Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mom Talk #1: Grow Your Soul

for the introduction and index of the posts in this 31 Days series, click }here{

Dearest Children of Mine,

It's simple:  the most important thing you can do with your life is give it to Jesus Christ and let Him be Lord of it.  That means grace, grace, grace and more grace for every single time you fail.  It means the end of trying to get it right, and the end of trying to "be good" ... and the rest of your life trying to get it right and be the person God created you to be just for the pleasure of living out your gratitude for all the grace.  

Philippians 1:6 is one of my favorite scriptures:

But this is what I want to tell you about your faith:  although you can be sure that God will perfect your faith, you are responsible for growing it.  I can't explain the paradox of that, but I believe both to be simultaneously true.

Here are a few basic things you can do to grow your faith.  If you do these things regularly, you won't be the same person a year from now.  Your soul will grow.

Read Your Bible Regularly

At first, reading the Bible can be a little like trying to read an unfamiliar language.  But the more you read, the more the wisdom seeps into your soul, and the more you understand.  Just start.  And then keep going, as close to every day as you can, but with no guilt for the days you don't.  I believe the Bible is holy, and therefore when we read it, when we consume it, when we expose our souls to it, when its words are breathed into our day: something holy happens to the atmosphere around us.  I don't mean weird holy, I just mean plain and simple good holy.  Reading your Bible makes a difference in your daily life - not because you did it or anything you can make that mean (i.e. yay!  I read my Bible today!  I'm a good person!) but simply because because God's word is holy, and it never returns to Him void.

If you read your Bible regularly, when the bottom falls out of your life and you need answers, you won't need to figure out where to start, you'll already know: just start with whatever today's reading is to be.  When you need direction, what you're reading will be somewhat familiar to you - you've already covered the basics of the language, so you can understand it more quickly and easily when you're really searching for an answer to a difficult situation.  And finally, when you're in the heat of the moment, God's Word is already in your mind.

Your life right now is relatively easy, but there will be times and seasons that are increasingly challenging as you mature.  The sooner you begin the practice of reading your Bible regularly, the more firm your foundation will be when life throws ugly stuff at you.  The very best time to start reading your Bible regularly is right now.  Or the right now at which you remember Mom encouraged you to do this :o)

There are so many ways to approach Bible reading ... it's kind of a daunting task, and like everything else, it helps to have a plan on how you'll do it.  Different methods will suit the different seasons of your life.  Here are a couple I recommend:

There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, so there's a chapter for every day.  This is light but profound reading, particularly if you repeat the process month after month.

The Daily Bible
The Daily Bible has 365 daily readings in chronological order, with marks to show where to start and stop each day, and brief but helpful explanations and overviews of the subject matter.  

Daily Light
Daily Light is a collection of scriptures for every day of the year surrounding a different common topic each day.  This book has been around for years, and it's amazing how spot on the day's selection of scripture can hone in with laser precision on exactly what you need to hear.

Pick a Book, Any Book
You don't necessarily have to begin with Genesis ... just pick a book and start reading.  If this is your approach, I would recommend something more than just "light" reading - study the book you choose enough to understand who is writing it and why, and who the target audience is and why they need it.  Read it in small bites and really contemplate what the message is.  Keep going until you finish the entire book, even if you think you're not really getting it.  Just. keep. going.  

Pray Now
Pray Now is a phone app that includes a reading from the Psalms, Old Testament, New Testament and other thoughtful readings for every day of the year.  It's a great little app to have on your phone so you always have it with you.


I believe in the power of prayer.  I believe God doesn't always answer your prayers the way you want Him to and/or on your timeline, but I believe prayer makes a tremendous difference in your life.  Praying will increase your faith as you see God answer your prayers.  Praying will put a time and place in your day when maybe your heart is open and still enough that God can speak to you.  

My sister Karol taught me the ACTS sequence of praying when I was very young.  This isn't a "formula", and your prayers don't need to be like this always or even most of the time ... for me, it just helps keep my prayers somewhat focused and keeps them from running all over creation: 
  • A:  Adoration ... spend time appreciating God for who He is ... He is worthy of every bit of your praise.
  • C:  Confess ... confess your sin.  I used to stress about trying to confess every single sin, all the while knowing it was impossible to do so.  Now, I just start by agreeing with God:  I am a sinner, through and through, and there is nothing good in me aside from His presence.  And then I ask Him to show me what things I am wrong about, and I pray about those things, asking forgiveness and for help to overcome.
  • T:  Thanks!  His mercies are new, every morning.  There are too many things to count ... thank Him!
  • S:  Supplication ... ask for what you need, talk it out.  Notice this comes last - that helps give you proper perspective :o)

I also recommend keeping a prayer journal.  I've used my prayer journal like a prayer list, which I prayed my way through as regularly as possible.  And I've also used a prayer journal to write in brief what I'm praying about each day.  Using a prayer journal helps keep my mind on track and helps me remember the things I want to pray about.  Most delightfully, keeping a prayer journal has given me a way to look back and see where God has answered my prayers.  It can be astounding ... sometimes He answers with abundance prayers you don't even remember praying.  Your God is a gracious God.

God is the same forever, but I think everyone has their own unique spirituality that's forged between them and God.  Don't judge yourself according to someone else's kind of spiritual life ... figure out your own, make it your own, and take responsibility for growing your faith and growing your soul.  It's the best possible ambition you can have.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about the reset that happens when you turn 18.  It's a truth that everyone agrees upon but is rarely discussed or explained, and if you don't acknowledge it, you can lose entire decades of your life to foolishness.

for the introduction and index of the posts in this 31 Days series, click }here{
thanks for reading!

Shared joy is doubled joy ... let's double the joy for both of us - what are you most grateful for today? Click below to leave your comment. I'll go first :

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