Summer 2018 Reads + Reviews

Posted in books

The written word has always been a treasure to me. I am mentored by men and women long in Heaven and rejuvenated in my faith by living followers of Christ. I enjoy both turning tangible pages and reading multiple books at a time on my Kindle. And while it took a little adjusting, I hardly take a drive over 20 minutes or fold a basket of laundry without listening to a book.

This summer I covered a lot of ground, and for my personal enjoyment and for other bookworms out there, I share with you what I’ve read. They aren’t in any major order, some fall in the spiritual growth category, others personal interest.

Here’s my system of review:

  • 5 = I loved the book and enthusiastically recommend it.
  • 4 = I liked it, but not necessarily doing cartwheels over it.
  • 3 = Eh. It was okay.
  • 2 = I’m reluctant to pass it along.
  • 1 = Don’t bother.

The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael, by Elisabeth Elliot: 4.5 stars. A glimpse into one brave and devoted missionary life, this book is a compilation of historical details and the faithfulness of God. A truth I absorbed while reading this book is that if God calls you to a particular ministry or mission or task for His name and kingdom, He goes before you, and He will provide and be everything you need.

[Amy Carmichael’s] great longing was to have a “single eye” for the glory of God. Whatever might blur the vision God had give her of His work, whatever could distract or deceive or tempt other to seek anything but the Lord Jesus Himself she tried to eliminate.

In His Image, by Jen Wilkin: 5 stars. Jen Wilkin’s desire to unearth a high and lifted up vision of God in the hearts of believers has had a deep impact of me. After having read her first book of similar title, None Like Him, twice, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. This book is her approach to answer humanity’s deeply rooted need to know God’s will with a charge to become a person who images Jesus in their daily life. She tackles big theological aspects of God in a way that quickly sticks to your soul. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Everything we say or do will either illuminate or obscure the character of God. Sanctification is the process of joyfully growing luminous.

The Mark of the King, by Jocelyn Green: 4.5 stars. I have always enjoyed historical fiction, and this story did not disappoint. It took a few chapters to engage with the story, but halfway through, with my curiosity piqued, it was difficult to stop. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, but I probably won’t read it again.

Talk to the Lord, Julianne. Even if you’re mad as hornets. If you keep it all bottled up, you’ll only end up with a belly full of bee stings.

Rejoicing in Christ, by Michael Reeves: 5 stars. Before this one, I read Michael’s book on the Trinity, and greatly enjoyed it. Personally, Michael deepened my understanding of Jesus, cultivating an even sweeter love for him. It really is as the title says, a delightful feasting on the cornerstone and center of our salvation, marveling at the person of Jesus in relation to the Father, Spirit, creation, salvation, and more.

Jesus Christ, God’s perfect Son, is the Beloved of the Father, the Song of the angels, the Logic of creation, the great Mystery of godliness, the bottomless Spring of life, comfort and joy. We were made to find our satisfaction, our heart’s rest, in him.

Identity Theft, edited by Melissa Kruger: 5 stars. I picked up this book because I’m an ‘identity-in-Christ’ junkie, but I was surprised how much I gleaned. In this book, a variety of God-fearing, people-loving women each write a chapter, for the purpose of the book’s tagline “reclaiming the truth of who we are in Christ.”

Satan shows us our sin so we might despair. He wants to steal, kill, and destroy. God shows us our sin to lead us to Jesus. He wants to give us life, and life to the full. We may struggle with sin, but it’s no longer our identity if we’re in Christ. Melissa Kruger

Continue reading

four questions that help activate faith in my life

Posted in faith

It was one weighty situation after another, and I felt paralyzed by the need to think, feel, and decide wisely. Choices of when to speak and when to be quiet, how to wade unfamiliar relational waters, and how to listen to God were all on full blast. I was in knots for days, and it dawned on me, how does my faith help me here?

The Self-Reliant Fixer and the Trusting-Surrenderer in me were wrestling, and I was weary. Where was my faith? It was in my feelings and whether they could be trusted. It was in my ability to solve problems, to be a good advice-giver. It was in the pressure-inducing lie of ‘choose well or it’ll be your fault.’

I was at a crossroad: continue wrestling anxiously with myself or allow God’s truth to clear-cut a new path of being. By His grace, I confidently chose the latter, and living by faith became less of an abstract Biblical idea and more of a tangible framework for the storm hidden under the surface. I’m learning faith is surrendering my way to deepen my capacity to know and pursue God’s way.

Here are four questions that have helped energize my faith:

  1. Who is being exalted here?

Me? or God? Living by faith in God decreases pride and self-reliance… why? Because we can’t help but be humbled in light of our perfect Savior. Like Abraham, who “with respect to the promise of God, did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Romans 4:20). My thoughts do more harm than good when not illuminated by faith, because faith glorifies God, not self, as sufficient. One of the most gracious things the Lord continually reminds me of is I am the creature and He is the Creator. We live by faith and not sight when we choose to find God in the midst of pain, uncertainty, or weakness, and exalt Him.

  1. What does the Bible say about this situation or my emotions?

Living by faith is a daily submission to the authority of Scripture and treasuring the truth of God. By applying His promises to our circumstances, we open ourselves up to flourish in both mundane and marvelous moments. Faith is allowing Scripture to inform our decisions and attitudes, conforming us to the image of Christ. We live by faith and not sight when we trust Scripture over what we see and feel.

  1. Is the gospel instructing my self-examination? 

In #1, I am reminded to submit to God in low humility and exalt Him. But my faith also states my position in Christ before God. Excessive self-demotion is contrary to the gospel that invites me into life with God. Living by faith in God promotes confidence and acceptance even when we fail… why? Because your failure can’t disqualify Christ, and you are in Christ. Focusing on ourselves too much is like quicksand. Allow the truth of Scripture to not only pull you out, but also to be the light that helps you see more clearly. Maybe you’ve heard these words by Robert Murray M’Cheyne: “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.” We live by faith and not sight when we see ourselves accurately: near God, raised and seated with Christ, walking with His Spirit on earth to declare praises of Him. (For more on how God sees you, click here.)

Continue reading

prayer: how much of God can I savor in this moment?

Posted in faith

At just shy of double digits I became a Christian, and learned to pray using a checklist of sorts. Maybe you know it: ‘ACTS’ – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. And while this practice formed in me a habit of talking to God, it didn’t cultivate in me a desire to listen to Him.

“Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine” (The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, 8). C.S. Lewis

A stack of journals full of teenage handwriting reveal how I enjoyed sharing ‘all the things’ with God. But months into college independence, with nerves about new friends and a fear of walking into a lecture hall filled with 200 people alone drew out a deep need to listen to Him. I longed to hear His comforting words when I felt alone. I craved His opinions about my new (and somewhat foreign) surroundings. Thankfully and graciously, He promises that when we search for Him, we’ll find HimPsalm 107:9 says He “satisfies the thirsty.” I began a journey of thirsting and hungering for the heart of God for me.  

I found joy in verses like John 15:13-15:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

The disciples hearing these words from Jesus’ lips experienced this marvel in a tangible way, memories of walking from town to town and listening to their Master teach. In our day, this is profound to us because everything Jesus learned from His Father is made known to us in the Bible, so deeper into Scripture I walked.

The power, wonder, and clarity of God I saw in the Bible gave me confidence in who He said He was, even when I couldn’t feel His presence. 

“Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice. He ransoms me and keeps me safe from the battle waged against me..” Psalm 55:17-18 NLT

Continue reading