Cultivating Healthy Rhythms : 10 Tips to Help Establish Spiritual Disciplines

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I have never been a morning person. As a kid, my mom had the hardest time getting me up to get ready for school each day and I still struggle with that same battle today. I just really love sleep! 🙂 However, over the years I have found that when I get up early and spend time with Jesus I feel much more rested, I have a better attitude, I’m less distracted and I am just an overall better human being.

I have written out some practical tips to help create this daily rhythm of spending time with Jesus and digging into his word each morning. This doesn’t work for everyone. Not everyone is able to set aside time each morning but more of us are able than we like to think. Here are some tips that will help if you desire starting your day in the word of God.

Prep the coffee the night before.

  • Whether you’re a coffee person or not, you likely have some “First thing’s first” morning beverage or breakfast and you could easily prep the night before so that it’s easier to whip up when you first wake up. In our house, I prep the coffee maker where all I have to do is press a button and the coffee is ready in a couple of minutes. And if my husband gets up before me, he will even hit the button for me so the delicious smell helps get me out of bed. I know this may sound silly but this saves time and if you’ve prepped the night before, you will be more likely to get on up when your alarm goes off because you remember the prep work from the night before.

Get up at the same time every day.

  • This one was probably the hardest one to make stick. I’ve been that girl who sets her alarm based on when she needs to leave the house plus the shortest amount of time that she could possibly get ready for my entire life! Some of you already do this because you go to work/school the same time every day and so this would just mean setting your alarm a little earlier for the same time each day but more and more people are working from home, in school, working retail and their schedules are not as cookie cutter as we’ve known the norm for so long. Whether you’re a career professional and your schedule flexes on whether or not you’re going to the gym or if you’re a student working weird hours and have late classes – look at your schedule, find the day that you have to get up the earliest, add in the time you want to spend with Jesus on top of everything else you need to do in the morning and set your alarm at that time every day no matter what your schedule is. I have found that I sleep better overall by getting up at the same time each day and I have much more time on my hands to get stuff done.
    • Side note – the snooze button is the devil! He is a deceiver and he will lead you down the wrong path! 🙂 Just say no!

Find your spot.

  • I’ve always had issues with the term “quiet time” because it makes you feel like you need to go to the library or a coffee shop to spend time with Jesus but that’s just not the case. If your time with Jesus includes singing worship music at the top of your lungs – don’t go to the library. Find your spot that fits your needs for your time with Jesus. Some people like to go for a walk at the park and clear their mind before the Lord before they dig into scripture. I go to the guest room in our house with my cup of coffee and my dog where I leave my bible, journal and an array of pens by the bed. Find your spot that fits your needs.

Start small.

  • When you’ve just woken up and you’ve only had your first sip of coffee, your mind may need some stretching before diving headfirst into scripture. Figure out a good warm up routine that’s quick and aligns your heart with the Lord. I like to listen to worship music as I spend time with the Lord so I’ll turn on my playlist to get started but my favorite warm up activity is using my Write the Word journal from the Cultivate What Matters shop. This is the one I’m currently using. This journal gives you a place to jot down the date, something you’re grateful for and then prompts a passage of scripture that you write out. There’s also a page for just anything that’s on your heart and then a place for a word for the day. Think through what worship looks like for you and start there and start small. Your brain will thank you for the warm up and you’re so much more likely to get more from your time in scripture.

Read it twice.

  • If you’ve been following along with the New Testament reading plan @my.hearts.treasure than you’ve noticed that we have it scheduled out where you read 2-3 chapters of scripture a day and you repeat the same passage two days in a row. This is a practice that I began as a college student serving in Argentina for the summer as my team read through the book of Acts. There was something so special about receiving a new message from the Lord on the second day even though I was reading through the same passage from the day before. Give it a try!

Write it out.

  • Whether you live jotting notes in the margins or you are like me and just have way too many words and need a journal handy – write it out! Whatever the Lord is teaching you, whatever is on your heart, whatever confuses you or doesn’t make sense? Write it out.

Do it anyway.

  • We are imperfect, sinful humans and we are going to have days where we just don’t want to  spend time with Jesus. Do it anyway. I had a conversation last summer with a student who said she wanted to find a way to cultivate a stronger desire to read the bible and my advice to her and so many others is to read it whether you have the desire or not and the longing and the desire will come. The Holy Spirit is working in us and uses what we read for our good whether we want to meet with him or not. The only way to create a daily rhythm of spending time with Jesus is to do it daily whether you really want to or not. This sounds harsh but a relationship with Jesus requires the same commitment as a relationship with anyone else. Sometimes you spend time with friends/significant other/spouse/your children even when you may not want to because you care about that person and about your relationship with that person. We’re selfish at our core so even when you don’t want to get up and spend time with Jesus – do it anyway.

Stick to the basics.

