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06 - How to Have a Vibrant Devotional Life

Natasha Dysinger Shauna Chung Esther Louw
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In this week’s podcast episode, Esther Louw and Shauna Chung discuss with Natasha Dysinger methods that each of us can implement to improve the quality of our devotions. Natasha is down-to-earth as she talks about her own personal struggles through the years, as well as unique solutions that she and others have implemented to put God first despite busy schedules or lack of motivation. Have your devotions become habitual and lacklustre? Or are you struggling to simply turn devotions into a habit? Regardless of how long you have been a Christian, there is something for everyone in this interesting discussion.

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  • March 24, 2018
    10:00 AM

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When something becomes routine day after day after day there's a danger that it will lose its meaning the Bible encourages us to meditate on God's word every day however for many of us a diversion a life we quickly suffers becomes boring and stimulating or simply fades away what if there is a way to breathe life back into a half dead devotional life but it time with God wasn't just a duty but a pleasure to welcome to the. Cast in this episode Sana Chung and I sit down to discuss these ideas and more with a touch of deicing Natasha is a bible worker who along with her husband is currently working at Living Hope Adventist community church under the mentorship of Pastor Mark Milley previously the president of generation Christ the Tasha is passionate about ministry to young people as well as encouraging women to see the biblical ministry both in the home and abroad take the time to join us as we discover how to enjoy a vibrant devotional experience. Because so much in touch here and if you for sharing your perspective on devotions I think the first question for you what is your relationship to devotion while the heart that I have for diversions is largely credited to my parents so I can remember as far back as I remember when I was three for my parents had already connected with the importance of diversions in their lives and so from that as early as I can remember my parents facility devotions in my late when I was just little that maybe meant something like they would put on scripture side and I would be coloring or something. You know by a picture or just something to direct my mind to word spiritual topics or the Bible or something and then as I grew older you know that matured and when I was maybe. I was reading maybe a passage from the Gospel. Bills and maybe something from Tiger and you know it grew and changed as I grew and then as I grew older then it became my own personal first of all it was a habit because of what my parents didn't call Cate it into my life but then it moved beyond a habit into something that I wanted when I really took hold of Christ for myself which was in my early teens that's when I really took hold of devotions also for myself so it transitioned from a life habit because that was made family's life habit to a personal life habit where that was what I wanted to do and I wanted to come to know Christ better for myself do you think after your experience maybe someone who didn't already have that have it how can someone who didn't grow up with that habit get into detail to have it you know I do think it was probably a bit easier just from the perspective of I always grew up where first thing in the morning before I did any other thing before I got into maybe I had some devotion so that was an ingrained habit probably from that perspective it was a little easier for me than if I was fully ingrained into a different morning routine and now is trying to change or as I know now I want to have devotions and you have to reestablish a habit so you know when you're when you're changing your habits there's always that transition process but at the same time and you know whether it's in the morning or if it's a different time of day what works for that person you know you just have to form you have to be willing to protect that time because you know the world the flesh and the devil are going to be working against that time we have a time ago it seems like what you've just said and kind of what you alluded to in your own experience there came a point in time no matter if it was routine for your you grew up with it where you had to choose it for yourself so I guess most people have chosen that for themselves how do you maintain the consistency or the longevity of your devotion one because this is not something that you do for two years or five years but it's something that. I guess we should strive to do for the rest of our lives Yeah yeah exactly as far is protecting that time I have learned in my life that it's just a matter of choice you know I brush my teeth every day and that's. Something that I'm going to do every day pretty much I eat every day you know there's a certain things that we do every day because we value it enough and we you know good diesel we brush them same thing if I want my my work with guide to really flourish I have to feed that on a daily basis again because the devil is resisting that we have to put forth perhaps even that extra effort to protect that time to keep it quality so the one thing would be making the choice to protect that time and maybe taking a hard look at my schedule and saying well you know this is how it's going to fit in maybe as my season of life changes it's going to have to fit in a different way but I still protect that time the second thing is protecting the quality of my emotions so it doesn't just become this rote experience or is like OK now is the time I sit down. I really need you know. If the quality goes