Monday 2 September 2013

Organising your Spiritual Life {Blog Hop Week}

Welcome to Day 1 of our blog hop!  It is my joy to have this event happening, and my prayer is that many ladies will be encouraged and inspired by the posts shared by us all this week. 

God is a God of order.   The Bible tells us so.  We see it in creation.  We see it in the world around us.  DISorder is a result of sin. Sin brought chaos into this world, and it's the direction our hearts tend towards. We all have a tendency towards disorder in some shape or form.  Yes, there are those rare people who seem to have it all together, and have a nature which inclines towards being permanently organised.  I know very few of them, and most people I know will bemoan the fact that, try as they might, being organised is a struggle.

It's because we are sinners. And, ALL being sinners, we all struggle.

I am not saying it's a SIN to be disorganised, but it's our sinful natures which cause us to procrastiante, be lazy, selfish, or too preoccupied with the wrong things, to keep on top of life.  It's why it's a struggle!!

THAT is why I came to this topic as the first one.  If we can't get a semblance of organisation in our SPIRITUAL life, then we are truly going to struggle with all the other areas.  If our hearts have a desire to honour the Lord in all that we do, we will have a desire to be organised, and keep our lives running as smoothly as is within our power.

I wamt to first of all share some Bible verses, which should be the spiritual motivation for wanting to be organised, before going onto what I consider important, in organising my spiritual life. 

One of the most challenging verses, regarding all that we do as wives and mothers, is this.

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 
I Corinthians 10:31

Now, I am not one for taking verses out of context, so I will first of all acknowledge that this verse comes in a passage which teaches us about Christian liberty, particularly in regard to what you can and cannot eat. The first part of the verse alludes to that, but it then carries on to say WHATSOEVER YE DO.  We are are to do ALL to the glory of God.  If I divert slightly, it does remind us that the whole topic of being organised is not one in which any of us can be legalistic!! There are no scriptural LAWS or RULES about how to organise your life, how you should clean your house, or do your laundry. Anyone that tries to tell you that there way is right, and makes you feel bad for not having the same standards, is plain WRONG! I know people like that.  They try and tell you that you should have the same priorities as them, and attempt to make you feel like some kind of sinner because you don't dust every day like they do, or clean around your windows once a week. This is certainly NOT what WE are trying to do.  We are trying to share ideas, suggestions and to say what WE find helpful, in the hope that it may help another.

What we DO need to grasp, from this verse, is the SPIRIT of it.  Whatever we do, and however we do it, our motivation should be that we should be trying to glorify GOD.  Not to make ourselves look like the perfect housekeeper.  Not to pridefully be better than anyone else.  Not even to please our husband (although, that's certainly not a bad motivation!).  We should be doing everything for GOD.  To please HIM.  That means, if we have a trying week, where God allows certain circumstances to come our way, that prevent us from doing all the jobs we would have liked, or that throws our normal organisation out of the window, so long as we know that we are still glorifying God in all we do, in the midst of it all, THAT is what counts.

I can tell you about a week like that.

Suppose there was a woman who decided to host a blog hop about organisation.  Suppose it turns out that she goes away to a Bible conference, and there is some refit work being done in her home whilst she is away, which she is expecting to be finished when she gets back, or certainly soon after.  SUPPOSE she gets back to find it's NOT finished, and it won't be, until the blog hop is in full swing, or maybe even AFTER it's finished.  Suppose she has ended up trying to do a lot of cleaning and tidying, and general catching up from being away, and she isn't even ORGANISED enough to have begun her blog posts sooner than 2 days before they are due to start going out.  SUPPOSE she was supposed to get pictures done relating to her blog posts, in those days when she got back, and her house is too messy to get those pictures done.


Well, suppose that in the midst of it all, she can still glorify God, by keeping on doing what she can, and making sure her family is cared for, fed and clean clothes on their back.  Suppose she even ends up slightly delaying her start-back date for school, so that she CAN keep glorifying God, and not get stressed and bogged down by things that are not done when she thought.

Ladies, this is the first spiritual organisation we need.  KEEP GLORIFYING GOD, in ALL that you do.

If we start to get stressed, tired, grumpy, irritable and wazzed up, we are NOT doing it to His glory.  It doesn't help us, it doesn't help our family, and it doesn't glorify God, if we are so busy trying to do X, Y and Z, that we are losing the plot.  Go with the flow.  Accept that things are not always the way you want them to be, and keep glorifying God.

That brings me onto my second mantra.

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;"
Ecclesiastes 9:10

So long as we are doing whatever we do, with all the effort we can muster, then we are doing well. 
No half-heartedness.  No procrastination.  No reluctance or reticence. 

Just, doing our best.

THAT'S what counts.

