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Posts Tagged ‘devotions’

Messy Bible Reading

My ambitious Bible reading plan for 2014 has hit a few bumps in the road. Tiredness, idleness, busyness & illness have all played a part. But I’m persevering. Today I managed a full ten chapters in a single bite for the first time in a couple of weeks. And then I noticed that the ends of the ribbon bookmark I made for myself had started to fray at the ends. Rather like me really.

So I applied some Copydex. A spot of glue can stop everything unravelling. A bit like sticking with the Bible reading.

Glued ribbons. A happy solution.

Glued ribbons. A happy solution.

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After thinking about devotions honestly yesterday, the excellent Adam4d just posted this on what happens when we pray at bedtime..

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If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m  often full of great new ideas and initiatives. But what that actually means is that many old ideas and initiatives have fallen by the wayside. So when I extol the beauty of a new bible reading scheme or system of prayer, it possibly (=usually) indicates that the last system I extolled has somewhat petered out…

Last night Sharonxx asked the following:

I have tried to set myself the simple ‘resolution’ this year to pray at least once a day [either an Office or personal prayer], to read one small devotional a day and to do one bible study each day [using T.Wright…for Everyone]. I work 9-3, I have an 8 year old son and I’m married….pretty normal on the face of it….so why can’t I achieve even these simple goals??

Any tips? How do you do it with your busy life and family commitments? Indeed, DO you always manage to keep up with the bible reading etc.??

Simple goals, and ones I can relate to so well: read my bible, read something else devotional, pray. I’d love to do this every day too. But I often don’t. And I don’t work outside the house either, with all the extra juggling entailed in that.

So why don’t I do it? There are a bunch of reasons: tiredness, craziness of life in the Vicarage, but mainly it’s because other things seem more important than spending time with God. They’re not, of course, but my sinful heart takes control and I sleep a little more, tweet a little more, watch a little more Midsomer Murders. As I was reminded by my reading in Romans 7 this morning ‘What a wretched (wo)man I am!’

But the important thing is not to be discouraged when I fail. I’ve snoozed and missed the timeslot when I would have been reading my Bible. So I can grab a verse for the day on my phone. I’ve missed prayer time in the quite of the early morning. But I can still pray over the ironing board, or in the queue for the sandwich shop. I might not feel that I’ve prayed very well, or read enough of the Word, or wrestled with a theological concept. But if I’m keeping in regular touch with the Lord, I’m able to build my relationship with him. And even if I’m crazy busy or laid low by illness, there are still ways that relationship can grow, as his Spirit works in me. The Spirit reminds me of Scriptures or hymns and spiritual songs that I can cling to when I’m struggling with time or energy. The Spirit shows me the Lord’s providence in seemingly small ways that enable me to praise God when I feel like crying. The Spirit works in me so that I can will and work to the Father’s good pleasure.

Some of the resources I’ve found useful recently include using the audio setting with YouBible on my phone or tablet. This morning I read my allotted chapters from my epic 10 chapters a day reading plan but my head was a bit fuzzy and I didn’t process much. So then I listened to them again as I cleaned the kitchen and a bit more went in. Not everything, but a bit more.

My prayer life is a bit wobbly at the moment, but I’ve been using The Valley of Vision and have also recently downloaded the excellent PrayerMate app which is free at the moment. It has all the bells and whistles if you have an Apple device, but we are Android users in the Vicarage, so I have the newly launched version (which will be updated over the next few months) and am slowly uploading my prayer diary to its pages.

So I guess my answer is that I constantly fail to read my bible, to pray and balance all my family and other commitments. But I also constantly try and reboot them and get them back on track. The temptation is to feel that once we’ve missed a day in our readings, we’ve missed the boat. So we need to remind ourselves that the Father is waiting for our return. He loves us unconditionally, whether we’ve read our Bibles, prayed our prayers or simply slouched on the couch. Find a system which frees you from guilt if you miss a day; 10ofthose have some great undated devotional books. Start again. I read a blogpost in the last week about how we need to have Monday resolutions, not just New Year resolutions. And perhaps I even need to have daily resolutions. I mustn’t put off getting back on track because I’m waiting for a special season. I can reboot my resolutions today.

Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 3:7

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I have a lovely leather bound copy of The Valley of Vision that I use for my devotions. But it was a recent purchase and is working well with my Prof Horner bible readings, for which using a proper paper Bible is recommended. Before that I used to use Banner of Truth‘s online devotional as I was reading the Bible on my tablet. Then they updated their website and the prayers went missing for a while, hence the purchase.

But I’ve just found that the prayers are back online. The prayers are in a random order, but are always helpful, and there is a suggested one for the day. And it’s a great way to check them out if you are thinking about getting the book.

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coollogo_com-105672830I’ve been thinking about what to do for Lent this year. Although, theoretically, I could start something new at any time of year, I find that seasons in the church year are good opportunity to review spiritual disciplines. Last year I managed to produce a blogpost every weekday throughout Lent and the Vicar and I had a no-screens-after-8pm fast. We found the screen ban very helpful – and did a lot of talking and reading. We did have Sunday nights off for Dr Who after the Evening Service though. And I enjoyed the more frequent blogging, but I don’t think that is on the cards in 2013.

So here is a little list of what I’m planning to do throughout Lent this year, to draw closer to God and reset my life compass:

  1. Continue reading my encouraging devotional,Taste and See: Savouring the Supremacy of God in All of Life by John Piper.
  2. No screens after 8pm again, although I may have to make an exception for writing if I’m to finish Messy Ministry by my deadline just after Easter.
  3. Write the book – I’m finding the thinking I’m doing quite challenging so far, and the self-discipline involved in setting time aside to write is very good for me. And I have that deadline to meet.
  4. Increase family devotion frequency to at least 3 times a week. At the moment we’re only managing once a week, although we’re enjoying the format, which includes reading from Sally Lloyd-Jones’ lovely devotional book ‘Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing‘ and praying from prayer diaries from The Leprosy Mission, CMS and the Barnabas Fund, all of whom are supported by our church.
  5. Did I mention finish the book? And not faff about on the internet being distracted.

sCome nearer Easter, we’ll dig out our Resurrection Eggs too. But other than that I think we’re set. I want to be realistic in the challenges I set but also stretch myself. The screen fast will be the hardest. But I’m also looking forward to the space it will bring into our lives. I’m wondering whether the Vicar and I might use this devotional book together in the time that is freed up. How about you?

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I’m sure you’re all super-prepared for all the Advent happenings in your parish. But just in case you aren’t (or want to be extra-super-prepared for next year) I thought I’d share this brilliant alt.Advent series from Scripture Union that I just came across. They are posting a 2-3 minute daily animation of part of the Christmas story every day of Advent. The full animation, combining all the clips, is 47 minutes long – perhaps something to have on hand for early risers on Christmas Day…

These would be great for family devotions or to show in a service or school assembly. I might even show a few to the kids over tea this week. SU have posted a good number of other videos on their YouTube channel that would be useful for services or family bible times.

Here’s today’s lovely section of the story:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePB5LiRETkQ%5D

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A Happy 2010 to everyone. All is vaguely peaceful in the Vicarage this morning, although the Queen has just declared herself ‘bored’. Christmas as a Vicar (and family) is a lot more full on than as a Curate. The Vicar had seven (or was it eight? I rather lost track) talks to prepare and deliver in the space of about ten days. My days were filled with baking, wrapping and tidying – we were out at events (nativity plays, school fairs etc) and hosting them too.

So in the space between Christmas and New Year, we’ve taken some downtime. The Vicar led and preached at a service on 27th December, but other than that we’ve been on holiday at home. It’s been made special this year by old friends visiting from Australia who have children around the same age as ours.

Borneo Girl and I were in the Brownies together so we go waaaay back. Her daughter and the Queen are the same age and have played together intensively for four days. Hence the boredness of the Queen. Our friends left a whole hour ago. Borneo Girl has promised me some Aussie recipes, so I’ll be blogging those this year.

Now everything is quiet here I am going to get my devotional life back in the groove. When I read that there was a bible reading plan for shirkers and slackers, I knew it was for me. So I’ve printed it out and I’m off to read some Matthew (it is Friday, isn’t it?).

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