5 APPS I USE DURING MY QUIET TIME WITH GOD

The time I spend with God is the most important time of my day.  I grew up using a physical bible, paper journal and pen during my quiet times with God, but there are many great apps and tools you can use to engage with God using your smartphone or tablet. 

I have tried many different devotional apps and have found these 5 to be the most effective and enjoyable to help my time with God be consistent and fruitful.  

1. BIOY - Bible in One Year (Free)

This is my favourite devotional bible app that provides a reading from Psalm/Proverbs, the New Testament and The Old Testament every day.  It’s design is beautifully simple and each day’s reading falls within a relevant theme. Along with each reading is a short devotional thought from Nicky Gumbel, creator of the Alpha. I’ve never been able to stick to a consistent bible reading plan until I started using this app and I find myself looking forward to my reading every morning. It also includes audio reading and commentary.

2. ECHO - (Free)

I have found prayer lists to be the most effective way for me to stay focused and consistent in prayer. Echo is the best (and best looking) prayer app out there.  It lets you keep a list of your prayers, organize them into groups, mark them as answered, set a reminder for your prayer time and has a “Pray Now” button you can use to set a time for a set time of focused prayer.  Including your smartphone in your prayer time might feel strange to you at first, but I find it keeps me on track and accountable. 

3. DAY ONE - (Iphone/Ipad - $6.99 Mac - $39.99)

Day One is a journaling app for the iPhone, iPad and Mac. It features a clean, distraction free interface, the ability to make photographic entries, customized writing reminders, easy search for past entries and a privacy passcode lock.  I look forward to journalling using this system. It’s a great way to pray, pour out your heart to God, or just process your day.  I highly recommend the Mac version. 

4. APPLE MUSIC (3 months free, $9.99 after)

Apple Music is my go to resource for Christian/worship music.  I have all my favourite worship albums in my collection and with two clicks I can have worship music playing.  I often enjoy having worship music on as I journal and pray and sometimes I will just be still and linger in the presence of God as the music plays. 

5. FREEDOM ($29/year)

Do you ever find yourself going on facebook/twitter/instagram during your time with God?  One post can take you in 100 different directions.  It’s easy to become distracted when using a smartphone or tablet.  That’s why I use Freedom to block distracting websites and apps during my quiet time with God. With Freedom you can schedule your Freedom time in advance or start sessions on the fly.  You set the time frame and the list of apps and websites that distract you, and for that time you’ll be blocked from them. This is not only useful for your time with God but also for any other time you want to be productive. I can be a chronic social media checker, so I need this app to keep me in line!

Using these apps keep me focused, consistent and fruitful in my time with God.  I think God was the mastermind behind all the great technological advances, so it’s only proper that we use them to know Him more! 

Question: What is the biggest distraction for you during your time with God? Are there any apps you've found useful?

5 ALBUMS I CAN'T STOP LISTENING TO

I love music.  Every few days I check out the new music and hot tracks section on itunes and take a listen to what new offerings have surfaced.  Most music I listen to for a few seconds and then move on to something else. When a song catches my ear and hooks me in I take a listen to the whole song, and then check out the rest of the album.  There's so much music coming out these days that competition is tough, and it is rare that I enjoy a whole album, but there are the exceptions that surface, and these are 5 of those exceptions that I enjoyed all the way through, and will many times more...

Gavin James - Bitter Pill

You've got to hear this guys falscetto! Recorded in a pub, 2014’s Live at Whelans unveiled Dubliner Gavin James’s gift for a stirring melody. His first studio album refits many of those songs with sumptuousness and cinematic oomph. Thus “Ghost”’s gentle melancholy is elevated on swirling strings, “22” is rebuilt into a stadium-ready piano ballad and the title track, debuted here, swells with hymnal drama. Sometimes, though, James’s pain-singed voice is enough by itself and the spare intimacy of “Hole in My Heart” is wisely preserved.

