Recommendations for Daily Devotions

Lately, my morning devotions have become somewhat eclectic. What I mean by this is that instead of using one source for my study (such as one devotional book), I have been using several small sources. I certainly don’t advocate against using a single devotion, but I do believe that routine can become a dangerous place. (See The Danger of Routine and Habit in Our Prayer Lives for more on this topic.)

For me, mixing up my routine gets my spirit going in new directions and keeps my from going through the motions. The Holy Spirit never ceases to use the small steps that we take to do amazing feats within us. In my life, this has meant that He connects the small sources that I am using to direct me to the dusty corners in my spirit and to clean out the cobwebs. Sometimes, this involves using all of what I study to focus on one main issue. Sometimes, this involves getting at several small issues.

For what it’s worth, I thought I would share some of the sources that I have been using lately as a sort of recommendation for trying something new & different, especially if you feel like your routine is working against you. In addition to the wonderful blog posts I receive regularly from a variety of blogs (most of which I have featured on my blog through a guest post, recommendation or source link), I offer the following resources as ideas to help stimulate your daily devotional time.

What resources do you or have you used that you would like to recommend?

Recommendations… Notice a Pattern?

So often, God speaks to us about issues or gives guidance to us through patterns. He often uses what I read in this way. As an example, below are several blog posts that fit with a pattern in my life where I feel God wants me to focus.

Fruit of the Spirit – You’re invited to Plant, Grow, & Cultivate – Weekly Bible study by Kathy Howard.

Does Playboy Influence Your View of Christian Community? @ A Curious Band of Others.

Small Town Triples in Size Overnight! @ A Curious Band of Others.

How to Inspire Others to Be Productive, Courageous, and Hard-Working – Episode 9  – Podcast at Life of a Steward.

Make Time For Relationships: How and Why – Episode 4 – Podcast at Life of a Steward.

If a topic or issue keeps arising in a variety of ways in your life, consider that it may just be God speaking to you. For me, that usually means I need to quiet my spirit and take time to listen.

DISCUSSION: Does God use patterns to speak to you too?

Recommendations & Guest Posts

The purpose of this blog is to help Christians struggle to victory and age gracefully while living deliberate, determined & balanced lives that make the most of every opportunity. Within that goal come the goals of pursuing simplicity while remaining curious and unique at the same time. For more on the drive behind Struggle to Victory, please visit the Why? and About pages.

With that purpose and those goals in mind, I would like to announce that Thursdays will now feature either a guest post or a recommendation post. (Note that recommendation posts were previously on Tuesdays.) Anyone who would like to guest post on Struggle to Victory should read the Why? and About pages before expressing that interest. Guests posts published on this site must fit within the purpose and goals expressed on those pages. While I am under no obligation to publish any submitted guest posts, I will give everyone prayerful consideration. To put it even more bluntly, the Holy Spirit decides what is published on this blog, not me.

Suggestions and ideas for recommendations are also welcome and also must fit within the purposes and goals express on the Why? and About pages. See the following recommendations previously published on Struggle to Victory as examples.

This new and exciting change to Struggle to Victory is meant to enhance your experience with this blog as well as to give you additional resources to help you make the most of every opportunity in your life.

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Recommendation – My 5 Favorite Bible Study Tools

This may shock some people, but not all of my favorite Bible study tools come from a virtual library. In fact, the top three I reach for regularly currently sit on my desk in front of me as real books. Yet, electronic resources provide a terrific supplement to my three favorites. Probably none of these resources are new to anyone, but I offer them now for consideration if you haven’t tried them or may have let dust accumulate on some of them.

  1. NLT Notemaker’s Bible – No study notes. No related scripture lists. Just scripture and room to make notes. This is the Bible I take with me to church, and the one I like to use for personal study. I like letting scripture simmer without any outside influence, and I know I’ll peek if it’s there.
  2. NASB Life Application Study Bible – I usually go to this after reading scripture in my Notemaker’s Bible. Love the notes at the bottom and the scripture links in the margins. This is my second resource when I feel my thoughts and ideas are ready for more guidance.
  3. Three-In-One Bible Reference Companion – The Associate Pastor at my church recommended this to me about 8 years ago when I first started teaching adult Sunday school. This reference helps when I have a topic I want to study further by defining the word and by providing all the scripture containing the word. This reference has many times provided the outline or skeleton for developing my teaching notes or for a devotion or other writing.
  4. Biblegateway.com – In addition to the many Bible versions, this website has a variety of other study tools as well including concordances, devotionals, topical indexing and more. Between this one and #5, I find much of what I need to craft what I want to write and say confidently.
  5. Biblos.com – Just like the way this site is laid out. Like having the various translations come up all at once with the commentaries afterward. Provides a quick way to get information that helps me think through a topic as well as move forward when I am stuck.

I have been considering adding an amplified Bible to my reference collection, and it would be an actual book and not electronic. There just something about holding an actual book, especially the Bible…

DISCUSSION: What are your favorite Bible study tools? Why are they your favorites? Do you have a recommendation for an amplified Bible?

