How to Develop a Rule of Life

On Monday, I introduced the idea of a Rule of Life, which is “an intentional, conscious plan to keep God at the center of everything we do.”  When you think of it that way, it doesn’t sound so overwhelming, does it?

As I thought and prayed over the past few days about how to walk you through this, considered my own journey, and was spending time researching, I realized that we live in an incredible day when there are so many resources available at our fingertips.  We can literally Google things today and discover in an instant things that were developed centuries ago by people like Benedict, Augustine, St. Theresa of Avila, and other fathers and mothers of the faith who went before us and learned to walk in God’s Presence daily.

With that in mind, I realized that there were such great resources available on this idea that it would be better to do a somewhat unusual post, and instead of trying to give you my “take” on a Rule of Life, share with you some of the great resources that have helped me on this journey.  Plus, I wanted to be careful that in what I was sharing, I wasn’t plagiarizing someone else’s hard work, so rather than trying to incorporate all of these into one post that may cause some to think I had done all the work, I was giving proper credit where it was due.  So with that in mind, here are some amazing resources to help you walk through developing a rule of life.  There are so many more, but these are a few of the best and the easiest to use if you don’t have time to take a three-day monastic retreat:

  • How to Craft a Personal Rule of Life – by Geri and Pete Scazzero, authors of The Emotionally Healthy Life – this page gives a brief overview, then walks you through an exercise to develop a Rule of Life.
  • myRule – Crafting a Rule of Life – this webpage has links on a video tutorial on crafting a rule of life, worksheets that are free to download and use, and several examples of people from different walks of life who have developed a Rule of Life.  The owner of this website, Stephen A. Macchia, has also written an excellent book, Crafting a Rule of Life, that will walk you through the process in more depth.
  • Books – the following books also contain chapters or aids to crafting your own rule of life – The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg; Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton; and The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero.  If you want to go deeper, The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard and Mansions of the Heart by R. Thomas Ashbrook are excellent, but they are not light reading!

I hope that you will take the time to explore some of these resources – if not the books, at least the links to the websites, which provide some great free helps on this process.

One more thing – just a reminder that you are a unique individual!  Find what works for you, and don’t feel guilty if this idea doesn’t work for you.  Just keep looking for the best way for you to personally walk consistently into growth in your relationship with Jesus.  The whole point of a rule of life is to discover a guideline that will help you grow and mature in your intimacy with Jesus.  It’s not an unchangeable straitjacket; it’s not a legalistic list of “do’s and don’t’s”; it’s an outline of what’s important to you, where you want to go in your life with Jesus, and how you think you can best get there.  Use it as a tool, not as guilt-inducing Eleventh Commandment!

If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus:  A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.

A Powerful Tool

Last week, we looked at some practical ways to help ourselves be aware of God’s Presence in our lives throughout the day.  This week, I want to introduce a powerful tool that has been used by followers of Jesus for centuries to help them grow in their faith and in their relationship with Jesus.

This tool is called a “Rule of Life.”  Sounds scary, doesn’t it?  After all, a relationship with Jesus is about a relationship not about rules.  The word “rule” reminds us of the Pharisees and rigidity, and it reeks of the kind of formalism that many of us wish to avoid in our journey with Jesus.

So what is a rule of life?  The C.S. Lewis Institute defines it as “an intentional pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness. A Rule establishes a rhythm for life in which is helpful for being formed by the Spirit, a rhythm that reflects a love for God and respect for how he has made us.”  (You can read their article at

Another way to consider it is this – a rule of life is a guideline for how you intend to live your life before and with your God, with your community, and in your world.  It can be as simple as a few core values that you decide to center your life around; or, it can be as complex as a plan for your entire life that includes goals that you hope to achieve throughout your lifetime.

That word “rule” – let me take some of the intimidation factor out of it for you.  The word rule comes from the Greek word that means “trellis.”  A trellis is a framework that enables a grapevine to grow up off of the ground and gives it the freedom and space to bear fruit.  So think of a rule of life in that way – it’s not a rigid set of rules, but a simple framework that gives our spiritual life some structure so that it can grow and find freedom and space to bear fruit!  That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?  Peter Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy website describes a rule of life as a kind of scaffolding that enables us to build a structure for our spiritual journey with God.


