So this week, I'm starting this post, not really sure where it's going to go. I have a few things in my head that I definitely want to talk about but the journey to those points is a little foggy. Those are the fun parts of writing and listening to the voice of God. You never know where it's going to lead and when its finished, looking back is so amazing. So here goes nothing.
One of the most valuable and most difficult parts about college is the relationships you make while you are there. Some of them are lifelong friendships and some are just for a season. I've done this whole relationship thing both right and very, very wrong. I've learned a lot in both seasons and even now, I'm still learning.
I think the main reason why I didn't know how to start this or what to say is because this is such a messy topic. Feelings are involved and other people with raw emotions are very real. I can't just hide behind a screen and type some malarky without considering you, the other person on the other side of this screen.
I've avoided this topic because I thought I was okay after some of the mess that happened. When I sat down to write, I realized that there were still very big, very raw parts of my heart that hadn't fully healed and I had just been suppressing.
But we're not going to get alllllllll into that today and probably not ever. You don't need to know the details and I'm in no position to discuss them.
Going off to college presents itself with so many challenges but one of the main challenges that seems to dwell at the forefront of every upcoming freshman's mind is making friends.
As a college grad, I am here to tell you that you will most definitely NOT keep every single friend you met your first month in college. That is a fact, not an opinion. I can count on one hand the amount of people I still talk to from freshman year. One hand.
With all of that in mind, here are a few lessons I learned about relationships/friendships in college:
1. Choose prayerfully. If you feel like its wrong, it is.
Your first week after you've moved in and gotten settled will be full of activities where you can mingle and meet people from all over your campus. Go to as many of them as you can. One valuable lesson I learned is this: Don't keep yourself tethered to one group to go to all of these events. Go to some on your own. If you go with a group of people, you'll likely only meet people like the group. Meet different people from different major and different walks of life. Get numbers, go grab coffee, get dinner, go to movies, etc.
Then, when you are alone with Jesus, ask Him to show you those friendship that He wants you to hold on to. Looking back, I can see where the Lord was definitely telling me to re-evaluate those I let close to me early on but I ignored Him. I was afraid to be alone and friendless. I was still trying to figure out who I was and wanted people to surround me to distract me from "self-doubt." But eventually, everything went sour very quickly and I was alone. I hadn't branched out that first week and stuck to the same group. I could literally count on one hand the number of people who would eat a meal with me. It wasn't because I was unpleasant but because I was too shy and too quiet and all too willing to be exclusive to group.
2. Be yourself.
You might be thinking "Duh. I've heard this since I was little." However, I can't stress this one enough. Literally, y'all, be yourself in ALL situations. I've seen even the most confident people compromise who they are for friendships in college. If you have to modify your personality to be accepted by one person or a group of people, IT ISN'T WORTH IT. If you're not yourself from the beginning and you try to become who they want you to be, you'll never measure up. You'll fall short every time and you'll be reminded just how short you're falling.
But guess what? That's not how we are to allow ourselves to be treated. If the King of Kings and Lord of Lords does not hold your mistakes and shortcomings over your head, then how come you allow another sinful human being do that to you? You shouldn't. Don't. Walk away.
It is also a huge blessing to find like-minded people. This may take some time and patience and may require some tough decisions but it is worth it. Go to those campus ministry groups and grab coffee with a couple people from those groups. Look, I have friends from outside my campus ministry group but my forever friends have come from the people I met doing ministry things. I'm not at all saying that you shouldn't be friends with people who are unbelievers. Building close friendships with those that don't follow Jesus is the perfect way to share the love of Jesus. However, when it comes to sharing the issues that are burdening your heart and places where Jesus is working on you, you're going to want some prayer warriors in your corner.
3. Find people who love you for you and hang on to them.
While we're talking about about being yourself, it's important to address this issue. #2 and #3 usually goes hand in hand. People who don't accept you as you are and still wanting to hang on to your friendship usually want to be friends with you because of something you can do for them or give them. It may seem cold to say but it's true.
When you meet someone who says, "I just want to be your friend," you know you've got a good one. One of my forever friends I met my junior year said that the first time we got coffee. That was the first time someone had ever said that to me and I was blown away but her intentionality when it came to us getting together and doing life with me.