Recommendation – Ron Edmondson

Ron Edmondson writes almost daily on leadership, church and family. His posts are always inspiring, and especially so since they come from the heart of a pastor. Ron is in a transition stage in his ministry right now, and the insights and learning that will come from that should be inspiring and helpful. Check out his blog, and be sure to sign up to receive his Graced Again posts. Also, check out his About page to learn more about this “follower of Christ, husband, father, church planter, pastor, writer, idea man, strategic thinker, dreamer and teacer.”

To start, check out some of my recent favorite posts:

Recommendation – Imagination is Your Creation

Some people have the gift of telling good stories. People listen intently to what they say, knowing they will be rewarded. Some of those people also have the gift of writing down their stories in a way that impacts others toward creativity and exploration of their world. Imagination is Your Creation is one example of this kind of storytelling.

Behind the terrific storytelling at Imagination is Your Creation lies a woman who comes from a tragic past but who has chosen to overcome that past. Inge Lindholm has created Imagination is Your Creation for “fellow adventure seeking friends and for those who have aspirations to make a change in their life, have a new experience, or just go after a long-awaited goal!”

Please visit Imagination is Your Creation and read her inspiring and fun stories. Perhaps like me, you’ll also be inspired to write your own stories. Perhaps you’ll want to take the plunge and go on that adventure you’ve been dreaming about.

DISCUSSION: Please share what you liked about Imagination is Your Creation and about the roll of storytelling in your life.

Recommendation – Christian Faith at Work

Recently in a group of Christian couples, the discussion turned to the most difficult aspect of faith. For many of the people in that group, the biggest challenge they are facing is living out their faith in a real and practical way. I think this is a struggle that so many Christians have. Fortunately, there are resources like Christian Faith at Work to help find victory in that struggle.

Written especially for Christian business leaders but applicable to anyone desiring to integrate their faith at work, Christian Faith at Work is “about how to run a Christian business. This means running a business with an eternal perspective, making decisions and planning strategically so that people are impacted in a way that points them to God.”

The following are some of my favorite posts at Christian Faith at Work. Please check them out, and let Chris Patton know you support his efforts and goals. Then, return to Struggle to Victory, and let me know what you think about Christian Faith at Work. I know you will be blessed by Chris’ blog!

Note that Christian Faith at Work also provides Resources and a Reading List that will benefit Christian business leaders and really anyone wanting to integrate their faith at work. Chris’ testimony is pretty powerful too, so be sure to read that History while you are there!

DISCUSSION: Why is integrating faith at work so difficult?

Recommendation – Tentblogger

Tentblogger provides solid posts that not only help other bloggers in their trade but that also give great advice for living life in general. I love how the two approaches are mixed together and how John’s passion for blogging, his family and life show through in all he does.

I encourage you to check out Tentblogger today. Here are a few links to get you started:

  • Focus on the Few Things You Do Uniquely Well – A post with a great perspective on simplifying life in a way that gets at your unique purpose and plan.
  • Learn more about a John and his approach to “blogging for fun and profit.” Be sure to read all the way to the bottom of this about page as it provides a variety of worthwhile links to some of his best posts.
  • Want some great advice on making money blogging? Check out the blog series on Tentblogger.

DISCUSSION: Stop by Tentblogger and let him know you were there. Then, come back to Struggle to Victory and tell us about your experiences with Tentblogger.

Recommendation – Struggle to Victory Resources

Struggle to Victory” is primarily a blog ministry focused on helping Christians “make the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:15-16) given to us by God. There are currently has four postings a week. To read more about this blog, please visit the About page.

On the “Struggle to Victory” blog site, you will find book recommendations on the Bookshelf as well as a Victory! section containing stories, processes and discoveries made through attempts to be deliberate, be determined, pursue simplicity, find balance, be curious, be intentional and age gracefully in every area of life.

“Struggle to Victory” also offers interaction through several social media outlets. The Facebook page not only provides regular posts made on the blog, but it also includes quality articles from other sources. The purpose behind the Facebook page for “Struggle to Victory” is to provide readers with an uplifting and encouraging reading experience from a variety of sources without them having to search all over the internet to find articles.

In addition to Facebook interaction, “Struggle to Victory” also offers interaction through Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter also in an effort to provide my community with information that draws each individual closer to God and helps everyone to “make the most of every opportunity.”

Please join us today. We’d love to hear your comments, ideas, etc.

Recommendation – Podcasts

Podcasts provide a terrific option for individuals who don’t have time or don’t like to read. Download from iTunes and listen while exercising, driving and cleaning. You can also listen to most straight from their web site of origin.

Of course, choosing podcasts with quality content is important since your time is so valuable. To help you, I am recommending the following two sources for podcasts with solid content and reasonable length (generally 15-20 minutes).

Note that each of these podcast sources also produce excellent blog posts that are well-worth your reading time.

Enjoy!