I just added a new post to WorldVenture.com for the Church on Mission posts. I hope you find this helpful. If you would like to know more about digital discipleship, please let me know.
Face-to-face prayer, phone call prayer, and virtual prayer share the same ingredients—consistency, compassion, and patience. The difference between them are the tools we use to convey the “prayer and emotional support” that practicing Christians are seeking today. In fact, on a spectrum of interaction where face-to-face prayer is most personal, virtual prayer is a step above a phone call because we can see each other on video in ways that we cannot over the phone. Continue Reading…
“Since I cannot govern my own tongue, tho’ within my own teeth, how can I hope to govern the tongues of others?” – Benjamin Franklin
Taking a stand doesn’t mean being the loudest person in the room, especially on social media. Follow God in making a positive impact in your community and stick close to Him during this time. Trust Him.
I know it’s hard with everything going on to feel like you have no control over what is happening in the world, and that speaking out gives you a feeling of control. But, like this flower, you can bloom. We’ve been so blessed as a country to live in a prosperous nation, and maybe now we see the reason why we are here? It’s been so easy to live here versus other parts of the world (from what I read). I wonder sometimes, as we chafe against what is happening, why we still want our old habits?
Let God use this time to change you into a new creation and set aside the old. On this 4th of July may we look at ourselves and see what God wants us to do going forward (and not the God we have invented for ourselves, but the God as represented in the Bible). Maybe it’s time to start a new Bible reading and prayer habit?
Here are 3 suggestions to help you form new habits:
Get up earlier than your normal hour if your day is full. A story from missionary history reminded me that spending time with God means rising early for some people. When my work schedule changed after I started a new job, I continued rising at the same hour each morning to make sure my relationship with the Lord wasn’t neglected. Maybe you are an evening person? Stay up late. Perhaps your lunch hour works best for you? Bring your Bible to work.
Use Your social media to stay accountable to your walk with God. The first sentence in this blog was, “Taking a stand doesn’t mean being the loudest person in the room.” This followed a quote from Benjamin Franklin. What you write on social media is what you are and reflects your heart. The posts online can either make you bitter or you can start controlling your dietary intake of what you read. Keeping your heart healthy means learning how to use social media in a way that benefits both you and your readers, followers, and friends. Perhaps share what you are learning on Sunday, in Bible Study, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the Bible online. Be discerning in whose answers you accept by comparing the answers to what you are reading. Commentaries can be helpful in this.
Bible apps are wonderful. You can fit them on your phone and your phone can fit in your pocket. Grab a bottle of water and take a walk with God. Find a quiet place to sit and read a chapter. Ponder that chapter. Focus on it for the rest of the day. What did you read? What did you just learn about Bible history? How can you apply it now? What did it mean then?
Take care of your heart during this time and make God a priority. Talk to Him. As Benjamin Franklin said, you can’t control what others post (or how their posts make you feel), but you can control what you post.
Every Monday, we get on Zoom to meet with people across the country and study the Bible. A thought-provoking question stirred our hearts and minds two weeks ago, and it was around Colossians 1:9a, “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you…”
Paul’s struggle in Colossians 1:29 caused Gaye Austin, our teacher, to ask, “Paul says he is struggling for them but he is in prison…Paul’s purpose for his struggling: Paul wanted them to be unified especially now that the ‘heretics’ had sought to disarm their faith.” She asked us if we struggled for others.
The screen sharing paused. I turned off the recording. Normally, I don’t record our Bible Studies. The space is sacred to encourage sharing in a secure environment. We recorded this one for those who were out for Memorial Day.
Silence followed on the heals of the question of prayer. Some shared their heart on how they struggled to pray and asked their questions about how to pray
Prayer is worship. It’s a conversation. A lot of great resources exist online to guide you deeper into a prayer life. Here are some of my suggestions:
Meditate on the Bible. When you have no words, think of Romans 8:26: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. It’s okay to sit in a dark room before the day begins and just listen to what God might say to you. Just sitting in His presence, He knows our hearts. He knows our needs.
Some amazing people shared how God gets them up at 3 AM. They didn’t know why. The Spirit led them to use that time to pray for the names He put on their hearts. What’s amazing about this act are the answers to prayer in those situations.
Pray the Psalms.
One my all-time favorite ways to pray is…
Grab a backpack with water and snacks. Pack a Bible or make sure you have a Bible App installed on your phone and plenty of battery power. Budget in a few hours off from your day and hike to a place that you love. Sit a few hours in the presence of God and read the Bible. Have a conversation with God.
