Category Archives: Blog

What is True Faith? 2 Illustrations 1 Step

Several years ago I worked with a gentleman who was trying to explain to me what his understanding of faith was.

He said, ”Richard, faith is like this. You walk up to a wide, fast flowing river. It is so wide and moving so fast that there is no way across it. But God has directed you to cross at that point in the river. So you pray, ‘God you told me to cross right here so give me some rocks to step on to get across this river.’” My friend continued, “When you have faith like that God will give you the rocks to step on and make it across where He directed you to.”

I thanked my friend for this illustration of faith. But I disagreed with him on one point. I still disagree with him on one point.

Faith is like walking up to a wide and fast moving river with no way across. You know God has directed you across this way but it seems impossible. So you pray,”God show me a rock to step on.” God responds with, “Take the step.” Again you say, “God show me a rock to step on.’ Again God says, “Take the step.”

This debate goes on and on until you realize that to be faithful; to have faith, you have to take the step. My point to my friend and my point to you is, faith is taking the step even when it seems like you will sink into the river and be swept away by the current.

Here it is. The payoff. The outcome of truly stepping in faith. As you step out in faith your foot catches a rock below the surface of the river. Yes your foot may get a little wet but you do not sink into the river. You aren’t swept away. God has you the whole time.

That is faith. Not in yourself but in God your creator. True faith.

Today, you may be facing a huge decision. God has directed you to take a step of faith, but you cannot see any rocks to step on. God asks you to step and God will provide a place for your foot to land.  

I challenge you with the thought. Where has God asked you to step out in faith but you are waiting for the path to be shown? How can you take that first step of faith?  

Stepping into a river with no place to stand seems crazy, especially to people in the world. Such is the case with decisions we are asked to make as followers of Christ. Sometimes, God asks us to do things that seem crazy to the world. We must obey.

I would love to hear what decisions you are facing. Start the conversation below.

While you are here, check out this weeks video:

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE DEPRESSED: 20 IDEAS

  1. Seek help. You cannot fight this alone.
  2. Don’t keep it a secret.
  3. Do something for someone else. Often, depression causes us to only focus on ourselves. Find a way to do something for someone else.
  4. Try to get the focus off of yourself. I know this is hard.
  5. Pray.
  6. Read your Bible.
  7. Pray some more.
  8. Go see your medical doctor.
  9. Pray some more. Do not give up.
  10. Find a friend you can trust. Talk to them.
  11. Exercise –  Take a 15 minute walk around the block first thing EVERY morning.
  12. Journal. Write down how you feel and why you feel that way. Try to keep track of the things that trigger your depression. If you are not a writer then draw.
  13. Talk to a counselor. It can help tremendously to just talk to someone about how you are feeling.
  14. Find a hobby. Take up something creative like painting, or photography. This will get you up and going.
  15. Set some goals. Depression can leave you hopeless. Write down some simple goals each day. Celebrate when you accomplish those goals each day.
  16. Write yourself a list of positive affirmations. Read them each day. Or better yet record them on your phone and listen to them each morning.
  17. Make and keep a routine. Depression causes us to check out. Create for yourself a routine and  stick with it. This can bring about a feeling of daily accomplishment that helps.
  18. Read some books. Read books that are positive and encouraging. Read books that teach you about your struggle.
  19. Pray without ceasing. Sometime it seems that God does not care when we are suffering. That is just not true. Keep seeking Him and you will find Him.
  20. Do a personal check and make sure there is no besetting sin in your life. Did you hurt someone that you need to apologize to? Are you involved in a secret sin that you struggle with? Search your soul. Often a hidden sin can be the cause of a deep depression. If the Holy Spirit identifies one in your life confess it and start the healing process.

These are some of the things that have helped me over that last several months. Feel free to comment some other ideas or let me know if I missed on some of these.
You are not alone in your fight against the darkness of depression. Join the conversation.  

