I am passionate about deep and enduring discipleship . . . learning not only to be like Jesus, but to be with Jesus; to rest with Him and develop in relationship with The Father. For all of the conversations that are graced with phrases of ‘the gospel,’ I have seen that we could use more emphasis on the Person to whom we have been reconciled. Through Jesus, we have been re-born into the family of God. There is such rich friendship available to us if we want it. Not only with other believers, but with God Himself . . . when we choose to draw near.

Many people feel unaware of any guidance, unable to discern or understand the signals of God; not because the signals are not given, but because the mind is too troubled, clouded, and hurried to receive them.

Evelyn Underhill

I came across that quote this week via Unhurried Living‘s instagram feed, and it resonated with so many conversations I’ve had with friends in recent years. From time to time I have thought to share a list of what has ‘worked’ for me as it pertains to cultivating intimacy with the Holy Spirit; friendship with King Jesus and our Father, and deep, enduring peace. For various reasons, I’ve hesitated to do so, but now feels like a good time.

As a disclaimer, I’m not claiming to have everything figured out, or suggesting that a life of faith in God can be formulaically approached. I’m not recommending any of these people or resources as flawless nor am I trashing what I’ve walked away from. I’m simply sharing the pruning that I have seen bear fruit in my life . . . I have grown in character, and the goodness of God has only become more real and experiential to me. My encouragement to you is to be patient and intentional in your pursuit of God, and allow Him to direct yall’s relationship. 🙂


rise & abide

LIVING A ROBUST LIFE MEANS SUBMITTING TO THE CIRCADIAN RHYTHM THAT GOD GAVE THE WORLD.

A. J. SHERRILL

I think sometimes the way we see ourselves – who we have decided we are – can be one of the biggest hindrances to growth. In life, in general, but especially as it pertains to developing in our discipleship. Without delving into the additional disclaimers about seasons of life and specific circumstances, I recommend waking up early at least a few times a month – even if you aren’t “a morning person.” . . . and more than just waking up, getting up. Out of bed and outside if you are able.

Some of my most meaningful moments of friendship with God have been when I was cold and ‘up’ before the sun arose. It’s not always glamorous, but I have never once regretted it. The ‘sacrifices’ I have made for early communion with God hardly feel worth that label . . . for practicality’s sake I will share what this has looked like for me in different seasons . . .

When I worked as a nanny in the SOMA district of San Francisco, I caught an early early train to give myself space in every way . . . fewer people, more margin for unforeseen delays, and the mental space of not actually being in hurry. During the train ride across the Bay I would listen to worship music and silently speak to God about the stirrings in my soul.

When I worked in the Financial District of San Francisco, I took an early train for similar reasons, but rather than showing up to nanny at 7AM, I used to cozy up in Crocker Galleria or the Specialty’s at one of the downtown BART stations with music and my bible and a journal. What I liked about Crocker Galleria was that it was a public space {aka free}, but it was also safe and well-kept. Specialty’s was nice for warm & cozy beverages and incorporated people-watching and city-inspo . . . essentially having coffee with your Friend who happens to be God, ha. God can help you figure out where to meet Him in ways that are safe and don’t always necessitate spending money or require lots of ‘trappings.’ And. Time with Him is worth the cost of gas or a coffee or a roadtrip or a weekend away.

When I first moved back to the East Coast, I worked at a local university and shared a room with my cousin in her parent’s home. Monday – Friday I would get to campus early and sit by the fire place in the student union and type or write my thoughts out as prayers to God before heading into the office. During this season I would also head to bed around 9PM so that I could listen to a sermon before going to sleep at 10. I found that the sleep schedule recommended by sleep hygienists {10PM – 6AM} works well to reset me when my life has gotten wonky. Listening to sermons or reading a paper bible before bed has also increased the quality of my sleep, and made it easier to rise early & abide.

When God blessed me with the Turf Shack I had the liberty to play my guitar and sing early and play my music out loud and listen to sermons while I took my time in my very own kitchen and while I did my makeup. I also had a 40 minute commute during which I’d listen to music and pray out loud in my car. Having the privacy to verbally process with God is something that I have really appreciated.

Now that I live with a roommate and have a more flexible work schedule, I often get up for early coffee and breakfast either in my room or at a coffee shop, or I pack a snack and head to one of the nearby parks.

Sometimes I just drive toward the sunrise and loop around back to home.

acknowledge God

A theme you will see as I walk through these lifestyle habits is the simple principle of acknowledging God in all of your ways {Proverbs 3:6}. I find the term translated ‘acknowledge’ here really helpful . . . loop God into your internal dialogue, and then listen.

When thoughts come about what you should do, turn it into a question and direct it to God . . . what should I eat for lunch today becomes God, what should I do for lunch? Give yourself a minute to activate your spiritual ears {if you will} and you may suddenly be reminded of those last four slices of turkey you forgot were in the fridge that might actually be really good chopped up with the greens that are about to expire and the olives you’ve been meaning to get to. Someone may text you an invitation, or you may find yourself coming across a social media post that gives you a hankering for your favorite arepa situation. It’s a place to start. Not every thought or inclination, every ad or coincidence is God speaking to you, but when you are actively acknowledging and inviting Him into your daily decision making, His leadership is sometimes that ‘common.’