  • There are tons of resources, books, commentaries, devotionals, blogs, articles, etc. that are made to help you with your study of scripture but when working to cultivate these daily spiritual rhythms, stick to the basics. Bible, journal, worship music, trusted ink pens. All of these resources are good but they are no substitute for the living and active word of God. Throwing in too many extras will just take up time that you’ve set aside to spend with Jesus – save the extras for later.

Share with a friend.

  • Whether you have a formal accountability partner walking alongside your faith journey or you call up a friend on the regular – having open dialogue with another brother or sister in Christ about what Jesus is teaching you in your time with him is so important. Community is not only healthy but it is necessary. Find yours. If you’re not in a season of life where you have people you can talk to, seek that out. The team @my.hearts.treasure would love nothing more than to pray for you in that and chat with you about how God’s working in your life. This faith journey is not a race against one another but a march forward with linked arms pressing onward together. Identify those people in your life that are a safe place for you to share openly and honestly – and share with them often.

Get a watch.

  • In a world where we rely on our phones for everything, we don’t always want to admit what a distraction they can be. Needing to keep up with the time does not have to be another reason to have a distraction nearby when you’ve gotten up early to read the word of God. Leave your phone across the room, in your bag or even at home when you go to spend time with the Lord. It just takes one quick check of a notification for you to wake up from your insta-slumber and realize you’ve spent 30 minutes scrolling. Get a watch – put the phone away. (This is a sermon to myself! I promise!)

I hope these tips are helpful and encouraging to you as you work to build those spiritual disciplines and put those rhythms in place.

My Heart’s Treasure

Last summer I began reading through the New Testament with a few students who had traveled with me to New Orleans on a mission trip. While we were there we had conversations about wanting to be more intentional about spending time studying the word of God. This summer I wanted to open this reading plan up to more women who have this same desire while also providing a space where we could all gather as a Gospel Community.

That birthed @My.Hearts.Treasure on Instagram as well as the Facebook Group where we are reading through the New Testament and encouraging one another along the way. Join us in either of those social spaces but more than that, join us in the word by following along with our plan and uniting with us in prayer for one another and that the Holy Spirit would penetrate our hearts and renew our minds with God’s Holy Word.

Download the Reading Plan here.

Wait in anguish no more.

Good Friday has ended and tomorrow we will celebrate Resurrection Sunday. Today we wait. We wait and we remember the events of the crucifixion and we recount the story of Christ’s resurrection to be celebrated at our sunrise services and Easter brunches tomorrow. But what about that Saturday?

What must that day have been like? What pain must have been felt?

My mind immediately goes to Peter because he’s my favorite disciple. How Peter must have replayed those denials of Jesus over and over in his head. How he must have thought, “if only I had done something, I could have saved him.” How he was awakened by the rooster crowing that Saturday morning and he remembered those words of Jesus telling him that even before the rooster crowed, Peter would deny him 3 times. And he did. How he would be haunted by the sounds of a rooster for the rest of his days. Don’t you know that in those moments on that Saturday that Peter and the other 10 were in complete anguish, completely unsure of what they would do next?

Do you ever think about the shame and guilt and pain that was felt by Judas as those 30 pieces of silver jingled as he ran back to the Temple to try to take it all back? Jesus had not even been crucified yet, only handed over to Pilate at this point according to Matthew’s gospel yet he was already full of shame. Matthew 27 tells us that when the chief priests and elders refused to reverse the deal made with Judas, to take back the money, and free Jesus as he begged, Judas threw the 30 pieces of silver to the ground in the temple and went and hanged himself. Even the chief priests would not take back the money because they saw it as blood money and they used the money for a field to bury strangers, calling it the Field of Blood. The money exchanged for Jesus’ life was used to prepare a field for the burial of strangers. I can’t help but see that as the way in which Jesus redeemed even Judas’ betrayal in caring for those seen as outcasts/strangers by the Jews.

When we read about Jesus’ burial in each of the gospels, we are introduced to Joseph of Arimathea. John 19:38 describes him as a disciple of Jesus who kept it secret for fear of the Jews. He went to Pilate and asked for the body and then provided a proper burial for his Jesus. Can you imagine the shame of always keeping his devotion to Jesus a secret due to his fear of the Jews? For staying silent? For never speaking out boldly in belief? As he went back home after securing Jesus in linen and placing his body in the tomb, how he must have wept.

Matthew’s gospel places Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” at the tomb for the burial of Jesus. Much research has went into which women were actually at the tomb and you can read more about that here. This is of no surprise to me. That was their nature, to serve Jesus to the very end in ensuring that he was given a proper burial. Luke’s account in chapter 23, verses 55-56 reads, “The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” They rested. They recognized and observed the Sabbath according to the commandment. They didn’t work. They didn’t keep themselves busy as I would be inclined to do just to take their minds off the events they had just witnessed. They rested. And don’t you know they felt the anguish in the waiting? Don’t you know they wept? They grieved their Jesus on that Sabbath.