This Weeks Message:

8 Ways To Help a Friend Suffering with Depression

A 2015 report from the Child Mind Institute found that only about 20 percent of young people with diagnosable anxiety disorder get treatment. That means that many of your friends in class and on campus who struggle with depression and other mental disorders are not getting help.

Combine that with another survey that suggests that 1 in 5 students has considered the possibility of suicide and we have a lot of hurting people around us. You may know some of these who are hurting. You may have experienced a friend that wanted to commit suicide.

What did you do?

How did you handle the situation?   

Were you able to help?

I hope you were able to provide help to this friend that was hurting. But some of you may not know what to do. I wanted to provide for you some ways to help a friend or friends who are suffering under the weight of depression.

Here is a list of some ideas. Feel free to leave a comment and add some other ideas if you have them.

  1. Be there to listen. Make conversations about what they’re going through easy and open. Ask them what you can do – find out what they find helpful during tough times. Make sure you acknowledge they are feeling down but try and remain positive and encouraging. Send them notes of encouragement. Send them texts to help them get through the day.
  2. Choose when to talk. If you want to bring up a sensitive issue with someone, try and choose a time when you are both relaxed.
  3. Accept their condition. If someone is suffering from symptoms of depression, it isn’t possible for them to just snap out of it, cheer up, or forget about it. Asking them to do this can come across like you’re not taking their feelings seriously and could upset them. It is difficult for someone who has never been through depression to understand what it is like. If there was an instantaneous solution the person would have already done that to be well. It just does not work that way. Add an extra measure of compassion when you are helping a person suffering from depression.
  4. Get informed. Finding out more info about depression might help you better understand what someone is going through. There are various website, books, and blogs that can help you become informed about the situation your friend is in.
  5. Encourage them to get help. If you have a friend with depression, it’s really important that they seek help. It is a good first step to have them speak with their counselor if you are on a school campus. It is also a good idea to have them visit their medical doctor. Sometimes there are some real physical problems that can cause depression. If no solution is found down that avenue then their medical doctor can help them take the next step. If they are uncomfortable you might offer to go with them as an encouragement and support system.
  6. Back down if they aren’t ready. If you think a friend needs to visit an expert but they didn’t respond well to the suggestion, don’t force the issue or put too much pressure on them – it could put them off getting help. Remain supportive by offering help and suggestions when asked.
  7. The exception to #6 is if you think someone may be in danger or at risk of hurting themselves or someone else. In this case it’s important that you seek help immediately.
  8. Finally, remember that depression is hard to explain and often a very lonely experience. When you are there to support a friend just by being available it can have a tremendous impact in their lives. Never underestimate the importance of just being there.

What other ideas do you have? How can you better help a friend who is going through a dark period in life?
Feel free to comment.

This Weeks Message:

13 Reasons Why (5 Reasons to Live)

As many of you know the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why launched on March 31. Since then it has gained a lot of attention from teens and parents to educators and politicians. There are some very important conversations taking place because of this series.

We could argue all day long about the content of the series and the level of appropriateness of the material provided in the series. I do not want to do that. What I would like to do is point out a main concern of mine. My concern is that this series will normalize this behavior among your generation. Well, maybe not so much normalize that act of suicide, but normalize the possibility of suicide. When something becomes a possibility in the mind the action is easier to take. I do not want that to happen for you.  I do not want suicide to become a valid option for escape. There are other solutions.

A secondary concern that I have for those viewing this series is the series dismisses personal responsibility. How? It is in the premise of the show. Hannah sends cassette tapes to the 13 people who caused her suicide. Each of the 13 people receives a tape that says “Welcome to your tape {Name Inserted Here}” Hannah blames these 13 people for her suicide. Clearly, this dismisses her own personal responsibility in her suicide. Society does not teach it and many try to ignore it but you are responsible for your actions. Even when people are being cruel, evil, hateful and ugly, you are responsible for the actions that you take. We cannot allow this series to suggest otherwise.

Certainly, I do not want to make light of all that happened to Hannah in her young life. This young lady had to endure so much in her life. More than anyone should have to. But that still does not make suicide the best option. Suicide should never be an option at all.

