Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dig. Plant. Water. (Part 2)

They say (I am not sure who “they” are, but anyway…) that when you have done something 21 times, it becomes a habit.
I, therefore, have concluded that I, Julie McNeely, have a lot of habits!
Some good, some…..not.
For instance…(and this is by no means an exhaustive list)
1. I pick my fingernails with my teeth when I am stressed. I used to bite them, so at least this habit has scaled back to intermittent “picking”.
2. I put my clothes at the end of the bed when taking them off rather than putting them where they need to go.
3. I squish my bottom lip or chin between my thumb and fingers when I am in deep thought.
4. I buckle my seatbelt every time I sit down in the seat of my car, even if I am only moving a foot.
5. When my sunglasses come off my face, they go on top of my head.
6. When I sit, I cross my legs in some shape, form or fashion.
7. When I put my knee braces on to go workout, I put on my left, then my right.
8. I go workout at least 4-5 times a week.
9. I take vitamins every morning before I go workout.
10. I say “like” , “or whatever” , and “ya know” in coversation waaaaaaaay too much.

Bad habits seem to form SO quickly, but good ones….well-those 21 times often feel like 21 YEARS! Right?
So of course, we should expect that when it comes to getting in God’s Word, our enemy is not going to make this seem easy.
As a matter of fact, a slew of excuses and eye rolls probably just bombarded your well intended spirit.
But hang on. Because while many habits you pursue may not produce the results or rewards that you had hoped for, choosing to create the habit of personally and consistently getting into God’s Word and storing it up in your heart, mind and spirit will ALWAYS give you a phenomenal return!

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
Do I feel like I have it all together and know what I am doing when it comes to searching God’s Word?
Does it stop me from rolling up my sleeves and getting in there?
Listen, if you were starving, would you not eat simply because you had not been given the title “Iron Chef”?
Would you just sit around and wait for someone to throw the food you need on your plate or even stick it in your mouth?
The last time I checked, the only people that wait for someone to stick food in their mouths are BABIES.
Ouch, I know.
It’s time to get fed by going to the spiritual kitchen and saying, “Daddy, my spirit needs food. I am hungry! Show me what to eat, how to eat it.” And guess what? He will provide!

So it is time to put on your big kid britches and allow the Holy Spirit to have a one on one conversation with you through the His Word.

Hebrews 6:1 (The Message)

"So come on, let's leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ..."

You, yes YOU CAN do this!
It's not about getting it perfect or doing it just like someone else.
If something about your effort didn't tickle your fancy, then change things up.
The Holy Spirit will lead you along the way

Let’s cover some basics that will be sure to help as you endeavor to DIG, PLANT, WATER:
1. DIG: In order to DIG, get a Bible you love. If aesthetics are a big thing for you, then get a pretty or handsome Bible that appeals to you! If you like a certain version, then make sure you have that one to open each time you sit down. The point is…get or get rid of anything that you could use as an excuse to NOT open the Word.
2. PLANT: If you want to plant, get a journal. Ok for all of you- especially men- who just went, “Ugh!” …hear me out. This is not for you to win the Pulitzer Prize, this is simply for you to focus on the Lord. When you write down what He is showing you, you are planting that truth in your life, in your heart, in your mind. When you write a prayer to Him, it will focus your heart and mind in a new way. Don’t we all write down things we want to remember or that are important to us? Then why in the world wouldn’t we write down what God is doing in our life? Journal, computer, notebook, etc…just WRITE. Before long, it will be the unquestionable companion to your Bible.
3. WATER: To nourish that planting, get note cards/index cards. Blank, lined, white, color, spiral bound, binder….the choice is yours.

Now this next part may sound crazy, so stay with me…….open your Bible.
Yep, somewhere between the covers, find a page.
Is there a certain book of the Bible that is coming to mind? Go there and search through various chapters. Something will stick out to you.
Have something that is on your heart? Think of a keyword and then go to the back of the Bible to the part marked “concordance” and find that word. Look through some of the verses listed under that word.
Have a daily devotional that you read? Open to the scripture found there and explore from there.
The key is to not dismiss it when something seems to be highlighted in your spirit as you read. Even if you are not sure why at first, stop and pay attention to what is in front of you.
Read it again and again.
Look at the scripture notes on that verse at the bottom of the page.
Read any verses that are cross referenced with that verse.
Read the surrounding passages.

