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


BabylonBee-PerfectChristian

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.

Not Yet Married by Marshall Segal


Segal-NotYetMarried

The world has a lot to say about dating and relationships. It has a lot to say about people who are single and whether or not marriage is even necessary in the times we live in. But what does the single life, and dating, look like for a Christian?

As a single woman in my 30’s, I was hesitant to read this one, but decided to give it a shot. Most Christian books I’ve read regarding singleness, especially those written by married people, gear the message so heavily toward marriage and having children that they left me feeling lonely, and burdened by my singleness. That is not the case with this one.

Segal spends the first part of the book speaking of singleness. He tackles that loneliness mentioned above in an honest and upfront way. We crave affection and want to be known. Marriage and relationships can give us that, so we tend to long for them, but as Christians the best and most intimate relationship we can have is with Jesus. Segal takes the time to explain that sometimes our singleness is God-given, for a purpose. There may be things God wants us to do for Him that are better suited for someone who doesn’t yet have a spouse or children to take care of.

The rest of the book is centered around dating with the intention of marriage. What does that mean for a Christian? How do we date in a way that looks different from the world? It’s not just setting physical boundaries (though that is important), but it’s about keeping Jesus first in the relationship. The Bible says we should love God first and foremost. That means even above our spouse.

What I love most about this book is that Segal is careful to gear the message equally toward men and woman. While much of what he presents is generic, he reminds us that men and women have different roles and needs in a relationship, both spiritually and emotionally. He also guides the single toward a healthy, God-centered marriage without alienating the single who aren’t actively seeking marriage, even us “older” singles. In fact, he includes them.

If you’re single, whether you want to be or not, I highly recommend this book to put your singleness in the right perspective.

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.

One Word 365 (2018)


OneWord2018

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

What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper


Piper-WhatJesusDemands

When we think of Jesus, we tend to think of the mild teacher, or the suffering servant who died on a cross for our salvation. We don’t usually think of him as demanding things from us. That was under the law, and Jesus frees us from the law, right? Not really. Not in that way.

In this book John Piper lays out several commands (or demands) of Jesus and explains what they mean and how we should obey, using scripture as his basis.

Piper explains his process in this short video:

Over the last couple of years, John Piper has been a great source of learning and spiritual growth for me. This book is no different. I took a pencil to this book, something I almost never do, because it called out to me to do it. I underlined, and asterisked, and noted… and at least one chapter in this book moved me to the point of tears.

Each chapter covers one command (or one aspect of a command) and is only about 4-6 pages long, so this could easily read devotional-style.

This book will challenge you and push you to become a true follower of Jesus by obeying his commands. It is definitely one to read again.

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

As with all of Piper’s books, you can download a free PDF of this book at Desiring God.

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

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

The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn


Alcorn-TreasurePrincipleEveryone wants money. Money is how we purchase things. It’s why we have jobs… to get money to pay the bills and one day, hopefully, we won’t have to work anymore.

What does God say about money? This is where people get defensive. If God demands we part with our money, does he want us to be poor?

When it comes to God, money is a touchy subject for a lot of people. This is probably because what the Bible says about money and giving is often misinterpreted or misunderstood. One of the most misquoted scriptures is 1 Timothy 6:10. Often quoted as “Money is the root of all evil,” what the passage actually says is, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.”

Money itself is not evil. God doesn’t want us not to have it, but he does command us to spend it in certain ways. It’s not a matter of whether or not you want money. The real question is this: Do you want money more than you want God?

In The Treasure Principle, Randy Alcorn explains what the Bible says about money and giving. He shows what joyful, Biblical giving looks like and what we get out of it by discussing six key points:

  1. God owns everything. I’m his money manager.
  2. My heart always goes where I put God’s money.
  3. Heaven and the future New Earth, not this fallen one, is my home.
  4. I should live not for the dot (this short, present life), but for the line (eternity).
  5. Giving is the only antidote to materialism.
  6. God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.

The book is short, but Alcorn does a great job of presenting the material. You will come away with a new, or better, understanding of what it means to give as a Christian.

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 a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Chasing Contentment by Erik Raymond


Raymond-ChasingContentment

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 Truth of the Cross by R. C. Sproul


Sproul-TruthOfTheCross

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