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Listening to Rap

If you had told me ten years ago that in 2019 I would be writing a blog post about Kanye West, I would have laughed in blissful ignorance and then asked, “Wait, who’s Kanye West, anyway?” If you had told me five years ago that I would be writing a post on Kanye West I probably would have said very seriously, “So how bad is it?”

And yet here I am. Not only writing a post on the famous singer, but writing it after having listened to his latest album 4 times in the last week.

To give you some background, Kanye isn’t my style. To say the least. I held out for a long time on this album because I was sure I wouldn’t like it. I despise rap music and have exactly ONE rap-ish song in my running playlist. That’s all. I don’t even know any others. But eventually all the various opinions on his album got to me and I decided I needed to hear the music myself. If you aren’t quite up to speed or have NO IDEA who I’m talking about, maybe do some research on this man. It’s fairly interesting.

So last week as I was driving home from work, I bravely opened Spotify and searched for Kanye’s Jesus is King album. And I started it. I quickly discovered that THIS is the kind of music subwoofers are built for and mine needed to go all the way down. 🙂

I. Was. Floored. As I listened I sat in amazement at the words I was hearing. Had I really picked the right album? Was this the same person? By the third song I was wiping tears from my eyes as I thanked God for the incredible ways he changes hearts! Over and over again I realized that is a brother of mine in Christ! This man literally had another song where he sang “I am a god” and now he’s singing “Jesus is Lord!” from the rooftops!

There has been a lot of criticism from the church about the theology of his lyrics. But what I heard was a new believer working out his faith. To be honest, I heard more direct gospel and more about Jesus in his songs than some other Christian artists I listen to.

I’m so thankful I listened. Rap music isn’t my style but Christ-music always is. It caused me to pray harder for this believer and it made me cry out praise and thanksgiving to our Savior! Who would have thought??

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2019 in music

 

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Superficial Friendship

If you’re a friend of mine and actually know me, this post is probably going to sound really hypocritical. It’s not something I’m very good at and yet here I am- writing about it. That’s usually the way it goes though. I write about the things I’m learning and being convicted of, not the things I’ve “mastered.” So just know that I really am preaching to the choir right now.

I promise this is my last post on Because He Loves Me, but there is one more point I wanted to pull from that book and share with you all. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while but the way she put it hit me hard.

Have you ever noticed that all humans desire intimacy? Every single person I know WANTS to have deep, meaningful relationships and every single person I know struggles to have them. Personally, I have a really hard time communicating my thoughts and that gets in my way sometimes but other times, it’s my pride. And that’s something I’ve seen a lot. We all want deep relationships and friendships but pull away from the only things that leads to them: transparency and vulnerability. I have tried SO many times to have deep, spiritual conversations with close friends, only to get superficial responses to my questions. But I know that I’ve also been on the other end of that line, doing the same thing to friends. Both leave me frustrated.

So this section in Because He Loves Me really stood out to me:

“As I’ve traveled around the country, speaking at good Bible-believing churches, I’ve discovered that the kind of biblical relationship to which I think the New Testament call us is almost nonexistent. For example, I recently spoke at a conference that was well attended by women who were serious about their faith. They weren’t ‘playing church,’ and they wouldn’t have thought of themselves as tourists. But when I asked for a show of hands of those who were in a biblical relationship with others to whom they regularly confessed sin, expected accountability, and regularly confronted the sins of those same others, only a smattering of hands went up. That’s not to say these dear sisters weren’t eager to follow the Lord. It was just that this kind of relationship, this depth of biblical fellowship, was way beyond their normal practice.
This kind of fellowship I’m enjoining flies right in the face of our American individualism and desire for privacy. We don’t want anyone poking around in our affairs, and we certainly don’t want to be accused of poking about in anyone else’s. This idolatry of privacy and individualism is one of the greatest detriments to sanctification in the church today. God has placed us in a family because we don’t grow very well on our own. It’s still not good to be alone. We need the encouragement, correction, and loving involvement of others who are willing to risk everything for the sake of the beauty of his bride.” pg. 177-178

I’ve been mulling this over for weeks and I still believe she hit the nail right on the head. Have you ever tried to have a confession or accountability time with friends? It can be like PULLING TEETH from a wild dog. It’s probably the fastest way to silence a room of chatty believers.

And it’s because we believe it’s our own private business. But the reality is that our faith is personal, but it’s not private. We DO have a personal relationship with Christ but NOT a private one that is meant to be kept to ourselves.

There is a verse in Proverbs that just keeps popping into my head, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Prov. 18:1 Deep, meaningful fellowship with other believers is vital for spiritual growth. I’m learning this more and more. It takes work and humility but it’s worth it for the glory of God’s kingdom.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2019 in books

 

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Embracing Sin

I know a lot of people that wrestle with doubt. Dear friends of mine that doubt their salvation, doubt God’s love for them, doubt their beliefs. For a long time, I struggled with these friends. I struggled with how to respond to this kind of doubting. How can you be unsure of the ONLY sure thing we have? How can you doubt the Words of our eternal, sovereign Lord? If he says it, it’s true. I was not a very patient person to a hurting heart for many years but God has shown me some things since then. 🙂 I’ve learned how to better respond to doubts, even if I don’t always understand.

