Saturday, December 19, 2009

Three Ways To Draw Closer To The Lord

In keeping with some of the ways I've been reading about for improving a blog, I've decided to to try one out this morning - the "how to" type of post...

There are many ways we can draw closer to the Lord, but I am going to discuss three of the most common ways.  As you know, by reading previous posts, I had/have been going through a dry spell where I seemed to have strayed of my path with the Lord.  Oh, I still believed and all - didn't lose my faith - but I just couldn't seem to draw close to Him.  These are ways I am using to get back on track and back on the path of my walk with the Lord.

Read the Bible:   The Bible is God's Word.  We read in John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  This is, of course, referring to Jesus.  How do I know this?  In verse 14, we read, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us."

As Christians, the Bible is very important to us; it is about Jesus (and it is Jesus), and it is a way to help guide us and our walk.  God can still speak to us through His Word; therefore, we need to immerse ourselves in the Bible, and we need to set aside time every day to read it. 

While I was struggling in my walk, I had talked with my pastor and he told me that it's OK to just sit and read it for the sake of reading.  Every time we read, it doesn't have to be a time to study the Bible; sometimes we need to get back on track and just simply reading a chapter or two (or more) is enough to jump start our walk again.  This worked for me.  It has been over two months since I got back into reading my Bible every day, and may have only missed a reading once.

Studying the bible is important, but there are times when we find that we can't study it.  At those times, we need to remember to not stop reading, to not get away from His Word.  At those times, simply reading the Bible is OK.  God can still speak to us through the Bible, even if we are just reading it.

Meditate:   I am not talking about the Eastern tradition of meditating whereby one sits with legs crossed in the lotus position, hands turned upright, eyes closed, and saying "ohm" over and over.  No, what I am referring to is simply thinking about what you have read.  Taking our Bible reading a step further, we should meditate on the passages that speak to us, and think how it applies to our lives. 

After reading your chapter(s) take some time to think over what you have read.  How does what you have read speak to you?  If you have been reading about repenting, is there anything you need to repent of?  If you've been reading the Psalms where David is praising God about something, do you need to offer praise to God?  

Pray:   Prayer is key in a Christian's life.  It's how we communicate with God.  The different types of prayers is a whole other post, which I won't get into here.  I just simply want to state that our God is a God with whom we can communicate.  We can lay before Him our cares and concerns, our praises and thanks, and anything else in our hearts.

Prayer is communicating - it's talking with God.  Don't worry if your prayers don't sound fancy; that's not what counts.  What counts is that you talk to the Lord.  Even though He knows everything, He still wants us to talk to Him and tell Him what we desire, what is troubling us, etc.

As with communicating to our family, friends, co-workers, and everyone, during prayer, we need to also listen.  If we pray to God and simply do all the talking, and don't offer Him a chance to speak to us, it is like calling your best friend and spewing out all your news and information without giving him/her a chance to respond, and then hanging up.  That's not communicating.  Communicating is when all parties involved have a chance to speak.

There you have it - three little ways that can help you draw closer to God.  By reading our Bibles, meditating on the Word, and praying, we can, and will, draw closer to the Lord.  It is important to practice these things daily.  It might take a little time to get to a point where we do things things on a daily basis, but don't be discouraged if you miss a day or two or more.  Just start over and keep at it.  And remember, if you are trying to draw closer to the Lord, the enemy will do what he can to prevent that from happening - be on your guard, and make sure to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).

How do you draw closer to the Lord?  Is Bible reading, meditation, and prayer a daily part of your life?  Can you list other ways of drawing closer to the Lord?

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Little Update

Yesterday, Sunday, was our church's Sunday school concert.  It isn't just for the little kids who attend Sunday school, but for the adults as well.  While I thought this year's concert was OK, it wasn't as good as other years. Most of the concert involved singing - the kids up to grade five all sang some songs together, but each class had their own songs as well.  The middle school kids did a bit of a play and sang a song, and the high school kids also did a little play and sang a song.  For both of those, they had the audience sing as well.  There was a husband and wife team who did a "debate" on the Christmas Jesus vs. the Easter Jesus, and three other adult classes performed little skits.

Unfortunately, throughout the entire evening, I was suffering from a headache which turned into a full blown migraine by the time I got home.  Thankfully, I wasn't sick with it - but I nearly was once (I was at home at the time).

Today I was a little out of it.  I find the day after I suffer a migrain I am tired (as though I didn't get enough rest, even though I did) and just not really myself.  Therefore, today wasn't productive at all.  I did go and mail some Christmas cards for my mom, and later on I went and got something for supper.  Other than that I didn't do anything.  I didn't have a migraine, but for most of the day it felt like there was one waiting in the wings to spring forth.  Thankfully that didn't happen.

