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Robbing our Affections

I’m going to be honest. This post has taken me a while to write because I really had to do some reflecting aaaannndd it was super convicting for me. In my previous post, I talked about things that stir up my affections for Christ and make me love him better. But the hard truth is there are also things that rob us of our love for our Savior.

The more I thought about it, I realized that the things that really distract me from keeping my focus on Christ are small things, not giant, glaring holes in my faith or anything.

Going again from Matt Chandler’s book, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain:
“No, in fact, the morally neutral temptations are far more apt to rob me of my affections for Jesus Christ, because God’s grown me to the place where those ‘big sins’ aren’t things that appeal to me anymore. But I can easily justify sinfully indulging in things that are non-sins because they are little things, or what the Song of Solomon might call the ‘little foxes’ that get into the vineyard of my worship of God.”

I can think of three things right off the bat that are just like he describes. They are not sins per se, but they do not encourage me to love Christ better and in fact do just the opposite.

  1. Rushing. The ABSOLUTE worse way for me to start my day, or end my day, or get anywhere in between is to rush. I’m pretty sure I get this from my Dad because I can’t think of a single time growing up that we were late to something. And we always arrived at church with 20 minutes to spare. When my mornings are rushed, my devotions are hurried, and I start my day off feeling grumpy and frustrated. If I’m going to any event, I will be on time if it depends on me. The wonderful thing is: I know this about myself. I prepare. I wake up with plenty of time in the morning. I set things out the night before and I leave myself ample driving time to get to work. Do things always work out? Absolutely not. And then God has to teach my heart what is the proper way to respond.
  2. Politics. Wow I cringed just typing that word. I have seen so many people tear each other down over politics that it hurts me. And while I’m an avid voter, you usually won’t find me discussing politics with anyone. And you will almost NEVER find me discussing it online….except now….and here. I have learned that political discussions don’t lead me to love Christ better.
  3. Theological discussions. Did you topple over in your chair? Yeah this was actually the first one that popped into my head when I started thinking about this. Sometimes I get really passionate about theology (which is a good thing!) But sometimes I can get into argume…err…discussions…with people about said theology and it doesn’t end up building up either party. There is a time and place for everything and I have had to learn this the hard way many times.

Now comes the disclaimer. This is MY list. Not yours. Absolutely none of these things I listed is a sin in and of itself; they are just ways that I have found can lead me to sin. They don’t lead me closer to Christ. Now, does it mean if I’m running late, I don’t move faster? Of course not! Does it mean I never discuss theology? Bahahaha! It means that I know how to control my emotions better and have learned when a discussion should be stopped or moved. So the beauty of it is, your list is probably different. In fact, I hope SOMEBODY has a different list because the world would be in a pretty bad spot in all believers refrained from discussing politics! I’m SO thankful for those that can!

Feel free to tell me what’s on your list. I won’t impose mine on you and vice versa. 

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2018 in books

 

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What Stirs Your Affections?

Earlier this year my Young Adult group went through Matt Chandler’s video study on Philippians, “To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain.” I have to say, I was SUPER excited to do it because I had already read the book and loved it and was ready to share that with my closest friends. Pluusss…I just love Matt Chandler…

There was a thought in the series that really struck me. Chandler is asking you to look at your life and think about what stirs your affections for Christ and causes you to passionately pursue Him. To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it before. From the book:

“What is it that stirs you to know Him, to love Him, to worship Him? It will probably look different for a lot of people. It will have to involve the Scriptures, because that’s how God speaks to us. It will involve prayer, because that’s how we speak to God. It involves worship, but we have to remember that worship is bigger and more expansive than singing songs in church. What is it that incorporates the Word and prayer and ultimately builds your heart in worship?” pg.98

He goes through several things that build his love for Christ and let me just say, I’m pretty sure he and I are kindred spirits. Most of the stuff on his list is on mine too. But I wanted to share with you a couple things that stir up my affections for Christ. I want to be clear that these aren’t just things I like in the way that I love cozy blankets but they are things that actually cause me to love and worship Christ more than I already do.

