Honing Your Spiritual Craft

Two best friends grew up playing instruments. One did right by her craft and the other let it fall by the wayside.

Hannah has been playing the viola religiously for over ten years. She understands the importance of discipline when it comes to her instrument. For her undergrad and masters she spent endless hours in practice rooms, sitting in the middle of orchestras and quartets, and standing in front of a crowd performing with the skill God gave her.

Even on vacation she sets aside time to practice, because she knows how easy it is for the discipline to slip away. And when the discipline goes, the skill follows and everything she worked for falls apart.

Take me as an example.

I took piano lessons for nine years. After high-school I went to college, free from the drudgery of practicing. I kept telling myself I would keep up the skill, and every once in awhile I would find a piano to plink out some tunes.

But over the years my memory of the songs dwindled, my coordination faded, and the natural talent my teacher said I had felt more like a rusty piece of machinery.

Hannah’s dedication is inspiring to me. She is a picture of the drive every Christian should have in their walk with Christ. Following our loving Savior takes just as much discipline as any other trade.

Why do you think His followers were called disciples? They grew to understand the difficult training in their journey with Jesus. The moment they stepped away from their world, they entered a life of developing and practicing through their faith in Jesus and their knowledge of Scripture. And they strove to live life as an iron spear, in constant sharpening.

The Apostle Paul writes in Colossians that we “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” Colossians 1:9-12

God has given us the power to be steadfast, to keep going on this journey with Him. Our faithfulness is evidence of the discipline that we walk in. The way of a disciple is guided by the promise of an eternal inheritance from our Father, our ultimate end goal.

If you want to hone your craft of discipleship, you must put in the time, fueling the dedication with the end goal in mind, just as you would with any talent or career. If you don’t, your spirituality will fray and become sparse just like my piano playing skills.

Don’t fret though, you can get it back, but it will take hours of hard work and true persistence. In the end, your perseverance will be evident as you shine with the glory and the love of God to the world.

Happy practicing!

-LJM

Not Worth the Sting

Who am I to you, O Lord?

I am but algae that covers the deepest part of the ocean.

A barnacle that clings to the earth like a ship.

I am the dust that dirties the earth,

Yet you choose to rub your face in it.

 

I am not worth the sting

Of the kiss from a lying friend.

I am not worth the pain

Of claws stripping through your skin.

I am not worth the spit dripping down your face,

Or the blood gushing from your side.

 

Why? Why don’t you get up?

Why don’t you rise on the wings of your angels?

I am not worth the trembling of your screams

As you cry out “My God!”—

 

My God! You have delivered me,

You have brought light to my shadowed face,

You have pierced my lying tongue,

And sprinkled love over my perverted heart.

 

I promise to bathe in your crimson glory,

And step out in the path before me,

For I was worth it in your story,

And you are worth it in mine.

 

 

Blessing to you

-LJM

Matthew 20:28

Copyright © 2018 Leah Jordan Meahl. All Rights Reserved.

 

Does Your Bible Belong at Goodwill?

When I was in high school, I hated reading the Bible. It was boring, wordy, and confusing. Nothing but my mother’s persuasion could make me flip through the pages of my little King James Bible, the one with my name engraved in rainbow lettering.

Growing up in church, I’ve had a Bible since birth. I knew the stories, I ran the drills, I could list the books in order. As a Christian, I understood its importance, I just couldn’t find the motivation or interest. If ever I did crack open my Bible, it was out of guilt or sadness.

Can you relate?

As college approached I felt God asking me if I would use the independence as an opportunity to grow with Him. “Are you going to follow Me or are you going to follow others who follow Me?” I felt Him say.

I challenged my desire and began reading the Bible for myself each night and each morning, hoping to work my way through the entire book. It took nearly three years, but I made it, learning a lot on the way. God opened up my need to experience more about Him and about His ways.

Like a series of padlocks dispersed through the words, each time through, another was chiec-cau-khoa3unlocked and a mystery was released into my heart. The more I discovered, the more I wanted to unlock until it finally became something I couldn’t live without.

Welcome to the turning point in my relationship with the God of the Universe. He didn’t have to bestow upon me a book that proves His existence or His power, or even foretells the future of the world. He didn’t have to offer a way for me to draw close to Him.

But He did.

Whether you’ve read the Bible as a kid, in high school, or last Sunday, the Bible should be treated as if it holds value in your life. What do I mean by that?

Do you let your trophies get dusty? Do you push a best friend aside until you need something? Do you love a movie so much but never watch it again?

If you have issues with motivation, don’t worry, I get it. But we can’t make excuses forever. How do you ever expect to make an ‘A’ on the test if you don’t study? Make the decision to do something good for your soul and relationship with Jesus.

