Monday

Let's Not Waste Our Isolation -- 10 Tips for Redeeming the Time during Coronavirus Sheltering


Today begins week three of the unofficial shelter-in-place recommendation our governor has implemented for South Carolina. As a dental professional, I’ve been working shorter hours with limited patient contact. Our office is open for emergencies only for the foreseeable future. 

My husband was sent home two weeks ago from his full time job. As a bi-vocational pastor, he continues to minister to our small congregation through phone calls, text messages, Facebook Live, and Zoom. 

Together we’re struggling to find our new normal. 

We’re grateful to be healthy and vacillating between enjoying the slower, less-stressful days and chafing at all we could be accomplishing if we weren’t sheltering at home. We wish the crisis was over and life would get back to normal. 

Normal meaning plenty of chicken, canned food, and toilet paper. Birthday parties and weddings. Bible studies, worship services, neighborhood gatherings and coffee with friends. I long for the days when I can hug a friend in the grocery store instead of waving at her from six feet away. I miss dropping in on my parents without being afraid I’m going to infect them with a virus that might kill them. 

We’ve Been Given a Trust 

But until the sickness is vanquished and life returns to normal, we’ve been given a trust. First Corinthians 4:2 reminds us, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” 


Like a lawyer administrates a financial inheritance or the state oversees a guardianship, the trust of time at home comes with the understanding that we will give an accounting.

When the stay-at-home orders lift and we resume our day to day activities, what will we have to show for the hours and hours and hours God has given us at home? 



Will we have stored up wood, hay, and stubble? Or gold, silver, and precious stones? Intentional acts? Or mindless inactivity? Will my body, my relationships, and my spiritual life be better because of the time I’ve spent at home, or worse? 

I don’t want to waste a minute of my isolation. 

I want to redeem it. I want to squeeze everything good out of every moment. I want to leverage the time God has given me by doing things that will advance God’s kingdom and benefit my family, my neighbors, my community, and the world. 

I don’t want March, April, May, and who knows how long to go down on my calendar as wasted months with nothing to show for them. We’ll never regain these days of our lives. 

I want to spend mine well. Don’t you? 

10 ways we can redeem our time at home during the coronavirus isolation: 

1. Read the Bible. How often have we raced past our Bibles on the way to work, school, or some other responsibility, lamenting, “I’d love to read my Bible more. If I only had more time.” Now we have it. The possibilities for diving into God’s Word are endless. Why not organize a study online with a few friends through Zoom or FaceTime? Pull that Bible study book off the shelf. Watch a video study online. Read a book of the Bible you’ve never read before and record what you learn about God. 

2. Pray. Dedicate some time every day to pray for the lost, the sick, and those who are caring for them. Pray for our leaders. Ask friends how you can support them through prayer. Reach out to missionaries, especially those overseas. Many serve in countries with poor healthcare systems far away from family. Start a prayer journal to help you remember requests. Be sure to date the requests and leave room for answers. 


3. Exercise. We all know regular exercise promotes physical health. This is especially important now, when a strong immune system could make the difference between life and death. 

Exercise also promotes mental and emotional well being, giving us reserves to combat the extra stress of social and physical isolation. Many communities allow individual exercise like walking a dog or going for a run. If you’re confined indoors, you’ll have to get a little more creative. Check Youtube for workout videos or, if you prefer a live class, visit Planet Fitness’ Facebook page. There you can work out by working in. Their free “Home Work-Ins,” sessions provide a series of 20-minute classes that don’t require equipment. 

4. Connect with someone you haven’t talked with in a while. In the past two weeks I’ve exchanged text message conversations and phone calls with three out-of-state friends, a missionary in Mexico, and a friend from high school. We’ve caught up on the events of our lives, swapped book and movie recommendations, and prayed together. 

5. Look for creative and safe ways to serve others. Reach out to the elderly, the sick, and the disabled in your church and community. Check in with those who depend on Uber and Lyft services to get around. Ask them if you can pick up groceries or prescriptions. Be safe and use precautions, but don’t let fear prevent you from helping those who can’t help themselves. 