Just to brag on her a little because the Lord brought her into my life at such the perfect time it's not even funny. I got to know her before she met her now husband and watch her graduate, start grad school, and become the best nurse in the world.
Friends who just want to be your friend are forever friends.
4. It may not last forever and that's okay.
This was one of the most difficult lessons I learned during college. Sometimes, people are brought into your life for a season. During a particular time of transition, I was reading through Ecclesiastes and there several verses of that encouraged me and challenged me a lot. I could talk a lot about this point but I'm going step back and let Jesus do all the talking here.
"Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work;
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not easily broken."
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
We were meant for community. We were meant to build relationships with one another. Here comes the one that kicks me in the gut.
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in it's time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
There is a time for everything and sometimes we don't know what the Lord is doing. We can't see the bigger picture as we're going through it but on the other side, we can see God's hand through it all.
I could very easily spend the rest of my life kicking myself for how I handled certain friendships for two years. But remember what we said earlier? God doesn't hold my mistakes over my head, neither should I. In the moment, I couldn't see what God was doing and wanted to leave Campbell. I was done. But these verses encouraged me and just a few months into my junior year, I could look back and see all that the Lord had done and how He used those circumstances to grow me. Thank you, Jesus.
So, some friendships are for a season. That's okay. The Lord is going to use it for your good. Get ready to grow, dear one.
5. Do NOT compromise who you are and what you believe to keep a friend/group of friends.
One of my biggest mistakes early in my college career was sacrificing my involvement in campus ministries and following hard after Jesus for the appeasement of a handful of people. Like I said, I sometimes beat myself up because of it but there's no grace in that. If you feel like God has called you to x number of campus ministries, go for it. Follow hard after Jesus in all things. The people that keep up, keep. Those that lag behind and try and keep you still, leave.
Yes, be an example and lead those friends. BUT do not let them keep you from following Jesus. Do not keep them at the expense of your own walk with Jesus. Handle yourself with grace and truth and love.
6. Even when you feel utterly alone, you're not.
Man, I wish I could sit across from you, sipping coffee, and tell you how loved and cherished you are. The internet is good but it's not that good.
So, I want to introduce you to 20 year old Allison. I'm going to speak in third person because I'm not that girl anymore and I'm so thankful. When she wrote this, she was at the bottom. No friends, no one to lean on other than Jesus and her family, no one within arms reach she could really trust.
I don't remember a time when I've felt worse about myself and my situation. The best way for me to communicate to you how loved you are and special you are is by showing you what I learned when I didn't feel loved and special. My heart aches and tears well up in my eyes all over again as I read this and remember how broken, vulnerable, and laid open I was.
Again, for the sake of making you click on another link, I'll just copy and paste it below.
If you'd rather click the link, here it is!
Worth More Than Many Sparrows
May 20, 2015
As I am sitting down to write what God has laid on my heart, I am overwhelmed. I am flooded with mixed emotions and so many thoughts. I hear the lies that Satan keeps whispering in my ear but I know the truths that Scripture says about me. Lately, it seems like there is a constant fight in my mind. It's not pretty.
Have you ever been through a time in your life when you looked back on your life and wondered how in the world you got there?
Well, I definitely have. These moments have been coming frequently this week. Just on Wednesday I found myself sitting on the front row at church during the service thinking, "What happened?" I found myself trying to figure out what happened to the confident girl from last year that was determined to be her own person, do her own thing, and live her life to please God. It's not that she is gone completely... I guess she's just been on a hiatus. Looking back on the past few months, I realized that I haven't exactly been my own person and doing my own thing. I have been doing my own thing but doing it apologetically. As if my service to the Lord and His call on my life is something that I needed to apologize for.
The last few months, my apologetic living has turned into a whole new monster. My insecurity monster was/is back and raging. Right now, I find myself having to fight harder than ever to keep the words of Jesus not just in my heart but also in the forefront of my mind. In the quiet, the insecurity monster is louder than ever. "You're over-reacting." "What is wrong with you?" "No one will ever love you." "No one will ever accept you." "Everyone is just pretending to like you."
And when I realize that I'm actually listening to the stupid monster, I feel so defeated. I thought I had dealt with this. I thought this wasn't an issue anymore.
Then I realized that this is the same monster but not the same problem. But that's something for another time.
