Messy Grace is enough for messy situations

31 Aug

I requested this book originally because I was intrigued by a book that had a forward by Kyle Idleman, but I have been pleasantly surprised by what else I found once I began reading.  Learning Caleb’s story was interesting to say the least, but to see how God has used his experiences to mold him into the person he is now was fascinating.  I, for one, have been captivated over the past few years by the idea that as Christians we must be willing to be involved in messy conversations in order to reach people with the gospel.  I think that Caleb does an incredible job of reinforcing this idea in my mind.  While I do not completely agree with everything that he says in the book, I do completely appreciate his work to stay as true to Scripture as possible.  This is a great book for church leaders to read in order to begin to understand how to start conversations with members of their communities who struggle with same-sex attraction.  This is a great book for church members to read for the exact same reason.  We must get past the paralyzing fear of awkwardness and begin to engage those around us with the gospel.

God Gave Us Sleep

9 Nov

My wife and I are always looking for ways that we can interject the gospel into everyday conversation with our four kids.  We had purchased one Lisa Bergen’s other books in this series, God Gave Us You, several years ago when we were in the process of adopting our son.  It was a fabulous book!  Therefore, when I got the chance to review this book I was intrigued.  God Gave Us Sleep is a great bedtime story to share with your children as they are preparing for bed.  However, it is also a great reminder of the fact that God is at work in every aspect of our daily lives.  I think that as Christians we often lose sight of that fact, and it is a good thing to be reminded of how much God loves and provides for us every now and again.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone with children and to anyone who loves children.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

This is not a test

22 Oct

Ever have a season in your life where you are fighting hard for something but know it will eventually end…I remember potty training as that way. You can’t just give up for a few hours and run to Target and ignore the toddler insisting on going potty. If you do, you will undoubtedly be at the checkout with wet undies and pants and a tad bit of embarrassment! Or maybe you are raising a child with a food allergy- you read labels, ask questions but thankfully one day the child too will take over this job! One day long after they move out your home can have Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups once again.

Right now, I’m battling ants. I cannot let my guard down. I accidentally did last Sunday. I came home to what looked like the beaches filled at Spring Break but it was ants on pancake syrup. Gimme a break, we were running late to church! Needless to say I paid dearly for that lapse of cleanliness on my part.

In many ways our spiritual life is like this. You should fervently fight against sin like I battle those pesky ants, potty train that child, or look for allergens. However, this doesn’t end. We cannot take a break. TobyMac has a song out called “This is Not a Test”. I encourage you to go listen to it. One part of the song says “We gonna move, live every second Make it count for you.” It talks about having only one shot and going till we got nothin’ left and it being the real thing.

Such a great song but it sums up how I feel about the spiritual endurance we need to be striving towards. Let us press on as Phil 3:14 says with the end of Revelation 21 in mind.

So in what ways are you in the Spiritual fight? Bible study, scripture memorization, faithful church member, discipleship, prayer….? What are your weapons and how do you see it as a daily fight? Have you ever given up for a time?

She shoots and scores!

20 Oct

I’m reading a book and the chapter encourages us to write down goals. Not just think about them writing them down. It had a quote that says goals not written down are just wishes…may I have goals that I can work towards!

Over the years I’ve had many goals. Dave Ramsey style was getting and staying out of debt. I can tell you this past transition of unemployment to now being employed in Florida has been a trying time on our wallet. It certainly hasn’t (isn’t) easy. As I read I remembered that in Jan 2014 I wrote down some goals….some quiet crazy goals I might add. Some were simple like a nice kitchen. Please understand the kitchen I was living in also had ahem…other living things too and when I find mice droppings in my silverware drawer or my husband wakes me up to ask what this funny print is in the butter…lets just say the mice found the butter and I had the heebie jeebies! Other dreams were a bit crazier…like a natural childbirth. This comes from a lady who hemorrhages each time she gives birth and always fails to progress…not to mention births babies the size of a small turkey…oh and we were looking to adopt so who has a natural childbirth when they adopt?! That’s anything BUT painfree.

The list had several more things on it and I closed that book pretty much not think of it again for a while cuz shortly after that our lives got really rocked by the whole job loss thing and we went into survival mode. But who knew that God was quietly working the fulfillment of some of those dreams into my life. Just a little nudge… I think this past January I ran across the list again-having forgotten about it and could date when two of those dreams came true!

Wee-wood 4 was 1 week overdue and while I had an epidural in my back there were no drugs so I call it my default natural birth. He-wood will never want to redo those 19 minutes! Then I got to looking and a goal/dream of making quilts for profit was achieved. While I didn’t get to do it much or make much money, I still did it!