6. Share. Rather than thinking about what you don’t have, look for ways to share what you do. Residents of my daughter’s neighborhood set up a card table in their driveway and filled it with colorful bouquets of poppies stuffed into Solo cups. They posted a picture with the message, “We are a small business, and since we are unable to sell to our usual restaurants, we thought we’d share with our neighbors!!! Come by and grab [a bouquet] to brighten up your home.” This creative couple turned a bad circumstance into a good one, looked for a way to share, and made a lot of neighbors smile. 

7. Read good books. Remember that stack of books on your bedside table or bookshelf? Now’s the time to dust them off. Immerse yourself in fiction with redeeming value, classic literature, or Christian living titles. Revisit old favorites or pick up a new one. If you’re looking for a story-driven devotional, I’d love for you to pick up a copy of my new book, Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible. 

8. Explore something you’ve always wanted to learn. My friend Heather ordered a calligraphy book. James is experimenting with acrylics. Other friends are digging out piano books and polishing their skills, writing the next American novel, and learning to sew. Renee and Jimmy played tennis for the first time in a long time, and Jean’s researching how to record online Bible studies. Many websites are offering free classes. 


9. Play a Game. If you’re sheltering at home with others, break out the cards or dig out the board games. Some of our family’s current game favorites are Exploding Kittens (no cats are hurt during this game), Rummikub, and I Should Have Known That Trivia Game. 

If you’d like to have some fun with others but can’t leave your home, download the free version of Psych in the App Store. Start a game, download the password, and invite others to play along with you in this Balderdash-type game. Several years ago, while visiting our daughter and son-in-law in Spain, we invited our youngest daughter and her husband in South Carolina to join us in a game. Through the wonders of technology, all six of us were able to play in real time despite being separated by almost 4,000 miles and the Atlantic Ocean. 

10. Spread truth and light. First Peter 3:15 reminds us, “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” Many around us are frightened and filled with questions. Their spirits are tender and searching. As believers, we can share hope, truth, and light. 


Every morning, ask God to show you where He is at work and how you can join Him. Invite Him to speak through you in person, through texts and messages, and on social media. And remember to smile. One smile in a sea of worried faces can change the atmosphere and lift someone’s burdens. Thank the cashier that rings up your groceries for coming to work that day. Express your appreciation to those who serve you. 

These weeks (and maybe months) of social isolation don’t have to be lost time. With forethought, prayer, and creativity, we, our families, our communities, our churches, and our nation can come through stronger, wiser, and more like Jesus.


Update on Refresh Your Faith!

On April 13, Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible will officially launch. ChristianBook.com is offering a 27% discount and will begin shipping tomorrow. Amazon has it available for pre-order. 

Will you join me in asking God to direct this book to everyone who is looking for a way to energize their quiet time and gain new insights into God's Word? I especially hope to reach those who find themselves approaching their quiet time out of duty rather than delight. 

Thank you so much!




HOT OFF THE PRESS: FREE Bible Study Guide and Small Group Discussion Questions! Did you know there is a FREE Bible study guide and discussion questions to accompany the Hungry for God...Starving for Time devotional? Click HERE to download your copy. Now you'll have everything you need to use Hungry for God as the basis for your next small group Bible study. 




Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

Sign up for a free subscription to Hungry for God by CLICKING HERE.

Then, be sure to VALIDATE the confirmation email you receive. 

Note: I promise never to spam you or share your email address.



Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.




Thursday

When It's Time to Take a Stand Guest Post on Revive Our Hearts Leaders Blog



When It’s Time to Take a Stand


When was the last time you had to take an unpopular stand? 
We sometimes hear high-profile news stories of Christians and Christian companies refusing to compromise on matters of faith or conscience. Some win victories, while others suffer loss.
History brims with examples of people and groups who challenged government, culture, or tradition. Some protested in defiance and anger. They demanded their rights and used violence to champion them. Others stood vocally but respectfully in the face of oppression, prejudice, or injustice.
We’ll probably never take on a king or the Supreme Court, but we will face circumstances that will require us to stand for what we believe. Thankfully, Scripture shows us how to do it. . . . 



Update on Refresh Your Faith!

In less than a month, Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible will officially launch. Early reports tell me that ChristianBook.com is offering a 27% discount and will begin shipping tomorrow. Amazon has it available for pre-order. 

Will you join me in asking God to direct this book to everyone who is looking for a way to energize their quiet time and gain new insights into God's Word? I especially hope to reach those who find themselves approaching their quiet time out of duty rather than delight. 

Thank you so much!




