Let’s Move Together

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I know it’s been quiet around here lately, but for good reason. We’ve been hard at work…

I’m excited to introduce you to the all-new KEVMILL.COM!

All of my previous blog posts can be found there now, and beginning Monday, I’ll be launching some all-new blog content that you can receive right in your inbox. Sign up by clicking here or at kevmill.com.

Make sure to cruise around the new site, connect with me on social media, and tell some friends.

Seeya on the new site!

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Quiet Time? What’s that?

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If someone ever asks you, “How was your quiet time today?” don’t let it catch you off guard. It’s ok if you don’t know what a “quiet time” is.

Quiet time?”

As in a time where there is no noise?!

When and how and where?

“Quiet time” is one of those Christianese phrases that Christians use often, alongside other classic phrases and words like “fellowship,” “accountability partners,” “hedge of protection,” and “traveling mercies.” To many people outside the church, the meanings of these phrases are mysterious. Let me explain…

Around the beginning of this year I blogged about some good practices when it comes to Bible reading, prayer, and Scripture memory, but I recently had someone ask about “quiet times,” so I thought I’d elaborate on that idea for a minute.

I’m not sure where the phrase got started, but I know Who started the practice.

But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

Luke 5:16 (NLT)

This was a pretty common practice of His (see Luke 6:12, 9:28, Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35-36, 6:46, and John 6:15). Jesus regularly made time to get away for some quiet time with God.

Here’s the bottom line: If Jesus needed to regularly set time aside to quietly talk with His Father, we certainly need it too!

WHEN?

Any time will work since God never sleeps. However, I recommend finding a consistent time of the day that works for you, then creating a habit around that time. That shouldn’t be the only time of the day you talk to God, but it should be a consistent one.

HOW?

We all have a list of excuses as to why we can’t find the time for something like this. Here’s the reality: you will not find time; you will need to make time. You make time for what’s most important. It’s never a lack of time; it’s a lack of priority.

WHAT?

Talk to God through prayer. Listen to God by reading the Bible. It’s that simple. You can also journal, go through an accompanying Bible commentary, keep record of things you’re praying for and how God answers them, and so much more. It’s not about checking a box; it’s about developing a relationship.

 

Mercy from A-Z

20170112_mercyNeed some mercy? No stress. God is the sole manufacturer and distributor of it, and Psalm 136 is a very clear reminder. It repeats the phrase “His mercy endures forever” in every single verse (26 of them!). The phrase may seem a little repetitive, until you think about how much mercy you really need. When you grasp the depth of your sin, that phrase will become one of your favorites!

There are 26 verses in the chapter and 26 letters in our alphabet. Maybe it’s a coincidence, or maybe it’s a reminder that God’s mercy covers us from A-Z!

Wherever you find yourself, I hope it encourages you to know God has your sin covered. Here’s a sampling of sin and a side dish of mercy to go with each one…

Adultery

His mercy endures forever.

Blasphemy

His mercy endures forever.

Complaining

His mercy endures forever.

Deceit

His mercy endures forever.

Embezzlement

His mercy endures forever.

Fornication

His mercy endures forever.

Gossip

His mercy endures forever.

Hate

His mercy endures forever.

Impure thoughts

His mercy endures forever.

Jealousy

His mercy endures forever.

Kidnapping

His mercy endures forever.

Lust

His mercy endures forever.

Murder

His mercy endures forever.

Neglect

His mercy endures forever.

Offending little ones

His mercy endures forever.

Partiality

His mercy endures forever.

Questioning God

His mercy endures forever.

Resisting the Holy Spirit

His mercy endures forever.

Slander

His mercy endures forever.

Teaching another Gospel

His mercy endures forever.

Unbelief

His mercy endures forever.

Vanity

His mercy endures forever.

Watching evil

His mercy endures forever.

eXtortion

His mercy endures forever.

Yielding to temptation

His mercy endures forever.

Zeal without knowledge

His mercy endures forever.

I’m NOT saying God just winks at our sin, supplies the appropriate amount of mercy to cover it, like Aloe Vera on a sunburn, then moves on. God HATES sin – it put His Son on the cross. However, because Jesus died on the cross, there is mercy to cover every sin.

Repent from your sin from A to Z, recognize that if it weren’t for mercy, you wouldn’t even be alive to repent, then receive mercy with confidence!

Come on, that’s good news! Pass it on to somebody today who needs some encouragement!

Scripture Memory: Tips & Tricks

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POP QUIZ:

What does the fox say?

What’s your favorite line from your favorite TV show?

What’s the first line that pops into your head from your favorite movie?

What words come to your mind next when you read “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” or “Can’t stop the feelin'”?

