Search
Follow UPGRADE

   Member of AWSA

  Info about AWSA

 

[See their Bios on the Partners Page by clicking on the Blogger box, above]

     PARTNERS:

Lina AbuJamra

Sue Badeau

Dianne Barker

Twila Belk

Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Gail Bones

Harriet Bouchillon

Mary Carver

Jeanne Cesena

Pamela Christian

Lisa Copen

Erin Davis

Diane Dean

Deb DeArmond

Kelly DeChant

Danna Demetre

Melissa Edgington

Debbi Eggleston

Pat Ennis

Morgan Farr

Pam Farrel

Sally Ferguson

Liz Cowen Furman

Gail Goolsby

Sheila Gregoire

Kate Hagen

Doreen Hanna

Holly Hanson

Becky Harling

Debbie Harris

Nali Hilderman

Cathy Horning

Kathy Howard

Mary James

Priscilla Jenson

Lane P. Jordan

Rebecca Jordan

Ellie Kay

Maria Keckler

Sylvia Lange

Debby Lennick

Peggy Leslie

Kathi Lipp

Kolleen Lucariello

Kathi Macias

Paula Marsteller

Melissa Mashburn

Dianne Matthews

Cindi McMenamin

Elaine W. Miller

Kathy Collard Miller

Lynn Mosher

Karen O'Connor

Yvonne Ortega

Arlene Pellicane

Ava Pennington

Laura Petherbridge

Gail Purath

Marcia Ramsland

Kaley Rhea

Rhonda Rhea

Vonda Rhodes

Cynthia Ruchti

Julie Sanders

Judy Scharfenberg

Deedra Scherm

Laurel Shaler

Joanie Shawhan

Stephanie Shott

Poppy Smith

Susan K. Stewart

Stacie Stoelting

Letitia "Tish" Suk

Jill Swanson

Janet Thompson

Janice Thompson

Teri Thompson

Brittany Van Ryn

Elizabeth Van Tassel

Leslie Vernick

Laurie Wallin

Julie Watson

Joan C. Webb

Shonda Savage Whitworth

Cherri Williamson

Kathy C. Willis

Debbie W. Wilson

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Jamie Wood

And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson

 

Entries in Quiet Time (5)

Tuesday
Jul022019

Only One Thing Matters

Grace Fox, a career missionary, knows much about the pressures of ministry, but she has learned to focus on God's purposes for each day. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she encourages us to have a biblical perspective on how we invest our time for greater intimacy with the Lord.

"So many voices and genuine needs clamor for our attention," Grace says. "So much noise fills our physical and mental space. Our busy lives pull us a gazillion different directions but in truth, only one thing really matters."

Grace echoes a truth I (Dawn) struggled with for years. So much to do, so little time. And it didn't help that I was determined to do it all—many times without checking in with the Lord.

Grace continues . . . 

I’m a recovering A-type personality who totally “gets” Martha (Luke 10:38-42).

She thrives on purposeful work especially when it involves those she loves. The day Jesus and His disciples visit, she invests her total self in serving them.

Martha slaves in the kitchen while her sister Mary lounges in the living room. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach and hanging on every word.

This scenario reveals two sisters and two demonstrations of love for Jesus.

He acknowledges both, but commends only one: “There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it—and I won’t take it away from her” (Luke 10:42).

What’s the all-important “one thing” to which Jesus refers? Time spent in His presence listening to His voice.

I’ve been involved in career ministry for more than 25 years, and I’m still trying to master the one thing. My human bent wants to focus more on the OTHER thing—service.

In the process, I treat Jesus like a second-class citizen:

“Sorry! I’ll meet with You tomorrow, okay? Right now I need to work on my book about intimacy with You. You know all about deadlines, right?”

I suspect I’m not alone in my struggle to keep first things first.

In his book Secrets of the Vine, Bruce Wilkinson admits that, as a spiritual leader, he’d “become an expert at serving God, but somehow remained a novice at being His friend.”

