Tag Archives: Gospel

April Reads

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I used to think I was a writer who reads.

False. I’m a reader who writes. I stuff myself with the words of others (mostly Scripture) then those same words are recalibrated and rearranged and flow out much easier (but still not easily) than trying to write from an empty word tank.

And, while we’re chatting about words and writing, may I just admit how ridiculous it feels to call myself a writer? Sitting on an airplane recently, the passenger next to me asked what I did. “I’m, uh, a writer,” I said with a swallow. It feels shallow and hollow and self-promoting, as though I feel I have something to offer that no one else does. But that’s simply not the case. I’m a product of all I have read and this month’s intake has been necessary and refining in both word consumption and production. (For more on my love of words and writing: The One Where I Talk About Writing.)

Sometimes people comment on how much I read and guilt swirls in my stomach from reading so much and too fast to properly drain each book of its wisdom and delight, but absorbing words, however fast or slow, is the only way I can a) survive and b) even attempt to string together coherent sentences or paragraphs or articles that might spark joy and hope in others.

So, here are the books that filled my word tank this month (listed in the order they were read). What’s filling yours?

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February + March Reads

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“Be careful what books you read, for as water tastes of the soil it runs though, so does the soul taste of the authors that a man reads.” -John Trapp

The following books have filled my soul’s tastebuds over the past couple months. I recommend feasting on pretty much all of them.

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Disobedience, Relationships, and the Idol of Self-Protection

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Admitting I need or want people is terrifyingly hard.

Accepting, much less confessing to someone that I need or want them in my life automatically gives them an incredible amount of power, and I’m scared of being manipulated.

No one wants to be taken advantage of. No one wants to feel used. No one wants to hold out their heart only to have it shattered by broken trust or the selfishness of others.

But it happens. And I’m learning that, even if it does, I still need people, and God-honoring relationships are worth having your heart shattered for. Just ask Jesus.

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Waffles, Authority, and the Color Pink

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It was a typical morning. 

The 2 year old with wild blonde bedhead was in her booster seat, the 8 month old played happily in his high chair, and I was cutting up strawberries and waffles.

On the days I nanny, this is the normal 7 a.m. scene and I love it.

It’s time for food. It’s time for talking. It’s time for theology.

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Singing in the Fire

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As previously mentioned, Susannah Spurgeon is my new bff. 

Here’s a snippet from her biography Free Grace and Dying Love (which I cannot recommend more highly). It’s long but one of the most encouraging things I’ve ever read. Wherever you are and whatever season you’re in, I hope it ministers to you too.

At the close of a very dark and gloomy day I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on, and though all was bright within my cosy little room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the hand which I knew held mine and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked, ‘Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?’ These fretful questions were quickly answered, and though in a strange language, no interpreter was needed for the conscious whisper of my own heart.

For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of an oak log burning on the hearth. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window. ‘What can it be?’ I said to my companion, who was dozing in the firelight; ‘surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night!’ We listened, and again heard the faint plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke for a moment our undisguised wonder. Presently my friend exclaimed, ‘It comes from the log on the fire!!’ and we soon ascertained that her surprised assertion was correct. The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak’s inmost heart. Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all went well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold; but he had grown old since then and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness and the vehement heat of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice.

Oh! thought I, when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed are we purified and our God is glorified! Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log–cold, hard and insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds were it not for the fire which kindles round us, and releases tender notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will. As I mused the fire burned and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set before me. Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard, apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.

-Susannah Spurgeon

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How to Suffer Missionally

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Broken relationships.
Cancer.
Sickness.
Death.
Loss.
Tragedy.
Grief.
Loneliness.

What if Scripture tells us God is a divine multitasker and that this hurt doesn’t only affect us? What if we aren’t suffering because God is cruel but because He’s equipping us to help others in ways we couldn’t without it?

We all suffer. What separates Christ-followers from the world is the way we respond. And with hearts and ears anchored in the Gospel, we can hear the sermon suffering preaches.

Suffering tells us we’re all groaning for full redemption and that we’re not alone because no life is untouched by difficulty. The poison of sin has slithered into the DNA of every human and with it comes suffering—the proof of our brokenness.

Perhaps God walks us down roads filled with potholes and trials and grief so we can learn the streets and one day drive others down them, helping them to navigate the curves to get to the finish line.

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2017: Leaning in Because Jesus is Better

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My “Jesus is Better” bracelet is tarnished and worn.

I think that’s appropriate.

It’s had to be repaired four times in the last month.

I think that’s also appropriate, because Jesus really is better than anything, including a piece of jewelry designed to remind me of that truth.

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Joy is Here

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(This is in NLT, not Amplified. I’m sorry.)

This is a hard season for many.

I feel deeply the weight and heaviness of sin, brokenness, and the overall hurt of living in a fallen body in a fallen world with other fallen humans.

But the pain isn’t meaningless.
The weight won’t crush us.
The fire won’t burn us.
The flood won’t drown us.
The despair won’t destroy us.
The enemy doesn’t have the final say.

Our champion reigns.
Hope is here.
Glory is coming.
Joy is to be had.
Freedom is ours.
Victory is here.

Fix your gaze.
The true and better Aslan is on the move.

“You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify Him,
and stand in awe of Him, all you offspring of Israel!
For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted,
and He has not hidden His face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to Him.”
-Psalm 22:23-24

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A Thanksgiving Prayer from Valley of Vision

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O Source of all good,

What shall I render to Thee for the gift of gifts,
Thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
His self-emptying incomprehensible,
His infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp.

Herein is wonder of wonders:
He came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like Him.

Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to Him He draws near on
wings of grace,
to raise me to Himself.

Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
He united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreated and the created.

Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to Him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
He came, God-incarnate, to save me
to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face,
and in Him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child
to my heart,
embrace Him with undying faith,
exulting that He is mine and I am His.

In Him Thou hast given me so much
that heaven can give no more.

-The Gift of Gifts, Valley of Vision

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God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

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“It’s all too much,” I cried into my coffee. “I can’t do it. I’m not enough.”

Sitting in that quiet coffee shop, reality hit with force.

Every day is filled with one reminder after another that I am not sufficient. I am not enough for my small group girls; I am not enough for my best friend; I am not enough for my parents; I am not enough for counseling others; I am not enough to teach the Word of God; I am not enough for the church; I am not enough to write helpfully; I am not enough to consider marriage or parenting or anything else God calls me to.

I am not enough.

Do you feel it too?

Do you feel strained by the seemingly endless litany of tasks before you, the weight of burdens in community and ministry, and the demand to do and be it all without cracking under pressure?

During those times I’ve heard well-meaning people say, “Yeah, what you’re going through is hard, but God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

The problem with that and Mother Teresa’s famous quote—“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much”—is that it’s not Scriptural.

And anything meant to be a comfort becomes a confine when it isn’t based on Scripture.

What if Scripture actually says God intentionally gives us more than we can handle?

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