Ironically, the same person who could rattle off their 16-digit credit card number, can quote almost any line from their favorite movie, and knows most of the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” may also be the same person who tells me they can’t memorize Scripture.

I disagree.

As we’ve rolled out of one year into the next, I’ve been posting a series of blogs about the practical side of spiritual disciplines. So far, we’ve covered Bible reading and prayer. Today we’re covering the topic of Scripture memory…

Let’s start with why it’s so important.

THE PURPOSE

The Bible says to.

That should be enough of a reason right there.

But this isn’t just a case of “Do it because I said to.” The Bible gives a deeper, more practical reason to do so: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

Scripture memory is sin prevention.

Psalm 119 makes it very clear. Temptation prevention begins with Scripture memory. The question is not if you’ll be tempted, but when. Since temptation has happened and will continue to happen every day of your life…

You need to be stocked up.

In many Bible translations, Psalm 119 says “hide God’s Word in my heart.” However, I really like the ESV’s translation of “stored up your word in my heart.” Storing up speaks of preparation.

Think of memorizing Scripture like stocking up your tool chest.

You never know what type of problem is going to come your way, and if you’re not prepared with the right tools, you won’t be able to fix it. However, if you’ve devoted time to stocking up your tool chest with the right spiritual tools, you’ll be amazed at how God uses them when problems or temptations come your way.

Memorizing Taylor Swift lyrics may help you “shake it off,” but that will only last so long!

THE PRACTICAL

If you want to know how to memorize Scripture, think about how you memorize anything else…

Inhale it.

How can my 2-year old son sing multiple verses of “Holly Jolly Christmas”? Because he heard it a couple hundred times during the month of December. So much so that he began requesting it whenever we got in the car. Spotify must think we love Burl Ives!

One of the main reasons I can quote so many lines from The Office, Tommy Boy, and Dumb & Dumber is because I can’t count the amount of times I’ve watched them. The more we take things in, the easier it becomes to commit them to memory.  (tweet this)

Scripture memory works similarly. Inhale Scripture. Not literally, but through your eyes and ears. Read it, speak it, listen to it, and meditate on it.

Prioritize it.

You won’t find time. You have to make time. There’s nothing inherently wrong with watching TV or playing video games or browsing social media, but imagine what you could do if you even cut out a small portion of the time you spend on those.

If you want to store God’s Word in your heart, it will take prioritizing God’s Word in your life. (tweet this)

Repeat it.

Although there are some things you may never forget, even if you wanted to, I’ve found that Scripture is rarely like that. If I want to make sure it’s easily accessible, I have to keep it fresh.

Sad news. I used to have a few entire books of the Bible memorized: Philippians, James, and Ephesians, and I was working on 1 Peter. I loved meditating on and storing up God’s Word in my heart, but I didn’t keep it fresh, and I lost it. Of course it isn’t a waste – I grew as I memorized, and I know those books very well today, but I wish I would have put the time in to keep them fresh in my heart.

If you don’t fight to keep it, you’ll lose it. Make it a habit to regularly freshen up so you stay sharp.

Start now.

There will always be a reason not to start, so stop making excuses and get going on this important spiritual discipline. Pick a verse, a few verses, or a chapter, and start with that. Currently, I’m 18 verses into Romans 8 and I’m loving it. It’s always been a powerful chapter, but it means even more to me now that I’ve devoted hundreds of hours to reading and memorizing it.

Relevant Magazine recently ran a great article about memorizing Scripture. Make sure to check it out: The Hardest Spiritual Discipline is the Most Important One.

Let me know in the comments if this was helpful and what you’re memorizing.

Also, if you have any helpful memory tips or tricks, I’d love to hear about them!

Praying: Tips & Tricks

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2016 is almost in the books. 2017 is just days away. A new year is always a good time for a fresh start (but so is any day, for instance, December 29!), so I decided to take a couple weeks to discuss some tips on developing good habits.

Last week we discussed Bible reading tips & tricks. We talked about everything from where to start and some tools to use to some ways to avoid distractions and the role of technology in Bible reading.

One of the main things to keep in mind is what I mentioned last week, but is worth mentioning again:

It’s time to train.

Paul commands Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7 to “train yourself for godliness.” In his book, Disciplines of a Godly Man, Kent Hughes describes the word “train,” as “a word with the smell of the gym in it – the sweat of a good workout. ‘Gymnasticize (exercise, work out, train) yourself for the purpose of godliness’ conveys the feel of what Paul is saying.”

