Tag Archives: books

Discerning the Voice of God: Chapter 10

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Significance changes.

This is something I’ve come to know well in my time spent with the Lord, in study of the Scripture. I’ll come across a line or two previously underlined or noted and wonder why that was so significant to me at one time. It isn’t holding the same powerful punch in this moment – but at one time, it must have spoken loudly to my heart.

And, this phenomenon is how I’ve come to really understand that the Bible is LIVING.

I set a goal to finish reading the entire bible in 2016 – a goal I’ve set out with many times previously, even in my youth, but never quite accomplished. This time, though, I mustered up lots of determination and got crackin’ on the task at hand…only to realize I was sorta missing the point.

Okay, not sorta. REALLY!

So intent on moving forward with the reading, I wasn’t allowing time for the Scripture to penetrate my soul. To stop and examine why a particular verse stood out. For God to speak to me.

The Bible is the primary means through which God will communicate with us so if we don’t take the time to pause we may go speeding right past something really important. A personal message meant just for us.

Examining my goal through this lens made clear for me that I was missing the whole point and also the reason that I’ve probably struggled in the past with achieving the goal of “entire Bible = read”. The Bible doesn’t read like a usual fiction or non-fiction story book. It requires thought and openness to hearing what’s being communicated – and because the significance can change depending the time and situation – it really requires the intentional pause to listen and process.

For this reason, I have accepted that 2016 may not be the year I cross “read entire Bible” off my bucket list. I want my time with the Lord, spent in the Word, to be more significant than simply words on a page. I’m taking the time for the intentional pause; noting verses in my Bible, meditating on them and then pouring my thoughts into my journal. I love to go back and be reminded of God’s promise to bear the burden for communicating to me.

Lots of people have different methods for working through that intentional pause. I’d love to hear about the method for your madness as it relates to your quiet time with the Lord. Comments welcome below!

Love,
H

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Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 8

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Hey there – it’s been a bit since I’ve been on the blog. You know how it goes when life sweeps your feet out from under you…anyway…I’m hoping to get back on a more regular track here very soon. In the meantime, thoughts on Chapter 8:

God’s communication with us is personalized, repetitive, peaceful and….challenging?? Ugh!!!

That’s right folks, just as the journey isn’t always easy, so too is His communication for us challenging.

Don’t confuse peace for comfort – or following God’s will with agreeing with it – or assume the peaceful way is the easy way. How many times have you felt God leading you down a path you’d much rather avoid? You looked left to stormy weather ahead, and right to the sun shining brightly and balked at God’s idea that you should head for the thunderstorm..and then you turned, disregarding his direction, and set off for sunshine and blue skies…all because it would be easier?

Yea, me too.

Many times in life God means to lead us down the bumpy road. Without that journey, we will never reach our full potential (reference the story of the butterfly in Chapter 8 – also found on another devotional I read regularly). Almost ALL of us NEED that journey. Sometimes we face the journey via decisions we must make (left into storms, right into sunshine) and other times there is no decision involved and we must embrace the cards we were dealt.

Challenge is part of the plan, and I love, LOVE the following taken directly from chapter 8: “God will place extraordinary tasks on the plates of ordinary people so ordinary people can see what an extraordinary God can do through them”.

Not just tasks, situations.

I remember facing several different, though similar, situations in my recent past — all of the “embrace the cards you were dealt” variety. Each time confessing out loud, “I can’t do this” or “I can’t go through that ever again, I’ll never make it”, and “He must have me confused with someone else, there is absolutely no way I can endure, again”.

And you know what? Not only DID I get through each rocky circumstance, I came out the other side stronger. AND, while definitely not my first choice, I’m now positive that if faced with another similar trial, I could do it again…and again…and again. Because I have Jesus!
Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go

And how about times when we are faced with a choice to make – left storms, right sunshine?

Adding a spirituality component to my blog is one such example. The idea flashed through my mind, totally out of left field, and I wrote it off because it didn’t immediately add up in my brain. I have a LONG ways to go in growing spiritually and I am in NO WAY qualified to take on something like this, right? Does this topic even fit with the flavor of my blog? Would my readers embrace this turn of events? Would some of my followers fall out? (thanks, Satan, by the way).
But, He was persistent and before I knew it I was getting lost in blogging about this incredible book – regardless of whether or not I am qualified, what people might think and if some of followers dropped off. And, I am NOT qualified…but HE IS…and “God will provide where He guides”.

This chapter ends with a profound statement, “It is better for you to choose the challenging road – if God is in it – than to select the route that is easier and more convenient but lacks the presence of power of God”.

Facing a difficult circumstance – decisions or cards dealt? Look to Him, follow His direction and you will never go wrong. He will ensure shelter through those storms and they never last forever.

