I have spent the last two years serving on staff with a campus ministry in TN while also serving this past year as a Student Mobilizer with the International Mission Board. It has been the sweetest ministry season in my life so far!! Between my two roles, I have spent a lot of time having conversations with college students over coffee about what God is doing in their life. I have also spent time discipling students one on one and praying with them as we study the bible about how God is calling them to be a part of his work among the nations.
This morning I had a notification from a closed facebook group where field workers in an undisclosed country update their loved ones. I do not know this couple personally but one of the students that has sat in front of me over more cups of coffee and pieces of cheesecake than I can count is serving with them for the summer.
The update had a picture of the American girls there for the summer and the students they have been discipling and the caption read,
“Many great things are happening on an island to the west of us where the ladies are currently serving. People are hearing the gospel for the first time, professions are being made, and new relationships are being established while students are being discipled – this is everything we hoped for! Pray that the team continues strong and proceeds with great wisdom.”
While I’m OVER THE MOON excited for the decisions that have been made this summer, the line in the update that moved me to tears was this – “this is everything we hoped for!”
Our field personnel are in the thick of Matthew 9:38. They are praying earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. They are praying right now for our college students in America to come and serve alongside of them for a semester or for the summer. All the while, our students are praying for ways that they can be used by God and people around the world are hurting, feeling hopeless and they are grasping for anything that might make them whole when what they need is someone to come and tell them about Jesus.
- To the student that is reading this – our field personnel are praying for workers to come serve alongside of them. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. They are praying for you. Never in your life will you have the flexibility to go and give your time like you will in college. Don’t miss out on how God wants to use you to take the gospel to the nations.
- To the college minister who may be reading this – Your students are seeking ways to be used by God. They need to be challenged and stretched beyond their comforts and given opportunities to serve. Don’t let them slip through the cracks. There are mobilizers like me in cities throughout the US whose job is to connect with churches and come alongside ministry leaders to help mobilize students. Use them.
- To the parents who may be reading this – I know how hard and how scary it is to even entertain the thought of your child going and serving in another country. But here’s the thing : God created you and your kids on purpose for HIS purpose and he LOVES them even more than you do. If your child feels called to go and serve for the summer, even when it’s scary, take a step back and recognize that the same God who created them is calling them to go and do great things. There are so many students who are struggling with a call to go and serve, not because of their own uncertainty or fears but because they do not feel the support of their family. Use this as a way to deepen your own walk with Jesus and with your student as you pray for your child and walk this journey of obedience with them. Don’t miss out on how God wants to use you to send your child to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
- To the pastors and church leaders who may be reading this – Students are thirsty for church family and true connection within the body of Christ. Invest in college students and seek out ways to better equip them to serve the church, the community, their campus, and to go out and join the work that God is doing around the world. As your church prays for our missionaries around the world, recognize that our missionaries are praying for our churches to send out workers. Be a church that invests in their students and that sends their students to go and make disciples.
May our knees be tattered and torn as we join in praying with our field personnel for workers to join the harvest and how we can be a part of both the going and the sending.
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.
- 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.