Last week, I got no calls at all to do any supply teaching.  I also didn't get any calls today, and so far have none for tomorrow.  I was talking (well, messaging on Facebook) with one of the girls who went to Australia when I did, and she said she didn't think that there would be much, if anything, for last week and this week - especially since this is the last week before Christmas holidays.  School finishes on Friday.  I hope and pray that the new year has more work for me.

I might look into teaching some ESL part time during the week, or after school.  That way I could still have a couple of days (or all day if I do it after school) to teach during the day.  I need to do something to get some money coming my way.  I have to start paying my student loan back again in March.  I don't particularly want to teach ESL, but I might have to do that until I can get more supply work, or my own classroom.

Not much in the way of news.  I still haven't got my Christmas shopping started; yes, I'm one of those last minute people.  I do know what I'm getting most everyone though, so it's just a matter of going and getting the stuff.  One of the gifts, for my mom, I am going to chip in with my brothers and we are getting her something she has had her eye on.  For that, all I need to do is get my share of the money over to one of my brothers.  But, there isn't a lot of time left until Christmas.  I should go and get my shopping done on a day when I'm not working, and hopefully the crowds won't be as bad as they would be in the evenings when people are off work, or on the weekends.

My question for you:  Have you started your Christmas shopping?  Have you finished your shopping, and if so, how long have you had it finished?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A Change Is In The Air

Lately I've been trying to work on writing the novel I've been working on.  I enjoy writing, but will admit that I have a lot to learn on many different levels.  It's the same with blogging.  There are so many hints, tips, and ideas on creating blog posts that attract not only readers, but also comments.  I am trying to keep these things in mind now as I create my posts.  Like my writing, I have a lot to learn with blogging.

I started out with this blog to be a place to talk about myself - somewhat of an online journal to record my thoughts and feelings and day to day activities.  I decided that I also wanted to create posts that help others learn about Christianity, about Christ, and to learn - a somewhat mini Bible study lesson or what have you.

That worked - for awhile.  Somewhere along the line, I lost focus and created fewer and fewer posts.  I lost the readership I had (which is understandable), and my posts didn't seem to have the content I wanted.  I look back now on some of my earlier posts and wish I were creating the same kinds of posts now.  I guess I need to sit down and write some good quality posts to publish on my blogs.

A new year is within arm's reach, and with it I hope to rearrange the way I post here.  There are lots of topics and ideas that I want to explore in my blog posts, and a few of my goals for posting include:
* Thought provoking posts
* Bible based posts
* Mini Bible studies
* Character studies
* Spiritual growth discussions
* Topics posted on specific days (i.e. Mondays might be a character study, Wednesday might be about praying or Saturday might be about missionaries)
I won't promise that I will post every day, but I will try to post at least two or three times a week (maybe more), to be more consistant.  I will try not to have extremely lengthy posts as I do sometimes now (which could come from big gaps between posts and feeling the need to fill in every detail since the previous post).  And, I will try to have my posts more Christ-centered as opposed to me-centered - though that might creep in from time to time as well.

What do you look for in a blog?  What type(s) of posts do you enjoy reading?  What keeps you coming back to a particular blog you enjoy?

Friday, December 04, 2009

No Pain No Gain

Yesterday, I went and got my H1N1 flu shot.  Thankfully, lines aren't a problem at this point; I only had a total of about 20 minutes waiting, and that included the mandatory 15 minute wait time after getting the needle.  I must have gone at a good time of day (a friend when the evening before and was there for about an hour in total).  And, the actual shot didn't hurt.  The pain came later.

By the time I went to bed last night, my arm was tender, sore, and stiff.  It wasn't as painful as some people have said their arms have been.  Never the less, it was still painful.  I really don't like pain - but then I don't know too many people (if any one) who actually do like pain.

Pain is a part of our lives.  It comes in many forms - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  No matter what kind of pain we experience, it hurts.  In my walk with the Lord, I have experienced lots of pain as well.  Sometimes it is from something negative I have said or done, sometimes it is what someone else has said or done, and other times it is because I need to go through a particular experience in order to grow.  The pain might not be immediate; sometimes it is delayed, but it will surface at some point.

Without pain in our walk with the Lord, we wouldn't have growth.  We learn from our mistakes (which can often be extremely painful), and we grow.  Most times, these mistakes help us grow closer to God and strive to be more like Jesus.  If we lived pain-free/mistake-free lives, I doubt there would be any growth and we would end up becoming stagnant or worse.

When we are facing pain, struggle, hardship, etc., it is important that we turn to the Lord and rely on Him to bring us through.  We need to trust that He knows what He is doing and use these times to grow in our relationship and walk.  Sometimes we need to learn more trust, sometimes we may need to learn how to depend on Him.  And sometimes, we just might need to learn a particular lesson.

How do you deal with the painful and hurtful situations in your life?  How have you grown, or what have you gained, as the result of those situations?