Christmas Giving & Giveaways

It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving. – Mother Teresa

Giving is one of the most beautiful parts of the Christmas season. As Karen Ehman explains in her book, there’s more than one way to give. Yes, people primarily think of gifts, but giving of one’s time is often even more valuable.

A friend shared a story how someone had decorated her tree and house for Christmas a few years ago after she had her baby, and that gift of time meant more than any present.

Are you looking for opportunities to give? Am I? Let’s not be so wrapped up in our own schedules that we miss opportunities to bless others.

To paraphrase Mother Teresa, how much love do we put into our Christmas giving? Let’s load others up with love this year.

Drum Roll, Please!

Congratulations to Jann, the winner of the Listen, Love, Repeat book pack giveaway!!

Thank you to all who commented, shared, and participated. Even if you didn’t win, Karen’s book would still make a great gift this season.

Another Giveaway – Free for All!

Today and just today, my book Captive Beneath the Bahamian Sky is available FREE in kindle version (regardless of whether you have Kindle Unlimited or not). This is the first book in my series Wings of the Dawn, a young adult Christian suspense trilogy.

Click here to download your free copy. Merry Christmas on me!

Next Week

I’m super excited to share a beautiful, biblical Christmas craft idea with you all next week. If you enjoy making items to share at Christmas, you won’t want to miss next week’s post.

Have a blessed week!

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Load others up with love this Christmas. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Free YA Christian Suspense on Kindle today – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

Book Giveaway! Listen, Love, Repeat

christmas-giveawayHow many of you find that listening and loving come naturally? Before you answer, take a quick quiz with me:

  • T/F: I always actively listen when my friends are talking with me, instead of anticipating how I’m going to respond.
  • T/F: I can remember all of the prayer requests from Sunday school class.
  • T/F: If I can remember last week’s requests, I prayed for them regularly throughout the week.
  • T/F: I make a point of being nice to the kid in class who is socially awkward and unpopular.
  • T/F: I welcomed the new student/coworker instead of racing off to my next class/meeting.

I wish I could say “true” to all of those (that apply to me), but the truth is that sometimes, I can’t. And maybe you can’t either.

Perhaps unintentionally, we become so busy with living that we’re swept up in our own little worlds and unaware of the hurts and needs of those around us.

That’s the problem Karen Ehman addresses in her book Listen, Love, Repeat. Her bottom line is that we need to be intentional in listening to and loving others.

About Listen, Love, Repeat

When I first picked up Karen’s book, I was intrigued by the sub-title: Other-centered living in a self-centered world. She talks about our “selfie-centered” culture and sets about to combat this mindset with the challenge to “live alert.”

… to become a person who thinks of others first takes great effort on our part. It requires us to live alert (18). – Ehman

She calls for Christians to cultivate sensitivity to “heart drops” or “when a person, either directly or in a cryptic way, gives you a peek into his or heart heart” (15). Do we pay attention when others share their interests and needs, or are we too busy to notice?

Karen builds upon the premise of Matthew 22:36-40 and outlines what she calls a Three-Step Life Plan:

  1. Love God.
  2. Love others.
  3. Love yourself.

Then, she spends the rest of the book outlining the major categories of people who cross our paths and develops ideas for how we give of ourselves to them.

She’s quick to clarify “the why” for loving people. Our motivation shouldn’t be that others notice us but that they notice our Savior.

We need to remember our why: the reason we love and serve and give thoughtful gifts and do good works. It is so that others will see Jesus. They may look at us, but we hope they see him (100). – Ehman

An ideal Christmas gift for Christian women

Are you not sure what to give your mom, sister, or friend for Christmas? I recommend Listen, Love, Repeat for godly women (and godly young women, too) who want to make a difference right where they are but maybe aren’t sure how.

Karen drives home the reality that we pass people every day who are hurting and in need of Jesus’ love. Some of them may even live in the same houses with us.

Blending the biblical with the practical, Karen offers easy recipes to share with hurting families, simple ideas for making someone’s day, and personal stories of victory and failure.

Christian women who love Jesus and lead busy lives will find this book refreshing and challenging. The beauty of Karen’s message is that we can serve God and love others right where we are.

Because Jesus wasn’t about doing big things. He was about doing the right thing. And often for him, the right thing was noticing one simple soul (19).     – Ehman

Listen, Love, Repeat is a book that will keep giving long after Christmas.