So how does one go about putting together a rule of life?  Well, that’s what we’re going to walk through this week.  I’ll share some resources with you, give you some tips, and even point you to a few examples.  But the cool thing is that it will be YOUR rule of life – you can form it however you like.

And the truth is that you are most likely already partially doing this.  Do you attend church regularly?  Then you are committed to community and are taking a practical step in being a part of community.  The same is true of being part of a Life Group.  Do you read your Bible daily, or pray daily?  Those kinds of things can all be a part of a rule of life.

Here are a few things to consider between now and Wednesday in order to lay some ground work in your mind:

  • What are a couple of spiritual disciplines that you particularly enjoy?  Why are you drawn to them?
  • What are a couple of spiritual disciplines that you purposefully avoid?  Why is that?
  • What are a couple of areas in your life in which you wish you had more balance?
  • What do you wish your walk with Jesus looked like?
  • What are a couple of things that you value highly when it comes to your walk with Jesus?

Try to take some time to journal through those questions, or at least consider them briefly and note what quickly comes to mind.  On Wednesday, we’ll talk about thinking through and implementing a rule of life that can work for you!

If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus:  A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.

Giving Thanks

This week, we’ve looked at some practical ideas for ways to be sure we are spending time with Jesus and that we are reminding ourselves of His Presence with us throughout the day.  My plan was to wrap that up with a post today about a great tool that sounds legalistic and overwhelming but is actually very simple and helpful.  But as I sketched out what I wanted to say, I realized that I needed a little more time to think through what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it.  So, I’m going to be tackling that next week.

Which means my blog plan for today was disrupted.

Disrupted plans is becoming the theme for the Hunters’ 2016 Holiday Season!  My Mom ended up spending Thanksgiving in the hospital due to a boil beside her eye that wasn’t responding to treatment.  Our plans for Thanksgiving involved surprising her and my Dad with the fact that my brother and his family were going to be with us for Thanksgiving.  Instead, she surprised us by ending up in the hospital.

And then there’s Christmas.  Our plan was to travel to Greenville and spend Christmas Day with Dad and Mom.  But that was before we found out that Jewel is going to have surgery on her neck about a week and a half before Christmas, which makes a two-hour drive an uncomfortable endeavor and means we likely won’t be going to Greenville on Christmas Day.

As I was thinking about this, I realized that Jesus never got flustered by interruptions, distractions, or disrupted plans.  He just went with the flow.  He didn’t let people dictate his direction, but He also was compassionate when unexpected things came up.  And come up they did.  It seems like He was always being followed by crowds, pulled at by people wanting something from Him, requested by this person or that person to come and lay hands on someone and heal them.  He just took those things in stride and, rather than viewing them as unwanted intrusions, saw them as opportunities provided by His Father.

That’s a great challenge for me – learning to see interruptions as opportunities rather than interruptions or disruptions.  Remembering to give thanks for what God is doing and can do, rather than complaining about what He isn’t doing or has allowed to cross my path.

So here’s what I’m going to do this weekend.  I’m going to sit down with my journal tomorrow, or Sunday afternoon, and write down 5 things that upset me or derailed my plans or disrupted my life; and then I’m going think about what I have to be thankful for in each of those cases.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  That’s what I’m going to do this Thanksgiving weekend.

How about you?

Let me close with one unexpected blessing for which I’m very grateful this weekend.

I get to perform a wedding ceremony for two special friends of ours, Nate Shaffer and Rachel Buehler.  That’s a blessing in itself!

Wednesday night after the rehearsal, they pulled me aside and handed me a gift-wrapped package as a thank-you for officiating at their wedding.  They asked me to open it, which I was happy to do! 

What I found inside was one of the coolest and most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received.

Here’s the backstory:  this year, I wrote my first book, a devotional on walking with Jesus.  Rachel put more work into the book than I did, creating a front cover, creating a back cover and inside flaps in case I ever wanted to print a physical copy, and formatting the actual files into an acceptable format for publishing on Kindle.  We got to publish it early this fall, and that was both a goal reached and a dream realized for me.  (Many more books to come, I’m hoping!)  I have to admit it was pretty cool to go to Amazon and see my book on the Kindle store.  (If this sounds like bragging, I apologize – it’s not.  It’s intended to be me just sharing something very personal.)