Because of that I want to provide 5 Reasons to Live.

Here is the truth. Suicide is the number 3 killer of teens and college students in our country today. A recent survey found that 1 in 5 high schoolers has thought about committing suicide. ONE IN FIVE!

This is certainly an issue that we must talk about. And if nothing else 13 Reasons Why has opened up that conversation.

Maybe you have found this blog and you are having a tough time right now. Maybe you have considered suicide. Maybe someone has hurt you deeply and you just want out. Please don’t do that. Please get help. Talk to an adult or a friend.  If you want you can email me anonymously and we can talk. Email: contact@sameshirtyesterday.com

Here are 5 reasons to live:

  1. You are an image bearer. Genesis 1:27 “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him male and female He created them.” Being created in the image of God does not mean that you look like God in body (because God is not confined to a body) but that you show His image in His moral attributes. What does that mean? We, as humans, display God’s attributes like love, joy, peace, holiness, truth, etc. in this world. I realize that I am speaking in ideal terms. But you must know that you bear the image of God in the attributes that you display to others.
  2. You are loved. 1 John 4:9 “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him.” Two things here. 1. The love of God. The word used here for love is the word used to express unconditional love. It is a love based NOT on family affections, romantic passions, or fondness. God loves you with NO conditions. 2. God sent His son so that you might live. God’s unconditional love, expressed through the giving of His Son, is the only avenue for life. No matter what you have done or what has been done to you, you can have life.   
  3. You are a masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand so that we could walk in them.” The word here workmanship makes reference to an artist creating a masterful work of art. You have been created by the great artist as a masterpiece. A portrait that takes time and focus and care to create. As a masterpiece you are cared for during and after the creation process. God, your creator, longs for you to understand just how important you are to Him.
  4. You have something to offer. So many times when you are struggling through the clouds of mental darkness you become very self focused. But when you realize there are others out there that need help and you begin to provide for them in simple ways then you realize “Life is not quite as bad as I thought.” You have time, talent, and resources to offer. Go and make a difference for someone else.  
  5. Future Relationships. At this point in your life you may feel like no one cares. You may feel like nobody wants to know you. But here is the truth. You will make new relationships as you move to different stages of life. Things will change. You will find people that love you and that you can love. There are what? 8 billion or 9 billion people in the world. I’m sure you can find someone. Change your circumstances. Change your outlook. Change your circle of relationships and you will see some new possibilities.

The purpose of this post is simple. You have options. There are so many options other than suicide.

Here I came up with five reasons to live. You should sit down and write down as many more reasons to live that you can think of. Nothing is too small. It could be that your dog or cat will miss you. Or that your parents will have no one to take the trash out for them. Write them all down so that you can begin to see all the reasons, big and small, that you have to live.

And once again I say. Do not keep it a secret. Get help. Talk to an adult. Or talk to 10 adults if you have to. Just find someone who will listen. You can email me and we can talk: contact@sameshiryesterday.com.

God Bless and Never Give Up!

This Weeks Message:

Usually, You Find What You Are Looking For

 

It started like any normal Thursday. My wife was up and drinking coffee. We were preparing for a trip to Oklahoma City to spend some time with some friends. That morning we were talking about the latest updates to social media. My wife happened to mention a post about a lady who had lost her wedding dress on a trip from Oklahoma City to California. The dress had been preserved in a box that would help it last and she was transporting it home with her. As I understand the packaging for the dress had been a gift for Christmas. But somewhere along the way the box, with the dress in it blew out of the back of the truck.

The couple knew they had the dress when they left OKC and realized it was lost when they stopped in Groom, TX. Not sure what to do they called several OKC television stations and asked that they keep an eye, and ear out to see if anyone knew where the dress was.

The lady’s mother-in-law also took to social media to ask that people look for the dress and return it if possible.

That is the post that my wife was reading to me that morning. I knew that in just a few hours we would be traveling that approximate route from Groom, TX to OKC. I had a simple thought, “I am going to look out for the dress on the trip.”

