Take a Vacation from the Lord


Come on now.  Don’t deny it.  You’ve been thinking about that annual summer vacation to the beach, Disney World, Pigeon Forge, etc.  Vacations are a good thing.  We all need our physical, mental, and spiritual batteries recharged!

Question.  When you go on vacation, do you plan for those special daily times to build your relationship with the Lord?  Do you take your Bible, journals, and books so you can feed your soul? Can you say when you have returned that you and your family love the Lord more or less?  Do you research the area before you arrive to find a solid Bible preaching/teaching church where you and your family can worship on Sunday morning?

I will submit to you without reservation, the best parts of our vacations over the years have been our time in the mornings in the Word and prayer.  Vacation must not be a time to leave the Lord at home. Vacations should be a time where everyday distractions are removed, and you can enjoy His presence and His precepts!

I hear so often from so many that due to their work, school, recreation, and church schedules, they struggle to get time in the Word and prayer.  And believe it or not, it shows (I know by experience in my own life).  Vacation is a time for you to unplug from all the aforementioned things and be refreshed.  What better way to do so than to meet with Jesus everyday as an individual, as a couple and as a family.   Even Jesus Himself went apart from the crowd to meet with His Father (Matthew 14:23).

Furthermore, because you are in such a relaxed mode on vacation, that’s even more reason you need the Word of God to ward off the attacks of your flesh, the world and the devil.  I promise you, they never take a vacation.

And finally look at the effect the intake of the Word will have upon you:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.  (Psalm 19:7-11)

97 Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts. 101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. 102 I have not departed from Your judgments, for You Yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.  (Psalm 119:97-104)

So, as you plan for all the places you will eat, recreate, lodge and relax, be sure to seek Him first (Matthew 6:33).  By the way, He’s the One Who gives you the strength, provides the funds, and watches over you for your vacation.

Don’t take a vacation from the Lord when you are on your vacation!

Sabbatical Journey #4 – Away

Well, summer is over.  What did you do for your vacation with family or just your spouse or with some friends?  Disney?  The beach?  The mountains? Did you take any day trips?  How about a recreational excursion?  What planning went into your time away?   What was the result of your vacation?  Any take-aways?

Vacations can be a huge refreshment that can leave many wonderful memories, provide a break from your daily routine, and give some much needed rest. Interesting enough, sometimes when you return home, you need another week to just recoup from your vacation (Lol).

Question:  When was the last time you took a spiritual vacation?  No, I do not mean running away or taking a vacation from the Lord, but a planned set of days and location where you and/or family go to grow your relationship with Jesus Christ?  Have you ever taken such a trip?

This sabbatical was so extremely helpful spiritually.  My wife and I spent most of our mornings at home, on the front or back porch, reading, praying, studying, journaling, and listening.  Some days I would travel to the lake, or a secluded mountain top, or a quiet stream and spend my time letting God teach me and whittle away at my heart.

Perhaps you could spend one day a quarter at a place like Fairhaven Ministries, Roan Mountain, TN, and give that whole day to just meeting with the Lord.  Pack your lunch, take your books, and go hide away with the Lord. You, too, could find that lake, stream, mountain top or other secluded area.

Another great opportunity would be to attend Family Camp at a place like The Wilds in Brevard, NC.  There you would have time to get alone with the Lord; time for just you and your spouse to study and pray together; and opportunities to meet together as a family.  The preaching services, music, and workshops would draw you and your whole family closer to the Lord.  And a side note, I promise you would not spend as much on this vacation as you would for the same amount time, motel, and meals as you would at Disney.  And, your whole family will come home stronger in their walk with Christ than if they had spent a week at Disney. (By the way, I’m not hatin’ on Disney. Just sayin’. . .)

So, when you plan for your vacations and get-aways for the months ahead, how about planning some time to get alone with the Lord?  You will never regret it.

Mark 1:35 – And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

Luke 6:12 – In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

Sabbatical Journey #3 – Time

Beauty Spot, Unaka Mts, TN

We have had several folks ask us what we did on our sabbatical.  Well, here’s a brief look into this blessed 31-day journey.