Book Pack Giveaway

I’d like for you to have a copy of this resource to use yourself or share with someone you love. It would make a great study for your small group, Bible study, or with your mom or girlfriends.

Merry Christmas early! I’m giving away one gift set, which includes:

  • (1) Copy of Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman
  • (1) Study Pack, complete with a six-session DVD and Study Guide

Four Ways to Enter

To enter, simply do one of the following: 

  • Leave a comment below. (It can be a comment about this post or something as simple as: Please enter me into your drawing.)
  • Subscribe to the Think True Thoughts newsletter.
  • Share this post on Twitter and tag me @kjhogrefe.
  • Share my Facebook post with your friends.

The winner of the random drawing will be announced on this blog next week. I hope this resource will be a blessing to you as it has been to me.

~ Kristen

Special thanks to The Blythe Daniel Agency for making this book pack giveaway possible!

 

Tweetables

Book Giveaway! Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Listen, Love, Repeat is a book that will keep giving long after Christmas. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

10 Thanksgiving Goals

Last weekend, I made the mistake of entering a craft store full of frantic, pre-Black-Friday-deal shoppers. A kind employee helped plow the aisle so I could reach the two items I needed, and after thanking her, I retreated to the check-out line as quickly as I could.

Sure, the ribbons, dizzying displays, and sparkling bows are pretty, but too many people get wrapped up in the “stuff” of celebrating and miss out on the gravy (i.e. the best part).

What don’t I want to miss this Thanksgiving holiday?

Here are my top 10 goals.

  1. Be thankful for what I have and content with what God’s given (easier said than done).
  2. Spend quality quiet time with God.
  3. Celebrate simply with my favorite people. Bring on the card tables and paper plates, both of which are niece and nephew friendly.
  4. Get on my hands and knees to play with my nieces and nephews who are growing up way too fast.
  5. Enjoy simple pleasures. For me, this might be a bonfire, a sunset, a hot Vanilla Chai tea, or a book next to a fireplace. (This Florida girl gets cold easily!)
  6. Prioritize my time to spend on “legacy” project work.
  7. Revisit my 2016 goals and start planning ahead for the New Year.
  8. Go running in the sunshine. If you don’t enjoy running, do whatever physical activity suits you; just don’t be a couch potato.
  9. Eat in moderation.
  10. Hope to do most of my Christmas shopping online and avoid crazy shoppers.

Ordinary Choices, Eternal Perspective

Perhaps you’re thinking: Kristen, that’s a nice list, but it’s not especially spiritual (minus the quality time with God part). I thought this blog was supposed to provide biblical perspective?

In one sense, I would agree with you. I haven’t listed my Bible study group, service projects, or outreach programs; and those activities certainly have their place.

However, I am becoming more and more convinced that when we seek to make God first in our lives, our ordinary choices take on an eternal significance. Let’s take another look at that list:

  1. Be thankful for what I have and content with what God’s given. Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have …”
  2. Spend quality quiet time with God. Jesus modeled this habit, as recorded several times in the New Testament, when he rose early and spent time with the Father (Mark 1:35).
  3. Celebrate simply with my favorite people. Did not Jesus Himself enjoy time with his close friends, like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 12)? Remember also that He celebrated the Passover with his 12 disciples, not all of his followers.
  4. Get on my hands and knees to play with my nieces and nephews. Jesus welcomed little children to come to him (Matthew 19:14). Enough said.
  5. Enjoy simple pleasures. Mary could have spent all her time busily working in the kitchen with Martha, but she chose instead to sit quietly at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42).
  6. Prioritize my time to spend on “legacy” project work. God has given each of His children gifts and abilities to use (I Corinthians 12). Whatever your gift, don’t waste it.
  7. Revisit my 2016 goals and start planning ahead for the New Year. James 4:14 reminds us that our time here is short. I want to spend my years well. Don’t you?
  8. Go running in the sunshine. Our bodies are God’s temple, and we need to take care of them (I Corinthians 6:19).
  9. Eat in moderation. Proverbs 25:16 advises, “Eat only as much as you need (NKJV).”
  10. Hope to do most of my Christmas shopping online and avoid crazy shoppers. If Amazon.com had been available in biblical times, the wise men might have purchased their gold, frankincense and myrrh online to save time and reach Bethlehem a few days sooner. It’s a theory anyway.

