Anxious in Everything

Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything
with prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving,
let your requests be known to God.

If you’ve been around Christianity for any length of time, you’ve heard this verse handed out when you say you are worried about something. It’s often given as a platitude by a well-meaning pastor or friend to easily point you to peace of mind. But I have to be honest with you that I haven’t really taken to that verse.

You see I’m quite the anxious person. I worry inwardly alot and have for years. About some of the most ridiculous things, about people, situations, words, you name it. I have worried about it. Let me be even more real with you all, that kind of worry all the time will eat you up. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Recently I grabbed a copy of Max Lucado’s new book Anxious for Nothing on a whim. I have only read one other book from Lucado, and it’s a small Christmas book I received for free once. As I tiptoed into the book with a skeptic’s eye on the very verse I have grown to really be irritated with, I was surprised to find that I had been looking at it with the wrong heart and the wrong perspective.

In my anxiousness I had chosen to identify with the chaos of the world instead of the sovereignty of God. I was running to tension, control and calamity instead of peace, security, and surety in Him.

As much as I didn’t this to be a book review, I have to contend that Max Lucado’s book on the verse against anxiety is one that caused me to re-examine the whole Scripture and context of Paul’s words to the Philippians. Lucado walks through the various areas Paul points out in the key verse but also lays the ground work around it, and our hearts that are so easily prone to anxiety-whether by our own doing or undoing. He also provides practical avenues of applying the words of Paul to our lives day in and day out.

Overall it caused me solely to realize that the chaos of anxiety is born out of a fallen world, and born within a fallen person…me. But I get to choose whether I abide in that chaos or the calm of the sovereign Lord each and every day. Not to be Pollyanna-ish about it, but the acknowledgement of choosing it daily is often the first step towards being anxious for nothing.

Absolutely Surrendering: A Review

I’ll be honest here, cause well, I can. I don’t read alot of Biblical scholars. I just don’t. C.S. Lewis is about as far back as I go in reading some who are pillars of the faith. So when I decided to dig into an Andrew Murray that was re-released by B&H recently, I was challenging myself, my faith, and really struggling to pull through it.

But here’s the thing. This was perfect timing to read this. I got the very short book, running around 140 pages and thought, “Oh I’ll have this done in just a week or two. Six weeks later and I am digging back into it over and over.

B&H Publishing has gone through some classics in Christian writings and added reflections to the chapters, observations and applicable questions to reflect back on each chapter. I find that really valuable and strengthening in my own faith. Lore Ferguson Wilbert is the general editor on Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray.

This book format is in the same structure of Murray’s original, written from sermons given throughout his time and published in 1897. The chapters are short, but very dense, often causing me to sit and ruminate for days on one before coming back into reading. You walk through what surrender is, an absolute surrender and what that life defined by surrender will be. Murray talks about being a living sacrifice, and to be alive but fully dead to self.

The deeper I dug into this book to read and review, I found myself connecting to the reflections and observations, praying the prayers at the end of each chapter as I began wrestling with absolutely surrendering to God as well. Murray helps one who struggles with giving up all of oneself to God and those that didn’t realize just how tight they had gripped that sliver of self for so long.

I highly recommend this new collection of classics re-released by B&H for anyone seeking to delve deeper into the pillars of faith as they provide challenges to faith that are still applicable today, while giving questions to further ponder and dig into individually or as a group. This book would be a great small group study or to read on your own. Warning though, your surrender is at stake…and not just some of it. But absolutely all of it.

 


B&H sent this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review of this book.

Swipe Right to Friend: A Review

FullSizeRender (6)

Y’all, I have to say that I haven’t been very good with the female friendships in my life. I am more prone to male friendships over the years, as the guys I was close with in college can attest (except for Brooke and Angela). I found that women often brought drama and I wanted as far away from it as possible, still do.

As I have gotten older though I have found that I crave female friendships, women to connect with and talk with. There are certain things that frankly I just cannot with men-and honestly, should not. So I dug into Never Unfriended from Lisa-Jo Baker, her newest out from B&H Publishing over the last couple of weeks.

This book? Well I was prepared to think it was another in a line of gushy women-love books for believers. I was prepped to read alot of fluff and not much content, and oft mis-contextualized Scripture thrown in for good measure. But that was not the case y’all.

It chronicles Lisa-Jo’s own walk in female friendships, starting first with what we fear about them. Chapters dig into the realities of life lived outside of a computer/phone screen in real life with women around us. What holds us back from them, and what keeps us talking about them long after they’ve departed.

“For better or worse, female friendships take courage to start and courage to maintain.” (pg. 43)

She walks you through being the new girl, and y’all, we will always be the new girl at some point. And we’ll also be the girl to include the new girl. Always.

As you dig deeper into this book you’ll find sections on what you can do about your friendships and what you cannot do. We have to embrace both, as Lisa-Jo points out. There are points of application in some areas, and points to pray and seek further wisdom on. There were points where I had to put down the book and reflect on friendships I had let go of and ones I had so desperately clung to when I shouldn’t have.

This book is a much needed resource for women today. It highlights key areas I see continuously besieging friendships I am in, and those I am on the fringes of. You may disagree with her on some points, but allow the Holy Spirit to convict you as you read as well, opening up the space you have guarded off due to broken trust and hurt in past relationships. I highly recommend this book for women in a single context. I wouldn’t encourage a group study on this per say, as you need space to solely process and work through some areas she brings up…or maybe that was just me.