Going into the month, our goals were, as mentioned in Sabbatical Journey #1, to rest, refine, replenish, recharge and refocus.  My wife and I greatly anticipated TIME . . . TIME to pray, read, seek the Lord, think, prepare, pray, seek the Lord, study, read, pray, think, seek the Lord, etc.  The Lord graciously gave us our hearts desire.  James 4:8 says, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

How wonderful it was to begin the morning meeting with my Lord in such places as our back porch, by a creek near a waterfalls, up high on Beauty Spot, in the sunroom at my in-laws or on the back deck of a lake cottage.  During these days, I read portions of or completed the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. My, how the Lord did speak to my heart!  One of best parts was reading the Truth and then watching the Lord make connections that day either through a book I was reading, situations I found myself in or conversations I had with others. My journal is a treasure to me of what God clearly spoke to my heart!

On August 25th as I sat all alone on the Appalachian Trail with Bible, journal and pen in hand, having just read Colossians 1:24-29, I wrote the following:  As I look down the AT, I see a marker pole with a white blaze, and I am reminded of Jim Eliot’s quote, “Lord, make me a crisis man.  Bring those I contact to decision.  Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”  The more TIME you spend with the Lord, the more you want to be that kind of man.

Thank You, Lord, for TIME to meet with you, uninterrupted and with no time limit.  Eternity will be awesome!!

2015 Plans and Goals: Gold or Honey?

“Static Christianity” does not exist. Every day of our life we are either growing in our relationship with God or we are digressing. Every second of life we are either operating out of our flesh or walking under the control of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25). God the Father has redeemed and reconciled us back to Himself through the cross work of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23-26; 5:1-11) to enjoy fellowship with us and for us to bring Him glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).  In order to do so, we must be growing in our knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).  We are exhorted to grow in Christ, in the faith, in the Word and through the Word (1 Peter 2:1; 3:15; 5:10; 2 Peter 1:5-8; Hebrews 5:11-14).

Please note from Psalm 19:7-11, what God says about His Word; the power of the His Word that created and sustains all things:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward

So, what is your plan to know God even more through His Word in this coming year of 2015? What is your written, intentional plan?  What passages of Scriptures are you going to memorize this year?  What is your Bible reading plan so the Word of God can read you every day and change you into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:17)?  I submit without reservation that the most important plans you make for 2015 concern your growth in Christ!  Read Psalm 19:10 again.  What should you search for more than gold?  What should you give more planning to than your work, your children’s schooling, your vacation, etc.?  Where do you find guaranteed reward (Psalm 19:11)?

So with those challenging questions and Psalm 19 as our backdrop, let me zero in on some Bible reading plans.

These links offer many, many options to fit your goal for 2015:



Youversion.com/apps  – A smartphone app with many, many options

2015 Bible Reading Plan

So, which will you gather the most this year?  Honey or gold? (Psalm 19:10)  Remember, you won’t be static.

Lessons From a Hernia

All my life I have lived in full speed, all-out, never-sit-still motion. Every day is an adventure. I believe in being loyal to the end and give it all you got. This can be a positive in many ways, but life lived like this can also have some disadvantages. My independency, impatience and let’s go attitude does not bode well at times with following the Lord, my Shepherd. So, when He needs to get my undivided attention to do some whittling and training, He chooses something to really slow me down. As a matter of fact, to literally stop me. Two years ago it was eye surgery. This time it is hernia surgery. So, what have I been learning in slow motion from my patient, merciful, loving, sovereign God?

Lesson #1 – You must slowdown in this busy world of good things and make time for the best thing.

When you are laid aside for a number of days, you have the opportunity to read more, pray more, listen more, worship more, think more, and prioritize more. What delight to spend a whole morning (after you come off of pain meds) in the Word, in communion with the Lord, reading books, blogs, and articles, in prayer, writing in your journal, listening to sermons, etc. All of that to say, a time like this makes you hunger for more. Because our lives are so busy with good things, we fail or are slack in the area of the best things. Therefore, such is the need to plan your week and your month to really spend time with the Lord. I don’t know what that will look like for you and your schedule, but if Christ is to be sought first (Matthew 6:33) because to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21), then what will you plan for this week, this month?