Well, at the same church service I mentioned earlier, we were reading from Matthew 9. Just one page over in my Bible I had two "Let's Be Brave" sticky notes. I turned the page and saw that "do not be afraid," is in both Matthew 10:28 and Matthew 10:31.
God is so good and His timing is perfect.
(Just for the sake of not taking anything out of context, I am going to include several verses from chapter 10. I have bolded the verses that we will focus on.)
"Be on guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you...All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved...So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of these who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
Matthew 10:17-20, 22, 26-31 (NIV)
Worth more than many sparrows. It makes me weep just thinking about it.
Here's the deal, y'all. We love Jesus. We serve Jesus. We have said, "Here I am, Lord, send me," and meant it with every fiber of our being. We hunger and thirst for His presence in our everyday lives.
We may be on our mountain top but there is always someone, a group of someones, or an icky circumstance trying to pull us down. They/it may not be trying deliberately but you can feel the tug. You're suddenly confronted with a choice: stick around and fight or walk away. And either choice you make will hurt.
My monster recognized that this is where I'm at and is taking advantage of the situation. I realized I am more afraid of those that can only kill my body. I find myself doing almost everything I can to avoid being questioned (in a negative way) about my association with Jesus. I start trying to justify the work that I do for Jesus because some people may view it as a negative thing. I end up keeping to myself what He has whispered in my ear.
Instant conviction + simultaneously beating myself up = pity party. Yuck.
Yes, I have messed up. I lost sight of what's really important and didn't do what was best for me. And as a result, I have ended up here fighting my monster with every fiber of my being every second of every moment.
Despite all that, I am worth more than many sparrows. There is nothing that I could do or could not do that can change that. I am a messed up sinner in desperate need of a Savior and I am still worth more than many sparrows.
You are too.
I don't know what you're going through, what circumstances seem to be consuming your days, or what your struggles are. But I do know that you are so loved, so strong, and worth more than many, many sparrows.
Close your eyes and hear Jesus whispering those sweet words to you. He knows your circumstances and your struggles and He still thinks you are priceless. There's no way to measure your worth.
You are worth more than many sparrows even when you feel worthless.
You are worth more than many sparrows even when you can't seem to get over whatever struggle you're facing right now.
You are worth more than many sparrows even when you are depressed, angry, upset, or any other emotion that could course through your precious veins.
You are worth more than many sparrows even when you mess up big time.
You are worth more than many sparrows when things are good. You are still worth more than many sparrows when things are not so great.
There's nothing you could do to change that fact or change the way Jesus feels about you.
I'm sure you're probably facing some monsters right now and I am praying for strength, wisdom, and courage for you. Together, we can overcome our monsters and together we can yell from the rooftops the truths that Christ has given us.
If you're wondering if that Scripture is where the blog name came from, the answer is yes.
So, so thankful.
College is tough. Friendships are messy. Life is icky. Jesus is good.
And that, friends, is all I've got. I hope something that was said has helped you, encouraged you, or challenged you. I can't believe this is the last FOUNDATIONS for July! Time has gone so quickly and I can't wait to see what the Lord is going to do in the future!
Stress. I'm not very good at it. If you've ever met me in real life, you know that I'm a perfectionist. I've always been a pretty high-strung, type A person. By the grace of God, I learned a lot of really valuable lessons about stress and the difference in me between now and my freshman year is night and day. I still have a long way to go but I'm praising Jesus every step of the way.
For those of you about to leave high school and venture out into the great big world, you haven't seen nothing yet. I stressed in high school, especially my senior year, but it was nothing compared to the stress I experienced in college. I didn't handle it very well at all. My hope is that reading this, you'll start off on the right foot rather than doing damage control the rest of your life.
I've always said that you're not a "real" college student until after your first semester and your first finals week. Finals week in college is nothing compared to high school. Not even close. College and finals weeks brings out the worst kind of stress and my first finals week left me shell-shocked.
Plus, my first semester finals I had an upper AND lower respiratory infection. (Yes, I got a cold from the sick people around me but my stress made is so, so much worse.)
College is your first baby step into the real world. You're stepping into a new place with it's own culture and real problems. Adjusting will be stressful, moving in will be stressful, registering for classes will be stressful, moving out will be stressful, and your first test of the semester in every class every single year will be stressful.