However, all of this has caused me to be very interested in doubting and where it comes from. So let me ask this question: How many times have you listened to a gospel presentation (or maybe given one) and glossed over the part that we are all desperately, evil sinners? I’m actually very curious in this answer. Have you heard someone present the gospel as a way to be saved but you aren’t even sure what you are being saved from?

Romans 3 talks about how every single one of us is unrighteous and no one does what is good. 1 John says that if we say we haven’t sinned, we are liars. Isaiah 64 says that we are unclean and even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags. And all you have to do is read the Ten Commandments (or maybe Jesus’ interpretation of them) to realize that we haven’t kept them at all.

So why is that part of the gospel, the part where THERE IS A DESPERATE NEED FOR A SAVIOR, skipped over so much? Because it is uncomfortable. Because people don’t want to be told that they are in the wrong and are sinful.

But don’t you see? Without that, there isn’t a need for the gospel at all. Without a deep realization of your sin, you won’t have a deep realization for what Christ did for you! You will be caught up in thinking you have to earn your salvation instead of realizing it was never based on you to begin with. Let me share from Because He Loves Me:

“Many people struggle with feelings of condemnation and guilt today because they’ve never really understood what Jesus did for them on Calvary. They think that their relationship with God is predicated on the fact that they’re not really all that bad, and then they wonder if God still loves them when they struggle with ongoing sin. They wonder if they were ever really his. They don’t see the depth of the sin that Christ bore in their place and so they can’t comprehend the righteous fury he withstood for them nor the riches of the grace they’ve been given. I’m encouraging you now to fully embrace your sinfulness for one simple reason: so that you can fully embrace this great exchange, our ‘justification.'” pg71

YES! If you never fully embraced that you were an utterly sinful person who was incapable of rescuing yourself, then you won’t ever be sure of your salvation. That doubt will remain. But once you realize that your salvation was never based on you or your performance, you can be sure it will never fade away. Christ is eternal, his love is eternal, and his work is eternal.

And that, dear friends, washes away all doubts of this world.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2019 in books

 

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Because He Loves Me

Guys, I made a mistake. A few years ago, I was given a book. It was given as a thank-you gift to a group of volunteers that I’m blessed to be a part of. It was around Christmas time and I remember looking at it, and putting it on my bookshelf. And here’s where the mistake came in:

I DID NOT READ THAT BOOK. If you don’t know this about me, I don’t read many theology books written by women because sometimes I get tired of looking for good ones. (Some of you might identify with that and some of you might be outraged.) So when I saw that this book was written by a woman I pridefully placed it in the back of my mind and forgot about it. I should have known better. I should have known that the ladies that picked this book are some of the most biblically sound people I know. I should have read the book years ago. I didn’t though.

But God in his grace reminded me of that book a couple months back and I decided to give it a try. I have been blown away, people. There were some days I would be reading and it was all I could do to contain the love for Christ that I felt building inside me from reading this. This book is one of the most Christ-focused, convicting, and encouraging books I have ever read!

It’s Because He Loves Me by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. I actually can’t think of anything negative to say, which is rare for me. I even included the Amazon link if you click that picture because, seriously, everyone should read it!

Over the next few posts, I want to share some of my favorite parts of the book but I think my absolute favorite thing about it was how entirely gospel-focused it is. Elyse starts out with the gospel and builds on that but always brings you back to the fact that Christ’s love displayed in the gospel should be the driving motivation for every single thing we do. I needed that reminder. Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to do what’s right that I ignore my motivations. A short quote from the book, “I believe that most Christians think fondly of Jesus, are sincerely grateful for salvation, and remember his name as a tagline when they pray, but they don’t see his work and life as something to contemplate every moment of every day. I have to admit that until fairly recently I, too, pursued godliness without much thought of him.”

And that’s just from the intro! This book left me with a greater awe of our Savior and love for him! I’m so excited to share that with you all.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in books

 

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A Stupid Show

Wow. I blinked my eyes and weeks went by with no blog posts. It wasn’t really intentional; I have a lot of reasons. But you know what? Ya’ll don’t really need to know them because this is my little corner of the internet (for real- I paid my domain fees this week) and I can choose when to post and when not to, huh? So I guess that’s that. 😊

There’s a show that I watch. I’m not proud of it. Most of the shows I watch I really love like Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy, or the Great British Baking Show. A friend told me I should watch this one and against my *ahem* better judgment, I did. It’s one of those shows that you can watch while doing something else because it’s so shallow you don’t really need to pay attention. Have I mentioned I’m not proud I watch this show, nor do I recommend it? Okay, great. 😊 It’s The Good Place.