down and our motivation for protecting the time goes down to immediately so then the second time is making sure that the quality of her devotions remains high so that that time becomes in a way since with Christ as opposed to an exercise in duty Rice do so talking about color because I know like when you first start having just wring it out it's just the light then they seems to come a point in time where it becomes so have actual And I guess maybe you've read through the Bible at five six seven type nothing new so how do you get that quality not necessarily creating something new sure how you mean that dynamic in your experience Well there's a couple things that come to mind one is this is a quote by Mark in. He says this. To us frequently he says any method use exclusively is a poor man. And he uses that often in terms of devotion basically saying you know if I do the same thing day after day after day after day eventually it's going to get old eventually and. You know just routine I'm doing it again so what I have found in my life that really helps to keep my devotions fresh and alive is I change up what I do though let's say for a while I'll spend maybe the first part of my devotions praying to the Psalms I may do that for a couple weeks and then maybe I won't do that for a while then I'll spend some time to be going through New Testament epistle Right now I'm studying through the book of Titus right before that I was studying through the book of first Peter when I came to the end of first Peter I was like well should I should I in a logical thing is to follow up with second Peter right but then I thought no you know I have I've done Peter and so I've done first Peter and I've been doing Peter's writings for the last and I'm a switch into something else and so I switched over and I went to Titus and eventually you know after I'm done with Titus I may wind up back in second Peter or I may wind up in the Old Testament so I just change it up and I change what I'm studying I change from you know from maybe a pistol's to stories to this to that and I just keep it keep it fresh and keep it interesting for my mind when you're talking about revitalizing your devotional life and things like that I think your example of switching things up is a fantastic one in just going to give yourself a variety of things that you're really even with in the Bible for those who are who might find reading itself as his dad meant Are there other methods that people can incorporate into their devotional life to I guess you sure you know it's. Yes And you bring that up because actually reading is not my preferred method now I do do it because I find that when I am wanting to when you when you're reading you can stop at any time and ponder if you're listening which is my preferred method of learning like I when I listen I remember I but with you know remembering what they say I remember their inflection I remember their intonation I remember the way the manner in which they said it so it's you know there is there's pros and cons to every method right but I love to listen and so oftentimes I will listen to a listen to the Bible or I will listen to the book like desirably just or something and I will just do that during my devotion times or sometimes I'll do it as I'm drifting off to sleep or just put on very softly as long as it's a narrator that's a little. Lighter the physical narrator elicited that or something and just let myself absorb it that way you know the downside to that is that if you want to stop and think about something you're going to have to go and interrupt posit but there's just there's different ways we can approach and then another example my sister is more she's more tactile than I am she's an excellent artist I can't draw to save my life but she can draw and I remember that before both of us were married we were living in my parents' home I was I had a Bible somehow in DE and out fell the sheet where she had like illustrated on this paper James one chapter one and she had done all your little illustrations and they were simple I they weren't complex they obviously hadn't taken it out long she was using will stick figures but she drew little indications of the man you know that is double minded in all his ways and it was just I was looking out like wow I just brought that chapter to life obviously she had just done it some point when she was you know maybe studying through James one so there's just different things we can do to interact with scripture changing it around whether it's reading listen. You know interacting with it otherwise it can really keep it fresh and. Like talking about the different things that you can put into. Reading or listening or dry What part does prayer play in your devotional life is a separate kind of mix together you know if you had asked me that couple years ago I might have given you a different response I give Now of course I think all of us believe that devote that prayer is kind of a part of it in that you know maybe we pray before we open the radar something of that nature. But I have recently had kind of a renaissance of my thinking on this in in the specific aspect of praying through the Bible through the Psalms especially the Psalms although you can do it of course with other passages in the scriptures too but I have started going through different chapters in the Psalms like Psalms one thirty two thirty or forty one zero three one fifty I like a mill there's a lot when nineteen you know it's such a long Psalm but it's broken up into eight verse sections and I meditations on loving you know the law the statutes the judgment just the ways of God And so sometimes I'll just go and I'll take one section of some one hundred eight verses not that long but I'll just pray through and just pray that the Lord would infuse that attitude that spirit it's being expressed in Psalm one hundred