Today as we anticipate the celebration of the resurrection tomorrow, may we be reminded that just as the anguish in the waiting experienced by those closest to Jesus was redeemed that Sunday morning, so is ours. We do not have to sit in our pain because we know the Savior who conquered death and can wait, not in anguish, but in hope and expectation for his promised return again.

Maybe you find yourself in a season of waiting. Waiting for an answered prayer, waiting on healing, waiting for answers. Wait not in anguish but in joy because Jesus has proven himself faithful in the text of the gospels and in our own lives as those redeemed by the blood of the lamb of God who was slain. Wait in anguish no more. He has risen! And he will come again!

I encourage you to spend some time today reflecting on the pain felt by those who were mourning their Jesus only to be redeemed upon Jesus’ resurrection. All Sons & Daughters’ song “Buried in the Grave” is a great song about that Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. It’s my favorite to listen to on repeat on this day each year and I pray that it encourages you heart today as well.

It’s about the heart work…

There are FEW things more special to me than seeing college students give their time to serve the Lord in missions and getting to serve alongside them. It’s so much more than just the work that is being done but the work in their hearts and within our ministry that is being done through the Holy Spirit as we walk in obedience.

It’s the deep conversations had while painting at an orphanage where chains are broken and hearts are set free. It’s the surrender of hearts that’s found in a quiet time with the Lord at a picnic table before the physical work for the day has begun. It’s the unity that’s formed among our team through the vulnerable sharing of hearts during worship each night. It’s the unlikely friendships that are formed through sweat and blisters on our hands as we shovel concrete and dig postholes. It’s in the prayers shared around a circle for one another, for the people we are serving while we’re away and for the hearts back home that need to hear the Gospel when we return. It’s in the voices and hands raised giving praise to the King of Kings who works all things, redeems all things, and restores all things for His glory and our good.

There’s hard work that’s done through blood and sweat but it’s the heart work that’s done through the moving of the Holy Spirit among the team that can only be fully understood by going yourself. So parents, don’t be afraid of the commitments that your students desire to make but trust that the Lord who created them and who began a good work in them is bringing it to completion. Support your students as they desire to give more of themselves for the sake of the Gospel. Church, give so that more students can go and experience the fullness of joy as they serve in missions. Brothers and sisters, link arms and lay hands over one another as they move forward in taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. As they run their race, join them stride by stride by using the gifts that you’ve been given through your praying, giving, sending and going.

As a college student myself, a popular song moved me to tears each time I would lead it as I looked out on my friends who were making bold strides to take the Gospel to those who had never heard the name of Jesus. The second verse sings, “I see a generation rising up to take their place with selfless faith. I see a near revival stirring as we pray and seek. We’re on our knees.” I can’t help but believe in my heart that what I experienced in serving alongside 26 students this week was fulfillment of those words. College students today are making bold leaps of faith in following after what God is calling them to do instead of what the world and their families say they should do. It’s contagious and it’s a movement that would serve the church well to stand behind and push them forward as they step out in faith to proclaim the name of Jesus. The American dream will do nothing but leave us empty, seeking more of the world but the Kingdom dream that is being cultivated in the hearts of today’s college students will only give more of what this world truly needs – the love and the hope of Jesus Christ.

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The time is now…

Legacy

billyIt’s a word that I am seeing a lot today as we celebrate the life of Rev. Billy Graham as he has completed his earthly life and is now living in the presence of Jesus. Social media is flooded with photos, videos and quotes that share of his deep devotion for the gospel of Jesus Christ being taken to the masses. I kept seeing posts about his crusades and his movies and the great man of God that he was and the example that he was to our nation. But one post that I read from a facebook friend this morning stuck out to me: “Let us pray God raised up someone to fill his calling.” Now, I recognize that this friend was likely referring to Rev. Graham’s calling to be a mighty warrior of an evangelist but the comment didn’t quite sit well with my spirit because I’m afraid that it’s a question that is lurking in the hearts of many.

The truth is, God has already raised up someone to fill his calling. The calling on Billy Graham’s life is the same as the calling that God has given to each of us who claims Christ as Savior. The question is: are we walking in the calling that we have received? Billy Graham recognized the calling that God had placed on his life as someone saved by the blood of the lamb.  He recognized the weight of sin and he recognized the weight of redemption. He recognized that his time on earth was limited and that he must use his time on earth to proclaim freedom to the captives. And the same is true for us, we have no time to wait. The time is now.