The Good Place is about four humans who die (*this post is going to contain spoilers lol) and go to “The Good Place” but through a series of events they end up back on earth. And it was in an episode on earth where I had to stop the dusting I was doing because my heart jumped at something I heard:

Eleanor (main character): “It made me realize that we’re the only truly free beings in the universe because we actually know what’s up with the afterlife. And I think that means we need to be bold.”

Whoa. For a terrible show with a repetitive plot line, it deals with philosophy and ethics more than any other show I’ve watched. Which is probably why I keep watching it.

That statement is so true for believers! We ARE the only people in the world who know the truth about what comes after death and because of that, we should live boldly through Christ! It reminds me of this passage:

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

I think these days there is a lot of tampering with God’s Word to make it more appealing or more relevant. But this passage says we will REFUSE to do that because what we have is the absolute truth and the ONLY way of salvation. Which, by the way, is always relevant. Why would we change it? We are truly free to live boldly and openly for Christ because we KNOW the truth! Turns out, I gained a little perspective from the dumb show.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2019 in theology

 

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Thoughts About Late People

I am a punctual person by nature. To. A. Fault. Seriously the best way to put me in a bad mood is to make me late for something. But I also don’t like rushing to get places. I’m one of those weird people that picks out her clothes for work the night before and lays them out, puts coffee in the pot so all I have to do is push the button in the morning, and leaves my house 5 minutes before I know the time it will take to drive to work just in case of…anything…

God really had to grow me in this area when I couldn’t drive and was dependent on others to get around. Suddenly, my schedule was at the mercy of other peoples’ schedules! It was a big adjustment and I have to say I’m very thankful to be able to drive again.

All that being said, I don’t understand late people. The person you can always count on to be late, who is always held up by something or other, who you tell a different starting time to help them get there earlier, etc. If I’m honest, I can get really prideful and judgmental about it. “Why can’t you ever be on time??” “Can’t you just PLAN to leave ten minutes earlier for church and then you will get here when we start?”

But I read something a few weeks ago that totally changed my perspective on this. And I truly don’t remember what book it was in so sorry, no credit is given but this certainly wasn’t my thinking.

The illustration was about a person who is an alcoholic and attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. This person also attends church. He says that whenever he is late for church, he always gets disapproving looks from people already there. But if he is late for an AA meeting, the meeting stops and people jump up to welcome him because they realize that him being late might mean that he almost didn’t make it at all.

I have studied and thought on this story for weeks. And it has really changed me. I don’t want to be that person teasing others for being late anymore and I apologize if I’ve done that to you before! I want to be the one that sees someone come in late and realize that it’s a blessing they are here at all! Especially at church of all places! Praise God for whoever wrote that story and for bringing it to me- I needed to hear it!

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2019 in growing

 

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Bumpy Ride

My car has been broken down for almost a month now. My wonderful, used-to-be-reliable car has a cracked engine block and needs a whole new engine. To be quite honest, I kind of miss it. I miss its smooth driving, its great sound system, and its amazing AC. I just miss driving my vehicle. You know, when you know a car and how it moves and its quirks? That kind of thing.

On the plus side, my best friend is super generous and has been letting me use her car since she can use a work vehicle. And guys from my church are working on my car situation. But it’s been draining. I don’t like having Natalie’s car because I don’t like forcing her to drive a camp vehicle. To say the least, I’m not a fan of cracked engine blocks.

So this week, I suddenly remembered that I have another car that I gave back to a friend to scrap. We put the battery back in and it started up! I was beyond happy to be able to give Natalie her car back even if it meant I was driving around a rust bucket for a while.

Why am I telling you all this? I do have a point. Also this week (it’s been busy around here) we had a missionary from Romania stay with people at my church. One night several of us gathered together to hang out and someone asked me if I had walked there. I half-jokingly replied, “No, unfortunately that tub of rust out there is mine.”

Do you know what that missionary said? “What do you mean unfortunately? You have a car! That’s great! What a huge blessing!”

Immediately, several “yeah, but” statements flew into my head but in the end I had to sheepishly own up that I actually have two cars. He was floored and kept talking about what a blessing that was! Whoa, was I convicted. Such a different attitude than what I had. Suddenly the rust, the smell, mice, lack of AC, no muffler (the list goes on) didn’t seem as important. Suddenly the fact that I have a vehicle that gets me from point A to point B, that isn’t inconveniencing another person, and that simply RUNS became something to be more grateful for. And on top of that, I have an awesome friend that let me use her car for a while and guys at my church who are working hard on my car to get it fixed!

I’m so thankful for that change in perspective! I’m thankful someone was there to point out how grateful I should be and he didn’t even realize what he was doing!

So if you hear me coming, don’t mind me. I’m just going to boldly drive around my rusty, leaky old car as long as I need to (and it holds up) because God gave it to me and I’m grateful for his provision!

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2019 in blessing

 

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