The process happened slowly, unnoticed, as Wilkinson gained more competence in doing ministry.

  • Activity done for Jesus eventually replaced time spent with Jesus.
  • Listening to the voices of those pressuring him to do and be more replaced listening to the voice of the Shepherd.

Wilkinson lost his joy and his passion for Christ.

Change came when the truth dawned on him: “God didn’t want me to do more for Him. He wanted me to be more with Him.”

Spending time building relationship with Jesus—that’s the one thing that truly matters.

The depth of our intimacy with Him determines everything about us, including how we spend time and money, how we treat others, how we respond to disappointment and suffering, and whether or not our lives bear fruit.

So, in the midst of crazy busy lives, how do we give the “one thing” the priority it deserves?

Here are three practical suggestions:

1. Rise Early.

As a mom with three young kids, I realized that enjoying regular quiet time with Jesus meant rising early. Waiting until later guaranteed other tasks would take precedence. So, I asked God to wake me when He wanted to meet with me.

Without using an alarm clock, I woke bright-eyed at 5 o’clock the next morning and every morning afterwards.

A quiet house void of distractions provided the ideal environment to focus on the Word. I anticipated sweet fellowship, and God never let me down.

Perhaps you already have a well-established routine in the Word. If not, ask God to show you when He wants to meet. He’ll answer your prayer, I promise.

2. Pray Continually.

Invite Jesus into every part of your day, beginning the moment you wake—“Good morning, Lord. What wonderful things do You have planned for us today?”

Share joys and disappointments with Him, but invite Him into the mundane too.

I cleaned other people’s houses for several years. Someone asked me, “How can you tolerate doing brain-dead work?”

The question shocked me: I’d never considered my work in such terms. I prayed for my family as I scrubbed, and mundane became an act of worship.

3. Seek Silence.

The busyness and noise clamoring for our attention distract us from intimacy with Christ. Solitude and silence promote it because they free us to focus and listen.

Turn off the phone and ignore your computer for a few minutes each week (each day, if you have that luxury).

Sit in silence before the Lord with no agenda except to hear His voice.

Ask Him to speak to you and expect Him to answer. Journal what He says.

Only one thing really matters. Nothing feeds our soul like intimacy with Jesus.

What’s one action you can take to deepen your friendship with Him beginning today?

Grace Fox is a career missionary, international speaker, and author of nine books. She’s on the writing team for First 5, a daily Bible study app produced by Proverbs 31 Ministries. For more information about Grace, visit her website and blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Marr Creative at Lightstock.

 

Tuesday
Feb092016

Add Some Color to Your Quiet Time

Morgan Farr is a strong woman both physically and spiritually, yet she struggled with Quiet Time. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she shares how she overcame her frustration.

Morgan asks, "Have you ever just dreaded doing your quiet time? Does it feel like doing what you are supposed to do, but it just doesn’t feel personal?"

Yes, that's a problem I (Dawn) have encountered many times, and God gave me a solution almost identical to what Morgan is going to share here!

Morgan continues . . .

Quiet time is one of those Christian phrases that can be overwhelming to new believers. As someone that didn’t have a relationship with Jesus until my 20s I can tell you, I used to be so very frustrated with "quiet time."

I tried everything that people suggested to be diligent in reading my Bible and none of it fit.  

A few things I have tried: 

  • Reading just my Bible  
  • Reading my Bible with with a Bible commentary 
  • Reading my Bible with a concordance   
  • Reading my Bible and taking detailed, organized notes 
  • Following a Bible-reading plan 
  • Reading through the Bible in a year 

None of it really stuck and that made me feel like the worst Christian ever.

I mean, really, what kind of Christian dreads quiet time?

Finally, one of my mentors suggested that I think about what makes me … ME.

After really thinking about it, I realized I like the academic side of studying the Bible. I love to study, but that isn’t enough. A quiet time is so much more than just studying. Quiet time is your time to communicate with God.  

So how would I have a quiet time and personalize it between just God and me? He is the creator of the universe.

