The dance composition was extraordinary, and her ballerinas were expertly trained. As this accomplished choreographer stood in the back of the auditorium waiting for the audience to clear, someone walked over to praise her work. Her response was as graceful as the ballet she had just produced on stage. In merely a 10-second conversation, this godly woman modeled how to graciously receive a compliment without stealing God’s glory.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
- Let your body language reflect a spirit of hospitality (1 Pet. 4:9). As the accolades were given to the dance instructor, her gentle smile and open posture communicated humble joy that the audience member received pleasure from the performance.
- Don’t be a babbling fool (Prov. 10:8). With obvious sincerity, she simply spoke two sentences. In the first one, she gave credit to the dancers. In the second, she paid tribute to the song.
- Walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:25-26). The dialogue came easy to the Christ-filled, confident lady. She did not need to add anything about herself to the conversation since the flattering comment had already covered that. It wasn’t necessary to make a forced remark that it was “all God” – which in cases of admiration can make the encourager feel uncomfortable at best, or shamed at worst. Instead, by thoughtfully considering the speaker…receiving the personal compliment with her nonverbals…acknowledging the work of others…and focusing on the God-honoring content of her work, she beautifully glorified the fullness of Him in it all. (Ps. 24:1)
You’re snuggled in your warm bed and can’t help but hit snooze a few more times…or you’re finally home and just want to curl up with your favorite show…or there’s too much going on to pray or read your Bible right now.
This is nothing new and you’re not the only one. Solomon’s bride did the same thing. And when she couldn’t resist her Beloved’s cries any longer and became ready to receive Him, it was too late. He had gone. (Song of Solomon 5:2-6)
Similarly, when you have put Jesus off for many days and nights in a row, you too may feel that He is gone when you finally get around to spending time with Him. You can devise a plan for damage control when that happens, and even better, you can establish a strategy so that it will happen as little as possible.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1. Identify the style of relationship you have with God.
Do you relate to Him intellectually? (If so, you may need a good collection of theology books and various Bible translations). Do not be stiff-necked, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to His sanctuary. (2 Chron. 30:8)
Do you relate to Him emotionally? (If so, you may want to own a pretty journal collection and develop extensive worship playlists). My beloved speaks and says to me, “Arise my love, my beautiful one, and come away.” (Song of Solomon 2:10)
Do you connect with Him as a nature-lover, by being outdoors and through adventures? (If so, you may want to download some good Bible apps and sermon podcasts for on the go). Jesus replied, “I tell you, if these (people) keep silent, the stones will cry out (in praise).” (Luke 19:40)
Are you a traditionalist? (If so, you may want to establish some daily rituals in order to structure your time of worship). He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned to gladness, and their mourning to joy. (Esther 9:22)
Are you highly relational? (If so, you may want to join with multiple prayer partners and Bible study groups to be with Him alongside others). He went to the house where many were gathered together and were praying. (Acts 12:12)
Are you artistic? (If so, you may want to purposely spend time with God through art, music, and the senses, or even create a type of beautiful “God studio”). I am about to build a house for the Name of the Lord my God and dedicate to Him a temple for the Lord and a royal palace for Himself. (2 Chron. 2:4, 12)
2. Connect your learning style to your worship style.
Would the visual set-up of: a prayer center, Christian coloring book, Bible reading chair, candles, journaling Bible with your favorite pens, highlighters, Washi tape etc. draw you to a daily time of devotion?
Or is it better to have audio sermons, Biblical truth recordings, and praise music and hymns at the ready so that you can engage through listening on a consistent basis?
Or perhaps a multi-sensory, tactile experience with your favorite hot beverage, Bible story puzzle, or long hike outdoors is the best time for you to pray and meditate on Scripture?