I’ve been trolled and roasted for this, but I am pretty intentional about not allowing myself to be reliant on or ‘fully integrate’ with technology. Technology is an incredibly helpful tool and a terrible counterfeit to the Holy Spirit. Rather than ask my phone for quick facts or suggestions, I will typically ask the Holy Spirit to bring something to my remembrance and make me aware of the best option in a situation. I also like to make a practice of navigating without my GPS sometimes to keep my brain sharp and my spirit sensitive.

Specific thankfulness to God is another way to acknowledge Him. As our culture has become more open to and hospitable to mindfulness and gratitude and other approaches to more intentional living, I’ve noticed that it has become easy for God and His glory to get lost in the murkiness of vague, amalgamated terminology. So as you are practicing gratitude, direct specific thanksgiving to God. Attribute your joys and successes and things working out well to His thoughtful care of you.

And don’t allow the culture’s inclination towards offense and the lowest common denominator keep you from celebrating what good God has done. It is true that we are called to weep with those who weep. But we are also called to always rejoice, and to rejoice with those who are rejoicing.

turn down the volume

We have the glorious goodness of living in an age {and most of my readers, in a place} with ready access to the Word of God and all kinds of translations and channels. With that comes the challenges of discernment that have always existed, but are in a sense amplified as the number of voices increases. So. If you find yourself in a season where you feel like you can’t hear from God or can’t hear clearly, stop listening to everybody else. I’m not saying don’t listen to anybody else. I am saying be selective.

One of the volumes I turned off completely a few years ago that made an instant and remarkable difference was the YouVersion Bible app. No shade to it, but it was far too busy for me. I had noticed myself getting overwhelmed every time I opened it. So many graphics and scrolling banners and short bible studies to choose from. I needed to see less. Paper doesn’t have blue light or notifications.

Reduce the number of podcasts and sermons you listen to. There are lot of gifted, faithful bible teachers in our generation. And. Accumulating virtual teachers is not the same thing as being proximally connected to a body of believers. Go a few weeks only listening to the pastor of the church you attend and only reading your paper bible. Take a break from the famous platforms {unless that’s your church, ha} and let commentaries rest. It’s easier to hear from God when you’re not constantly evaluating what someone else believes about Him. And keep in mind that we all only see in part {1 Corinthians 13}. I am learning to be prayerful about what part{s} God is revealing to me, and be slow to speak about the rest of it.

be spiritually selective

Because I am a songwriter, I have found that my spiritual filter is strongest as it pertains to music. What I mean by this is that I realized a while ago that I need to listen to a variety of music and lyrics as part of my own artistic process and to process the pulse of this world. However; I am also aware of the fact that we are constantly bombarded by godlessness, skewed perspectives, and wearisome spiritual influences. For this reason, I tend not to watch very many tv series or movies. I don’t want the nonsense coming at me from every direction, ha.

There’s also a lot of music that I just won’t listen to, but I can sense that I have been graced with the internal equipment to sift through the junk and shenanigans of the music that does appeal to me, and take what I need from any given song. Sometimes songs appeal to me, but I perceive that they’re not influencing me in a good way so I won’t listen to those either. Basically, I just pay attention to my conscience, which is easier to hear when there is less competing for my attention.

In being more discriminative in what resources, entertainment, and inspiration I consume, I have found the following to be particularly nourishing to my spirit and soul:


Absolution | Josh White
Signs of Life | Edge Kingsland
Full Attention | Jeremy Riddle
God Is Good | Don Moen
this simple christian music playlist

Drawing Near | John Bevere
An Unhurried Life | Alan Fadling
The Reset | Jeremy Riddle

literally walk with God

Go outside and walk the earth He created . . . with Him. This is the same planet that He has Acted on all along . . . from Genesis to Jesus and until and when and after He comes back again.

Create space for an intentionally slow and uninterrupted prayer walk. As Psalm 62 encourages us, pour your heart out before Him. He is a refuge for us. Walk early in the morning or take a ten minute turn about on your lunch break or a four-hour traipse on the weekend. Just walk with Him and listen. Say no to something {or someone} else and spend time alone with God instead.

Live reconciled to the Giver of the gospel.

. . .  we implore you on behalf of Christ, 
be reconciled to God. 

2 corinthians 5:20


take heart,
R.

3 responses to “the Giver of the gospel”

  1. This is so good. Just like our human relationships need tending to, so does our relationship with God. I am in the middle of a “right on time” sermon series that’s leading me through a transition from one chapter in my life to the next, and I’m finding it incredibly helpful. Totally believe God is using it to push (encourage) me through this change. However, I’m becoming weary of “God, give me your message for me from this person’s mouth.” I feel exhausted with having to discern my lessons from the teachings of others–whether it’s the sermon I’m listening to or the book I’m reading (Jackie Hill-Perry’s Holier Than Thou). Sometimes trying to understand the Bible itself exhausts me. My relationship with God is headed for a refresh in this next season, and your suggestions for ways to intentionally connect with Him are going to come in handy. Especially the reminder that a little gas or money is worth the cost of communing with God. I am guilty of “I don’t feel like driving to the beach” even when my spirit is prompting me there because it truly is the place I feel closest to God. I owe Him so much more than an hour (or two and a half) drive to the beach early in the morning to spend quiet time in His presence without the distraction of the people I love or the “to-dos” I can see while having worship in my room. Thank you for the reminder. 💐

    Liked by 1 person

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