 


Discerning the Voice of God: Chapter 5

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Chapter 5 offered so many thought provoking take-away points:

  1. When God has a message for us, He is persistent.
  2. Circumstances in life have everything to do with God’s Will – nothing happens by chance.
  3. Sometimes crises present the best moments to bring us closer to Him.
  4. The importance of connecting with a church family cannot be overly emphasized.

God’s persistence in getting our attention isn’t always sunshine and gentle breezes – He will do whatever is needed to get our attention. While we would like to think that His work is done only through the most incredible, comforting, and happy miracles; it’s important to understand that isn’t always the case. Sometimes His persistence comes about in ways that we don’t prefer. Events that are uncomfortable, and in some cases, are downright miserable.

It’s human nature to want to avoid anything uncomfortable. The more crises we can avoid, the better, right? But just as muscle must be broken down in order to grow stronger, so too must our spirits. To think you can obtain as much growth through all the best seasons of life, as opposed to the worst, is ignorant. Building muscle while sitting on the couch drinking Dr Pepper and eating Doritos?  Yes, please! Not so much the case though…bummer!

I try to think about how my life would be currently, if I could rewind and have a do-over with all the struggle sprinkled throughout the past 2 years. If I could erase all the struggle, and insert all the details of how I wanted things to go, what I wanted to have happen, how I thought things ought to have worked out. Truth is, I can’t really even imagine what that might look like…a life filled with surface level pseudo-perfection, maybe?. Would I even be happy or would I always be longing for more? Would I feel a true sense of security, or bubbling just beneath the surface would I constantly be ill at ease? If I trace back some of the best things in my life, the road to obtaining those things was quite rocky. And, in some instances, if it weren’t for travel down those rocky roads, some of what I cherish so much now wouldn’t even be part of my life story.

I can acknowledge, accept, and even be totally okay with my trials because it took every bit of that – even complete loss of my footing – to bring me to my knees; for Him to get my attention and for me to get out of His way so that He could do a good work in me. Doesn’t mean I liked the struggle at the time(s), heck, I’ve gone down fighting on more than one occasion. But He’s patient and persistent and is using all that yuck for good, and will continue to do so, because that’s what He promises. And he is not a God that he should lie (Numbers 23:19).

If the weather in your life is cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms, remember that He is persistent, nothing happens by chance & crises present some of the best opportunities for growth. Tuck in close to Him – quietly and patiently wait for him to speak. Immerse yourself in the Scripture and connect with your church family for guidance and support. Eventually all the signals – stirrings within, Scripture and outward signs – will point in the same direction and THAT will be your answer!

New to reading this blog series on Discerning The Voice of God? Catch up here:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 4

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The way in which God speaks to us has evolved over time. During the Old Testament times, God was heard through prophecies and outward, visible signs. During the New Testament, His communication came through Jesus and miracles. Today, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us and Scripture.

In my ignorance, I expected the way in which God would speak to me as similar to Old Testament times – some sort of prophecy or outward sign. A flashing neon sign, perhaps, with an arrow directing the way. A vivid dream that would provide all the detailed information I’d ever need, making everything crystal clear.

On more than one occasion, I’ve complained that it would be so much easier if He would at least give me a snippet of what His plans are for me. Promising that if he did, I would get fully on board and REALLY get to work on that plan – BUT – I needed specifics first.

I now imagine God in Heaven, smile on his face, shaking his head and thinking “oh sweet child…”

As much as I have wished for blatant signs, and even felt somewhat resentful when they didn’t come and thought surly he wasn’t answering me because I couldn’t hear him (because I wouldn’t shut up long enough to listen – see Chapter 1), I realize that I’ve really got the best of all worlds. While not His primary method of communication, God still works miracles and provides us with outward signs. It’s secondary to being guided by the Holy Spirit and Scripture, further confirming what’s already been spoken to us. If we haven’t received the message via primary communication, secondary means are going to pass us by without notice. We won’t recognize the relevance. These miracles and signs will fade into the background noise of life.

I’m guessing that if they all had a choice, everyone from Biblical times would much prefer how good we have it now.

On page 71, Priscilla writes, “I do believe that the Spirit gives to some people, on certain occasions, the divine ability to receive insight into another person’s life”.

This statement struck me in a very powerful way, soothing a nagging ache in my soul. Here’s why: I believe I am well acquainted with such a person. She is a great friend of mine, near and dear to my soul in ways no one else is, a mentor on top of all that, and a lover of Jesus. Just recently, in a long message, she made a statement that has since been etched into my heart. “I’ve been praying for you often. I’m having very good feelings about you recently”.

If Priscilla is right, and I have no reason to think otherwise, and outward signs are often used by God to confirm the messages we’ve received through Scripture and the Spirit’s counsel, then my life is going to take on the most breathtaking changes. And while I don’t know the timing or specific details about how it will all come together, I am so overwhelmed (in the most comforting way) that I’m on the verge of tears every time this passes through my mind.

