Tag Archives: Growth

6 Practical Ways to Increase Your Hunger for God’s Word

goat-kids

I purchased my first goat as a thirteen-year-old fresh out of the city suburbs. I had no idea what I was in for.

I named my new pet Sarah Jane, but my mom called her, “the big, black villain”—mostly due to her size and color. Mostly.

Exactly one day after my purchase, Sarah Jane had four kids. And I had my hands full. Sarah Jane nursed two of the kids, and I bottle fed the other two.

Bottle feeding goat kids is fun. They’re energetic, cute, and always look like they’re up to something. Healthy kids attack a bottle the moment it’s within leap reach. They drain it quickly and use every trick they know to coax for more.

But one morning, when the kids were two weeks old, one of them showed no interest in her bottle. Zero. Her ears drooped, and she made little effort even to be petted. I remember the concern that gripped my heart as I called the farm where I had purchased her mother. Continue reading

Your Journey to Victory in 2015

winter-sunrise

I woke up this morning with the keen realization that 2014 is almost over. It’s a lazy sort of morning with few plans, so I took several minutes to reflect on the incredible blessings of God’s goodness and grace this past year before peeling myself out from the covers.

It’s been the sort of year that makes me deeply thankful to belong to the Good Shepherd. As I think back over the months, they’ve had their challenges, but each month has been overflowing with God’s grace and kindness.

As I opened my Bible for my morning reading, vital dots began to connect between the blessings of 2014 and the book in my hands. Continue reading

5 Ways Biographies Can Change Your Life

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Of all the books I’ve read, my hands down favorites have been the biographies of great Christians.

I know that, technically, there is no such person as a “great Christian” in the sense that we’re all made from dust and one person is just as human as the next. But that very fact is what is so encouraging about biographies. It is the record of ordinary Christians who have a great God who has used them in a great way.

Over the years, I’ve read many biographies of great Christians and have been blessed, challenged, and stirred by each of them. What are the benefits of reading Christian biographies? There are many, but here are five I’ve noticed taking place in my own heart as I’ve read: Continue reading

8 Confessions of a Type A Perfectionist

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For a perfectionist, particularly a type A perfectionist, the word excellence has a nice ring to it—a seductive ring.

You say I should pursue excellence? Sure! I’d be glad to. In fact, I’ll do more. I’ll insist on excellence—at every level, in every realm.

Yes, for me, excellence easily becomes a trap. What should be a quest to bring glory to the Lord by striving for excellence turns into a quest for personal glory by insisting on perfection.

And that’s just the beginning! For the past several weeks, I’ve been jotting down observations of what exactly it means for me to turn excellence into idolatry.

Confession is good for the soul…and perhaps helpful to others with a similar bent. So here it goes: Continue reading

The Book that Transformed My Walk with God

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Next to the Bible, the book that has helped me the most in my walk with the Lord is a book I wrote. Actually, it’s an eight-volume set.

Before you think I’m boastful, let me give two clarifications:

First, these volumes are unpublished, and I trust they always will be.

Second, I’m confident that they would not be a help to you. That is, mine wouldn’t help you. But yours of the same type would help you.

You’ve probably guessed the volumes I’m referring to—my journals.

I began journaling in a purposed way when I was thirteen. And it was all due to my older sister’s influence. I looked up to everything Michele did, so when she began keeping a devotional journal, I did too. Eight volumes later, I’m so glad I did.

Keeping a journal transformed my walk with the Lord. The immediate results were life-changing, and the long-term benefits have been rewarding. Continue reading

Book Review: A Word to the Wise Daily Devotional

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Just this week, Striving Together Publications released a new daily devotional by Pastor Chappell: A Word to the Wise: Practical Advice from the Book of Proverbs.

With a devotional reading from Proverbs for every day of the year, this book is perfect as your daily devotional or as a gift. (Through Wednesday of this week, if you purchase the hardback, you receive the ebook free—so it can be your devotional and a gift! Also through Wednesday, if you purchase multiple copies, you receive further discounts. These are release week bonuses only, however. So hurry!)

Each day’s reading begins with a text from Proverbs followed by a brief action-orientated application. Although the devotions are all drawn from Proverbs, there are support/cross-reference Scriptures all throughout the book. Additionally, each page of the devo includes further reading that will guide you through the Bible in a year. Continue reading

Words for the Week: It Is God

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For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.—Philippians 2:13

One of my favorite words is hustle. I like it because it is an action word, and I like action. If there is a desired outcome, I want to know how to get there from where I’m at, and then I want to get busy on the first step of action.

