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Jesus

one of the best habits we can cultivate

Posted in faith

I know what is said about making a new habit: it takes 21 days. But what if a lifetime is needed?

There is one habit I have been forming (yes, still forming) consciously and intensely and clumsily in my adult years of loving God, and that is girl, fix. your. eyes. on. Jesus.

Make a mistake? See Jesus, and know His forgiveness.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14

Fall in love? See Jesus, and know His way of loving and being loved.

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. John 15:9

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Struggle with a weakness? See Jesus, and know His grace is sufficient.

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:6-8

Hurt by a loved one? See Jesus, and know His comfort and gentleness.

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3

Wrestling with your flesh? See Jesus, and know His plan and vision for eternity.

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Books That Transform Lives

Posted in books

Books. Worlds to dive into, catapults to new perspectives, adventures of knowledge. Various paths forged by unique personalities to help love God with our minds.

I asked a handful of friends for a book they would say has transformed their life in a meaningful way, and why they choose it. Enjoy their answers! I certainly did.

Steadfast: A Study of the Prayer Made David’s Whole Heart Rely on a Steadfast God by Lauren Mitchell

This is one of my favorite devotional books because it walks you through the life of a very imperfect man that God raised up to lead a nation. I love that despite David’s sinfulness, his disobedience to God, and his very imperfect life, God (out of his steadfast love for David) still chose to do a redeeming work in him, use his life to write history, and use his story to show more of God’s character. This devotional walks you through six areas of life: Your Time, Your Identity, Your sin, Having No Fear, and Your Destiny. Lauren’s writing is easy to understand and her ability to break down big concepts will keep you engaged and help your understanding of Psalms. I highly recommend this devotional because through it you begin to understand God’s amazingly steadfast love for you and how he meets you where you are at and uses us – broken people – to show his character. Erika Carder, Lifestyle & Product Photographer

“David understood and accepted God’s character and promises. He did not find steadfast to be a quality that inspired fear, but rather stability.”


Lady in Waiting by Debby Jones and Jackie Kendall

As a woman, I feel like I’ve spent so much of my life waiting for the next thing… a job, marriage, children, vacation! When I’m so focused on “what’s next”, I often miss what God has for me RIGHT NOW! Although it was written specifically for single women looking towards marriage, Lady In Waiting  written by Debby Jones and Jackie Kendall, holds truths that have convicted me and encouraged me in many different seasons of my life. Using the biblical book of Ruth as a guide, Jones and Kendall remind women to keep their focus on the Lord and live a life of reckless abandonment in and for HIM… not for a husband (or children, or job, or friends). Faith, patience, and contentment IN THE LORD are essential to living a life that glorifies God. The first time I did this study was in college and it completely changed my perspective on my state of singleness – I stopped looking for a husband around every corner! Instead, I started to focus on living my life for the Lord. And what an amazing difference that made in my spiritual growth! As a married woman, I’ve lead young women through this study and bought more copies of it to hand out than I can count! Each time I revisit the truths presented, I’m convicted to refocus my life and energy on what the Lord has for me THIS DAY, in THIS SEASON of my life. Michelle Parnell, Appling, GA


Surprised By Hope by N.T. Wright

Surprised By Hope was a book God used to refine my understanding of the beautiful, breathe-taking, overarching storyline of Scripture. I find a strong grasp of biblical theology to be essential to any and all Bible study, and Wright’s book is revelatory in this aspect. With a continued emphasis upon life after life after death, Wright exposes the true Christian hope as the restoration of creation as opposed to the evacuation from creation. He writes, “The central Christian affirmation is that what the creator God has done in Jesus Christ, and supremely in his resurrection, is what he intends to do for the whole world—meaning, by world, the entire cosmos with all its history,” (91). All groaning creation finds its only hope and rescue in the Kingdom-inaugurating work of Christ Jesus. “What creation needs is neither abandonment nor evolution but rather redemption and renewal; and this is both promised and guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead,” (107). The story of the Bible is the story of a God who does not abandon His original design after its corruption in the garden but instead sets out to redeem, reclaim, renew, and restore it. And how would God accomplish such a mission? Through the life, death, and resurrection of the King of glory, who brings sight to the blind, light into the darkness, and raises the dead to life and in whom now all creation eagerly awaits. Matt McKinney, Pastor at Madison Street Baptist Church


Anything by Jennie Allen

I weep now again as I write this. I weep because I almost got away with a wasted life. What if I had blown off the interruptions he was offering? I might be stuck with the mediocre life I was so afraid of losing at the time. But it was like he lifted my head, while I was in a puddle on the bathroom floor, and let me see into his heart, into heaven, into the brokenness of those suffering, into my own soul. And in a moment what had never occurred to me made perfect sense. So much sense that I was willing… desperately willing… to do anything. (78)

Few times has a book so resonated with me like Jennie Allen’s journey to praying “anything.” After purchasing the book, I held on to it for a while. I would carry it in my purse everywhere I went but wouldn’t dare open it. I knew the potential impact it would have on my life and it scared me; the woman was saying to God that she would do anything – literally anything He asked. I was right. The moment I opened chapter one, I could not put it down. I saw myself – a college girl wild for God and wanted to see the world be awakened to the Kingdom of God. And then life happened. Responsibilities pressed in and God was being pressed out. I’ve always known there to be more than what we lived and experienced in college, but our schedules had gotten in the way. This book gave voice to what I had been feeling for a long time, and encouraged a reckless, courageous surrender to obediently risk all that I knew as I step into anything that God calls me to do. Lizzie Attaway, Atlanta, GA

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resurrection vision: letting every sense of your humanity send you deeper into Jesus

Posted in faith

I was teaching a group of 7th-8th graders, reflecting on Easter’s truth, and it came out of my mouth before I even really knew what it meant: “in my time as a Christian, I have had a difficult time reconciling my continual sin and my identity as righteous in Christ because of his death and resurrection.”

The Bible speaks plainly and beautifully:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (Ephesians 1:3-10)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11)

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-31)

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. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

 

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Confession: I apologize to God most often for my forgetfulness.

I am blown away by the goodness of God, then I idolize entertainment and miss out spending time with Him. I am overrun by His Fatherly tenderness and love for me, then I make a mistake, am consumed with anxiety, and try to earn His favor. I forget the magnitude of His Son’s death on the cross in my place, and I give affection to lesser things.

Is it crazy to confess on the internet that I dislike this about myself? I don’t like that I still struggle with sin as badly as I do. I don’t like the constant battle with idolatry, pride, and selfishness. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s right to hate sin. But I don’t believe feeling weary in guilt-driven effort to avoid, stuff, and conquer it is what God planned. I don’t think this is the reality Jesus died for me to walk in.

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