Walking On Cars - Everything This Way

Ireland's five-member Walking on Cars make passionate, folk-influenced pop. Formed in Dingle, County Kerry in 2010, the group centers around lead singer/songwriter Patrick Sheehy. In 2012, Walking on Cars won the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Competition, an accolade that earned them radio play and landed their single "Catch Me If You Can" in the Top 30 of the Irish charts. A second single, "Two Stones," fared even better, hitting number 12. The group's four-song EP As We Fly South appeared in 2013. In January 2016, Walking on Cars released their debut full-length album, Everything This Way, on Virgin EMI. ~ Matt Collar

Hillsong Young & Free - Youth Revival

This group’s optimism and enthusiasm shine through on songs like album opener “Where You Are” and “Falling into You,” both ’80s-­inspired electronic love songs that deal in spiritual devotion. The sunny, celebratory “This Is Living” keeps the pace, while a fun, funky side comes through loud and clear on “Only Wanna Sing.” The tempo shifts on “Face to Face,” a breathy ballad that tells a personal story of finding faith. Throughout it all, lines like “you are all my soul desires” reinforce the singly God­-focused message.

William Fitzsimmons - Charleroi: Pittsburgh, Vol 2 EP

"Charleroi is the second half of the Pittsburgh story.  The Pittsburgh album was about the grandmother I knew.  Charleroi is about the one I never did.  My father was returned to the hospital as an infant, ill with whooping cough.  He was left there for several months as an orphan.  Finally, he was adopted by a kind doctor who became his father.  Never knowing his birth family it was assumed that mystery would always remain.  

In 2015, after over 60 years of wondering and waiting, the family was finally found.  Having been mistakenly told that my father died in infancy, he was never sought out by the remainder of his biological family.  Sadly, his mother passed away several years before having a chance to ever see her son again.  Her name was Thelma and she was my grandmother.  She was from Charleroi, Pennsylvania.  These songs are about her." - William Fitzsimmons

Lights - Midnight Madness

Midnight Machines is more than just an acoustic retelling of 2014's Little Machines. With the instruments stripped way back, Lights’ vocals are more emotion-packed and confidently honest than they’ve ever sounded. Where “Up We Go” was once a peppy electro-pop fist-pumper, and “Muscle Memory” a slinky, arpeggiated-synth groover, here they're direct, tender, and vulnerable. But what’s more important is that Midnight Machines gets you listening to the gorgeous songs she's penned, unbleached by production flash. It’s a rare feat to improve upon a record by redoing it years later—but that’s arguably the case with this beauty.

So those are the 5 albums I've been digging right now. Check them out and see what you think!

*album descriptions from iTunes

ONE EVENING RITUAL THAT WILL HELP YOU SLEEP BETTER

There are a lot of sleep issues happening these days.  Statistics show that 30% of people have some form of insomnia, and 10 million people in the U.S. alone use some kind of prescription sleep aid.
 
Getting enough sleeps helps us be productive, alert, emotionally balanced, better decision making and overall healthier.
 
On the other side of the spectrum lack of sleep is linked to accidents, impaired attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving, can lead to serious health problems with your heart, blood pressure and diabetes, can make you forgetful, contribute to depression, ages your skins, lower your sex drive, makes you gain weight and impairs your judgement.  
 
Sounds like a good sleep is super important. 
 
I struggled for many years to fall asleep.  I developed a habit in high school of over thinking and over analyzing while I was in bed, and it often would keep me up for a few hours until I was finally exhausted and dozed up. But even as I woke up I didn’t feel fully refreshed.  Likely I was subconsciously working out problems even as I was sleeping and therefore would carry anxiety to bed and wake up as if I just did 8 hours of unconscious problem solving.
 
There are many practical ways to help increase sleep. For those tips check out http://www.wikihow.com/Sleep-Better
 
But there’s one ritual that I’ve found to be most helpful in getting a good sleep and waking refreshed. It may seem simple, but it is simply effective. 
 
“At the end of the day, you can ask God to cleanse you of any anger, bitterness, or evil thoughts.