What are your Thanksgiving goals? I invite you to share in the comments below.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kristen

 

Tweetables

Don’t get wrapped up in the “stuff” of celebrating and miss out on the gravy. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

10 Thanksgiving Goals – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Problems from God’s Perspective

Recently, I flew to Georgia to see some of my girlfriends and their families. During my first flight, I was sandwiched in the middle seat, but the returning flight, I reveled in my window seat view.

The day was clear, and as the plane took off, I watched its shadow grow smaller and smaller on the ground until it disappeared from sight. Once we cleared the cloud line, I couldn’t see a trace of it.

God is greater than our shadows.

Do your problems seem larger than life? When we focus on how big they are, we often can’t see anything beyond them.

In those times, we need to step back and ask God to help us see from His perspective. Like a plane’s shadow, our problems become smaller from God’s viewpoint, because His power and plan are much greater.

In John 16, Jesus tries to prepare His disciples for His coming death and the persecution they will face for sharing the gospel. He warns them that they’ll have troubles in this world, but He offers them a greater hope.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (I John 16:33 ESV).

What an amazing truth! Yes, as God’s children, we’ll experience trials and troubles, but be encouraged: He’s already overcome them.

God strengthens us in the shadows.

The Lord can even use problems to strengthen our trust in Him. In 2 Kings 20, we find an incredible story of God’s power and presence in dark times.

King Hezekiah was ill, so ill, in fact, that the Prophet Isaiah told him he needed to get his house in order, because he was going to die. Talk about some bad news!

The king wept and pleaded with God to spare him. God heard and answered his prayer, sending Isaiah to give Hezekiah the message he would live another 15 years. However, the king doubted, asking for a sign or confirmation that he would indeed live.

We’re in no place to judge the king for his doubts, and perhaps he was so ill that he felt as though he were dying! Regardless, God graciously strengthened Hezekiah’s faith by giving him a supernatural sign, literally turning back time or “the day’s shadow” to prove His promise (2 Kings 20:8-11).

God may not turn back time today, and sometimes, He doesn’t answer our prayers the way we ask. However, He does give grace when we need it and hope for eternity.

God sees us through the shadows.

I don’t know what you’re facing today (and I certainly hope it’s nothing as serious as King Hezekiah’s illness), but the words of Psalm 23 remain true. Regardless of how dark and deep your problems look, if you’re God’s child, He’s always with you.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me … (Psalm 23:4a ESV)

In youth group, we sing a song by Chris Tomlin entitled “Our God.” Let the words of the chorus wash over you and help put in perspective whatever you’re facing.

Our God is greater, our God is stronger,
God, You are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, awesome in power,
Our God, Our God.

Yes, He is.

If you’re tempted to become discouraged, remember the plane’s shadow. On the ground, it looks enormous, but from the sky, it’s small.

How has God demonstrated his power and grace in your life? What biblical promises help you keep problems in perspective? I’d love for you to share in the comments below.

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Problems from God’s Perspective – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Keep problems in perspective – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Reformation Day: Celebrate the Light

What’s the first word or image that comes to mind when someone says October 31?

Maybe it’s the silly costume you wore last year or your favorite candy or the fall festival your church is sponsoring for the community.

For me, I think of my college Bible professor dressed in a long robe and hammering parchment paper to his office door.

You see, most people celebrate October 31 as Halloween, but few realize this day marks a milestone of Christianity and the Protestant Reformation. On this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses, or arguments, to the castle door in Wittenberg, Germany in defiance of the Roman Catholic Church’s sale of “indulgences.” The pope promised that buying indulgences for a deceased loved one would shorten the relative’s stay in purgatory, thus “buying” his or her way into heaven.

Those who sold indulgences created a clever ditty to drive home the sale: “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”

Essentially, the organized church was robbing people to pay its debts and giving them false hope for forgiveness of sins.

Luther called the church out on this non-biblical teaching, and in doing so, sparked a flame that began the Protestant Reformation.

Many Reformers and those who held to Protestant beliefs were martyred for their faith and stand against the established church. Among them were John Huss and William Tyndale, both burned at the stake.

Their crimes? Both dared to share the Bible with ordinary people in their common English tongue, Huss through a chapel service and Tyndale through an English translation of the Bible. Many others suffered similar fates for spreading the light of the gospel.