So Rachel had all the files for my Kindle book.

And for my present, she and Nate had taken those files and had a hardback copy of my book printed, and they presented me with an actual printed copy of my book.  I can’t describe how it felt to unwrap that package and find myself holding a copy of the book I had written.

As cool as it felt to publish on Kindle, there was something about holding a physical book in my hands that made it more real.

It was very moving for me.  I felt like God had used Nate and Rachel to encourage me in going for my goals and dreams, and to remind me that He has surprises for all of us on the journey.  I felt honored and appreciated.


I am so blessed to have the opportunity to be connected with so many wonderful people.  And it’s all because God is good, so good.

It was also a reminder of how much I have for which to be thankful – thoughtful and encouraging friends and family, opportunities, freedom – and so many other blessings that God gives me every day.  Blessings that, unfortunately, I take for granted far too often.

So this Thanksgiving, despite disruptions and unplanned issues and all kinds of other things, I am so very thankful.

I hope as you take some time to think through your past few weeks that you find much for which to be grateful as well!

If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus:  A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.

A Few More Practical Ideas

On Monday, I shared with you a few simple ideas with which to experiment as you try to find what works best for you in spending time with Jesus.  We looked at:

  • Having a set time to spend with Jesus daily.
  • Using an alarm or other reminder to help you find moments with Jesus throughout your day.
  • Using drive time to pray or to “soak” in God’s Presence.

Interestingly enough, after I had written about this, I came across an article from July 2015 that had been published on titled “Millionaires Don’t Use To-Do Lists.”  The article pointed out that while to-do lists are used by many people, a lot of very successful people DON”T use to-do lists.  Instead, they put everything that they must do on their calendars, using 15-minute increments and micro-managing their time to get the most done.  I found that interesting because it reinforced what I had written earlier about having a set time to spend with Jesus daily – if you put it as an appointment in your calendar rather than a check-off item on a to-do list, it may help you be more consistent.


That’s our review for today!  Now on to a few more ideas to try if the above didn’t work for you, or if you’re still looking for some other possibilities that might be more helpful:

  • Try beginning your day with Jesus.  I don’t mean once you’ve been up, had a cup of coffee, and checked your email.  I mean begin with Jesus in your very first moments of the day.  Some ways you could do this may be:
    • Before you get out of bed, take a moment to pray.  Tell Jesus how much you love Him and how much you’ll need Him today.
    • While you’re getting ready for the day, have a sticky note on your mirror with a verse to meditate on.
    • While you’re walking out of your bedroom to the kitchen or wherever you are headed next, pray a short sentence prayer for each member of your household.
  • Try ending your day with Jesus.  It could look like some of these possibilities:
    • Before you close your eyes for the last time, read a short Scripture verse and meditate on it as you are falling asleep.
    • Before you fall asleep, take a moment to think back over your day, thanking God for 3 good gifts from Him during the day.
    • If you like to fall asleep watching TV, consider trying listening to worship music instead.
    • After you say “Good night, I love you” to your spouse, try doing the same with God.
  • Consider using some form of the Daily Office.  The Daily Office is a practice of using set times for prayer and meditation.  You can find dozens of simple examples and plans online, some of them very complex and time-consuming.  Find something that fits your schedule and lifestyle.  In the past couple of years, I have used a book called “Daily Office” by Peter Scazzero.  His book gives a short observation for the Morning or Midday, and then for the Midday or Evening.  Each observation consists of 2 minutes of silence and stillness; a short Scripture reading; a brief meditation on that Scripture; a personal question to think about; a prayer; and ending with 2 minutes of silence.  You can do this all in 7-10 minutes, which isn’t a very long time to set aside.

As I wrote on Monday, remember that it’s good to experiment and find what might work best for you.  Don’t feel you have to be like anyone else – God created you uniquely, and your relationship with Him will be unique.  Don’t be afraid of failing, either.  Intimacy with God or with anyone else takes time.  It means taking the time to know yourself better, and then getting to know the other person in the relationship.  It often involves seasons of deeper intimacy as well as times of feeling distant (even though God is not distant).  So don’t let where you are discourage you from heading towards where you want to be!

One last thing – tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Enjoy your family time and remember that it’s okay to have a “Plan B” for days like that!  Happy Thanksgiving!

