March 23, 2015

Emotions: Confront the Lies Conquer with Truth

When I was nearing the end of this book I read a CNN article (Two preaching giants and the 'betrayal' that tore them apart) about Charles Stanley and his son Andy.

I learned for the first time that he had been divorced and had a strenuous relationship with his son.

I was a little taken aback because I didn't know these things about him. (I know I'm a little behind on the news. It happened 20 years ago) : )

But I have to say it made this book even more meaningful, even more powerful.

And I saw the grace of God even clearer.

Charles Stanley is just a human being like the rest of us and his openness to share his pain and share the gift of God's grace really spoke to my heart.

He says here:

"God created you and me with the capacity to experience the full gamut of emotions so we could enjoy life, share our inner being with others, and reflect His image. They were given to us as a gift so we could interact meaningfully with our heavenly Father and the people we know. However, in this fallen world, our feelings have become a mixed blessing. The same capacity that allows us to experience intense, overflowing joy is also the gateway to sorrow so deep and overwhelming that, like Job, we may wish we had never been born. (Job 3:3)"

He deals with these negative feelings in a Biblical manner. Emotions like rejection, bitterness, guilt and despair. He shares personal experiences from his childhood with an abusive stepfather, to his experiences as a pastor. I really felt a humility in his words that made it easy to open up to what he was teaching.

And most importantly, he pointed to Christ.

He shares that trusting Jesus comes first:

"If you cannot trust Jesus enough to save you, then nothing I write here will do you any good. You cannot even begin to have fellowship with God until your sins are forgiven once and for all through faith in Christ.

This is because when Jesus saves you, He sends His Holy Spirit to live within you and teach you. The Holy Spirit is the One who searches your heart and mind - repairing your brokenness, counteracting wrong beliefs, and enabling you to overcome your circumstances. Without a relationship with Him, there can be no true emotional healing. Without the Holy Spirit empowering you, you cannot have victory over your feelings."

The theme of this book was really about how we often see ourselves (lies) and how God sees us (truth).

He says here in the chapter about rejection:

"The only way to have victory over rejection is to release the damaging ideas we have about ourselves and take hold of God's truth."

And here:

"There is no need to go through life handicapped by past experiences. What others say about you doesn't matter. How they treated you is inconsequential. The only accurate, eternal, unassailable measure of your worth comes from almighty God, who will one day judge the living and the dead without exception (1Peter 4:4-5)."

Your worth is in Christ.

Who He is and what He has done for you gives you worth beyond measure, beyond measure!


I think this was my favorite chapter because I related to it the most. The fear of rejection has been very real in my life. The starting point of healing for me was a few years ago when the Lord spoke five words to me during a time of sadness in my life. He whispered... Your worth is in Me.

Since then it has been slow but steady and this book has been so encouraging. This chapter goes on to talk about our worth in belonging to Him as adopted children, worth in our relationship with Christ and worth in competence through the Holy Spirit.

He shares 50 facts on who we are in Christ.

I've shared ten of them here:

1.  You are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)
2.  You are a child of the almighty, sovereign God (Rom. 8:16)
3.  You are the righteousness of God in Christ (2Cor. 5:21)
4.  You are unconditionally loved (1John 3:1)

5.  You are permanently forgiven (Eph. 1:7)
6.  You are free (Gal. 5:1)
7.  You are an ambassador for Christ (2Cor. 5:19)
8.  You have eternal life (John 3:16)
9.  You are called, justified, glorified (Rom. 8:30)
10. You are perfected, confirmed, strengthened, and established (1 Peter 5:10)

These aren't just words, these are life.

Life in Christ.

We, as Christians, are truly and fully free, truly and fully loved and truly and fully forgiven. We are not waiting for eternal life, we are living it in Christ now!

This next quote was very profound for me:

"...it is also crucial to turn your attention outward from your desires to the needs of others. You are to love those whom God gives you to care for - whether they return your affection or not."

This really makes such a difference. To take attention off of ourselves and serve others is not only beneficial for us and them, but it is the imitation of Christ.

I wanted to share so much more from this book but this post is just getting to long! I do highly recommend it for anyone struggling with feelings of rejection, guilt, bitterness or despair.

There is hope, and it is in Christ. He can heal every broken heart.


Buy it HERE on Amazon

March 15, 2015

Fairy Tales and Jesus

I love fairy tales. I have since I was a child.

My favorites were Rumpelstiltskin and Cinderella. I would sit by our record player and listen to these stories over and over. What I got out of them helped shape me as a person.

