One Word 365 (2019)


     The purpose of One Word 365 is to put aside the usual New Year’s resolutions that we never seem to keep. Instead, you pick one word. Just one word that you want to spend the year focusing on and living out… whatever that may mean for you, personally.

I’m a bit early with this for the new year, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

My One Word for 2019 is devotion.

Our modern dictionaries define devotion as “love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.”

According to the Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, there are three Greek New Testament words that are translated as “devout.” Two of these words are adjectives which “describe those who are godly, whose lives are characterized by whole-hearted, pure worship of God.” The third is a verb meaning “worship,” but is used three times to mean “God-fearing ones.”

2018 has been a year of spiritual growth for me. I faced a surgery with a peace that I know could only have come from God, and that I know I didn’t possess just a couple of years ago. I find myself at peace and content in situations that, in the past, would have left me frustrated and angry. I’m in church again after a lifetime of spotty attendance at random places, and I’ve never felt so at home. I owe God so much, and that starts with my devotion.

I’ll be cutting back on reading fiction in 2019 to focus more on books about God, faith, and the Christian life. I’m also limiting myself to one book at a time so I can truly focus.

Do you have a One Word for 2019? Drop a comment below and tell me what it is. If you have a blog post about it, leave me a link.

How to Be a Perfect Christian by The Babylon Bee


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What’s the key to being a perfect Christian? You need to remember that it’s all about you. In this guide, you’ll get tips on finding a church that caters to your beliefs and spiritual needs. You’ll learn how to keep your fellowship at the surface level so that no one learns enough about you to see what a mess your life really is. Best of all, you’ll learn how to use your Christianity as a tool to call out non-believers, vilify people who vote differently than you do, and protect your family from imperfect Christians and heathens.

In the satirical tradition of their popular website, The Babylon Bee has created something hysterical in its ridiculousness. This book pokes fun at the odd (and sometimes un-Christian) behavior and thinking of modern Christian culture.

The authors make sure to lace the mocking with traces of Biblical truth, which beautifully contrasts the objects of their humor. They even manage to proclaim the true gospel in the final chapter, though still in the form of satire.

Overall, this book is brilliant, and calls out the modern church on things that need to be called out.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 5 out of 5.

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

I received an advanced copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

One Word 365 (2018)


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Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  (Romans 12:9-18 CSB)

My One Word for 2018 is persistence.

I always look for scripture when thinking about my word for the year, but this one I could only find once. It’s placement, however, is a section of scripture that I was immediately drawn to. God has been working in me to make me more like Jesus. I feel it more and more as my heart changes. I’ve been drawn to studies lately that deal with what our external behaviors should look like when our hearts are focused on Christ, and this scripture is an amazing summary. We can’t do these things in our own power. It takes the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

With God’s help I want to be persistent in all these things. I want to be persistent in my pursuit of Him.

I also, with God’s help, want to be persistent in my writing; both in practice and in study.

I want 2018 to be a year of never giving up, even when everything is telling me I should.

Do you have a One Word? Tell me what it is in the comments. If you have a One Word post on your blog, feel free to drop a link there.

 

Photo by Ruben Mishchuk on Unsplash

Another Year Gone. A New Year Ahead.


2017 wasn’t all I wanted it to be, but it had its moments. I read some great books, learned a lot about writing, took a big step on my writing journey, and drew closer to God. Now we’re all reflecting on the time that has passed, and looking to the time ahead to make changes and grow.

Great Books from 2017

I didn’t meet my reading goal this year, but I still read a good bit. These are the books I loved.

Fiction (Christian):
Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund
A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd
The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

Fiction (Secular):
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palombo
11/22/63 by Stephen King

Non-Fiction (Christian):
The Legacy of Luther by R.C. Sproul and Stephen J. Nichols
A Time for Confidence by Stephen J. Nichols
The Truth of the Cross by R. C. Sproul
The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

What Jesus Demands of the World by John Piper (review coming soon)

Non-Fiction (Secular):
The Inkblots by Damion Searls

On Writing:
The Dance of Character and Plot by DiAnn Mills

Moving Forward in 2018

In the new year, I will focus on two things:

  1. God
  2. Writing

My focus on God will require the time and dedication of personal Bible reading and Bible study, theological study, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines.

My focus on writing (which includes both my novel and this blog) will require the time and dedication of writing (getting myself in a chair and making it happen, though I am outlining first), planning, research, studying the craft, and reading.

I’ve laid out my long-term and some short-term goals to start me on the right path. I know some things will change as I find the routine that works for me, but the important thing is that I have taken the first steps.

I hope you’ll join me on my journey in 2018!

What are your goals and hopes for the new year? Let me know in the comments.

 

Header photo byMorgan Sessions

Chasing Contentment by Erik Raymond


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We live in a time when people seem to be generally discontent; Impatient, moody, complaining and jealous. Though we have moments of happiness, we’ve lost what it means to be truly content. The good news is that we can learn this, as the Apostle Paul says.