HOT OFF THE PRESS: FREE Bible Study Guide and Small Group Discussion Questions! Did you know there is a FREE Bible study guide and discussion questions to accompany the Hungry for God...Starving for Time devotional? Click HERE to download your copy. Now you'll have everything you need to use Hungry for God as the basis for your next small group Bible study. 




Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

Sign up for a free subscription to Hungry for God by CLICKING HERE.

Then, be sure to VALIDATE the confirmation email you receive. 

Note: I promise never to spam you or share your email address.



Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.



Monday

6 Ways the Coronavirus Can Be a Gift

If you asked me to choose words to describe the global pandemic and the novel coronavirus that has caused it, I’d use words like plague, tragedy, and curse. I’ve used the word evil several times, too. 

These words accurately describe the biological enemy that is ravaging our world, but they’re not the only words. 

John Piper, in his article, “How Do We Make Sense of the Coronavirus,” called it “God’s thunderclap.” Others have characterized it as a wake up call and a warning. 

Today I realized it can also be a gift. 


With no desire to minimize the tremendous hardship and death this virus has caused, I invite you to consider a different perspective, one that can bring meaning and hope to our lives if we embrace it. 

6 Ways the Coronavirus Can Be a Gift 

1. It moves us to serve. 


From fetching groceries and prescriptions for our elderly neighbors to working long hours stocking shelves and delivering supplies, we are lifting our eyes from ourselves and our self-focused lives. 

Neighbors are coordinating efforts to provide transportation for the blind, the sick, and the handicapped. Grandparents are caring for their grandchildren so their adult children can work. Healthcare workers on the front lines are risking their lives caring for critically ill patients in ways they’ve never done before. 

Many of us, some for the first time, are looking beyond ourselves and our needs to consider the needs of others. While it’s extremely important to minimize contact and continue to self-isolate, we can creatively serve each other without incurring unnecessary risks. 

2. It moves us to give. 


 Neighbors are sharing supplies (even toilet paper) from their abundance and from their poverty. They’re donating their time, resources, and skill to help those in need. Churches are establishing distribution centers for food and supplies. Communities are banding together to identify and provide for the neediest among them. 

On a grander scale, Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian disaster relief organization, airlifted a field hospital stocked with equipment and medical specialists to Milan, Italy, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. I smiled to see how, in my neighborhood, generous hearts are reaching out. 

On our neighborhood Facebook page, several women lamented about struggling to prepare meals for their families without going to the grocery store. I have two carrots I’d gladly trade to someone for an onion, one posted. 

Yes! another replied, I need carrots for the vegetable soup I’m making. I’ll leave your onion on the porch. 

I have extra potatoes if anyone needs them, a third chimed in. All over our world, people are sharing what they have to help others. 

3. It moves us to seek God. 

As we encounter life-changing restrictions and fear-inducing circumstances, people are asking questions, thinking deeply, and searching for answers. Restricted from normal activities, we have more time and mental space to think, and these thoughts are leading us to God. 

We’re reading our Bibles because we are no longer “too busy.” We’re seeking community with other believers because we no longer take it for granted. We’re examining our lives and making much-needed adjustments because we realize we’ve gotten careless and cavalier. 

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD,” Jeremiah 29:13-14 reminds us, and it is true. 

4. It moves us to pray. 

Like King Jehoshaphat of Judah, threatened by an army far greater than his nation had manpower or strength to resist, we kneel before the God of heaven and earth. We pray earnestly for divine intervention and abundant mercy. 

“If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us,” Jehoshaphat prayed. 

“For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." (2 Chronicles 20:9, 12) 

5. It moves us to share our faith. 

In a world where fear drives every conversation, we can speak counter-cultural words of truth and hope. We can share God’s Word, which tells us not to fear. We can pray with those who are sick, frightened, or needy. We can point the lost to the Savior who wants to give them eternal life. 



Creative churches and pastors are broadcasting their services over the internet, sharing transcripts online, and gathering their members together on Zoom and Skype. Our little church’s Facebook Live service had almost one hundred percent member attendance with several visitors. The replay of it has reached more people than we could in a month of Sundays. 

First Peter 3:15 reminds us, “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” The coronavirus is causing people to ask. 