The first would definitely be early mornings. There is just something about waking up early and watching the sun come up as you do your devotions. There is a quiet beauty during that time that makes my heart whisper thankful prayers to the Lord.

Secondly, listening to others who are passionate about their faith. Being in the presence (or, ummm, screen) of someone who SO obviously loves Christ and is excited to share about Him and what he has done encourages me to love Him and serve Him better!

Thirdly, SNOW. I’m already prepared for some negative feedback on this one. I don’t know what it is about snow but it makes me giddy. I literally start giggling like a little girl and laugh (out loud) with joy when it snows. That God would create something so unique, soft, and beautiful is just amazing to me and I love it! It adds a beauty and quietness to winter.

The last one is probably weird. Music. Worship music, yes! Singing praise songs by myself or, even better, with my brothers and sisters in Christ is a beautiful thing! But it doesn’t even have to be that. Have you ever listened to movie scores before? Like from awesome, epic movies? There is something so moving and incredible about them that causes me to worship God. I thought at first it was because I was relating it to what I knew was happening at that point in the movie but I’ve listened to scores from movies I’ve never seen and it can still happen. Classical music can have the same effect. The pure beauty of music itself screams out glory for the Creator!

The book also addresses things that can steal your affections for Christ but I want to talk about that in my next post (whenever that comes.)

What about you? What are some things that make you love and rejoice more in our Savior? What stirs your affections for Him?

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2018 in books

 

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An “Epic” Review

I recently had the blessing to travel across the country for a good friend’s wedding. And by travel, I mean fly, because if you know me you know that I get carsick pretty easily so if it was a road-trip, the word “blessing” would probably have been dropped from that sentence.

Anywho…I always take a book with me when I fly and sometimes I actually read it and sometimes I just sit like a creeper and people-watch. But this time I brought a book I had actually been saving for my next flight, as weird as that sounds. It’s small, short, and even weirder for me, I have NO IDEA how I got it or it’s study guide! So while you may have been thinking I was being stuck up with my blog title, the title of the book is actually Epic, and I couldn’t resist. 🙂

I got through security for my flight pretty fast (because I’m a good rule-follower) and since it appeared that the people-watching chances were slim, I opened the book right up. Seriously guys, I hadn’t even read the back cover. I was going in blind on this one, which is really new for me. It’s by John Eldredge, who I don’t know much about, except he wrote Wild at Heart, which I’ve never read.

The very first line of the book hooked me because he referenced my favorite movie, Lord of the Rings. I was immediately intrigued. He also had a quote by G.K. Chesterton and I thought, “Gosh, he’s off to a great start!” The book is about telling the gospel with more of an “epic story” perspective. I’ve never read anything that referenced SO many well-known movies and books: Chronicles of Narnia, Little Women, Gladiator, Titanic, Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, The Odyssey, Stars Wars, and so many more. It was insane!

It was quite an interesting perspective and while I can’t say I agreed with all the theology (mainly the section on free will), he came at it from an angle that was really different from anything I’ve ever read.

But after a while I started to notice something. It wasn’t quite fitting anymore. Instead of trying to show how the gospel had similar themes to some of our movies, it seemed more like he was trying to make the gospel fit into the movies’ themes. I think he was letting his imagination run away a little bit.

Because while God’s story is incredible, amazing, and (I would even agree, epic,) it’s not one of our movies. It is written by a supreme Creator, not humans. And somehow comparing it to our flawed stories relentlessly gave it less meaning than reading it how it was actually written, in God’s own Words. 

 

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2018 in books

 

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Theology for Dummies

Have you ever read any of the “For Dummies” books? You know which ones I mean?