In other words: plan it, have great intentions, and make huge resolutions, but if you don’t put some sanctified sweat into it, nothing will change. (tweet this)

When it comes to praying daily, here are some things to keep in mind:

Both And

Prayer should be BOTH a regular set aside time AND an ongoing conversation. Both are important. Jesus did both. The Gospels say He regularly made time to get alone and pray. Jesus also prayed conversationally throughout the day with the Father. Make some sit-down prayer time a habit, but don’t stop there – keep the conversation rolling throughout the day.

Journal

I wasn’t always a journaler, but decided to try it about 6 years ago. I was in a really rough season after the first year of church planting, and decided to write down what I was praying for. I’ve stuck with it ever since. Journaling works a few ways:

  1. Spiritually, it’s a big help because it helps me put thoughts on paper and track how God has answered prayer.
  2. Practically, it keeps me organized. I write down things and people to pray for daily, ongoing lists of things to pray for, as well as pages filled with thoughts and prayers.

Scratch Paper

I talked about the practical use of a pen and scratch paper last week in my blog about Bible reading, but the same idea works during prayer as well. Inevitably, as you’re trying to focus on talking to God, 100 other thoughts come to your mind. A piece of paper gives you an opportunity to write the thing down, then forget about it and get back to prayer.

Small and Big

There’s nothing too small to pray about, and there is certainly nothing too big. Prayer should be both. It goes without saying that you should be praying about lots of seemingly small, daily events in your life, but God isn’t intimidated by your big requests either. There should be things you’re praying for that may never happen in your lifetime. There should also be things you’re praying for that can’t possibly happen unless God intervenes!

Push through the awkwardness.

I get it. Praying can feel awkward. You can’t see God, so where do you look? How should you sit? What do you do with your hands? My advice: BE YOURSELF. God sees you and knows the real you, so talk to Him as you are. Don’t try to come up with big theological words or do things that feel unnatural. Use your words, your slang, your thoughts, and pour out your heart. God wants to talk to you, not someone you think He’ll be impressed by. (tweet this)

MERRY CHRISTMAS from Awaken Church!

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The Awaken Media, Worship, Creative Teams, as well as a host of others put together a special Christmas production for you today!

Instead of having corporate worship experiences today on Christmas, we spent months putting together the #AwakenChristmas Experience that you can view right in your own home!

If you were with us in person on Christmas Eve, you got a gift bag filled with awesome #AwakenChristmas swag, including a DVD of the Awaken Christmas Experience.

For those who couldn’t join us in person, we’ve made the #AwakenChristmas Experience available online for you to enjoy wherever you are around the world! Our 30-minute Christmas experience is streaming online at awaken.church/christmas all day long on Christmas every hour on the hour. So pick an hour that works well for you and yours, grab some coffee, and join in the fun!

On behalf of Awaken Church, Jenn and I want to wish you a Merry Christmas! We pray that in the middle of the hustle and chaos of the season, you make time to listen to what God is speaking to us all.

Make sure to snap a pic of your family and use the hashtag #AwakenChristmas on your social media so we can all celebrate together!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Hebrews 1:1-14 ESV

Here’s a quick look book of Christmas Eve at Awaken…

Bible Reading: Tips & Tricks

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Every year as the new year dawns, we get ready to start fresh. Gyms fill up for a month, the collective waistline of America gets smaller for a few weeks, and we make big promises to ourselves.

When it comes to lasting change in the new year, the missing component for many is developing habits. Habits are the foundation of how we function as humans. You’d be amazed how much of your life happens with very little brain activity. Everything from how you brush your teeth to how you drive to work, and a million other things become habits. Habits make us tick and keep us on task. (Read about the science behind habits in Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit. It’s fascinating and practical.).

I figured as we gear up to launch into a new year, we’d discuss a few thoughts on developing some Godly habits. Today we’ll talk about Bible reading tips. Next week, we’ll discuss prayer.

It’s time to train.

First of all, know this: 1 Timothy 4:7 says to “train yourself for godliness.” This verse is the premise of Kent Hughes’ book, Disciplines of a Godly Man. Describing the word “train,” he says, it’s “a word with the smell of the gym in it – the sweat of a good workout. ‘Gymnasticize (exercise, work out, train) yourself for the purpose of godliness’ conveys the feel of what Paul is saying.”

Here’s the point: good intentions never changed anyone’s life. If you want positive change in your life, it’s going to take work. (tweet this) Exercise, determination, time, and plenty of sweat.

Here are some key components I’ve found useful as I train myself to read God’s Word daily:

Time

You won’t find time to read the Bible. You have to make time. Get up early. Stay up late. Say no to some things so you can say yes to God’s Word.