I still have a good bit to work on but hopefully I’ll keep them in mind. It’s always good to have something to strive for! While I know my goals may not be “kingdom work” it’s still a gentle reminder of his love. I firmly believe if there is a dream in your heart it has a purpose.

Philippians 3:13-14 But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

So what goals do you have? Any crazy out of this world goals? Anything “silly” like mine…a nice kitchen?

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your Word

16 Oct

The last issue I wanted to address when talking about God’s Word is how we often use a secondary source- a quote from a person, something an author wrote, etc to be equal or better than God’s Word. We take those little nibbles of wisdom and feel as though we don’t need the Bible.

I’m guilty, I do this regularly. I’ll post something from a book I read instead of posting scripture. And don’t think I mean posting scripture to just post scripture to social media but why can’t I use both the quote and scripture together. As long as the scripture is in good context! I successfully did this the other day. I was reading a book about motherhood and used a verse from Isaiah. It was linking the worship we do in motherhood to heaven…maybe a stretch but I’ll leave you to judge.

Basically, I’m saying work scripture into conversations and such…and don’t feel that because you loved a quote from a book you’ve had a spiritual moment…its not the same thing. If I enjoy a cup of coffee it doesn’t equal the cup of coffee that I enjoy with my husband. Let’s consider the source and esteem it more highly than the quotes we love from books!

I hope this week we’ve been able to discuss the importance of scripture and how we need to take disciplined steps to be better disciples of Christ. So what has worked for you this week? Been convicted of the similar things concerning his Word?

All scripture is breathed out by God and.

15 Oct

All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

2 Tim 3:16

Were you able to finish the title from memory? I hope so because if you did you have a reason why knowing scripture is important! If we don’t know it how can we use it for the purposes in 2 Timothy chapter 3?

If I love my husband (which I do) but I don’t know what he likes, things he says, etc do I really show him I love him. But if I bring home a new book by Tim Keller,  a pumpkin spiced latte, and a Reese’s cup he thinks he has hit the jackpot. The same thing happens when we know scripture and memorize it. I know what Jason likes because I listen to him….similarly I know attributes of God’s character because I’ve read and memorized his Word.

During tough days of our adoption I could recall James 1:27 and remember that God cares for orphans and has called us to as well. During exciting times like a few years ago when we became debt free it was important to remember to be thankful-Psalm 118:1.

This one is hard…like really really HARD. I’ll I’ve tried every trick in the book to memorize scripture and it doesn’t get any easier. Discipline in this area is a must. I’ve found that writing and seeing it over and over are most helpful…my children like it in song, drawings, or hearing. You have to figure out what works for you.

So what step can you take today to up your memorization game? Me I’m going to set a new verse on my phone and let it remind me daily, that way I can’t ignore it and my kids can’t run off with it and spill chocolate milk on it. #justbeingreal

I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you

14 Oct

Now, that we’ve spent some time talking about the holiness of scripture let’s delve into another aspect dealing with his Word.

Think about the amount of time you put into researching you latest diet, exercise routine, sports team, DIY project, hobby, time on social media. I’m fairly certain its a good bit of time right?! Would 20 mins or more a day be an appropriate guess?

Now think about the amount of time you put into Bible study. Hold up, reverse- you aren’t doing a Bible study? I highly recommend it…okay now fast forward again what’s the amount of time you can devote to studying the Bible? Can we take his Word as HOLY and by spending time studying it show it is holy to us, revered and respected?

I’ve taught many Bible studies and some common themes are this: people don’t do their homework and they drop off in attendance. Sounds like a gym membership right? They don’t exercise away from the gym and eventually stop coming-why, because it wasn’t important.

How do we make it important to us? I think you have to start by making it a choice. Decide its important- like eating. Eating is important- probably one of my favorite past times! Then we choose something that hits close to home- choose a study that sounds interesting. Not that the Bible isn’t interesting but if you are starting out studying the levitical laws wow…just just wow!

Secondly, don’t go at it alone. Have some accountability! Involve a friend or maybe your spouse. Doing it together, hopefully, means you can encourage each other.

So what keeps you from doing your homework?! What tricks do you have to keep you going back to Bible study each week?

My let’s be honest moment: I will often not do homework because I don’t like not knowing the “right” answer…like sometimes I don’t know what they are asking. Other times no one else does it and I don’t want to be seen as a “goody goody”.  That probably stems from some complex I got in high school along with the nickname “Grasshopper”. Neither was pleasant. What keeps me doing my homework- teaching the class.

What’s been a great Bible study you’ve done lately? What helped you finish it? Even if you put it away temporarily.

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