Entries tagged with “Bible Study”.
Did you find what you wanted?
Wed 27 Apr 2011
A few weeks ago, I shared 8 signs that your devotional life—your quality time spent with God in prayer and Bible study—may be caught in a performance trap.
These signs included: being stuck in a rut in your devotional life (or ceasing altogether), not finding it life-giving, having a nagging sense of condemnation about the quality or quantity, not hearing personally from God, and so on. 
Having a deep-rooted belief that we have to work to please our Father—instead of realising the truth that we are already pleasing to Him—can affect our ability to connect with God and His Word.
Jesus’ Remedy for the Performance Trap
“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance…You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Rev 2:1-5
The Ephesian Church fell into a lifestyle of performance.
At the start, they were on fire and in love with God.
But gradually, their faith degenerated. Eventually, the church was focussed on doing a bunch of good works. They were busy doing the work of the Lord, but neglecting the Lord of the work.
Jesus gives them a remedy for their position. He tells them to remember, to repent, and to do the things that they did at first.
A key to recognising whether or not we have been caught in a performance trap is to simply ask the question,
‘How does the expression of my love for God compare now to when I first became a Christian?’
Once we recognise that we have fallen into a lifestyle of performance—working to please God without enjoying a love relationship with Him—we can then repent and receive Jesus’ forgiveness.
How wonderful is God’s grace—that through Jesus’ death on the cross we are forgiven. Our slate is wiped clean, and we can begin again. And this is true, not only of our devotional life, but every other area of our life too.
The First Step To Repositioning Our Devotional Lives
One practical way that we can disarm and escape the performance trap is to move from an activity-based devotional life to an outcome-focused devotional life. Let me explain:
Our devotional life is activity-based when its goal is to complete an activity such as:
- Read a passage of Scripture
- Complete our devotional exercise, or
- Spend a certain amount of time in prayer.
These activities are beneficial and bring us closer to God. However, when they become an end in themselves, we have moved into performance.
This can easily be overcome by redefining our goals—our desired outcome for our devotional life.
God Himself initiates true devotional outcomes.
- He wants to have an intimate relationship with you.
- He wants to involve you in His plans and purposes for your life and those around you, through prayer.
- He wants to you to grow and interact with Him through His Word, the Bible.
Devotional activities, tools and methods serve these outcomes, not the other way around.
Let’s take a look at some examples of meaningful goals for your devotional life.
I recommend that you consider choosing at least one outcome related to prayer, and one related to Bible study:
**I have an intimate relationship with God
**I regularly have close and meaningful conversation with God
**I am involved in fulfilling God’s plan for my life and those around me through prayer
**I am participating with God to bring ‘breakthrough,’ whether it be in my circumstances, or in the lives of others
Bible Study Goals
**I am interacting with God through reading the Bible and recording what He is saying to me
**I am growing in my spiritual life through practical Bible study
**I am learning more about God and His ways through studying the Bible in-depth.
Choosing A Goal That Fits Your Current Position
The outcome that you choose needs to be relevant to where you are. If you have realised that your devotional life needs resuscitation, for example, then you may start with a very simple and achievable goal, such as meaningful conversation with God. 
Author and speaker Keri Wyatt Kent tells of her struggles with devotional time becoming another item to be ticked off on the daily ‘to-do list.’ A simple question a spiritual mentor once gave her that she found helpful was, ‘Where did I create some space for God in my day?’ 
I love it!
A basic outcome you could pursue, is simply,
“I am creating some space for God and His Word every day”
However, if you already have an effective devotional life, and are looking for a ‘turbo boost’, you may go for more challenging goals such as learning more about God and his ways through in-depth Bible study.
If you choose simple goals for the stage where you are at currently, you can review and upgrade your outcomes when you are stronger.
Think about one or more outcomes you would like from your devotional life, taking into account where you are currently positioned.
Choose at least one goal related to prayer, and at least one related to Bible study.
You do not have to choose an outcome from the ones listed above. You can make up your own. It may help to write it out and keep it in front of you.
Take care not to choose activity-based goals. If you are unsure, read the above distinctions again.