Here are some ideas to help you rekindle your spiritual thirst.

  • Listen

Take a break from the favorite playlists and podcasts and turn on your Bible app and listen to a reading of the Bible. After all, faith does come through hearing the Word of God, right? (Romans 10:17)

  • Set goals

With each book of the Bible you finish, write it down and keep track of it until you’ve finished the whole Bible. Once you’re done, do it again. You’re never done reading the Word of God. (Is. 40:8)

  • Choose Daily

Set a few verses and chapters to read for your morning devotion and meditate on the passages that stick out to you. (Psalm 63:1)

  • Study

Research is the best way to help study the Bible. Discover the surrounding context, historical facts, original language, and culture. Many elements can help you understand it’s meaning if you take the time to look. (2 Tim. 3:16)

  • Search

If you constantly have questions about God, His works, His ways, His communication, its in the Bible. You want to figure out your purpose, your reason for living, your identity? Check the Bible. You CAN find answers in scripture, even if they’re answers you don’t necessarily like to hear.  (Is. 55:6)

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

∼John 8:31,32∼

If the Word is a map to the kingdom, a place where He’s prepared a home for us, we have no choice but to keep studying that map until we get to our destination. (Matt 6:33)

Take the chance to evaluate your time or lack of time in God’s Word. If I can be blunt, if you don’t spend any time in the Bible and you say you’re a follower of Christ, you may have to question if that’s really true.

Don’t wait until you feel like it–make the effort now to keep your Bible from getting lost in the clutter of your life. An unread Bible has more worth at Goodwill where someone else can get some use out of it.

Open your gift from God today; it may just change your life. It changed mine. (John 8:32)

God bless!

-LJM

 

Want to feel inspired? Click here to see a woman who’s read the Bible 342 times!  (page 16)

Follow me on twitter @leahjordanmeahl for encouraging Bible verses each week

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Psalm of Breakthrough

Praise the Lord,

Who commands the Earth to spin,

And keeps the waves from engulfing the land,

For He has saved my soul from sin,

And saved me from the webbed snares of the evil one.

 

He has led me to the river

And showed me my heart in its waters,

But He did not let me drown and sink,

For I have surfaced with fresh air in my lungs.

 

Praise the Lord!

He swept a path before me,

He waited for me to follow.

Though my course was laden with fog,

My steps toward Him became slow,

But His light did shine through,

It broke my clouded vision

 

Now I walk with my eyes fixed on You,

You are my God,

I will let no other guide me,

I will wait on your beckoning Word,

I will go higher and higher with You

Until the stars become my companions

And the Earth my stepping stone.

 

 

-LJM

Losing Weight: Body or Soul?

The two areas in my life that call for my attention and constantly undergo total resets are the disciplines of losing weight and spending time with God. Maybe you feel the same?

Losing weight seems to have a negative connotation, but we all know it’ll ultimately be for our good. Similarly, being a Christian has certain necessities, and sometimes, we fail to follow such criteria.

One thing is for certain, we’ll look in the mirror one day and say, “You have to make some changes.” Both processes can be powerfully transforming to your health as a person and as a child of God.

The spine of Christianity relies on two main elements: prayer and time reading the Bible. If you’re going to spend your life dedicated to getting closer to God, those are the keys to growing in faith, and they are both necessary for a relationship with Jesus.

If we’re talking about losing weight, no matter how many programs and products you use, you will always be faced with the bottom line: you must eat healthier and exercise more. Both areas take a lot of discipline and will affect your overall spiritual and physical health.

Prayer coincides with watching what you eat. You must constantly be aware and make choices about what you’re putting in your body. Likewise, prayer is a constant state of awareness of the spiritual realm and God’s presence with us. The Bible says to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), and in doing so, you’re feeding your spirit when you stay in communication with God.

dusty-bible

The little choices are the ones that make a significant impact and eventually, you will start to feel more cleansed and healthy.

Knowing about Jesus doesn’t make you anymore a Christian than knowing about a treadmill makes you physically fit. God has given His Word as a tool to understand Him, and if you don’t take advantage of it, the result ends up stunting your spiritual growth.

Reading the Bible can be like going to the gym. Though you may have moments when you drag your feet and make every excuse not to do it, in the end, you feel refreshed and rejuvenated knowing that you’ve done something good for yourself.

Both disciplines need to become lifestyles. They are day-to-day battles. The key is to keep pushing, and over time, you’ll start to see the changes. In the end, you’ll reap the benefits of your determination and perseverance, and the struggle will always be worth it.

God bless!

-LJM

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

When Your Heart Needs That New Car Smell

Soaped down, hot water jetted, and towel whipped, your car might as well have come out of the furnace like a piece of blown glass, crystal clean.