 

 

 

As we left our house we traveled south on Hwy 70 for about 30 miles. When we made the left hand turn to head east on I-40 I started looking for the dress. I cannot tell you how I knew it but I just knew deep down inside that we would find that dress. I know it sounds crazy and I cannot verify it because I didn’t speak those words to anyone. But I knew we would find that dress. I set in my mind, “When I see the dress I will pull over and run back and retrieve it.”

As we traveled my wife and I would look at every piece of paper and debris on the side of the road. Asking, “Is that it?” To no avail. Mile after mile and minute after minute we looked and looked. I even had the thought, “What if we find it had been run over and destroyed?” There was no telling in what condition it would be in, a full day after it had been lost.

As we drove and talked we looked. About 2 hours into the trip I glanced over to say something to my wife. She was looking back towards the median. Out of nowhere she screamed, “There it is, but don’t pull over.” There was too much traffic and she didn’t want my abrupt stop to cause an accident. I was like, “Are you serious?” And when I looked at her I knew she was for real.

I quickly found the mile marker that was closest to us. It was mile marker 120. The dress lay in the median between mile marker 119 and 120. We talked briefly about sending a message letting the lady know where the dress was. But realized we could not guarantee that it would still be there. Also, we would hope someone would stop and pick it up for us. So we drove about three miles ahead to the next overpass and turned around and picked up the dress.

As I went to get it I had to play a game of real life frogger to get across the traffic. When I got to the median there it was, “the dress”  laying face up in the middle of the median. I was amazed that it was all in one piece. Only the corners were damaged. It was slight damage at that.

I took it back to the car and we proceeded to figure out how to return it to the lady who lost it. Eventually we were put in touch with her and then with her grandparents who I returned the dress to.

I don’t know why all of this happened. I don’t know why the dress flew out in the first place. I don’t know why my wife read that post to me that morning. I don’t know why I “knew” that we would find it when we turned on to I-40. I don’t know why we did find it. But I did learn a lesson in all of this. Maybe that is the why. So that I could learn a lesson and then pass it on to you.

The lesson is this:

Usually, you find what you are looking for.

Had we not been looking for a dress in a box along I-40 we would have never seen it. In fact, who knows how many people passed by the white box in the median that day. Hundreds? Thousands? Who knows. But none of them saw it. Or none of them saw it and knew what it was. Why? Because they were not looking for it.

Usually, you find what you are looking for.

That is the way it is in life. If you are always looking for the worst in yourself, and others, and in the world then you are going to find it. Just check out social media sometime. Or watch the news. Those outlets seem to thrive on finding the worst in the world. But the opposite is also true. Look for the best in yourself, and others and in the world and you will find that too. Don’t believe me? Give it a try. Stop right now and identify 10 things in your life that are positive. You can do it. I know you can. If you can’t then take the rest of the day and be on the lookout for the best things in yourself, in others and in the world around you. You will be amazed. Why?

Usually, you find what you are looking for.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all of your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

 

 

KOCO 5 News Story

News9.com – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |

News 9 Story

KAMR 4

 

Is The Church Ready for Robots?

Over the next five years, as we see more automated machines take human jobs are we prepared for that as the church? You may think it’s a silly question at this point in 2016. But I think it’s a very important question that we need to ask now. We need to be asking and answering these tough  questions today so that we can be prepared for the arrival of these new technologies.

If you do not think it is a possibility for new robotics technologies to take more and more human jobs then check out the following video from Boston Dynamics, a robotics company that is now owned by Google. The machines they have created are amazing to say the least. The following video shows just one of their creations.

Now are you thinking, “WOW I didn’t realize there was a machine that was so human like?” A time is coming when people will lose their jobs  to machines that are more efficient, can work 24/7, don’t need to be paid, nor do they require food or breaks. What will we do as the church when this happens? 

