Tag Archives: Romans

For Those of Us Who Are Bad At “Quiet Time” –Why We Need It

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Quiet time.

As a mom of three boys, that phrase is a magical myth. Like unicorns, elves at the North Pole , and wizarding worlds, “quiet time” is up there in the La-La Land of “things I wish were real.”

In today’s world of constant connection, trying to find the time in the chaos of life to sit quietly and focus on God is nearly impossible for many, including me.

Quiet time– moments of peace and literal quiet set aside to spend with God while reading scripture, meditating on it, and praying.

I’ve never been any good at quiet time. While I’ve been a follower of Jesus for most of my life, I’ve spend the majority of my adult life listening to other women talk about “quiet time,” resulting mostly in me feeling jealous and guilty. They had time set aside for God, I didn’t. That was convicting.

But I justified my lack of regular quiet time with the fact that I’ve always been insanely busy– the kind of gal with too many irons in the fire at any given time.

It wasn’t until this past school year began that I finally established a routine of regular, daily quiet time. That’s right– it’s only been a recent addition to my life.

And I have to say, I wish I’d done it years ago. I know now what I’ve been missing. I’ve become a quiet time junkie. I crave it.

That’s right– I crave it.

Now, don’t get me wrong– it is a sacrifice. It’s often difficult to rearrange my time to “make time” for God.

But (and not to dump a ton of conviction on you, but…), the sacrifice that Jesus made for me, the sacrifice God made in sending His only son into this world to take on the ugliness of my sin–it is so huge that the “sacrifice” of my time is nothing NOTHING nothing.

Quiet time becomes my number one priority when I remember that I am God’s number one priority. So are you. Number one.

Why do we need quiet time?

— In this demanding world of instant gratification, we’re glued to our cell phones, computers, tablets, and TV screens. We desperately need time to just sit, connected only to God, which means disconnecting from everyone else. Yes, even our family members. We need to be alone with God, even if just for a few moments. We need to be still. God commands it.

Be still and know that I am God… Psalm 46:10

— Quiet time gives us the opportunity to talk to God uninterrupted, and even more, to listen to God–uninterrupted.

— Quiet time forces devotion and helps us learn dedication.

— It gives us the opportunity to show God that we truly value Him and his word. We make him a priority.

— We need quiet time to help us focus on the things of God, not on the things of this world. When we neglect alone time with God, it is much easier for us to fill that time with things that, in the grand scheme of life and eternity, mean nothing.

— When we feel far away from God, like He can’t hear us or He doesn’t care, quiet time before Him–with Him– is the best way for use to draw closer to Him.

— Dedicating yourself to daily quiet time is worship.

— If we really want to know God, we have to spend time with him. Think about your significant other. How did you get to know this person? Most likely it was by spending one-on-one time with him or her. That one-on-one time was invaluable to your relationship and brought you close together. It’s the same with God. We won’t know him if we don’t spend time with him.

So why do it? What are the benefits?

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— Focusing on God first thing in the morning gives us the proper frame of mind to handle whatever comes our way throughout the busy day.

— God rejuvenates. Better than a cup of coffee or a protein bar, quiet time focuses our thoughts and our hearts to accomplish everything on our to-do lists. He is our source of energy and strength.

— Peace and trust: the two things we long for most. When we take time to be still before God, we establish that kind of relationship with him. We get to know Him so well that peace and trust become easier for us. Not easy, but easier.

— We focus on discerning God’s voice. When we shut off all of the other voices in our lives, hearing God’s voice becomes much easier.

— We learn and study scripture. We get into God’s word which not only helps us to know God, but helps us to know who we are in Jesus.

— We make time to pray. All those things we tell other people we’ll pray about– make time to do it.

God honors and loves obedience. When you are obedient to spending time with Him, he blesses that.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1 (The Message, emphasis mine.)

But the most important reason we should have daily quiet time, or alone time with God, or whatever you want to call it– is because God WANTS us.

He wants all of us. Every part.

Jesus gave every part of Himself for us. The least we can do is give some daily time to Him.

Want some tips on how to get the most out of your quiet time? Check back for tomorrow’s post!

Share with me: Has Quiet Time always been part of your daily routine, or like me, have you spent too much time struggling to make it part of your routine?

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How To Survive a Season of Waiting

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Remember when you were little and all you wanted was to get older?

Maybe you couldn’t wait to drive. Or go to college. Or vote. Or get your first “real” job. Or get married.

When I was little I couldn’t wait to turn thirteen. It wasn’t until I turned thirteen that I would be allowed to get my ears pierced. For years I anticipated that day–I waited on it like it was going to be the greatest day of my life.

