Monday, December 25, 2017

Book Review: True Feelings by Mahaney and Whitacre


Have you ever considered that God uses our feelings as opportunities to point us to Him?

This book was a helpful tool to show the reader how our emotions are indicators of where we are with God. Emotions are not bad but God-given. They are part of every human. Jesus felt them. Jesus had a big range of emotion. The Bible does not irradiate the emotions that the characters feel. Emotions are part of being human. Some people feel them in a big way, some feel them in a smaller way. It all depends on how God made each unique individual.

How we interpret our emotions is important. It will matter to the well-being of our soul. Different emotions are different occasions for us to be directed to God. For example, if you are feeling self-pity, you are focused on self. This feeling shows us where our hearts are focused. We can evaluate, is it on God or self? It is time for joy when our hearts are drawn back to God through repentance and faith.

This is a book that all Christians should read. It sheds light on something complicated like emotions but makes it simple to understand biblically. You will benefit from reading it.

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

You can get a copy of this book from here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Blessed Are The Peacemakers...Holiday Edition



Every Christmas, I remember drama when my extended family got together for the holidays. It unsettled a young me. However, these times were used by God to draw me close to Him, like a magnet to metal.

I remember retreating to a sky light window, the closest place I thought I could get to God. I cried out to God. I didn't know at the time what I was doing but I believe now it is what God desires us to do (pray) in the face of conflict.

Conflict, in and of itself, is not bad. We all have varying opinions and perspectives. It is healthy. We learn from one another. However, conflict is bad when it turns into fights and quarrels. It is bad when it is not loving or assuming the best of the other party. The evil of it comes from our hearts.

                                            WISDOM FROM JAMES
What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don't they come from your passions that wage war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don't receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:1-3, CSB

God doesn't pull any punches. His word shows us exactly from where the trouble comes; within us. And if it comes from within us, why do we fight with others? Maybe it would make better sense to fight within ourselves.

Practically, how does this play out at our various gatherings?
In the face of conflict, how do we respond?

The main question to ask is, what is most loving in this situation?

We must wrestle with our own hearts and honestly ask, why do I want to fight about this? Is it a selfish motive? Do I want to win? What do I want? Do I want to be right? Do I want the best for that person? Do I just like to hear myself argue? Am I representing Christ well as I disagree?

We must make our own hearts submit to Christ. This is when we cry out to God and ask for the grace to humble ourselves. We must walk as He did and die to our own selfish motives for the sake of love.

Further on in James it explains, "But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says:
God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.

Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. 

Don't criticize one another, brothers and sisters. Anyone who defames or judges a fellow believer defames and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?" James 4:6-12, CSB.

We must learn to humble ourselves before a mighty God. The one and only proper judge will convict and work in the persons heart with whom you disagree. At the same time God will work in your own heart. There is no room for pride in Christian love.

Now, what if there is a certain family member who just won't let peace reign?

You can walk lovingly in grace toward them and refuse to engage. The best thing to do is say, "that is an interesting viewpoint." If they persist just ask non defensive questions (your tone goes a long way). Questions like, "How did you come to that conclusion?" What makes you so passionate about this point?" Seek to understand. In doing this, it may give you room to speak into their life as well. 

However, most importantly, we need to keep our eyes focused on Christ. When we remember what He did for us, the lengths and depths of love He has for us, what He endured for our salvation, we can die to our own self. He will give us the grace. Just remember and ponder;

Philippians 2:6-11

Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,
who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be exploited.
Instead he emptied himself
by assuming the form of a servant,
taking on the likeness of humanity.
And when he had come as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.
For this reason God highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth
11 and every tongue will confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. 

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