into my heart and so it becomes a much more dynamic experience where I'm praying and then I'm letting the Scripture speak back to me and that's one of the ways in which God speaks to us you know we when we pray we want to hear God respond you know we don't want to just be a one way conversation and so that's one of the beautiful ways is as I'm praying you know the scripture speaking back to me and I'm interacting with the Word of God in that way and prayer becomes a much more dynamic part of study prayer you know into. Mysie with God they become very very connected and it's been just a really beautiful experience a kind of devotional life that you're describing. So incredible because it is literally living you know yes but I think that with it comes this dedication of time you know and in order to hear God's voice in order to have that communication and to have that dynamic component in you devotional I think he needed to allocate some time yes so would you say to the individual who is you know out the door first thing in the morning cosmically night is exhausted having incorporated versions to their lives where you know everybody's lifestyle is different but I think that there can be core components to each to me the main concept of devotions is that we're setting time aside. Really to interact with a person notice she says Christ So for instance in my marriage my day may be very busy but at some point if I want my marriage to remain strong and healthy I need to protect time for my husband not have time together and his life may be busy but he protects time for me and so it's the same principle in our interactions with Christ so with my husband you know usually the best times for me to spend time with him are either in the morning or in the evening before the day gets you know intense or after it's done but that doesn't mean that I can't take time maybe in the military if something happened if I know something's going to be you know occupying evening and I know some things are key primary to spend time with him day I think the exact same thing is true in our walk with God the benefit to the morning in the evening is often our mind is not you know going high strung with some other topic that is to me the downside of the military which I have often spent time with God in the middle of the day but often you're interrupting yourself from some other activity you're doing and then your mind is it's much harder to slow yourself down you know and to. Make that time quality so even know if a person is very busy and they say hey in the morning or in the evening this hasn't worked here's a really good example for instance there's a doctor that I know who is in Great Britain he is even extremely extremely busy doctor not only is he a physician he is a television personality in Great Britain and he works for as doing consultation for several governments around the world laugh and on the subject of health he's a very busy man and besides that you know if he takes his wife out to eat in a restaurant people recognize him because of you know him being on national television there so his life is very hectic but he goes through in the morning when he wakes up he just reads a song doesn't take that long and then sometime and I'm not going be able to reproduce this perfectly but maybe around ten am he has an alarm on his watch and he'll go aside even if he's in the mill or who go aside and he'll read a chapter from the Gospels and then he'll go back to work and then he has a live set for like one pm and then he goes and he reads run the proverbs and then he'll do something again at like four pm and then went to the even so he ends up having like five times a day where he goes aside and he reads and he read something different in he has a routine that he does very busy man but he's found a way to creatively spend quality time with Christ and keep redirecting his mind back to you know time and time and and I think that's a brilliant example of someone who doesn't do it in the classical way that we're so accustomed to thinking of well you know he wakes up in the morning does X. Y. or Z. but he still places priority on it yeah so what I hear you saying is it's not so much when you have your devotion but consistent sure around the day every day. What about how bomb your diversions are you know I've heard people say well you need to tie your day. Of your money to give a ten day God I've had other people say oh you. It's OK just five minutes what is your ideas on how much time and well again I think if we put it into terms of a human relationship so in my marriage if I just give my marriage five minutes a day well that. That may have been the best thing for the long term health the my relationship right. Now tithing it will be nice attire my time you know with my husband. Doesn't always functionally happen that way not necessarily I don't always get that much time on him and I think it's the same way with God If we want our our connection with him to be strong and we want our intimacy with him to be vibrant You know we we can never put a specific amount of time on it because sometimes we're struggling we need more time. Sometimes sometimes maybe we're were on a on a mountaintop experience with God and we were it's natural to just think about him through the day and so maybe we're already very connected not to say well we don't need time with him then we do need time with him but it's a dynamic relationship it's a dynamic relationship that we want to grow and we want to take the time to protect that relationship and so when I think about you know how long does it need to be I have spent you know as far as minutes or hours very very an amount of time with God throughout my life and I have actually done the you know typing my time with God before during a specific season of my life where I knew I really needed his guidance and his