Time-strapped people need the timeless

If it seems a million distractions appear when you try to read your Bible, you’re not alone. With all the forms of media, social and otherwise, constantly bombarding our lives, it’s hard to hear what God has to say. And with endless daily chores, it can be difficult to find quality time to focus on His word. But spending time with God in his Word is a necessary activity. And there’s a way to make it work in your schedule.

YouVersion
My gospel coach turned me onto YouVersion when I expressed my struggle to faithfully read my Bible. I began using it, and it quickly hooked me. The best part was having a daily reading available anywhere, one I could accomplish in a short time. The site allows its users to choose from a wide range of reading plans, or select their own.

Other Features
YouVersion gives people around the world online access to the message of God. Here are some of its features:

*Smart Phone Apps so you can read it wherever you use your phone. If you have quiet time on a lunch break, ten minutes before the kids get home from school, or some time on your daily commute (as a passenger preferably), this puts the Word at your fingertips.

*Personalized studies so you can read at your own speed. Even if you choose a pre-arranged plan, you can determine the pace. A click of a button allows you to reset your schedule if you miss a day. This way you don’t feel overwhelmed, like you have to “catch up.” It’s not meant to be a chore or part of a checklist of duties.

*Translation choices to read in your comfort zone. King James, NIV, MSG, and many other versions are available at a click of the button. Want to read in Spanish, Italian, or ancient Greek? You can do that too.

*Accountability/study partners allow you to share the experience. Link up with a friend and connect through the Word. Build community through your reading.

Check it Out: YouVersion.com
If you’re like me, an easy-access interactive Bible site is a God-send. It does what my pastor always says Christians are supposed to do: point the way and clear the path. But best of all, it allows me to quiet my mind and soul so I can read the Word in a wordy world.

In His name

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Make Me Happy, Mr. President

Don’t let the title fool you. This is not a post about politics. Instead, it’s about happiness and our struggle to find it through others.

Popular culture tells us that if we just find the right romantic counterpart, get the right boss, or hang with the right people, we will be happy. Read enough Nicholas Sparks and you’ll think life begins and ends with that one true someone (sorry, Nick).

Another common ideology says that our elected representatives will make us happy – if they’d just do what we want. The obvious problem with this is we don’t all want the same things. And what we do commonly want, we want in differing degrees.

The reason all of these ideas fail, though, is because they all hinge on other people acting in ways that please us. In a self-seeking culture where serving others is secondary (and that’s being generous), happiness is elusive.

For Christians, the Biblical Worldview solves this dilemma. This is not to say that Christians do not struggle with happiness. By all means, they do. But what so many lack to find in others, Christians find through a personal relationship with Christ.

And anyways Christians are not called to be happy. They are called to be joyful. To some this might seem like semantics, but there is a difference between the two. Happiness is a mood, one that changes and fluctuates depending on the situation. Joy, however, is a lifestyle, one that comes from knowing, without a doubt, you are loved by the Creator of all things… and that no matter what you do, He’ll never love you less.

Understanding this difference and realizing that joy only comes from its creator will color the way you see the world. It’s why neither the political maneuverings of left and right, the fluctuations of the stock market, or the annoying foibles of friends and family can sway joy.

I, for one, am not always happy. I’m a teacher (insert laugh track). But I do have joy. And when joy begets joy, there’s no telling what can happen.

So the next time I’m feeling less than happy, whether it’s because a politician wants to change a program I want, or a financial institution does something idiotic with my money, I can be secure in knowing my joy doesn’t depend on anyone. It only depends on The One – and He never changes.

In His name

Guilty Pleasures

I recently saw a show on the positive benefits of guilty pleasures – you know, those secret enjoyments that you are too embarrassed to share with others. It got me thinking about some of mine and I thought it would be fun to open up and share. Here are my Top 5 in no particular order:

1. Fruit snacks (Sadly, the only connection many of these candies have with real fruit is their shape. I have taken heat at professional lunch tables for carrying them, often next to my Snack Pack, PBJ, and juice box. I have shared too much…)

2. Rugby (I don’t understand the rules, but any time grown men smash each other without pads for an hour then shake hands at the end, I’m a fan. Plus, just say the word “scrum” and try not to smile. If you can, try doing it while eating a sucker.)

3. $0.99 Pizzas (Found in the freezer section of your local grocer, they were the staple food of my bachelorhood. It’s also the reason I could pay all of my school loans while maintaining my girlish figure.)

4. Comic books (Nerdy, maybe, but for any story lover, they are a gateway drug to the world of literature. I highly recommend them to kids and adults alike. I do not, however, promote gateway drugs.)

5. Horror movies (C’mon! It’s like a 2 hour roller coaster you can’t get off – unless the track is broken!!!)

6. Bonus! Harry Potter (Just kidding. I added this to mess with my wife, who loves it, bless her heart…)

Have some of your own guilty pleasures? Share, and get it off your chest.

In His name

Break my heart for what breaks Yours

If you don’t know what’s happening in Somalia and its surrounding areas, check out http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43841708/ns/nightly_news/. To help these starving people I am taking an opportunity to use what small sway I have in my sphere of influence. What I am asking is that if you read this, and what you see touches your heart, say a prayer AND act out your compassion in a tangible way. Choose one of the organizations listed or another of your choosing and help out.

It would be awesome to see those of us who have much raise up people who have nothing. You don’t need to post the amount of your donation, the organization, or anything else. Simply state your intention or pass the message of need around.

“Whatever you did for one the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” –Matt 25:40

Sometimes the most powerful prayers come when you open your hands.

In His name