Ask the Lord to give you peace at night, to help you forgive and let go of the anxieties, troubles, hurts, and struggles of the day. Ask Him to fill your mind with thoughts of His goodness toward you. Develop this as a daily habit and you'll probably be surprised at how well you begin to sleep and how refreshed you feel when you awaken each day.
             
I often pray as I go to bed, "Lord, I want to thank You for today. I ask You to take control of my subconscious mind as I sleep and to allow the Holy Spirit to continue to work in me even through the night hours. You know the things that I need and the ideas that I must have in order to do the work You have called me to do. I ask You to begin the birthing process of those ideas even as I sleep."
        
At times now, the Lord will awaken me at two-thirty in the morning with an idea that is crystal clear to me. In those moments, I write down that idea immediately, and then I go back to sleep.
 
Invite the Lord to arrange and rearrange the sensory input and the information in your mind as you sleep. Ask Him to produce in you His thoughts, His ideas, and His creativity. When you awaken, look for the answers the Lord may have given you in the night.”  

This quote is taken from the book “Success God’s Way” by Charles Stanley.
 
We spend a third of our lives sleeping. What would happen if we welcomed the Holy Spirit to work in us and speak to us during that time of rest?
 
I’d encourage you to try it out for a week, and would love to hear how it goes!
 
Brad

62 FAST WAYS TO GET UNSTUCK


I came across this list created by leadership guru Robin Sharma and it's chock full of great advice.  See which 3 stand out to you and take action!

 

 

  1. Believe in your vision and gifts when no one else believes in your vision and gifts.

  2. Start your day with 20 minutes of exercise.

  3. Make excellence your way of being (versus a once in a while event).

  4. Be on time (bonus points: be early).

  5. Be a celebrator of other’s talents versus a critic.

  6. Stop watching TV. (Bonus points: sell your tv and invest the cash in learning and self-education).

  7. Finish what you start.

  8. Remember that your diet affects your moods so eat like an athlete.

  9. Spend an hour a day without stimulation (no phone+no FaceBook+no noise).

  10. Release the energy vampires from your life. They are destroying your performance.

  11. Write in a journal every morning. And record gratitude every night.

  12. Do work that scares you (if you’re not uncomfortable often, you’re not growing very much).

  13. Make the choice to let go of your past. It’s dusty history. And polluting your future.

  14. Commit to being “Mozart-Level Good” at your work.

  15. Smile more (and tell your face).

  16. Do a collage filled with images of your ideal life. Look at it once a day for focus and inspiration.

  17. Plan your week on a schedule (clarity is the DNA of mastery).

  18. Stop gossiping (average people love gossip; exceptional people adore ideas).

  19. Read “As You Think”.

  20. Read “The Go-Getter”.

  21. Don’t just parent your kids–develop them.

  22. Remember that victims are frightened by change. And leaders grow inspired by it.

  23. Start taking daily supplements to stay in peak health.

  24. Clean out any form of “victimspeak” in your vocabulary and start running the language of leadership and possibility.

  25. Do a nature walk at least once a week. It’ll renew you (you can’t inspire others if you’re depleted yourself).

  26. Take on projects no one else will take on. Set goals no one else will do.

  27. Do something that makes you feel uncomfortable at least once every 7 days.

  28. Say “sorry” when you know you should say “sorry”.

  29. Say “please” and “thank you” a lot.

  30. Remember that to double your income, triple your investment in learning, coaching and self-education.

  31. Dream big but start now.

  32. Achieve 5 little goals each day (“The Daily 5 Concept” I shared in “The Leader Who Had No Title” that has transformed the lives of so many). In 12 months this habit will produce 1850 little goals–which will amount to a massive transformation.

  33. Write handwritten thank you notes to your customers, teammates and family members.

  34. Be slow to criticize and fast to praise.

  35. Read Walter Isaacson’s amazing biography on Steve Jobs.

  36. Give your customers 10X the value they pay for (“The 10X Value Obsession”).

  37. Use the first 90 minutes of your work day only on value-creating activities (versus checking email or surfing the Net).