help it is a lot you know it is a lot of the time but it's a blessing it is a tremendous blessing but the answer to me or how long should this be the answer will be long enough to really know you have connected with heaven. That me vary depending on the circumstances in your life and what is going on the. He is often times where in too great haste says in education when we're spending time with Christ we don't pause in that sacred circle this presence but we just streak through read that quick verse and then I put in my quote and I can get on to life and we don't stop to really be refresh by His grace. Without actually I guess solidifying the structure of a Bible study or like a devotional in the morning to some sort of a one size fits all model what do you recommend to I guess really. Emphasize or enhance the quality of a pure Bible study not necessarily just your devotional time but like your interaction your relationship with the Bible. Well you know I already mentioned this but I think that really is key and that is spending a little bit of time at the beginning praying in the Psalms and fortunately the Psalms is a huge book so you can well there's a lot of per material now but I have just found it really blesses me and it prepares my mind for interacting with Scripture in a way that just doesn't happen otherwise so often like in my devotions I'll try to spend a short time at the beginning it doesn't have to be long it is a few verses or something and I'll just pray through it and really see to reading my heart for interacting with Scripture and then there's a lot of different things you can do one is if you really want to get down to studying the scriptures there's three questions that are often asked when you're interacting with a story specifically the word of God So if you're maybe in the Gospels or even back in the Old Testament somewhere or in Acts where there's a narrative going on so they'll be three questions that are asked the first one will be what is going on here the second and really try to enter into what is going on try to imagine what's happening who's around what's what's taking place what is Who are the characters and what are they saying what are they doing the second question. How would I feel if I were in this situation so now I'm not just observing it but I'm trying to enter it in my own mind to the certain you know how I would personally react to that situation and I'll tell you what this can just bring a bring so much color into the Bible and the stories of the Bible and then the third question would be how does this apply to my life and so then really star extract and there are so many examples of bible stories that I could give where we can just pull out so much out of one or two verses a piece of the story even just by entering into what's going on. How I feel if I was here and how does this apply my life now if we're not talking about stories that we're talking more about. If you want to piss holes or something where it's more of a letter it's more doctrinal it's not as much of a narrative in those sort of situations like I mentioned a little while ago I'm studying Titus there's not as much been a narrative there it's a letter you know to a leader of a church so what I do in that sort of situation is I'll read through the epistle or if it's in a larger book maybe a section of that book like in Matthew maybe I would read through the sermon the mouse's three chapters in the case of Titus is also three chapters I would read through the entire thing quickly to try to get the big picture of what you know what's going on here what's the what's the big picture of what's taking place in Titus and then I'll go back to the beginning in I'll go to it verse by verse very carefully very slowly trying to understand what that verse a saying but remembering it in context of the bigger picture of what was happening in the pistol and so it brings not only the big picture but then it colors in the big picture and then again how does that apply to my life how you know maybe the struggles of the church in Crete was experiencing as in in the apostle of tightest as he was the leader of the church in Crete and he talks of Paul talks about the struggles of the church in Korea in that he gives you know these examples for what you can do to strengthen the church increase of the. My question is how did those struggles apply Do I have those same line of similar trends in my life and then you know Paul's application and really wrestling with how can that apply to my heart and mind. So like let's say that there is someone who may feel like all this is a great ideas and I can make my life better but no matter how much I push if I will I'm actually not really interested in reading it how do I get past that lack of feeling disinterested. Well I think that. One of my biggest questions in that circumstance and in my own life if I feel my interest in the Word of God waning the first question would be why and in working with other young people who are like a BIOS just not very interesting believe me take a step back and say OK what other if we don't have an appetite for the group. What appetites do we have. And oftentimes because the Word of God They were guys actually very dynamic and dramatic some of the stories in the Bible are unbelievable if you really enter into them but if my mind is so full of. Other you know stimulating things maybe I'm just when I sit down to try to read the Word of God I'm thinking of you know something tacit movie I saw and the dramatic things that took place in this thrilling narrative that was going on and then I come to the dial and you know reading about Abraham and Sarah and how they were written knowledge is time to have a son and I'm like well this just isn't so interesting because I'm already keeping my mind so hyper stimulated possibly with another drama that is quite likely