Next, write down the verse in your journal. I always write the date as well, so I can look back at when the Lord led me to that verse.
Then, simply write what that verse means to you or how it applies to your life and/or situation.
You may even want to write any prayer that you have in regard to how you desire to see this verse come alive in your life! Share your heart with the Lord and willingly deepen your intimacy with Him!

(I will go into my personal Bible study method/appraoch in more detail in another blog post. Right now we are just focusing on how to dig in and find verses to apply and memorize. Eventually, as the habit grows, the two will become one.)

Now, don’t just close everything and walk away!
You want to claim this truth that the Lord has given to replace the lie in your life; claim the life that He has given to replace the death!
But obviously, you can’t walk around all day with your Bible and journal open before you.
So how can you WATER?
Write the verse down on an index card and place it anywhere your eyes will be during the day!
Put it on your dash, on your bathroom mirror, inside your briefcase, on your doorframes, on your door, inside your purse/wallet, in your pocket, on your cubicle/desk, above the baby’s changing table, the refrigerator door…and the list goes on.
Even write it on your hand!
If you choose to write them on spiral bound index cards or ones in a binder, keep it with you and flip through it during the day so you can claim them every chance you get!

In more detail, this is how the WATERing looks in my life…
About 8 years ago, my Big Sissy blessed me with what she called a “Watering Can”(thank you Shay!).
It is a binder for index cards that had sections for me, my children, marriage, etc. where I could write and place verses to claim/believe for those particular areas of my life.
Since that time, I have added many index cards!
For me, I use my Watering Can more for the long range, where I write promises I continually want to claim over these areas.
For the needs that arise and change week to week, day to day, I also keep spiral bound index cards or individual cards on which I write verses that apply to those specific things I am currently dealing with in my life.
For example, if I am feeling inadequate at what the Lord is asking me to do, I might write out
1 Thessalonians 5:24, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

We all go through different seasons of our lives, where we deal with some things more intensely than others and we need God’s truth in our face to guide us as often as possible. Or there may be certain things that we know are always weak areas /areas the enemy tries to attack.
For the different seasons and areas of weakness, I sit down and DIG for verses in the Word. Then I place them in strategic places in my home.
If I am having trouble with self esteem, I will be sure to place a Truth right on my mirror where I know the paralyzing lies will pop into my head.
If I am having trouble sleeping soundly, I will place a verse about God assuring my rest right beside my bed.
If I am snapping at my kids while we are having school, I will place a verse about guarding my tongue in the school room in plain view!
And I could go on and on…
I have verses all over my house in what might seem like crazy places, but it works!

Another thing I do is to put useless time to work.
Let me explain…
Put verses you want to memorize in front of the toilet!(No further explanation on that one…)
If you wash dishes, keep small plastic frame behind the sink where you can change out verses.
When I work out, I choose a verse before I go-sometimes new, sometimes a more familiar one- to recite during my workout. I yell it, close my eyes and say it over and over, whatever I need to do to help me get through that last rep!
I put verses on the dash of my car to read at a red light or other such moments.
The verses on my bathroom mirror I read while I brush my teeth, dry my hair, etc. Just think how much time that ends up being in a week!

I am sure you can think of “dead” time in your day that you can turn into “life” by placing God’s word in it!
Don't feel hopeless and heap on condemnation because you do nothing.
Just do something.

So if you ever wonder why I carry that big ole Bible bag, why I write so feverishly in my journal, or why I keep pulling out index cards, it’s all because I am choosing to DIG, PLANT, and WATER.
I am hungry.
I am thirsty.
I am nowhere near the place I could be with Jesus and I just can’t get enough of Him.
My walk with Him is never perfect, so THANK YOU LORD FOR YOUR GRACE! :)
This is simply a glimpse at some of the things I do in an attempt to get more of Him and less of me.

What will YOU do?

Deuteronomy 6: 5-9
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

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