet time and rest, raise expectations that we and others have placed on them.

To be honest I never thought of having a quiet time on a Sunday, because I practice other ways of worshiping God on that day, such as Bible classes, praying together and corporate worship services. Some Sundays, I would like to define rest literally and stay in bed. 

I often take an extra Sabbath on Mondays, since most Sundays are full with church and family gatherings. To me Sabbath is a time to cease regular work and just be with God; no agenda driving the day.

In 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time, Pam Farrel surprised me with actual ideas of how to have a quiet time on a Sunday, as well as ways to incorporate the sermon experience into your daily devotions:

Sunday can be a challenging day to have quiet times. Often in the rush of getting to church, we forget to meet with God! 

Try getting . . . early to church. Sit quietly in the pew and pray that God will meet you and the others who come. 

Bring a small gift of encouragement or a card telling one of the ministries at church that you appreciate them and are praying for them.

Sermons can become a springboard for personal devotions.

Use sermon notes for quiet times to review how God might want you to apply the sermon to your everyday life.

During the sermon write down questions about topics you'd like to learn more about or thoughts you'd like to consider in a deeper manner at a later quiet time.

Use the prayer pray for others in your church. Or pray through the church's calendar.

Use traditional liturgies and prayers...

Allow Jesus to pastor you each Sunday as you connect to him.

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

What does Sabbath mean to you?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sense: To Be Aware Of; Comprehend

For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand 
the things freely given us by God.
(1 Corinthians 2:11-12 ESV)

We perceive the world around us with the five senses: sight, touch, hearing, taste and smell. Carving pumpkins is one of those activities where all five senses can be engaged. The smell of the pumpkin when you slice open it's lid. The feel of the ooey, gooey "guts" cold in your hand. The sound of giggles, as we witness each other's creative attempt at various faces. Tasting the roasted pumpkin seeds harvested from the "guts." And the delight of watching the candle light up each face once the sun goes down.

God gave us our senses to engage with His creation. He gave us his Spirit to help us comprehend the things freely given to us, especially the spiritual truths in the Word and in nature. A favorite book that I used to read to my kids around this time of year was The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs

In 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time, Pam Farrel asks us to engage with the Bible using our five senses:

Look through the Bible and note the smells, like Jesus being called the "Rose of Sharon."

Gather up a few treats from the Song of Solomon...listen to a recording of Hebrew music while you eat.

Watch a travel video of the Holy Land...

Hang a nail from you Christmas-tree branches as a reminder of his death on the cross. 

You might try incorporating a traditional Jewish holiday into your family traditions. Attend a Passover Seder or set up palm booths ... and celebrate Purim and read the story of Esther.

Use color to rev up your quiet-time experience. Use colored pencils to mark verses so you can find them more readily. 

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

Adding color to my quiet times has taken on various forms over the past several years. First, I found the book Praying in Color that encourages you to doodle and color while you pray, giving you focus. Some may think doodling is distracting, but it actually helps me to concentrate. Then after the coloring is done, the image gets imprinted in my memory. When I see the image it reminds me to pray for the person or situation I was concentrating on at that time.

A prayer doodle using a Sharpie pen and  watercolor pencils.

As I have become more interested in mixed-media art and collage, I have been incorporating those practices into my devotional time. The joy of creating and playing with color and texture gives me a more tactile remembrance of my time with God. You could even incorporate Scriptures or a word that describes your relationship with God into your art work.


Another resource, I just found at a women's conference, is You are Loved! A Doodle Devotion by Marsha Baker. You can get the journal and read more about her doodling philosophy at Blessinks: Drawing People to Christ

A page from the doodle devotional workbook.

I would love to hear the creative ways
 you engage your senses in your devotional times.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Germinate: To Come Into Being

Now the parable is this: 
The seed is the word of God. 
(Luke 8:11 ESV)

I love how God's Word is full of metaphors, symbols and object lessons. One of the most common themes of the Scriptures is the idea of germination; the ability of God to bring into being that which did not exist. After He created the earth and all its inhabitants, He breathed life into a man made of soil. He formed a woman out of this same man. And then He invited them to "be fruitful and multiply." When they failed to believe God's goodness, He sent them out of the garden, yet the ability to bear children and to cultivate plants remained part of their lives. 

And in the midst of the curses, God promised a seed, an off shoot who would defeat the serpent. The promise perennially appeared in the lives of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, as God expanded their understanding that the seed would come from their lineage. And the root of Jesse, one of the household of David would come to bring light and salvation to all nations. 