If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus:  A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.

Practical Ways to Spend Time With Jesus

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve looked honestly at some of the challenges we all face in carving out time to spend with Jesus, especially in our crazy-busy world.

This week, I want to walk you through some practical ideas that you can try.

Let me preface what I’m going to write with this – there’s nothing wrong with experimenting.  The truth is that we’re all different, and what works well for one person may not work well for another person.  So never let yourself feel guilty or under condemnation because your time with Jesus doesn’t look exactly the same as someone else’s. Try some different things, see what works or doesn’t work; and if nothing really works for you, then try some more!  God wants to connect with you even more than you want to connect with Him, so He has created you for connection!  It’s just a matter of discovering how connection works best for your unique personality, character traits, and gifts and abilities!


For today, here are a few ideas to try.  I’ll share some more with you on Wednesday.

  • Have a set time to meet with God.  If you’re a “morning person” then set a time during the morning, even if means setting your alarm clock 15-30 minutes earlier than normal.  Take that time and do something simple like a Lection Divina reading (you can read this post if you’re not sure how to do that), or read a Psalm or short story from one of the gospels, and then pray through what your day may hold.  If you’re a “night owl” then take some time to do the same when you won’t be interrupted – be sensitive to when you can give God your best attention!
  • Try setting an alarm on your watch or phone to go off at a few specific times of the day.  When it goes off, take a moment to remind yourself of who your Father is, who you are in Christ, and find one or two things that you can give thanks for up to this point in the day.  Or use the reminder to take a short moment to pray; thank God for His presence; or review a verse that speaks to you about God’s presence.  (I had a friend in college who set his watch to beep at the top of every hour and he used that as his reminder.  For some people, that works well.)
  • Whenever you drive somewhere, consider using the time to pray or “soak” in God’s presence with worship music, rather than listening to talk radio or pop music or country or talking on the phone.

There are many more simple things like this that we can do to increase our awareness of God’s presence and to remind ourselves that He is with us.  Perhaps as you try some of these, some other creative idea will come to your mind.  Experiment; try variations on the few suggestions I give above; and then on Wednesday, we’ll look at a few more possibilities.

If something works well for you, shoot me an email back and I’ll share it with everyone else!

Have a blessed day!

If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus:  A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.

When Life Chooses For You

Last week, we started to focus on making time/finding time/choosing time to spend with Jesus, and how challenging that can be.  Ironically, I only wrote one devotional about that last week because my week was so busy; and the same thing has happened this week.

Our week got “tweaked” – it was originally supposed to be a vacation week with Jewel’s parents in North Carolina, beginning on Sunday.  But mid-week last week, we were thrown a little bit of a curveball – she ended up with an appointment in State College to see her surgeon about a second herniated disc.  So our timetable got shifted by a day, our vacation looks a little different this week than we had intended, and now we’re scrambling to deal with Jewel having surgery (1) in State College, which is significantly further from home than DuBois, and (2) two weeks before Christmas, which is already a crazy-busy time.

Sometimes life happens, and happens hard.  And sometimes, life chooses your schedule for you.  We all have seasons like that.


I used to get really bent out of shape by things like that.  (Well, if I’m being totally honest, I still do, to an extent, but not nearly as badly as I used to!)  I’m the kind of person who does well with my daily routine.  I like to begin my day early, spending time with Jesus, my journal, my Bible, and a cup of either iced coffee or hot chai tea.  It gives me time to read and pray, reflect on yesterday, plan the rest of today, hear what I think God is trying to say to me, and pray for my family, friends, and congregation.

But when that gets disrupted, my rhythm of life, including making time to spend with Jesus, gets blown away and I tend to respond by flying “by the seat of my pants.”  I tend to go into “survival” mode – I do what’s right in front of me, and I let some other things (important things) slip by the wayside.  Then when life returns to somewhat normal, I have a difficult time getting back into my normal rhythm.

Some call it the “tyranny of the urgent” – letting go of what is most important to take care of what is most urgent, even if the urgent isn’t necessarily the most important.  The truth is that nothing is more important than our walk with Jesus, and the by-product of that – caring for our own souls.  (Remember that time that Jesus asked something like this:  “What good is it for you to gain the whole world and yet lose your soul?”  And then there’s the classic “above all else, guard your heart, because everything you do flows from it.”)  So caring for our inner lives is THE priority, even though it’s not what usually seems the most urgent.

