Being Still Before God

Being Still Before God

When this post goes live, we will be at a 2 day retreat with our church and I’m sure we’ll be having a great time.

Over the years, I have been to dozens of conferences and heavy Bible teaching courses, but there’s something incredibly special about retreats, whether big or small.

In our busy world, rarely do we get a chance to disconnect and be still,
And if we do, we generally fill that time with anything but God.

There’s always another thing to learn,
Another thing to study,
Another thing to experience,
And, of course, another thing to do.

And Christians aren’t exempt.

But instead of rushing to do your next task,
I encourage you to be still before Him.

Instead of rushing to learn something new,
Reflect on the things you already know.

Instead of praying for the big next thing,
Stand in awe of what He has done in your life.

All of these things are good,
But we tend to lean heavily on our next action,
And forget the relationship that God wants to have now.

So, you may not be on a physical retreat away,
But you can have (even now) a Spiritual retreat of rest for a few minutes.

To disconnect,
Pause,
And breathe,
With Jesus.

I hope you do.

My Favorite 7 Books I Read In 2019

My Favorite 7 Books I Read In 2019

In 2019 I read over 20 books! Which is far more than I’ve ever read before (I can’t suggest audio books enough).

With that said, they were all very good, but I thought I’d share my favorite 7 books with you and a brief summary of each in case you’re interested in reading any of them as well. Enjoy!!

(I’ve written this list putting my favorite book first, at the top)

#1: Letters To The Church by Francis Chan

Our church read through this book together in the beginning of 2019 and it was definitely a great read. Francis Chan has such a passion for Jesus and His Church that shows though every book he’s written and His message is always so clear and simple: Let’s desire nothing less than a complete and whole relationship with Jesus. It’s a great book that I suggest you read if you haven’t already.

#2: The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson

This is one of the few biography style books I’ve read and I’m so glad that I did. I’ve already written about The Cross and the Switchblade, sharing my favorite quotes from the book which you can read at this link.

This book was so encouraging and inspiring to read as it follows David Wilkerson though many ups and downs, both in the ministry and in his personal doubts and struggles. It has many extremely important reminders for the Christian life and I can’t recommend this book enough.

#3: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

This was one of the first books I read in 2019 and it’s still one I reflect on occasionally a year later. I can still remember listening to it and pausing it to reflect on the truths that he wrote. This is also a book I’ve shared some favorite quotes in a previous post which you can read at this link.

#4: Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp

Dangerous Calling is certainly geared towards Pastors and church leaders, but I can see benefit for anyone to read it. Paul Tripp gets extremely personal in the book and is such a breath of fresh air when it comes to some of the issues often left ignored or even hidden on purpose today. If you are in church leadership in any way, I cannot recommend it enough, and even if you aren’t, I think this book would help you know how to better encourage and pray for the leaders in your church.

#5: The Case For Miracles by Lee Strobel

I read “The Case For Miracles” kind of on a whim. The book came up in a conversation and I decided to check it out – and I’m so glad that I did. This book is filled with tons of stories of God working in miraculous ways and gives ample reason to believe that we serve a God Who is clearly still working today. There was fantastic insight, interviews and stories throughout the book, but my favorite part was actually the chapter dedicated to when God doesn’t provide a miracle. In a book surrounded with miraculous stories, he was sure to cover what to do and believe when we don’t see the miracle we prayed for. I quote the book a little in a recent post “What Should I Expect When I Step Out In Faith?” but I think you should also read this book in its entirety for yourself.

#6: The Next Right Thing – Emily P. Freeman

My wife suggested I read this book as we’ve experienced a massive amount of loss and transition in our lives these past 2 years. The author is a well-listened to podcaster who compiled and expanded upon a series of episodes to write this book. It was a great devotional style read, with her own prayers at the end of each chapter and action steps/things to consider that summarize the stories and ideas for that chapter. This book was specifically good for our previously mentioned situation in life, but I think anyone, at anytime, could benefit by reflecting on the things she writes about in this book because they are simple, yet overlooked, practices that we should incorporate into our daily lives to continually be sensitive to what God has for us, even when we’re not explicitly in a life stage of change.

