October 22, 2016

The Psalms

I've been slowly reading through the book of Psalms again and thought I'd share a few here. I love that every time I read them I'm reminded of who God is. It also reminds me that my view of God is so important in knowing Him and growing in my faith.
I'm reminded that my goodness is nothing apart for the Lord and that He alone can sustain me:

"Cast your burden on the LORD,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved." Psalm 55:22

"O my soul, you have said to the LORD,
“You are my Lord,
My goodness is nothing apart from You.” Psalm 16:2

I'm reminded that my thoughts are futile and that He alone is trustworthy and faithful:

"Understand, you senseless among the people;
And you fools, when will you be wise?

He who planted the ear, shall He not hear?
He who formed the eye, shall He not see?

He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct,
He who teaches man knowledge?

The LORD knows the thoughts of man,
That they are futile." Psalm 94:8-11

"My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.

He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.

In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah" Psalm 62:5-8

I'm reminded that everything is His and that He shares it with me:

"The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours;
The world and all its fullness, You have founded them." Psalm 89:11

"For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

O LORD of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!" Psalm 84:10-12

I'm reminded that putting my trust in Him is better than anything else:

"But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.

For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield." Psalm 5:11-12

October 17, 2016

For the Right Reasons

I never thought I'd write about a book that was written by a reality TV star! But I was curious to what he would say about faith, love and marriage, and I have to say I was impressed.

Also the blurb on the back of the book, by Jefferson Bethke (author of 'Jesus > Religion'), caught my eye. : )

I've always been fascinated by reality TV. My favorites are reality home improvement shows. I love, love, love Chip and Joanna Gaines on 'Fixer Upper.' They are a beautiful example of love and commitment between a husband and wife working together.

Sean Lowe didn't watch the Bachelor, but his sister did, and she signed him up without his knowledge. When he got the call, he had no intention of going, but later changed his mind. Now I'm not endorsing meeting your husband or wife on reality TV but after reading this book I can't deny God's hand brought Sean and Catherine together.

My favorite parts of this book were Sean's dad and grandfather's wise input. Sean first went on the Bachelorette with a woman named Emily Maynard. His dad shared this story with Emily while filming...

Emily says: 'Sean's so much different than the rest of the guys'

'How so?' replied Sean's dad

'His faith is so evident in the way he acts around me.'

Sean's dad: 'Well can I tell you a little story?' he asked. 'The day Sean was on his way out to the airport to fly to Charlotte to start filming the show, he called me. I was in the locker room at my gym, but I made sure to pick up..."

"...I told him Sherry (Sean's mom) and I would pray for him, that I loved him, and that I knew God would use him somehow in all this.

Fifteen minutes later, I was out in the gym exercising when a guy tapped me on the shoulder. He said, 'You don't know it, but I was standing behind you when you were on the phone..."

"...He said, 'I heard what you said to your son, and it made me think that I need to get my life right with God. Just hearing you say you loved your son and that you would be praying for him made me realize how far away I have gotten from God. Anyway, I wanted you to know that God is already using your son because your conversation got my attention."

And Sean's grandfather shared this bit of advice with Sean as a teen.

Sean once asked him:

"Do you believe Mimi (his grandmother) is your soul mate? 

He looked at me a little funny. To him, the phrase soul mate was hippie language. 'Well, I'll tell you this. I think men have the ability to be good husbands or not. I don't think there's just one magical person out there for you. Proverbs 18:22 tells us, 'The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord.' Note that the Word doesn't say, 'the man who finds that certain someone.' It's less specific than that. You find a wife, you get favor from God. It's not all that complicated."

This is wise counsel to ponder. Marriage isn't about finding your 'soulmate', but rather it's work and dedication and commitment on both sides. No matter who you marry.

I really enjoyed reading about Sean's spiritual growth and also Catherine's. It is always nice to hear of Christians who are moving forward in their faith.

Sean says here of recommitting himself to the Lord and reading His Word:

...my Bible knowledge had never gotten deeper than those Sunday school stories. When I recommitted myself to Christ after college, I recommitted myself to reading the Bible. I would read a few chapters in the Old Testament, then a few in the New Testament. The more I read, the more my faith grew - by leaps and bounds. The Bible was surprising. Unexpected. Frequently, I'd read a chapter and think, I didn't know that was in there!"