not very true to life as far as you know how exciting it's got it is and all the things that are happening and all that you know the entire. In the protagonist's everything and I'm just so and you know I'm so stimulated by that that the Word of God By contrast seems very dark so I would say you know if if I'm if I'm like hey the Bible is just not interesting the first question I would ask is why what at what do I find interesting. What sort of things do I find stimulating and intellectually exciting because there's so many things about the Bible that can stimulate our mind but not if we are already stimulating our minds with things that the Bible does not relate to or condone So that would be my first question is what's the appetite if we have as it as a practical example a little African child that all they have access to is white rice and they might rise three times a day and that they may not be hungry but they will eventually become malnourished and so often this is what we do with the Bible we're feeding our minds much with all this you know stuff and and media and social media all the stuff that's going on in the world around us and entertainment and all this until our minds are so full of that white rice so to speak that we may not feel hungry but we are becoming undernourished So what are my appetites for and how can I then if I recognize that I do have appetites for other things that are scratching out my appetite for the Word of God then I can start restructuring my life to allow the appetite for the really got to flourish speaking of those things that are kind of outside the Bible I think perhaps there are materials that can be supplementary to the bible are there any resources that you would recommend or that you've incorporated into your devotional life that might be suffered three to five Yeah absolutely because you know there are so many that have been so many great Christians throughout history who have written very inspiring things fundamentally when it comes to acts you know extra biblical material so writings by other individuals be. Besides you know outside of scripture one of the keys that I look for in whether I include that in my devotional life or not is does this book or you know study guide or this material whatever it is does it enhanced and amplify my love for the Word of God So am I pursuing this other OS or because they draw me closer to Christ they they when I get done with they're really I just want to read the Word of God two or do I read them because they're more interesting and I you know I The Bible says kind of dollars so I want you know to read something else long body else they are so I try to look at it from that perspective. Because there are other wonderful Certainly I often enjoy reading the spirit prophecy when I'm having my devotions But then when it comes to other authors to primarily my devotions I do try to give that time to the Word of God because oftentimes we don't find ways to eke out time for the Word of God outside of our divisions and I may find ways you can type or other others as I may devotions so primarily I try to leave that time for the Word of God Maybe I'll get in the spirit of prophecy but if there are other authors who really are inspiring me to. Into a greater love for God into a greater love for His Word then I may have them as a part of my diversions but always bearing in mind that they are pointing me back to the Word of God as opposed to. Becoming an outlet for just reading something that's easier to digest than the Bible. So just talking about supplements and have you felt that maybe other things like Bible memorization. Other. Files and how you started on. Bible memory especially. I think is wonderful as something that will enhance or devotions now where I would add a caveat is how much time is it taking. So if I have a given amount of time to redo study the Bible and taking a large section of that time to memorize a small portion then I might try to incorporate that at some other time in my day used to be the case I used to have a much higher capacity for memorization than I do now I don't know what happened to my brain but when I was nearing the end of high school I had a pretty extensive ability to memorize quickly especially Ben listen to it I could remember it and so at the time I really incorporated a lot of memorization into the very beginning of my devotion so at the beginning I would spend some time memorizing in the nice thing about that is that then if you're going through your day that scripture can just come back and it can revitalize refresh refresh you in the middle of the day and now it takes me a little bit longer term as than it is Ben has a lot more work so I hope I may still do it maybe at the beginning or at the end of my devotions but I don't make that like my primary you know activity at the way you know I don't make much slows down the whole process but I do do certainly believe that I'm really grateful especially for the amounts that I memorized during that season in my life or my mind was just kind of by the grace of God a sponge for it and now I memorize one of the things I memorized during that time was the Epistle of James and now throughout my life it's just such a gift to have James right there where I can meditate on it any time of day and really refreshing it. Thank you so much I love it I'm covered so many angles of the devotional life here in St been extremely helpful to first time devotional are people at the beginning of their journey in the middle of you know. We appreciate and Tasha deicing and for sharing her thoughts with us may you also discover an oasis in Christ's presence for his soul his job States poetically indeed these are the mere edges of his ways and how small a whisper we hear of him but the thunder of his power who can understand.

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