#7: The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

A.W. Tozer is one of those authors who I could just keep pulling quotes from. So many things he wrote were simply said so well that I write it down and just kind of sit there thinking about it. This book in particular was an incredible one to read because it was so broad in its topic that it felt like each chapter was a different mini topic with tons of encouraging and thought provoking quotes. I definitely suggest reading this book and taking the time to think about the various areas of Christian living that he covers.

My Top 10 Posts In 2019

My Top 10 Posts In 2019

I’ve seen a lot of “best of” type posts and I thought I would join in.

Most of these were written in 2019, but I was surprised to see a few posts hit the 10 most read in 2019 even though it was written years ago.

I hope you enjoy them and find encouragement from what were my top 10 most read posts in 2019. (They’re ordered with #1 being the top read post).

1: Responding To The Fallout Of Christian Leaders (Specifically After Joshua Harris)

2: The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Self-Control

3: Forgiven And Empowered To Forgive (Mark 11:25–26)

4: The Problem With “Thoughts And Prayers” (For The Christian)

5: The Birthday Of a Friend Who Has Passed

6: Jesus’ Family Tree

7: Receiving Life From Jesus, Unlike The Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17–27)

8: Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)

9: A Child Born, A Son Given (Isaiah 9:6)

10: The Love Of God

Joy Writing Challenge (Week 4, Days 23-31)

Joy Writing Challenge (Week 4, Days 23-31)

Our church is going through a daily “Joy Writing Challenge” for the month of December. It’s a reading/writing plan by “Elihu’s Corner” (click here to read his original post). Basically, there’s a couple verses to read each day that you simply reflect on and find where God promises or gives us hope or joy.

Below is my reflection on the verses from week 4. Here are the links to week 1, week 2 and week 3 if you want to check them out.

If you want to join me in it, you can start at any time. Here’s an image of the daily reading plan and below. You can download the plan and other resources at Elihu’s blog.

Day 23:

Sometimes, all we need is just a little encouragement that we’re not alone. That others have faced the doubt and struggles we have. Press on, don’t give up. Many have gone before us and have held onto this truth: Jesus is for us, so who could be against us.

Hebrews 11 includes many encouraging words (and I’ve actually written a 3 part series on it which you can read here)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1–2

Day 24:

Are you persecuted for the good you do? You’re blessed.

Are you reviled by others and have false things accused of you? You’re blessed.

Regardless of our circumstances, we have a reward in heaven that cannot be taken away.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10–12

Day 25:

They definitely took Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from the previous reading seriously. They encountered great persecution – and were filled with joy and praise from it! I wonder how our daily responses would be different if we focused our eyes on Jesus through our suffering instead of ourselves and our pain.

And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.
And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Acts 5:40–42

Day 26:

So often we assume we did something wrong when we’re in a trial. And sometimes that’s true! We can bring things upon ourselves, but there are many things that happen that are not a result of poor decisions and they shouldn’t surprise us: God will use even those to make us more like Him and to glorify Him in our lives.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

1 Peter 4:12–13

Day 27: CATCH UP DAY


Day 28:

Even in the most difficult suffering, we can know that God is using even our suffering for our Good and His Glory as He continues to make us more like Him.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3–5

Day 29:

Because we know that God uses even our deepest sufferings, we can take joy that today’s tears will sow into our character and steadfastness of faith.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

James 1:2–3

Day 30:

One of the biggest factors of joy is contentment. May God give us the grace to be content in Him in the midst of all circumstances.

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:10–13

Day 31:

This Christian life, following Jesus, is not meant to be lived alone. May we encourage others, and be encouraged, as we continue to live for Jesus.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Philippians 4:1
Joy Writing Challenge (Week 3, Days 16-22)

Joy Writing Challenge (Week 3, Days 16-22)

Our church is going through a daily “Joy Writing Challenge” for the month of December. It’s a reading/writing plan by “Elihu’s Corner” (click here to read his original post). Basically, there’s a couple verses to read each day that you simply reflect on and find where God promises or gives us hope or joy.

Below is my reflection on the verses from week 3. Here are the links to week 1 and week 2 if you want to check them out.

If you want to join me in it, you can start at any time. Here’s an image of the daily reading plan and below. You can download the plan and other resources at Elihu’s blog.