Look to and praise the Perfection of Beauty according to His excellent greatness…with dance…with loud clashing cymbals…let everything that has breath praise the Lord! (Ps.50:2; 150:2, 4, 5, 6; Heb. 12:2)
3. After you’ve been apart for a while, give the process time.
Determine which habits will most likely work for you so that you won’t end up in this dry, empty place as often anymore. Daniel got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before His God. (Daniel 6:10)
Whether you referred to it as a “mix-tape” or a playlist, at some point you’ve possibly compiled a list of songs that reflected a season of your life such as a painful break-up or a fantastic summer camp experience. In those situations, the songs can tend to be all sad or completely celebratory.
With a little purposeful planning, a more varied and specifically arranged list of songs can be assembled in order to productively process a painful journey from sorrow to joy. Here’s one sample, along with some explanations behind the choices:
You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban – From the first mellow notes to the very end, this prologue sets forth a two-part theme for this Christian woman’s playlist: sorrow and faith in God.
Rose from the Titanic Soundtrack (James Horner) – This instrumental represents the wounded party’s discovery of a changing identity…as she learns how to respond to her circumstances in the way she believes the Lord is asking of her.
This I Know by Crowder – The listener wants to take a little break from her first two sad songs with an anthem that reminds her of the early days when she got to know Jesus and He put life in her bones. She might need to feel sad a little longer, but she also longs to know vitality isn’t far away.
I Am Not Alone by Kari Jobe – Oftentimes, trials can be very isolating. People don’t always understand, and sometimes they say and do very unhelpful things. These lyrics that focus on the Lord, Who He is, and how He cares – will draw the hurting towards Him so her needs can be divinely met.
You Know Me by Bethel Music & Steffany Gretzinger – Hard times can cause insecurity, shame, and/or a desire to be understood. There is One who knows every detail about His daughter, and He would desire that such a melody be sung over her during times of self-doubt.
Nearness by Bethel Music & Jenn Johnson – The hurting listener struggles over what she doesn’t understand, but this ballad helps her to steady her heart on His comfort and goodness, and prepares her for a turning point in her healing.
Great Are You Lord by All Sons & Daughters – Eventually the victim has played the sad songs enough and she’s ready to spend more time praising and less time lamenting.
Make a Way by I am They – With a focus remaining on the Lord and what He can do, she recalls the ways He has always been there for her and how this time will be no different.
Roar by Katie Perry – There is an enemy who doesn’t want healing. This selection is fun to sing in his face as this process moves along.
One Thing Remains by Passion featuring Kristian Stanfill – This praise number is great for singing along in a loud voice, reminding her emotions to believe what really matters.
Made to Love by TobyMac – A fabulous, dance-inducing finale, TobyMac’s song announces that the time has come to move forward – with a renewed focus on her life’s purpose.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
If you decide to use a music playlist as a tool to help you heal or recover from a trial:
- Put together a balanced list of songs so that you can experience a variety of emotions as you journey through the music. The key is not to have all sad or only upbeat songs, but to use a progression of songs to join up with you as you transition from emotional pain to stability.
- Turn the songs into your personal prayers and anthems, always including the Lord in this process for best results.
- Allow yourself to put certain songs “on repeat” to give yourself time to feel and face all your emotions before listening to selections that are more focused on moving forward.
- If you find yourself “sitting” in a certain area of the playlist for a long time without being able to advance through it, consider why you are stuck and determine if you need more outside support.
- Consider titling your playlist and even after you’re done, go back to it from time to time so that you can acknowledge the way the Lord brought you through a hard time.
I will sing and make music to the Lord. Psalm 27:6
Even if traditional church music is not your style, sometimes it is worthwhile to read and ponder the lyrics of a highly regarded hymn. In Be Thou my Vision, there is a most striking verse: “Thou my best thought.” In this verse, the writer of this timeless masterpiece is declaring that the best place your mind can be is on God. Not musings of money, romance, success, winning, chocolate, nor even a great memory with a loved one. In fact, the best thinking you can ever do is simply focusing on the Lord.
Keeping Room Tip. Try this now. For a few moments, tell your worry, obsession, depression, discontent, anger, stress, fear, etc. to move over. But don’t replace your negative concerns with happy reflections upon the beach, food, football, nice cars, money, etc. Instead lead your thoughts…into the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5, Amp.) by meditating on the perfect character of your loving, saving God.