One little seed gave His life to multiply grace across the world, germinated by the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

In 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time, Pam Farrel harvests spiritual object lessons from her every day life:

Quiet times are a great time for object lessons. Howard Hendricks in his book Living by the Book points out that everyday items can be used as bridges of application. When Jesus taught a parable--consider this fig tree . . . a man was sowing a seed . . . a woman lost a coin--he was using mundane objects to capture our imaginations and communicate great truths.

In the simple, God's wisdom can be profound. Ask God to use the everyday to connect you to his heart. Every day.

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

What seed of truth has God been 
establishing in your heart this year?

To read more posts in the 31 Days of Quiet Series click here.

Linking up with the Soli Deo Gloria Party.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Give: To Enter Wholeheartedly

For from his fullness 
we have all received, 
grace upon grace.
(John 1:16 ESV)

It may seem a bit early to be thinking about Christmas, but the giving and receiving season will be here before we know it. I love gifts. And I love giving them. Finding that special something that expresses my love to my family and friends brings me great joy.

I really like the idea from 3o Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time, where Pam Farrel invites us to consider what gift we could give to God as the season approaches and into the next year:

Each year at Christmas I like to take a quiet time and consider what gift I'd like to give God in the next year. Sometimes it's a monetary donation to an organization that will help the Bible get integrated into people's lives. Sometimes it's a spiritual commitment that will help the Bible get better applied to my own heart.

Here is a list of specific ideas, Pam suggests:

Send a gift to the person who led you to Christ or discipled you.

Send a gift to the church(es) that have helped you grow.

Thank a school teacher.

Send a gift to a helping ministry like a crisis pregnancy clinic, a battered woman's shelter, a rescue mission...

Send Bibles to places and peoples in need.

Send a kid to camp. 

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

What gift will you give God this Christmas?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cultivate: To Foster the Growth Of

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 
(Revelation 7:9-12 ESV)

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite parts of Vacation Bible School was the featured missionary. I remember after meeting a missionary from Africa, who brought items from her country to touch and pass around, promising God that I would go to Africa for him when I grew up. As a single young person, I thought I would become a full-time missionary. 

As a grown woman, I have learned that I can be a part of missions through prayer and support. In 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time, Pam Farrel challenges us to find ways to expand our global perspective on the kingdom of God. 

Make friends with a missionary, writing to him or her may enrich your quiet times . . .visit churches from other cultures . . .if you can't find a church of a different culture in your area, then you can be equally inspired by books. 

Here are links to the resources she mentions:

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

How do you maintain a kingdom perspective 
in your quiet times?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Splurge: To Spend Extravagantly

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to Jesus with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. (Matthew 26:6-10),

How often have you stolen away with Jesus for some extended time? Does it feel extravagant? Does the enemy, whisper, "Why waste such precious time?"

Jesus is honored by our time and our devotion to Him. Why not plan to spend a whole morning, afternoon, day or even a weekend retreat with Him?

Pam Farrell share several creative ways to splurge on your time with Jesus, but I want to highlight her reason behind the extravagance:

I know these can't be everyday quiet-time experiences, but I find that if I have a few of these sprinkled throughout the year, I keep a better perspective on life as a whole. Maybe it is because these are special events that slow down my pace and my thoughts. I regain clarity and composure as I draw into God's presence for a longer period of time.

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

What are some ways you enjoy splurging 
your time and self for Jesus?


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thrilling Guest Thursday: Jeanie Kelley

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; 
if anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
(Revelation 3:20 NASB)

Join me today, as my friend, Jeanie Kelley shares the hard questions she hopes to ask Jesus when she meets Him in person. 

Have you ever heard of the question raised at a dinner party? If you could sit down with anyone in history, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Someone you could pick their brain. Some may say Elvis or someone like Caesar. Now for me, the one person I would love to sit down and fellowship or have a meal with would be Jesus Christ. He would definitely be the one I would be grateful to talk to.

The reason would be, for me, I would ask what has happened to my dad when he passed away. I know he went peacefully, but is he in Heaven? I would love to tell Jesus to tell Dad hi for me and that I miss him so much. This would be the first question I would have.

Click here to find out what other questions Jeanie would like to ask Jesus.

Jeanie's blog post made me think, wouldn't it be interesting to have a dinner party to share Jesus with others. Something to think about. 

Who would you invite?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Still: Uttering No Sound; Quiet

Silence is praise to you,
    Zion-dwelling God,
And also obedience.
    You hear the prayer in it all.
(Psalm 65:1 The Message)

I am restless. A cold snap in the weather caught me unawares. I miss sitting out on our front porch. To go for a walk seems like a huge effort; to find socks, a coat, a hat and gloves appears insurmountable. I sit in the front room staring out at the empty porch swing, wondering how a little cold weather holds me hostage. My mind wanders and focus eludes me. The sunlight peeps through the window. I need some sunshine. I need some warmth. I want to be outdoors in the solitude and silence of a good walk with God.

