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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 sister 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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Praying When You’re Crazy Busy

Do you ever feel like you’re crazy busy? Or maybe just crazy? (Either one works for me.) I think when I ask my friends how they are doing or how their week was, one of the most common answers is, “Busy.”

For me, I don’t feel like I have a lot of events or activities going on, my brain feels busy. Like it’s overloaded all the time and trying to catch up. I’m sure others feel that way. So maybe you can relate to this: You sit down to do your devotions in the morning (or whenever is best for you.) What I usually do is open my Bible, ask the Lord to clear my head and focus on what I’m about to read, and then I read a little. Then I spend some time in prayer. And here’s what happens:

“Ah, Lord, you are SO good to us and we totally don’t deserve it…(text comes in, looks at it and puts phone across room to avoid further distractions)…I love how you used Gideon in that story even though he wasn’t strong, it showed your strength and pla…(Geez, the cars are loud today. I wish they would change the  traffic lights back to how they were before.)…Father, please help Natalie today at work to be a light for…(Light bulbs! I forgot to pick up light bulbs at the store! And toilet paper! And toothpaste! Where’s my phone?? I need to make a list before I forget all this!)”

Yeah…anyone relate? I’ve always struggled with the verse that tells us to pray constantly because all I could think of is the amount of focus that would take! BUT I recently read a book that really helped me. It’s very fittingly titled “Crazy Busy” by Kevin DeYoung. How can you not like a book with a tag line that reads, “A (mercifully) short book about a (really) big problem?” I highly recommend it.

Anyway, in one part of the book, Kevin is talking about prayer. Sorry you aren’t going to get any direct quotes but I loaned my copy out so you’re stuck with my memory for today- buy the book. He talks about a concept that has really helped him. The idea is whenever you hear or think of something you should pray for, you do it RIGHT THEN. Pray right then. And then put it out of your mind and trust that God has it.

Maybe this isn’t a mind-blowing concept for some people but it was for me. For some reason, I had the idea that praying constantly meant keeping every single thing I was currently praying about on my mind ALL. THE. TIME. and trying to remember it all. Do you know how exhausting that is?? This idea took such a load off my mind. Now, whenever something comes to my mind that I should pray for, I do, and then I trust that God has it handled (duh), and that he will bring it to my mind as often as I need to remember it. I’ve actually been praying MORE this way. You see, instead of using my brain power to remember my prayer requests, it’s actually being used to pray for them! Who knew?

And in some way, this method has also helped my morning focused prayer time too. Because I pray more through the day, I don’t feel like I have a giant list of things to get through every day and I can just spend time talking to the Lord.

But seriously guys, get the book. It’s full of wisdom AND it’s a short, easy read. You won’t regret it.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2018 in prayer

 

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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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What is Church Membership?

My Young Adult group at church has been reading this book and it got all of us thinking: what does it really mean to be a church member? Is it filling out some forms and saying your testimony before a congregation? Is it showing up on Sundays and Wednesdays (maybe) to be fed with God’s Word? Does it mean you have to serve in the nursery once in a while or teach a Sunday School class every so often? What exactly is it? And what ISN’T it?

As we studied, it became very apparent that most people, including us, come to church to get something. We come to be fed. We come to be nurtured and encouraged. We come to be served, whether that’s by those doing worship, providing childcare, or even holding doors. And we have come to expect those things. In some ways, this is appropriate. The church SHOULD be providing for the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of those who come in. The congregation should leave feeling encouraged and cared for.

Are you ready for the kicker? YOU ARE THE CHURCH, PEOPLE!! You! You are the person who is called to care for the person sitting next to you during service. You are the person who should strive to encourage others and make them feel truly cared for and to ask how their spiritual life is going. YOU! It’s not up to the church leaders. We have gotten so used to saying, “Well, if the church would only do this….” that we have forgotten that WE are that “church.”

What if, instead of coming to church expecting to GET something out of the service or out of worship…we came with the mindset of…”How can I GIVE to my church today?” How can I serve my church? How can I feed my church? What does that look like in real life?

Our group has been learning a lot lately about what it means to truly love each other and how to care for the church. As I have been challenged, I would also challenge you to look at your own heart: do you go to church to get or to give? How can you better serve Christ at your church?

This might be a daily mindset struggle (it is for me sometimes!), but I think in the end our churches will reflect the character of Christ so much clearer and this verse would actually become a reality:

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in church

 

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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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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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