Literally, friend, the list could go on and on and on....
FACT: Stress is a part of life, welcome to it.
FACT: Stress can be caused by something you have absolutely no control of.
FACT: More often than not for me, stress can be self-induced.
How is that? Well, there's two BIG reasons:
1. You have too much on your plate. You're spread so thin and moving in so many different directions at one time, you're not doing any of them to the best of your ability. Saying, "no," to things or clearing your schedule is a BLESSING, not a sign of weakness.
2. You have put too much weight or value on something that isn't really important, it doesn't have any eternal value or won't really matter five years from now.
FACT: How you handle or view stress is what makes all the difference in the world. There is hope.
It wasn't until the Lord gave me some proper perspective, that I finally got better about handling my stress. I remember it like it was yesterday. I came home during my first finals week to go to the doctor. I felt awful and guilty for every single minute I wasn't studying for my biology final. After my mom and I went to the doctor (I go by myself now, thank you), we went to Walmart to pick up a couple of things that would help me feel better (and a couple things off the grocery list). I had gone to get a new journal because I filled up my old one and then went to find Mom. I was having trouble finding her and ended up walking around and around and around the store looking for her. I remember telling Jesus in my mind (not out loud - pray without ceasing, y'all), "I feel like a fish in a fishbowl looking for her." Then BOOM. I got an instant reality check from Jesus.
When I got back on campus, I spent some time with Jesus and wrote down the reality check. On December 4, 2013 I wrote the blog "Fishbowl Perspective." For the sake of not having to click to another article, I'm just going to paste it below in italics.
"Well, it's that time in a college student's life… Exams.
On these exams rides all of my hopes of getting A's in all of my classes, having a fabulous GPA, and keeping my scholarship.
While I was considering all of this today, I felt trapped. Trapped in the expectations that I put on myself. Trapped in this seemingly never-ending route of doing my best and trying to get the grade. Trapped and going nowhere.
It kind of feels like being stuck in a fishbowl. A place with nowhere to go but in circles, doing the same thing over and over again.
My mom always told that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result each time. Let me tell you, this fishbowl I'm in feels like insanity.
Listen, I have put in the time studying. I have put in the time studying before for each test, each quiz and gave my 100 percent on every assignment. WHY AM I SO STRESSED?
Because in the fishbowl the same things keep coming up over and over again and instead of a different result, I fall back to the same thing over and over again. Swimming in circles.
Someone reading this might be saying, "Okay. I get it. What is your point?!"
My point is this: Everyone has their own fishbowl. Everyone has that one thing that makes them so frustrated or stressed or upset that they start swimming in circles. Everyone has one. As imperfect, stubborn humans, we all probably have more than one fishbowl.
The problem with the fishbowl is that the perspective is all wrong. In the fishbowl, swimming in circles, you can only see what is ahead of you. You're just looking at "What's next in this thing that makes me so frustrated, upset, or stressed?" You never take your eyes off of that thing. You just keep chasing it and swimming in circles.
Two of the BEST words in the Bible. A phrase so small that means so much.
Here is what God has to say about our fishbowls:
"For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and of sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7
"But we have the mind of Christ…"
1 Corinthians 2:16
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
God hasn't given us a fishbowl with a fishy perspective. He has given us quite the opposite. He has given us a spirit of power, love, and sound mind. He has promised to make our paths straight if we just trust Him.
God doesn't put us in the fishbowl; our sinfulness, stubbornness, and pure humanity puts us in the fishbowl.
But God has given us the mind of Christ.
He gave us a vast ocean in all its infiniteness full of His marvelous grace, mercy, love, and glory! He wants us to swim in His ocean, in His waters. He doesn't want us to keep swimming in circles but He wants us to move forward. He wants us to have room to grow and to constantly ask, "What do you have for me next, God?" He will show you because He is the one who makes our paths straight.
The best part is, when we get stuck in our little fishbowl, He will show up. He will take us out of that fishbowl and put us in His ocean.
"They cried to the Lord in their trouble and He delivered them from their distress."
He delivers us. And because of that deliverance we are to worship Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He is so worthy!
Thank you, Father, for your ocean of grace, mercy, love, and glory!"