What is "our best" for one, may not be "best" for another.  We need to search our own hearts, and look to our own set of circumstances, and gauge what our "best" is.  Right now, I know that I have the physical limitations of pregnancy.  I have to adapt how I organise and implement a routine, in order to cope with the demands that pregnancy places on my body.  Yes, I could keep going at a crazy pelt, but I'd soon burn out, or come to physical harm, in the process. I need to still be able to nurture and care for my family, so "my might" is somewhat less right now! 

Right, I am getting hugely side-tracked, and I want to still tell you about how I organise my spiritual life. But, those two verses I consider to be important, so I felt that was the best place to start!

How, then, do *I* organise my spiritual life.

There could be many ways to legitimately define one's "spiritual life", but I am going to break it down into just 3 areas, for the purposes of this blog post.  Most of the emphasis will be on the first, but I will touch briefly on 2 and 3.

1) My quiet time
2) Our family worship
3) Church life

The first two are areas which the scriptures do not give specific COMMANDS about.  There are verses that give us guidance, but there is no right or wrong way to go about it.

Let's start with,

1) My Quiet Time
This is an area which is going to look quite different for each person.  I think it's something that is good and right to have.  I think there is a scriptural principle to make the reading and studying of God's Word, and a prayer life, quite clearly important.

The Psalms, particularly, are filled with references to prayer, meditation and the primacy of God's Word. You read through, and you will find numerous references to these subjects.  We can think of many examples of people praying, and how God answers prayer. People praying everywhere from captivity, to the temple, to a "closet". Prayers whilst busy working, praying at set times, praying aloud, praying silently, praying alone, praying with others.  We can find of varied references to the meditation upon God's Word, and the reading of it - of hiding it in our hearts.

None of this can be part of our life, if we don't commit to DOING it!  We MUST read our Bibles.  We MUST pray.  If we don't we are never going to get the rest of our life the way it needs to be.  Having a close walk with God is the key to success in every other area.

My quiet time has changed format, as I have gone through different seasons of life. I have had my "quiet time" in the evenings.  Then, I started to struggle with staying awake, so I tried to change to the morning.  Then, I was struggling with children waking before me, so I tried to make time in the day.  With small children, that was nearly impossible, so I came to the conclusion that I needed to organise my sleep and waking life, and get up earlier!! I cannot begin to tell you how much of a blessing that has been.  I am not going to tell you that you must do the same, because I know there are some with children who waken earlier than they could think of getting up, because they cannot get to bed any earlier due to husband/family commitments. That's fine. But, for those who COULD try, TRY IT!! It will take you several weeks of keeping at it, and gradually changing your waking time, little by little, but you will eventually find that your body adjusts.  Then, oh the joy of waking to a peaceful house, and meeting with God before you meet with the world. Such a sweet time that can be.  Tucking your feet underneath you on your favourite chair.  Steaming mug of your favourite wake-up beverage (or, perhaps ice-cold drink??) to hand.  Bible at the ready.  Just you, and God.  Bliss.

As my time of day to have my quiet time has changed, so has my actual format of WHAT I do.  It has ALWAYS involved reading my Bible! Of course! I do know some who only read a devotional, but I personally consider that as an extra, not as the main part. Scriptures, first and foremost, should be the centrality of our time spent with God, alongside prayer. Not just reading someone else's thoughts on a verse, but pondering it for ourselves, and searching out what God wants us to learn from it. 

I have gone through using devotionals as the springboard, and then reading the entire chapter that perhaps goes along with a verse contained in that day's reading. I found that to be ok, but not very methodical.  Then, I tried using a one-year Bible.  I found that a bit soul-destroying, as I ended up getting so far behind, and so mixed up with where I was (which was SO not on the day that I was actually living in!!....), that I kind of gave up. OOPS. I then found my Good Morning Girls group.  It was SUCH a blessing, and really got me back into the habit of getting up and having my daily quiet time. The study was good, and it particularly helped me get a method of HOW to study a scripture passage.  I began using the SOAP method.  You write out verses of SCRIPTURE (S), then your jot down an OBSERVATION (O), then and APPLICATION (A) then you PRAY over it (P).  It's a simple, yet effective, way to actually STUDY what you read, and not simply gloss over it mechanically. It's amazing what you can find, when  you ask the Lord to open you eyes and apply His Word to your heart!  I began using notebooks to keep a note of what I was learning, which was particularly good with GMG, when we went through a portion over a period of weeks, such as the book of James. And, any excuse to buy a pretty notebook, and I am straight on it! (I belong to the "I-am-addicted-to-buying-pretty-notebooks anonymous" group.... ) When the GMG group started more into studying through devotional type books, I stepped back a bit, realising I wanted to just stick to spending my quiet time digging into God's Word on its own. I love reading devotional books in my spare time (when I find some!), but not as my main source of daily, spiritual Manna. 