I grab my phone, a travel mug with coffee, a book and a pen. I rummage through the closet to find gloves and a warm coat. Walking to the park, my mental block begins to thaw. My soul warms up to God. We just walk together. I try to read, but He just wants to be with me. Uttering no sound, being quiet together, moving through the cold, sunny day is enough.

Enough to bring me back to peace, back to some mental clarity and the ideas for a class I'm teaching on Friday begin to flow, just like the blood coursing through my body and the oxygen filling my lungs. 

Solitude affords me the opportunity to be present to the moment. To listen and soak in God's love. 

In 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time, Pam Farrel reminds us that we have to carve out time to be still and know God:

Enjoying quiet is a lost art. Many of miss God in the everyday, but when things are still, when we take time in the quietness of nature--or in the quietness of our souls--our hearts will begin to tune into thoughts of God. 

If it's been a while since you stopped to smell the roses, do just that. Begin your journey in solitude by a walk in a garden or park. find a grassy knoll and lay on your back...and watch clouds, noting their shapes. then just pray through your thoughts as they come, even if they seem jumbled and random. 

It may feel strange at first to rest in the Lord, but one day of R and R with God can give you back months of clarity and productivity.

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

What is keeping you from being still?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Record: To Give Evidence Of

Moses recorded their starting places according 
to their journeys by the command of the Lord, 
and these are their journeys according to their starting places.
(Numbers 33: 2 NASB)

Apparently God cares about keeping records. I found the above Scripture fascinating. In a quick concordance search, I found this repeating phrase: "These are the records of the generations of..." After each entry would be a person's name, like Noah, etc. Several times in Israel's history, these records were important reminders of God's faithfulness and direction for the nation.

Today's idea for waking up our quiet time is to create a "Miracle Scrapbook." If you are visual person, you may love this idea. But other ways to record God's miracles in your life are readily available. Like using a digital journal on your phone to take photos, type notes and record God's daily faithfulness or the old-fashioned journal, where you can list your blessings or keep track of answered prayers. You could also use a voice recorder on your phone to have a verbal record of God's praiseworthy deeds in your life.

I am a visual person, so scrapbooking, doodling and journaling the journey appeal to me. I have shelves of scrapbooks, so I am not sure I will go to the effort of making a special one for miracles. Come to think of it, if I just go back and look at my current scrapbooks and journals, I could find plenty of everyday and once in a lifetime miracles that give evidence of God's grace in our lives.

If you don't want to or don't feel like making a visual reminder, why not just look at some old photos and thank God in person for the miracle of your life with your voice or in your heart.

Here's  a couple reasons that Pam Farrel keeps a miracle scrapbook:

Someday we'd have children, and I didn't want them to think because we were in ministry we were paid to be good. (I wanted them to know there was a time when were "good for nothing!") I began to keep evidence of answered prayer. For example, the grocery bags that held two weeks of free groceries we received when we were broke...Whenever my faith becomes weary and I'm not sure if God can see me...through a crisis or challenge, I pull out that miracle scrapbook. I am reminded that while the obstacles might have changed or grown, God hasn't changed, and he is able to handle the challenge.

By recording anchor points in your marriage or family, you strengthen the faith of everyone in that family. By spending your quiet times cataloging God's provision for you, your heartstring to him is also strengthened.

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

How do you record God's faithfulness to you?

Linking up with Soli Deo Gloria Party.

To read more of the posts from 31 Days of Quiet, click here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Motivate: To Inspire a Response

. . . just say the word . . .
(Matthew 8:8 NIV)

What motivates me, most likely, is different than what motivates you. When I am weary, I need to take a nap in the middle of the day. When I feel depleted of ideas, I need to go and play in my art room. When I feel bored with my quiet time, I need to seek God's presence with creativity and variety. 

Another thing that energizes me is definitions! If I'm experiencing  a dry time with God, I ask for a word. Just one word to keep me moving towards God. Sometimes the word brings much joy, like desire, my One Word for the year. Or they can be convicting, like today, while I was reading Jesus Calling: 

"To live in My Presence consistently, you must expose and expel your rebellious tendencies."

Ouch! And further into the reading, God exposed and thankfully helped me to expel some resentment. God brings these words to mind for my well-being and wholeness, and for that I am ever grateful.

