Thursday, October 30, 2008

Breaking Through the Sound Barrier

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

Poor communication is the most frequently mentioned problem in marriage counseling. To really communicate, you must give up three things.

You must give up your assumptions. We get into trouble when we start assuming we understand the meaning of what people say to us. The truth is everything you hear goes through a filter. Your filter is determined by your past experiences and your unique personality.

You may not be hearing what the other person is really saying. Therefore, it’s smart (and safe) to ask for clarification. There are six possible messages every time you speak:

· What you mean to say and what you actually said.

· What they heard and what they think they heard.

· What they say about it and what you think they said about it.

Proverbs 18:13 (NLT) says, “What a shame, what folly, to give advice before listening to the facts!”

You must give up your accusations. You never get your point across by being cross. Anger and sarcasm only make people defensive and that kills communication.

Here are four common forms of accusation:

· Exaggerating – Making sweeping generalities like “You never” or “You always.”

· Labeling or derogatory name calling – Labeling never changes anyone. It only reinforces the negative behavior.

· Playing historian – Bringing up past failures, mistakes, and broken promises.

· Asking loaded questions which really can’t be answered, like “Can’t you do anything right?”

You must give up your apprehensions. Fear prevents honest communication. It causes us to conceal our true feelings and fail to confront the real issues. The two most common apprehensions are the fear of failure and the fear of rejection.

But real communication can happen when you face your fear and risk being honest. Freedom is the result of openness. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NLT).Rick Warren

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What’s Your Excuse?

The lazy person is full of excuses, saying, “If I go outside, I might meet a lion in the street and be killed!”

Proverbs 22:13 (NLT)

It’s rare to find people today who are willing to take complete responsibility for their actions. In the victimization that’s present in our culture, our problems are always someone else’s fault.

You can blame whoever you want – the government, your parents, the school you went to, television, your boss, or the rest of society. There’s no need for you to feel bad; anywhere you look there are people to blame.

Sometimes our excuses are quite humorous. Consider these actual statements given to insurance companies by people involved in car accidents:

· “In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole!”

· “Coming home, I drove into the wrong driveway and hit a tree I don’t have.”

· “The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.”

· “I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.”

· “I was on the way to the doctor’s office with rear-end trouble when my universal joint gave way, causing me to having an accident.”

· “I had been driving my car for 40 years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.”

· “The telephone poll was approaching fast. I attempted to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.”

· “The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him!”

Silly? Yes. But so are some of the excuses we offer, instead of taking responsibility for our mistakes, failures, and sins.

The Bible says, “The lazy person is full of excuses” (Proverbs 22:13 NLT). Ben Franklin once observed, “The person who is good at excuse-making is seldom good at anything else.”...Rick Warren

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Living the ‘Good Life’

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

A few years ago the planned community of Mission Viejo, California launched an advertising campaign to attract home buyers. They used phrases like “Mission Viejo: the California Promise” and “The place to live the Good Life.” Although “the Good Life” is a well-worn phrase in our culture, I wonder how many people have ever stopped to define what exactly it is.

For some people the Good Life is confused with looking good. They are preoccupied with appearance, as if that is all that really matters in life. In America our culture idolizes beauty and puts a premium on being attractive. Advertisers capitalize on this knowing that the promise of “looking good” causes us to spend billions on beauty products, tanning salons, plastic surgery, liposuction, custom color coordination, and the latest styles in clothing.

For others the Good Life is confused with feeling good. Their goal is the minimization of pain and the maximization of pleasure, and they will use whatever it takes to achieve it: hot tubs, Disneyland, cocaine, virtual reality, world travel, the latest movie. The pleasure and entertainment industry is now the largest industry in America. The old 60’s phrase, “If it feels good, do it” has become the modus operandi for much of our society.

For others the Good Life is confused with having the goods. Their chief ambition is to collect all the goods and goodies of life. They make as much as they can and spend it as fast as they can.

Some honestly identify their values with bumper stickers that say “The one with the most toys wins.” Others are not that brazen but they still believe that the Good Life is something that can be bought.

The truth is: none of these things ultimately satisfy.

· No matter what you do, you can’t stop the aging process.

· Pleasure is a by-product of the Good Life, not the goal of it.

· The greatest things in life are not things!

So what is the Good Life? It is the personal fulfillment and joy that comes from being good and doing good. It is the result of discovering and becoming exactly what God created you to be. Nothing else will fill that void in your soul.

The Bible says this: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).