Zoom is one of many ways to use video conferencing to have face-to-face meetups in this 24-hour world, post-COVID19. I have attached a printable Zoom how-to guide to this prayer guide. It includes visuals and suggestions, plus links to Zoom. You can print it and keep it nearby. The guide answers some of the common problems that happen during a Zoom call from the invitees’ point of view.
The first time I went shopping during April’s COVID-19 shut down was like a scene out of M Night Shyamalan’s Signs. The family went to town to get out of the house after their strange crop circle and encountered surreal face-to-face conversations. The only thing normal in April for me was being home and hiking. Going out to do errands added stress to my life due to several factors, including the mask or no mask people, the shortages of food or toilet paper, and the many rules associated with some shopping centers. Fear felt like a dark cloud over our small town and impacted social media. Afterall, social media is a visual expression of a person’s heart.
What if the only thing you can control is you and your environment? And, what if doing that helps other people fight their fears and live a faithful and fruitful life?
It starts with your social media.
Post statuses that remind you what God has done in the past and what He is doing now to keep your heart focused on the only calm in the storm. “Joshua also used stones to help God’s people remember His goodness. After wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, the Israelites experienced the power of God to roll back the waters of the Jordan River, enabling them to cross over and take possession of the Promised Land. Joshua then commanded them to build a memorial of stones as a public testimony of what God had done for them … stones that would remind them to keep on praising Him.” (The Stones of Remembrance)
Snooze or unfollow sources that contribute negatively to your mental health. At least, severely limit your exposure to that news cycle if you wish to stay informed. Stay informed to only know how to pray or how to help. Change your reason for watching updates as fuel for you to exercise your faith in the community. A great example observed online was how a church dropped by goodies to an older couple suffering from severe exposure to the COVID19 virus.
Get outside. In some countries, rulers have greatly restricted people’s movements. If you can get outside, it’s important to make the time. While outside, use your pictures to capture God-moments, like a bird, a family, or something that makes you smile. Post about it online and tell people why this was a happy moment for you. Post about it slowly. Don’t photo dump. Instead, use the photos on your phone to post each day and to share about that photo. This goes back to the first point in this list.
Use technology to build connections both new and old. Use video conferencing to just hang out with your church friends, to read together, cook together, or just hang out and talk. Watch a movie together. Use this time to go to your friend’s social media and comment on their stuff. Participate in your church’s page or group’s online conversations. Your words can disciple at this time. If you are focused on others, you are less focused on what you cannot control.
Mind your own business. Resist the urge to post about what other people are or aren’t doing. Resist the urge to comment on posts that complain. Snooze them.
How can I support you in prayer? Leave a comment or message me on social media.
TRC Magazine gathers online on October 28, 2017 to discuss Christmas. We aim to engage in authentic community, especially after so much tragedy.
What does this mean? Unlike other ezines, TRC Magazine’s mission is for writers to engage in meaningful online conversation with readers, and to publish stories that may not always bring in lots of website traffic, but are God’s stories. Stories we publish reflect the diversity of the biblical Christian belief. We are united from different denominations to share Christ with the world and to talk about what it means to live as a Christian. The meeting with our volunteers and intern will need your prayers as we plan our social media strategy.
People will be missing their loved ones this year, and we want to walk with them through that grief.
Volunteers and Interns not to be too busy, too flustered, or weighed down so that they are kept from serving with us.
Pray for our intern who, not only assists in managing the website, writes articles, and learns social media marketing as ministry, but he is a family man with a day job.
Pray for God’s protection on all of us as we serve online.
Pray for some of us to water and some of us to harvest.
Even though my hours have changed, I still get up at 5:30 a.m. to make time to read a chapter in the Bible. My body is already used to rising early after 11 years as a church secretary with Solid Rock Christian Fellowship that continuing this habit wasn’t so difficult. The hours at my former employer were too early for morning devotionals, but my new job allows me an extra half hour Monday through Wednesday that I can get in some quality time with the Lord. In thinking about this, I recall what my friend shared with me the other day.
Her pastor asked her, “What did you learn in your morning devotions?” This challenges her to think about what she is reading in context. I challenge myself the same way. Reading the Bible should not be a check mark on your day, but an immersing experience. It’s quality time with my Father before the day gets crazy. I read the chapter and work all day on focusing on what I read. How can I apply it to myself? What is God trying to teach me this morning? What does it mean? Are there rabbit trails to discover? Sometimes, I’m dead tired from a week that never ends or raising support leaves me barely able to think.
“In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans.The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will. (Romans 8:26-27)”
Spending time with God is more than just a feel-good exercise, but a desire to stay, “…consistent with God’s will.” I love what He is doing in my life, though it can be painful at times. This life has not left me bereft of joy from all the effort, but excited for what God has planned for my future. It does have its challenges, but I know when to rest. I know when to step away and stop doing and just be.