For some years, this was my approach, not only to projects or assignments, but to the Christian life. I figured if I could discern what changes I needed to make, I could lay out steps of action toward those changes—and then hustle on the steps to become a good Christian.

I think you can see where I’m going with this. There are some areas in which we don’t hustle, we look to God. And Christian growth is one of those areas. Continue reading

Book Review: Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Choosing-Gratitude

On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your gratitude? If you had asked me this spring, I probably would have rated mine about a 8.2.

But then I read Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Through this book the Lord worked in my heart to show me how ingratitude had worked its way into my life in ways I had not recognized. Subtle expectations I hadn’t identified and buried pride surfaced.

As the subtitle suggests, this book connects the dots between gratitude and Christian joy. I already knew the two are related, but I was challenged through the book to recognize specifically on what points they connect—namely humility and an outward focus.

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in ourselves—even in our service to others—that we become burdened and inward focused. Choosing Gratitude highlights how effective gratitude is to usher us into the presence of God. It enables us to break away from ourselves and renew our joy.

Even today, as I flip back through the book to reread my highlights, I was challenged anew. Here are a few: Continue reading

Renew & Revitalize: 10 Tips to Renew Your Heart for God and Revitalize Your Time with Him

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All of us come upon times when our time with the Lord is not as fresh as it could or should be. Below are tips I shared with my Sunday school class last week. They were a blessing to me to compile, and I hope they’re helpful to you. Perhaps you could pull just one or two of these to incorporate into your time with the Lord.

1.         Rise early to avoid distractions.

There is no better opportunity in my day to give my undivided attention to God’s Word than early in the morning before my day gets underway.

Early will I seek thee.—Psalm 63:1

If you want to add freshness to your time with the Lord, try spending time in His Word before the distractions of the day pile on.

2. Reflect on the greatness of God’s invitation to know Him.

I love the heart-level response of David to God’s invitation to know Him:

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.—Psalm 27:8

What an invitation is ours—that we can seek God’s face! Personally. Intimately. Daily. If you’re struggling to spend time with God, reflect for a few minutes on the gracious invitation you’ve been given.

3. Praise God—sing.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.—Psalm 11:4

I hope you have a hymnal. If not, make a list of songs about the Lord or to the Lord, and sing them to Him.

4. Ask God to make Himself real to you.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.—Jeremiah 29:13

If you feel you’re in a rut where you are reading God’s Word out of duty, ask God to make His Word come alive to you. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a personal way.

5. Use a Bible reading schedule.

When the Israelites gathered manna in the wilderness, there was a structure to how they gathered.

And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.—Exodus 16:18

God’s Word is spiritual nourishment, and I believe we are wise to have a structure to how we consume it. Reading by a schedule allows me to systematically read all the Word of God—not just several favorite passages. It also adds a layer of accountability to my Bible reading that helps to keep me faithful through the “dry times.”

6. Journal your growth.

My devotional journals—going back to when I began as a young teenager—are a treasure to me because they record years of God’s faithfulness to reveal Himself to me through His Word.

We easily forget what God has done in our lives. We grow used to His workings. A journal helps us keep it fresh. And it gives us a tremendous reference point to reflect on when we grow stale.

7. Ask questions.

Ask questions about what you read in God’s Word. It will incite your curiosity and therefore heighten your discovery.

8. Apply truth.

Seeing what happens when we apply God’s truth gives us a hunger for more!

It’s all too easy to fool ourselves into a false sense of contentment in our Christian life because we hear God’s Word, but we never apply it.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.—James 1:22–25

9. Fast

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.—Matthew 5:6

I know of no sharper spiritual discipline than fasting to increase my hunger for God. When I sense my heart for God growing cold, setting aside a meal (or a few) to purposefully seek God’s face and ask Him to renew my hunger for Him often rekindles my heart. Fasting is like the poker’s sharp jab to a diminishing fire.

10. Stay right with God.

Sin hinders the work of God in our lives—even when we are going through all the right motions.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.—James 4:8-10  

Regularly ask God to search your heart, and be responsive to Him.

11. (Bonus) Share what you learn with someone else.

There’s nothing more encouraging than sharing something God taught you with someone else. Keep it fresh by sharing it!