So, I went back to trying to find a "read your Bible through in a year" system. I googled, and I got this title as a hit....

"Read your Bible through in a year, for shirkers and slackers"

HA! That was ME!!!


Just trying to "keep it real", in the words of my esteemed friend, Heidi.....

If you want to read a full review of how it works, read it here, but it basically runs like this.

Sunday: The books of poetry
Monday: The Pentateuch
Tuesday: O.T. history
Wednesday: O.T. history (There is a lot of it.)
Thursday: O.T. prophets
Friday: N.T. history

Saturday: N.T. epistles

It's not tied to specific dates, just broken down into chunks of about 4 chapters per day, from the Biblical section for that day.  It's great, because you know you will be reading the books of Moses every Monday, or the epistles on a Saturday.  If you fall behind, you just pick up at the next portion you are supposed to be reading, with no gaps, or pressure to "catch up", because you have missed your "day's" assignment.  It's going to take me more than a year, but I know I can get through the whole Bible!! I am loving it, and finding precious truths on the way through, that I had never picked up on before.

It works for ME.  If you think it may work for you, then give it a whirl.

Whatever you do, READ YOUR BIBLE!!  The lady, in my link above, gives a great quote from John Stott.

Christians who neglect the Bible simply do not mature. When Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy to the effect that human beings do not live by bread only but by God’s Word, he was asserting that the Word of God is just as necessary for spiritual health as food is for bodily health. I am not now thinking of remote Christian tribes people into whose language the Bible has not yet been translated, nor of illiterate people... I am thinking rather about ourselves. Our problem is not that the Bible is unavailable to us, but that we do not take advantage of its availability. We need to read and meditate on it daily, to study it in a fellowship group and to hear it expounded during Sunday Worship. Otherwise we shall not grow. Growth into maturity in Christ depends upon a close acquaintance with, and a believing response to, the Bible.

[Source: God’s Book For God’s People, John Stott, IVP p. 76]

Oh, such a challenge, and so true!

Now, prayer time, in my "quiet time", is something I plan to organise better. I have tried several different ways of keeping track of prayer requests, and praises.  Of trying to methodically pray for various people.  I have some semblance of organisation - I pray for my husband, and each of my children.  I pray for my wider family.  I pray for my friends.  I would love, however, a better way of keeping track of prayer requests I hear from others, and following through on seeing the outcome of such requests. Seeing prayer answered, because I have noted it down, and followed it through.  I am sure that I can find some system, and it's on my to-do list to find one, or create one!

So, if any of you have a great system, PLEASE share it in the linkie facility below!! You may inspire many with your great idea!

Let me also mention, just now, about Pinterest.  I have found it to be a great place to store ideas, on various topics, and to find great ideas, of course. If you have something relevant to this week's blog hop, that you have a board or a pin on Pinterest about, please share it, too! you can find me on Pinterest, here. (Note to self - put a "follow me on Pinterest" button onto your blog....)

So, that's a quick overview of my current quiet time!  I waken before my children, read my chapters for the day, take a note of what has jumped out at me, prayer about it, and pray for those the Lord lays on my heart.

Could it better?  ALWAYS! 

Onto points 2) and 3), quickly!

2) Family Worship

Now, this is something that I just think you can NOT be legalistic about.  Undoubtedly, there is instruction in scripture about teaching our children about the Lord, and His Word.  HOW we should do that is not prescribed.  Family Worship is good, in fact it is often excellent, but not a COMMAND, as such.  

We have a formal time of Family Worship, to start every school day.  Robert reads from God's Word, teaches us something from it, we sing together, and he prays.  It's a great way to start our school day, and we didn't always do it.  We have used various Bible tools.  "Leading Little Ones to God", and "Our 24 Family Ways" are 2 that spring to mind.  Another memorable one was Robert reading through the book of Proverbs!!! He REALLY brought that alive, and used many object lessons which I believe will stick with the children for years! (They have certainly stuck with me!!)  It was so good, that I hope he does it again, perhaps when the younger ones are bigger to appreciate it a bit more, and the older ones could do with a review! We are hoping to begin using Heidi and Jay St Johns "Firmly Planted" studies, in the coming months, and possibly tying them in with Family Worship, as well as in the rest of our school studies. They are doing an introductory offer on their set on the Gospels (Volume 3), PLUS, it's a download!! So, go and have a look at that, on their website! (see my link above...) 

In the evenings, before the children go to bed, we "sing and pray".  Robert will usually bring some spiritual application to end our day, as well, but it's our main singing time.  We LOVE to sing!!! We just sing choruses and verses of hymns from memory.  We all have our favourites, and the children learn them from a  young age. Robert regularly will remind the children of what it says in Psalm 92:1

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:"

It is GOOD to sing praises to God!! 

