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4 Keys to a Successful Devotional Time

Ok, let’s begin by defining ‘Successful.’

For the purpose of this blog post, a ‘Successful’ devotional time is one that actually happens and is intentional. It also lays the foundation for us to more easily experience something God has for us that day.

Here we go…

Eliminate distractions | I’m a little ADD, so it doesn’t take much for my attention to get notifs offhijacked. If you can relate, you might want to try some things that have worked for me. Listen to instrumental music using headphones. Use a room or space where others are not present. Mute your phone and set it face down. Or if you use your phone for your devotion time, turn all of your notifications off. Set it to ‘Do Not Disturb.’ If you’re using a laptop, close all tabs for things like email and Facebook. They alert you when a new message arrives.

 

Make a plan | Treat this like an appointment. Set a time and stick to it. I’ve even placed calendarit on my calendar before.  And if you plan to journal, will it be paper or online? What will you journal? Planning ahead before your devotional time helps it to occur more smoothly.

 

Come prepared | Determine in advance what scriptures you will be biblereading. What Bible translation will you use? Do you prefer using a physical Bible, or an App like Youversion? Any devotional books or podcasts? Oh, and don’t forget your favorite coffee!

 

 

 

Include prayer | Woman with bibleThis may sound unambivalent, but I’ve found this piece to be something that can be easily overlooked. I almost always try to open my devotional time with God in prayer. Asking him to speak clearly to me through the passages I’ll be reading and for his Spirit to guide me to the areas of scripture I need to reflect on that day. Doing this also helps me to focus my attention on the things of God and away from the issues, errands, and concerns I’ll be facing later.

All 4 of these keys have the makings for a strong, successful daily habit of spending some valuable time with God. Now, this list is obviously not comprehensive, it won’t guarantee your salvation, and it’s not going to ensure a euphoric connection with God every day!

But here’s what it does do! It provides a basic foundation for us to grow in our relationship with Jesus that otherwise becomes virtually impossible.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. – Psalm 119:15

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:2

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. – Romans 8:5

What KEYS would you add? Has this been helpful to you? Feel free to leave a comment or DM me.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

 

 

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Garrett Surprises His Sister For Her Wedding

Two months ago, our oldest Son (actively serving in the US Navy overseas) had his orders changed. Originally, he was not going to be able to attend his sister’s wedding in January. But that changed…and we never told her.

Mostly because, well…it’s the military and we know that things are always prone to change.

Well, flying home from his duty station is very expensive and we hadn’t budgeted for it due to original orders preventing him from coming. So, we put together a GoFundMe to see if we could raise the funds.

Wow!!!  God has been so good to us over the past 25 years of doing ministry all over the country. Friends and family really showed up in a big way, raising $1575.00 in just 6 DAYS!

gofundme

Enjoy watching the REVEAL VIDEO below. We took Kelcey and Luke to coffee and had Garrett hiding in the back room to bring out their coffees. She was in shock.

 

A Tribute to Craig Jutila

The urgent prayer request by Venture Christian Church was unexpected. The tragic news that followed not long after left all of us in shock and disbelief.

Craig Jutila met Jesus and their son, Blake, in heaven on December 26th. Initial reports suggested it was a snowboarding accident, but later Mary shared that the autopsy report found a sudden heart attack was the cause of his passing.

My wife, Cailey, and I share a special friendship with Craig and Mary. It all started when Mary agreed to have coffee with Cailey while Craig was speaking at a CPC event in Orlando about 8 years ago. It was almost an instant friendship. Their relationship led to Cailey and I volunteering to support Craig’s speaking and EmpoweredLiving for the next 5 Orange Conferences in Atlanta.

 

 

Craig initially coached and mentored us in our KidMin and FamMin roles. Both of them poured into us, professionally and relationally. Craig took extra time out of his schedule to guide me in preparing my notes for 3 sessions at a conference in Kentucky 3 years ago.

Craig was the life of the party. And if there wasn’t a party, that changed when he arrived. His personality…MAGNETIC! And as a couple, Craig and Mary are the most humble, generous, trusting people you could ever meet.

And I mean ‘trusting!’

I helped Craig with broadening his Twitter and blog platform for a couple of years. My involvement required me having access to his Twitter account. I remember vividly our phone call when I was just starting this partnership. Craig very nervously said, “You know, I’m trusting you with my career right now. You literally have the power to destroy me with one wrong post!”  Then we laughed.

Did I mention generous? They had us stay with them back in August after illness prevented us from flying back to WA from a leadership training we were in town for in Compton. And yes, we always volunteered to support them at Orange Conferences. But they would manage to take us out to eat, buy coffee, and give us warm ‘Thank You’ cards with various gift cards enclosed. They really just loved blessing others.

And while I’m on the topic of the Jutilas blessing others, they wrote a book together. It’s titled, ‘From Hectic To Healthy: The Journey To A Balanced Life.’ 

hectic

This is one of the most authentic, open, and painful books on marriage and ministry you will ever read. For that reason I encourage you to do just that. Please read it! Carey Nieuwhof also recorded a powerful interview with Craig on the topic of ‘When leadership ruins your family: How to live and lead differently.’ If you’ve never had the privilege to hear Craig speak, this would be a wonderful way to experience his heart.

