My Addiction

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering” (Romans 12:1, MSG).

I love routine.

I plod around my house each morning with my eyes barely open, doing the same tasks I did the day before. I follow a schedule day by day, week by week with shopping days, volunteering days, writing days, cleaning days, and such.

Each night, I drink a cup of hot tea in one of my favorite mugs before I go to bed.  Every night.  Summer, winter, makes no difference.

So, a few weeks ago when my whole schedule was off and it was far too late for a reasonable cup of tea before I climbed into bed, I felt a little shaky and definitely a little off.  I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t settle in under the covers and turn out the light without at least a few sips from my teacup.

It’s not that I’m a tea addict.  I’m a routine addict.

It was late.  It was silly and ludicrous. I should have just plopped my head on the pillow and been done with it, but instead I stayed up an extra 15 minutes so I could sip at my tea just like I do every night.  It was wonderful, peaceful, calming, just right.

Given my love for the routine of daily life, I was not at all surprised when my six-year-old brought me a neon orange paper that read (and I quote):

Lauren:
eat Breckfest
Brush teeth
Go to school
Play Victoria’s games
Play hide and seek
eat lunch
watch TV
take a Nap
eat Dinnr.
Brush teeth
Go to bed

The basic reality of daily life, of routine, and of the mundane is that we all live it in some way or another—me in my adult world, my daughter in her child world.  We commute to work.  We go to school.  We walk the dog.  We make phone calls.  We volunteer.  We give baths and make dinners.  We run errands.  We clock in; we clock out.

What I love about the resurrection appearances of Jesus is that He surprised the disciples by inviting Himself into their daily routine.  Sure He appeared to them in the upper room, where they were gathered for worship and prayer. That’s to be expected.

But then He did something totally different.  He showed up on the side of the Sea of Galilee and watched them wrestle with fishing nets and bring nothing up from the water.

He went to work with them.

Early in the morning, maybe as the first flickers of sunlight skipped over the Galilean waters, Jesus called out to his tired friends.  They didn’t recognize his voice; he was just some curious bystander sticking his nose into their own personal business, giving them instructions as if He knew more about fishing than they did—a bunch of expert fisherman.

He told them to “‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish” (John 21:6).

That’s when they recognized the Lord.

In A Year With Jesus, Eugene Peterson wrote:

“Work that was futile apart from Christ becomes successful in His presence . .. Your resurrection life, Lord Jesus, is like a sunrise in work that has lost meaning and in routines that have become pointless.  Whatever my work today, I will do it in the recognition of Your presence and under Your command” (p. 594).

and

“The resurrection transforms Monday work as much as Sunday worship” (p. 596).

Jesus made it clear in those 40 days following His resurrection that He wasn’t just looking to be part of our sacred lives and in the religious moments we schedule on the calendar.  He wanted us to live with a curious mesh and entwining of sacred and secular, where He’s with us during every part of our day.

He sets our routine.  He is our routine.  He shakes up our routine.  He designs our routine. He redesigns our routine.

You’d think we fairly intelligent people could get by on our own living out our daily lives.  But, I’ve decided that I can’t and I’m okay with that.

That’s why you’ll find me in the Wal-Mart parking lot once a week with my head bent low in the few minutes before I exit my car.  It’s because I’m a mess on my own—making stupid decisions about what to buy and what not to buy, forgetting what I need, falling for advertising gimmicks and sales tricks, traveling back and forth across the whole store because I forgot something on my list, making a list and then leaving it in my car or at home, trying to use outdated coupons and failing to use perfectly good coupons that I spent perfectly good time cutting out.

Why should God care about my budget and my meal plan for the week and for the items on my list and my own personal sanity?  Because He loves me, that’s why.  Because the grocery store is where I lay out my nets and hope for an abundance of fish.

You have your own Galilean place, where Jesus is trying to invite Himself and where He’s waiting to give you input and advice.   Perhaps it’s the routine that makes you feel so comfortable and that you think you can handle all on your own.  Perhaps it’s the place you feel most capable and expert.  Maybe it’s a place where you experience failure and emptiness.

You haven’t seen abundance until you’ve felt the blessing of His presence in the midst of your routine.  It’s time to invite Him into the boat with you.

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This, Part II

If you’ve been traveling with me on this devotional for journey for any amount of time, you’d know that I love God, my husband, my daughters, hot tea with lots of sugar, chocolate, and quiet times at my kitchen table.