When you use your life to help others, to do good, and to know and trust God, you will feel good about yourself. That is the Good Life. Don’t let anybody con you into thinking it is something else! Rick Warren

Monday, October 27, 2008

Beware of Shortcuts

People with integrity have firm footing, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.

Proverbs 10:9 (NLT)

A few summers ago my family took a car vacation. We loaded up our van and headed out for an adventure. Our only goal was to see the western half of the United States. By the end of our two week trip, we’d put over 5,000 miles on the odometer.

For most of the trip we simply focused on enjoying the journey rather than rushing toward a destination. But in one of the states we traveled through (which will remain unnamed) we were so bored with the scenery that I got the bright idea of taking a shortcut to the next major town.

Looking at the map, the road for the shortcut appeared just fine – a straight shot to the next town. It could save us about an hour of traveling time. So we got off the beaten path and took the alternate route.

Big mistake! The road was fraught with difficulties:

· Construction work ...

· A line of slow trucks that we couldn’t pass ...

· Cattle (then sheep) in the middle of the road ...

· Potholes the size of meteor craters ... and

· No gas station or restroom!

The bottom line: my proposed shortcut ended up taking longer, we nearly ran out of gas, and I had a very cranky family!

The lesson: Shortcuts are not always as good as they may seem. Sometimes the shortest distance to a goal is NOT a straight line.

We’re often tempted to cut corners in order to speed things up or make a greater profit. But ethical shortcuts or short-changing someone else will always come back to haunt us. The Bible warns us: “People with integrity have firm footing, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall” (Proverbs 10:9 NLT). Rick Warren

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Do It Now !!!!

If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NLT)

Most of us have experienced the 8 Phases of Procrastination:

Phase 1: Hopeful – “I’ll start early this time.”

Phase 2: A little tension – “I’ve got to start soon.”

Phase 3: Creeping guilt – “I should have started sooner.”

Phase 4: False reassurance – “There is still time to do it.”

Phase 5: Getting desperate – “What’s wrong with me?”

Phase 6: Intense pain – “I can’t wait any longer!”

Phase 7: Get it over with – “Just get it done!”

Phase 8: Cycle repeats – “Next time, I’ll start earlier.”

Procrastination does tremendous damage to ourselves and others at work. It causes unnecessary pressure and problems … and it wastes opportunities, time, and money.

The problem is: procrastination is addicting! The more you succumb to it, the harder it is to change. It becomes a way of life, causing you a lot of misery.

The Bible says, “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT).

· Stop making excuses!

· Realize perfectionism paralyzes performance!

· Face your fears!

· Focus on the gain, not the pain!


What have you been putting off that you know you need to do? … something at work … at home … at church? DO IT NOW!

Prayer: “God, help me to DO what I already know I need to do. Help me to do it NOW!”

Rick Warren

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Time of Your Life

Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

Ephesians 5:16 (MSG)

Why is it that time drags when you want it to pass quickly and flies when you need more of it? It’s not very cooperative!

Time is the great equalizer. We all have the same amount of it. The difference between successful people and average people is this: Achievers manage their time wisely. Rather than wasting time or spending time, they invest time. They make the most out of each moment.

In these difficult days, people are realizing that time is more important than money. Money is a renewable resource - there are always places to get more of it.

But time is a limited resource.

You only have a certain allotment of time in your life. When it's used up ... that’s it! YOUR TIME IS YOUR LIFE.

When you give someone your money, you’ve given them something that you can replace. But when you give someone your time, you've given them a part of your life. This means time management is really “life management.”

The Bible has this to say: “Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants” (Ephesians 5:15b-17 MSG).

You could summarize these verses this way:

1. Analyze Your Lifestyle. Be aware of where your time is going.

2. Utilize The Present. Make the most of this moment.

3. Recognize What’s Important. Focus on priorities that last.

A question to consider throughout the day: “How much of what I’m doing right now is going to count ten years from now … 50 years from now … or for eternity?”

You have just enough time to fulfill God’s purpose for your life. If you can’t get it all done it means:

1. You’re doing things God never intended for you to do, or

2. You’re doing the right thing in the wrong way.

Prayer: “God, help me to manage my time wisely this week.”

Rick Warren

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Faith Is Active

When will you ever learn that “believing” is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith.

James 2:20 (LB)

Is faith simply a frame of mind? Some see it that way … a passive attribute of a Christian waiting to see what God has in store for you: a promotion, cancer, depression, betrayal, blessing, wealth, or injustice. They might say, “I’ll just wait to see what God is going to do for me and go with the flow.” That’s crazy talk.