I would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts or questions on this topic. Leave a note in the comments box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.
 For more about this read the following post:
8 Signs Your Devotional Life May Be Caught In A Performance Trap
 I share about this in the following post:
Does Your Devotional Life Need Resuscitating?
 For further information about Keri, see http://www.keriwyattkent.com/
The article can be found here: http://www.navpress.com/magazines/archives/article.aspx?id=10236
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog http://propheticpeople.com/
On team with David McCracken Ministries
Mon 4 Apr 2011
In the same way that we have different gifts, talents and personalities, each of us has a unique way that we best learn and study.
When I attended a course on how to train people in groups, I was taught to make allowance for individuals’ different learning styles. 
This is why I don’t just talk during my training sessions; I also incorporate visual aids and other media, give opportunities for practical application and encourage questions and discussion.
Schoolteachers are taught about learning styles and encouraged to incorporate them into their classroom environment.
What would happen if we began to apply these same principles to discipleship, Bible study and our devotional life?
Do You Know what Your Learning Style is?
You may relate to one of these 3 main learning styles:
1. Visual—you learn best by seeing—reading, diagrams, visual media and other visual aids.
2. Auditory—you learn best by hearing—lectures, audio media, discussions.
3. Kinesthetic—you learn best by doing—hands on, activities and an emphasis on practical application.
The Visual style can be broken into two further categories: Visual and Reading/Writing. 
At the end of this post I will give you a link to an online questionnaire to help you discover your primary learning styles.
How Using my Learning Style Renewed my Devotional Life.
I have shared recently how our devotional life—vitally connecting to God through prayer and studying the Bible—can suffer when we feel we have to do it out of duty, to please God or people. 
A few years ago, I became exhausted and my devotional life waned—especially Bible reading, study and journaling.
When I was picking up the pieces of my life, I reflected on where I had gone wrong.
One of the things I noticed was that I had been trying to conform to a set method of journaling for my personal Bible study.
The method I had been using did not come naturally to me.
My personal learning style is primarily visual. Being creative, I also need an unstructured way to record what I am learning from the Bible.
I put aside my A5 lined journal, purchased an A4 unlined notepad, and began to use diagrams and mind-maps to visualise what I was learning about a Bible passage or topic and to record what God was saying to me.
Life began to flow back into the time I spent with God’s Word!
Devotional Methods are Tools, not Rules.
It is vital that we understand that devotional methods, such as journaling styles, are not rules to be followed.
Instead, they are tools that we can choose to use—if they suit our unique wiring—that can help us connect to God and His Word.
There is a common misconception that one particular devotional or journaling method is better than others.
For example, some churches provide SOAP journals for all of their congregational members.
SOAP is a simple and effective devotional tool that everyone can (and should) learn. However—let’s not stop there!
The limitation of SOAP journaling is that it assumes a Reading/Writing learning style. And this does not come naturally to many of us.
So let us teach, encourage, model and provide resources for Bible study that incorporate all learning styles.
And let’s validate the unique ways that people connect with God, rather than endangering their relationship with Him by leading them into performance.
Marlene Le Fever, who teaches about learning styles, tells the moving story of an old African-American man who approached her at the end of a session.
“Teacher!” he said. “Iffen somebody’d a tol’ me when I was a kid that God made my mind right, I’da’ done something for my Jesus.” 
Using a Questionnaire to Discover Your Personal Learning Style
You are created to uniquely connect with God and His Word, the Bible.
Do you know what your learning style is? Sometimes, we are aware of our primary learning style but can also benefit from using a questionnaire to help us confirm this or discover our secondary learning style.
I have included a link below to an online questionnaire that can help you discover your learning style. 
Following are the basic learning styles and some ideas of how to make the most of these in your Bible study and in journaling.