When it hit me that the Creator of the universe loves me and wants a relationship with me, that changed everything.

The Artist of the universe, the Creator of color wants a relationship with me! So why can’t I add color in my quiet time?

I am that person who loves nothing more than a brand new pack of crayola markers, so using color in my quiet time just seemed natural.  

But how do you do it?  

I am sure many of you have heard of Bible journaling. If you google itor check it out on Pinterestyou will find all kinds of really awesome examples. They are beautiful and delicate.

I tried my hand at it. But honestly it was a little much for me. I didn’t want to make a mistake in my Bible. I am an absolute perfectionist and the idea of illustrating in my Bible made me very nervous. I was unable to actually do my quiet time.

Since Bible journaling was too much, I had to come up with something else.

In lieu of creating an actual drawing in my Bible, I use a system of color-coded symbols to mark the text of my Bible. I gathered up the symbols from around the internet, and the colors were based off of my associations with each group.

What does my Bible marking key look like?

Purple is God’s "team members" (Father, Son, Holy Spirit...)

Red is the cost of our salvation (blood, cross, sacrifice...)

Orange is sin. because it makes me think of traffic warnings (lust, cursed, suffering...)  

Brown is all the things with earth (nation, land, home...)

Blue is the things we give back to God (prayer, repentance, believe...)

Green is the things God does for us (grace, bless, forgiveness...)

Pink is for family interaction (family, marriage, child...)

Using this system has made me so much more willing to do my quiet time! I like being able to look back at a text and see if it was more about the cost of our salvation or the gifts that God has given us.

I also like that it doesn’t take forever to complete my daily reading using this method. Having a one-year-old, writing a blog and running a full-time, functional fitness gym ministry doesn’t leave a lot of down time.

That means I have to be even more diligent about utilizing my quiet time with God to the best of my abilities. In Colossians 3:17, we read,

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

I am so grateful that God made me just the way He wanted to, with a love of Him and the color He created.

Does this sound like a system you might use? Do you use a different kind of coding in your Quiet Time?

Morgan Farr is an Army wife currently stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with her wonderful husband Brian and their seven-month-old son, William. She is a homemaker who dedicates her free time to ministering to other Army wives through Bible studies, one-on-one interactions and physical training. Morgan writes about her transition out of feminism and into biblical womanhood on her blog. You can find her training programs on her blog, FarrFunctionalFitness.blogspot.com.

Tuesday
Sep152015

Make Time for God

Poppy Smith ..... 

“I have a bad habit I’m trying to break,” Popppy says. “Instead of cozying up to God first thing in the morning, I cozy up to my computer, filling my head with what’s temporary rather than eternal.”

Oh, I (Dawn) sooooo understand this. There are so many "temptations" to keep us from seeking God first, aren't there? I check email early because I work for people "back east" and want to see if there are assignments, but after that, I try to not get distracted and spend time with the Lord. Believe me, it takes intentionality!

Poppy continues . . .

You’d think that King David had his spiritual life all together—but clearly, he didn’t.

 David says, 

"My hearts says of you, 'Seek his face!' Your face, Lord, I will seek" (Psalm 27:8).

He acknowledges his longing for a greater closeness to the Lord, but he also recognized that deliberate choices were needed in order to experience what he desired.

His response to the stirring in his spirit required a decision of his will.

It takes more than inner yearning for us to enjoy God. It takes a conscious decision of our will to follow through on the words, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” 

For God to work inner transformation and produce a deeper sense of His presence in us takes time and some level of self-discipline. But it is possible. We can discipline our bodies and our time.

I’ve seen the Holy Spirit change me in many ways, but on a recent Sunday I decided more self-discipline was desperately needed. I especially wanted to see if I could break my addiction to checking email. 

Instead of merely not looking at my inbox for the day, I determined to not even turn the computer on.

I’d been responding like Pavlov’s dog every time my email pinged, so I deliberately fasted—I gave up one thing to give time to another.

That’s my definition of fasting, whether it’s food or anything else that has control over me.