Faith is active. It’s not passive. It’s a commitment. Look at your lifestyle and see what kinds of actions follow as a result of it. If you’ve got the real stuff, faith can be demonstrated.

When you were baptized you made a statement to God and the people around you. You said, “I’m in!” But it doesn’t stop at baptism – not by a long shot! What else do you do? You start following the pattern of Jesus. Faith is proven by how we live. Don’t misinterpret this. What you do – your walking around, everyday life – doesn’t get you into heaven. It doesn’t make you saved. It doesn’t mean you’re a Christian; it shows you are a Christian.

The next steps:

· Celebrate the lavish gift of grace. You were saved because Jesus is crazy about you and wants you to be with him in heaven. Revel in it!

· Show your faith. Wedding rings don’t make you married, but they say yes in a visible way. In the same way, baptism isn’t the thing that will get you into heaven but it’s an act of obedience. (Jesus commanded us to baptize and be baptized.)

· Share your faith with the people around you. If you are excited about what God has done in your life, then why not share it? There are lots of ways to do that. Get plugged into serving God. There are literally millions of possibilities. Point people to Jesus and love them like Jesus did. It’ll be something you will relish for eternity......Rick Warren

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Don’t Quit

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.”

Hebrews 10:36-37 (NIV)

If you’re discouraged because of God’s delay in answering your prayers, understand the delay is NOT a denial. Just because the answer or the miracle hasn’t come – yet – that doesn’t mean God isn’t going to answer or that he’s forgotten you or that he doesn’t care about you. It simply means “not yet!”

Spiritual maturity is knowing the difference between “no” and “not yet,” between a denial and a delay. The Bible tells us, “He who is coming will come and will not delay” (Hebrews 10:37 NIV).

The delay may be a test of your patience. Anybody can be patient once. And, anybody can be patient twice. And, just about anybody can be patient three times. So God tests you patience over and over and over.

Why? To see how patient you are?

No, he does it to show you how patient you are. So you’ll know what’s inside of you, and you’ll be able to know your level of commitment. God tests you so that you can know he is faithful, even if the answers you seek are delayed.

If you’re discouraged, turn it around by remembering God teaches you patience during delay. Ask him to transform your discouragement into patience.

You may be going through difficult times right now and feel like dropping off the planet. You’re discouraged because the situation you face seems unmanageable, unreasonable, or unfair.

It may seem unbearable and inside you’re basically saying, “God, I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t take it anymore!”

But you can.

You can stay with it longer because God is with you. He’ll enable you to press on. Remember, you are never a failure until you quit.

Don’t quit. Resist discouragement and finish the race God has set before you.....Rick Warren

Monday, October 20, 2008

How to Resolve Conflict with Your Spouse (Part 3)

Wisdom … is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others .

James 3:17 (LB)

If you’re going to pull together when you’re pulled apart, you have to:

Concentrate on reconciliation, not resolution. Reconciliation means to re-establish the relationship; resolution means to resolve every issue by coming to agreement on everything.

That’s simply not going to happen. I don’t care if you both love the Lord and are both deeply in love with each other, there are some things you’ll never agree on because God has wired each of us differently.

But you can disagree without being disagreeable. That’s called wisdom. The Bible says in James 3, “Wisdom … is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and it is willing to yield to others.”

The Bible says it’s wise to compromise. You can have unity without uniformity. You can walk hand-in-hand without seeing eye-to-eye. You can have reconciliation without resolution of every issue.

Some of you are worn out from the conflict in your marriage. You want to throw in the towel. Don’t do it! It is more rewarding to resolve a conflict than to dissolve a relationship.

Let me close with a couple of suggestions:

1. Get help. Many marriages are miserable, and they go year after year with the same old problems because the couple doesn’t seek professional help. Don’t go to just anybody; get a godly counselor who bases his/her practice on God’s Word.

2. Let God help. The other thing you need to do is get help from God. You can’t do this on your own. I’ve seen these steps work, but you need Christ’s power to work them.

Many marriage conflicts could be solved overnight if both the husband and wife would kneel before Jesus and say, “We humble ourselves and humbly ask you to make this thing work. We submit our egos to you and our hurts to you. Jesus, do what only you can do.”....Rick Warren

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stay Blessed

Three things in life that, once gone, never come back
1. Time
2.. Words
3. Opportunity

Three things in life that can destroy a person

1. Anger
2. Pride
3. Unforgiveness

Three things in life that you should never lose

1. Hope
2. Peace
3. Honesty

Three things in life that are most valuable
1.. Love
2. Family & Friends
3. Kindness

Three things in life that are never certain

1. Fortune
2. Success
3. Dreams

Three things that make a person
1. Commitment
2. Sincerity
3. Hard work

Three things that are truly constant -
Father - Son - Holy Spirit

I ask the Lord to bless you, as I pray for you today,
to guide you and protect you, as you go along your way.
God's love is always with you, God's promises are true.
And when you give God all your cares, you know God will see you through.