Ideas for Bible Study Using the 4 Main Learning Styles
VISUAL – You learn by seeing
- Journal using diagrams and pictures. Try mind-mapping your Bible study
- Make use of colour coding, indexing and highlighting in your journal
- Bible teachers that use vivid (picture) story telling will suit you
- Use your imagination when reading Bible stories (create an internal movie of the scene)
- Parts of the Bible have been filmed using the NIV text—try Matthew or Acts on DVD. Ask at the Christian bookstores what is available
- Illustrative Bible study tools and dictionaries
- Locate good teaching DVDs
AUDITORY – You learn by hearing
- Read portions of Scripture aloud to yourself
- Process what you are learning in the Bible verbally—you can do this through praying about it, sharing with others or simply musing your thoughts aloud
- Try a conversational journaling approach, where you talk with God about what you are learning and write what you ‘hear’ Him saying to you (e.g. prayer journaling)
- Listen to the Bible on MP3 or CD—purchase or download free from the Internet
- As above, but Bible teaching (Ensure that the teaching is sound and not slanted towards a particular doctrines or agenda)
- iPod or MP3 player while walking, using public transport, doing housework, etc
READING / WRITING – You learn with words
- Traditional forms of devotions may suit you
- Try daily devotional booklets
- Practice journaling (SOAP or similar)
- Selective Bible reading (character studies, books, portions)
- Sequential Bible reading (read the Bible in a Year – look-up or One Year Bible formats)
- Bible teaching or study books
- Use written study tools such as commentaries, dictionaries—in text form, software or online
KINESTHETIC – You learn by doing
- Find a good devotional that includes Bible references and reading, and includes life application principles
- Teaching and study tools that have practical life application will suit you.
- Write ‘action points’ in your journal from your Bible studies or teaching that you receive. This will help translate what you learn into everyday life. Follow them through
- Teaching with real-life case studies and stories will be helpful
- Cross-reference devotional and instructional teaching in the Bible to historical Biblical accounts of actual characters. For example, a study on wisdom—who demonstrated wisdom in the Bible and what did they do?
- When studying with others, discuss real life situations and case studies. Try role play.
If you have found this article or recommended resources helpful, I would love your feedback, as I am in the process of developing further studies and resources to aid people in this area. Do you know what your learning style is? Are the above lists helpful, or do you have other ideas?
Please contact me using the comments section of this blog or use the contact form here to email me. If the comments section is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.
 Cert IV in Assessment & Workplace Training
 In 1987, a researcher called Neil Fleming split Visual, which originally included learning through reading, into two categories: Visual and Reading/Writing. Visual encompassed learning through diagrams and symbols, whereas Reading/Writing referred to the traditional, text-based style of learning. This distinction is helpful in examining fresh approaches to devotional study. Fleming, N.D. and Mills, C. (1992), Not Another Inventory, Rather a Catalyst for Reflection, To Improve the Academy, Vol. 11, 1992., page 137.
 See the following posts:
Does Your Devotional Life Need Resuscitating?
8 Signs Your Devotional Life May Be Caught In A Performance Trap
 I recommend the SOAP method of journaling personally. See the following post:
When Your Devotional Life Is Dry: How To Fall In Love With The Bible Again
 Le Fever, M. Learning Styles, Reaching Everyone God Gave You 2002. Cook. p 11,
 Take the VARK learning styles questionnaire online at
For more information on learning styles, see also
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog http://enlivenpublishing.com/blog/
A ministry of David McCracken Ministries
Wed 23 Mar 2011
Two years ago I experienced burnout. I can now reflect with gratitude on the things that I learned during and following that period—and the wonder of God’s grace as He has led me back to a place of health spiritually, emotionally and physically. 
One day during that time I remarked to someone that I was struggling in my devotional life. This was met with a shocked response—it seemed to be incomprehensible that as the prayer leader of our church, I could be having difficulties with Bible study and prayer!
What Is a Devotional Life?
Our devotional life is the substance of our personal relationship with God as a Christian. It includes communication with Him through conversation and other forms of prayer, as well as Bible reading and study.
A healthy devotional life both feeds and is drawn from an intimate love relationship with God.
Because our devotional life has to do with our personal times with the Bible and in prayer, it is easy to cover it up when it is not going well.
The Elephant in the Room
In church life, our devotional difficulties can become like the proverbial elephant in the room that everyone knows is there, but nobody wants to talk about.
