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3 Things to Avoid When God Begins to Speak

The other night, I sat down to have what I assumed was going to be 20-30 minutes of prayer and reading in one of my devotionals.

Then, God showed up and decided to join me!  What a novel concept.

I read one random page in my devotional book containing one particular scripture verse.  Next, I felt prompted to check out the verse of the day in YouVersion.  This was a different passage, but same theme.  Huh?

I then decided I would pop my earbuds in and experience some worship music.  You want to know something?  The bridge of the song I chose relayed the exact same message as those two scripture passages!  What the heck?  You know God’s trying to get your attention when he puts the same thing in front of you 3 different times.

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When God takes you down this sort of path, it goes without saying that it would be wise to pay attention more than usual.  I would suggest, however, 3 things to avoid when he starts speaking this clearly.

  1. Avoid DISTRACTIONS – Remain in that moment as long as possible.  But sometimes God catches us just as we are on our way out the door to work or an important engagement.  In these times, it is critical that we come back to this moment and word with God as early as possible to allow him to continue speaking.
  2. Avoid HURRY – Don’t jump to conclusions trying to quickly decipher what is being said.  The things of God are often quite large and can take time for us to truly gain a grasp on the specifics of what he is either telling us or asking of us.  Be patient.  Meditate calmly on his voice.
  3. Avoid PRIVACY – Shortly after you’ve had a bit of time to process what you are experiencing with God, go ahead and share it with 1-3 people.  These should be individuals who you know love Jesus and who honestly care about you and your future.  Ask them for their thoughts on what God might be saying.  Then, look for a common theme.

What have your experiences been when God starts communicating in such a bold way that your mind and heart are simply taken captive?  I’d love for you to leave a comment below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

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4 Ways to Ensure Your GOALS Don’t Become Your GOD

I don’t want to WORSHIP my fitness practices (goals).

But I also don’t want to go back to worshipping food either.  aka: donuts, candy, cake, soda, ice-cream… (I think you get the picture)

We all know these people.  Their health initiatives/practices are their identity.  It’s who they are known as.  I don’t want to become one of those people.  I’m a pastor and a strong follower of Jesus…THAT needs to be my identity.

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This was me about six weeks ago…only not a woman.  Sweets were a distraction.  They were easy, cheap, and tasted great.  Today, I can honestly say that I rarely battle the indulgent temptations that used to cause me to gravitate toward unhealthy things.  I’m enjoying exercising.  I’m doing great at hitting my daily health goals.  And that’s awesome!

But I’ve noticed something.

My quiet time with Jesus in the mornings has been affected.  Nothing serious.  But it could easily become a problem if I allow it.

What I’m really getting at is this.  How do we continue to work diligently at our personal goals AND NOT have our Spiritual growth suffer along the way?  Here are 4 things I believe you and I can (should) do regularly to T.E.S.T. where our priorities are.

Think | Right now, think about it and really ask, “Is _______ taking priority over my Spiritual growth and life?”  It starts by honestly asking ourselves this.

Evaluate | If something is out of order, why?  How did this happen?  Really take time to pray about this, because knowing the answer to this will become key in getting things back in alignment.

Scheme | Take what we know from that evaluation time and scheme a plan.  Somehow, we need to move forward with our goals differently so that we can avoid the mistakes that landed us here. Change things up a little.  Same goals, altered approach.

Tweak | (careful, not Twerk)  Similar to scheme, but this is taking that step.  This is making the new plan a reality.  Also, share your new plan with someone.  Ask them for accountability.  Trust me, this really helps.

For me, this simply means I don’t go into social media areas at all in the mornings until AFTER I’ve had my quiet time.  After I’ve at least read a devotional thought and prayed for my day.

Call To Action!  Has this been you?  What would you add to this list?  May you achieve your personal goals, and may Jesus walk intimately with you every step of the way.

I love hearing from readers.  Feel free to leave a comment below.  And be sure to hit the ‘SUBSCRIBE NOW’ button above to receive my FREE eBook!

photo credit: www.vegansgoraw.com

Sabbatical | Day 3

This is technically Day 4, but I still want to share from yesterday.