Please pass this along to people you want God to bless.
I just did!

Do not curse the darkness
Light a candle instead

Friday, October 17, 2008

How to Resolve Conflict with Your Spouse (Part 2)

Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you … in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves.

Philippians 2:3-4 (PH)

If you’re going to pull together when you’re pulled apart, you have to:

Convene a peace conference. Conflict does not resolve itself. It must be dealt with intentionally. Conflict gets worse when you leave it alone. Jesus says don’t ignore it. Deal with the issue while you can. If you’ve got something wrong with somebody or they’ve got something wrong with you, God says you go to them.

When? At once. Postponed conflict only gets worse. Another verse in the Bible says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26 HCSB). I think that means 24 hours would be the maximum amount of time you should let something go unresolved. You need to settle it as soon as possible, before it festers and turns into bitterness.

Consider my mate’s perspective. I can’t just look at my own viewpoint, my own situation; I have to look at your viewpoint too. This is very difficult because it’s not natural. It requires an intentional shift where I have to change my focus from looking at my needs to looking at your needs. It takes God to do that.

When you understand where people are coming from, it’s so much easier. The better you understand your mate, the less conflict you’re likely to have with him or her.

How do you learn to understand your spouse? Listen. Listen more than you talk. This again is not easy for many of us. It’s not easy for me. Some of us get so anxious to make our point, to tell our side, to defend ourselves that we don’t even stop to listen to the other person’s point of view or what they are saying.

You are most like Christ when you ask, “What are her/his needs and how can I meet them?” When you’re angry, you’re preoccupied with yourself. But when you’re like Christ, you look to each other’s interests and not merely your own. One of the most powerful peacemaking statements you can say to your husband/wife is, “I’m sorry. I was only thinking of myself.”...Rick Warren

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How to Resolve Conflict with Your Spouse (Part 1)

You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

James 4:2 (NIV)

Sometimes the biggest conflicts in marriage are over the most trivial issues. One of the silliest fights Kay and I ever had was over bath soap.

If you’re going to pull together when you’re pulled apart, you have to:

Call on God for help. Pray about it. Before you go to your spouse about the problem, discuss it with God. This may solve the problem right there. Practice what I call “ventilating vertically.” Many of you are very good at ventilating horizontally, but ventilating vertically is when you come to God and say, “Here’s how I feel,” and you just lay it out.

James 4:2 teaches, “You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God” (NIV). Conflict often occurs when we expect other people to meet needs that only God himself can meet in our lives.

Confess your part of the conflict. Before I start attacking and blaming, I need to do a frank evaluation and ask, “How much of this conflict is my fault? I need to do an honest checkup and admit my part. When you’re wrong, admit it. And when you’re right, shut up!

Be honest. Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck in another’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? … First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly” (GNT).

I need to ask, “Am I being unrealistic? Am I being insensitive? Am I being overly sensitive? Am I being too demanding? Am I being ungrateful?”

Tomorrow we’ll look at two more steps to resolving conflict with your spouse...Rick Warren

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How to Develop Self-Discipline

God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NCV)

God wants you to develop a self-discipline that pushes you to do things, even as others are giving up.

Over the years, I’ve observed six key expressions of self-discipline:

People with self-discipline master their moods. They live by their commitments, not their emotions. People who do the right thing even when they don’t feel like it accomplish most of what gets done in the world! “A man without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls” (Proverbs 25:28 LB).

People with self-discipline watch their words. They put their minds in gear before opening their mouths. “He who guards his lips guards his life” (Proverbs 13:3 NIV).

People with self-discipline restrain their reactions. How much can you take before you lose your cool? “If you are sensible, you will control your temper. When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it” (Proverbs 19:11 GNT).

People with self-discipline stick to their schedule. If you don’t determine how you will spend your time you can be sure that others will decide for you! “Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility … Make the best use of your time” (Ephesians 5:15–16 PH).

People with self-discipline manage their money. They learn to live on less than what they make and they invest the difference. The value of a budget is that it tells your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went! “The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets” (Proverbs 21:20 LB).