You know the feeling. Your beautiful wheeled baby is free from the layer of grime that had begun to build on the doors. Not a spot or blemish can be found sprinkled on the windows. The leaves stuck in the windshield wipers have been vanquished. And that’s not all.

The crumbs wedged in the crevices of the seats have been lapped away along with the dirt and candy wrappers that littered floor. Dust no longer coats the dashboard and the coffee stains have been scrubbed until their existence is forgotten.

To top it off, a little cardboard tree hangs from the rearview mirror filling the car with the aroma of sexy Black Ice or whimsical Tropical Sunrise.

That drive home feels just as satisfying as if you had driven straight off the lot with a new car. Remember that feeling and savor it as I tell you why a car wash is on my mind.

You see, that’s how I feel when I read the Bible. That’s how I feel when I spend time alone in my room praying. And not just the “Dear God, A. B. C. Amen” kind of praying, but simply being in total awareness and transparency with God, which is a state we tend to reserve for when we’re really in a bind.

As a result, I always end up feeling clean and new, but I often wonder why I don’t strive for that as often as I could?

Can we really say we drive a clean car when we only clean it once in a while?

Only when the dirt and clutter get too overwhelming, we finally cave and clean out the car, just to wait another six months before doing it again.

Our hearts are the same way. Every day adds another layer of grime or a new addition of garbage and we are the culprits. We allow it. Wouldn’t we feel better if we just kept the car clean?

I know God would prefer it that way.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” -Proverbs 4:23

The God of the universe can hold the stars in his hand like a pile of gold dust and yet He sent His Son so that our hearts could be His forever. We are just that precious to Him.

If we don’t take the time to maintain the condition of our heart with God’s Word and His presence, our heart will suffocate from the negative forces designed to strangle the life out of us. Their weapons? Chainmail of laziness. Arrows of bitterness. Daggers of anxiety. And of course, the tempting poison of everything the world has to offer.

As I challenge myself, I also challenge you to make more room in your heart for Jesus because He is the ultimate satisfaction and the greatest weapon for when Satan tries to steal it away. Believe me, he will try. It might take more work, but all the effort is worth it.

Don’t be caught with a dirty car, because you’re chauffeuring the King of Kings.

God bless!
-LJM
Romans 12:2, Psalm 51:10, Matthew 5:8

Post Grad Life: One Year Out of the Bubble

I read a post on Facebook this morning that read:

Adulthood is like looking both ways when crossing the street, and then getting hit by an airplane.    -unknown source

The quote got me giggling, because sometimes life hits you with a strong force you didn’t see coming. Sometimes it can be awesome, other times, it can throw us off balance.

My first year out of the college bubble has been all about making practical decisions, assessing needs over wants, and basically evaluating and reevaluating what to do every day. I’ve had to remind myself that I’m on a journey, and a journey involves taking one step at a time.

But in as much as it’s been about discovering life, it’s also been about deepening in relationship with God. I went to a Christian college–one of the best blessings in my life–but once I graduated, I quickly realized how strong that bubble was.

Now I’ve left the bubble behind, and I’m open and vulnerable and out there for the devil to send his arrows at me full force.

You know what I’m talking about.

The doubt creeps in, the rejection hurts, the routine wears on you. And the BIG QUESTION hangs over you like a threatening rain cloud. “Am I doing this thing called life right?”

But instead of just living with that rain cloud over head pouring down whenever it wants, it helps to dance in the puddles like the carefree child we once were.

One of Satan’s most successful tactics is to make us feel like we are inadequate. He nudges us and whispers in our ear, “You should have a job in your field by now. Why are you not in a relationship yet? You’re not doing enough. How do you think it looks that you’re not living on your own? Look at all these people who have their life together more than you do!”

And though these thoughts have a tendency to find their way into my mind, I know they’re lies. I know that God has paved a road specifically for me complete with all the signs I need to follow, the stops I need to take, and the final destination with my name on the welcome banner.

As I’ve navigated my first year out of college, I’ve learned that it’s all about how I react to the journey. I can’t let it overwhelm me and ruin the person I’m made to be. When that airplane hits, I need to be able to hang on tight and ride it to my next adventure.

So no matter what part of the journey you’re on, remember this: striving for a fulfilling career, a happy marriage, and a lot of fun will only get you so far.

BUT if you,

“apply all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

-2 Peter 1:5-8 (NASB)

THEN you are doing this thing called life right.

***

If you’d like to see my year of growth for yourselves, here are the links!

Post-Grad Life: First Month

Post Grad Life: 3 Months of Limbo

Post Grad Life: The Selfish Six

For you college grads, how’s your first year out of the bubble going? Let me know in the comments!

God bless!

-LJM