6. It moves us to look for God. 

As my former pastor, Dick Lincoln, prepared to visit a church member who had just been diagnosed with cancer, he prayed for words of comfort to share. By the time he arrived at the woman’s home, God had given him the words. 

“Every day,” he told her, “look for the hand of God. He has promised to walk with you through every step of this journey. If you look for Him, you will see Him.” 

Embracing the Faith Perspective 

Our world is facing an era unlike any we’ve ever experienced. Fear tells us to panic, but faith tells us to trust. By viewing the coronavirus as a gift instead of a curse, God can open our eyes to the myriad of possibilities for good that can come from this. As we view this disease as a gift, we can stake our faith claim on the words of God in Isaiah 43:1-5: 

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 

“For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. . . Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you . . . Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” 

Now it’s your turn. What gifts have you witnessed that have come about because of the coronavirus? Leave a comment below and encourage us all. If you’re reading by email, click HERE to visit Hungry for God online and comment. Do you know someone who could benefit from this post? I’d be honored if you’d share it.


Update on Refresh Your Faith!

In less than a month, Refresh Your Faith, Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible will officially launch. Early reports tell me that ChristianBook.com is offering a 27% discount and will begin shipping tomorrow. Amazon has it available for pre-order. 

Will you join me in asking God to direct this book to everyone who is looking for a way to energize their quiet time and gain new insights into God's Word? I especially hope to reach those who find themselves approaching their quiet time out of duty rather than delight. 

Thank you so much!




HOT OFF THE PRESS: FREE Bible Study Guide and Small Group Discussion Questions! Did you know there is a FREE Bible study guide and discussion questions to accompany the Hungry for God...Starving for Time devotional? Click HERE to download your copy. Now you'll have everything you need to use Hungry for God as the basis for your next small group Bible study. 




Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

Sign up for a free subscription to Hungry for God by CLICKING HERE.

Then, be sure to VALIDATE the confirmation email you receive. 

Note: I promise never to spam you or share your email address.



Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.



Thursday

Just a Bunch of Nuthin'. What Will Your Estate Look Like?


“What did you see?” I asked my friend Cathy. 

“Just a bunch of nuthin’.” 

Cathy is a treasure hunter. Every weekend she combs estate sales for valuable artwork, china, jewelry, and antiques. It’s a good day when she finds a rare piece of furniture buried in the contents of someone’s attic or a perfectly preserved brooch in the jumble of an old jewelry box. 

Cathy’s been doing this awhile and has developed a good eye. She can separate the junk from the gems with a quick glance. That’s why it didn’t take her long to scan the items offered at the sale we attended and declare, “No valuables here. Just a bunch of nuthin’.” 



My friend's assessment reminded me that one day, a similar treasure hunter will examine the contents of my estate. He’ll look at the way I invested my time, talents, and treasure with his all-seeing eye and pronounce a judgement. He’ll heap my works into a great big pile and set a match to it. 



“But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person's work has any value” (1 Cor. 3:13 NLT). 

“If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames (v. 14-15 NIV). 

The stuff I’ve done to build my kingdom—poof. Gone like a marshmallow in a campfire. 

The stuff I’ve done to build God’s kingdom—refined. Shining like gold in a California stream. 

I’ve lived enough of my life to realize that temporary things bring temporary pleasure, but permanent things bring lasting joy. And rewards that will last for eternity. Because I fear losing my reward and dread the shame of squandering what God has entrusted me with, I must choose carefully how I spend my time, talent, and treasure. I must invest it wisely in things that matter in eternity.

I don’t want to stand before the Lord as he examines my life and hear him declare, “No valuables here. Just a bunch of nuthin’.” 

What about you? What changes might the Lord be calling you to make to ensure that you have a hefty pile of enduring treasure to lay at his feet on the judgment day? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts. I invite you to leave a comment below, or if you’re reading by email, CLICK HERE to visit Hungry for God online, scroll to the bottom of the post, and leave a comment there.





HOT OFF THE PRESS: FREE Bible Study Guide and Small Group Discussion Questions! Did you know there is a FREE Bible study guide and discussion questions to accompany the Hungry for God...Starving for Time devotional? Click HERE to download your copy. Now you'll have everything you need to use Hungry for God as the basis for your next small group Bible study. 




Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

Sign up for a free subscription to Hungry for God by CLICKING HERE.

Then, be sure to VALIDATE the confirmation email you receive. 