A challenge for us today

Believers have different opinions about what is acceptable and not acceptable for Halloween. This post is not going to argue those questions of conscience.

However, I do think Luther’s actions those many years ago hold a challenge for modern believers.

share your faith, even if it’s unpopular.

The rebuttals and cold shoulders we may receive for sharing the gospel are nothing compared to the persecution of the Reformation Era. However, they can make us want to wait on the sidelines or keep our mouths shut.

Romans 1:12 dares us to stand up for what we believe and not be ashamed to speak out:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (NKJV).

Celebrate Light, not darkness

Halloween tends to glorify the macabre and the grotesque. Oftentimes, this holiday presents sin as “fun” and something in which to revel. Never give in to practices that celebrate darkness.

There are plenty of other alternatives available. Local churches host fall festivals and community outreaches were children can safely enjoy clean fun and even learn about the gospel in the process. When my grandpa was alive, he used to give out gospel tracks with candy.

Whatever you do, be different, not dark. If you spread the light of the gospel, others will notice.

So if the cashier at the supermarket or your hairdresser asks what your Halloween costume will be, you can tell them (if you want to and have one) or just say, “Did you know that October 31 is also Reformation Day?”

Now, you’re ready to explain what Reformation Day means and why it’s worth celebrating. Who knows? You might even have a chance to tell someone about Jesus.

Happy Reformation Day!

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Celebrate light, not darkness on October 31 – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Reformation Day: Celebrate the Light of the World – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Contentment: Truth and Lies

Fall has officially reached Florida with cooler morning temperatures and lower humidity. Break out the boots, and get ready for bonfires!

Over the weekend, I enjoyed my first smore of the season with some friends. I watched as people piled dry branches onto the bonfire. Almost instantly, flames engulfed the branches, and the radiating heat made me step farther back.

We’ve been talking about contentment here, and as I thought about the weekend, I realized that the bonfire is a perfect analogy. If we’re discontent in one area, that spark will spread to other areas of our lives.

However, the opposite is also true. Remember that song we sang as children? This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine.

Contentment can be equally contagious. If we’re grateful, we can challenge others to focus less on what they don’t have and more on what they do.

Today, we’re going to look at a few more truths about contentment that I hope will help spread hope and snuff out guilt for those who struggle in this area.

Where we find contentment

Have I mentioned lately that I love the girls in my youth group? Well, I do. Their sweet attitudes and big hearts refresh my spirit.

One high school student who follows my blog handed me a slip of paper on Wednesday with some verses about contentment she wanted to share with me. One of the verses was Acts 2:28, which paraphrases the Old Testament truth of Psalm 16:11. It spoke to this very question: What is the source of our contentment?

You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence (Acts 2:28 NKJV).

We find true joy and contentment when we live in God’s presence. And not just live as in scrape by and survive. No, live as in abundantly! After all, Jesus Himself said:

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10b).

The bottom line is that we find contentment when we make Christ our center and stay grounded in His truth. In His presence alone are fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

What contentment is not

Some of us will still face the battlegrounds of discontentment. Sometimes, these encounters leave us feeling defeated and ashamed that we grew so easily discouraged.

Satan will try to shame us into believing we’re not enough. This is a dangerous lie, because in one sense, it’s true. In and of ourselves, we always fall short.

But we aren’t the source of our sufficiency. God is. Let the words of these two verses wash over you:

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5).

And one more:

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Every time you’re tempted to give in to a defeated spirit, remember that God is always more than enough to see you through the struggles you face.

One last truth for the day

My final thought about contentment is this: Wanting something doesn’t equal discontentment. A few years back, I talked about this truth in a post called I shall not want.

Many of us may have unanswered prayers or unmet desires. If that describes you, take heart in these lines penned by R. Leighton, based on Psalm 37:4:

Delight thou in the Lord, and He shall give thee thy heart’s desire,—HIMSELF; and then surely thou shalt have all.

Live in abundance,

Kristen

 

Tweetables

Contentment: Truth and Lies – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Spread hope and snuff out guilt for those who struggle with contentment. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Wanting something doesn’t equal discontentment. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Is Contentment Possible?

A few weeks back in youth group, we were talking about what contentment means. One of the discussion questions asked, “Do you know someone you would describe as content?”