  38. Breathe.

  39. Keep your promises.

  40. Remember that ordinary people talk about their goals. Leaders get them done. With speed.

  41. Watch the inspirational documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”.

  42. Know that a problem only becomes a problem when you choose to see it as a problem.

  43. Brain tattoo the fact that all work is a chance to change the world.

  44. Watch the amazing movie “The Intouchables”.

  45. Remember that every person you meet has a story to tell, a lesson to teach and a dream to do.

  46. Risk being rejected. All of the great ones do.

  47. Spend more time in art galleries. Art inspires, stimulates creativity and pushes boundaries.

  48. Read a book a week, invest in a course every month and attend a workshop every quarter.

  49. Remember that you empower what you complain about.

  50. Get to know yourself. The main reason we procrastinate on our goals is not because of external conditions; we procrastinate due to our internal beliefs. And the thing is they are stuck so deep that we don’t even know they exist. But once you do, everything changes.

  51. Read “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”.

  52. Know your values. And then have the guts to live them–no matter what the crowd thinks and how the herd lives.

  53. Become the fittest person you know.

  54. Become the strongest person you know.

  55. Become the kindest person you know.

  56. Know your “Big 5″–the 5 goals you absolutely must achieve by December 31 to make this year your best yet (I teach my entire goal-achieving process, my advanced techniques on unleashing confidence and how to go from being stuck to living a life you adore in my online program “Your Absolute Best Year Yet”).

  57. Know that potential unexpressed turns to pain.

  58. Build a strong family foundation while you grow your ideal career.

  59. Stop being selfish.

  60. Give your life to a project bigger than yourself.

  61. Be thankful for your talents.

  62. Stand for iconic. Go for legendary. And make history.

5 AWESOME WAYS TO BE MORE CHILDISH


"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. - Jesus
 
As many of you know, I’ve been working on a kids album for the last 7 months. In order to create music that connects with kids I’ve had to reconnect with the kid inside of me.  As I thought about what kind of songs kids would enjoy singing it brought a new creativity, freedom and enjoyment to my songwriting. 
 
Usually being “childish” is a negative term, and surely if we don’t grow and develop in certain ways out of childish ways it is unhealthy. But there are so many gifts that children bring to us in the way they live that we can learn from and in that sense become more "childish".
 
Here are a few to consider:
 
Children smile and laugh a lot – Children laugh on average 300-400 times a day, but adults laugh on average around 20 times a day.  Laughter not only feels good, it bonds people together, relaxes the body, boosts the immune system and prevents heart disease.  When was the last time you had a really good laugh?  Who or what has God brought into your life to give you joy and fun?
 
Children are creative and innovative – It is childish to dream up imaginative stories, unique solutions, crazy ideas of things to do.  Sometimes we need to become more like little kids and tap into our creative imagination in order to come up with creative solutions to problems, to create something new and to live at our fullest.
 
Children keep moving – With all the modern technology of today, we can spend a lot of our time in front of screens, sitting, and sedentary.   We can be more childish by being active, playing outside, and moving around.  Movement increases energy and has numerous positive effects on our physical and mental health.
 
Children are willing to take risks –Kids usually aren’t afraid to fall or fail. Sometimes the risk might end with with a little pain and tears, but it’s only a matter of time before they’re over it and back at exploring and trying new things.  If you’ve tried something before and failed, it might have hurt, but you can choose to become a bit more childish and forget about it, move on and try something new again.
 
Children seldom worry
– Children have fears like most of us, but they seldom worry as much as adults.  Their minds just don’t seem to go there.  In the end they know they have parents who will provide for them and that gives them the freedom to go on enjoying life.  In the same way we have a loving Father who promises to provide for his children.  Knowing that allows us to go on living and loving life, knowing our Heavenly Good Father will take care of us.
 
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? - Jesus

So reconnect with the inner child in you today. Have a little fun, be a little silly, dream a little more. Being a little more childish now and again could lead to a whole new you!