As the hours went by I was amazed. By committing my little exercise to the Lord, I discovered that I could control myself and spend more time in His presence. I learned that I don’t have to allow email, or any other habit, to gobble up the hours in my day.

For someone who isn’t naturally self-disciplined, this was a major victory.

How about you? Is there a habit, attitude, or hard-to-break behavior that needs kicking out of your life? It won’t happen by magic, but it can be overcome if you ask God for help and follow through with personal discipline.

Paul urged Timothy to “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (l Timothy 4:7).

As you gear up for fall, here are ways to respond when your soul echoes David’s cry: “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

  • Pray for Spirit-given discipline to put a higher value on seeking God’s face before other activities.
  • Pursue daily intimacy by thinking about how Jesus treated people, spoke to them, noticed and cared for them. And ask that He would live that kind of life through you.
  • Practice being alone with the Father to talk to Him, to quietly listen for his direction and correction, as well as encouragement and love. 
  • Persevere in the race God has set before you, inviting the Holy Spirit to change your daily choices to what matters most to your best self.

We all have the same amount of time each day. What will you take time from in order to spend it in God’s presence?

Poppy Smith is British, married to an American, and has lived in many countries. A former Bible Study Fellowship teaching leader with a Masters in Spiritual Formation, she is a multi-published author who speaks widely, challenging women to make their lives count by looking at their choices, attitudes, and relationship with God. Find more about Poppy on her website 

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Thursday
Aug012013

Seeking More 'Seeking God' Upgrades

There’s seeking God, and then there’s Seeking God! Maybe you know what I mean.

If you ask the average Christian, “Are you seeking God?” you’ll likely get a “yes.” Most of us think we’re seeking God when we attend church, read our Bibles, pray and pursue spiritual disciplines. And we likely are.

But then there are times when we get more desperate, more passionate, more focused. These are like Seeking God “Upgrades” in our lives!

  • Maybe circumstances (pain, fear, confusion, a tough decision, a loss) drive us to seek Him.
  • Perhaps we arrived at a special retreat or a solitary location—a blessed place without distractions—and we have the time and opportunity to seek Him more earnestly.
  • Or maybe we suddenly, in the midst of self-seeking, feel the urgency to seek, find and know God more.

Many in this world say they are seeking God or some form of spirituality, but they are not seeking the God revealed in the Bible (Romans 3:11; John 17:3).

Once we have sought the God of the Bible to save us—and the writers at Girlfriends in God describe that seeking well—we will have many periods in our walk with God where we’re drawn back to Him in a closer, deeper way. God Himself calls us to seek Him (Psalm 27:8).

In the Old Testament, we see God calling to His people through the prophets and other godly people (see 1 Chronicles 22:19a; 28:9b; 2 Chronicles 15:2-4; Job 8:5; Isaiah 55:6-7; Amos 5:4-6a; Zephaniah 2:3). Over and over again, the Children of Israel heard these words: “Seek me and live.” … “Seek the Lord while he may be found.” … “If you seek Him, He will be found by you.” … “Set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.”

To seek the Lord means to seek His presence.

The Jews called it seeking God’s “face,” which makes sense—to be before God’s face would indicate being in His presence.

I used to wonder about God’s presence. Aren’t we always there?

He’s omnipresent, so yes, God is always present with us. He manifests His power and provision in our lives. He’s always near to love, guide and help us. He is faithful to His children “to the end of the age,” the Bible tells us (Matthew 28:20).

But in another sense, we’re exhorted to “seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”(Psalm 105:4)

Do you know why we get that instruction? There are times when we drift away from the Lord. We are not conscious of His faithful presence. We forget how wonderful He is, the beauty of His grace, His purpose in sending Jesus, His work in our lives.

So God’s call to us is to seek Him continually. We set our mind and heart toward Him (1 Chronicles 22:19). In the New Testament, we’re told to fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Our whole focus, our attention and heart, are set on seeing and knowing God.  