This week started rough (but is getting better all the time!!), and two cups of strong, sweet, hot tea and several mini chocolate bars weren’t helping me through the day.  Despite repeated attempts to have the kind of quiet time with God I really enjoy, that wasn’t happening either.  I was interrupted or cut short on time or distracted or just incapable of understanding the words I read off the page (read paragraph, reread paragraph, sigh, drink tea, read paragraph again).

What I longed for was a God-encounter.  I was so thirsty for Him in the midst of stress and noise and I desperately held my cup out for Him to fill at the fountain of Living Water.  This time with Him that I adore and that helps me through my everyday seemed so elusive and unfulfilling, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.  It wasn’t until I stopped attempting to separate my time with God and simply sought Him as I traveled along that I felt His presence and heard the lessons He was sharing.

You can read Lesson 1: My Feelings Can’t Be the Boss of Me here.

Lesson 2: Worship God, Not The Habit

Jesus told His disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).  He called them to the discipline of aloneness, quietness before God, spiritual retreating from the crowds and activity to spend focused time one-on-one with God.  Those are sacred times of purposeful seeking God’s face.

I have high expectations for those moments with my Savior and that is precious time to me, time that I guard fiercely.  That’s no easy task when you have young kids and a telephone and email and a to-do list!  Yet, it’s a battle worth waging in order to see Him, hear Him, feel Him, know Him.

Yesterday, though, I kept traveling to my kitchen table and pulling out my Bible and journal, my Bible study book, my devotionals and then sipping my cup of tea, but still walking away unfilled.  My cup was held out.  I had traveled to the Fountain.  I remained thirsty.  My cup did not overflow.

This week, I read in My Utmost for His Highest: “Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes.  We say, ‘I can’t do that right now; this is my time alone with God.’  No, this is your time alone with your habit . . . The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere.”

As I drove around town yesterday, frazzled and tired, that quote was prodding my heart and mind.  Oswald Chambers wasn’t advocating not spending time alone with God.  He wasn’t saying, “Forget trying to read your Bible and pray; it’s not important.”  It is important.  That time is necessary and life-giving.

Yet, it is also not a vending machine where I make an investment in time and pay the required amount (quiet time, study materials, journal, tea) and receive in return treats and goodies (peace, feeling close to God, receiving inspiration, having something great to write in my journal).  There’s that danger, always the danger, of making a god of something other than God.  I can worship the time I spend with God or I can worship God Himself.  The distinction is so fine, but also so necessary.

Jacob traveled to the same place twice in His journeys and met God there in powerful ways through visions and dreams and conversations with the Almighty Himself.  The first time, Jacob fled from His family home in order to avoid the homicidal wrath of his brother, Esau.  In the night, after a divine dream, Jacob “called the name of that place Bethel” or House of God.

Jacob returned to Bethel years later, after marrying and having children, having his named changed by God, traveling home to Canaan, reconciling with his brother, and settling again in the family land.  This time, though, “he built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him when he fled from his brother” (Genesis 35:17). El-bethel means God of the House of God.

Did you notice the slight difference?

The first time, Jacob focused on the place, the things, the experience.  The second time, after years of experience and maturing, Jacob focused on God Himself.  Beth Moore in The Patriarchs wrote that sometimes we are tempted to “love loving God more than we actually love God.”

We love small group, Sunday School, the songs at church, the Christian radio station,  a devotional, our quiet times, a particular author that challenges us . . .  but are we followers of a Christian lifestyle or followers of Christ?  Do we love books by Christian authors more than we love the Bible?  Do we love our spiritual routines or the God those routines  are supposed to reveal to us?  Do we love the feeling of being close to God or God and God alone?

There are these life moments when God shakes us up in all of our comfort and complacency and takes away even something good for a time, so that we can worship God and not a spiritual habit.  He longs to meet with us during our quiet times and in our prayer closets.  He fills us up as we open up The Word and copy verses into our journals.

But, He’s there with us at the kitchen sink, too, willing to speak to our hearts as we wash the dishes.  He’s with us as we rock the baby in the night and while we pop on the chauffeur’s hat and hop into the minivan to drive children to activities all over town.  The distinction between a mundane task and a sacred moment is whether we’re listening to Him while performing it.  We should set aside focused time for our relationship with God, and yet we shouldn’t allow it to become formulaic or predictable, nor should it be a compartmentalized part of our life that fails to spill over into our chores and family life.  If we do, God will likely stir our hearts and mess with our plans—all to recenter our hearts on Him alone.