Day 16:

More than anything else, our joy, our security, our hope is in the Person of God, not in things or situations around us.

For David says concerning him, “ ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

Acts 2:25–28

Day 17:

The early church lived out…
Daily
Time together
Eating together
Receiving gladly
Giving generously
Praising God
And lived so that others would have nothing evil to say of them.

May we ask for the same Spirit to live the same holy lives.

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

Acts 2:46–47

Day 18: CATCH UP DAY


Day 19:

Sometimes we look for excuses not to do something,
This eunuch saw nothing but what God had commanded to do.

In light of the Gospel, what prevents us from having joy? What prevents us from giving generously? What prevents us from living a Spirit filled life?

Surely, nothing prevents us except our own sinful desires, since God has promised to give us all things needed to live a holy and Spirit filled life.
May God’s Spirit fill us to follow Him fully and joyfully.

And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:36–39

Day 20:

The joy of having a relationship with God use to be solely for the Jews, but now God calls all nations and peoples to Himself through His Son – what joy we have that WE too can now enter into God’s family.

And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Acts 13:46–48

Day 21:

In the middle of persecution and trial, they chose to sing and worship God.

And, when heaven literally opened up a way of escape… they didn’t take it, and it was for the better. Sometimes we shouldn’t take the “open door” (even if God opens it) because sometimes He has something even more important planned, but to see it, we must have our eyes on Him.

So, let us worship in trials, keep our eyes on Him and see where He is moving and what He would have us do.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.
When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”
And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.

Acts 16:25–29

Day 22:

Salvation is as simple as repenting and believing in Jesus. We don’t need to add to it and we should not take away from it. Nothing else can save us and nothing more is needed.

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.
Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

Acts 16:30–34
Joy Writing Challenge (Week 2, Days 9-15)

Joy Writing Challenge (Week 2, Days 9-15)

Our church is going through a daily “Joy Writing Challenge” for the month of December. It’s a reading/writing plan by “Elihu’s Corner” (click here to read his original post). Basically, there’s a couple verses to read each day that you simply reflect on and find where God promises or gives us hope or joy.

Below is my reflection on the verses from week 2. Here’s a link for week 1 if you want to check it out.

If you want to join me in it, you can start at any time. Here’s an image of the daily reading plan and below. You can download the plan and other resources at Elihu’s blog.

Day 9: CATCH UP DAY


Day 10:

Seeing Jesus in the flesh must have been a crazy experience. Witnessing His public ministry and life would be life altering. It makes sense people laid their cloaks on the ground He rode on… do we have this much excitement and joy over Him and all He has done? They had Jesus in the flesh, but we have a risen King Who has already gone to the cross to die for our sins and risen again to give us new life. How much more joy and excitement can we have in our everyday lives?

“And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Luke 19:36–40

Day 11:

They had so much joy over finding where Jesus was born. Do you remember the joy you had when you first accepted Jesus, when you first found Him to be your Savior? Our lives were once taken from darkness into light, from death into life, and it’s easy to lose that initial joy. Let’s remember that goodness today and return to that joy He gives.

“After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

Matthew 2:9–11

Day 12:

When we seek God with everything we are, He promises that we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13), and when we come to Him, burdened and heavy laden, He promises to give us rest (Matthew 11:28).

“And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul, but that whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman.
They swore an oath to the Lord with a loud voice and with shouting and with trumpets and with horns.
And all Judah rejoiced over the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and had sought him with their whole desire, and he was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around.”

2 Chronicles 15:12–15

Day 13:

The root of our joy is revealed when problems come in life. When our joy is founded solely in God, it cannot be taken away, because He cannot be taken away.

“Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words. I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.”

Psalm 119:161–162

Day 14:


This passages is one of many that are pulled from when Mary says her prayer of thanksgiving at the news of her pregnancy. Not only does it encourage me to continue to look to God in thankfulness and hope, but it’s also a good reminder of the influence we might have on others to do the same (as Hannah’s prayer influenced Mary’s).

“And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.
“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”

1 Samuel 2:1–3

Day 15:

The culmination of Jesus’ birth and work to do on earth. Whenever pride may creep into our lives, we can remember how much God has done for us and in spite of everything about us.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Romans 5:8–11

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