Sometimes I feel like it’s a long road I’m on.
Some days the road is smooth and level, and I can see so clearly in all directions. My steps are firm and I know my way. It’s as if I’m being led in just the right way.
Other days the road is bumpy, or it’s dark and I can’t see my way. I’ve never been so lost in my life. Getting lost makes the fear build in the pit of one’s stomach. The dread grows to terror and it’s hard to make one foot keep moving in front of the other. Sometimes you even just have to have faith that the road is still there under your feet. I don’t know what keeps me going, but someone leads my way or maybe even carries me through the worst.
And then there are the uphill days. I can see the light at the top of the steep hill, and that light pulls me forward. It’s a hard climb, but I can see the goal in sight and that will keep me going. Sometimes the difficulty of the terrain becomes all consuming.
It’s so easy to think that it is all just me and the road. Walking this road is all there is.
And then I remember. There really is a purpose, and there really is a Destination. On this earth, we’re just passing through.
Book Information – Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel
Author – Russell Moore
Publication Information – B&H Publishing (2015, $24.99 hardback, $6.29 digital)
Reading Challenge book? Yes. This is my “Book with the word ‘gospel’ in the title.”
“The culture of the kingdom is not a projection of our lives now onto eternity, but instead the reverse: a vision of a new creation that breaks us and prepares us for our inheritance by patterning us, now, after the life of creation’s heir: Jesus himself. With a kingdom vision, we realize that the priorities of this present world system are different from those of the age to come.”
– Russell Moore
Onward won Christianity Today’s Beautiful Orthodoxy Book of the Year for 2015, and upon reading it, I could understand why. The author is Southern Baptist and I am a reformed Presbyterian, so we may disagree on nonessentials, but when it comes to the priority of the gospel message, Moore nails it. His love of Christ and the Word shines through in every chapter of this book. Continue reading
Book Information – A Life That Says Welcome: Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others
Author – Karen Ehman
Publisher – Revell (2006, $16.00 paperback, $9.99 digital)
Reading Challenge Book? Yes! This is my book about Christian living. For more on the reading challenge, there’s a Goodreads group going here.
I tend to be a tad introverted by nature. I love interacting with folks online (still wishing I could find a great online discussion group!), but I’m best with smaller groups in person. And maybe I’m a little bit of an anxious entertainer. I have a toddler, and my house reflects that. So, it’s hard to open my home without worrying about how it looks.
For that reason, I could relate to Ehman’s book. I really appreciated how she first grounded her ideas about hospitality in Scripture. She makes it clear that hospitality isn’t just a good idea, but something that we’re told to extend to others. And since we’re commanded to show hospitality to others, how do we go about it?
The word “welcome” gets used in this book, and that makes sense. Hospitality shouldn’t be about showing off how great we are, but more about making our guests feel comfortable and at home with us. For myself, I know that when I’m thinking about what will make guests feel cozy and well cared for, that takes away some of the anxiety. After all, extending hospitality isn’t about showing off what we have; it’s about sharing it. Continue reading
Seems like an obvious observation, doesn’t it?
And yet, with every passing year, I cannot help but see how time flies by. My friends’ children grow bigger and more amazingly mature in what seems like no time at all. And sometimes, when I look at my own life, it feels like time and change are constants.
Days get packed full of things. Some of these, like pouring into my family, my church and my friendships, have larger meaning. Other chores just keep me busy.
Sometimes I have prioritized things that weren’t really all that worthy. Some days I seized on something that was fun for a moment, but maybe not likely to lead to deeper joy.
There are times when you just need a little bit of light fun and there are some chores that just have to be done, no matter what. However, as I grow away from my 20s when it felt like I had all the time in the world, I am starting to see the value of time.
I don’t want to look at time in a miserly fashion but I can’t help looking at how I choose to use my time. I have only so much of it, so I want to spend my minutes serving where God wants me, loving and spending time with the people who mean most to me and hopefully welcoming new, treasured friends to that circle.
There are so many wonderful ideas, people, and ways to serve God but online and offline. Using our minutes on them wisely is a challenge.
Something about the early days of a new year just feels fresh and new. Those first sweet days hold promise.
Promise that we can begin again.
Promise that we can try new things.
Promise that we can fix what’s broken.
It’s sweet, but perhaps an illusion. After all, in Christ we always have a new beginning. And it’s not only at the first of the year. We are new creations whenever we are turned to Him, and through the work of the Spirit we are constantly being refined.
There are so many “first sweet days” and as time rolls on, they grow ever sweeter.
The truth is the sweetest thing of all, and I love to take these first days of the year as a reminder to treasure it. Let me never forget how fresh life has become since I sought to follow Him.
Book Information – For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards
Author – Jen Hatmaker
Publisher – Thomas Nelson ($11.99 digital, $22.99 hardcover (now on sale for $12.73 at Amazon)
Reading challenge book? Oh yes! This is “A Book That Has a Fruit of the Spirit in the Title.”