In 30 Ways Wake up Your Quiet Time, Pam Farrel shares some clever ways to use a slogan or catchy phrase to jolt your quiet time:

We're a T-shirt society. Give us a slogan, cause or  catchy saying and we'll wear it on our back. I listen to sermons frequently. Yet only a few stick out in my mind. One was a series Jill Briscoe did for leaders. Every day in every message Jill would use the Nike commercial slogan and say, Just Do It! 

Now in ministry when I am so exhausted...I feel I can't go on, I hear a gentle reminder, Just do it...On those days I don't feel like having my quiet time I hear Just do it!

Pam made her own T-shirt to illustrate a talk she gave on perseverance:

On the front it has a cross. On the back: He went the distance for me, I can live this moment for him! I know that perseverance is a complex subject. There are hundreds of verses on the topic, but when I am dead tired what keeps me motivated is that saying, that word picture of all Jesus did on the cross for me. 

She invites us to create our own slogan to inspire our devotion to God:

Try it! See if you can create an internal motivating saying for one of these spiritual disciplines: prayer, fasting, worship, Bible study or holiness. Think of how it might fit on a ...T-shirt.

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

I would love to hear any great slogans you come up with! Share with us in the comments!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fast: To Abstain From

This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
    to break the chains of injustice,
    get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
    free the oppressed,
    cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
    sharing your food with the hungry,
    inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
    putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
    being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
    and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
    The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
    You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’
(Isaiah 58:6-9 The Message)

Spiritual fasting is often associated with abstaining from food. When I found this passage from Isaiah, I was amazed to note that the kind of fast that pleases God is the one that abstains from sin and selfishness. And instead embraces justice, compassion, service and practical presence in the lives of those in need. 

In 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time, Pam Farrel points out another benefit of fasting:

The  most encouraging benefit of fasting is sometimes overlooked because it is so simple: fasting changes our pace, our focus and our hearts so we have fewer distractions. A fast gives us quality time with God.

She goes on to list Scriptures that define situations that called for fasting: 

Times of mourning (Matthew 9:14-15), times of decision (1 Kings 21:12), consecration to God (2 Chronicles 20:3), repentance (Jonah 3:5), intercession (Esther 4:16), overcome sin (Isaiah 58:6)

Before fasting, please pray and ask God what kind of fast that He wants from you. If you have never participated in a food fast before, please read up on the practice or ask someone who has experience to share some tips and guidelines. Each person's physical capability to fast differs. 

Pam reminds us that fasting means taking a break from the routine, in order to connect with God: 

 Anytime you break the routine and give God the time, he is faithful to meet you there. Give up something to gain more.

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

What will you do this week to gain more time with God?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Refresh: To Give Someone More Of

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever.
(Isaiah 40:8 NIV)

Trees are ever changing their outward appearance season after season. Tiny buds to full, verdant foliage, to multi-colored leaves that drop to the ground, to bare branches; each version of a tree gives me something to appreciate. The hope of new life in the spring, the shade of summer, the rich palette of autumn and the stark, clear view of the winter sky. When I embrace the offering of each season in perspective, I am refreshed.

Trees also remind me that summer does not last forever; seasons fade, but the Word of the Lord remains constant.

Pam Farrel encourages us to change it up with our Bible versions:

Sometimes when we read and reread passages, they become such familiar territory  that we don't see the word afresh. But God's Word is alive! We need to find ways to heart hear the words of Scripture as if we were reading them for the first time. 

One way to do this is to read a different translation or to read a variety of translations to gain a different perspective on the same passage.

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

With comparing translations has become so much easier. Here are some samples of a favorite verse about rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  

Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 
(GOD'S WORD Translation)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
(The Message, Matthew 11:28-30)

To peruse all of the 31 Days of Quiet posts thus far, 
clicketh here!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Promise: Reason to Expect Something

God’s way is perfect.
All the Lord’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
(Psalm 18:30 NLT)

The first promise besides "that whosever believeth in Him shall have everlasting life" that I "claimed" in my youth was from the book of Hebrews. I found the promise in the Gideon's Bible, when I went to Buffalo for my Air Force physical. It was my first time away from home, my first physical as a teen-aged girl and I was embarking on the adventure of my life. 

I had known Jesus from Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. He was my Savior, but I was just beginning to understand that He wanted to be the Lord of my life. After graduation, on the advice of some mentors from church I met with the Air Force recruiter. My youth leaders taught me to seek His will through prayer and Scriptures. So when I found the Gideon's Bible in my hotel room, I came across a page with topics, like loneliness. Under that topic, I looked up verses on trust.

As I read the words from Hebrews 13:5b, I experienced the personal promise of Jesus that He would never leave nor forsake me. And time after time, as I left home for basic training and being stationed in the Philippines, I would rehearse that promise in my heart.