One of my middle school girls looked at me and said, “You’re content, right?”

My words spilled out like a lukewarm apology. “Me? Well, not all the time, but I certainly try to be.”

The struggle between wanting to set an example and being transparent split me in two. In the area of contentment, I sympathize more with the language of “striving after” but not yet “attaining” that Paul uses in Philippians 3:12 to describe the Christian walk.

However, my response seemed to disappoint the teen whose expression suggested: Well, if you’re not content, how can you expect any of us to be?

I thought about the question long after youth group ended: Is true contentment possible?

The next two weeks, we’re going to wrestle with this question. Read on, and let me know your thoughts.

Contentment is possible.

I Timothy 6:6 says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” Contentment is part of sanctification, the growth process of our Christian faith. To have contentment is “gain.” We can’t gain something that’s unattainable.

I also believe contentment is possible, because our God is good. He wouldn’t dangle a worthwhile state before us and yank it away just before we could reach it.

The Apostle Paul declared in Philippians 4:11-12:

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (NKJV)

We might be tempted to think, “Easy for him to say. He was an apostle, after all.”

Let’s take a closer look at Paul’s story. I don’t think “easy” was any part of his equation.

Contentment isn’t connected to circumstances.

Remember, Paul (once called Saul) was the man whose life God radically changed. He went from persecuting the church to boldly proclaiming the gospel, even at his own peril.

2 Corinthians 11 recounts some of the trials and hardships he endured:

  • 5x – received 40 stripes minus 1
  • 3x – beaten with rods
  • 1x – stoned
  • 3x – shipwrecked

The list only grows from there. Paul continued his account:

… a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? (2 Corinthians 11:25b-29 NKJV)

Yes, this is the same man who said he learned to be content in any situation! In other words, he was able to experience contentment simultaneously with the following:

  • Weakness
  • Suffering
  • A state of want or need
  • Responsibility and cares
  • Frustration

But wait! Don’t we usually equate those things with discontentment? At least, I do.

Perhaps we’re missing the point. If contentment demanded a perfect set of circumstances, it would be impossible to attain (at least for long).

Much like joy, contentment isn’t grounded in experience. It’s grounded in an eternal perspective, possible only when we fix our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

I didn’t say contentment was easy. I just said it was possible.

Next week, we’re going to tackle another misconception about contentment, but for now, I’d like to hear from you. Do you agree or disagree that contentment is possible? Why or why not?

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Is Contentment Possible? – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Contentment isn’t grounded in experience but in an eternal perspective. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

 

Willing Hands Building Fences

Recently, my Bible study group helped build a fence for one of the ladies at church, and a motley group of us arrived early on a Saturday morning to set to work.

As I looked around, I guessed that most of us hadn’t built a fence before. Other than limited experience with a nail gun on few construction projects, I didn’t have much to offer either. But that’s what was so neat about the day. Some ended up working on the fence. Others re-screened the porch. Some helped clean or paint a mailbox.

We didn’t all need the same skills. We just needed to be willing.

The Body of Christ

In I Corinthians 12, Paul compares the body of Christ to the parts of the body. There are many members but one body. All serve differently but for one central purpose.

This truth seems obvious enough, but when we consider human nature and our tendency to exalt or desire certain skills over others, contentment can break down really fast.

That’s why the Apostle Paul resorted to hyperbole or exaggeration to make a point.

If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? (I Corinthians 12:17 NKJV)

In other words, if we were all certified fence contractors, the fence might be up in record time, but the floors wouldn’t be vacuumed, and the screens might still be sagging.

What are you building?

I think the point is less what we build and more what we do with the skills and gifts God’s given us. Let’s face it: God hasn’t called all of us to be pastors, missionaries, and certified contractors. He’s called some of us to be students, teachers, businessmen, stay-at-home moms, and a myriad of other roles.

The awesome part is that He’s given us exactly what we need to serve Him right here, right now. Maybe we don’t feel especially qualified. We could make excuses about our lack of experience. We could argue that others would do a better job and that we belong on the sidelines.

Nonsense.

The question we have to ask is: Are we willing to serve God wherever He calls, with whatever skills He gives us?

If you say yes, look at your surroundings this week, and find the fence God wants you to build. It might not require a nail gun, but it will require obedience and a willing spirit.