At the end you’ll find where you can start on never being unfriended, but you already have if you’ve picked up this book. Lisa-Jo provides more than platitudes with this book, she provides opportunities for women to connect and grow in community in real-life friendships, not the ones we see plaguing our jealous hearts across Instagram and Pinterest.


In exchange for this review, a free copy of the book was provided by the publisher, B&H. You can pick up this book at LifeWay Christian Stores or on their website, as well as other retailers nationwide.

But First, A Word from God

I love books. The fact that I currently have a stack on my bedside table just to read in the next couple of w

I review books as a blogger for a publishing company and I find solace in roaming through bookstores and piles of old books in thrift stores. My library card could have caught fire with how I burn that thing up using it so often.

scripture-and-psychologyBut the problem occurs when I put the words of even well-intentioned Christian authors ahead of Scripture. I can read about getting out of a pit, about loving others through what I do, and realizing the freedom I have in Christ. Yet, if I am not digging into His Word first? Well, then I am robbing myself of actual Truth.

Since Secret Church I have kept coming back to one particular area that David Platt taught on-the goodness of the Bible. And y’all, it is good. It brings us to Him directly instead of us relying upon another to reveal something to us. Just this morning I was really wanting to pour back into the book I am currently reading on friendships instead of the digging back into the book of Acts. Then I realized that I was placing more emphasis on someone else’s words, even a fellow sister in Christ, instead of Scripture itself, God’s very word to me.

There are days when I don’t feel like digging into His word, the hard of it. The messy of it. But it’s His truth, His divine words for me and for you for our lives and for His glory. When I put other’s words ahead of His? Well I start making myself a disciple of that person rather than of Him. (p. 125, Secret Church) I also miss out on the purpose God has for me for my life, because it is right there in Scripture. I give the glory that He is due and give it to that author, that writer, even to myself.

Please don’t hear me say that reading is bad, or that using resources by authors to draw God’s word out is a bad thing. But we first must come to His Word instead of that book. We have to devote ourselves to digging into what He says about Himself to then see how to become more like Him and less like ourselves.

You are Free

Y’all…you know I love the reading and the books and the writing stuff right? For the last couple of months I have had the privilege of being on Rebekah Lyons’s launch team for her book You are Free, which comes out TODAY!! To say I am excited for this book would be an understatement.

_MG_6992.jpg

I had heard about Rebekah around the women’s ministry circuit and in the Nashville ministry rounds as well. I will admit I have not yet read her first book Freefall to Fly but no matter currently because I have read the one hitting shelves and your shopping carts today twice. Yes, twice.

And that’s just in the last two months.

This book from Lyons is a game changer in my life already, and I know it will be for you and the people you know. Lyons goes personal quickly, sharing about her struggle in the enslaving nature of fear, living in bondage rather than the freedom we know we have in Christ as heirs.

Her circumstances of life may differ from yours, as we all do but we all find common ground on our knees in deep surrender, in searching for freedom in our lives. Rebekah leads you through different areas of freedom she has herself wrestled with and allowed God to reveal to her throughout the book. One thing that I absolutely loved was her ability to wrap Scripture into every area, leaning firmly on the foundation of the Word of God to be free in areas of life.

When it comes to our healing in the midst, so often we think we are the responsible parties. That in our human, independent natures we have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and slap on the bandaids. As Rebekah’s words echo even know, the revelation becomes all to clear.

“We aren’t responsible for the healing, we’re only responsible for the asking.”

At the end of each chapter, you aren’t finding things neatly packaged up and wrapped with a bow on top. You are left pondering and seeking application in your own life. Rebekah has also placed prompts (3-4) at the close of each chapter to develop further thought and process for the individual. This was a big hit for me as I like application when I read on Christian living, and the struggles in it. It gives you space to look and pray, to stop and see what God might be speaking in to your life about through Rebekah’s words.

If you read my post over the weekend, you’ll see the effect of this book and Rebekah’s heart for freedom in us all already being an influence in my life. I know it will have an impact in anyone who takes the courage to be set free in faith.

 

Review of My Heart

Recent51udk4afeel-_sx321_bo1204203200_ly I was given the opportunity to read My Heart a new book out from Julie Manning. I was intrigued at first by the book and it’s title. Once I received the book I took the time to dig in a bit further to read Julie’s story and how this impacted her view of God.

In reviewing the book I have to be honest here that I wasn’t a fan of it. Maybe because I am not the ideal audience for this book (single) it felt very repetitive. I felt she didn’t have much direction on the writing in the early chapters nor was there much reflecting. As you get to the crux of the book is when her voice shifted into telling us how to go deeper with God. But there wasn’t much application there, only excerpts of journal entries during her time post-heart surgeries.

I was shocked at how I kept coming back to the book wanting more and not really finding much. She seems like a great woman whose faith was solidified in navigating the difficulties she faces with her heart situation. For me, it just didn’t click and I didn’t see beyond the emotionality of her faith journey during all of it. It also felt a bit disjointed having her notes to her sons at the end of each chapter. I couldn’t tell if this was a memoir, a letter to them, or a book on exploring faith and finding an unchanging God in the midst of difficult circumstances.

I recommend others to check it out for themselves, but know that it just wasn’t for me as a reviewer.


The book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.