A resolution for 2018 #BibleJournaling

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Are you all set for 2018… new calendars up, dreams and goals written down, diet started? Just kidding! It’s early days, I know. Still, it’s not too soon to start thinking about what we want the year ahead to look like.

One resolution that hits my list every year is to get more of God’s word into me in the coming 12 months. David Kitz writes about that in Chapter 22 of Psalms Alive, a chapter that delves into the “Beth” section of Psalm 119 (Psalm 119:9-11).

My Bible journaling response was to verse 11 of that chapter.

“Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against you.”

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I was particularly challenged by Kitz’s drilling down into what it means to hide God’s word in our hearts:

“How do I hide God’s Word in my heart? The answers may seem obvious. Hear it. Read it. Study it. Meditate on it. Apply it to life. Commit it to memory.

Most often understanding springs out of application, not out of hearing. I can hear a particular truth a thousand times but it isn’t really mine until I apply it to my own life. Applied truth bears fruit. It yields results” – Psalms Alive p. 200 (emphasis added).

To do my journal response I made a heart out of parchment paper, attached it, with Washi tape, to the outside edge of the page as a tip-out, then doodled on the heart and behind it some ideas of how to hide God’s word in my heart. (Other materials used: colored pencils, Pigma Micron pens)

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May we spend time in 2018 hiding God’s word in our hearts—in all the ways we can!

Essentialism (review)

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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of LessEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book after I heard Michael Hyatt interview Greg on one of his podcasts.

I probably read it a few years too late (although it wasn’t yet written when I could have used it—when my kids were little and I was juggling parenting, running my home-based business, homemaking, and volunteering at church).

The book deals in an organized way, from idea to execution, with the topic of paring down one’s life. McKeown, it seems, has done this himself and so understands the obstacles—the desire to please, the fear of missing out, how available our technology has made us to everyone.

I read a library copy of the book and so didn’t have the freedom to underline that I would have with my own copy. However, McKeown has highlighted some of his major takeaway points in the book’s format. Here are some that grabbed m attention.

“The ability to choose cannot be taken away or even given away—it can only be forgotten” p. 36.

“We can try to avoid the reality of trade-offs, but we can’t escape them” p. 54.

“Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritize” – p. 101.

“If it is not a clear yes, then it’s a clear no” – p. 109.

“The Latin root of the word decision—cis or cid—literally means “to cut” or “to kill” – p. 159.

What I took from this book were some ideas that weren’t new to me but by reading them here, were re-emphasized. I also felt affirmed in that some of these principles I’ve discovered on my own and they’re the way I live. For example McKeown speaks of the freeing power of routine (Chapter 18). I love my routines for exactly the reason he says they’re important: they preserve my decision-making energy for the important stuff.

Though this book hasn’t inspired me to make any huge changes, it has made me aware:
– I can’t do it all.
– It’s okay to say no.
– When I say yes to a new commitment, I’m saying no to something else.
– Bu focusing on less there’s a good chance I’ll accomplish more than by spreading myself thinly over many things.

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Fit for Prayer (review)

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Fit for Prayer (Fit for Faith)Fit for Prayer by Kimberley Payne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Fit for Prayer—Learn How to Fit Prayer and Physical Activity Into Your Daily Routine, author and lifestyle coach Kimberley Payne promises to help us “… gain insight into how to incorporate prayer and fitness into your daily routine”- Fit for Prayer, p. 5.

The book is divided into three sections. Chapters 1-3 talk about exercising our bodies. Chapters 4-6 deal with prayer. Chapters 7-8 are a self-test and action stops to take to incorporate exercise and prayer into daily life.

Though in Chapters 1-3 Payne doesn’t describe specific exercises in detail, the fourteen exercise strategies she lists (in Chapter 2) would benefit a person following any exercise program. Her example of an exercise goal plan (Chapter 3) is clear and the blank goal page along with five exercise-related questions would help anyone get started exercising regularly.

In the how-to-pray section (Chapters 4-6) Payne follows the chapter that defines prayer and its benefits (Chapter 4) with a chapter on what prayer consists of using P.A.T.H. as an acronym (praise, admit, thank, and help – Chapter 5). The last chapter in the section (6) describes how to set prayer goals.

The final section of the book, a multi-page True and False self-test (Chapter 7), is followed by “Action Plan,” (Chapter 8). That plan contains ordinary prayer strategies (like “Keep a prayer journal of answered prayers”) and strategies that combine prayer with exercise (like “Pray while walking” – p. 33).

Though short (only 36 pages of content) in Fit for Prayer Payne manages to deliver a practical and inspirational manual designed to motivate readers to cultivate physical and spiritual health simultaneously.

This is another book that would be useful for women’s groups and individuals. I expect I will be consulting my copy again in the soon-upon-us resolution making time of the year.

I received Fit for Prayer as a gift from the author for the purpose of writing a review. Visit Kimberley Payne’s website to check out other lifestyle materials she has authored and is offering as books, e-courses, and free programs.

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Openness Unhindered – review

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Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with ChristOpenness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first came across Openness Unhindered’s author Rosaria Butterfield on a video where she told her story of coming to Christ out of a lesbian lifestyle. I loved the fact that my favorite book, the Bible, was instrumental in her conversion. Openness Unhindered testifies to how she has continued to engage with it at a deep and thoughtful level.

In the book, the second one she has authored about her faith since she left her old life around 1999, she alludes briefly to her conversion story. Then she goes on to talk about how she has wrestled with her past and come to a place of equilibrium as a home school mother and pastor’s wife. Passages like the following tug at the heart:

“I am and always will be Rahab—a woman with a past. So, what does a person like me do with such a past? I have not forgotten. Body memories know my name. Details intrude into my world unpredictably, like when I am kneading the communion bread or homsechooling my children. I take each ancient token to the cross, for prayer, for more repentance, for thanksgiving that God is always right about matters of sin and repentance” – Kindle Location (KL) 631.

She stresses the importance of her new identity in Christ and of repentance. Even the title of the chapter on repentance testifies to how foundational it is to her: “Repentance: The Threshold to God and the Answer to Shame, Temptation and Sin.”

In chapters titled “Sexual Orientation—Freud’s Nineteenth Century Mistake” and “Self-representation—What Does it Mean to be Gay?” she unpacks the history of the gay rights movement and explains how “gay” has become a term of identity. In fact, she argues, gay doesn’t even belong, as an adjective, together with Christian. She says:

Gay is a word that carries stigma because of God’s moral prohibitions against homosexuality. … Because the Bible is clear on the point that homosexual practice is a sin, and because gay is a synonym for the implied desire for or practice of homosexuality, the stigma of this term is an act of God’s love, because God uses it to convict his children of their brokenness” –KL 2111.

Another powerful chapter is the one on Christian community. Here Butterfield describes how their family’s hospitality toward neighbors and church members became a closely woven safety net for all involved.

This was a great read! Though I did find the theological chapters a bit of a slog (Butterfield was a university professor in her former life and in plumbing these challenging topics comes across somewhat professorial), for the most part I enjoyed the book and learned a lot. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“When we are owned by God, we are ruined for the world. And this marring of us for the world is one of the birthmarks of conversion” – KL 595.

“Temptation comes in many forms, but it is always personal, uncannily tailor-made for our individual moral weakness, and it takes aim at God’s character, seeking to ransack our faith” – KL 1343.

“Desires for things God has forbidden are a reflection of how sin has distorted me, not how God has made me” – Sam Allbery quoted on KL 2320.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is trying to understand where homosexual practice fits within the Christian life and the church. Openness Unhindered is a part of my own Kindle collection.

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