An article published in September on theguardian.com titled “Robots will eliminate 6% of all US jobs by 2021, report says” estimates that by the year 2021 6% of the US workforce could be eliminated due to automation. That is 6% of the entire US Workforce. The article says that this “disruptive tidal wave” will affect areas such as customer service, transportation, and logistics. People who have been working in these industries for many years will lose their jobs and will either need to be retrained or look for work in other Industries. It is staggering to think that 6% of the US Workforce will lose their jobs to automation by 2021.  

Are you prepared to minister to 6% of your local community who just lost their jobs?  Are you prepared to lose 6% of those persons who give to your church financially?  Are you prepared to help these people who have lost their jobs and have limited specialized skills to find new avenues of work?

According to experts that is only the beginning.  What do we do 2030  when 15% to 20% of the workforce has been displaced by automated machines? 

Interestingly the article says, “The challenge posed by automation is not being taken seriously enough at a policy level, Stern added. ‘Politicians would rather talk about getting a college degree and technical skill training, things that are probably five to 10 years too late. We don’t really have a plan and we don’t appreciate how quickly the future is arriving.”

“…we don’t appreciate how quickly the future is arriving.” Is the article about politicians or about the church? In my opinion the church is more like 20 to 25 years behind the curve.  We need to be ready. We need to be thinking, planning, and preparing. We need to be taking action.

As further evidence another article in the Washington Post titled The Brave New World of Robots and Lost Jobs says, “Politicians need to begin thinking boldly, now, about a world in which driverless vehicles replace most truck drivers’ jobs, and where factories are populated by robots, not human beings. The best way to cushion this future is to start planning for how Americans will be able to take care of their families — and find meaningful work — in a world where most traditional jobs have vanished.”

That same article suggests that “The “automation bomb” could destroy 45 percent of the work activities currently performed in the United States, representing about $2 trillion in annual wages, according to a study last year by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. We’ve seen only the beginning of this change, they warned. Currently, only 5 percent of occupations can be entirely automated, but 60 percent of occupations could soon see machines doing 30 percent or more of the work.” I’m not sure if you read that or not but we are going from 6% of the workforce to 45%.  If 6% was not staggering enough this research suggests almost half or the US workforce will be without work.

I don’t want to belabor the point but we must plan for the future.

Is this something you have ever thought about? Is this something you have prepared for?

I’m not offering any solutions at this point, I may do that later. Right now I would like to suggest two possible outcomes. Now these are only two outcomes that come to mind. There are probably many more. I would love to hear your feedback.

Here’s what I’m thinking at this point:

  1. The church sees people losing their jobs to automation and isn’t prepared for it. This in turn has two outcomes of its own.
    1. There is an abundance of ministry opportunities as families are hurting and looking for ways to provide for their basic needs.
    2. There is a significant reduction in financial giving to the church and ministries have to be cut to the bare bones. This may include the loss of current church buildings and meeting places as well as a significant reduction in staff.
    3. Therefore the church falters in its ability to minister.

It will be interesting to see, if this happens, how the church responds.

Or, and I do not want to try to place spin on this but I do not see this outcome as entirely negative. Here is what I mean. If churches have had to reduce their staffing to the bare minimum then the personal ministry will be reverted back to the individual members of the congregations. This will be a good thing as it will help Christ followers take up the task they were called to do.

As churches have gone through the process of reduced income they will have had to identify the absolute necessities for ministry (Unless one of your church members owns all of the robots). That is a really good thing. That means, well I hope it means, that churches will have gotten in their Bibles and prayed to God to identify what it is that they are supposed to be doing and then put all of their limited resources toward that ministry.

I think the church then begins to look a lot like an Acts 2:42 church, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

In no way am I trying to make light of a situation where so many people have lost their jobs and their livelihoods. I am simply saying that one of the possible outcomes is the church gets back to being the church. This would be a good thing in my opinion.

2) The church is prepared for a situation like this and stands out as an embassy of love and hope.

Just think about the opportunity to step in and show love to all of these people who have lost their jobs and were not prepared for it. It will take a lot of planning and preparation but if we start now we can be ready.