I’ll admit something. While I tend to read plenty of fiction, both old and hot off the presses, I do tend to shy away from trendy books when I’m choosing my nonfiction reads.
This one snuck in on me, though. Several of my friends enjoy Jen Hatmaker’s blog and I’ve read it myself every now and again. I don’t always agree with the views expressed, but I do find Hatmaker’s honesty and sense of humor very refreshing. When my book club decided to read this book as a “light read” for the end of the year, I picked it right up. The positive review by Tim Challies in WORLD magazine didn’t hurt either. Continue reading
Not my car – I was in no shape to be snapping photos after that crash!
A few seconds can change everything. A few years ago, right after I got married, I was driving up the highway to drop something off with one of the in-laws. Out of nowhere, a driver cut off two fuel tankers and sparked a chain reaction crash that involved 7 vehicles and shut down the interstate for hours. I was right in the middle and literally never saw what hit me.
I thought I was in control of my car just heading down the road, when out of nowhere, a fuel tanker sent it spinning across three lanes of traffic until it landed in a ditch. I had a few broken bones, and this still ranks up there as one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever been through.
Reading the police report highlighted for me how little in control I was. I may have had some control over my own vehicle, but there were hundreds on the road with me. And all the good driving in the world can’t stop a freak occurence like that from happening.
So it is in all of life. We may have that illusion of control, but there are literally millions of other people out there and an infinite number of variables beyond our control. Only God can truly control all that is out there.
And just as in that car crash, we might be going along, minding our own business, when suddenly something comes crashing down on us. And just as with that car crash, picking up the pieces might give us time to reflect and to see things differently than we had before. Hopefully, these crashes in life deepen our walk with Christ.
Written in 5 minutes for Write 31 Days.
The word “silence” often has negative connotations. When we speak of keeping silent, there’s an implied thought that the person of whom we speak lacks the courage to say something, or that we are forcing someone to stifle themselves.
Not always so. If we are to truly think something over, we need to have some silence. All the noise in our lives and the clamor of our own thoughts can drown out that still small voice. And frankly, if we don’t allow ourselves some quiet for reflection, it can be hard to learn or to appreciate the wisdom of others. Some of my days fly so rapidly by that I worry I don’t always even see others properly.
And then there’s the silence of awe. Sometimes a piece of music reaches so deeply that I am awed into reverent silence. Likewise when I find myself marveling over some amazing piece of creation for the first time.
Reverence, wisdom, awe, and wonder – all manner of amazing things grow and flourish in the silence.
And here is a modern, but very simple version of a song that makes me stop and wonder almost every time I hear it:
Written in five minutes as part of 31 Days
For as much life as I remember, I’ve heard patience called a virtue. Yet, it’s a tough one for me.
It’s easy to say we want a closer walk with God, richer and deeper friendships, places to serve where we feel a sense of purpose. The hard part of wanting them NOW.
There’s a reason why the old joke showing a person praying, “Give me patience, now!” makes us chuckle. It’s totally cliched, but it’s also uncomfortable in its truth. We want to be sanctified, but we want it now, without a struggle.
And yet I’m learning that some of the best things in life take time. Marriage deepens day by day, and that relationship builds and strengthens with time and work. God has plans for us, but He also has His timing for when things will happen.
My husband and I struggled with infertility for years, and I’ll confess that I did not always bear this patiently. Wanting a little one so desperately, and praying over that hope for a long time wears at one. However, it also draws one closer to God. When I look back now, I see that the road to the family I have today was long and sometimes very hard, but with hindsight, I can see the lessons God taught me. And yes, the patience that He pushed me to develop which I definitely did not have even a few years ago.
We may need patience to walk down those long roads, but remember that we never go it alone.
Blogged in 5 minutes with the Write 31 Days community.
The modern world moves at a different rhythm than did previous, primarily agrarian societies. While modern life offers in some ways a better quality of life than that enjoyed by previous generations, we have also lost something.
Currently, the ability to stay connected and productive 24/7 has led to pressure to always be doing something – and to show others that we are always doing something. This pressure may not be physically back-breaking in the way that plowing fields with a team of oxen or working heavy machinery may be, but it’s certainly has the potential to break one emotionally and mentally. Spiritually, too.
In terms of God’s covenants with His people, the command to honor the Sabbath extends back into the days of Moses. Practically from the beginning, God instructed His people to have a time of rest and reflection, and as with other commands, we can see that God knew best for us.
Honoring the Sabbath doesn’t get nearly the attention that it did in generations past, but it hasn’t lost its importance either in Scripture or in life. We need that time of reflection, prayer and rest.
In my own life, I know that when I have not rested, I do not draw near to God in the same way. Left to own devices, I will burn out if I do not take that time to rest.
Rest is as important as work, so let us not work every hour of every day.
Written in five minutes for 31 days of writing free.