A few years ago, I asked my coach, Bill Randall, to help me with that issue.  Like everyone, I had things that would disrupt my schedule unexpectedly – emergencies, sicknesses, people in crisis, my own family having a crisis, travel for ministry, travel for vacation, etc.  At the time, we were traveling to California a couple of times each year, and each trip meant two lost days (it was a full day to travel out, and the same coming back), as well as once we were out there, trying to fill every waking moment with spending time with Bethany or attending conferences, face-to-face coaching, and connecting with people to maintain important relationships.  I don’t remember the exact wording, but I asked Bill, “how do I spend time with Jesus when I’m in traveling or crisis mode?”

He talked me through some practical things for “normal” life (which we’ll get to next week), but he also told me something important that helped me immensely – I have permission to have a “Plan B.”

YOU have permission to have a “Plan B.”

For me, that meant that I could (1) stop feeling guilty about seasons that I should either be enjoying or focusing on helping others, and (2) come up with a simpler, less involved plan for those seasons.

It meant that I came up with a “Plan B” for when I am in “crisis mode” or “vacation mode.”  I don’t know what a Plan B might look like for you, but for me, it looks like this:  I still want an iced coffee or chai tea (don’t judge me!)  But journaling is optional – if I have time, I do it; if I don’t have time, I don’t sweat it.  Prayer gets shifted to something I do while walking the dog, or driving and running errands.  My Bible reading and listening time gets compressed – I shift to a YouVersion plan that involves just a few verses per day, or I simply meditate on a short passage that I am working on memorizing, or that I have already memorized.

In other words, I streamline.  I drop some things, I shorten other things, and I compress the whole.  I do all that without feeling guilty or letting it “throw me” in any way, because I have planned to do it that way.

One issue – if I’m living my entire life, every day, all the time, in “Plan B” mode, then I know I’ve got an issue and I need to re-examine my priorities.  That’s one of my “speed bumps” or safety checks.  And that’s what I would suggest for you.

When Life Chooses for You – when crisis mode comes up, or you’re on vacation, or you’re dealing with an unplanned project, have a Plan B ready.  But you need to take the time to think through your Plan B before you get to the point of being thrown into your Plan B.

This is actually a great time time to think through your “Plan B.”  Thanksgiving is coming next week; for some of you, a wedding is coming next week; and then we’re in all-out full-court press “get ready for Christmas” mode, along with all the activities that lead up to it.  It’s going to be a busy time – but we already know that.

So what will your “Plan B” look like, to get you through the busy Christmas season?

If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus:  A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.

Out of Time

Wow!  What a week this was!  On a national level, we FINALLY finished the election cycle that went on forever.  While both candidates responded very graciously regarding the results (as did our current president), it is obvious that there is a still a great deal of turmoil and divisiveness in our nation.

For me personally, it was one of the busiest weeks that I can remember.  Doctor’s visits, hospital visits, a couple of year-end committee meetings, a clergy planning meeting, two memorials services for which to prepare and then to lead, an interview with the State Police for a part-time volunteer chaplaincy position (in Ridgway; I’m not going anywhere!), three staff meetings, and more phone calls than I usually have to make in a month.

And of course, some of you noticed that in all that busyness, I didn’t blog.  I ran out of time. (Remember, I still only have 24 hours in a day!  And so do you.)


I was planning to blog, of course, until Monday morning at about 9 a.m. when I realized what my week was starting to shape up to be.  First, I thought, “how ironic that I’m writing about choosing time for God and for what’s important and I’m not going to blog about it because this week is so busy!”

But I actually made the right choice.  Because even though I didn’t blog, I wrote.  In fact, I’ve written over 10,000 words so far this week, and will have hit 14,000 by the end of the week.  All because I chose to do what was most important to me.

Let me explain.

I really enjoy blogging and writing devotionals.  It gives me a way to share spiritual truths in a simple, hopefully easily-understandable format.  It allows me to expand on things that I talk about on Sunday, if I want to do so, or else go in a completely different direction from what I’m preaching on.  However, I don’t HAVE to blog; I WANT to blog.