This is frequently true of Christian leaders. When our lives become busy with ministry it can be easy to spend our devotional time preparing for ministry to others instead of relating personally to God.
Sometimes leaders find it difficult to openly encourage others’ devotional lives because they are struggling with their own.
Your Devotional Life—A Quick Diagnostic Tool
If you would like to grow in your devotional life or help others in this area, you might find the following categories helpful. Does one describe your devotional life right now?
**You are a new Christian and would like to learn how to begin a devotional life for the first time
**You may have been a Christian for a while but have not yet developed a devotional life
**You would like to study the Bible for yourself but are unsure where to begin or what study tools are available
**You have not yet developed a regular connection and prayer time with God.
**Your devotional life, or some aspect of it is ‘dead in the water.’ You need rescuing!
**You have stopped having time for God; you may even have lost heart and given up on a devotional life altogether
**There may be external reasons in your world for your lack of a devotional life—stress relationally, vocationally, and educationally. Your world is spinning around and you feel powerless to stop it
**You may also be avoiding a devotional life due to a nagging sense of condemnation or you may feel displeasing to God.
**You have some measure of activity in your devotional life
** You may be irregular or haphazard in your approach to devotions
**You may need help in one or more areas of prayer, worship, Bible reflection and Bible study
**You may be stuck in a rut, and feel your devotional life is not as good as it could be
D. Turbo Boost
**You have a regular devotional life that includes prayer and Bible study
**It may be starting to lose its shine and you could do with encouragement and a fresh boost
**You would like to know how to go to the next level in prayer or Bible study
** You could do with some more ideas and tools to help you. 
There is no right or wrong answer, only real and honest answers. Most of us have struggled with our devotional life seasonally if we have been Christians for any length of time.
Why is Your Devotional Life Important?
Your devotional life is vital because it connects you relationally to God. It is the place of conversation, where you learn to know Jesus not only as Saviour and Lord, but also as a Friend.
To assist you with some motivation, here are some more reasons why your devotional life is important:
1. Jesus demonstrated and talked about a devotional life with God
Prayer was a regular part of Jesus’ life. Jesus also had an intimate knowledge of the Scriptures and understood how these related to His life and His personal journey. Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23; Luke 21:37, Luke 5:16
2. It is your primary source of spiritual nourishment and growth Psalm 1:1-3
3. It provides protection from sin and strengthens us in times of crisis and temptation Matt 26:40-41, Ps 119:11
4. It helps you with guidance, in your everyday life as well as with important long-term decisions John 10:27
5. A healthy devotional life results in fruitfulness (others around us benefit from our devotional lives) John 15:4, 7
6. It plugs you into God, your Source of power John 7:37-38
It is through your devotional life that you hear God personally speak to you about what he wants to do in and through you.
You also grow in wisdom and Christian maturity as you get to know more about God and his ways through the Bible.
We wouldn’t locate the water mains to our home and wind the supply right down to a trickle—but this is what we do with God’s power in our lives when we do not plug into Him with a healthy devotional life.
Next week I will look at how performance can kill our devotional life and what we can do when it has been reduced to a routine.
Questions to Consider
1. Which position—L-Plates, Resuscitation, Renewal, or Turbo-Boost—do I most relate to?
2. What are some factors that have contributed to me being at this place?
3. Is there someone caring who I can talk to and pray with about this—and with whom I can be mutually accountable to grow in this vital area?
If you are a leader, consider providing a safe place for others to discuss where they are in relation to their devotional lives.
Do you have any ideas or experiences to share on this topic? I would love to hear from you. Leave a note in the comments box below. If the comments box is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.
 I have shared some of my journey relating to burnout in the blog. The following post reviews some of the reasons behind it:
 Journaling can be a helpful tool to assist in renewing your devotional life. I share about two different types of journaling here:
© Helen Calder 2011 Enliven Blog http://propheticpeople.com/
Now on team with David McCracken Ministries
Thu 4 Feb 2010
I read a statistic recently that 35% of church-going people in Australia rarely or never read the Bible. Only one in 5 read it every day.
What does that say about how we Christians view the Word of God?