Are you hungry for a worshipful moment, just the simplicity of seeking after Him?  I’ve been singing along with Kathryn Scott the past few days and it’s lifting my heart!  I hope you spend some moments worshiping with her, too.


I’ve also added a page called Singing in My Car that has links to the songs I mention in the blog.  Check out the page and maybe find some songs that encourage you today!

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

One Heart and Mind

Today, I’d love to hear from you!  At the end of today’s post, I’ll have a question for you.  I hope to hear your thoughts!!

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“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name”
Psalm 86:11

Multitasking is my spiritual gift.  Somehow the Apostle Paul left that off of his lists in Romans, Corinthians and Ephesians.  Even if it didn’t make the Biblical list, some of you share this gifting with me.  You mop the floor, do laundry, type emails, care for children, talk on the phone and make dinner all at the same time.  What can we say?  It’s a talent.

Usually my multitasking works quite well for me and truthfully I am sometimes bored when I am simply keeping one ball up in the air instead of juggling several.  But there are those moments, I’ll confess, when I open my pantry cabinet to find that I accidentally put the frozen broccoli away there and when I open up the freezer, there are the spaghetti noodles.  It’s a sure sign that I have too much going on and things are starting to fall apart.

Multitasking may work for me (most of the time) as I clean my house or plunge through my to-do list each day and yet its a choking hand of death on my quiet times with God.  This morning I sat at my kitchen table, my place for meeting with God every day.  My Bible was open and ready, my journal and pen set to the side waiting to be used.  My cup of tea was steaming hot, strong and sweet.  Everything I needed to spend some focused time with my Savior was at my fingertips.  Everything was prepared—-except my heart.

I was distracted.  Distracted a little by projects and to-do lists, the phone and the emails left unanswered.  Distracted by my children asking and asking for help.  Distracted a little by frustrations and situations needing to be handled.  My thoughts drifted to all of those things as I read the words on my Bible’s open page.  Words that normally hold power and relevance for me, the living and active Word of God, now made dull by a scattered heart and an unfocused mind.

Not wanting to give up, I prayed over Psalm 86:11.

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (NIV)

and in the Message:

“Train me, God, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path.  Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear” (MSG).

I prayed, “Lord, create in me an undivided heart.  Put me together, one heart and mind—wholly focused on you.  There are so many things vying for my attention, captivating my heart, stirring up my emotions, and setting my thoughts wild.  Please fill me and focus me so that You alone are my heart’s desire.”

It’s not a magic formula, a mystical incantation that somehow brought clarity out of chaos.  No, it was a confession of desire.  A request for God’s strength in my weakness.  I am a forgetful and distracted creature, and I need the help of my God to cut through the clutter and noise so that I can pay wholehearted attention to Him.  That’s why David writes this verse as a petition to God.  He knew He needed heavenly help also.  He asks for God to “give” Him an undivided heart or, as the message says, to “put him together” so that he can be receptive vessel, prepared to hear and receive God’s teaching and training.  David knew He couldn’t achieve an undivided heart on His own.

And yet, I didn’t just pray this prayer and then sit down to the best quiet time ever, full of revelation and inspiration.  It took effort on my part to reject and discard the jumble of thoughts that kept popping into my mind.  I had to stand guard over my heart and not allow it to take my focus off God’s Word.  When I suddenly remembered an item for my to-do list, I jotted it down on a piece of paper and returned to Scripture.  When I started rehashing what was frustrating and upsetting me, I cut off my thoughts and whispered a quick prayer that God would take care of that situation.  And I returned to Scripture.

It was work, but it was worth it. Paul prayed for the Thessalonian church, “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.  May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).  By asking God to give me an undivided heart, I was making a similar petition.  I was allowing Him to sanctify me (make me holy) through and through—spirit, soul, and body—and this brings me peace straight from the God of peace.

Now, it’s your turn:

Do you ever struggle with distractions or having a “divided heart?”  Do you have any tips to share on how you focus your attention on your Bible reading or in your prayers?  What about verses that help you out? I hope you join the conversation!  You can post a comment here or on Facebook.

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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King