I am a bit of a conference junkie. Something about sitting in a room of people who have prioritized breaking from routine to learn more about Jesus, fires me up. I love it. This weekend I am attending a conference in Irving, Texas.
This weekend I will hear from a number of women’s authors and speakers, and I’m passing it on to you! You don’t have to buy the gas to get here, find childcare, or miss out on your weekend plans, I’ll do that for you!
“Getting Focused, Becoming Fruitful”
by Alice McQuitty (Women’s Bible teacher @ Irving Bible Church)
Alice opened the session by asking us to consider if we ever end up at the “right” destination when we don’t plan the route we are going to take. I tend to be married to my smartphone gps, so I can vouch for the importance of routing.
Without a plan, our busy lives can run out of time for Jesus. Our hearts dry up and become rocky, like the thorny ground in Mark 4.
“...The ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” -Mark 4:16-19 ESV
No one wants to be the rocky soil, but it’s so easy to forget the words that we hear on Sunday morning and the words we read from a devotional at six a.m. So how do we stop this ridiculousness and cultivate fertile soil?
- We focus all our energies on what lies ahead. (Phil. 3:13) - We need to see the goal of knowing Christ more, the prize at the end (crown of righteousness, crown of glory, crown of life), and develop a strategy to get there.
- We know Christ more through strategic discipline. (Uh-oh, I used the D-word. Don’t tune out, stick with me.) “Discipline” comes from the root word, “disciple” and we are to be disciples of Christ. We learn how to be more like him, by spending time with him, learning about who He is. (1 Timothy 4:7)
- Forget what lies behind. (Philippians 3:13) - We don’t dwell on our past sinfulness or our merits. We cling to the grace we’ve received through Christ and walk toward the goals that are set before us for today.
- Let go of the weights. - We must identify, through the Holy Spirit, those sins that are keeping us from running the race set before us. Lay them down. Is it guilt, a spirit of un-forgiveness, low self-esteem, comparison, worry, doubt, or bitterness? Focus only on Jesus and throw aside any competing weight.
- Make room for Jesus. -Did you know “quiet time” can be traced back all the way to the ancient days? Of course they didn’t call it that, but it descends from the discipline of “solitude and silence.”
“Solitude is a place and time that is set apart for God and God alone, a time when we unplug, a place inside myself where God’s spirit and my spirit dwell together in union.” - Ruth Haley Barton
Alice wrapped up her talk by encouraging us to find time to spend before the Lord, in solitude and thankfulness. She used the lovely Susanna Wesley as an example; a homeschooling mother of 10 (one of which was John Wesley), was said to have hidden under her apron at stressful times of life to signal to her children that she was praying. *I myself have at least three aprons that will be making their debut next week!
Whether you find the Lord under your apron, by a lit candle in a cozy chair, or in the car with screaming children, find Him because you’re looking for him. The ancient Jews went to the temple three times a day, together, to pray and re-center. I’m not seeing three daily trips to church in my near future, but I am considering an iPod alarm that i’ll set to remind the kids and I to take a knee and ask for God’s help throughout the day.
This session challenged me to meet with Jesus the way I meet with friends for coffee; out of excitement, by appointment, and careful to arrive on time with my full attention.
Do you have any great ideas that have worked for you or your family?