Erik Raymond lays out what true contentment is and why it is found only in God. He then explains, through scripture and personal stories, how he can go about learning to be content in God.

Every self-proclaiming Christian should read this book. The Gospel message is at its core: we deserve Hell, but God sent His son Jesus to redeem us and bring us back to Him. This is where our contentment lies. Raymond lays it out in such a way that anyone with a heart willing to be changed will feel the need for it.

This isn’t the name-it-and-claim-it gospel. It’s not health and wealth. It’s loving God and being content in Him, whether you have everything or nothing at all. It’s Biblical truth, and much needed.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 5 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

I received an electronic copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.

The Gospel According to Paul by John MacArthur


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The writings of the apostle Paul make up a majority of the New Testament. He is a self-proclaimed defender of the gospel. So, what does Paul have to say about the gospel? John MacArthur lays out Paul’s message, calling upon his writings and the other apostles’ to make the case that Paul’s gospel truly is the gospel of Christ.

The teaching in this book is sound, but I was not able to get through it. I listen to John MacArthur on the radio and I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of his books, but the writing in this book was off. Maybe a book of this brevity wasn’t the right format to present this topic. Maybe it was the structure. I’m not really sure, but it didn’t leave me looking forward to picking the book back up.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 3
3) Quality of Writing = 4
4) Overall Enjoyability = 3

Average score of 3.75 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

The Truth of the Cross by R. C. Sproul


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Was the death of Jesus on the cross necessary? Was it the only way for people to return to God? The answer is “yes,” and R. C. Sproul explains why.

Using scripture from both the Old and New Testaments, Sproul shows how our fallen human condition leaves us separated from God, what happened to Jesus on the cross, and why it was absolutely necessary for our salvation.

The thing I like about R. C. Sproul is that he simplifies even the most complex theological ideas without talking down to his audience. He doesn’t leave theological terms out of the discussion, but he explains them as needed for the average reader. This little book is by no means an in-depth look at the work of the cross, but it is packed with information for a foundational understanding of the atonement. I suggest every professing Christian read this book.

1) Is it understandable = 5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 5 out of 5

For a limited time (which may be over soon since today is Easter Sunday) Reformation Trust, through Ligonier Ministries, is offering free e-book copies of this book. Click here to check out their blog post with links to download you free copy.

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

A Time for Confidence by Stephen J. Nichols


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If you’re a Christian in America, you probably feel the change in our society. The culture is shifting further and further away from our Christian heritage. As time goes on, we may feel the pressure to compromise our beliefs to align with the culture of our day. But should we? Culture changes. Societies change. Nations and leaders rise and fall. But God’s word stands true forever.

In this timely book, Nichols reminds us where our confidence should rest: God, the Bible, Christ, the Gospel, and hope. As we stand firm in the Word we need to do so with confidence. Nichols brings us back to the early church, less than 100 years after Jesus died on the cross, to show us what that confidence looks like. It’s the same confidence we see over a thousand years later in the Reformers.

“This is not a time to cower, cave, or capitulate. It is a time for confidence, and our confidence must be in God. All else will disappoint.”

I highly recommend this book to all Christians. Especially anyone feeling the pressure to conform to this world.

1) Is it understandable = 4.5
2) Presentation of Information = 5
3) Quality of Writing = 5
4) Overall Enjoyability = 5

Average score of 4.9 out of 5

Where to buy the book: CBD | Amazon | B&N

One Word 365 (2017)


oneword2017     The purpose of One Word 365 is to put aside the usual New Year’s resolutions that we never seem to keep. Instead, you pick one word. Just one word that you want to spend the year focusing on and living out… whatever that may mean for you, personally.

I’m a little late, but my word this year is TRUST.

Trust in Jesus. Trust in the fact that God has control of everything. Trust that no matter what happens, God can and will use it for His good plan.

“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10)

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 30:12)

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.” (Jeremiah 17:7)

My Plans for 2017


My plans for the new year are about the same as last year, but here they are written out as a reminder for myself, as well as others.

  • More Bible Study/Reading
  • Read More Books
    • Review Programs – I’ll be continuing my book reviews through various programs.
    • Fill in the Gaps Challenge – I’ll be working to catch up on this.
    • My Book Shelf – I need to stop buying new books and read the unread horde on my shelves. We’ll see how that goes.
    • 52 Books in 52 Weeks – I fell short in 2016, but I’m going to try again.
  • Study and Practice Writing – I stated in a previous post that I’ve decided to learn more about the craft of writing before writing another word of my novel.

Outlining my novel will likely be the biggest goal for me. I’ve never been one to outline my stories, I’ve always been a pantser, but I realize that this job may be too large to wing it. I need to put everything into it so that I can to be sure I’ve missed nothing, and that I’ve given it my best effort.