But there are some things that are more important.  For example, my family responsibilities.  And my ministry responsibilities.  All those meetings and prep and the memorial services?  Those are 1-A priorities, because they’re not really meetings and prep and services – they’re people.  And people are important.

So those came ahead of blogging.

My own time with the Lord in the morning each day came ahead of blogging.

Spending time chilling with my family in a crazy-busy week came ahead of blogging.

And writing came ahead of blogging.  Why?  How does that work?

Because I’ve got some dreams still.  And in order to see some of those dreams come true, I’ve got to make choices about how I spend my time; I’ve got to sacrifice, and work hard, and steal moments here and there to pursue my dreams.

And that’s what I did.  Last night, I wrote 2042 words.  I didn’t finish until 11:15, but I reached my writing goal for the day.  I didn’t write a blog on Monday or Wednesday, but I’ve hit my writing goal each day of this month.  I’m making progress, one word at a time.  But in order to do that, I had to let go of some things that were important, but weren’t most important.

So here’s what I learned this week.  Even when my week is crazy, I can make choices.  It may mean less sleep; it may mean giving up something that I enjoy, but that is less important than something else; it may mean that I have to choose to let some things go.  It doesn’t mean I’m perfect, or that I always make the right choices.  But I CAN choose.  We all can choose!

And ultimately, Jesus promised that if we choose Him first every time, He’ll make sure all the other stuff works out (that’s the Don Hunter paraphrase of Matthew 6:33).

One last thing – don’t ever forget that no matter what, Jesus chose you first.  And He always will!  And when we understand that, and let it inform our choices, we become wiser in what we choose and in how we choose.

May God bless you with a wonderful weekend!

Myths About Time

How do I make time…how do I create time…how do I find time…these are all ways that we frame questions about the time pressures of our lives.  I’ve said these things, and I’ve read them from many of you in this area of hearing God’s voice – as in, how do I make time to spend with God, how do I find more time to spend with God, or how do I create time to spend with God?  Those are great questions!  Let’s look at how to answer them…or actually, let’s look at whether they are the right questions to begin with!

I’m experiencing quite a bit of pressure in this area in my own life right now.  For one thing, I’m at a point in my life where I’m starting to think about the future a little more urgently.  I’m 50 years old – so in 15-20 years, I’ll be thinking in terms or retirement, or semi-retirement, or something.  That means that I need to be wise about the next 15-20 years and what I do with them, how I prepare teams around me, how I equip others to do things that I do, etc.  That’s one area.  But there are others that I’m also struggling with time.  For instance, all of my life I’ve wanted to write books, but I never took myself seriously in that and just wrote.  But this year, I finally decided to go for it.  I’ve self-published one non-fiction book (with a lot of help), am working on another, and am also writing a full-length novel.  Those things take time.  I’m also pursuing being a volunteer chaplain for the Pennsylvania State Police because of the needs and the potential that I see there.  But in the meantime, none of my other normal responsibilities are lifting.  I still need to perform my ministry as a pastor to my people, and do it with excellence.  I still need to be a husband and a father and a son and a friend, all things that I am already falling short in.  At times, thinking about it all and trying to plan it and “calendarize” it and do it can be overwhelming.  Perhaps some of you can identify, even though your responsibilities, roles, and dreams may be different than mine.


So how do I find time to do it all?  Or how do I make time to do it all?

That’s the problem.

You and I can’t “find” time – there is no more time to be found.  There’s only 24 hours in a day, and no amount of searching can find any more time than that.

And you and I can’t “make” time – it’s an impossibility. 

Now, I understand that we don’t mean “find time” and “make time” literally.  But my point is this – we really can’t, in any way, create more time in our schedules.

What I’m learning is this – all we can do is choose how to fill the 24 hours of each day.

As I process through what I’m doing and what I want to do, my wife keeps asking me this really hard question – “what are you going to give up?”  What am I going to stop doing?  Because the reality is that I can’t cram more into my schedule and do it well.  And most likely, neither can you.  So we have to give something up.

The sad thing is that most often, we give up one of the things that matters the most – time with God.

Because God is not physically present, standing in front of us, it becomes easy to skip my time with Him in the morning and just dive into my day.  Because He is not physically present on Sunday mornings, standing in front of us, inviting us to come together with others and worship Him, it’s easy to skip community and worship and just blow off church.

