5 Free Digital Discipleship Tools to Connect You to God’s Word in 2017

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As we approach New Year’s Eve, now is the time to make New Year’s resolutions for lifestyle changes in 2017. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve resolved to spend more time in God’s Word next year. Whether you want to read the Bible more consistently or work on scripture memory, here are five digital discipleship tools that are free and effective for connecting you to God’s Word.

1. The Marketplace Ambassador Advancement System (advance.cbmc.com): Discipleship is not only an individual experience, it’s meant to be experienced in community, just like Jesus shared his life with his twelve disciples. The Advancement System is an excellent platform for diving into God’s Word with another person in an authentic life-on-life, discipling relationship. This resource contains bible studies, audio files, videos and more to encourage men and women in the marketplace to be ambassadors for Christ in their workplaces, churches, homes and communities. It’s constantly updated with new and improved resources, and it also comes in app form. The Advancement System is your Great Commission tool-belt for discipling another person to spiritual maturity who can then make disciples as well.

2. First5 (first5.org): If God is first in our lives, shouldn’t we give him the first 5 minutes of each day? That is the premise behind the First 5 app. Developed by Proverbs 31 Ministries, the mission of First 5 is to connect a woman’s heart to God in the first 5 minutes of her day. You can set an alarm in the app to notify you each morning, so you can wake up with a short teaching from God’s Word in order to “exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world” (Lysa TerKeurst).

3. She Reads Truth & He Reads Truth (Shereadstruth.com/Hereadstruth.com): Whether you’re a man or a woman, getting in God’s Word is essential for spiritual growth. These websites (and apps) provide bible studies with stunning visuals to engage your mind with scripture.

4. Got Questions (GotQuestions.org): Sometimes, we encounter Scripture and it leaves us with more questions than answers. This website, and app, is an excellent tool for finding answers to many commonly asked questions about the Bible, doctrine, Church history, and more. You can also submit questions if you can’t find what you’re looking for in their database.

5. YouVersion (youversion.com): This app has been downloaded over 200 million times, so you may already be familiar with this resource. YouVersion is an excellent tool because it offers a variety of translations, whether you want to read the Bible or hear it. It provides options for accountability and keeping track of your progress. Plus, there are constantly new features added, including an option to create scripture images to share with others through social media or via text.

Whatever your spiritual goals are for 2017, these five digital discipleship tools will help you stay consistent and track your progress throughout the year.

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2017: the year I give up Facebook

the year I give up Facebook

New Year’s Eve is a few days away. I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, because, let’s face it, I don’t usually keep them. However, I have one big goal I’m pursuing this next year that will trickle down into accomplishing a few other goals: quitting Facebook.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I am by no means making any kind of value judgments on those who participate in social media and/or Facebook. I love social media! And, that’s part of the problem. For me, personally, I have found my use of Facebook to have become a toxic time suck – toxic because it often leaves me feeling more frustrated or angry than when I started scrolling through that news feed, and a time suck because I literally spend too much time on it. I know I have a problem with it – I check it first thing in the morning, in the night if I can’t sleep, several times throughout the day, in the middle of church, etc. So, for me, it’s time to cut the cord.

I’ll admit, I’m a little concerned I won’t be able to do it. I won’t miss all of the fake news, the inflammatory political drivel, the “repost this and be blessed” memes or the comments sections where the depravity of humanity is on full display. However, I like Facebook for the purposes of keeping up with friends and family, and I’ve got a little bit of FOMO. Removing myself from Facebook will either (1) force me to be intentional about connecting with those I care about, or (2) cause me to lose touch with important people in my life out of laziness or disregard. I hope to be better about the former, but I am concerned that the latter may be closer to reality.

In an effort to ensure that we don’t lose touch, I plan to blog more regularly about the life and times at the Forrest home. So, if you’re a Facebook friend, and you don’t want to miss out on all the amusing anecdotes from our lives (including the hilarious Raleyisms), sign up to follow the blog! There’s a handy little widget on the right hand side of your screen where you can enter your email address and follow along with me.

Also, if you don’t want to miss out on cute pictures of the kids, follow me on Instagram (@forrestrachel). That’s where I post most of those pictures currently, anyway. If your life is improved by (sometimes) funny witticisms of 140 characters or less, follow me on Twitter (@rachellforrest). And if you like random nonsense, follow me on Snapchat (@forrestrachel).

What I’ll be doing instead of Facebooking

With the extra time I’ll hopefully have by not wasting it on Facebook, I have a few goals I plan to pursue in 2017.

  1. Writing a book. This isn’t widely known, but I’ve been working on a book about growing up as a child of abuse and mental illness. I’ve outlined the chapters and begun writing, and I’m hoping to make some serious headway, if not finish the book, next year. We’ll see. This is incredibly unfamiliar territory for me, but I’ve reached a point where I don’t want excuses to hold me back any longer. I’ve allowed fear of failure and lack of knowledge and experience keep me from pursuing this goal for too long. I need to tell this story, so it’s time to do it, if for my sake only.
  2. Training for the Route 66 Half Marathon. This is a bucket list item that I’m ready to tackle. I’m not sure whether I intend to run the entire half, but I want to train for it and finish it at the very least. Running is particularly challenging for me, because I have painful arches and arthritis in my lower joints, but I’m not getting any younger so it’s now or never.
  3. Blogging more often. I mentioned this above, but I hope to contribute to this space more since I won’t be posting my whimsical thoughts on the Facebooks anymore. I also want to follow along with my friends and family through their personal blogs, so if you have a blog, please leave it in the comments so I can bookmark it.
  4. Being present. Social media is great in that it connects people across time and distances; however, it’s absolutely terrible in that it removes people from being where they are, and being all there. I’m tired of being in the same room as my family but my mind being elsewhere. I want to live in this moment, where I’m at, and with the people I’m physically near.
  5. Reading more books. I finished 20 books in 2016, and while that’s admirable, I’d like to push myself to read more next year. I am thinking I may set my Goodreads goal at 30 books. Do you have a reading goal for next year? Are you on Goodreads? Let’s be friends follow each other’s progress! You can find my Goodreads feed on the right.
  6. Saving more money. Facebook tends to be a drain on our budget (hello, LuLaRoe), so I’m hoping that by spending time away from it, it’ll lead to more financial savings for us in 2017.

I hate to admit that I am worried I can’t do it, giving up Facebook for an entire year. However, I think this will be so good for me personally, and I look forward to seeing that develop. Facebook is a drain on my time, happiness and quality of life, and my motto for 2017 is more fountains, fewer drains.

Do you have goals for 2017? As you think about what you want for life next year, I will leave you with this scripture verse, which encompasses all I hope for myself and those around me in the year to come:

“As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” – Galatians 6:10a

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