Whether you’re worried sick about your kids or you’re feeling “up to here” with their behavior, the last thing you’re probably doing is praising God about it. But that’s exactly what Becky Harling recommends in “The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents.” She believes God has something to say about praising Him in absolutely everything, and the following excerpts from this book will help you get started:
When you’re tempted to compare your kids to others – He says, “Watch and see what I will do as you faithfully praise Me for your child’s unique design.”
When you’re longing to safeguard your child – He says, “I am able to protect him beyond your human efforts.”
When you don’t see Him answering your prayers – He says, “I am working behind the scenes to accomplish My purposes for your child’s life. Praise me in advance for how I am going to answer your prayers.”
When you’re dog tired – He says, “Learn to live on two levels. On one level you can be feeding a baby or helping with homework, but on another level you can be celebrating My presence. As you choose to praise Me, I will revive and strengthen you.”
When your child has turned away – He says, “Praise Me in advance for how I am able to bring your child back to Myself. And don’t hold a grudge toward your child when she returns or stand back skeptically when she apologizes. Remember, there have been times when you have strayed. When even one of my precious sheep returns home, heaven rejoices.”
When your child is anxious – He says, “Praise Me, using My names to claim My power over your child’s life.
When you have a desire for your family to be close – He says, “As you exalt Me, I will make your home a safe refuge for your family and for others.”
Keeping Room Tips:
Even though this book is geared toward parents, it’s a resource that anyone could appreciate when it comes to trusting God with the lives of the ones you love. It’s rooted in God’s Word and written by someone who has years of experience praising God in the lives of her family members. The daily reading is brief which makes it doable; but deep which makes it impactful. Most importantly, “The 30 Day Praise Challenge for Parents” is recommended by The Keeping Room because of the sacred and effective way the author presents Scripture to help readers practically apply praise to their parenting and love of others.
“I bless God with every chance I get; my lungs expand with His praise.” Ps. 34:1, Msg.
The 17-year old boy sits in church dressed in modern clothes and has the fashionable “swoopy” hair. He is outgoing, well-rounded, and active like so many of his peers.
Yet, he comprehends a truth that most boys his age do not know. He understands and lives according to Mark 2:27. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” In other words, this boy knows that Divinely Set-Apart Rest is a gift to him; not the other way around. Best of all, he feels unrestricted by any man-made ideas about what a Sabbath “should be,” and instead feels free to engage in Sabbath rest in the Biblical way the Lord leads him personally.
So, what does it look like when this particular teen observes the Sabbath? He purposely leaves his phone in his car when he arrives at church. He ceases all conversation once he walks into the sanctuary with his dad and brother. He isn’t too cool to sing the songs, even the hymns. He listens intently to the sermon and becomes solemn when he participates in Communion. After taking the Bread and Wine, he sits in the pew with his head bowed low, his back hunched over, and his elbows on his knees in serious prayer. He has no need to see what others are doing or to know if the song is almost over. As busy as he is all week long, he knows this is a gift of time between him and his Lord, and he doesn’t want to miss out. Then as he exits the service, he reconnects with others with a fresh dose of strength and energy.
The next generation has been largely convinced that Sabbath-rest is archaic and unrealistic for the modern age. Such messages are robbery of Truth, but this boy points to a renewed Biblical perspective.
Keeping Room Tips:
Don’t assume taking a Sabbath rest will be boring and irrelevant. Divine Rest is active and refreshing. When He leads you beside quiet waters, He will restore your soul. (Ps. 23:2-3)
Worldly rest can’t compare to God’s rest. Your soul can only find its true rest in Him. (Ps. 62:1)
Don’t get caught up in a certain way to observe the Sabbath. Just preoccupy yourself with the God of the Sabbath – and the method, restfulness, and joy will follow. (Mt. 12:9-12; Is. 58:13-14)