I loved that Sean and Catherine's relationship wasn't all peaches and cream. That they fought to stay together and are committed to one another.

They say God work's in mysterious ways and this is no exception! These two were brought together in the weirdest way possible, reality TV! Just goes to show God can work through anyone and any situation. He is good. : )

But it HERE on Amazon

October 9, 2016

Visual Theology

I was really excited about reading this book, and it didn't disappoint. It's so important for Christians to remind themselves of the simple truths of the Gospel, and I found this book helps do just that.

I love all the reminders of the gifts of salvation, grace and relationship with the God who created all.

Here are the chapter headings:

Section One: Grow Close to Christ
Chapter One: Gospel
Chapter Two: Identity
Chapter Three: Relationship

Section Two: Understanding the Word of Christ
Chapter Four: Drama
Chapter Five: Doctrine

Section Three: Become Like Christ
Chapter Six: Putting Off
Chapter Seven: Putting On

Section Four: Live for Christ
Chapter Eight: Vocation
Chapter Nine: Relationships
Chapter Ten: Stewardship
The chapter on identity, was really moving for me. I've struggled with who I am in Christ and I've often focused on myself and the good and bad I've done. This chapter reminded me, it's who Christ is and what He has done, that gives me my identity in Him.

I am no longer depending on myself... I am in Christ. 

I am no longer guilty... I am justified.

I am no longer alone... I am adopted. 

I am no longer lost... I am secure. 

I am no longer in bondage... I am free. 

I am unfinished... He will finish me to perfection.

These beautiful truths are always refreshing to read again and again.They strengthen our faith and bring us closer to the Lord and knowing who He is.

I also love that they remind me that this life isn't about self-confidence, self-worth or self-esteem, but rather about having confidence in Christ, knowing my worth is in Him and that He is to be esteemed.

Praise Him!

The chapter on relationship was also great. It speaks about our relationship with God and how the Bible is essential for our relationship to grow.

Tim says here:  

"For a relationship to be genuine, it must be personal. It must involve interaction between two people. This is true of our peer relationships, and it is true of our relationship with God. As Christians, we have the privilege of having a genuine relationship with God in which He speaks to us so we can hear and understand Him, and in which we speak to Him in turn, trusting that He hears, that He understands, and that He responds. 

In general, we can say that we hear from God through the Bible, and we speak to God through prayer, but the two are more closely connected than that. As we read, we naturally pray, and as we pray, our minds focus on the truths revealed in Scripture. The more we commit to Bible reading and to prayer, the more of our lives we spend communing with God."

He also talks about prayer in this chapter. I loved this:

"Prayer is not our initiation on a relationship, but a response." 

He goes over these things about prayer:

Prayer is...

Prayer is response
Prayer is duty
Prayer is delight
Prayer is a assertive supplication

Prayer Does...

Prayer builds relationships
Prayer changes you
Prayer prepares you
Prayer brings results

I love that he quotes Tim Keller in this book. Tim Keller's book on prayer called 'Prayer' is wonderful and highly recommended.

He quotes Tim Keller:

"Prayer can lead regularly to personal encounter with God, which can be indeed a wondrous, mysterious, awe-filled experience."

Tim Challies adds this:

"Prayer is not an emptying of the mind and a resting in thoughtless silence, but a filling of the mind with the truth of God and a joyful communion with God who is."

Having read Tim Keller's book I know he teaches and believes this also. Biblical prayer is filling the mind, not emptying it.

Tim Keller says in his book:

"Biblical meditation does not empty the mind of rational thought."

 And here:

"In every case meditation means to use the mind intensely."

And here:

"Meditate in the Psalms mean to ponder and question thoroughly."

Psalm 77:6 says:

"I call to remembrance my song in the night;
 I meditate within my heart,
 And my spirit makes diligent search."

God calls us to fill our minds and hearts with His Word, never to empty them in some anticipation of a spiritual experience. We will only experience and grow in Christ, when we mediate (use the mind intensely) on Scripture. We must open our hearts and minds to what God is saying to us through his Word. This is key in growing closer to the Lord.

Do we realize how blessed we are to have the full Scriptures at our finger tips everyday?

Are we meditating on it day and night?

"Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper." Psalm 1:1-3

I could share so much more, but this post is getting a bit long. : )

I highly recommend the book!

Buy it HERE on Amazon

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