We need a Bible revival!
How My Devotional Life Dried Up
One year ago, I was suffering from burnout.
My devotional life was one area that had suffered. Sure, I still picked up my Bible every day… but the joy had gone out of my devotions.
The act of doing devotions had become a duty. The Bible’s content had become yet another barometer of Christian performance—instructions on how I should live my Christian life. And I had nothing left to give.
To be honest, I was not only burnt out, I was bored.
I have been acquainted with the Bible since childhood, have read it many times over and still today read it from cover to cover. I have studied it both personally and with the help of great Christian teachers.
But I had lost my passion for God’s Word.
During the course of this year, I have experienced renewal in my devotional life.
How To Fall In Love With The Bible Again
Here are some keys that have helped me recover my love for God’s Word:
1. Realise Something Is Missing
Jesus said ‘ask, seek, knock,’ (Matt 7:7-8) but we will never do any of those things until we become conscious that we have a need.
Until we realise that what we are experiencing in relation to the Bible is less than what it could be, we will never change.
It was only when I realised how dry I was and how dead my devotional life had become that I decided to do something about it. I began to ‘Ask, seek and knock.’
2. Reconsider the Value of the Bible
Recently I read a news item about a real-life ‘slum-dog millionaire’. This man was living in a slum whilst he had access to millions of dollars.
Like this guy, I had been living like a spiritual pauper whilst sitting on a fortune—God’s Word.
As I began my seeking time, I went through Psalm 119, in which David expounds the wonders of God’s Word. One of the verses that stood out to me was, ‘Your word has given me life’ (Ps 119:50).
Being revived by God’s word is a recurring theme in this Psalm, with the Hebrew word, ‘chayah,’ meaning to revive, nourish, restore to life, and give life to, being used 16 times in relation to God’s Word.
When it comes to the Bible, life is a verb! The promise of being revived—or ‘lifed’—through God’s Word kept me on track. There was obviously something in my devotional life I had missed.
3. Relate to the Bible the Way Jesus Does
The next breakthrough in my journey came when I had an idea to take a look at how Jesus responded to the Bible in the Gospels. Perhaps by studying His response to the Bible, I could see what I was missing.
Jesus knew the scriptures intimately and used His knowledge of them to teach others. But more than this—He lived them.
Jesus walked in perfect fulfillment of God’s Word. The Old Testament described every details of His life from birth to death, His character, His purpose and mission and His redeeming work on the cross.
As I considered Jesus’ response to the scriptures, it occurred to me that just as Jesus walked in fulfillment of God’s Word, so should I.
The Bible explains my origins, my value, my redemption, my call, and my destiny. The Bible is the story of me. And it’s your story, too.
I have known the scripture as a place of instruction, upbuilding, protection and power to live the Christian life. I have understood the Bible as the story of Jesus, the story of redemption, the story of Israel and the church.
But this simple revelation—that the Bible is the story of me—is the one that helped bring me back to life.
4. Reconnect Creatively With God’s Word
When my children were small and had been sick, they sometimes lost their appetite for food.
I would give them smaller portions of tasty food that would tempt them to eat, and help strengthen their appetites.
It is important, when we have lost our appetite for God’s Word, to provide ourselves with fresh inspiration, and new tools or methods to help us study.
Here is one tool that can be used for Bible study and journaling:
The SOAP journaling method
SOAP is an acronym:
To use this journaling style, read your portion of scripture—it may be a daily reading or a passage or book in the Bible you are currently studying
S = Choose a verse that has particularly spoken to you and write it in your journal
O = Note down your observation—what God is saying to you personally through the verse
A = Record how you can put what God is saying into practice in your life
P = Now write a brief prayer in response to what God has spoken to you
Over the next few days I will be using the SOAP method in my own journal and write my observations in the comments section of this post.
How Using Your Learning Style Can Revitalise Your Bible Study
Does Your Devotional Life Need Resuscitating?
8 Signs Your Devotional Life is Caught in a Performance Trap
Activate Your Prophetic Gift Through Prayer Journaling
© Helen Calder Enliven Publishing
Thu 3 Dec 2009
As prophetic people, our devotional life is not only the centre of our relationship with Jesus; it is also the place where we receive revelation—messages from the heart of God that are the basis of our prophetic ministry.