Rumpelstiltskin taught me who I didn't want to be. Remember, children are smarter than you think. They know when somethings isn't right. And I knew something wasn't right with Rumpelstiltskin.


He was this person who always promised great things... but with a price.

If you do this, you'll get that. If I give you this, you must give me that.

Have you ever been given a gift with strings attached? The giver having alternative motives to get something back from you?

This is who I don't ever want to be. Instead I want to be like this...

Jesus said:

"And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."   Luke 6:34-35

The Lord is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. I love that! This leads to one of my other favorite fairy tales.

Cinderella.


A kind and humble girl. Someone who put others before herself and lived with grace and kindness towards others even in her difficult situation.

And she got to wear a pretty dress to the ball. : )

By the way, the new movie is wonderful. If you love fairy tales go see it, take your daughters, they will benefit from the message to 'have courage and be kind.'

Of course no one is as kind and humble in real life, as Jesus. And I want to be more like Him.

"All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,

made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." 
                                                             Ephesians 2:3-7

Joni's Thoughts on Fairy Tales

I thought I'd share this excerpt from Joni Eareckson Tada's book, 'A Place of Healing' where she shares her thoughts on fairy tales.

I really loved what she had to say. : )

"All of us have special books that have been handed down to us, and I'm no exception. I'm thinking of a big red book of fairy tales that sat on a shelf in my sister's bedroom. It had beautiful end pages, and each story was illustrated with lots of detail.

To this day, if you were to ask me what the Pied Piper looked like, I could give you an exact description - all the way down to his funny hat and pointed shoes. Even when I see twisted oak trees, I think of the color plates in this big red book of fairy tales.

And oh, what wonderful memories! I can close my eyes and hear Daddy coming upstairs in the evenings to help us girls get settled in. He'd open up that book and read to Kathy and me. Hansel and Gretel...Goldilocks and the Three Bears... Little Red Riding Hood... Billy Goats Gruff. (Does anyone ever read these stories to children anymore?) They were classic stories of good and evil, and the best part was always near the end of the story.

My father's voice would slow as he read those final, heartwarming words: 'And they lived happily ever after.' It meant Hansel and Gretel lived, and the old witch died, Little Red Riding Hood survived, and the nasty old wolf was banished. The goats had the run of the pasture, and the old troll was never seen again. It's wonderful to live happily ever after.

No matter how young a child is - no matter what he believes about God and heaven - every boy and girl instinctively knows what 'happily ever after' means. You don't have to teach them about it. Children seem to know, they realize that this world is full of wolves, trolls, and big bad bears. They're aware that things aren't quite right, that something's wrong with the world, and we all want - we long - for that time when we will live happily ever after. When the prince will finally kiss us and we will wake up from this strange dream and enter true happiness and joy forever and ever.

Sounds rather biblical, doesn't it?

That's because it is.

The book of Ecclesiastes says that God has put eternity in the heart of man. We can't exactly put our finger on it, but it's there, all right. This itchy longing for eternity... this wanting everything to be 'okay'... to live happily ever after.

That's why faith in Jesus Christ is so satisfying, so fulfilling. For only in Christ is every longing fulfilled, every hope realized, every yearning for peace and well-being finally answered. In Christ is the culmination of that classic struggle and the defeat of all things evil, when our wonderful Savior will right every wrong, and the Prince of Peace will be our King of Kings.

There is a happy ending ahead. I can almost hear His footsteps on the stairs. Jesus, come quickly!"
*If you like fairy tales, you may enjoy Melanie Dickerson's fairy tale series. She adds a Christian twist to these beloved stories, as well as deals with spiritual warfare. I've read the first one, based on Sleeping Beauty, and really enjoyed it.



Buy the series HERE on Amazon


March 10, 2015

Surprised by Oxford


This is now a new favorite of mine. : )
 
What a wonderfully written memoir. Full of honest, witty and thoughtful reflections on her journey to faith in Christ.

I couldn't have described this book any better than what it says on the back cover:

"From issues of fatherhood, feminism, and doubt to doctrine and love. Weber explores the intricacies of coming to faith with an honesty and insight echoing that of the poets and writers she studied. Rich with illustration and literary and poetic references, Surprised by Oxford is at once gritty and lyrical, humorous and spiritually perceptive."

Carolyn Weber was a student of Romantic Literature while attending Oxford University in England.

That first year changed her life.

I love how God worked to pursue Carolyn through the things she loved to bring her to Himself. To show her how much He loved her. I was reminded while reading her memoir, of the C.S. Lewis book The Four Loves, as each of these four loves are experienced and shared within Carolyn's story.