I have the honor of serving on a college campus with a campus ministry where I get to see students stepping out and sharing Jesus boldly with their classmates and their professors. I get to see them step out on faith and commit their breaks from school to travel to geographical areas deemed “unsafe” by society for the sake of the gospel. I get to see students who came into college with plans set for them by worldly standards, and even their parents agendas, boldly changing course to pursue the direction that God is leading them. God is raising up an entire generation to fulfill the same calling that was lived out by our beloved Billy Graham. But that calling isn’t simply for these young adults who are rising up to take their place. It’s for all of us who have put our faith in Jesus. And we can’t waste any more time in our “busyness” to keep from sharing this message of truth and freedom that is available through the cross of Jesus Christ.

You may never preach the gospel to thousands of people in an arena and you may never be on staff at a church but your calling remains the same. I challenge you today to look at the earthly life lived by Billy Graham and ask yourself how God is calling you to walk in light of that same calling? How can you share the love of Christ and the gospel message of Christ to those you encounter on a daily basis?

I know school teachers who arrive early to their classrooms in order to pray for each child that enters their classroom by name. I know nurses who are constantly being invited into spiritual conversations by their patients and who take the time to share Jesus and to pray for them. The family owned flower shop where I grew up was always a place of refuge for patrons to pull up a chair and sit and talk for hours with my mom and grandmother and they always left with their shoulders feeling a little lighter. I have worked in the corporate world with brothers and sisters who have the joy of Christ spilling out of them onto every person they encounter. God has placed his people in strategic places for the sake of the gospel but it’s up to us to be obedient to walking in the calling we have received and to be an encouragement to those in our churches and in our homes as they set out to live out our calling as well.

One of the many posts I read this morning was an excerpt from a conversation between Kathie Lee and Megyn Kelly about Kathie Lee’s relationship with Billy Graham and the impact that he made on her life. Read and watch the interview here.

 

 

 

College Students: Why Missions?

A few months ago I took a leisurely stroll through Target. You know the one I’m talking about. I have 45 min to kill, I’m going to grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks and take my time walking up and down every aisle. Naturally, I found myself looking at shoes and I stumbled upon the cutest pink faux suede slip on sneakers with a bow detail. I immediately loved them, found them in my size, tried them on and had to have them. But then came the dreaded tag flip to see the damage – $7.48. I could have cried right there in the Brentwood Target! But I pulled it together and I took out my phone and I snapped a photo and posted it on my instragram stories for everyone to see the deal I had scored so that they could run to their own Target and snatch those babies up! What can I say? I am my mother’s daughter!

Whether you’re scoring a killer deal on shoes or you’ve just heard the news that Chip and Joanna are having baby #5, you go tell someone! You share the link or the post – It’s what you do! So naturally when I have exciting news like the kind that is wrapped up in the gospel message of Jesus Christ – of how he lived, died and rose again to free us from the chains of sin to walk in his abundance here on earth and live eternally with him in glory – you go tell someone. Because the life change that occurs when you accept Jesus as your savior is far better news than any post we’re sharing on social media. That’s why missions. Because if this message has changed our lives, we should not hoard it to ourselves or within our churches. No. This is a message that empowers us to go and tell everyone because this message of redemption is for everyone.

And if the calling from Jesus himself to spread this message wasn’t enough, the act of obedience in the going and in the telling of this message is just as life changing. And that’s why we can’t stop talking about it. Outside of accepting Jesus as my savior, there is nothing else that I have done that has impacted me as greatly as serving in missions. In the short one week trips and especially in the summer experiences I had in Maine, Argentina and Nepal – I saw God move in my own heart and I would not trade any of those experiences for anything that the world can offer. And it’s because that’s how God had ordained it from the beginning.

God in his perfect plan has chosen to use broken people like you and me. There is nothing special about any specific trip or opportunity to go and serve – it’s in the obedience. It’s obediently listening to that tug in your gut to share your story with your classmate and it’s in the obedience to sign up for the disaster relief trip to Texas. It’s in the obedience of taking ownership of the same scriptures that have been driving this message for generations before you and will continue for generations until Jesus returns. God’s work in reaching the nations with the Gospel will continue with or without you but you have the opportunity to be a part of it and that is not something to ignore. It’s something to explore and the time is now.

Our obedience will take us to far greater places on this side of Heaven than we could have ever planned for ourselves and yes, there are trials along the way. But in saying yes to Jesus to go and take his message to the ends of the earth and everywhere in between, we are placing our trust in his plans. And that takes guts. It takes bravery. It takes hard conversations with our family. It takes saying no to other things that the world will tell you are more of a priority. But there is no job, class, internship, wedding or vacation that will grant you the life giving and life changing experience that comes from taking a step of faith in walking in obedience to God’s clear call in scripture to share the gospel where we are and to take his message around the world.

Saying “yes” to serving in missions is 90% of the prep-work; the rest is just logistics.

If you’re reading this and you’re at all curious about ways you can serve in missions, email me here and let’s pray through opportunities available for you to serve in missions.