Ever long to connect with God through his word but feel disconnected when you read the words on the page? I do.

Even after years of teaching Bible studies and doing daily devotions, I sometimes feel disconnected from God. Sometimes, my mind simply fails to connect with what the Spirit of God is trying to say to me through the words of Scripture.

Deferred Pain

When this happens, it’s usually an indication of something else going on in my life. Deferred pain, if you will.

That “something,” in my experience, is usually a combination of small somethings that added up slowly over time and created a big disconnect. So, my first step usually involves awareness of those smaller things and, essentially, addressing the sources causing this deferred pain.

Developing Awareness

That awareness comes though quietness and prayer. Through these practices, the Holy Spirit’s voice rises to the top of all the other voices vying for my attention.

He usually begins with reminders and directives:

  • Nothing is beyond the reach of my power.
  • Quit trying to force things to happen.
  • Wait for me to work.
  • Acknowledge me.
  • I will direct you.
  • Focus your thoughts.
  • Quit letting your fears direct your focus.

Slowly, through meditation on His Word and just existing in quietness, I am redirected to looking at Jesus instead of trying to find answers and solutions.

Focus determines reality. A truth that I need continually reminded of in my life.

Digging In to Scripture

The Value of Research

As a writer, I fully understand the value of research and knowing my topic well. Regardless of length or type of work, research allows me to better know my writing topic.  When I struggle at any point in a writing project, research always produces the breakthrough I need to move forward.

This same approach plays a significant role in my faith walk too. Regardless of the struggle or challenge, seeking God’s will by digging into scripture always strengthens my faith.

I’m referring to going beyond daily devotions. I’m getting at digging into all the scripture related to the struggle or challenge and refusing to stop until your faith revitalizes. It may take several hours, days or even longer, but the time spent won’t be in vain.

If you refuse to quit and push through, you’ll come through the stronger because you’ll know God and his will better than ever before.

Steps for Digging In to Scripture

Below are my basic steps specific to digging in to scripture. Take them and make them your own!

  1. Make a list of related scripture and read through them. Make note of the ones that most connect with your struggle. I usually find them with the concordance in my Bible or by doing a Google search. If doing a Google search, only look at Scripture at this point. Stay away from any articles or commentaries. Just you and God for now.
  2. Write out the scripture that stood out to you. Don’t question why some click while others don’t. Just go with it. It’s the Holy Spirit working.
  3. Make bullet points for each scripture. Write down any thought or connection you make with the reference. No editing. Just record what comes to mind.
  4. Meditate on each Scripture. I often take walks or go for bike rides or even take a nap where I fall asleep thinking about the Scripture as related to my struggle or topic. Just spend time directing your thoughts toward the Scripture you’re studying.
  5. Read through the Scripture and your notes again. Make note of additional thoughts and revelations.
  6. Pray using the Scripture and your notes. Talk to God about what you’re studying. You may have more notes to take during this step.
  7. Listen for God to speak to you. Again, go for a walk or bike ride, but this time just listen for God’s whisper in your mind. Don’t make yourself think anything.
  8. Seek outside sources. Only do this after you’ve spent significant one-on-one time with God. These sources include commentaries, sermons and articles about the scripture and topic you’re studying.
  9. Talk out what you’re studying. Again, only do this after lots of one-on-one time. Find a good listener and share what you’ve discovered. Then, let that person give you some input.
  10. Consider journaling. This works best if you do it throughout the process. I actually do these steps in my journal.

The key in this process lies with refusing to quit. Keep reading through the scripture, and keep meditating on them too. Push through and continue digging in even if you don’t feel or hear anything at first. God will speak to you. Expect it to happen.

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

Daily Downloads & Touch Points

In my guest post The Big Picture: My Own Life Plan Method at Christian Faith at Work, I detailed the approach my husband and I take together to create a focus for our marriage and individual lives. One important aspect of our approach is including daily downloads and touch points. These were so beneficial to us as husband and wife, we’ve allso incorporated them into our family structure.

3-21-13 home graphicFocusing on My Family

When my oldest started kindergarten 9 years ago, we started the habit of daily downloads. Every day after school, each of my sons tells me about his day. They talk about each class, what they’re studying, homework they have, and tests coming up, and they also share stories about interactions, both positive and negative, with teachers and other students during the day.

My boys expect these daily downloads and even ask, “Don’t you want to hear about my day?” when I get distracted and take more than 5 minutes to stop and listen.

We also integrate regular touch points into our family’s routine. Pretty much every morning, we eat breakfast together while each of us does a morning devotion, and then we pray together before heading off on our days. We also make a point to have dinner together regularly, usually 6 days a week, and this time usually consists of another round of daily downloads.

Knowing that one-on-one time is also important, my husband “tucks” our boys in at night after doing a devotion with each boy individually for his regular touch point with each of them. My individual touch point is the daily downloads every day after school.

3-21-13 road trip

On a more big-picture level, we take 2-3 vacations as a family every year, and during this time we focus on connection and just being together. We also talk about goals and dreams during these times even to the point of setting yearly goals together. We all have separate goals, but we create them together. This time away is a sort of a concentrated touch point made up of lots of downloads.

Then, throughout the year, we check in with each other’s progress on our goals. Just the other day, my 12-year-old asked me, “Mommy, how are you doing on your goals?” A good discussion took place afterward. Our touch points and downloads seem to cultivate this sort of accountability and encouragement naturally.

Another touch point involves windshield time. Whether driving to/from a vacation spot or just 20 minutes away for a shopping trip, we rarely listen to music and usually have a discussion of some sort. In fact, we never watch a movie for trips less than two hours, and we rarely listen to music for trips less than an hour. My boys don’t even turn on (and often don’t take) their various media devices when we go somewhere. We’ve simply grown attached to connecting during windshield time.

Virus Protection for the Family

3-21-13 virusOne way to look at the importance of daily downloads and touch points within a family is to consider why computer users regularly update their virus protection. New viruses appear daily, and a computer needs updated virus definitions to protect against these new threats. Failure to update virus protection can result in an infected and severely compromised system.

Daily downloads and touch points do the same for families that virus protection does for computers. Regular updates allow for a family to remain healthy and avoid infection and compromise from the outside world.

DISCUSSION: What suggestions do you have for strengthening the family?

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