This book was also filled with profound and engaging thoughts. Things many of us have grabbled with in our hearts and minds.

I thought I'd share a few of these profound and engaging thoughts.

Firstly, that 'despair is the greatest sin.' Despair meaning hopelessness, having no hope whatsoever, lost all hope.

One of her professors, while discussing John Milton's epic poem, Paradise Lost, said this:

"Despair is the greatest sin...It involves forgetting that God is there. Forgetting that He is good and that all He is and does extends from and works toward this perfect goodness. That doesn't mean that He allows evil, or creates it, or perpetuates it. That's our entwinement. Rather, He uses even our evil toward His good. We all need forms of remembering this first great love...writing, reading, creating, being."

This really got to me. When we reject God and believe He does not exist then all that is left is despair. There is no hope or meaning in this life without Him.

It actually made me think of something I read by Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor imprisoned for speaking against communism in 1948. He said the torture there was beyond bearable and that the ones who cried out to God first, were the atheists! They needed hope. They needed God. And in those horrific moments they knew it.

In Christ there is no despair, only hope.

Paul says to the Corinthians:

"We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair" 2 Cor. 4:8

And Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations says we are not consumed by despair but rather have hope in God:

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.


They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.


“The LORD is my portion, says my soul, 
Therefore I hope in Him!”    Lam. 3:24

Secondly, Carolyn says she was invited to "high table in honor of my Commonwealth scholar status." The guest of honor was a brilliant scientist named, Dr. Sterling.

She shares the conversation around the table and it is fascinating! Sitting with her were, a heart surgeon named Dr. Inchbald, a professor of philosophy named Dr. Rieland and the brilliant scientist, Dr. Sterling.

The topic...death.

The heart surgeon begins with:

"when I see death, I know it is wrong."

Dr. Rieland snickered, "Obviously"

Then the heart surgeon, Dr. Inchbald said something mind blowing...

"But really, really wrong. In-my-gut wrong,' Dr. Inchbald almost pleaded. 'It was not meant to be. It was not meant to be for us. We were not built for it. Everything in my body, at a cellular level, let alone a metaphysical one, twists against it. Not just my death, but the death of every living thing."

When God created us we were not meant to die. We were meant to live. We became spiritually dead when sin entered the world as well has cursed with physical death. But Christ came to freely give life, the life we were meant to live, if we put our trust in Him.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

Lastly, was Carolyn's encounters with Christians. I found this so encouraging and I pray we all can have an impact on others the way these friends had on Carolyn.

She says of the Christians she was getting to know:

"These Christian people were deliberate. They were pursuing despite being persecuted. They were deliberate in discerning and knowing their owns hearts, confessing their own faults, desiring forgiveness, and being grateful for grace. They were then deliberate in exercising the same forgiveness that had been granted to them, deliberate in at least genuinely trying to sidestep the continuous trap of self-reference and judgement."

I loved that. The world doesn't need us to be super hero Christians, they just need us to be real.

To show that our weaknesses make us strong in Him.

The apostle Paul encourages us here:

"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Cor. 12:10



Buy it HERE on Amazon

March 2, 2015

When Others Shuddered

This was such a great book.

Eight women who served the Lord in different ways, yet each in meaningful ways. They were not perfect women, as you will read if you decide to pick up this book, but they all had a perfect Savior.

Some were wealthy, some were poor, some gave up everything and others gave what they could.

They all had determination to get things done and accomplished things only God could have through them.


Going into this book I had only heard of Fanny Crosby, a woman born blind who wrote some of the most beloved hymns. One of favorites being 'Blessed Assurance.'

Her story was so encouraging, or I should say Fanny was so encouraging. At the end of her chapter the author shares this story about Fanny:

"One time a Scottish evangelist asked her: 'Miss Crosby, I think it is a great pity that the good Master, when he showered so many gifts upon you, did not give you sight.'

Fanny answered, 'Do you know that if at my birth I had been able to make one petition to my Creator it would have been that I should be made blind.'

The evangelist was startled. 'Why?' he asked.

'Because,' said Fanny, 'when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior."

Fanny died in February of 1915. Oh what a day that must of been for her!

Forever now gazing on her Savior.


The other women mentioned in this book were:

'Emma' Emeline E. Dryer

'Nettie' Nancy (Fowler) Mccornmick

Sarah Dunn Clarke

Amanda Smith

Virginia Asher

Evangeline Booth

Mary McLeod Bethune


*Matthew West singing 'Blessed Assurance' by Fanny Crosby:


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