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Willing Hands Building Fences – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Find the fence God wants you to build – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Learning to Listen in Prayer, Pt. 2

Are you satisfied with your prayer life, or do your prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling back at you?

If we could do a show of hands, many of us would fall into the second category.

Today, I’m sharing the second part of an article I originally wrote for the fall of issue of Girlz 4 Christ magazine on the topic of prayer. My challenge is simple, though not always easy: Instead of us doing all the talking in prayer, let’s learn to listen more.

God has something to say to us, even today. Let’s look at two more ways He communicates.

He speaks through the Holy Spirit.

Did you know the Holy Spirit is our partner in prayer? According to Romans 8:26:

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (NASB).

Not only does the Holy Spirit intercede for us, or intervene on our behalf, but this member of the Trinity also teaches us and reminds us of Jesus’ truth (John 14:26). How can He do this if He doesn’t speak?

If you’re God’s child, you can probably think of a time when you felt a pricking in your chest to do something—maybe pray for a friend or check up on an elderly widow from church. Maybe you’ve felt a desire to start a Bible study or serve in a ministry. Maybe there’s something else on your mind and you want to know what God has to say.

I challenge you: Ask Him. Keep your Bible, a notebook, and a pen ready. Be still before Him.

Did not Jesus invite us to “come” to Him and “learn” of Him in Matthew 11:28-29?

If you make a habit of listening for God to speak, He won’t disappoint you.

He speaks through circumstances.

The other day, I was reading Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. Suddenly, I started crying over a circumstance in her life that so much resonated with something I was experiencing. Using the words her father had spoken to comfort her, God spoke comfort to my own heart.

That’s just a small example. God can speak to us whether we’re reading a book, having lunch with a friend, listening to our pastor at church, or simply going about our everyday lives.

We never know when or how God will use circumstances to point us to the truth we need to hear.

Again, the question is whether or not we’re listening.

A challenge for you and me

A few weeks back, my class in youth group finished a Bible study, so my fellow leader and I asked what topic the teens would like to talk about next.

“I’d like to know how to pray better,” one girl said.

Amen, sister!

Oftentimes, God doesn’t give easy answers to prayer, because He wants us to pursue a relationship with Him. He asks us to seek Him with the questions we have, and He promises that when we do, we’ll find what we need (Jeremiah 29:13).

We might not find the answer we wanted, but we’ll find Him. And He is infinitely better, and His ways are infinitely higher.

So will you join me? When we pray, let’s learn to talk less and listen more.

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Learning to Listen in Prayer, Pt. 2 – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Talk less and listen more in prayer. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Learning to Listen in Prayer, Pt. 1

“Why doesn’t Jesus answer my prayers?”

I looked at the little girl in front of me. If you’ve ever worked with children, you know they can and will ask whatever is on their minds. I’m used to the unexpected questions, but for some reason, this one seemed harder to answer.

Maybe because I’ve asked it so many times myself.

Many of us have heard the typical and truthful responses to this question. Sometimes, God answers our prayers yes, no, or wait. Perhaps He is protecting us or has something far better in mind. As Elisabeth Elliot said, “God’s refusals are His mercies.”

All of the above are true, and yet there is something inside us that still aches.

Perhaps the reason is that we are asking the wrong question. Instead of asking why God doesn’t answer our prayers, we should be asking: God, what do you have to say to me?

Seriously. When is the last time we asked God to speak to us and then actually took the time to listen for His answer?

But, Kristen, God doesn’t speak—not anymore.

Oh yes, He does.

He speaks through His Word.

God may not speak audibly today, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t speaking.

After all, do we not have the Bible, God’s Word? It is as relevant now as it ever has been.

Instead of accusing God of not speaking, we should honestly examine ourselves. Are we spending time in His Word? Are we seeking to hear what He has to say to us? Do we want to know His truth, or are we too comfortable with our “little sins” that separate us from Him?

Nothing is more important than your relationship with God. If some sin in your life is keeping you from Him, forsake it, and get right with Him.

Pray this prayer from Psalm 139:23-24: 

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (KJV).

***

This post first appeared in full in the Girlz 4 Christ fall issue. To learn more about Girlz 4 Christ or subscribe to this free Ezine, click here.

Next week, we’ll look at two more ways God speaks today. In the meantime, how will you listen to God this week?

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Learning to Listen in Prayer, Pt. 1 – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

The question we should ask in prayer – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)