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?

 Subscribe to Struggle to Victory by Email or Subscribe in a reader

Let’s Have Coffee

personal-pic-1Coffee has gotten a bad rap. Sure, too much coffee often has a negative impact (nervousness, adrenal strain, and sleep reduction to name a few), but there are some terrific benefits coffee has to offer as well.

So, grab a cup of coffee (if you haven’t had too much already), and join me for a look at the positive side of that magical brew that has been around for centuries. (Coffee originated in Ethiopia. Some say its cultivation began in the 9th century while others claim it’s been around since AD 575.)

Health Benefits

Coffee has a high level of antioxidants, enzymes and nutrients that help prevent disease. It actually has more antioxidants than green tea. It also speeds up metabolism and reduces hunger, aiding in weight loss. Because coffee is a diuretic, it also helps flush the bladder and prevent it from developing disease.

In a very real sense, coffee is a healthy energy drink. Many people even use it in smoothies. Step aside green smoothies and Red Bull!

Mental Benefits

Coffee enhances brain function by aiding performance and memory function. This enhanced brain function helps those who struggling with boredom or fatigue by giving them a much-needed mid-day mental perk. In much the same way, it also works as an anti-depressant.

In addition, but spending time having coffee with friends is also great therapy, perhaps equal only to the therapy sessions with my exercise partner. As expensive as specialty coffee is, it’s still way cheaper than seeing an actual therapist.

Nostalgic Benefits

When I was a teenager, my mom brought me coffee in bed every morning to help wake me up. While this likely created my coffee addiction, this memory serves as a pleasant reminder of the man ways my mom showed me she loved me.

Experts say the sense of smell evokes strong memories. (See “The Nose, an Emotional Time Machine” for an interesting read on the power of smell.) Whenever I smell coffee, I feel calmer, and I think it’s because I associate it with so many great memories created having coffee with people I care about.

Social Benefits

Coffee has long been a center of business meetings and social gatherings. Rarely do you find any such event that does not at least have coffee available. When people who haven’t seen each other in a while cross paths coincidentally, you often hear, “We should do coffee soon!”

My husband and I try to spend one-on-one time together often, and often that is over a cup of coffee. I have several friends with whom I also try to meet regularly for coffee, which really means spending time chatting and catching up with life.

The phrase “Let’s have coffee” seems to offer a comfortable way of saying, “I miss you and want to spend more time with you.” Even my non-coffee-drinking friends will “have coffee” with me, and we end up creating great memories as well as spending valuable time strengthening our relationship.

Consider Coffee Balance

As with so many aspects of life, balance is key. Too much coffee, and you’re constantly jittery and craving more coffee. Too much coffee can have negative health benefits as well (such as those already mentioned).

But, a cup or two, strategically placed serves to increase productivity and energy not to mention add tremendously to your social life and strengthen relationships. Coffee can actually be a medium through which your life finds balance.