Now when I find myself stressed out, whether it be because I said "yes" to too much or put too much value on that test or paper, I remind myself of those verses and take a step back to avoid putting myself in the fishbowl.
A lot of times I ask myself a variation of these questions:
Does this paper or test have an eternal value or glory? Nope.
Does it change at all the fact that I am a graduate? Nope.
Does it change the fact that I am a graduate student? Nope.
Does it change how my family sees me? No.
Does it change the way Jesus sees me? No.
Does continuing to stress about x, y, z change anything at all? No.
Okay. STOP IT.
Now don't get me wrong, some stress is good. But I think we all know what our "good stress" and "bad stress" feels like. Reciting those verses to myself, answering those questions, and taking a few deep breaths usually works for me. It may not be your thing. You'll just have to find what works for you. Here are a few things that work for my friends:
- LONG, hot showers. The more stressed she was, the longer the shower.
- 15 minute walk with some praise and worship music.
- Playing an instrument
- Watching a 20 minute Netflix show.
But for each of these friends, prayer was the main ingredient.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
He's with you, dear friend. Trust Him. Rely on Him and give Him all your worry and stress. He's strong enough to handle it.
I have been sitting on some very exciting news for quite a while and I am THRILLED to finally share it with you!!
Many of you have said that you would love to go through Let's Be Brave but it's too much paper and ink to print it out and you want to be able to write and highlight all over the place. Well, I have a solution!
Let's Be Brave is officially PUBLISHED! You can get it on Kindle and in paperback form! The Kindle version is $4.99 and for the next couple of weeks, as a celebration, the paperback version will be only $5.99!
Two years ago when the Lord challenged me to start writing down all the things He was teaching me in that season and gave me the words "Let's Be Brave," I would have never imagined this. The glory goes to God alone! Thank you, Lord!
Click the link below to get your own copy!
Let's Be Brave Devotionals - Kindle and paperback
Hello, beautiful friends! Can you believe we're almost halfway through July?! I can't! This season has been so beautifully challenging and I am so thankful for each and every one of you that have stuck with me through it!
This week's study is going to be very similar to last week's and we're going to dive right in! At the end of this post, I am going to have links to TONS of resources listed for you and even a freebie! Those of you that subscribe to the blog and get emails, these resources are in your inbox! (If you want these in your inbox in the future, sign up!)
In all my high school days and even now, I automatically cringe at the sound of these two words together. Somehow, anytime we talked about quiet time in church, youth, small group Bible studies, I found myself on the insecure and inadequate train. I found myself berating myself for not being perfect and persistent in my daily quiet time. I also found myself wondering if those preaching at me about quiet time were as consistent in their own quiet time as they presented themselves to be.
If we're all honest, none of us are completely perfect at keeping a quiet time. We're busy, we don't have any time, we don't know what to do in our quiet time, we're scared. We have a million and one excuses for not having a regular quiet time.
Despite my imperfection and craziness, I have learned a lot about quiet times and how important they are. The following list are things that I have learned about quiet times while I was in college. It was a struggle to figure out what worked best for me and because college can be inconsistent because every few months your schedule changes, I am still trying to figure out what is the absolute best routine for me. This list is just a few things I have learned about quiet times that motivated me to be consistent but that doesn't mean that they work for you. We're all different and we are all at different places in our walk with Christ. God also requires different things for each of us. With that being said, please do not feel like this list is the end all and be all about quiet times.
1. 5 minutes is better than 0 minutes.
Despite what you may have heard your whole entire life, some time in God's Word is better than no time in the Word. Even just reading a single Bible verse a day and meditating on it throughout the day is better than not reading anything. Satan can be defeated with a single breath of God. A single Bible verse has the same power.
2. Morning quiet times are ideal but night time is just as good.
I am a morning person. I wake up early and I am ready to take on the day. So, most of the time, I get my quiet time done in the morning so I can think about it throughout the day. However, I know that we are all busy and not everyone is a morning person like me. If my day is crazy and for some reason I don't have time to do my quiet time, I usually do it before I go to bed. That way, I am thinking about the love and grace and mercy of God as I lay down to sleep. And when I wake up, I am ready to go again.