Hint: When you come to the end of this month of November, will your heart be filled to overflowing with gratitude for your God?

  • Spend a “Thanksgiving morning” reading the psalms, singing songs of gratitude, and writing in your journal what God reveals to you during this time.
  • Keep a gratitude list through the month, not of what God has done, but for Who He is.
  • Read articles, blogs, or books about giving thanks.
  • Have your family share points of gratitude at your daily meal times as well as what God has revealed to them during each day of their time in the Word.
  • As you study your SS lesson, ladies Bible study, or your regular Bible reading during the week, make a conscious effort to praise the Lord for what He teaches you. For instance, you have just answered a question that causes you to think about the greatness of God or His works, so you stop right there and have a session of praise before the Lord.

Psalm 100

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

Friday’s Findings

Modeled Words of WisdomWhat words of wisdom do your children see in your marriage?

20 Ways to Be Refreshing in the Local Church – “Try some of these on for size” this Sunday!  You’ll see they fit because they are biblically practical.  What awesome services we will have this Sunday!

Bible Study StrugglesHere’s some sound, practical advice from Paul Tripp if your daily Bible study has gotten into a rut.  This is an excellent post!

He Loves MeFour of my favorites singing a simple truth to encourage your heart today.

Word of God Speak

While typing yesterday’s post, a song that has touched my life in so many ways kept running through my mind.  I remember the first time I heard it.  Let me recount that memory for you as I share some thoughts penned in my 2013 Journal. My mother had just come to our house to stay after four weeks in the hospital due to cancer.  Her temporal life ended in our back bedroom on January 23, 2014.

It was January 1, and the first passage I read a minute or two after midnight to begin the new year was Lamentations 3. The Lord spoke to my heart as fresh as the first time I had ever read this familiar passage, This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness (3:21-23).  I sat on the edge of the bed with Denise having just left Mom in her weak condition and having just written about my conversation with Mom in my 2012 Journal which was my final entry for the year.  I read this passage, and then Denise and I prayed together before catching a few hours of sleep.

January 1, 2013

Thank You, Lord, for rest through the night.  The opportunity to sleep in a bit and serve Mom around 3 a.m. was also a blessing. One of the first songs I heard this morning as I listened to Pandora was Word of God Speak.  As I listened to these lyrics, my heart yearned for this to be true this year.  How often we want to talk, to say something. The first stanza of this song is so simple, yet so profound. How really okay it is to be at a loss for words in the presence of my God.  What would it be like to just concentrate, meditate on Him; to hear Him pour His Word down on my heart like rain?  How often I must have those moments this year.  To be still and know that my Heavenly Father is in this place, wherever that place is.  Even as I type this, I am listening to these words.  I don’t need to be heard.  I need to hear what God says.  Lord, speak to me; I need to hear from You.  Interesting that it has been raining through the night into this morning.

I ended my January 1 entry with the lyrics of this song and the following, “It is the Word of God and music that stirs my heart, that I need this year as I face each day, each joy, each trial, each decision, and each tomorrow as we move closer to being Home.”

Psalm 46:10-11  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Word of God speak

Would You pour down like rain

Washing my eyes to see

Your majesty

To be still and know

That You’re in this place

Please let me stay and rest

In Your holiness

Word of God speak

Shhhh, Someone Is Speaking

Yesterday morning I experienced once again one of the many blessings of living in the country—quiet.  After living for thirteen years in an increasingly noisy area of town, I have not in the least bit grown tired of tranquil country living.  Often times I find myself just stopping in the backyard or on the porch to listen to the stillness.  How refreshing to my heart, my soul, my mind and my ears.