Here are some thoughts that may help you get a fresh perspective on your quiet times with God, along with some practical tips to help freshen up your devotional life.
A Cafe Culture
Today, we live in a coffee culture. Cafes have become synonymous with connection. Meeting friends or colleagues at a coffee shop has become a regular part of life’s routine for many of us.
You arrive at your favourite cafe. The smell of coffee permeates the air. You are waiting in eager anticipation for the arrival of your friend, colleague or loved one, looking forward to the time you will spend together.
In one area of the cafe, a business meeting is taking place. At another table, a group of mums enjoy coffee together, watching over their young children as they play. Nearby, old friends meet, enjoying each other’s company.
If Jesus invited you to meet with him at your local cafe, how would you feel? What would you do?
As the Psalmist says, ‘Selah.’ Pause and think quietly about that for a moment.
This is the kind of anticipation we should have when it comes to our devotional life.
In Revelation 3:20, Jesus makes an invitation to the church,
‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.’
It seems to me that God thought up cafe moments long before we ever did. Meaningful and intimate connection with people and with Him is part of His original design.
Quality Time With Jesus
The Hunk (Malcolm) and I spend many hours together at home. Although we are together, often we are occupied with our own tasks and priorities. Meeting at a cafe has become a significant way to spend quality time together.
Similarly, we are with God throughout every moment of our daily life. And yet, He invites us to spend quality time with Him. Jesus demonstrated the importance of this when He took time apart to pray and be with His Father (Mark 1:35).
By the end of last year, I was weary from taking on too much ministry responsibility. My daily devotions had been squeezed into a smaller and smaller window of time. Instead of taking time to enjoy God’s Presence, my brief moments with Him were punctuated with desperate calls for help. I am so grateful that He heard and answered those cries.
Exhausted, I had reached the point where I could not face personal Bible study or journaling. Thankfully, since then the Lord has taken me on a journey of rediscovery where quiet times have become a joy, not a duty. I now look forward to meeting with God with anticipation.
It is time for a paradigm-change in the way we view our devotional times with Jesus. Out with dreariness and duty! In with cafe-moments!
Creating Freshness in Our Devotional Life
Changing our perspective about our quiet time with God can help re-ignite our relationship with Him. Here are some practical things you can also do to help refresh your devotional life:
1. Choose the Cafe
- Designate a space where you can meet with God. It might be an appointment with Him outdoors. It might be a corner, a room, or a chair in your home;
- Create a fresh and enjoyable environment. Add something new that you personally enjoy. It might mean creating order or removing clutter. It might mean adding an object of beauty, or simply changing the arrangement of furniture.
2. Make the Appointment
- Consider the best time for you to meet with Jesus, praying and reading the Bible. You can set aside dedicated time in the morning, or if you’re like me, the evenings may be your best option.
- If you connect best with God through relational means, ask a friend to help keep you accountable. When you meet, ask each other what is happening in your connection times with God, or study and pray together;
- If you live on the go, don’t give up! Assess times and places where you can connect with God whilst you are in transit. Add Bible study tools to your iPod, car CD player, put a devotional or Bible somewhere you might find yourself waiting.
3. Preview The Menu
- Consider your devotional tools—Bible, journal, study helps, worship music. Are they still providing interest to your quiet times? If not, change something. A new Bible translation, different study guides, or new worship CD can make a huge difference.
4. Meet Your Friend
- You arrive at the appointed place of your devotional time with God. You are excited as you anticipate a personal meeting with Jesus. You are looking forward to taking your fill of the food of His Word; of drinking afresh of His Spirit; of spending time with the One who loves you most.
You are in awe that the Creator of the universe desires to connect with you.
Nothing could keep you away. This is your appointment with God.
How to be Filled With the Holy Spirit When You are Dry
7 Signs of Spiritual Dryness
7 Ways to Combat Spiritual Dryness
© Helen Calder Enliven Blog David McCracken Ministries