Two of my favorite verses are Colossians 3:1-2: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Our thoughts center around God Himself and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), not just the splendors of heaven and glories of eternity.

Seeking God is a choice.

We have to recognize when we have wandered off or coasted spiritually and  been too busy for God; and we consciously choose to return and seek Him. He may seem hidden from us, so we seek Him as the treasure He is. We pay the price, take the effort. We "come away to a quiet place" and rest with Him (Mark 6:31a). We ask God to reveal Himself in the Word and manifest His glory in His creation and through the godly lives of others in the family of God.

Seeking Him implies there are hindrances and obstacles in the way. I’ve found that media, social media and the entertainment industry are three ways the enemy tries to dull my desire to seek God; but other things—even good, necessary things—can draw me away from seeking God when He calls. Certainly my own pride gets in the way, and I am not alone (Psalm 10:4). If I’m going to boast in anything, let it be that have sought God and know Him (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

Seeking God includes crying out to Him, even pleading for mercy (Isaiah 55:6; Job 8:5) as we draw near, recognizing His holiness.

God’s faithful promise to us is satisfaction for our seeking: “If you seek Him, He will be found by you” (1 Chronicles 28:9). Though we may find many other things in the seeking, the greatest reward will be God Himself—His sweet presence (Hebrews 11:6).

"Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!" (Psalm 105:3)

Do you have special resources to help you seek God in a deeper way? Two resources from Revive Our Hearts  I recommend are The Quiet Place by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and the Bible Study, Seeking Him, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Tim Grissom.

Dawn Wilson is the founder of Heart Choices Ministries and creator of UpgradeWithDawn.com and also blogs at LOLwithGod.com. Dawn's ministry encourages, edifies and energizes women with the truth of scripture so they can better enjoy life, bless others and honor God. She lives in San Diego with her husband Bob and a rascally maltipoo named Roscoe.

 

Thursday
May302013

Reach Up Before You Reach Out

I've never been much of a fiction reader, but Kathi Macias, an author with godly, caring heart, captured my own heart and I've read a number of her books.

"As an author, I tend to write books about some pretty heavy topics—the persecuted Church, human trafficking, incarcerated loved ones," Kathi said. "You’d think that very focus would also keep me focused on the most important thing—my relationship with God, for how else would I dare tackle such difficult subjects?"

Kathi continues:

But even in the midst of writing about such horrific problems, I occasionally find myself drifting off-point and forgetting that there is absolutely no way in the world that I can right these wrongs on my own. Can anyone relate?

I believe it’s important for us to cultivate a social conscience that responds to injustice and suffering, hearts and lives that are “moved with compassion,” as Jesus was when He saw the hurting masses. But even Jesus never attempted to remedy the situations in a human way.

Jesus…lifted up His eyes to heaven (John 17:1, NKJV).

Instead, He took every possible opportunity to go off to a quiet place and commune with His Father before reaching out in ministry.

Though my heart is to call on women to become actively involved in one or more aspects of such vital ministry—writing letters of support to believers suffering for their faith; volunteering time to help feed the homeless or lead a Bible study behind bars; donating time or money or material goods to a safe house for trafficking survivors—I first want to caution against falling into the trap of trying to reach out before reaching up.

When we step out into ministry, we encounter darkness and serious resistance. Because of that it is vital that we make our first priority the same as it was for Jesus—regularly spending time with the Father before reaching out to His children.

It is the most effective thing we can ever do, both as women and as Christians.

May God bless and guide you as you look to the Father for the strength to be “moved with compassion” for the many needs around you.

As you spend time with God this week, will you purpose to seek His heart concerning your family? Your community? The world? Will you ask Him, "Father, what would you have me do?"

Kathi Macias is the author of 40 books, including titles in the "Freedom Series" and "Extreme Devotion Series." Her most recent novel, The Moses Quilt, deals with racial and generational divides and the impact of the Gospel.

A popular speaker and Bible teacher, Kathi lives in Southern California with her husband, Al. Learn more about Kathi and her books at www.kathimacias.com.