The other life long promise He gave me that night in the hotel was a directive and a promise: 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5,6 NASB)

Whenever I was lonely for home or afraid for my future, God would bring this promise back to mind. A mere two years after God gave the promise to me, I would be surprised that someone else knew this promise as well.

I was stationed in Del Rio, Texas at Laughlin AFB during the spring of 1986, and I was dating this handsome fellow. And I was praying hard to know if it was God's will for us to become a married couple. One day he left for a trip, and I borrowed his car. He left a note encouraging me that we would trust God together and at the end he wrote, Proverbs 3:5,6! (I had never told him that it was my guiding promise!)

We were engaged by May of that year and exchanged vows on October 18, 1986. (Twenty-seven years ago today.) God keeps his promises.

What promise has God made to you? Have you ever written it on a 3x5 card, like Pam Farrel suggests in her book, 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time? 

Here's a creative way her family shared promises one year:

One Christmas my mother gave every daughter and daughter-in-law in the family the same quiet time book and journal. When we saw each other throughout the year, we shared promises that we had gleaned from God for our own lives--and each other's.

Creating your own Bible promise book can help you navigate the pain of grief...or loss. God knows what your pain is and His Word can be a healing balm.

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Quest: To Go on a Journey to Find Something

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; 
knock and the door will be opened to you. 
(Matthew 7:7 NIV)

Did you ever notice that the word question has quest in it? Ever since, my friend, Lynni, pointed this out, I have approached questions with a whole new zeal. I love journeys, adventures and quests. Especially quests that involve words. My favorite kind of quest is searching a trail through the dictionary. I start out looking for the definition of one word, and that leads to another and then another and another. Sometimes, I even get sidetracked by a word that I wasn't even looking for!

Questions lead us in a quest for deeper knowledge and deeper intimacy with Christ. Asking questions helps to sort out what we believe, and searching for the answers prepares us to give a reason for our hope.

In 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time, Pam Farrel invites us to ask all kinds of questions during our quiet times with the expectation that the Holy Spirit will lead us to the answers. She advises:

Spend a quiet time writing out a list of theological questions that you'd love to know the answer to. Which doctrines do you need to learn more about: eschatology (end times), the person of Christ, the Holy Spirit, baptism, sin or sanctification? 

After you've written a list...go to a Christian bookstore to buy a book that will help you study...try asking your pastor what theology books he or she had to read in seminary or Bible college. 

Think of questions  people who don't know Jesus ask. Make a list and research biblical responses...For example, I have answers to questions like: Why should I wait until marriage for sex? Why should I believe the Bible? What makes Jesus so special? What happens to people who don't accept Jesus? What is heaven like? What is hell like? What does God have to say that will help me be a better parent?

Ask other believers: Why do you still believe, and what has held your faith together all these years? Listen for commonalities. 

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

What question is burning in your heart today?

To find all the posts for 31 Days of Quiet, click here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Post: To Make Familiar With a Subject

I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare before Him my trouble.
(Psalm142:2 NKJV)

I sent these postcards to myself, as a type of diary
chronicling our trip on the Erie Canal.

Do you ever wish you could send a letter to God, addressed to His complaint department? What if you could send Him a thank you note? Or a postcard telling Him how much you love Him? 

Let's get out the stationery. For this quiet time activity, I prefer the touch of pen to paper, but if you are tech savvy, adapt this idea with e-mail or a scheduled reminder text.

In 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time, Pam shares her thoughts on the topic of writing a letter to God:

Write a letter to God about your life. What would you like to see happen in the next three to six months? What would you like to learn about God? What requests would you like answered? Maybe you are at a special juncture  in life, have an obstacle to hurdle or circumstance you'd like to see change. Write out your feelings, goals and requests.

Place your letter in a self-addressed stamped envelope. Give the letter to a friend to mail back to you after three, six or twelve months. [Or send it to yourself, with an "open on" date written on the envelope.]

I found this idea helpful after the death of my father. I took a limited sabbatical...but after two months I still wasn't feeling emotionally better. I wrote a letter to God about how I wanted to feel at the one-year anniversary of my father's death. As I wrote the letter, I realized I was not going to be able to make this journey alone. I wrote down books to read. I contacted a grief counselor. I wrote out activities that I though would help me resolve my feelings and bring closure...ten months into the journey...I am much further along in my grief than I would have been if I had not take this quiet time with God to verbalize how I need him to heal me. 

There are some journeys we don't want to go on, but writing to God about the difficult path ahead makes the road less formidable.

©Pam Farrel from 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Quiet Time (IVP). For more devotional books by Pam

What kind of letter do you need to write to God? Is there a subject you need to share with Him in prayer?

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