Being prepared means we have thought through how to minister to many people who are looking for work. Being prepared means we consider how the church can be a part of reeducating these workers into new areas of work. Being prepared means we have already taken a hard look at our ministries and identified the essential aspects of ministry as opposed to the nonessential.

The list can go on and on. I know that the church in the US has a lot of problems as it is that we are working through. But I see the next 5-10 years of technological advancement potentially as a defining moment for the church. It is a defining moment that we are just not ready for at this point.

Like I said before, I see it potentially as an opportunity to get back to the task of being the church. Winning the lost, making disciples, fellowshipping together, praying, and showing Christ to a lost and dying world.  

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

Bible Study That Leads to Action: 1 Simple Solution

This is just a thought that hit me this morning. How many bible studies have you been to this week?

One.

Two.

Three or more.

I know of many people that hear the bible taught, preached, and proclaimed more than three times per week. Awesome! Right?

Well my answer depends on the answer to another question.

What is the purpose of bible study? Most would answer to learn or to grow. Which is true in part. But ultimately the purpose of bible study is equipping for action.

1 Timothy 3:16-17 comes to mind here. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

The success of the teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness hinges on the SO THAT. Why are you taught, reproved, corrected, and trained in the word? SO THAT you are equipped for every good work. It is training that leads to action.

What if our military provided a 20 year boot camp for our military folks? They could put in their 20 years of training and never get in the battle.

Our current approach to bible study in many cases seems to take this same approach. Train, and train ,and train but never enter the battle.

I am afraid that we have many people who will go to their graves with heads full of biblical knowledge with no fruit to show for it.  They never moved on from boot camp. They never entered the battle.

One solution for this is not to study the bible less. I would never take that position. The word is life. We must be in it and get it in us. Allowing it to take root and to prompt us to take action.

The solution is found in a discipleship strategy that I came across several years ago called Truth 4 Trainers or T4T for short. T4T has a lot of great principles and teaching strategies within it but I want to share one with you that I believe could be transforming for the way we currently do bible study.

That principle, which I offer as one solution here, is to have an accountability portion of the bible study with the question, “Who are you going to tell about what you learned today?” The learner then must identify a person by name (preferably a lost person) and share that name with the group. Now that person is accountable to the group and the group prays for the persons named.

At the next bible study gathering when the accountability time comes up the follow up questions is asked, “Who did you tell the bible story to?” followed by “What happened?”

This is a very simple solution that only involves asking a few questions and then holding the group accountable. This encourages the learners to see the word not just as a source of information for themselves but as a source of life for those that they share the story with each week. It is a simple question that leads the learner to take action with the information they have learned.

So my answer to the first questions, “Is it awesome that people hear the word taught, preached, and proclaimed more than three times a week?” Absolutely, as long as it leads to a life of actively living out the truths that they learn.

I know that there is so much more to be said on this idea but I just wanted to get it out there for today.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

If you would like to read more about T4T I have provided a link below.

Have a great day!

 

 

5 Ways To Set Your Personal Bible Study on Fire

If it is true that “The Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.” Then we should strive to be interacting with the word on a daily basis. So many people I know struggle with taking the time to study the word on a personal level. So they struggle in life because they walk about in darkness.

For some it is because they have never been taught howto have a personal Bible study time. For others it is busyness. Or maybe even laziness. The list could go on and on. If you, or someone you know has struggled with maintaining a consistent Bible study time then I would like to offer some ideas to maintain consistency.

Here are 5 ways to set your personal Bible study time on fire

1. Be consistent. – You immediately think, “Right! that is the problem. I am not consistent.” A great way to develop consistency is to set aside the time and guard it with great tenacity. You may be a morning person. You may be an evening person. Whatever is best for you commit to a specific time that you will study the word. Write it on your calendar, save it in your phone, and then guard it like a dog guards his favorite bone. Do not let this time be taken away. I wake up early and give 15 to 20 minutes each morning to personal time in the word.