I was not patient, either. I begged my parents to allow me to get my ears pierced long before my thirteenth birthday. I pleaded. I offered to do extra chores or never do anything wrong again for the rest of my life (that was a mighty offer when I was ten). I. could. not. wait.

My ears were pierced on my thirteenth birthday, just as my parents had promised, and I was overjoyed. I also immediately found a new “something” to have to wait on. Life is a series of waiting games.

My seasons of waiting are now centered around more serious issues, and the periods of waiting are much, much longer and seem more difficult to manage.

waiting_roomWe wait on things daily. We buck against the system of waiting, whether it be in a doctor’s office, at an airport, or even receiving a piece of snail-mail.

In our society of instant gratification, we’ve become accustomed to getting what we want with speed. We shave time off of waiting in every possible way we can find.

But there are some seasons in our life where shortening our waiting time is impossible. The season of waiting is, in itself, out of our control.

Have you faced a season of waiting? I certainly have.

I’m waiting now. Some things I’m waiting for seem trivial while others are life-changing.

I’m waiting for this baby weight to come off.

I’m waiting for my first publishing contract.

I’m waiting for God to answer several prayers about very important life issues.

My husband has recently gone through a season of waiting–one that has been really trying.

The most difficult season of waiting that I’ve ever experienced was certainly when I went through my struggles with infertility. There is nothing–and I mean nothing— that is as difficult as having ZERO control over a situation and it’s outcome.

But this isn’t a post about control.

So what shouldphotographer we do in a season of waiting? Pray for more patience? You know what they say about praying for patience…

Seasons of waiting can be made more bearable when we change our focus.

1. Forget about passive patience and focus on active perseverance.

We are full of joy even when we suffer. We know that our suffering gives us the strength to go on. The strength to go on produces character. Character produces hope. And hope will never let us down. Romans 5: 3-4 (NIrV)

“…the strength to go on.”  In a season of waiting, the best thing we can do is keep moving. Instead of sitting around, putting our lives on hold until we receive the answers we seek, we must forge ahead and live, enjoying each precious day as it comes. Seeking the joy that comes in the little moments of each day will encourage hope. So keep going, friends. Instead of putting your life on hold, get out there and do. You won’t regret the memories, relationships, and experiences you’ll have while you wait.

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36

2. Focus on the lesson. Seasons of waiting don’t come upon us simply to teach us patience alone. 99.9% of the time there is another lesson imbedded in the wait– we must identify it and learn from it. As our bodies grow and change over time, so must our hearts.

I have no doubt that my seasons of infertility and all the trials and anguish that came with them were meant to teach me about control. (Mostly that I have none.) The soul-searching that I did, seeking answers as to why I couldn’t get pregnant and when God might answer my prayers about adding to our family, led me to the blinding realization that although I was a follower of Jesus Christ, I had never truly given him complete control over my life. I’m a different person now than I was just five short years ago– like the potter molding the clay, he changed me through that season of waiting. I thank God for it now.

 3. Thank God for this season. That’s right, I said it. Be thankful. I’m sure you are stressed. I’m sure you’re exhausted. I’m sure you’re frustrated and annoyed and tired and maybe even ready to give up. You should also be thankful. A thankful heart is a happy heart (sorry to quote the Veggie Tales here, but it’s appropriate) and a happy heart is an open heart. An open heart is one ready to receive the blessings of the Lord however they may come.

4. Put the focus on helping others. When time moves like a John Deere tractor on a freeway, the best way to survive is to focus our energies on helping others. Something happens when put our effort into doing for others. Not only are we active, but our emotions are no longer solely trained on our own problems. Helping others not only passes the time, it lifts our spirits and develops an attitude of outward concern instead of inward frustration.

5. Focus on praying. Make your prayer life not only about whatever issue has caused your season of waiting, but about how you can pray for others. The same with doing things for others, pray for others. Develop an attitude of seeking God’s response in your prayer life, not just listing all the issues you might have. Pray not for patience, but for perseverance and strength of character (Romans 5:3-4). Pray not just for an answer, but for what lessons you can learn during your season of waiting.

6. Focus on the promise. The promise is that no matter what your issue or how long your season of waiting, God will answer (Hebrews 10:36). Whether or not you receive the answer you seek is up to Him, but he will respond. Until then, you need to prepare.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

When we give ourselves over to the Lord, completely focusing on Him, when we seek him with our whole hearts and yearn to understand his word, our will conforms to his will— he will give us the desires of our hearts because our hearts will seek only him. It’s an amazing, beautiful thing.

7. Focus on preparation. Be mentally prepared– get in The Word. Seek God’s truth and his answers. The Bible is the only book that’s got everything we’ll ever need.