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They are pretty iconic. I mean, most people would recognize them simply by the cover, even if you’ve never read one of the books. They have somewhere around 2,500 titles and over 2 million books in print. Crazy, right? The appeal is that they are easy to read for the average person and present the information in a design where the important stuff is made known so that you can recognize and remember it. I think I read one in high school but I don’t remember what it was.

But to be honest, I kind of stayed away from them because I didn’t like reading stuff written for “Dummies!” (Yeah, pride. I know.) I considered myself a pretty well-read person, for which you can thank my parents. My Dad used to read to us all the time as little kids and he can still recite the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” from memory. In fact, if I were to go home and my Dad was read a book to my younger siblings, I would be in the front row.

When we got older, my Mom read us books like King Arthur, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Canterbury Tales. We read a lot. I love books and reading. I used to get in trouble for reading too much (actually, I used to get in trouble for getting upset when people interrupted my reading…) Old English? No problem. Beowulf? Bring it on. Deep theology? My favorite.

But things are different now. My brain capacity and concentration capacity are different. And although the desire to read deep things is very real, I find myself wishing someone would write a “Theology for Dummies” book. Which sounds like a contradiction, I know. But I simply can’t comprehend the books I used to be able to read- which is SO frustrating! For instance, I’ve had Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost of Discipleship” sitting on my shelf for about a year now. I’ve probably started it 4-5 times and never been able to get past the first chapter because I don’t understand what I’m reading. No matter how many times I read the same sentence, I don’t get it. (Is there a kid’s version of this book??)

I used to be able to read several books at the same time and keep up with all the themes. Don’t believe me? Look what popped up on my Timehop today:

book

This was what I was reading four years ago. I liked reading more than one book at a time so that if I didn’t feel like reading one book, I had another to turn to.

But not now. It’s been frustrating but also very humbling for me. The person who used to pride herself in reading the great books of the world has been brought down to the level of a child and is thankful that she can read at all! That person who used to have 6 books by her bed that she was reading all at once is now thankful to be able to open her Bible and comprehend one single verse in it. Thankful to find those authors that do write simply. Ultimately thankful that salvation isn’t for the wise or all-knowing people but that you just have to have faith like a child. That it’s simple. Just thankful.

 

But…if you happen to find a “Theology for Dummies”, let me know. 😉

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in books, epilepsy

 

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A Great Savior

Currently I’m reading the book, “Respectable Sins” by Jerry Bridges. I just started it and I can already recommend it. It’s about all the sins that believers tend to think of as ‘lesser’ sins. Those like gossip, anger, jealousy, unthankfulness, etc. In our minds we all know that sin is sin but if you really look at your heart you would probably agree that you have sins rated from horribly-worst to not-as-bad-as-murder.

A thought from that book really struck me this week so of course you get to hear about it. 🙂 His thought was that if we truly, deeply believed in our hearts that God has paid for all of our sins, then we don’t need to be afraid to confess them. If you really believe that Christ paid the penalty for your sins (past, present, and future ones) and that when God looks at you all he sees is Christ’s perfection, then you don’t need to be afraid to admit your sin.

What a freeing thought, right?! Sometimes I find that I don’t want to admit a sin of mine even to myself, let alone to others, but if I stopped to remember that God has already forgiven me of that sin, then I can deal with the issue and move on!

From Respectable Sins:
“To the extent that I grasp, in the depth of my being, this great truth of God’s forgiveness of my sin through Christ, I will be freed up to honestly and humbly face the particular manifestations of sin in my life. That’s why it is so helpful to affirm each day with John Newton that, ‘I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior.‘” (pg.35, emphasis added)

I have that quote from John Newton hanging in my room and I see it every day. It reminds me that I AM FORGIVEN! Yes, I still sin and make mistakes but Christ is greater than my sin and has already forgiven me! How incredible is that?!

