How would you rate your spiritual health? Today, I’m continuing the series, Life is too valuable to merely be a spectator, shape up and become a participant. We’re looking at the S in SHAPE. I’m certain I will not be sharing anything new. However, maybe a new context will somehow inspire and motivate.
S SPIRITUALLY Growing in Your Relationship with God
I am a rule follower and enjoy having accountability. The drawback to this is that as a young mom of little ones, I was placing unrealistic expectations on myself. Well meaning gals would share how they felt a quiet time should look like and I tried to emulate them unsuccessfully. I sought the perfect place and time to have time alone with God, which if you have toddlers running around you know how you are often in survival mode. So dear friend, be gentle and realistic. Evaluate which season of life you are currently in as it will impact your spiritual depth and reach. Learn to be creative and how to best connect with God. Remember how much time you had when you were single or newly married compared to now with toddlers demanding your attention? I have a lot more time in my new season of life as I no longer am homeschooling, and my youngest is in high school for eight or more hours a day. Your goal is to figure out how best to consistently connect with God BECAUSE as my friend Sally Clarkson said….
Intimate relationships require dedicated time spent together. There are many voices daily competing for our attention. Peace, direction and hope come when we live for an audience of one. Making God’s Word your authority in every area is vital for defending against the many spiritual attacks we will experience as Christians.
Ways to Shape Up Spiritually and Grow Your Relationship with God
- Spend time with God. READ and LISTEN to His word. It can be a verse, a chapter, a book of the Bible, or a topical reading plan. My reading plans change almost yearly as I enjoy trying different approaches. Do you have a Bible? Some of you reading might be asking how do I choose the right bible? I understand, and my friend Elisa Pulliam has a wonderful resource to help you discern how to choose a Bible.
- Have you discovered YouVersion? I am not recommending you replace your faithful Bible with a Bible app. However, there is a convenience to having your bible on your phone since we never leave home without it. Numerous times when I find myself waiting, I pull out my phone and begin to reading the Bible or one of various plans or to listen while driving as I always seem to be in the car these days. I was convicted recently by my friend Elisa who once was asked, “When are you going to get God off your to-do list and start having a real relationship with Him?” After all, I don’t think to myself, “I need to spend time today with my husband or children.” We spend time with those who are a priority. I want God to be my priority. Last month while going through a book study with a group of women someone shared that she does not allow herself to get on Facebook until she has had time reading God’s word. How have you made reading God’s word a priority? Any tidbits to share with other readers?
- Journal the insights gleaned while studying your Bible. I’ve used the R.E.A.P. wmethod which was introduced by Matt Carter, the teaching pastor at Austin Stone Community Chuch. Other methods include S.O.A.P. , S.O.A.K., and Inductive Bible Study figure out which method works best for your learning style and go for it. Do you already have a favorite study method that inspires you?
- Listen to worship music, podcasts, and more. We are instructed in Philippians 4:8 to focus on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if any excellence and if any worthy of praise–think on these things. While driving, walking, working around the house, or when going to sleep I listen to anything that exudes peace and goodness.
- Meditate on what you read or the truth you hear. Quite your mind and ask Holy Spirit for His perspective and direction. Write down and memorize scriptures by placing them around your home or car on post-it notes.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Practicing gratitude is the easiest, fastest way to becoming happier and thus more spiritual. I have started the practice of writing down several things nightly I am grateful for. Someone said, “It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.” and Brice Wilkinson said, “A moment of gratitude makes a difference in your attitude.”
- Implement family devotions. As a young mom I relished family devotions as they were a way to refuel spiritually and make spiritual deposits into my children’s lives. Ten of my family’s favorites include:
- Our 24 Family Ways: A Family Devotional Guide.
- Big Thoughts for Little People
- Wise Words for Little People
- The One Year Mother-Daughter Devo
- Life Lessons from the Princess and the Kiss (girls) and The Squire and the Scroll (boys)
- Josh McDowell One Year Youth Devotional
- Big Truths for Little Kids: Teaching Your Children to Live for God
- The Child’s Story Bible
- Training Heart, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism
- Day by Day Kids Bible: The Bible for Young Readers
- Find accountability. Personally, I thrive with accountability as I’ve realized that I am not alone in my struggles. Thus far this year I have read five books because I have others holding me accountable whether in person or on-line (Meet the New You, The Lifegiving Home, Daring Greatly, The Root of Rejection and Anxious to Please). So may I suggest finding someone to hold you accountable? Maybe a friend, a church bible study, an on-line course, or consider hosting a group study in your home. It’s been said that accountability is actions towards or involving others that reflect the integrity of the person you want to be. So who do you want to be like?
- Pray “Lord, teach us to pray.” –Luke 11:1 Prayer is the inspiring experience of conversing with, and praising God as our loving, gracious heavenly Father. It doesn’t matter how we pray but that we pray.
I hope this has been helpful. Remember it’s not merely the method used, rather you are looking for the consistency and what best works for your current season of life. It’s drawing closer to Papa who dearly loves you and has created you.