Enjoyable Bible translation

Thou wiltst haveth a very challenging experience whence thou readest from an outdated, old school translation. If old KJV floats your boat, go for it, but otherwise, try out the ESV, NKJV, NLT, or Message. You’ll  be refreshed and you’ll find it a lot easier to keep reading!

Pen

Since the Bible is the primary way God speaks to us, you should come ready to take notes. Don’t be afraid to write in your Bible. You’ll remember it better, and you’ll love looking back in years to come as you revisit what God spoke to you.

Scratch paper

Call it spiritual ADD or just being prone to distraction, but when I’m reading the Bible (especially in the morning), my brain is often going 100mph. Hit the brakes on your to do list by writing things down when they come to mind, then get back to reading.

Bible reading plan

I use YouVersion’s reading plans daily. I’m currently working on 4 different ones (Advent, parenting, reading through the Bible, and one for the whole family). When I wake up in the morning, I check my daily reading, then keep my phone in my bedroom while I head to my office (or front porch, when weather allows) to read.

Here is a Facebook Live video I did last week along this topic. Join me here next week and let’s talk about developing some good prayer disciplines!

The False Promises of Compromise

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It’s no coincidence that “compromise” ends with “promise.”

“Compromise” comes from French and Latin terms, that when put together, speak of a mutual promise. That makes sense when we’re discussing the positive form of compromise. But let’s talk about the negative side for a minute: spiritual compromise.

Whereas compromising with your little brother about how much brownie each of you gets, or compromising on a real estate sale price can be good, spiritual compromise is never beneficial. But that’s not what the sales pitch will lead you to believe.

Deeply embedded into every spiritual compromise is a series of deeply destructive false promises. (tweet this) They sound good, but can never deliver.

The promises of land, trading, property, power, and wealth sounded tempting to Jacob’s sons in Genesis 34. All they had to do was compromise their commitment not to intermarry with pagan nations.

The promise of sexual pleasure sounded great to Samson in Judges 16. All he had to do was compromise his sexual purity and commitment to God.

The promise of full control and popularity looked tempting to King Saul if he would only compromise what he knew was right and kill that pesky shepherd boy, David.

The promise of peace and the control of the kingdom had to be ringing loud in David’s ears as he skipped from cave to cave and city to city, running for his life from King Saul. All he had to do was compromise his knowledge that Saul was God’s anointed, then off the evil would-be-assassin already!

The promise of skipping the cross and going straight to the inheritance had to have sounded good to Jesus in Matthew 4 as Satan tempted Him in the wilderness. All He had to do was a simple bow of the knee, compromising His calling, and it would all be His, pain-free.

The promise of a big paycheck rang in Judas’ head for a while until he finally cashed in, compromising his knowledge of who Jesus was and the three years he had been by His side.

What is it for you?

The false promise of HOPE in ending this relationship and getting into the next one.

The false promise of LASTING PLEASURE with that guy you know you shouldn’t be with.

The false promise of FULFILLMENT if only you could land that job promotion and move up a pay grade.

The false promise of LOVE and ADORATION if only more people knew how skilled you were at that sport.

Where do all of these promises lead?

Genesis 34 ended in a bloody slaughter.

Samson almost got killed during his one night stand.

King Saul ended up losing his mind, then losing his life in battle.

David would have surrendered God’s favor had he given into the temptation to kill.

Our salvation would have been forfeited had Jesus given in.

Judas’ promise ended with a paycheck and a noose.

When it comes to spiritual compromise, maybe a better way to spell it would be “con-promise.” All of compromise’s lofty promises are a big con. They won’t fulfill. They can’t fulfill. They’re not worth another minute of your time. Get out before you follow in the footsteps of Saul and Judas, gaining the world and losing your soul.

The Nest Is Never Empty

This overflow Monday brings our relationships series, It’s Complicated, to a close. In this series we’ve covered 7 relational seasons: spiritual relationships, friendship, singleness, dating, marriage, parenting, and mentoring. God did some incredible things through this series, and we saw dozens surrender to Christ, many for the first time!

Catch the rest of the Overflow blog series here. Watch or listen to each of the It’s Complicated messages on the Awaken teaching archive.

This week we covered the topic of mentoring the next generation. Enjoy…


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To quote the great theologian, Lloyd Christmas (Dumb & Dumber), “Maybe they’re right. Old people, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose!”

That backhanded compliment (if you can call it that) ended up getting him “robbed by a sweet old lady on a motorized cart!”

He was right with the “purpose” part. All of us, old or young, have a God-given purpose for our lives – regardless of the season we are in.

The final installment of It’s Complicated brought us to a season often referred to as “empty nesters.”