We do those things and don’t even consider the price that our souls are paying for ignoring their deepest needs.  And many times, we don’t consider the price that our families pay in the long run because we model for them that many, many things are more important than making time for God.

I’m starting to wonder if we’re asking the right questions at all.

Maybe instead of “how can I make time for God” we should be asking “why haven’t I chosen time with God?”

Maybe instead of “how can I find time for God” we should be asking “what have I let become more important than God?”

Here’s a couple of questions I’m going to ponder this weekend, and I’d encourage you to do the same:

  • What have I let become more important in my life than meeting with God every day?
  • Why do I choose time for other things over time with God?
  • What do I need to give up?

We’ll talk about it more on Monday!  In the meantime, may God bless you and meet with you in the asking!

If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus:  A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.

The Truth About Time

Over the past two weeks, we’ve looked at some simple and practical ways to hear from God.  The fact that we CAN hear from God, and that there are ways to learn and grow in hearing from God, leads us to the next issue – like any other relationship, improving our hearing skills means investing time in listening.  Some of you expressed your frustration with this in questions like this:

  • How do I engage and take time to include Jesus in my day?
  • God says to ask big, to dream big, to hope big – but is it too much to hope to achieve a continual walk in His presence this side of heaven?
  • How do we handle making time to spend with the Lord when there are so many other things and people looking for attention?  I try to put Him first, but it is so difficult when people want your attention “right now.”
  • Is there really any way to hope for having constant communion with God in this world without retreating completely and living in a monastery?

These are all great questions!  They demonstrate pretty clearly that many of us struggle with this issue of time with God. 

Infinity time spiral 15267876

Infinity time. Digital generated

The problem is that we’re all just so busy.  We have so many demands on our time.  And not only that, but we live in such a complex society today.  We are faced with options that previous generations never dreamed of.  For instance, we don’t just have 3 channels of TV from which to choose; we now have hundreds.  We don’t just have whatever books we can find in the library or we can purchase whenever we get to a bookstore; now, we can instantly download any of thousands of books on virtually any subject.  We don’t just have a few records/tapes/CD’s to listen to; we can stream virtually anything on Spotify or through iTunes or even on YouTube.  We live in a time of countless options, instant gratification, microwave dinners and fast food, Netflix – and also, a time when in the workplace, efficiency and high achievement are valued.  The job market is highly competitive, and if you can’t keep up, too bad.  So sad.

And when you do decide to spend time with God – why, which Bible will you use?  NIV?  The Message?  NLT?  ESV?  One of the older standards like the NASB or NKJV? 

So many choices!

Yet one thing has not changed in all of this.

Every single one of us – no matter how young or old we are, no matter how many jobs we are holding down or how many recreational activities we enjoy, no matter how simple or complex our jobs are, no matter what season of life we are, no matter how healthy or unhealthy we may be, no matter how much influence we may have, no matter what the balance in our checkbook or on our credit card statement is, no matter how large or small our family may be, or the ages of our children, or how long we’ve walked with Jesus, no matter where we live – every single one of us has only 24 hours in each day.  There is absolutely nothing that any one of us can do to change that.

So it all comes down to making choices about the time we have, or, in some cases, letting others make choices for us.

Almost every day, I hear from someone who apologizes that they don’t have time to be in church because they’re just too busy right now.  I often get in conversations with people who tell me that they want to spend time with God, or with their family, or getting to know a neighbor, or whatever – but they just don’t have time.  I know, I know – I make the same excuses.

But we all have the same amount of time every day.

We just don’t all make the same choices.

I know this – we make time for what’s most important.

I know businessmen and entrepreneurs and CEO’s who run multi-million dollar businesses who still make time to spend an hour with God every day; who are so committed to investing spiritually in others that they are in church every Sunday teaching Sunday School; and who don’t sacrifice their families on the altar of their careers.

Why?  How can they do that, and yet succeed? 

They choose very carefully how they spend their time.

You and I spend our time every moment, investing in something or someone.

We’ll delve into this more deeply – there’s a lot here – but for today, I’ll leave you with a few questions to ponder:

Today, like everyone else, and like every other day, you have twenty-four hours.  How much of it will you give to God?  What will keep you from spending time with God?  And what could you either give up or spend a little less time on in order to spend some time with God?

If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus:  A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.