Friday

How WILAG Energized My Quiet Time

WILAG.

What is WILAG?

It’s not the latest Nintendo game, nor is it what happens when little people get tired. WILAG (WEE-lag) is a simple technique that has energized my quiet time. I’m excited to share it with you in the hopes it will breathe new life and power into your devotional time, too. 

WILAG stands for What I Learned About God. Here’s how it works: Every morning, before I conclude my time of Bible reading, I ask myself, In light of what I just read,WILAG? What have I Learned About God? This may seem like an overly-simplistic question, but it’s crucial for several reasons.

First, it’s easy to open our Bibles, read a section, and close them again without really taking something away—something we can meditate on all day long. How often have you read a passage of Scripture and ten minutes later struggled to recall what you’d read? Me too. WILAG can help by forcing us to read purposefully.

Second, God’s designed his Word to be useful. But like healing ointment or nourishing food, God’s Word only works if we apply it. Reading without thoughtful introspection and application is like glancing at a banquet table laden with food instead of sitting down and digging in. Asking myself WILAG makes me stop and ponder. It encourages me to mentally sift through what I just read to find a nugget of God’s character.


Third, WILAG helps me fall more in love with God. When I was dating my husband, every time we were together I saw new aspects of his character. When I watched him interact with my younger sister, I discovered he was kind. When I heard him share his faith, I discovered he was concerned about the lost. When I saw him kiss his mother, I discovered he was tender.

Every attribute I saw in my husband made me fall more and more in love with him. The same thing happens when I ask myself WILAG after reading a passage of Scripture. WILAG in the story of the prodigal son shows me God’s unconditional love. WILAG in the story of Joseph shows me his sovereignty over circumstances. WILAG in the story of Lazarus shows me his power over death. Every attribute of God I discover makes me fall more and more in love with him.

Finally, WILAG gives me something to share. Every Christmas I drop money in the Salvation Army kettles. This year, I encountered a bell ringer at least four times before I donated. Why? Because I seldom carry cash. I had money at home, but it did the nice lady standing outside Wal Mart trying to fill her kettle absolutely no good, because I didn’t have it with me and readily available.

The same thing happens with biblical truth. If I read it early in the morning and then leave it at home, I have nothing to give when I encounter a needy soul. If I’ve asked myself WILAG at the end of my quiet time and written it down in my journal, I can recall more easily what I’ve learned about God. Easy recall makes for easy sharing. I just reach into my mental WILAG pocket and pull out a spiritual truth.

It’s been my experience that God will often show me a truth about himself during my early morning quiet time and later give me the perfect opportunity to share it with someone. If I’ve WILAGed, I’m ready.

If your devotional time has gotten a little stale, I encourage you to try WILAG. Read a passage of Scripture, ask yourself what have I learned about God?, and write it down in a journal. Think about it during the day, and be ready to share it. Most likely, God will send someone across your path who also needs what God has shown you about himself.

Now it’s your turn. What technique have you used to energize your devotional time? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.


I had the most fun with the ladies of Riverland Hills Baptist Church on Monday night. I shared my new presentation, "Stepping Out, How Our Footwear Impacts Our Faith." Four hundred women (and a host of kind men who served them) enjoyed a meal catered by the Blue Marlin restaurant, special music, tons of door prizes, and a time of encouragement to walk out our faith in these troubled times. In the true spirit of the evening, some wore their favorite footwear. Check out Darlene's amazing boots, pictured at right. 

If you'd like to bring "Stepping Out," to your church or women's ministry event, visit my Speaking Ministry page for more details.



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Thursday

Forget Trump, I Need Your Vote!

I'm so excited!

Hungry for God ... Starving for Time, my five-minute devotional for busy women, has entered the race--the race to become one of the Christian Small Publisher Association's Books of the Year.

But, as Trump, Rubio, Cruz, and the host of other men and women asking for your vote would say, 

"It can't happen without your help!"

Will you take a moment to vote for Hungry for God? It takes less than 5 minutes, you don't have to show your voter ID, and I would be SO grateful. 


Thank you from the bottom of my very excited heart :)

Lori

Monday

Why We Love Feeding People

What is it about us that enjoys feeding people? 


In my family, it goes way back. “Eat!” my grandmother would say. “You’re too thin!” She’d fry up Portuguese doughnuts dusted heavily with sugar and set them before my sisters and me. Watching us devour her goodies, she’d smile a contented smile. 

One of my favorite memories is of preparing my youngest daughter’s 8th birthday breakfast. I was committed to feeding my family a low-sugar, no-junk food diet, but on her birthday, healthy went out the window. The birthday girl could request anything she wanted. 

She chose three of her favorite foods—chocolate chip pancakes, sausage, and ice cream with chocolate syrup. Seeing her eyes sparkle when I brought her tray into her bedroom was a joy. Watching her devour her special food made me happy. 