I don’t love that term because it seems to imply that once your kids are gone and the “nest” is empty, your job is done. Parenting complete. Investment over. Now you can go with life and go back to thinking primarily about yourself.

But that’s not Biblical. In fact, Titus 2 raises the bar for the “older” crowd. Part of the “good doctrine” Titus is instructed to teach is to command the older generation to teach and train the younger generation.

“Older” is an arbitrary term though, because technically, we’re all older than someone. Even if you’re not older in physical age, you may be further along spiritually. And again, even if not, Paul told Timothy not to let people look down on his youth, but to set an example.

Bottom line: influence is for all and for life. Your “nest” (sphere of influence) is longer than an 18-year period while children are at home, and much bigger than the four walls of your house.

Titus 2 gives what I like to think of as the step-by-step instructions for mentoring. You might call it the spiritual syllabus for a life of influence.

ACTION: Teach & Train

Investment requires both conversation (teaching) and demonstration (training). Talk plenty, but do even more.

TARGET: Younger, upcoming generations

At every age, we have the opportunity and responsibility to set the example for those who are watching. Like it or not, there are plenty of eyes on you. Let your life be their lesson.

CONTENT: Biblical & practical wisdom about relationships & life

They were instructed to teach the younger generation about marriage, parenting, life, and Godly integrity. Those topics are both Biblical and practical, and should be ongoing topics of conversation and demonstration.

PURPOSE: That the word of God may not be reviled

The whole point of any of this is to live a life that is 1) worth imitating, and 2) defensive against the enemy’s attacks. He will try hard to revile (mock, oppose) the word of God, but our lives and our investment into others can prevent it.

Influence is not just for presidents, politicians, and parents. Influence is for grandparents, middle schoolers, young married couples, my 7 year old daughter, and everyone in between. Eyes are on us, so let’s commit to speaking truth into the lives of the people around us every time we can. And beyond that, as you’re able, don’t just speak it, walk through life with them as well!

Between NO & GO

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The middle.

It’s the seat you didn’t want to sit in when riding in the family mini van.

It’s the years of awkwardness between 5th and 9th grades.

It’s the finger we tell our kids not to point with (there are 4 others to choose from!).

It may also be referred to as a “valley” – in between two mountains.

Ultimately, it can be an area of discomfort, questioning, and insecurity.

It’s the place the Apostle Paul found himself in Acts 16:8-9.

The first few verses of Acts 16 record fruitful ministry happening throughout Asia, but then verse 6 happens. The Holy Spirit begins to prevent and forbid Paul from preaching the Gospel in Asia. You read that right. God Himself prevented Paul from preaching the Gospel. That had to be so frustrating for Paul. He later wrote, “woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel.” Preaching is what Paul did because it’s what God called him to do, except for in Asia in Acts 16.

So what’s going on?

Verses 8-9 mark what had to be a challenging time in Paul’s life and ministry as he tried to figure out what was happening and what would come after the fruitful ministry they had just been part of.

Here are a couple things to remember when you’re frustrated and in the middle…

God will speak if you will listen.

In the middle of the middle, God spoke. It wasn’t a voice – it was a vision, but it was from God nonetheless. Paul envisioned a man in Macedonia calling out for help. Voices, visions, and supernatural intervention – God is still doing it today.

How do you know if it’s God speaking or if it’s just the tacos you ate the night before? If you’re seeking, God promises you will find Him. When you knock, He will open. If you call to Him, you will find Him.

Here’s the trick: will you slow down and be quiet enough to hear Him?

You have some concluding to do.

The word I can’t help but wonder about is in the middle (there it is again) of verse 10.

“…immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

They packed bags, strapped their sandals, and hit the road on a hunch. No booming voice. No thunderous writing in the sky. No secret message from God. Just a vision of a man in a faraway land, a whole lot of faith, and a conclusion.

If we’re not careful, we will miss giant opportunities God places in front of us because we’d prefer it to be crystal clear instead of a bit foggy. The Gospel is worth the risk. Brave the fog and step out.

There will always be a reason NOT to go.

Risk is inherent with faith. By definition, faith can’t see everything. It’s believing when you can’t see. I could have listed hundreds of reasons why I should not have quit my youth pastor job in New Mexico, sold our house and car, and loaded up my 2-year old daughter and 6-month pregnant wife to move across the country to do something we’d never done in a city we’d never lived in. But the few reasons I had to go overpowered the hundreds of reasons not to go.

A calling should always overpower a career because a paycheck it never worth pursuing.

Are you in the middle between NO and GO?

Are you wondering what your next step is?

God will speak if you will listen. And when He does, don’t hesitate to obey!