Craig’s passing has caused me to reflect on my own life. He was an incredible, loving husband and father. He was a faith-filled, obedient child of God. He took what the Lord gave him and ran with it. And if you knew Craig, he probably ran with a lot of ideas/callings before God actually released him to (alluding to Craig’s self-disclosed ADHD behavior). His energy and creativity were contagious.

Craig was at the height of his personal life and ministry calling (in my opinion). Why? Because the platform and range of influence God had given him was constantly growing and changing. I have tried to model my public speaking style more after his creative energy than anyone else over the years. Now he’s telling stories and entertaining all of heaven. What a sight this must be!

Lastly, to Mary, Cameron, Alec, and Karimy I offer this prayer.

May you be blessed by the tangible feeling of Jesus’ loving arms wrapped tightly around you in this time of heartache. Lord, bless this beautiful family’s season of mourning with support, quiet time, joyful memories, laughter, comfort and strength. Amen!

 

 

In Loving Memory

How Do You Define ‘Worship’?

Worship is not a church service. It’s not a spiritual song. Not a moment in prayer.

Worship is a condition of the HEART. It’s a constant mindset of GRATITUDE toward our creator and savior, Jesus.

silenced

And in my own personal experience, the some of the most POWERFUL seasons of worship have been the seasons filled with challenge, pain, and loss of clear direction. It’s in those seasons, when we’re able to STAY CONNECTED to the Father…remembering ALL the ways he has been faithful and provided…that re-directs our attention away from our own circumstances and onto the countless blessings that we so easily overlook.

I’m going to refuse to let my ‘Thank You’ be silenced today. I’d invite you to join me!

Join the discussion and LEAVE A COMMENT below.  You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

 

 

God Is Working On Your Behalf This Very Moment

Recently I’ve felt COMPLETELY overwhelmed! There is a helpful counseling tool known as the Holmes & Rahe stress scale. It measures ‘life change units’ in various point values to help determine how at risk someone is for medical illnesses resulting from stress. The scale measures 3 categories.

Score of 300+: At risk of illness.
Score of 150-299: Risk of illness is moderate.
Score <150: Slight risk of illness.

A few weeks ago I scored a 407. Then we discovered that we are moving into a better home TWO DAYS before Thanksgiving…and my uncle lost his battle with cancer. Now my score is sitting at 490. Not the type of score you want to go up.

GOD working

Let me be clear, my stress is comprised of BOTH good and negative things.
GOOD: weddings, better living space, different spiritual calling, approaching holidays.
NEGATIVE: death in the family, health & medical bills, tight life schedules.

With all of this going on, I was reminded this morning that God really is working on my behalf in every one of my MOMENTS. The moments that are filled with joy, blessings, and positive change AS WELL AS the moments that at times feel like they’re stopping me in my tracks and taking away my breath. God is at work in each one. I FEEL him!

Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who ACTS ON BEHALF of those who wait for him. – Isaiah 64:4

Now…’waiting for him’ acknowledges his role as Savior and Heavenly Father. It also hints at an EXPECTANT HEART. Faith permits us to expect God to work in our situation. It ALSO encourages us to exercise a HEIGHTENED AWARENESS of all that he is already doing!

This is the season I am in and I felt I would share it with you. If you are open to it I’d like to pray for you and whatever season you are in. It’s empowering to know that we are not alone in our struggles and pain. And that those things are not at all unique to us.

Feel free to leave a comment or DM me. I’d love to hear your story and support you.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

Are You Failing Today?

Living a life with Jesus doesn’t mean a life void of difficulty. Man, this is so true! In fact, at times it can feel as if it actually invites catastrophe. Of course, we know this is not the case. At the point that we step over into Christianity our eyes became opened. God’s light (truth) illuminates our world around us. We are now simply aware of the spiritual battles going on all around us that we were blind to before this new life.

So, how are we to journey through the multiple valleys, difficulties, and dark seasons of life as a person of faith? 

failure

Paul, the author of a significant portion of the New Testament, shared with us very authentically his own struggle in the faith.

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?  Romans 7:17-24 (MSG) 

Can you relate? I know I can. You’re not alone! Every one of us struggle. And still, God used Paul as a major catalyst in the early Church. Paul’s last questions here are a bit poetic. He’s not completely hopeless as it appears. Let’s continue reading.

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Romans 7:25 (MSG)

The power of Jesus resides within us. When we stay closely connected to him he gives us the strength, direction, fortitude, and endurance to do the good we desire to do, and turn from the distractions of the enemy.

I’d love to hear what you think and how I can pray for you. Leave a comment below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

 

How To Choose Joy In The Tough Things

Jethani

Last week I had the privilege to hear Skye Jethani speak at our District Pastors’  Conference.

This is a quote from his talk that really grabbed my attention. Let me provide a little context.

Examples of some things we DO NOT choose: medical diagnosis, unemployment, depression, ministry calling, where we are born, divorce, changes in social behavior, our parents, etc.

Some of these can be GOOD, and we all know that some can equally be UNFAVORABLE.

Now, it’s easy for us to choose JOY in the things we actually choose; things we had a say in. But it’s another issue when a life circumstance makes its way into our lives that we have little to no control over.

The REAL QUESTION to ask, then, is this. Does God have a purpose for me in this particular situation? And even though I DON’T LIKE IT, can I embrace it as my current reality and TRUST GOD to work through me?

So you see, making a conscious decision to choose (own) what we didn’t actually choose in the first place can be a real game changer.

What UNCHOSEN circumstance are you in today? What might it look like if you chose to OWN IT?

I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below. You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!