People with self-discipline maintain their health. That way they can accomplish more and enjoy their achievements. “Every one of you should learn to control his body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect” (1 Thessalonians 4:4 PH).

The disciplines you establish today will determine your success tomorrow. But it takes more than just willpower for lasting self-discipline. It takes a power greater than yourself: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT/NCV).

The more I accept God’s control over my life, the more self-control he gives me!!! Rick Warren

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How to Overcome Discouragement

Then the people of Judah said, “The work crews are worn out, and there is too much rubble. We can’t continue to rebuild the wall.”

Nehemiah 4:10 (GWT)

Discouragement is curable. Whenever I get discouraged, I head straight to Nehemiah. This great leader of ancient Israel understood there were four reasons for discouragement.

First, you get fatigued. You simply get tired as the laborers did in Nehemiah 4:10. We’re human beings and we wear out. You cannot burn the candle at both ends. So if you’re discouraged, it may be you don’t have to change anything. You just need a vacation! Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.

Second, you get frustrated. Nehemiah says there was rubble all around, so much that it was getting in the way of rebuilding the wall. Do you have rubble in your life? Have you noticed that anytime you start doing something new, the trash starts piling up?

If you don’t clean it out periodically, it’s going to stop your progress. You can’t avoid it, so you need to learn to recognize it and dispose of it quickly so you don’t lose focus on your original intention.

What is the rubble in your life? I think rubble is the trivial things that waste your time and energy and prevent you from accomplishing what God has called you to do.

Third, you think you’ve failed. Nehemiah’s people were unable to finish their task as quickly as originally planned and, as a result, their confidence collapsed. They were thinking, “We were stupid to think we could ever rebuild this wall.”

But you know what I do when I don’t reach a goal on time? I just set a new goal. I don’t give up. Everybody fails. Everybody does dumb things. So the issue is not that you failed – it’s how you respond to your failure.

Do you give in to self-pity? Do you start blaming other people? Do you start complaining that it’s impossible? Or, do you refocus on God’s intentions and start moving again?

Finally, when you give in to fear, you get discouraged. Nehemiah 4 suggests the people most affected by fear are those who hang around negative people. If you’re going to control the negative thoughts in your life, you’ve got to get away from negative people as much as you can.

Maybe you’re discouraged because of fear. You’re dealing with fears like, “I can’t handle this. It’s too much responsibility.” Maybe it’s the fear that you don’t deserve it. It’s the fear of criticism. Fear will destroy your life if you let it. But you can choose to resist the discouragement. Say, “God help me get my eyes off the problem – off the circumstance – and keep my eyes on you.”...Rick Warren

Monday, October 13, 2008

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

There are four things we need to do when we are battling spiritual warfare in our lives:

1. Acknowledge the adversary. Satan is real (1 Peter 5:8-9). When you’re being attacked, it’s proof that you’re a believer. The more you make an impact for God, the more the Devil is going to fight you. You never outgrow it; it just gets more intense.

If there were no Devil, why would God send his Son to fight what does not exist? The Bible says in 1 John 3:8, “The Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil” (NLT).

2. Accept God-given authority. Most believers are very ignorant about the authority they have to use against the Devil. Matthew 28:18-19 says we have all authority in heaven and earth. Then Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples …” (NIV). He transfers the authority to you and me. He does that because he’s given us a specific mission (2 Corinthians 5:20).

3. Put on God’s armor. When Paul wrote about the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17), he was in prison chained to a Roman guard. Paul used the Roman centurion as a model for spiritual armor. Paul says, just as the Roman soldier is properly dressed to do battle, we also need to be dressed for battle.

For instance, I will often pray, “Lord, I put on the helmet of salvation that will protect me from the thoughts the Devil will try to give me. I don’t want to think the Devil’s thoughts. I don’t want to think my thoughts. I want to think your thoughts, so that that I may be a voice for you. I put on the belt of truth. Lord, I want to share the truth, not falsehood. I want to lead people into righteousness.”

4. Aim the artillery. The battlefield for spiritual warfare is primarily in your thought life, in your mind (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Paul says the weapons God gives us to use demolish arguments – that’s the way people think; they pull down pretension – that’s the way people think.

We take every thought captive. In this battle for thoughts, we have four weapons: humility, faith, truth, and praise...Rick Warren

Friday, October 10, 2008

How to Have a Quiet Time (Part 4)

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

Follow a simple plan

Someone has said, “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it!” To have a meaningful quiet time, you will need a plan or some kind of general outline to follow.

The main rule is this: Keep your plan simple.