Now that I’m a grandma, I’m having fun introducing my 2-year-old granddaughter to new foods. When she was a tiny girl, she loved strawberries. She’d eat the leaves and all if we didn’t watch her. She tasted watermelon for the first time at my house. Knowing it was going to be a messy process, we stripped her down to her diaper and sat her in the middle of the table. Barely old enough to sit up, she held a watermelon chunk in both hands and gummed her way to watermelon heaven. The memory of that day still makes me smile. 

As a special treat at Christmas time, I gave her one of my favorite holiday goodies, a Peanut Butter Temptation. Baked in a mini muffin pan, these heavenly treats combine two of my favorites—a peanut butter cookie and a Reese’s peanut butter cup. She was delighted, and so was I. 

Today I filled my bird feeder with black oil sunflower seeds for the first time this winter. It didn’t take long for the cardinals, chickadees, titmouses, and nuthatches to find the feast I left for them. They swarmed my feeder, returning again and again to fill their bellies. Every time I passed the window, I felt happy. 


Watching my feathered friends feast and replaying my food memories makes me wonder if God takes equal delight in feeding us. Does it bring him pleasure to hear us sigh contentedly after a delicious meal? Does he grin happily when we return thanks for a bountiful Thanksgiving meal or a church potluck? Does his heart warm with satisfaction when we savor warm soup on a cold night? 

Our heavenly Father loves to meet our needs. Like I happily shared my favorite Christmas goody with my granddaughter, God delights in providing for us. And because he is a father who loves to give good gifts to his children, he doesn’t stop at the minimum. Sometimes he serves us chocolate chip pancakes, sausage, AND ice cream with chocolate syrup, just because. 

If you’re thankful for God’s generous hand of provision, why not join me in thanking God? Father, thank you for your generous heart toward us. Thank you for providing not just our needs, but our wants as well. Thank you for giving us the ability to taste food, share it with others, and return thanks. Help us never take it for granted, but always be mindful of where it came from. We love you, God. Amen.

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Mat. 6:26).




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Thursday

Three Secrets to Living Longer

A recent study, detailed in Health magazine, “found that four bad behaviors—smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, and not eating enough fruits and veggies—can hustle you into an early grave, and, in effect, age you by as many as 12 years.” 

These results don’t surprise me. The medical community has known this for a long time. What does surprise me is that after an extensive Internet search, none of the top articles I read addressing the topic of longevity reported what I learned this morning during my Bible reading time. 

I discovered three secrets to help us live a long and happy life: 

1. Keep God’s commands. 

Proverbs 3:1-2 says: "My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity." Wow, not just prolong my life, but prolong my life MANY years. AND bring me prosperity. 

How does this work? Let’s think it through. If I’m honoring God’s commands, I’m not going to make many of the lifestyle choices that lead to premature death. I suspect thieves and murderers have a considerably shorter life expectancy than law-abiding citizens. Those destined for the electric chair certainly do. 

Honoring God’s commands also means that we’re less likely to engage in reckless or foolish behavior, irresponsible eating and drinking, and life-destroying relationships. A woman who has chosen to honor God with her body won’t be sleeping around and catching an STD, nor will she be driving drunk. 

If she’s applying God’s commandments to her life, she’s also going to be developing solid, strong friendships, a life enhancing quality, according to Prevention magazine. She’s going to be working hard caring for her family and her home, another life-extending behavior. And she’s going to have less stress, because it’s impossible to simultaneously worry and trust God. 

From a financial standpoint (remember the second half of the promise in Psalm 3:1-2, prosperity), applying God’s commands mean we’re less likely to engage in financially reckless behavior. We’ll save instead of spending carelessly. We’ll give to the church and other worthy causes. We’ll avoid indebtedness, repay what we owe in a timely manner, and pay our taxes. Financial advisers like Dave Ramsey agree that following these practices will help bring about prosperity. 

What do you know? God’s Word is spot on. “Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess” (Deut. 5:33). 

2. Honor our parents. 

Deuteronomy 5:16 commands us to "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you.” Ephesians 6 calls it “the first command with a promise.” A promise. From God. To bless us. 

Honoring our parents means listening carefully to and considering their wisdom. It means treating them with respect, serving them unselfishly, and making time for them. When we honor our parents, we take into account their human frailties, personality quirks, and sin and love them anyway. Honoring them becomes an extension of worship to our Lord, our heavenly Father, and this pleases God. So much, that he promises to bless us and extend our lives. 

The final secret to help us live a long and happy life isn’t limited to our physical lives. If we put this next step into practice, we’ll not only have a reasonably good chance of living to a ripe, old age, we’ll live forever. 

3. Believe in Jesus Christ. 

Our lives on this earth are fleeting. Following God’s commands and honoring our parents will help extend and enhance them, but one day they will end. Our souls, however, will live on. What we’ve done with Jesus Christ will determine whether our souls will spend eternity in God’s presence or eternally separated from him. 