If you don't already have singing as part of your normal family routine, try and begin! It's a joy and blessing to sing praises to God, together as a family.  It can also be a great way to learn scripture, because there are many scripture in song versions available, to make scripture memory easier! There is one of the above verse, which is a favourite in our family, and you can find them here.  These particular ones are in KJV format, which is our preferred version. 

3) Church Life

I think this is a vital part of organising your spiritual life.  There is a direct command in scripture regarding not forsaking gathering together with God's people, the Church.  I think it's really important to find a local Church, and to commit to regularly attending, and coming into membership with them.  There is such a blessing to be found in having a "family" like that - a spiritual family, with whom you feel at one.  A family with which you can all feed together upon God's Word, brought to you by a faithful preacher. I am doubly blessed, because my faithful preacher is my husband! The Bible exhorts us to build each other up, as a body of believers - as His Church and Bride. We can't do that if we never attend, and don't want to make a commitment to being a formal part of such a group.  

As a family, we attend both services on the Lord's Day.  We train our children to sit in the service, so they are learning the importance of hearing God's Word preached, from a young age.  For them to realise that God's Word is for THEM! As my husband is the one in the pulpit, I am the one responsible for the children.  Currently, all children aged over 5 sit together (five-in-a-row!), without adult supervision.  They have their "wobbly" moments, but generally they sit nicely! I take the youngest two out, when Simeon gets too vocal. (Since typing this post on Saturday, I had my 3yo sit in for NEARLY all the service, beside his big brothers, without me!!! He managed until half way through the sermon,which I still thought was great... I was especially thrilled that others noticed, and told him how good he had been!) Robert is very easily distracted, so I exit fairly quickly upon the beginning of too much child-made noise!! Thankfully, our service is relayed through to his study, so I sit with them out there.  I don't always get to concentrate fully, but every week I pray that God would at least give me some golden nugget to take away, and to bless with in the coming week.  If nothing else, I am training my children to sit and listen, and for them to learn the importance of gathering together with God's people.  For me, I am also benefiting from the encouragement of fellow-shipping with the rest of my church family.  I love them all dearly, and they are such a blessing to me.  I really miss them if I can't be there, whether through illness, or trips away elsewhere. 

All in all, I consider my attendance at Church to be a God-given source of growth, blessing and encouragement to my heart, and my spiritual life. If I can't get out, I find a service through, and join them as they worship elsewhere. That is only if we are ill, which thankfully is rare. It NEVER takes the place of joining with my own Church family, if at all possible.

So, finally, there we have it.

How I organise my spiritual life.  No doubt there are things I have missed out, or MUCH more I could have said (believe it or not, lengthy as this post already IS!).  These are the main elements, which *I* consider are important, and that help *ME* to organise my spiritual life.

It is my prayer that they may be of encouragement or inspiration to someone else, and that the Lord would use my experiences, to bless another.

Now, PLEASE join in with the blog hop.  Hop on over to the other ladies' blogs and see what they are sharing today







    This is the kind of prayer journal I use. I tweaked the tabs a bit, but this really helped me with those prayers requested that cross my path.

    1. Thanks, Becca! I have a binder that I bought from Paperchase, which I had used as a general organiser, including for prayer. It fell apart, and I got a new one to use in some again. I think I could try this system! :-)

  2. I just found your blog through "The Busy Mom's" Facebook post so I came over to check it out and join in the blog hop. You have some great ideas about ways to spend time with God and I can totally relate to it being difficult to do with children at home. We use the SOAP method with our church sponsored Bible Study and it works great! I shared your blog hop on my Facebook page so that others would be able to join in as well. Have a great day!

  3. What a great post! I found your blog through Raising Arrows. I'm excited to try the Bible reading system you mention.

    Also, a tip for prayer organization: I recently found a free app for my Iphone that has helped me immensely with organizing my prayer life. ( It's called "prayer prompter" and you can find it on the App Store. You can add prayer requests and easily organize them by categories and how often you want to be prompted to pray for that topic. It's awesome! I found it after reading the Power of a Praying Wife. I wanted to pray each of the topics for my dh, but needed a way to organize it. Blessings!

  4. Caroline, thank you. I particularly like the reminder that what we do should be to God's glory.
    The SOAP system looks like something that I should use.

  5. I have been working on #1. Still need to move ahead with #2 & #3 but I'm not going to beat myself up about it. My next stage is committing to read scripture daily with my children. They currently listen to my Bible readings with me but I want them to have their own special scripture time too. And church life.... it will be so nice to be able to attend more regularly! It's hard with the farm and working everyday all day. We get a few extra hours off on Sunday but chores are not always done in time for us to attend church. We have prayed for solutions though and God has answered. We still likely won't be able to attend every week but 1-2 times per month will be a great start :)