You will need the following three items for your planned quiet times:

· A Bible – a contemporary translation (not a paraphrase) with good print, preferably without notes.

· A notebook for writing down what the Lord shows you, and for making a prayer list.

· A hymnbook – sometimes you may want to sing in your praise time (see Colossians 3:16).

  1. Wait on God (Relax). Be still for a minute; don’t come running into God’s presence and start talking immediately. Follow God’s admonition: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10; see also Isaiah 30:15; 40:31). Be quiet for a short while to put yourself into a reverent mood.
  1. Pray briefly (Request). This is not your prayer time, but a short opening prayer to ask God to cleanse your heart and guide you into the time together. Two good passages of Scripture to memorize are:
    • “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24; see also 1 John 1:9).
    • “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law [the Word]” (Psalm 119:18; see also John 16:13).

You need to be in tune with the Author before you can understand his Book!

3. Read a section of the Scripture (Read). This is where your conversation with God begins. He speaks to you through his Word, and you speak with him in prayer. Read your Bible …

· Slowly. Don’t be in a hurry; don’t try to read too large an amount; don’t race through it.

· Repeatedly. Read a passage over and over until you start to picture it in your mind. The reason more people don’t get more out of their Bible reading is that they do not read the Scriptures repeatedly.

· Without stopping. Don’t stop in the middle of a sentence to go off on a tangent and do a doctrinal study. Just read that section for the pure joy of it, allowing God to speak to you. Remember that your goal here is not to gain information, but to feed on the Word and get to know Christ better.

· Aloud but quietly. Reading it aloud will improve your concentration, if you have that problem. It will also help you understand what you are reading better because you will be both seeing and hearing what you are reading. Read softly enough, however, so that you won’t disturb anyone.

· Systematically. Read through a book at a time in an orderly method. Do not use the “random dip” method – a passage here, a chapter there, what you like here, an interesting portion there. You’ll understand the Bible better if you read it as it was written – a book or letter at a time....Rick Warren

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How to Have a Quiet Time (Part 3)

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.

Luke 22:39 (NIV)

Choose a special place

The location where you have your quiet time is also important. The Bible indicates that Abraham had a regular place where he met with God (Genesis 19:27). Jesus had a custom of praying in the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him” (Luke 22:39).

Your place ought to be a secluded place. This is a place where you can be alone, where it’s quiet, and where you will not be disturbed or interrupted. In today’s noisy Western World, this may take some ingenuity, but it is necessary. It ought to be a place –

· where you can pray aloud without disturbing others;

· where you have good lighting for reading (a desk, perhaps);

· where you are comfortable. (WARNING: Do not have your quiet time in bed. That’s too comfortable!)

Your place ought to be a special place. Wherever you decide to meet with the Lord, make it a special place for you and him. As the days go by, that place will come to mean a lot to you because of the wonderful times you have there with Jesus Christ.

Your place ought to be a sacred place. This is where you meet with the living God. Where you meet the Lord can be just as holy as the place where Abraham met God. You don’t have to be in a church building. People have had their quiet times in their cars parked in a quiet place, in an empty closet at home, in their backyards, and even in a baseball dugout. Each of these places has become sacred to them...Rick Warren

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How to Have a Quiet Time (Part 2)

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 1:35 (NIV)

Select a specific time
The specific time has to do with when you should have your quiet time and how long it should be. The general rule is this: The best time is when you are at your best! Give God the best part of your day, when you are the freshest and most alert. Don’t try to serve God with your leftover time. Remember, too, that your best time may be different from someone else’s.

For most of us, however, early in the morning seems to be the best time. It was Jesus’ own practice to rise early to pray and meet with the Father: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

In the Bible many godly men and women rose early to meet with God. Some of these were:

• Abraham – Genesis 19:27
• Moses – Exodus 34:4
• Job – Job 1:5
• Hannah and Elkanah – 1 Samuel 1:19
• Jacob – Genesis 28:18
• David – Psalms 5:3; 57:7,8
• (See also Psalm 143:8; Isaiah 26:9; Ezekiel 12:8)

You might even consider having two quiet times (morning and night). Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, used to have code letters for his night quiet time: HWLW. Whenever he was with a group of people at night or home with his wife and the conversation seemed to be ending, he would say, “All right, HWLW.” HWLW stood for “His Word the Last Word”; and he practiced that through the years as a way of ending a day with one’s thoughts fixed on the Lord (Betty Lee Skinner, Daws, Zondervan, 1974, p. 103).

Whatever time you set, be consistent in it. Schedule it on your calendar; make an appointment with God as you would with anyone else. Make a date with Jesus!