2. Have a Plan – So now that you are guarding the time to be consistent you have to have a plan. A plan that guides your study time. You can search the web to find specific Bible reading plans. Some take you through the Bible in a year. Others take you through specific topics in scripture. I would like to recommend that you simply pick a book to work your way through. I just finished up 2 Thessalonians. Pick a book and get to studying.

3. Write out the Scripture – It is good to read the word and to underline or highlight it in your copy of the Bible but there is something to be said about writing out the passage you are working through. I normally work through 8-10 verses per day in the book I am working on. This is very manageable and allows me to remember what I have studied for that day. I have a designated notebook that I write in. You can write wherever you want and you can write out as many verses as you want. Try this for a week and you will be surprised at what takes place. The Lord will begin to enlighten and enliven your Bible study time.

4. Underline, Circle, Highlight – Another advantage to writing out the word is that you can then mark it up in any way you like. I normally write the passage in one color pen and then mark it up in another color pen. This allows me to see the areas that the Lord showed me were important during my study. There is no real process to this. You can underline, circle, and highlight in any way that helps you remember and act upon the word. Remember, being in the word is not just about information but also about relationship development with the Lord. The word of God will change you and marking it up will help identify those areas where you need the change.

5. Ask questions and write out the answers – A good way to know what to mark up and underline, circle, or highlight is to ask some questions about the passage of the day. These questions can help identify important information that will lead to transformation. There are many questions you can ask of the passage but I would like to share 4 very simple and straight forward questions with you.

  1. What does this passage say about God?
  2. What does this passage say about man?
  3. What does this passage say about sin?
  4. Should I change anything in my life based on this passage?

These are five very simple ideas to help you see your personal Bible study time set on fire. There is nothing more powerful than sitting before the word of God and allowing it to inform and transform your life.

For some additional insights into how to have a quality Bible study time as well as ideas on journaling the Bible check out Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S Whitney. I revisit this book each year as it provides valuable insights into consistently being in the word and allowing it to inform my life.

 

Get The Center Right

This is an excerpt from a daily devotional found in Abundant Living by E. Stanley Jones.

Get The Center Right

You have to relate yourself to four worlds: (1) yourself; (2) things; (3) your brother; (4) God. Until you relate yourself to God in fellowship and obedience, none of the other three relationships will come out right. You will be out of sorts with yourself, with things, with your brother, until you get the center right. When you get the center right, the circumference takes care of itself. Said a wife concerning her husband, “He has a brilliant mind, but he will not rest in the Eternal.” Hence he was restless with himself, with things, with his fellow men.

The chapel steeple of a great university, where the minister is humanistic, has a weather vane on it instead of a cross, symbolic of the fact that people point in every direction, turned by the winds of circumstance, until they have a faith in and a committal to God. That gives an unchanging steadiness to life.

Then why is it that men do not rest in him? Because they try to rest in something else. They love God with the top of their minds, but not in the bottom of their souls. Something else holds the bottom of their affections. That deep affection then decides their thinking, for men think more with their emotions than with their minds. The affections draw reasons to themselves as a magnet draws iron filings. Men lose faith in God not so much by honest doubt as by dishonest sin. A brilliant headmaster, on a salary of $25,000, talked beautifully about faith in God–and he had it. Then his faith changed. He gave a commencement address and shocked everybody by saying, “Christianity is outworn; it has lost its hold on the world.” At the bottom of that decay of faith was a decay of morals. He had begun to keep a mistress. He was dismissed in disgrace. The mind had tried to find reasons to justify the emotions.

After one of my meetings a banker walked the floor all night and his daughter wept the long night through. Both had sin in their lives, and would not rest in the Eternal. Hence their restlessness.

Oh God, I cannot rest until I rest in Thee. I am made for Thee, as the eye is made for light; so I cannot find peace except in Thy will. For Thy will is my peace. Oh, let me settle down in Thee. Let the wandering, restless needle of my affections at last rest in Thee, Thou polestar of my life. I do. I do at last rest in Thee. Amen.