Note: I promise never to spam you or share your email address.



Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.










Monday

Don't Pray Unless You Want God to Answer -- How God Spoke in the Middle of an Argument

When I went to bed the other night, I knew who was right—I was. 

When I awakened the next morning, I wasn’t so sure. 

The conversation went over the cliff before I even realized it had changed direction. One minute my husband and I were brainstorming ways to fix a problem, and the next minute we were exchanging angry words. He stomped off to bed, and I stayed up and stewed. 

Horizontal or vertical, I’m confident we were both rehearsing how right we were and how wrong the other was. 

Why didn’t she just look up the information when I asked her to? She doesn’t listen, just goes off and does what she wants to do without listening to me. 

Why couldn’t he just wait patiently? I was on to something. Just a few more clicks, and I’d have had the information we needed. 

I considered sleeping in the guest bedroom, but wasn’t willing to give up my comfy bed to make a point. But you’d better believe I stayed waaaaay over on my side when I did come to bed.

Lord, I prayed silently as I clung to the edge of the mattress, pride is an ugly thing. Please help him realize he was wrong, and make him apologize for his unkind words. I don’t want us to spend tomorrow at odds with each other. Then I finished with a sincere but skeptical request: And if I was at fault in any way, please reveal this to me. Amen. 

The next morning, the strangest thing happened. When the alarm sounded on my iPhone, I heard God’s voice. And it didn't sound like Siri.

I’ve always loved the story in 1 Samuel 3, where God awakened the boy Samuel out of a sound sleep by audibly calling his name. But that’s not what happened to me. Instead, God spoke two sentences into my barely-awake consciousness: I’m sorry I was slow to look up the information you asked for. Will you please forgive me? 

As the words echoed in my mind, I knew the Lord had given me the words to speak. How did I know? 

First, the words were true. While I wasn’t totally at fault in the argument, I did have a part in it. 

Second, the words were a direct answer to the prayer I’d prayed before I fell asleep. 

Third, the words did not originate with me. When I’d gone to bed the night before, I was still convinced that I was all right, and he was all wrong. Those two sentences had to have come from God. 

Fourth, to say those words to my husband, I’d have to humble myself and take the first step toward reconciliation. Since this was the last thing my sinful flesh wanted to do, I was confident it was God’s idea, not mine.  

Once I realized I’d heard from God, I knew I had two choices: obey or disobey. 

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins,” (Jas. 4:17). 

I’d like to say I always obey, but I’d be lying. That day, however, I did what the Lord told me to do. As soon as my husband opened his eyes, I said the words God had planted into my brain. 

“I’m sorry I was slow to look up the information you asked for. Will you forgive me?” 

“I’m sorry I was grumpy with you. I was sleepy and impatient.” 

Kiss. Kiss. Hug. Hug. All was well again. 

Not all our arguments end so peacefully. Sometimes I hold on to my stubborn, sinful, self-righteousness and refuse to invite God into the strife. I fail to ask God to show me where I was wrong and focus instead on someone else’s sin or my own perceived innocence. 

But when I do pray and ask God to glorify himself, even in our arguments, I give him permission to work. Sometimes he speaks to me through his Word, sometimes through wise counsel, and sometimes, if I’m willing to listen, he speaks through the still, small voice of his Holy Spirit. 

If you’re in the middle of a conflict with someone, I invite you to pray about it. Watch to see how he answers. Be quick to obey what he tells you to do. You won’t regret it. 

What about you? How has the Lord spoken to you during times of conflict? I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below, or, if you’re reading by email, click HERE to visit Hungry for God online, scroll to the end of the post, and leave a comment there.






HOT OFF THE PRESS: FREE Bible Study Guide and Small Group Discussion Questions! Did you know there is a FREE Bible study guide and discussion questions to accompany the Hungry for God...Starving for Time devotional? Click HERE to download your copy. Now you'll have everything you need to use Hungry for God as the basis for your next small group Bible study. 




Are you hungry for God, but starving for time? 
I’d love to send you a 5-minute e-mail devotion twice a week to start your day off with the Lord. 

Sign up for a free subscription to Hungry for God by CLICKING HERE.

Then, be sure to VALIDATE the confirmation email you receive. 

Note: I promise never to spam you or share your email address.



Because busy women need to connect with God in the craziness of everyday life.