Summer conference

A sabbatical often includes a conference — a time of focused learning. Last week I was able to attend the OCW (Oregon Christian Writers) summer conference. We were fed good teaching and encouraging insights. The keynote talks kept me paging through my pocket Bible that now attends conferences with me. Today I processed most of the notes from the conference, trying to bring to the forefront of my thinking what I want to remember.

We write – and create – with God. I’m looking forward to seeing what God will do as I try to assimilate (partake of God and His Word) that one thought. I spent part of the morning reading through what little I can find of Allen Arnold’s talks and may revisit the links again to give this concept further consideration.

Another thought that will help me stay focused:

Writers are people who write, not people who get published.

I heard this from Susan Brower, not sure who originally said it.


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Still here

Yes, I’m on sabbatical. Yes, I’m learning… lots. My most recent revelation is not new to many people. If I’m spinning in circles, perhaps I should take time out to catch up on Bible reading. I may not land back on course, but I’ll be calmer and in a better overall state. I’m sure someone has coined this phrase already: you can’t go wrong with God (or spending time in His Word).


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God’s Reassurance

The current lessons in the devotional book I’ve been reading are about focusing on an image from Scripture while waiting and listening. Having just returned from 3 days hiking in the wilderness with breathtaking mountain views, I decided to spend a few days reading and focusing on Psalm 121. In today’s read through, verse 3 stood out to me, giving comfort and confidence.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—

He who watches over you will not slumber;

(Psalm 121:1-3)

As I wait for His leading during this time of sabbatical, it’s reassuring to know He will guide me. As long as I’m seeking Him, I can trust that He will not let me stray in the wrong direction.


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God First = Peace

I guess I’m still learning this one. In writing a sample just now, I realized that when I put God first, seek Him, spend some time each day with a focus on Him, I have more peace. I do not necessarily have any better idea of what I’m supposed to be doing, any clear sense of direction or leading from God, and certainly no answers to my current dilemma, but I have peace in the waiting.

Thankfully, Paul confirms the truth of this:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) (yes, this is my all-time favorite verse – how many times have I quoted it here?)


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A thought to ponder

This is from someone who read Davis Bunn’s The Turning, maybe from the devotional, which I’ve been looking through this summer. I don’t know if this is an exact quote from the book, but it’s something to think about.

Each act of obedience brings forth the next measure of guidance.

Am I taking that step of obedience each day to receive the guidance I’m requesting?


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Be Still

Waiting and listening involves a fair amount of being still. That’s part of the reason I’m not writing as much during devotional times right now. The other reason was pointed out in this morning’s reading: my inner critic runs ahead and urges me to use my time “productively.” In our society, sitting still to listen and wait does not immediately appear to accomplish anything. But I know I’m learning, I know He is giving great gifts during this time. I’m waiting – and doesn’t part of the definition of to “wait” include the concept of expectation? I am expecting God to work. My prayer the rest of today and tomorrow will be that I can see His hand at work.


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Seeking and Trusting

I’m continuing to use this waiting and listening time to seek God. Yesterday the passage I read for “seeking” was Isaiah 26:1-12.

When we open our eyes and ears to seek Him we see all that He has done.

Seeking requires trust.

 

Trust helps us focus on God.

Trust brings us peace.

 

Trust helps us fulfill our role in God’s eternal plan.

We place our trust in the Rock.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

 

We seek Him

to walk on His paths

He makes our way smooth.

We wait for Him as we walk in His law.

We seek the desire of our hearts, which is His name.

Delight yourself I the Lord

                        and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

 

We seek Him day and night, yearn for Him, long for Him.

 

God shows grace to all. He reveals Himself to all, but the wicked do not learn.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

 

Those who seek God recognize what God has done.

We can do nothing without Him.

 


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Seeking and Finding God

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

I believe God honors our steps of faith toward Him.
I sought, I found Him.


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From fear (worry) to peace

Part of my devotional time this summer has been spent reading Davis Bunn’s devotional The Turning. I’ve been practicing waiting and listening. Yesterday I needed some “food for thought,” so read Philippians 4:6-7 (which had been suggested in my other devotional reading):

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

After reading, I thought about these verses and what it means for my five minutes of waiting. Then I sailed through the day with confidence instead of doubt, peace instead of fear.


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Waiting and Listening

Today I didn’t have much time to wait and listen. But it didn’t take me as long to focus, either. One of the devotionals I read today talked about preparing ourselves not only to listen, but to be ready to do or act when God speaks. Without intentionally contemplating that piece, as I was waiting the thought came to me that I have to bring more than prayers to my waiting, I have to come having read the Word. Now I have two “assignments”: the words to study from yesterday, and finding out more what God’s Word says about listening to the Word. Perhaps another part of my preparation will be setting goals, although I must hold them very loosely.


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