For the first time in two years, I feel like I’ve finally exhaled…


A Year of Books

When the E-Reader first came out, admittedly, I snubbed my nose at it. A device that would replace books? Yea, right. What a stupid idea. I vowed to skip right over this idea without ever giving it a chance.

Then last summer I found myself with a lot of down time. My grandfather wasn’t well, and my family and I had a lot of time just sitting around. Playing the worst waiting game, Ever.

During some of this down time I needed something to occupy (aka: distract) myself, so I grabbed my aunt’s kindle.  It didn’t take long before I finished off an entire book. And, as you might have guessed, I determined the E-Reader wasn’t so bad after all.

During this same time I celebrated my 29th birthday. By celebrate, I mean it came and went. Just another day. It’s difficult to get excited about a birthday (and, typically I do about mine) when you’ve just buried someone you love.

My dad asked what I wanted for my birthday. I had no idea. I hadn’t given it much thought. I told him about the E-Reader and how I thought maybe I wanted one of those. He got right on it and about a week later, one showed up at my front door.

My aunt jumped in and bought me a cool green case, with the reading light. Additionally, my Kindle was bought on my aunt’s account. She reads a LOT (and even if she’s not found a lot of time to read she still buys tons of books) and because I’m on her account, I have access to her ‘library’.

I’ve grown to love my Kindle.

I thought I would miss holding an actual book; I don’t. The Kindle travels with ease (SO much easier than lugging books around). Once I finish a book I can download another in a matter of minutes. I tend to get through books a bit quicker. The battery lasts a really long time (in a year I’ve only had to charge my Kindle maybe 5 times). I could go on, and on…

It has been about 1 year since I got my kindle, and I’ve read 12 books. Not too shabby for a girl who really only reads a bit before closing her eyes for the night.

I have a rule about books and it goes like this: there are far too many books in the world, I will never get to them all. If a book doesn’t grab me immediately, I’m on to the next. I don’t feel badly about closing a book after the first chapter and moving on to something new. For that reason, the reading list I’m going to share with you includes books I really enjoyed over the past year and would recommend as a good read for anyone!

The List:
Time of My Life: A Novel by Allison Winn Scotch
The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian
The Threadbare Heart by Jennie Nash
Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany
Goodnight, Beautiful: A Novel by Dorthy Doomson
Deep Down True: A Novel by Juliette Fay
After You: A Novel by Julie Buxbaum
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Falling Home by Karen White
The Beach Trees by Karen White
While We’re Far Apart by Lynn Austin
These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

As we creep closer to the winter months it becomes important to make ‘indoor plans’. I hope you will find yourself with one of these books in your lap on a cool fall afternoon. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Happy Reading!
-Hilary

On a Side Note: I had pictures for this post. After spending an hour trying to get them uploaded with no luck I’ve decided to post without pictures. Any more time spent on this and I will tear my hair out! I’m not sure I’d look good bald AND I’ve waited a long time to grow my hair out so…there you have it.


Katie the Kitten

When I was a youngster, my favorite book was this:

I wanted it read to me so often that, to this day, my father can recite nearly the whole thing from memory (Katie the Kitten, a small tiger cat. Asleep in the hall, all curled up in a hat. She’s awake now!!). I found a copy of the book on Amazon and was SHOCKED to learn that it costs over $18!! I need not worry, my mom saved the book for me and though it is minus the back cover, it is all mine. AND, it’s perfect!!

Fast-forward many years later, and this is the Katie the Kitten in my life (her name really is Katie):

If you are wondering, based on her appearance, if she’s evil…she IS. While she used to be a sweet, little kitten that fit in the palm of my hand, time has changed her and she is old and sassy now. The only person she really likes is me, and some days that is debatable.

While I’m on the subject of cats, let me share this interesting nugget with you:

This is (or was) Bob. Check out those feet! They are hilarious!! Want a closer look? Here:

Bob was a neighborhood cat who often sunned himself on my deck. Sadly, he’s not around anymore. BUT – when he was he brought me much joy, and Katie much fury. She did not appreciate his using her deck (which she rarely gets to go out on anyway because she’s naughty) for sunning himself, and often verbalized her disgust through the back door. He sat by, as quiet and calm as could be, which probably razzed her even more. I envision him wearing tiny boxing gloves on those awesome little (big?) feet, and winning that battle every time!

Enjoy!
H

PS – I’m really not a crazy cat lady, whose house smells of urine, and this will likely be one of very few cat posts. What I wanted to write about was put on hold when my camera battery was dead last evening and wouldn’t hurry up and charge, regardless of how I willed it to do so!