Be physically prepared– exercise is good for you, not just because of what it does for your body, but what it does for your mind and spirit. I’m sure you’ve heard that exercise releases endorphins, and those endorphins will help you feel better. Exercise has tons of benefits, and taking care of our bodies honors the gift of life God gave us.

Be emotionally prepared– God has three answers to our prayers– yes, no, and maybe (or in this case, keep waiting). No matter what answer we get, when we do the things listed above, focusing our attentions on things other than our own season of waiting, we can prepare our minds and hearts to receive his answer.

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Waiting is difficult. Waiting can destroy our faith, if we allow it. But shifting our focus during that season of waiting can change us into the person God wants us to be– which might be the reason for the whole season of waiting to begin with.

Share with me: What truths did God reveal to you during a season of waiting?

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Love this song from John Waller– sums up waiting perfectly. (Video from the movie Fireproof.)

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Perfectly Imperfect– A Guest Post from Amy Leigh Simpson

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I’ve always been an overachiever. Yes, I’m that annoying one that had to get straight A’s in high school so I would get a full scholarship. Had to graduate early and have a full year of college completed before I’d even started. And then of course, I had to wrap up my academic career in the same exhausting fashion of perceived perfection.

Maybe it had something to do with being naturally blonde, and constantly perceived to be an airhead. (Blondes are more fun, people. Don’t hate.) 🙂 Or maybe it had something to do with my upbringing in the church.

The Law. (Dun dun duhhhh!) From Sunday school to youth group, the rules are laid out very clearly. Do’s and don’ts. Thou shall’s and thou shalt not’s. Striving toward the goal. Running the race to win.

Not that I was under the impression that imperfect adherence to these laws would incite some sort of heavenly smack down, but I was in love with a Savior and felt that obedience and offering a pure and holy sacrifice was the best (maybe the only) way to express my love.

But have you ever been up on a pedestal? Man, it’s rough up there! Whether someone put you there or you did it yourself, it is not an easy place to be. There is always so much to lose. So much pressure. So far to fall.

You want so desperately to use your gifts and your zeal to fulfill God’s calling, but so often, you don’t know what the heck it is. Don’t know how to get to where you need to be to be good enough.

The apostle Paul, a very wise man, tells us in Romans 12:1…

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

This was always a head-scratcher for me. Yes, I want to be holy. I want to be perfect for God. But that perfection I am always striving for is impossible. None of us are worthy of the sacrifice of perfection that happened on that cross two thousand years ago. And nothing we can do can make us so. We are flawed. Tarnished from the very beginning—though we do a fair job of racking up the stains ourselves, don’t we? It’s not that I don’t want to try, but aren’t I, by nature, destined to fail?

If you go back and read Romans 12 again you’ll see that we are not meant to offer up some dry, crusty old relic. Something dead and frozen in its perfection like a statue. (Statue’s have no problems staying on pedestals.)

What we have to offer is living, breathing, moving and by default imperfect. It’s also the way he created us.

He hasn’t called for us to offer flawless love, flawless service, flawless thoughts or actions or intentions. He called us to offer our ALL. Flaws required. Because that means we can rely on Him in our weakness. We can trust Him with our scars. We aren’t out to boast our righteousness and we aren’t holding things back for ourselves.

If we really present ourselves as living sacrifices—giving Him our hearts and hopes, our stains and sparkles, our bodies and our minds, we are perfectly imperfect in Him.

Share with me: Do you have any “flaws” or imperfections that have shown themselves to be assets before the Lord? Or perhaps you have something you perceived as a “flaw” that God has used to teach you and bring you closer to Him? What’s your perfectly imperfect story?

Jennifer here: To answer the question above, I’d say that I sometimes feel like I have to tone down my strong personality. However, I’ve learned that my personality, just the way God made me, includes qualities of leadership and teaching. Also, I’d say that the infertility issues I’ve suffered have definitely become a testimony of faith and of ministering to others. I’m perfectly imperfect, too!! (In lots of ways!) Thanks so much for sharing, Amy!

Amy

Amy Leigh Simpson is the completely exhausted mother of two of the most fearless, rambunctious, and adorable toe-headed toddler boys in the Midwest. She writes Romantic Suspense and loves to take readers on a spirited journey of finding grace and redemption through stories that are equally inspiring, nail-biting, and hilarious–and maybe a little saucy! She is represented by Chip MacGregor.

Connect with Amy on:

-The Writers Alley http://thewritersalleys.blogspot.com/

-Her personal blog http://writersbreakroom.blogspot.com/

-Facebook http://www.facebook.com/amyleigh.simpson.50

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