During my fall semester of senior year this was really hard. I had to be at school at 7:15 and once I left school, I had class all afternoon. Then I had other responsibilities on campus (like work and campus ministry president stuff) and SO MUCH HOMEWORK. That left very little time for a quiet time so I found that in order for me to get it done, I had to get up at 4:30. I started off really strong and then as the semester wore on and I was staying up later because I had more work to do, I didn't always get up that early. So, see? Still not perfect.
My junior year, I my accountability partner and I did Bible studies together. We each had our own quiet time and we did studies like "Discerning the Voice of God" by Priscilla Shrier. Also, we both met with another friend every Wednesday morning at 7:00 for coffee, breakfast, and discipleship.
In college, there will be TONS of campus ministries that all want you to join. My freshman year, I went to all of them at least twice, trying to figure out which one(s) I like the best. In the end, I sticked with Ignite (which was co-ed) and SHINE (which is an all-girls ministry). Even though being plugged into these campus ministries and a local church is so important, it is NOT the substance of your relationship with Jesus. What you do on Sundays and Wednesdays or whenever your campus ministry meets, is supplemental ONLY. It adds to what you're doing everyday. It gives you a place to share your struggles and what God taught you today. Church/campus ministries are for worship and community, not the only couple hours you'll spend with Jesus.
3. You are not a bad Christian or "fake" if you have a hard time keeping a regular quiet time.
This has been one of the hardest truths for me to learn. If I said, "I'm going to read a chapter of Genesis a day," and I didn't read a chapter every single day, I felt like I had failed God and I was a fake. I felt like a phony because I hadn't read my Bible daily like a good and true Christian did.
If you haven't read your Bible today, you are not a failure, phony, or a hypocrite. Sweet friend, did you hear me? You are NOT a failure, phony, or hypocrite. You are dearly loved, saved by grace, chosen by God himself.
Whether or not you read your Bible today does not change what Scripture says about you. It doesn't.
This should not, however, be an excuse to never read your Bible. Reading your Bible and having some alone time with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is the most vital element of your relationship with Christ. Religion says, "Read your Bible or else." Relationship says, "Read your Bible and learn more about Me, see My heart, and follow Me." See the difference?
When we're in a romantic relationship with someone, we want to learn all that we can about that person. We study them when we're together. The same concept can be applied to our quiet time. That time is when we study Christ and learn Him because we love Him and want our lives to point to Him.
4. Find a "study system" that works for you.
This is also something else that I have majorly struggled with. Majorly. It's tempting to just open the Bible and read whatever verse my finger lands on. It's also tempting to just stick to Bible studies where other people have given you homework and relying on what they have to say about the Word.
Something that I have been doing since my junior year in high school is going through books of the Bible. I have learned SO much from doing this. Whenever I finish a book, I spend a week or two weeks praying and asking God where He wants me to go next in Scripture. He usually shows me where I should be and then I do a little bit of research on the book before I start to get some context on the book itself.
Then, I go through and read a paragraph or a section of a chapter of the book. Once I have read my portion for the day, I go through each verse and write down whatever God is saying to me about that verse and maybe how He is applying it to my life today.
Here's an example:
A few weeks ago I finished reading through Daniel. Usually, I went through a chapter at a time but some of the longer chapters, I did on multiple days and divided in halves or thirds. Right now, I'm in the "in between books" stage. But here is just one example of writing in my journal for a particular verse. This is for Daniel 1:11-16.
"God's ways and His will is greater than my own will, thoughts, and desires. When I RESOLVE to follow Jesus in ALL things, I see His plans unfold before me and can see His hands in all things, even the hard things, and give Him honor, glory, and praise."
Also, God taught me some really hard truths with Nebuchadnezzar's statue of himself that was really hard. More to come later...
I also do the Bible studies with the homework but I feel like I am more connected and in sync with God by going through a book and allowing Him to teach me.
5. Prayer is vital to having a healthy quiet time/relationship with God.
I cannot stress the importance of prayer enough. Prayer is SO important to having a personal relationship with Christ. I don't think I am eloquent enough to adequately describe prayer so I'm going to let some of the greatest people describe it for me:
"I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time - waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God - it changes me."
- C.S. Lewis
"Any concern too small to be turned into prayer is too small to be turned into a burden."
- Corrie Ten Boom
"I have so much to do that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer."
- Martin Luther
"The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing; but it is the chief thing."