(Be sure to check out my Day 1 and Day 2 posts)

The key moments for me were continuing my reading in ‘No Other Gods’ and having some sweet time of personal worship.  I find it cool how the Lord can enter into fellowship with me while simply lying on my back in my hotel room with my earbuds in.

When we take the time for Him, He takes the time for us.

And as it is with most of my Sabbaticals, I have not done all that I originally intended to at the beginning of the week.  And today reminded me that this is not necessarily a bad thing.

You see, I came upon a Tweet today asking for church leaders to share their story…particularly about their current ‘Phase’ of life and ministry.  I could not resist. I love sharing my story, both the good and the less pleasant sides.  If it hadn’t been for others telling their personal stories I may not be where I am today.  So I share to encourage others.

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Anyway, in doing this I want to share with you a personal quote I included when I emailed them.  Here you go.

“Our partnership with God in His Kingdom work is never contingent upon our comfort, happiness, or confidence.”

 

While I was thinking back over the past 6 months it dawned on me.  God doesn’t wait until we are living on the mountaintop, free of pain and 100% sure of Him being right there with us, to ask us to do something HUGE for Him.  Nothing happens to us that does not pass through His hands.  This doesn’t mean that God necessarily  ’causes’ all things to happen to us.  It does mean, however, that when we’ve given God a definitive ‘yes’ He will be active, aware, and verbal in our relationship with Him regardless of what is going on around us.  The critical thing here is to maintain healthy personal soul care.  If we aren’t doing this it can become nearly impossible to hear His guiding voice or feel His involvement in our daily lives.

What about you?  How have you been hearing from God recently?  Leave a comment below.

Sabbatical | Day 2

Reflections

I just love it when The Lord speaks to us outside of the ordinary.  Don’t you?  In the first day of my Sabbatical it took basically the entire day to simply unplug and transition.  I began reading a book titled ‘No Other Gods’ which paved the way for me to really begin hearing His voice a lot today.

So here’s the gist of what I’ve been hearing Him speak into my life so far.

I am the Lord your God…  (Exodus 20:2)

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It’s personal… incredibly direct.  He’s lovingly reminding me of who He is.  He is MY GOD!  Mine.  His ear is all mine day or night.  BUT He’s also reminding me that this is a two-way relationship.  He needs access to my ear day and night as well.

“Brent, I want you to be available to hear me when I need to share the deepest things in my heart with you.  I need to know that you care as much about yourself and my Church as I do.” – God

MY GOD is so full of grace and patience.  Can you relate?
I’m loving this sweet time with Him.  My wife has many friends and church family praying for me this week.  It’s working!  Thank you, I can feel the effects of your prayers.
What has The Lord been speaking to you ABOUT YOU recently?  Leave a comment below. 
 

Priorities vs. Distractions

The woman was scrolling through her Facebook feed while driving.

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And she wasn’t just sitting at a red light either.  It was after dark so I could clearly see what was on her oversized smart phone.   It’s not like she was dialing 911 to report an accident, or was using GPS because she was lost.  It was Facebook, people….FACEBOOK.

This isn’t a personal rant against phone use while driving.   This incident did, however, remind me of the dozens of ridiculous distractions we face every day.

For followers of Jesus, distractions can be quite costly.

Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead.  – Proverbs 4:25

I’ve experienced this in my own life just this past week.   I love my early morning habit of reading God’s Word and meditating in prayer.  It just creates a solid kickstart to my day.  It frames my thought life.  Well, that didn’t happen for 3 consecutive days this week (insert pouty face).

Why?

I’ll give you one guess.  Distractions!  Gmail…Evernote…social media…my task list…incoming texts and random thoughts.  Why did these things keep me from the most important habit of my day?  Because I allowed them to.  I could have (and usually do) taken measures to guarantee this didn’t happen, but I didn’t.  Call it being lazy or losing focus.  The fact is I didn’t make it a priority on those days.

Where are you losing focus?

  • Your marriage
  • Work
  • Personal goals

Recognize what is distracting you.

  • Screen time (internet and T.V.)
  • Voices around you
  • Unhealthy habits
  • Negative influences
  • Lack of sleep

Once we have figured these things out we can start making appropriate changes.  This might involve better time management, reading a book on a specific subject, or limiting the time we spend around certain people.

What does this look like for you?  Join the discussion below.  I’d love to hear from you.