Thankfully, God has made provision for this as well. John 3:16 records his plan: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). 

Medical science has discovered much about longevity and life-extending practices. The truths found in God’s Word form the basis of this knowledge. Obeying God’s Word and honoring our parents will increase our chances of living a long life, but there are no guarantees. Godly believers who honor their parents still die, and some of them die young. This is why what matters most is what happens after our physical bodies die. Entrusting our souls to Jesus Christ is our only hope. 

But it is a strong and sure hope. 

Now it’s your turn. What life-extending practices have you embraced, and with which ones are you still struggling? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.



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Monday

How to Be Angry and Sin Not

It’s midnight Saturday night, and the music is blaring from our next-door neighbor’s house. In my husband’s BC (Before Christ) days, this would have been an invitation to a great evening, but now it’s just annoying. And frustrating. And about to make him angry. 

Unlike our partying neighbors, we plan to attend church in the morning. My husband, the pastor, doesn’t have the option to sit on the back pew and take a nap. He’s got to preach. And to be ready to preach, he’s got to get a good night’s sleep. But with the ground-pounding, window-rattling noise, sleep is impossible. 

We lie there, and I feel his body tensing in frustration. He tosses one way, then the other, mashing the pillow against the side of his head in an attempt to block out the noise. I grab the portable fan from the kitchen and turn it on high, hoping to drown the waves of music in a sea of white noise. It does little to muffle the pounding beat. 

His frustration, combined with anger and fatigue, finally does him in. He leaps from bed, storms out the door, and confronts our neighbor. 

It isn’t pretty. 

Or polite. Or God-honoring. My husband’s angry reaction was something he regretted later, when morning dawned, and he wasn’t so tired. He’s conscious of the fact that our neighbors don’t yet know the Lord, and he wants to be a good witness. Clashes like this hinder his attempts to develop a relationship with them, and, one day, share the Gospel. 

Anger, especially righteous anger, is a powerful thing. Our neighbors were unnecessarily loud and inconsiderate, and my husband’s complaint was justified. But even he, in the light of day, acknowledged that responding in anger wasn’t the best way to handle the situation. 

“Be angry and do not sin,” Psalm 4 warns us. James 1:20 tells us why: “for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” 

Thankfully, in addition to a warning, the fourth Psalm gives us guidance for how to deal with anger in a God-honoring way: 

“Be angry, and do not sin. 
Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. 
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, 
And put your trust in the Lord” (v 4-5). 

Several months after this incident, my husband had an opportunity to put these instructions into practice. 

It was 3 a.m., and we were startled awake by a car alarm sounding under our bedroom window. Peeking through the blinds to make sure no one was stealing our neighbor’s car, I saw his adult daughter drive off. “Must have hit the alarm by accident.” 

At least five times a day thereafter, our neighbor’s car alarm would sound. Four ear-splitting honks. It happened in the daytime, and it happened at night. One night it awakened us at 11 p.m., the next night at midnight. 

“I know what we’re going to,” my husband said one morning at breakfast. 

 “What?” 

“Bring ‘em a pound cake.”

“What?” 

“A pound cake. Getting angry doesn’t help, so let’s try a different approach. Let’s bake ‘em a pound cake.” 

So I did. And he took it over. And he didn’t say a word about the car horn. 

The next day, when the clock radio went off at 4:45, he said, “I’ve been awake since three, when the car alarm went off. I’m going to have to say something to them.” 

Uh oh, I thought. He left for work, and I prayed. Lord, you tell us not to sin in our anger. Please help David express his frustration without getting angry. Please help them have a conversation that glorifies you. 

Later that day, he told me what happened. 

“I was polite. I just told him how disturbing the alarm was and asked him what was going on. His daughter bought the car used, and it didn’t come with a key fob. Every time she unlocks the door, the horn starts blaring until she puts the key in the ignition. She’s about to pull her hair out. It’s embarrassing. Anyway, they’ve ordered a fob and hopefully it’ll be in soon. He apologized for the noise.” 

Success—and such a different outcome. 

Here are the four steps to take, according to Psalm 4, when we become angry: 

1. Acknowledge our anger, but do not sin. 

2. Meditate on God’s Word. Ask him to remind us of Scripture that applies to the situation. 

3. Respond with righteous acts instead of sinful ones. 

4. Trust God to either bring about a resolution or give us the grace to bear it. 

Our noisy neighbor situation is mild compared to some issues. Pound cake and a peaceful conversation might not defuse more complicated clashes, but, big or small, we can apply the steps laid out for us in Psalm 4 and trust God to work. His Word is trustworthy, wise, and given for our instruction. We do well to apply it. 

Now it’s your turn. Have you ever chosen to honor God in a situation, even though your emotions wanted to strike out in anger? What was the result? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your story.



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