- S.D. Gordon
"The essence of meditation is a period of time set aside to contemplate the Lord, listen to Him, and allow Him to permeate our spirits."
- Charles Stanley
6. Commitment is what will drive you. If you're not committed or determined, your quiet time will not be regular or profitable.
The key thing to having a successful quiet time is commitment. Since I have committed to studying my Bible every day, a fire has grown within me. My desire and thirst for the Words of Scripture cannot be quenched. I can't get enough. On days where I make excuses as to why I didn't do my quiet time, I can tell. I can tell in my attitude, my thoughts, and my words towards others. We all have that fire within us because we all have an innate, programed desire to know and love God. Sometimes, its just hard to give that desire enough fuel to burn bright. But you know what? Even on days when that fire is a little dim, if you ask the Lord to renew that fire and that passion, He will do it!
"Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always."
1 Chronicles 16:11
Here are some really cool resources that I have used at one time or another!
Proverbs 31 Ministries - You can sign up to get FREE devotionals sent to your inbox every day!
First 5 app - also associated with Proverbs 31 and it's a devo for the first five minutes of your day and from what I understand, it's synced up with your alarm!
She Reads Truth - This is also an free app with the Bible and TONS of plans, free and paid.
He Reads Truth - Same thing but for guys!
SoulScripts - Jordan Lee Dooley posts things pretty often on her blog. You can also get devos and how-to guides through a paid subscription.
YouVersion bible app - FREE app that has TONS of devotional plans!
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
Let's Be Brave by yours truly! A link is available where you can purchase LBB!
If there's anything I missed or a really good male-oriented plan please tell me in the comments below! I'd love to add more to this list! What has worked for you?
You can share your thoughts below or use the #hsfoundations on social media!
Happy Monday, beautiful friends! I don't about you guys, but it was a whirlwind week for me. I've had two major assignments due within a week of each other and I've been working like a madwoman trying to get them completed. It's been a struggle but even through it all, I can see God's faithfulness and His grace. While I've been single-mindedly focused on my assignments, He's still been working things out. I put Him on the back-burner. I put my school work before my relationship with Him.
I've repented. And I am working to keep Him first, even when I'm drowning in assignments.
And He still loves me. He doesn't take back the nails. He doesn't come off of the cross. He doesn't say, "You know what? You're too much work. I'm outta here." THAT, my friends, is grace.
Last week, we looked at God's desire for us and our sin. Our conclusion was that God, through the death of His Son on the cross, did not give us freedom to sin but rather freedom from sin.
This week is going to be a little bit different. I'm attaching a link to sermon by Dr. Stephen Davey, pastor at Colonial Baptist Church here in NC. I've listened to many of his teaching series and this man preaches the Word of God and doesn't sugar coat anything. We need more preachers like that. This coming year at Bible Study Fellowship we will be going through Romans and my family has been listening to his study in preparation. (More on BSF later.)
Click here to either download the manuscript or listen to the sermon. I would encourage you to listen to the sermon and just hear him preach. Reading it is also SO good so whichever one you would prefer! I'll go ahead and warn you that it will automatically play the sermon and there's music right at the beginning but from there you can also download the transcript. If you want to listen to more of his sermons, click here!
In the sermon, you will hear/read the story of how David showed grace to one of Jonathan's sons after his death. There's song by John Mark McMillan written about that experience. It's on of my favorite JMM songs so I'm putting the video below.
Bible Study Fellowship is a non-denominational Bible study where men, women, and children around the world gather to study God's word. In the United States, we follow the school calendar and we study whole books of the Bible. One of the coolest things about BSF is that everyone around the world is studying the same book of the Bible, answering the same questions, and reading the same notes. I spent nine years in the children's program and this year will be my first year back after 5 years (there wasn't a BSF near me in college and I got plugged in to other ministries on campus) and I'll be in the adult program! We'll be going through the book of Romans and it is going to be SO GOOD! If you would like more information on BSF, click here. You can also find a BSF near you. It is free of charge.
And let me tell you, I would not be where I am today in my walk with the Lord without BSF. BSF taught me how to read and understand God's word. It taught me how to pray for myself and pray for others. It taught me how to see God in every aspect of my life and not put Him in a box. It's an amazing ministry and I pray you will get plugged in!