Friday, September 14, 2018

Pretense

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Pretense is a mind prison. It's the hiding behind the costuming of the mask. Many live there. Some by choice and some unassumingly. For some it's a false sense of protection and others it's ignorance. The hiding behind the costuming of the mask creates a person who is more like a wall of stone than human.

The authentic life breaks them free, removing the mask, but people are afraid. Someone needs to take that first step so they know how to obtain liberty.

For now, the majority remain imprisoned. It's more comfortable to sit in the dark damp place behind the mask. Though the smell is murky it's just too familiar; dare I say comfortable? Light seems to be too much; too overwhelming. Familiar seems safe, why take the risk?

The one with hope looks longingly at the brightness knowing there is something beautiful, something more, but unless the mask comes off, they remain in the cell. The memory of beauty quickly fades.

Community is key to freedom. Genuine people helping each other along the journey to perfect freedom but that's exactly the problem, it takes brave faith and that step of faith takes risk.

Yet, we can look to our Savior. The One who left perfection and entered into a broken world. He came to us; mask free. Dear friend let us be brave because we "keep our eyes on Jesus, the source of and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" Hebrews 12:2, CSB.

Be brave friend. Lay down that mask because your eyes are on the perfect One. There is no longer need to fear others for it is He that we live for alone and He made you uniquely special the way you are, quirks and all. Live fully for Him. Lay down that mask. Befriend people without masks and help those who are ready to shed theirs by walking alongside them and pointing them to Jesus.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Seasons of Community in Family Difficulty

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Pain slowly started taking the vibrancy out of my daughter. Little by little her head started making it hard for her to think and interact. Slowly she started having to stay in a dark, quiet place while withdrawing from the family. The pain in her head was too difficult to bear in a group setting. Though she craved community, the noise of it was too much.

Eight days.

It’s been eight long days since we’ve gathered around the table together because of this. This has rocked our world. I’ve let my worries about her get in the way of connecting with the others in the family. You don’t miss this connection time until it’s gone. The absence of it is heart-breaking.

Breaking bread together as family is the highlight of our day. It’s a time for safety, fellowship, and connecting. But eight days ago, when my daughter took a turn for the worst everything changed. When illness hits unexpectedly, it changes the family dynamic. The mysterious unknown presses on the hearts of everyone involved.

When hearts are pressed by painful events, it exposes what is truly in them. Some of that is ugly. We are tempted towards fear, worry, and ungodly anger in this time of grief. During these times, it is especially important for a family to come together. So tonight, we will gather. Not as our normal five but as four. Instead of avoiding the family connecting we will share openly and honestly our concerns about this difficult time of unknown illness. Then, we will get back to serving the one who is weak and needs us one on one.

This is our new normal for however long God allows. We must come together and talk about it. It will take adjusting and it will not be easy. However, for now, it is our new normal. Connection is important for a family to stick closely together. For us, that may look a little different in this time of the unknown.

Connection can look different for each family. Some get to eat together every night. Some have weekly scheduled meetings. Some have morning devotions. Every family is different. The important part is making intentional times of connection a priority. This new normal has reminded me that there will be seasons of change in all families. Each season will look different. The family will have to adjust to these changes. Change is not a bad thing. We must be open to it and work toward connection in each new stage of life.

When hard things happen unexpectedly, like in our family, it’s important to talk. We must fight for that connection in the midst of grief. It’s more important than ever, otherwise, we will continue to slowly drift apart. Whatever this connection time looks like for your family. Don’t forsake it. The time flies by way too fast and soon enough your children will leave. Hold them close as long as you can. Listen to them. Love them. Give them a safe place to be themselves and connect.

Home is to be a safe place where our kids can be themselves. They need to have access to us so they can discuss anything on their mind. If we are not there the world will fill our place but don’t we want to be the one speaking truth into their lives? They want answers and if we don’t give it to them, they will find them somewhere else. So whatever season you are in, make it a priority to connect. You will not regret it. And time is short. Take advantage of every moment given. It’s worth it. For we are not guaranteed tomorrow.


There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Book Review: Made for Friendship by Hunter

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This was an amazing book on friendship. I highly recommend it for all Christians. We really don't do friendship well if we actually sit and think about it. It's a rare gift. Sure we have lots of acquaintances but how many true friends? It has opened my eyes.