What made yesterday morning’s time extra special was the realization of quiet while spending time in communion with the Lord in prayer and Scripture reading.  Our lives are too busy.  Quiet fellowship with our Heavenly Father is so often bypassed for a quick read, noise in the background, and a few heartless prayer requests.   Many have just a mere acquaintance with the still small voice of our Father.  Truth is, God does not shout to get our attention.  He wants to commune with us as we shut down all the racket around us and in our heart and give concentrated attention to His loving, forgiving, grace-filled voice.  There is quiet rhythm in spending time in blessed fellowship with our God Who loves us as much as He loves His Son (John 15:9).  As you read His Word, you stop after a verse or two and listen.  Perhaps record in your journal what He speaks to you.  Then you pray that truth back to Him in adoration, confession, and/or supplication.  As you read the next verse or two, you repeat this process.  May I be quick to add that this is not a cold, lifeless process, but one of sitting at the feet of our awesome, holy, omniscient, omnipresent, loving God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 16:13-16  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.  

Notice the work of the Holy Spirit, first to the disciples for a specific purpose, and now to us as Christ’s disciples.

  1. The Holy Spirit leads us into full understanding of the Truth. He guides us along the way as He teaches us about Christ and His Word.  He will teach you more and more as you grow in spiritual capacity and knowledge.
  2. The Holy Spirit’s main function is to magnify Christ. As Expositor’s Bible Commentary puts it, “The Spirit interprets and applies the character and teaching of Jesus to the disciples and by doing so makes him central to their thinking.  He makes God a reality to people” (The Gospel of John, p. 158)

What did the Holy Spirit disclose to you this morning?  Did you hear Him?  Now, you don’t have to move to the country, but do try to find a quiet place.  Moms, train your children to be quiet when you have your quiet time and . . . as they learn to have their own.  Shhh, Someone is speaking to you.

Have Ya Got the Time?

There are many reasons why I love living in East Tennessee.   One of which is the down-home common sense bred in the hearts and character of many raised in these mountains.  Today, I have such a one who has agreed to let me share what the Lord gave him last week while studying the Word.  Wayne and his dear wife, Vickie, are dear members of our church and have gone through the furnace of affliction for the past six years.  These words are born out of a life that has been touched by the Master and continues to walk by faith and not by sight.  It is totally unedited just as he penned it.  Thanks, Wayne, for sharing your heart and letting me share with the readers today.

“Have ya got the time?”….I’ll bet its been a spell since you’ve heard that question. This day and time lots of folks have wrist watches, and most of the people have cell phones, so knowing the time is no problem.

Speaking of time, puts me in mind of the time Uncle Roby ordered him a pocket-watch from Sears and Roebuck. It finally come in the mail to Lansing NC post office. It had a fancy fob on one end and about 8-10 inches of gold colored chain with a genuine Elgin Pocket Watch, big as biscuit, on the other end.

Word gets around in Lansing pretty quick, so the next time Uncle Roby was in Walter Osbornes’ store, everyone was quizzing him about his new watch. Ole Doc Keyes up and says, “well Roby, what time is it”

Uncle Roby proudly pulls out his watch, flips up the lid and says, “there she be,” ..Ole Doc says, “well danged if it ain’t”…..neither one could tell time..such as it was in bygone days.

Now let me ask you, “have you got the time?”

We’ve got the time to get up on Monday morn and get to work at the correct time. We’ve got the time to stop and fill up the gas tank when the hand is close to the E. We’ve got the time to set down at the dinner table when suppers on. But, do we have the time to hear what God is saying…?

And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: Gen 19:27.……Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. Ps.55:17.….To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, Ps.92:2.……I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Prov.8:17.…..

It seems like early and in the morning is a common time to hear from God. Some of my best times with God has been early in the morn. Its quite, its peaceful, the business of the day has not started. My Bible in my lap, the Spirit of God in my heart. He reveals to me my short-comings and then His wonderful forgiveness. He reveals to me His will, and then that my will should be lined up with His will. Most of all, I guess, is He revels His love for me. So, try it one morn, get up a little early and seek Him…ponder on that a bit and remember…O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; Ps 63:1.