So don’t be afraid to admit or confess your sin to yourself, to the Lord, and even to others. Realize that if you are a believer, you are already forgiven. Your sin was nailed to the cross long ago and you also can say that you are a great sinner, but you have an even greater Savior.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2017 in books

 

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The Gentleness of Mercy

Okay, in case you haven’t gotten the idea yet…this book is just amazing!  I just finished chapter six. Chapters five and six both deal with the idea of mercy and forgiveness in a relationship.  Forgiveness I have…I have a pretty easy time forgiving people (unless you were to put a snake in my bed; that would require some SERIOUS forgiveness.)  I’ve always kind of used mercy and forgiveness interchangeably. You know, mercy is bestowing something that is undeserved, forgiveness isn’t deserved, voila!  This book questioned that theory in one sentence.

“Mercy can be extended to those who don’t recognize it, whereas forgiveness is most often a transaction between parties.” (pg 98)

In other words, you can bestow mercy without the other person ever knowing! This really hit home with me as I thought about how many times I can just keep my mouth shut and not say anything. For example, my sister has this horrible habit that really bugs me. (And yes, I have her permission to post this.) She forgets to flush the toilet. Often. It drives me crazy because I have to flush and then when I’m done it won’t flush because the tank is still filling up. So, as I was writing this post, I have to use the restroom and I walk in and the toilet isn’t flushed! AGAIN! My instant thought was, “Man, I’m really going to have to harp on her to get her to fix this. It’s so simple; why can’t she remember?”  Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of the post I had left just a second before. Oh, yeah…mercy. So I’ve decided to show mercy on this point and not mention it. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m just keeping it inside, harboring resentment either. It means that I’m being merciful, patient, and kind toward her.

Does this make sense? In my mind it makes sense but I’m not sure my thoughts are flowing well onto the keys this time. It’s so easy to miss the point of mercy in two different ways:

1. By burying it deep inside and letting bitterness take over and

2. By becoming proud in your heart about how many times you’ve shown mercy to another without them knowing.

I think mercy has a kind of gentle humbleness about it. Realizing how much mercy you’ve been shown by the Father and letting that flow out of you to others. And it doesn’t have to be about the ‘big’ things in life

It can be as simple as someone not flushing the toilet or any other pet peeve you may have.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in books

 

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A Healthy View of Sin

So my Dad has given me and my younger sister a reading assignment and I’m really enjoying the book. It’s called “When Sinners Say I Do” by Dave Harvey. (He’s also made reading it a prerequisite for anyone wanted to marry us!) 🙂  I’m only two chapters into it but I have already learned so much! One thing I love about the book is that it applies to all of life.  The lessons you can learn will aid in every relationship you have because every relationship is about bring glory to the Lord!

The chapter I read today had to do with our view of sin. I’m beginning to realize how lightly I take sin sometimes. How easy it is to brush it off and forget it. I’m learning that I need to have God’s view of sin and not buy into what the world says about it.  From the book:

“Do you fear that you’ll be too hard on yourself? If so, just remember that to Paul, his ‘worst of sinners’ view was a sign of clear-eyed self-assessment and a robust awareness of the holiness of God. Remember also who we are in Christ despite our sin: we are treasured children of the Father, who loved us enough to send his only Son to suffer the punishment for our sins, even those sins we have yet to commit. And remember that God is at work in you, conforming you into a genuine, from the inside out, example of Christ. A sober assessment of our sinful condition doesn’t hinder that work, it celebrates it!”

I’ve seen two very different views of sin in people I know:

1. The person who is flippant and disregards the seriousness of sin and

2. The person who refuses to let go of their forgiven sin and beats themselves up continually.

 

I think both views are wrong and there is a happy medium. We need to realize exactly what our sin is (rebellion against our holy God) and I think it should grieve us when we sin against our Savior. But we also need to move on once we have repented (turned away from the sin) and God has forgiven us. To doubt God’s ability to forgive is to depreciate Christ’s work on the cross.

All these concepts have been floating around in my mind for the past week or so. Prompted not only by this book but also by a Bible study I am doing. I’m excited to see what else the Lord has to teach me!

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in books

 

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