Then look forward to it and don’t stand him up. A stood-up date is not a pleasant experience for us, and Jesus does not like to be stood up either. So make a date with him and keep it at all costs.

The question is often asked, “How much time should I spend with the Lord?” If you’ve never had a consistent quiet time before, you may want to start with seven minutes (Robert D. Foster, Seven Minutes with God, NavPress, 1997) and let it grow naturally. You should aim to eventually spend not less than 15 minutes a day with the Lord.....Rick Warren

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How to Have a Quiet Time (Part 1)

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

Once you’re convinced that a daily quiet time is necessary for spiritual growth, how do you go about having one? You may be motivated to do it but may not know how.

Start with the proper attitudes
In God’s eyes, why you do something is far more important than what you do.

On one occasion God told Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). It is quite possible to do the right thing but with the wrong attitude.

This was Amaziah’s problem, for “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly” (2 Chronicles 25:2).

When you come to meet with God in a quiet time, you should have these proper attitudes:

•Expectancy – Come before God with anticipation and eagerness. Expect to have a good time of fellowship with him and receive a blessing from your time together. That was what David expected: “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you” (Psalm 63:1).

•Reverence – Don’t rush into God’s presence, but prepare your heart by being still before him and letting the quietness clear away the thoughts of the world. Listen to the prophet Habakkuk: “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (Habakkuk 2:20; see also Psalm 89:7). Coming into the presence of the Lord is not like going to a football game or some other form of entertainment.

•Alertness – Get wide-awake first. Remember that you are meeting with the Creator, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Redeemer of men. Be thoroughly rested and alert. The best preparation for a quiet time in the morning begins the night before. Get to bed early so you will be in good shape to meet God in the morning; he deserves your full attention.

•Willingness to obey – This attitude is crucial: you don’t come to your quiet time to choose what you will do or not do, but with the purpose of doing anything and everything that God wants you to do. Jesus said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17). So come to meet the Lord having already chosen to do his will no matter what.

Rick Warren

Monday, October 6, 2008

How To Start Over After Failure

A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.

Proverbs 28:13 (LB)

Here are four steps to take when starting over after a failure:

1. Accept responsibility for your own failure. If you’ve made a mistake, admit it. Welcome to the human race! Don’t blame others. To blame others is to “be lame.” Losers love to blame bad luck, the economy, the boss, their spouse, or even God for failure.

But winners never accuse others and never excuse themselves when they fail. In 1974, after an 88-game winning streak, the UCLA basketball team lost to Notre Dame in a game where they’d led by 11 points. The next day’s headline read: “Coach Wooden says, ‘Blame me!’” Wooden was a winner.

“A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance”
(Proverbs 28:13 LB).

2. Recognize the benefits of failure. Failure teaches you what doesn’t work. Thomas Edison, the great inventor, said, “Don’t call it a failure. Call it an education!”

Failure forces you to be more creative as you look for new ways to accomplish something. It prevents arrogance and egotism. If everything you did was a stunning success, no one could live with you!

Failure also causes you to reevaluate what’s important in life. It’s one way God gets you to reflect on the direction of your life. “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways” (Proverbs 20:30 GNT).

3. Ask God for wisdom to understand what caused your failure. Why did you fail? Is there any reason you might have set yourself up to fail? There are many unconscious reasons we sometimes sabotage our own efforts:

• Fear of success – Success may mean handling more responsibility than you want to carry.
• Guilt – If you feel you don’t deserve to succeed, you may set yourself up to fail.
• Resentment – Some people fail as a way of getting even with those who are pressuring them to succeed.
• Ask God what caused it – “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all ...” (James 1:5 NIV).

4. Forget the past and focus on the future. Your past is past! It’s water under the bridge. You can’t change it so you may as well stop worrying about it. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on ...” (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)...Rick Warren

Saturday, October 4, 2008


For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth , the sea and all that is in them , but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD llessed the Sallath day and made it holy.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Changing Your Behavior

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.

Proverbs 4:23 (GNT)

One of the great psychological discoveries of the past century is that your thoughts control your actions.If you want to change the way you act, you must first change how you think.

Actually, thousands of years ago, Solomon pointed this out when he wrote, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” (Proverbs 4:23 GNT).

The Bible says our thoughts influence six areas of our lives:

· My interpretation influences my situation. It’s not what happens to me that matters as much as how I choose to see it. The way I react will determine whether the circumstance makes me better or bitter. I can view everything as an obstacle or an opportunity for growth – a stumbling block or a stepping stone. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV).