Continue to pray with me as I raise 100% support. My desire is for the church to reawaken from its slumber and become intentional with its social media uses and understand what God is doing in the world with technology.
When I run, all I can hear is the pounding of my feet on the trail nearly in sync with the rhythm of my heart. I feel the heaviness of the sun on my skin and the sweat dripping into my eyes. I do not wear ear buds on the trail for safety reasons so I am aware of every snap of a twig. Running is more than just healthy exercise.
It’s my time with God.
It’s where I wrestle with my emotions; even lament.
She says about Lamenting, “Lament is defined as an expression of grief. As I take a look at Scripture, I see that God seeks out those of us who are in need of him. He meets people with his comfort, and with his peace. So for the purposes of this book, and this movement, we’re defining lament as an expression of grief that God meets us in.”
Samuel Gill, a former worker with WorldVenture and now Life Coach in the Prescott area says this on his blog, “Most of us know that each snowflake has its own unique pattern. But do you know why? Each crystal acquires its unique pattern in its flight from the clouds down to earth. It is the result of a battle. As snow flakes pass through the atmosphere in their flight down to earth they encounter particles of dust and dirt. Thus the beauty of each snow flake is the result of conflict and pain.”
Have you ever pined for something? Have you ever pursued that something in spite of “conflict and pain?” God is the King of patience–the long-suffering kind of patience. It’s about the journey.
The journey is one where Seth Godin says in No Way Out,“The best long-term approach might be to learn something, to tough it out, to engage with the challenge. Because once you get through this, you’ll be different. Better. We always have a choice, but often, it’s a good idea to act as if we don’t.”
When I run, I don’t see the curving trail, hugged by scrub oak and trees. I see my support journey, and the distant mountain peak as the end of one journey to begin another–reaching those online who, unlike Esther Fleece, may not share in the comfort of knowing our Lord.
Thank you, friends and supporters. Your gifts and support are, “…a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. (click here to read full verse).”
Crazy schedules and a lifestyle of doing will wear you out. Creating new habits means starting the week out right. Every Monday and Tuesday of my new job and new schedule, I start out with reading a chapter in the Bible and sitting quietly. I want to listen to what God would tell me rather than fill the silence with my words.
In my mind, it’s not how often you read the Bible, but how you spend quality time reading the Bible. I do deeper study through books and leadership development courses, but something about simply reading the Bible in prayer and listening helps me keep peace. Monday and Tuesdays are my intimate times with the Lord.
How do you spend time learning the Bible and listening to the Lord?
From Sunday, March 26 to Monday, March 27, I will be on a social media fast. On Monday, I will check in online but it will be in the evening. During this time, pray that the Lord will impress on me next steps and that my creativity gets a refresh.
Some prayer requests for this week:
I start my new job on Tuesday.
I attend Solid Rock Christian Fellowship’s week long missions festival starting Thursday.
TRC Magazine publishes on Friday. Pray for me as I continue putting it all together and getting it ready for Friday in spite of my busy schedule.
Newsletters are done differently with me. Others in my position may send out a newsletter monthly or quarterly (even once a year). Every person should read articles on newsletter marketing. With an average of 50% open rate, newsletters shouldn’t be your only form of communication, but it should be sent out frequently in short bursts for various reasons. I segment my newsletters to respect those that only want to hear from me once a month to those that enjoy reading my devotions at weekly.
My newsletters are also a part of my ministry. Newsletters can influence people. It can provide support and prayer. You can encourage or inform someone with your newsletter. Every person who writes a newsletter should learn how to tell stories. Here’s how it works:
My digest newsletter that is sent out on the first day of each month (or that week) gives my prayer requests in brief and also shares the prayer requests from those who have signed up for my newsletter. Links from missed newsletters are also included in case you wish to read them. Upcoming events are shared. This is kept short and to the point.
My weekly newsletters are usually medium length with videos or photos. They are written devotional-style, sharing a story from the field, prayer requests, thoughts from morning devotions, reminders of upcoming events, or challenges I am facing. If you open my newsletters more than once per month, you are automatically put on this list. Mail Chimp has a rating system and auto updates my lists.
For those of you already on the newsletter, your prayer requests are due the last day of the month to be included in the digest newsletter.
Note to churches: If you need to print something for your records, I suggest using the monthly digest as it gives a listing rather than a story of what is happening and upcoming. I also do not post everything online. If you follow me on Facebook or my other social media platforms, they do not give the whole picture or share everything that is happening behind the scenes. For an accurate picture, subscribe here.