Jesus knew and understood friendship. We can learn from His example and many practical tips that this book provides. The book explains why we ache for friendship, why it's important, and how to cultivate it. It is written in a very practical manner that is easy to understand and implement.

I found this book to be beneficial to my understanding of friendship. It is also challenging because these instructions now need to be put into practice. What beauty there would be if God's people learned to be good friends!

The book includes questions to help facilitate group discussion. Reading this with a group would be helpful in implementation.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of review.

You can get a copy of this book on Amazon.com here.

Book Review: 7 Deadly Friendships by DeMuth

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Mary has written a lot of books. All of the ones I've had the privilege of reading have blessed me. When given the opportunity to help launch this book I was thrilled.  The topic also intrigued me. I continually have a hard time understanding godly friendship so I knew this book would be instructive.

With vulnerability, honesty, and wit Mary shares helpful stories and practical wisdom. The characters that make up the "7 deadly" come from Proverbs 6:16-19 which states;

"There are six things the Lord hates—
no, seven things he detests:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that kill the innocent,
a heart that plots evil,
feet that race to do wrong,
A false witness who pours out lies,
a person who sows discord in a family."

Each chapter takes a detailed look at these kinds of friends and what to do if you have them or if you are one. It gives practical application which is helpful and healing. Once the author identifies each kind of deadly friendship, she takes us to the example of Joseph and finally Jesus. 

Ultimately Jesus is our only hope in navigating difficult relationships. He is the perfect example for us to follow because He befriended us.

This book was encouraging, challenging, and sanctifying. It was well worth the read because it was helpful. It will grow you in Christian friendship.

I received a copy of this book free of charge for the sake of review.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon on October 2nd but pre-order now here.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Book Review: Finding the Love of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation by Fitzpatrick

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It's important to realize that the story of the Bible is an overarching love story about Jesus and His bride. This book helps explain that concept. It does that by doing an overview of the entire Bible that helps the reader connect how the entire Bible is really about Jesus. It helps you practically see this then gives you helps to practice doing that yourself. It has a little study section after each chapter/section. This is helpful and would make it perfect to study with a group.

I found the book interesting to read and helpful in aiding careful study of the Bible.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany publishers for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon.com here.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Book Review: Redeeming Money by Tripp

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This was a great book. I am in the process of freeing our family of debt, however, this book helped me to have the proper mindset of not only being debt free but the true heart behind it. Everything we do in life is about how we worship Jesus--even how we spend our money. I could see how we did make mistakes with money due to some of the issues listed. It has been an educational and liberating read.

If you desire to worship Christ with your whole heart, this book is helpful in considering the area of money. I thought maybe it would be some sort of budget help but instead it was so much more. Everything we do comes from our heart. This book will help you look biblically at your heart and help you to see money in a healthy way.

I am hopeful for the changes this book will make in my life. It is worth the time to read. We all need to look at our views on money. It is part of survival in this world. How we view things helps how we live. Study this book with friends or yourself. Either way it is a needed book for our times.

I received a copy of this book at no charge from Crossway for the purpose of an honest review.

You can get a copy of this book from Amazon.com here.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Book Review: The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Butterfield

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This book is a must read for all Christians. I found it extremely challenging at times but those which are the most challenging are how we know the best books because they affect long lasting change. The lasting change that is necessary for the sake of the glory of the gospel and Christ-likeness.

I am not naturally skilled in the art of hospitality but this book encouraged me to practice it anyway. It is mostly about welcoming those in (which I am good at). It is not about what you have or how fancy your home is. Of course it does require sacrifice to share your space, time and food but God provides in how you chose to honor Him in these things.

I was also happy to see that in the end of this book there were some practical tips available to those just starting out. It also stressed how everyone's practice of hospitality will look different depending on your family dynamic and constraints.

This book challenges your thoughts of hospitality even farther making you question, who would I allow into my home? What efforts do I make to really know my neighbors? Do I pursue them and offer the light of the gospel? It is thought-provoking and one book I would put on my must read list. You will grow from it as the Holy Spirit works in your heart.

I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of an honest review from the publisher, Crossway.

You can get a copy from Amazon.com here.


 
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