BEAR GRYLLS REMINDS ME OF GOD


"So often we kinda hide behind our yearning for love and acceptance with loads of complicated theological questions, and actually once that’s stripped away what we really are is just somebody who wants to have that relationship with our Father." - Bear Grylls
 
I have a new favorite television show - “Running Wild With Bear Grylls”.  It’s a survival skills reality show where Bear Grylls (of Man Vs. Wild fame) takes a celebrity on a 48 hour wilderness adventure.
 
I love the show because it removes celebrities from the safety net of spotlights and stunt doubles, and puts them where they are no longer in control, following someone else’s lead in order to complete the journey alive.
 
As I was watched Bear lead celebrities like Zac Efron, Channing Tatum and Kate Winslet through a 48 hour adventure I thought to myself - “This reminds me of how God is with us.” 
 
Sometimes God takes us out of our comfort zones in order to show us who He really is and who we really are.
 
As celebrities meet up with Bear they are not the done up, characters you see on the big screen or the red carpet.  They look extremely normal and are just as nervous and excited as anyone else. 
 
Putting celebrities in this kind of element allows us to connect with the human side of them.
 
I also love seeing the life and passion Bear lives with.  He has a child like heart of adventure that sees the best in others and what they can accomplish if they conquer their fears.  
 
As he leads his guest through the pre-designed journey, he doesn’t coddle them, or accept their belief of their limits, but pushes them out of their comfort zone, affirms their courage and calls them to do things they are terrified of and often doubt they can do.
 
Bear gives his companion instructions on what to do, how to do it and then lets them go at it. The guest must “follow the leader” in order to survive.
 
At first there is a lot of fear, things are slow and shaky, but Bear coaches them their each part of the journey, giving them confidence to continue, helping them get back on track when they lose their footing and congratulating them when they reach the next checkpoint with a hearty “Well done Zac!” (or whatever their name is)
 
This encouraging presence that calls people out of their comfort zone, and guides through difficult terrain reminded me of how God leads us, calling us to higher places, to walk through difficult paths, encouraging, challenging and guiding us along the way.  
 
As Bear leads someone on their wildness adventure there is also a heart aspect to it all.  I’m sure a lot of the questions and conversations are thought of before, but it doesn’t make the conversations any less real.  On their journey there is always time for heart to heart chats -  asking about their time in rehab, how they got into the business of Hollywood, what it was like going through the divorce, or what their childhood was like. 
 
It’s not just about getting to the final destination, but about sharing an experience and bonding along the way.

That reminded me a lot of God. He’s not just concerned about us reaching certain destinations or doing great things, but wants to have a relationship with us on the journey.  To connect with who we really are, talk about what’s happening in our life, and know our heart.  
 
So many of the celebrities comment that the 48 hour adventure was what their soul needed. To unplug, get into nature, have a healthy adventure, and truly connect.
 
And I think that’s what God often calls us to.  It may not be a 48 hour wilderness adventure, but he often calls us to take time to unplug, to take a risk, to follow His lead through a tough valley, to trust Him, learn from Him, to listen to His words of challenge and encouragement and connect.

Just like Running Wild, God has ordered your steps, He knows where He wants to take you if you'll follow, and will be right there by your side through it all.  

Hopefully it doesn't involve eating worms and snakes though...=)
 
Here’s to your next adventure! 

P.S. If you want to check out the show, all the full episodes are available on Youtube.  Just search for "Running Wild With Bear Grylls". 
 
FAVORITE BEAR GRYLL QUOTES:

Accidents on big mountains happen when people's ambitions cloud their good judgment. Good climbing is about climbing with heart and with instinct, not ambition and pride - Bear Grylls

You only get one chance at life and you have to grab it boldly. – Bear Grylls
 
Adventure should be 80 percent 'I think this is manageable,' but it's good to have that last 20 percent where you're right outside your comfort zone. Still safe, but outside your comfort zone. - Bear Grylls

So often we kinda hide behind our yearning for love and acceptance with loads of complicated theological questions, and actually once that’s stripped away what we really are is just somebody who wants to have that relationship with our Father  - Bear Gryll