· My impressions influence my depressions. In other words, my mind affects my mood; my thinking determines my feelings. If I’m feeling depressed, it’s because I’m choosing to think depressing thoughts – about my work, family, or anything else. While you cannot always control a feeling, you can choose what you think about, which will control how you feel.“Hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught . . .”(Psalm 55:2 NIV).

· My beliefs influence my behavior. We always act according to our beliefs, even when those ideas are false. For instance, as a child, if you believed a shadow in your bedroom at night was a monster, your body reacted in fear (adrenaline and jitters) even though it wasn’t true. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are operating on true information! Your convictions about yourself, about life, and about God influence your conduct.“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31 NIV).

· My self-talk influences my self-esteem. You are constantly talking to yourself unconsciously. When you walk into a room full of strangers, what do you tend to think about yourself? To develop more confidence you’re going to have to stop running yourself down! “Ashe thinks in his heart, so is he”(Proverbs 23:7 NKJV).

· My attitude influences my ability. Winners expect to win. Your perception controls your performance. Mohammed Ali only lost two fights in his career. Before both of them, he said something that he hadn’t said before other fights: “If I should lose this fight […].”“All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23 NKJV).

· My imagination influences my aspirations. In other words, your dreams determine your destiny. To accomplish anything, you must first have a mission, a goal, a hope, a vision. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV)...Rick Warren

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How to Face an Uncertain Future

Do not boast about [what you’re going to do] tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

Proverbs 27:1 (NIV)

The Bible offers three timeless principles for facing an uncertain future:

1. Let God set your goals. It’s foolish to make any plans without first consulting God. He’s the only one who does know the future, and he’s eager to guide you through it. The Bible says “We may make our plans, but God has the last word” (Proverbs 16:1 GNT). In other words, planning without praying is presumption. Start by praying, “God, what do you want me to do?”

2. Live one day at a time. While you can plan for tomorrow, you can’t live tomorrow until it arrives. Most people spend so much time regretting the past and worrying about the future, they have no time for today! Commit to making the most of each moment of each day. Jesus said, “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time” (Matthew 6:34 LB).

3. Don’t procrastinate. Procrastinating is a subtle trap. It wastes today by postponing things until tomorrow. You promise yourself that you’ll do it “one of these days,” but then “one of these days” turns into “none of these days.” The Bible says, “Do not boast about [what you’re going to do] tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1 NIV). What have you planned to do that you haven’t done yet? When do you intend to start working on it?...Rick Warren

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How to Pray Effectively

Please remember what you told your servant Moses: “If you sin, I will scatter you among the nations.”

Nehemiah 1:8 (NLT)

Here are four secrets to answered prayer from the life of Nehemiah:

1. Base your request on God’s character. Pray like you know God will answer you: “I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. You can handle this problem, God!"

2. Confess the sins of which you’re aware. After Nehemiah bases his prayer on who God is, he confesses his sins. He says, “We’ve sinned.” He says “I confess . . . myself . . . my father’s house . . . we have acted wickedly . . . we have not obeyed.” It wasn’t Nehemiah’s fault that Israel went into captivity. He wasn’t even born when it happened and he was most likely born in captivity. Yet, he’s including himself in the national sins. He says, “I’ve been a part of the problem.”

3. Claim the promises of God. Nehemiah prays to the Lord, saying, “I want you to remember what you told your servant Moses.” Can you imagine saying “remember” to God? Nehemiah reminds God of a promise he made to the nation of Israel. In effect, he prays, “God, you warned through Moses that if we were unfaithful, we would lose the land of Israel. But you also promised that if we repent, you’d give it back to us.”

Does God have to be reminded? No. Does he forget what he’s promised? No. Then why do we do this? Because it helps us remember what God has promised.

4. Be very specific in what you ask for. If you want specific answers to prayer, then make specific requests. If your prayers consist of general requests, how will you know if they’re answered?

Nehemiah is not hesitant to pray for success. He’s very bold in his praying. Have you ever prayed, “Lord, make me successful?” If you haven’t, why haven’t you? What is the alternative? A failure?

Is it okay to ask God to make you successful? It all depends on your definition of success! I believe a good definition of success is: “Fulfilling God’s purpose for my life in faith, love, and the power of the Holy Spirit, and expecting the results from God.” That is a worthy life objective that you should be able to pray for with confidence.

Consider this: If you can’t ask God to make you a success at what you’re doing, you should be doing something else. God doesn’t want you to waste your life...Rick Warren